10th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerkannouncedthat in the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom), the Chairman of Committees would, under Standing Order No. 22, take the chair as Deputy Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bayley) thereupon took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. PROWSE, on behalf of the chairman, presented the fourth general report of the Public Accounts Committee.
Ordered to be printed.
– Some few weeks ago I brought under the notice of the Prime Minister the question of the opening of the National Parliament at Canberra, and requested that the opening day should be the 26th January, the anniversary day of Australia’s foundation. The right honorable gentleman was good enough to intimate that he was not opposed to the suggestion, but I see that in one of the speeches he made during the Eden-Monaro election campaign he referred to March, 1927, as being the time when Parliament would sit in Canberra. I ask whether he has abandoned the idea of having the opening ceremony on 26th January, 1927, and if we are now to understand that the Parliament will be opened at Canberra in March of that year.
– In the speeches which I made recently I dealt with the time when the Seat of Government would be permanently transferred to Canberra and the legislative and administrative functions of the Commonwealth would be carried on there. I made no reference to any particular date which might be decided upon as appropriate for the official opening of the Parliament at Canberra. I did not say definitely that the transfer of the Seat of Government to Canberra would take place in March next, but that I hoped it would be in March or in the early part of next year. It is obvious that the Government cannot make any definite statement as to this date, because should anything intervene to prevent Parliament from sitting at Canberra on that date it is possible that certain individuals might claim compensation from the Commonwealth. No such definite announcement canbe made, but all the indications are that we shall go to Canberra early next year.
– My reason for asking the question is that I believe that visitors from the other side of the world as well as from other parts of Australia will desire to be present at the ceremony of the opening of Parliament at Canberra, and the fixing of a particular date would give them an opportunity to make necessary arrangements.
– The honorable member, of course, refers to the official date of the ceremonial opening of the Parliament. I quite agree with the honorable member that we should, at the earliest possible moment, let it be known when that historic function will take place so that arrangements to be present may be made by those who desire to be there.
Dr. Smalpage’s Treatment
– I ask the Minister for Health whether it is correct that supplies of Dr. Smalpage’s serum have been distributed to the specialists selected to make tests of his treatment in the different States?
– The serum was distributed on Tuesday last for the purpose of being tested by the specialists.
– I wish to address a question to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, though it is possible you may not be in a position to answer it off-hand. If I had had time before the House met I would have consulted you in regard to the matter. My inquiry concerns a question to be put by myself to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten). That question has been subedited to such an extent that as it now appears on the notice-paper I can scarcely recognize it as the question which 1 put, yesterday without notice to the Minister. I should like to know whether I offended against any of the rules governing the way in which questions should be stated - the absence of argument, inferences, epithets, or hypothetical matter. I was asking for an investigation, and not for a definite reply from the Minister. I asked -
Willhe instruct his investigation branch to make inquiries -
) As to what organization is behind the present agitation against Australian industries?
How much money has been spent on this nefarious propaganda?
How many foreigners and how many Australians are engaged in the anti- Australian campaign?
The occupation of the individuals employed, and their emoluments?
The question as it now appears on the notice-paper reads -
Will he instruct his investigation branch to make inquiries -
As to whether any organization is behind the apparent agitation against Australian manufactures ?
As to whether any money has been expended in this propaganda?
I wish to know how much money has been expended in it.
I have no objection to the omission of the word “ nefarious “ from the second paragraph of my question, or to the way in which the paragraphs have been renumbered. But I contend that in other respects my question has been watered down in such a way as to quite fail to convey the meaning which I intended.
– Did the honorable member write the original question himself?
– I did. I should like to know exactly what privileges honorable members have in putting questions? I should like, for the information of honorable members generally, to know whether, when a question is couched in definite terms, and the honorable member putting it has a reason for the selection of those terms, it can be sub-edited almost out of its original meaning before it is allowed to appear on the notice-paper ?
– It will not be possible for me to reply to the honorable member’s question until I have had an opportunity to peruse his question on notice in its original form.
– In view of the number of complaints received from country newspapers in Queensland of the great delay which takes place in the Telegraph Office in getting press messages through to the Brisbane Courier and Daily Mail agents for the country press, will the Postmaster-General have immediate inquiries made to ascertain whether any great improvement has taken place, as compared with the conditions prevailing a few weeks ago, in the dispatch of press messages to Queensland to the Brisbane Courier and Daily Mail.
– The honorable member will probably have received a letter from the Brisbane Courier expressing satisfaction at the way in which messages are going through at the present time. Investigations were made, and messages are now going through in time for the newspapers.
– I ask the Prune Minister if the Government has come to any decision with regard to the construction of a railway from Yass to Canberra?
– No decision has been arrived at. Naturally any such decision would be announced to this House.
– In view of the statement that assistance would be given by the Defence Department to those suffering from the bush fires, I wish to know whether the Minister for Defence would be able to supply military tents if an application for them were made by local authorities ?
– I have said before that the Government has set aside a great number of tents and other equipment for the use of the bushfire fund. Any application received from the official bodies will be immediately attended to.
– The applications must then come from Melbourne?
– They must come from the official bodies administering the funds raised for the relief of sufferers by the disastrous bush fires.
– When will the Tariff
Board’s report on a bounty on raw cotton be made available to honorable members ?
– I am not able to answer the honorable member’s question beyond informing him that the inquiry is proceeding. Several witnesses have yet to be examined, and until the taking of evidence is completed the Tariff Board cannot present its report.
– Has it come to the knowledge of the Minister that the Vacuum Oil Company has now placed orders within the Commonwealth for the manufacture of kerbside petrol pumps?
– That information has not come to me officially, but I have heard rumours that the position respecting the manufacture of petrol pumps in Australia is now much more satisfactory than it was a month ago.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he instruct his Investigation Branch to make inquiries -
– I have to inform the honorable member that there is no official information in my department which would enable me to answer his question, and also that it is considered that an inquiry such as is suggested is outside the duties of the departmental officers.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
K. M. Baxter
asked the Prime Min- ister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Cost - Arrears
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The cost of administration is a contribution by the Government to the housing scheme for returned soldiers and their dependants, and is not charged against the successful applicants for homes. The figures shown above are, therefore, exclusive of the cost of administration.
The following paper was presented : -
Consideration resumed from 3rd March (vide page 1279), on motion by Mr. Pratten -
That the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1921-4 be amended as hereunder set out, and that on and after the fourth day of March, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-six, at nine o’clock in the forenoon, Victorian time, duties of Customsbe collected in pursuance of the Customs tariff as so amended.
That, excepting by mutual agreement or until after six months’ notice has been given to the Government of the Dominion of New Zealand, nothing in this resolution shall affect any goods enteringbe Commonwealth of Australia from the Dominion of New Zealand(vide page 1228). . . .
– I compliment the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) on the speech he delivered in this chamber yesterday afternoon. Whether honorable members agree with him or not, they must feel that he dealt with the tariff proposals in a manner which did credit to himself and to this Chamber generally. I cannot say the same of the speech that followed. I have never heard the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) deliver a more floundering speech. He evidently was in anuncomfortable position. He had vivid recollections of those days whenhe held the same views as were uttered by the honorable member for Perth yesterday. One would hesitate to repeat now some of his previous speeches in this chamber. He tried to base his remarks on figures that had manifestly been supplied to him from an interested source, and not from one that would give a properly balanced view of the subject. The sum total of his reckoning was that Australia was in an excellent position; that our primary producers were benefited by the high tariff; and that, generally speaking, they were now infinitely better off than at any other time in the history of this country. I suppose the right honorable gentleman’s fiscal views are influenced by his constituency and the interests he represents. Probably he signed the letter sent to all parliamentary candidates by the Australian Industries Protection League. The letter was sent to me, and I regarded it as almost an insult that the paid agents of the big combines, that are protected by the legislation of this Parliament, should try to bamboozle candidates to undertake, under pressure of an implied threat, that if returned they would vote for high protection. This is the letter I received -
As a candidate for election, and a possible member of the Federal Parliament, your views upon the fiscal question are extremely important.
At the moment, the protectionist versus freetrade issue is more or less obscured by the conditions under which the election is being fought. But seeing that the recent tariff has not yet received the assent of Parliament, those who are elected in the present contest willbe called upon to determine its fate.
If, as is expected, other tariff changes are recommended, the new Parliament will also be charged with the responsibility of dealing with a further number of items.
In the circumstances, if a supporter of the protectionist policy, will you kindly sign and return the attached letter at your early convenience.
The . league is a non-party organization. It will not, therefore, recommend or support any particular set of party candidates. But it will, within a reasonable distance of polling day, publish the replies received.
Waiting your favour,
P.S. - in the event of this letter remaining unanswered, it is proposed to set against your name: “No Reply.”
The letter accompanying it was -
Australian Industries Protection League, 372 Flinders-lane, Melbourne.
In reply to your communication of the 15/10/25, I beg to state that I am a protectionist, and if returned to Parliament, will vote for adequate protection to Australian industries.
Candidate for the constituency of
– It may be very mild, but if that document was signed by many members in this chamber, as doubtless it was, even the able speech delivered last night by the honorable member for Perth must prove futile. I can understand that the right honorable member for North Sydney spoke under great difficulties. When he represented the constituency of Bendigo he professed to realize the handicaps imposed upon the primary producer by the tariff, but last night he denied that there were any handicaps, and argued that high protection was wholly to the advantage of the primary producer. He buttressed his argument by figures which had doubtless been supplied to him by Mr. Hume Cook, but he did not tell the committee that whereas in 1890 the number of sheep in Australia was 97,881,220, in 1920 the number was reduced to 77,897,555, a reduction of 20,000,000 in 30 years.
– How does the honorable member account for that?
– It must be obvious that a decrease of 20,000,000 sheep represents a corresponding diminution of wealth, and I shall show that the rabbit pest is mainly responsible, and that the policy of high protection prevents the pastoralist from dealing with that pest. Of cattle the number in 1890 was 10,299,913. In 1920 the total had reached 13,499,737, a pitiable increase of 3,200,000 in 30 years. The number of sheep per head of population in 1890 was 14.86, and in 1910 13.88. The right honorable member for North Sydney quoted quantities or values as either suited his argument : but he must have been aware of the fact that the apparent prosperity of the wool and wheat industries is due to the high prices that have prevailed during recent years. Those prices are in no way attributable to the fiscal policy of Australia or to Federal or State legislation. They are governed entirely by the world’s conditions, and the legislation of this Parliament does not affect them one iota. The wheat-growing industry is practically stationary; certainly the area under crop is not increasing. Great prosperity might have been expected to follow the introduction of improved cultivating and harvesting machinery, but that has not occurred. The right honorable member for North Sydney spoke of the time when wheat was reaped with a sickle or a scythe. He omitted to mention the fact that in those days Australia was engaged almost wholly in the production of gold and wool, and grew only sufficient wheat to feed . its own people. The advent of modern machinery should have meant a rapid increase of wheat production and export, thus bringing new wealth to the country, and replacing the fading mining industry. Agricultural methods have improved as rapidly in Australia as in any other country, but the fact must not be forgotten that all other wheat-exporting countries have adopted all the mechanical inventions and advantages which the Australian producer enjoys. The machinery employed in other industries also has been improved. Whereas formerly the farmer could reap 1 acre of wheat with the sickle he can now, in the same time, reap 20 acres. Only by the cultivation of increased areas and the export of greater quantities of wheat to pay off the national debt can Australia derive the maximum advantages from the adoption of labour saving machinery. During the general election the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) said that if the Governments had paid half as much attention to the development of the primary industries as they had paid to the secondary industries, the wealth of Australia would be three times what it is today. The wheat industry is not progressing because of the enormous load placed upon it. That high protection is responsible for the increased cost of production is confirmed by the Melbourne Age, which in a recent issue published this article -
Forcing up Prices. Soaring Cost op Living. Will the Government Act?
Is it not time that the Commonwealth Government took a definite and decisive action to curtail the vicious profiteering which is being practised. Almost every branch of trade concerned with supplying the necessaries of life to the public is under the do mination of combines which seem to have a direct dispensation to plunder the people at their own sweet will. Throughout the city and suburbs, and, indeed throughout the Commonwealth, there is such a marked similarity between basic prices charged that householders have long since come to the conclusion that prices are arbitrarily fixed by associations of manufacturers, wholesale merchants, and retailers, which peremptorily forbid members to sell below the ordained rates. This deplorable condition of affairs is a legacy of the war. It should have died with the war, but instead it has continued to flourish without exciting the attention of the Governments, which are supposed to be guardians of public rights and interests. The present Commonwealth Government has an excellent opportunity to distinguish itself by taking prompt and effective action to prevent profiteering, and clip the wings of the great combines which are daily becoming more powerful.
That newspaper has been largely responsible for the present state of affairs. It says that I am sound in some aspects of my policy, and I return the compliment. The Melbourne Age was on sound lines when it published that article. Combines are at work under shelter of the high tariff wall that has been built round Australia. Protection is a veritable cornucopia for trusts and combines, and industrial unions. I say, with the Melbourne Age, that this is an excellent opportunity for the Government to act, and prevent these people from further fleecing the publics - to compel them to give a reasonable opportunity and a fair deal to the average citizen. This tariff schedule is a one-sided arrangement, enabling one section of the community to fleece the people. That the manufacturers themselves are not too sure of their ground is evident from the following statement made by Mr. Wilson Gray, the chairman of the Chamber of Manufacturers, on the 18th October, 1924: -
The Australian manufacturer had arrived at the stage when a larger market must be found. The one method was to increase our population,but the present progress was quite inadequate to fulfil the demand. The only alternative was overseas, and there the manufacturers were denied admission owing to the cost of protection.
I invite honorable members to ponder over that thoughtful and considered statement. It is clear that our manufacturers want overseas markets, which they are unable to enter because of high production costs in Australia due to high protection. Recently I had a conversation with one of our boot manufacturers. When I asked him how the industry was progressing he informed me that it was in a bad way. “ But,” I said, “ Have you not enough protection to enable you to carry on? “ “ Oh, yes,” he replied, “ we have ample protection. As a matter of fact we are doing 96 per cent. of the Australian trade. If we had double the present protection we could not, and would not, go after the remaining 4 per cent., because it represents fancy work, and it would not pay us to get that class of business.” “ Then,” said I, “ why do you not employ more hands, and sell your products abroad ? “ His reply to that question was significant. “ Our trouble in Australia,” he said, “ is that production costs are too high.” It would appear then that under protection certain of our secondary industries have reached the adult stage, and are quite helpless so far as production for overseas markets is concerned. ‘The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr Hughes) last evening quoted figures relating to the production of wealth by our secondary industries. Those industries do not bring a shilling of new money into Australia, and I repeat that high protection is placing an undue burden upon the backs of our primary producers who, besides producing cheaply for the people of Australia, sell their surplus products abroad, and bring new money into the Commonwealth. That is the difference between the two types of industry. I have no objection at all to the boot industry, the steel industry, or, indeed, any other secondary industry. Like all good Australians, I would like to see them established in this country if they can justify their existence, and prove of real service to the community. The right honorable gentleman invited us to consider the wages bill paid by these secondary industries. But who pays the wages of Hugh McKay’s employees? Undoubtedly the man who buys the output pays the wages bill, and enables Hugh McKay and other employers in the secondary industries to enjoy substantial profits under cover of the protective tariff. They are not in competition. The Melbourne Age was perfectly justified in its criticism of this profiteering. When first I entered this House, honorable members opposite were indulging in a campaign against profiteering; but they are now singularly silent on the matter. Why ? Because they are supporters of the combines. I also am opposed to profiteering.
– And the honorable member, dealing glibly in economic shibboleths, talks frequently about “ new protection.”
– The importers of Flinderslane are the greatest exploiters in Australia.
– The honorable member and his friends talk about the “ new protection ‘’ without any intention of doing anything. Mr. Gisbome, writingin the Edinburgh Review, refers to the “ new protection “ as one of the most rigorous instruments of its kind in the world. In that article he also stated -
Manufacturers and trade unionists, notwithstanding their incessant bickerings over wages, have combined to form a solid phalanx in defence of the policy of high protection against the still rather languid attacks of the supporters of freetrade. Both parties to this sinister alliance recognize that the consumer must be despoiled in order to provide high wages for the operative, and high, or at all events moderate, profits for his employer. About fifteen years ago, certain artful political strategists, fearing lest the intelligent public should become restive when subjected tothis system of disguised brigandage, invented a convenient economic monster known as the new protection. It was proclaimed with gravity that only those manufacturers who sold their goods at “ reasonable “ prices, and paid “ reasonable” wages, would receive thebenefit of the import duties. But as this attractive epithet was officially construed as meaning high when applied to wages, and low when applied to prices, the manufacturers soon perceived that they were worse off than they were before, and even the politicians awoke to the fact that it was impossible by means of a tariff to keep wages artificially high and prices simultaneously low. The new protection, therefore, speedily perished, and its early demise was attended by more hilarity than lamentation.
I wish again to refer to the speech of the right honorable member for North Sydney. It did not suit his purpose to speak of the rise and fall of the goldmining industry, but I have figures relating to the output of that industry for the years 1903 to 1924, to which he referred. The value of the gold output of Australia in 1903 was £16,302,900, but in 1924 it was only £3,131,583. I recognize that the whole of that decline was not due to the increased cost of production. Gold having been taken out ofthe ground, there is less of it left. The increased cost of production, however, has had its influence, and many lowgrade mines have had to close as a result of it. The high tariff has increased the cost of living to the working man, who has to be paid correspondingly higher wages. I do not call it a high standard of living, because his higher wages do not purchase more
Than lower wages would with a lower cost of living. This general inflation has had the effect of closing down mines that were once profitable. The gold-mining industry has, to a large extent, been pushed out of existence by the new-fangled idea that is adopted by no other country to the same extent as by Australia.
– The honorable member needs to read up more of that subject.
– I think I shall be able to show, before I have finished my speech, that I have read too much of the. subject for the honorable member. I was hopeful that when the right honorable the Prime Minister came into office he, while recognizing that the majority of the people in this county was favorable to protection, would see its evil effect, and provide a remedy. We remember the speech he made at the Sydney Royal Show two years or so ago, when he faced the protectionists with their beliefs, and declared, “ if protection is to be the policy of Australia, let us have protection all round.” The primary producer must be protected. .Politically, that statement by the Prime Minister was clear; it was fair, even; but it cannot be said to be statesmanship. If there were no- one in this country who was bringing a new shilling into it, and if there were no industry that was standing on its own feet, we should be nothing but a common wealth of cripples. Why should it be necessary to protect everything? it i.= impossible to lay all the burdens on one section of the community - the primary producers - a section that not only is not protected, but is also carrying the load of the protection provided for others. Honorable members must see, if they look at the subject from an economic stand-point, that if we give the wheat-grower an export bounty, and Australian parity for his wheat–
– There is no danger of his getting that.
– I agree, when I read the Melbourne Age on the Paterson butter scheme, that there is no danger of that. That great protectionist journal, which supports Australian secondary industries, is the first to call the people to arms when Mr. Paterson and his colleagues endeavour ‘ to arrange that the dairyman, whose wife and children work in the industry, shall get a return commensurate with the Australian standard of living. I agree that the primary producers are not likely to receive Australian parity for wheat, butter, or any other primary product while the majority of the people is opposed to us - a majority that we are maintaining, by the policy of protection, in the centralized cities of Australia. We are, of course, killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Like the honorable member for Perth, I ask, where will it end, and what must the end be? The honorable member for Perth referred to certain statements by Mr. J. W. Dafoe, editor of the Manitoba Free Press, Winnipeg, who visited Australia as delegate to the Imperial Press Conference last year. We ought to be impressed with the views of the members of that conference. They were highly qualified, trained pressmen, and when they came to this country we opened our doors to them and gave them all the information they asked for.
– The honorable member, a moment ago, objected to accepting the opinion of the Melbourne Age, but he is now suggesting that we should accept the opinion of another journal.
– I quite agree with what appears in the Age, and regard the views referred to as sound. Following are extracts from remarks of Mr. Dafoe, which appeared in the Melbourne Argus on 13th February last -
The Australians are “ whole-hoggers “ in the matter of tariff protection; the most ardent protectionists in Canada and the United States would be faint-hearts in contrast with them. Labour is in favour of protection, and still more protection; and while there is not the same unanimity in the Nationalist party, it is consistently protectionist in its policy.
Those statements are tolerably true, I believe. The report proceeds -
There is a Tariff Board which will recommend an increase in duties for the benefit ot an existing industry or the imposition of new duties at the solicitation of parties anxious to start a new industry if any kind of a colourable argument can be made. The result is that the burden of the protective system upon primary production grows steadily all the time.
The interview concludes as follows -
Summing up, Mr. Dafoe says that those social and economic experiments will work themselves out one way or another. If they are mistakes, the Commonwealth is young and vigorous enough to survive them. Perhaps, subject to the modifications of experience, they will prove to bo stops forward. Australia is a huge social and political laboratory; its experiments may involve risks to Australia, but they should prove of value to the Englishspeaking world, whatever their outcome.
The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) made a very strong indictment of the Tariff Board yesterday. I wish to say that had I had the least idea that the board would adopt the attitude it is at present pursuing I should never have supported its appointment. I thought right from the beginning that it was intended to be an impartial and, practically, a judicial body to determine which of the industries of Australia merited support. I did not think that it would leave practically the primary industries out of consideration. Australia has a public debt of about £1,000,000,000, and practically 96 per cent, of her income is derived from her primary products. In these circumstances, it seems ridiculous that the Tariff Board should give no reasonable consideration to primary production. I believe, with the honorable member for Plenty (Mr. Gullett), that we should do nothing to hamper the inflow of new money here; but the Tariff Board seems to think that industry preservation means only secondary industry preservation.
– “Why does not the honorable member blame the Minister instead of the Tariff Board?
– It would give me infinitely more pleasure to blame the Minister
– I am quite prepared to take the responsibility.
– The trouble is that it is like pouring water on a duck’s back to criticize the Minister. He is largely responsible for the conduct of the board. Its determinations are naturally coloured by his views.
– It is a very good thing for the country that the honorable member is not Minister for Trade and Customs.
– If I were, I should try to do what the Canadian Government did. I have in my hand a press report, which roads as follows -
The Prime Minister, Mr. Mackenzie King, and the Acting Minister of Finance, Mr. James A. Robb, have succeeded in carrying their Budget proposals by a majority of 1 12 on a vote of 223. It is thus clear than the Government has triumphantly succeeded in achieving the purpose which it had in mind - that is to say, the capture of the lower tariff Progressive or Western farmer members, by means of reduction in the Customs schedules. In concluding the debate, just before the final vote the Prime Minister not only justified the cutting down of the tariff on agricultural implements and other articles, but he went so far as to pledge his administration to a continued policy of tariff reduction on the necessaries of life.
That is along the lines suggested by the Melbourne Age. The report proceeds as follows -
He added that the Government proposed shortly to add to the Finance Department a body of experts that might be termed a tariff board, to advise members in respect of tariff changes. He further indicated that the appointment of an expert board to advise the Government on general taxation was under consideration by the Cabinet, but he made it clear that the appointment of neither board nor experts would relieve the Government or Parliament of full responsibility for the tariff and taxation in general.
An expert Tariff Board is the right kind of board to appoint. Australia should have a board of experts to consider all tariff proposals, seeing that £100,000,000 of the people’s money is directly and indirectly involved in Customs duties. If we had a board of experts, we should not find the Minister introducing a schedule like that under notice, which does nothing but inflict heavy and unnecessary burdens on our people.
– What is the date of the report that the honorable member has just read ?
– It appeared in the Melbourne press on the 5th July, 1924.
– I thought so. There has been an election since then, and that Government was nearly wiped out.
– It is still in power.
– But only ou sufferance.
– In my opinion, Parliament intended, when it agreed to the appointment of the board, that it should make exhaustive investigations, not to see how much protection it could recommend, but how little our industries could do with, and how far a duty for one industry would hurt another, perhaps more important. On the Canadian and American tariff schedules, agricultural implements and implements employed in production are on the free list, and So they should be on our schedule.
– The farmers do not pay any more for agricultural implements here than the farmers of freetrade New Zealand pay for them there.
– I thought we should get some more of that twaddle; but I shall kill two birds with one stone in replying to the interjection. The members of the Opposition should listen carefully to what I am about to say. It will be fresh in the memory of all honorable members that some time ago the report was made to this House that rabbits were doing tremendous injury to crops throughout Australia, and that certain farmers had insufficient financial standing to get credit from their banks to enable them to fence their farms properly to combat the pest. Honorable members were moved to tears by the tale that was told, and said, “ We shall set aside £250,000 to be distributed amongst the States to these downandout moneyless settlers.” Of that sum, £48,000 was given to Western Australia, and a Labour Minister administered the grant. But, true to the protectionist policy, the Minister for Trade and Customs passed on the instruction to the States receiving the grant that the wire netting purchased by the money must be Australian-made.
– Hear, hear!
– These are the men who, to protect a secondary industry, would take the sugar out of a baby’s milk. The Labour Minister distributing the grant in Western Australia instructed his under-secretary to communicate the facts to me, and I quote the following letter, dated the 25th November, 1925: -
By direction of the Hon. the Minister for Lands, I forward herewith a statement of the activities, so far as this State is concerned, in connexion with moneys made available for the purchase of wire netting under the provisions of the Advances to Settlers Act 1923.
A copy has been forwarded to each Western Australian member of the Senate and House of Representatives in the hope that the facts may be of use when occasion arises.
He gives a great deal of information, the whole of which I do not purpose to read, although it might all be read with advantage. T draw special attention to this statement -
The Commonwealth Government decided that only wire netting of Australian manufacture was to bc supplied out of funds made available under the Act.
He proceeds to deal with the prices at which wire netting was purchased, and works out the total cost of wire netting supplied at Australian prices, plus handling charges, at £43,340, absorbing almost the whole of the grant. He mentions the fact that tenders for the supply of English wire netting were received, and that the last tender received was for 254 miles of 17 x 1^ x 42, and the fact that the . Australian article of this type was priced at £5 9s. 3d. per mile in advance of the English price, exclusive of duty, for netting of similar quality. He says -
The Commonwealth Government restriction as to the use of Australian material is the determining factor in purchasing, but, apart from this, the imposition of the anti-dumping duty would prevent any advantage being taken nf the English price. . . . 290 miles of English netting could be purchased, if duty free, at the same price as 254 miles of Australian netting of the type referred to.
The difference equal to the cost of 36 miles of fencing was extracted from the down-and-out settlers to run a factory in Australia, and the rabbits must continue to eat out our farmers. The statement is made in the communication from which I quote that -
The difference of 36 miles would be sufficient to supply about eight additional settlers.
By taxing wire netting we add to the costs of the primary producer. Rabbits threaten to destroy a settler; he cannot secure a penny advance from his banks and he is compelled to give £5 9s. 6d. per mile of wire netting to a factory in Melbourne or in Sydney. The thing ia economically unsound. I ask the Minister to say whether it is a fact that this industry has received bounties to the tune of £200,000, and is selling wire netting more cheaply in New Zealand than the down-and-out settlers in our own country. Who is the foreign trader in these circumstances ? Australian manufacturers are selling wire netting in New Zealand 2 per cent, cheaper than the price charged to Australian settlers who are down-and-out because of the devastation caused by vermin. The whole business is hypocritical.
– I have already referred to that. If honorable members had taken the shackles off the dairymen of this country they would not have driven them to band themselves together and organize to defend their hearths and homes. The people in these big cities clamour and shed crocodile tears because of those who have been burned out by bush fires, whilst they permit women and children under age to do the dairying work of the country, and then contend that butter should be cheaper, without any regard to the cost of production or to the vagaries of the seasons. What chance have dairymen of producing butter cheaply in such a season as the present? I should like to direct the attention of the committee to the opinion of people who can help us. It is foolhardy to fall out with friends who can help us. Sir Frank Heath has been on a mission to Australia and other Dominions to report to the Imperial Government, which has in a friendly way decided that if it can be scientifically advised as to the way in which it can help the Dominions by the investment of money it will provide cheap money for the purpose. Sir Frank Heath was deemed to be qualified to advise the British Government on the subject. He has visited Australia, and has now, I believe, gone on to New Zealand. He did not pretend to make his report here, because he said that must be left until he returned to the Old Country; but he said enough while he was here to indicate the policy we should adopt. I quote the following concerning his visit to Australia -
Sir Frank Heath, Secretary to the British Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, has almost completed the investigations which he was invited by the Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, to undertake. These investigations, which were begun in October, relate to the possibility of closer co-operation between the British Department and similar institutions in
Australia. It is expected that the development, of both countries will be aided as a result and that Imperial trade will be promoted.
Dealing with primary and secondary industries Sir Frank Heath said -
I have heard a great deal about the interests of primary and secondary industries, and one hears people talk about the competing interests of those industries. I have already pointed out elsewhere that in my judgment the needs of the primary industries must stand first, because it is the exportable surplus of the primary industries which is paying for the interest and sinking fund of your large external debt.
Let, honorable members put that in their pipe and smoke it. He went on to say -
Now n large part of that debt, excluding the war debt, is a credit which has been placed at the disposal of Australia chiefly in the interest of the primary producers.-“ The whole of your transport or railway systems and a number of other important “works are really works which depend on our secondary industries so far as they exist in this country. If that is so it is of the utmost importance to the secondary industries that that credit should remain available. This can remain available only if the lender is assured that interest on the sinking fund can be provided for, and this depends on the primary industries. If you can increase the productivity of your primary industries, you are making it easier for your secondary industries to develop. Therefore your manufacturers should help in all things to improve the primary industries of Australia. There can be no question of rival interests.
I suppose that no man is better qualified to sum up dispassionately the position in which Australia is placed than is Sir Frank Heath. He naturally recognizes and says that the money that is derived from our wool, wheat, and other primary products, amounting to 96 per cent, of our total production, goes to finance the credit of the whole concern, and that it is upon the success of the primary industries that our secondary industries depend. It must be clear to honorable members that if we close down those primary industries-
– We do not want to do that.
– Honorable members are doing it without wanting to do it”. It should be our first care not to hobble them, and not to impose unnecessary duties and burdens upon them. Let the man who is producing have at reasonable cost the wire netting he requires to keep vermin off his holding, and do not let us try to make a profit for an industry out of his misfortunes. The majority of the people of Australia who are concentrated in the big cities will not. recognize their true interests in this matter, but insist upon the imposition of higher tariff duties. When the last tariff was submitted and Mr. Massy Greene expressed Utopian views as to the way in which things were to flourish and industries to increase in Australia, some one asked him whether imports would still keep up. He said that the volume of imports would not be so great, and that revenue from that source would decrease. But the fact is that the revenue from imparts has materially increased. The higher we raise the tariff, the more we place ourselves in the hands of the enemy. The cost of goods is becoming prohibitive. The working man must buy in dear markets, and is, therefore, compelled to approach the Arbitration Court for increased wages. This tariff schedule will be another burden upon him. When higher wages are paid to the workmen, the manufacturer decides that it is time for another increase iu the tariff, and so the vicious circle continues. Our manufacturers have told us that we cannot sell our manufactures abroad. Are we aiming to keep ourselves like blackfellows? I have admired the Prime Minister in his desire to promote trade with, and to give preference to, the Mother Country, but I am. afraid that these tariff proposals will wreck his good intentions. The Prime Minister went to England with his idea of preference. He visited Leeds, Leicester, and other places, aud he put an excellent case before the manufacturers there. They became impressed with his idea of eating Empire products, and the House of Commons set aside £1,000,000 to further the scheme. What is the present British view of our tariff ? The Sydney Morning Herald published the following statement by a British manufacturer with whom an Australian business nian, conversed : -
Well, I suppose you find that Australia is not in very good odour here after that last tariff of yours. You know we feel that Mr. Bruce has not played the game. He caine to Leicester, talked about the consumption of Australian fruits, Australian butter, and the rest, and fairly rammed Australian produce down our throats. He goes back to Australia and puts a prohibitive tariff on the very goods we make. I use the word “ prohibitive “ advisedly, because many of the articles we produce are now taxed from 100 per cent, to 200 per cent., and in certain instances even more. Look at the duty on cheap cotton undervests and infants’ dresses. To cite one specific instance : We make an infant’s silk and wool dress, costing 3s. (jd. each. I understand that this would now be rated as a “ costume,” and the duty would amount to 8s. or 9s. each.
That is not protection. That is prohibition. If your Mr. Bruce permits Mr. Pratten to do things like that, he will get a few borne truths the next time he comes to Leicester. A friend of mine, a manufacturer of cotton undervests, went to Edinburgh, a few days ago, and the first thing he saw was a great advertisement, “ Eat Australian apples.” Eat Australian apples - not if I never eat another apple as long as 1 live !
That is the feeling that is being engendered in England. We are not reciprocal in our sentiments in any shape or form. A French trade delegation came here after the war, and its members most courteously pointed out to us that the French people could and did make certain articles used in Australia, but not made, here. They also pointed out that the trade relations between France and Australia were £7,000,000 to £1,000,000 in our favour. We seem to think that we are the only pebbles on the beach. We continue to talk about this country being self-contained. There never yet was a self-contained country. Trade relations must exist. It would be possible for us to pay off our national debt by the exercise of a saner policy respecting the development of our national resources. I am afraid that the Prime Minister’s hopes for Australia’s advancement will be dashed to the ground if the Minister for Trade and -Customs takes the bit in his teeth aud gives full effect to these tariff proposals. As against the speech delivered by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), I wish to quote the speech that was made by the present Postmaster-General (Mi’. Gibson) when dealing with the previous tariff. Rel erring to the settlement of returned soldiers on the land in’ New South Wales, he said -
The duties alone, on the cheapest set of agricultural machinery that these men can get, amounts to £130. Therefore, honorable members are placing on every man who is being put on the land a tax of £130. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) has a son who is going on the land to grow wheat. That, young man will have to put his hand in his pocket to the extent of £130 to meet the extra charge on his machinery over and above what he would have to pay if the articles could be obtained at the old rates.
The rates on agricultural machinery have been still further increased. Are not the State Governments, as well as the Commonwealth Government, in collaboration with the Imperial Government with a view to settling some of the British surplus population on the land in Australia?
Is it a sane policy to levy a tax of at least £130 upon these settlers in order to assist our secondary industries? The tax on a settler on a fairly substantial farm would be much higher than that. It is a severe handicap upon him, and will inevitably lead to the abandonment of his holding. He will then return to the city, but not because, as was stated by the right honorable member for North Sydney, the work was made uninteresting to him. Our primary producers cannot, under present conditions, successfully compete in the world’s markets. Not one honorable member of the Opposition will say that this is unfair. We should give the men on the land a chance to make good, and not load him with a tax of £130 on his agricultural machinery to benefit our secondary industries. Our Australian sons are more fit to go on the land than a “ new chum “ from England. I am not speaking disparagingly of the British immigrant, but he does not know our Australian :ways. He comes here in the hope of making a home in the bush, but bis efforts are futile because of his ignorance of Australian conditions. He is not half as capable as a young Australian, who knows too much to take on the job. We cannot find profitable markets for the produce of our settlers, and because of this our group settlement system is not the success that it should be. The young settler is taxed to the extent of £130 on his machinery, yet the Melbourne Age protests when he asks 3d. a pound more for his butter. Unless these conditions change, I agree with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) that the day of reckoning must soon come. If we refuse now to calculate the consequences of such a policy, then I am sorry to say that we must learn our lesson by bitter experience.
.- As the general debate on the tariff proposals appears to have ceased, I presume that we are now to discuss the first item. I know that one or two other honorable member.^ desire to speak.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).The first item is under discussion at present. The tariff items in the amended schedule are numbered to agree with the items as they stand in the original tariff. The first item under discus sion is marked item No. 3, and corresponds with item No. 3 in the original schedule.
– I understand that the first item is really item No. 3 of the tariff, dealing with spirit duties. I wish to speak in opposition to that item-
– Do I understand that the general discussion will still continue?
– The honorable member for Perth will be in order in discussing this item without interfering with the general discussion.
– We should be clear on this matter. I know that in tariff debates generally considerable latitude is allowed. I understand that the honorable member for Perth said that the general discussion having ended, he would now deal with the first item of the schedule. Then you, Mr. Chairman, said, in reply to the honorable member for Darwin, that the honorable member for Perth would be in order in discussing the first item without trespassing on the right of other honorable members to take part in the general discussion.
– That is so. I understand that the honorable member for Perth said that he did not wish to speak on the specific item if other honorable members desired to continue the general discussion.
– That is so. I do not wish to speak at this stage.
– I do not intend to deal with the whole subject of fiscal policy, as has been done by previous speakers. But I wish to criticize, to some extent, not only the policy that we have adopted in the past in dealing with the tariff, but also the Tariff Board’s method of. carrying out its work. In so doing I do not wish for one moment to associate myself with the criticism that has been levelled against the board by the honorable member for Perth. The honorable member should have supported his statements by quoting specific instances in which the board had shown prejudice, or a disinclination to hear evidence from those who were opposed to an increase of duties. If the members of the board are unfair or prejudiced, they are unfit for the positions they occupy, and if the honorable member can produce evidence in support of his allegation, the
Minister should inquire into it immediately. Failing action by the Minister, this Parliament certainly should require that the fitness of the members of the board to continue in office be investigated. In regard to the fiscal policy generally, I agree with the honorable member for Forrest that the treatment meted out to some industries is not fair and equitable. To a great extent, I endorse the complaint that the agricultural industry has suffered from the imposition of high duties. Possibly the mining industry is penalized even more severely because, although it has to pay higher prices for tools and machinery, it is entirely unprotected. Some industries which could be helped by the tariff have been refused assistance. The saw-milling industry especially has suffered. The high duties imposed upon machinery and implements have increased the cost of production, but the Tariff Board, in a recent report, said that it could not recommend further assistance to the sawmilling industry, except by an increase of the duties upon timbers imported for case-making. I do not desire honorable members to assume that I am attempting to state fully the claim of the saw-milling interest for an increase of duty. The board’s inquiry will probably be reopened, and those engaged in the industry will have another chance to present their evidence. I do say, however, that the industry is in a precarious position. In Tasmania many mills are closed down because their products cannot compete successfully with imported softwoods. The board reported that, in the main, imported softwoods do not compete with hardwoods. I can find nothing in the summary of evidence to confirm that astonishing statement. Anybody acquainted with the building trade must know that hardwood weatherboards have to compete with baltic weatherboards, and that large pieces of Oregon are imported and sawn into scantlings. In support of its statement that softwoods do not compete with hardwoods in the building trade, the board said that, in the years when the importations of softwoods were large, the consumption of local hardwoods was greatest. That extraordinary argument indicates that the members of the board do not understand the timber industry, for it must be obvious that, in the years when imports of softwoods and the consumption of hardwoods both reached their maximum, the building trade was flourishing, and great numbers of houses were being built in the suburbs of the capital cities. In coming to the conclusion that increased tariff duties were not necessary to the continuance of the sawmilling industry, the board could not have taken into consideration all the relevant factors. It is generally recognized that the inquiry must be re-opened, and I hope that the Minister will insist that those engaged in the saw-milling industry shall be afforded a chance to present their case fully, and answer some of the statements contained in the board’s first report. High freights are another’ serious disability upon the timber industry. Tasmania sends large quantities of timber to Port Adelaide, and the freight from Burnie, the nearest port, to Port Adelaide, for 30-ft. lengths is 9s. per 100 super, feet. The freight upon similar sizes from Baltic countries to Port Adelaide is 3s. 3d. Honorable members will see at once how tremendously the Tasmanian timber industry is handicapped by costly freight. Clearly, the greatest cause of this high cost of transport is the Navigation Act. The arbitration laws also have increased the cost of production. I say nothing at this moment against those statutes, but surely Commonwealth laws which obviously increase the cost of production and marketing should be taken into consideration by the Minister when an industry is applying for increased protection. A primary iudustry is entitled to at least the same protection as is given to secondary industries, but such assistau.ee has been refused to the timber industry. In regard to agriculture, I agree that the farmer has suffered to some extent from the high duties upon implements and machinery, but I do not endorse the proposal that local manufacture should be encouraged by bounties in lieu of tariff duties. Taking a selfish view of that proposal, I realize that if bounties were substituted for Customs duties, the farmer would have to provide, at least, his share of the extra revenue required to pay them, and the reduction in the cost of implements and machinery would probably be not sufficient to compensate for the increased taxation. In any case, if bounties are to be paid for the production of agricultural machinery, they should, in equity, be paid in respect of mining and other industrial machinery also, and the extension of that form of stimulus would impose an enormous strain upon the finances of the Commonwealth. But as the farmer has to pay heavily for the machinery he uses, and so bears a large part of the burden of fostering the secondary industries, he also should be protected. In certain cases protection has been afforded. Potato-growers are protected to the extent of 20s. a ton. This is hardly worth considering, because potato-growers are subjected to more difficulties than any other primary producers. In many respects potato-growing is more or less of a gamble. Occasionally Irish blight entirely destroys a season’s crop. Frosts also are a constant menace, and prices varyso much that the growers are in a state of uncertainty, until their product has been marketed. Onion-growers, with a protective duty of £6 a ton, are in a much better position. The unequal treatment meted out to potato-growers calls for careful inquiry. I should like to have an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Minister; I would not be unreasonable in my demands on behalf of our producers, but a duty of £1 is not sufficient. Potato-growing is a very important industry in Tasmania, and those engaged in the business should receive fair treatment, because, in common with other primary producers, they have to bear their share of the burden of assisting our secondary industries.
– The onion-growers asked for the removal of the duty because it rather seriously affected their trade with the United States of America.
– Bub the duty has not been removed, and I think it will be admitted that our onion-growers have benefited from the protective duty, notwithstanding that it may have been responsible for retaliatory measures in other countries. I hope that the Minister will give heed to my remarks, and take such steps as may be necessary to ensure increased protection for our potato-growers against competition from New Zealand. Recently contracts have been made with New Zealand growers at £6 10s. a ton for delivery in May and June. Australian potato-growers cannot produce profitably at that figure. I support the policy of protecting our secondary industries. A young country like Australia could not progress without protection. I join issue with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) and those who think with him on the fiscal issue, but every government should endeavour to mete out equal treatment to all sections of the community. Protection is a measure of taxation, because we derive the bulk of our revenue from tariff duties, and the burden should fall equally upon all. ‘ The primary producer is entitled to protection because he has to find his share of taxation - in my opinion he pays more than his share because he is taxed not only upon his income, but also upon his capital, by means of the land tax. This is the most iniquitous tax that has ever been levied upon any class in the community. Even if the primary producer shows a loss on his year’s operations he is still called upon to pay land tax£1 tion. I admit that our farmers have benefited from the development of the manufacturing industries in Australia. We cannot by a system of migration people our so-called empty spaces simply by placing people on the laud and expecting them to make a livelihood. We must provide a market for their output. In this respect I agree with the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who said last night that our best policy is to encourage our secondary industries, and by transplanting the unemployed from the Mother Country to Australia manufacture a greater proportion of our raw materials into the finished product. There will then be a chance to put our young Australians on the land with a reasonable prospect of success. They understand our conditions, and are more likely to make good than are migrants from the Mother Country. As the right honorable gentleman said, the only way to induce more people to go on the land is to demonstrate that it will be profitable; and the only way to make land settlement profitable is to provide more months in Australia to eat what we produce im this country. We want a greater consuming population in Australia. It is the lack of this population that has retarded the development of our primary industries, because production costs and transportation charges to reach the markets of the Old World have proved a heavy burden. We want the markets at our door. Speaking as a land-owner, I see no danger in the steady growth of our hig cities. If we had 100 cities like Melbourne or Sydney, farming would be more profitable than it is to-day, and if, by. the development of our secondary industries, we can utilize a greater portion of our raw materials, we shall do something to ensure the prosperity of the Commonwealth. For these reasons, I am a convinced protectionist; but, in closing, I should like to repeat that in working out the details of our protectionist policy, we should see to it that equal treatment is meted out to all sections of the community.
.- It is apparent that very little interest is being taken in the debate. I do not know whether there is an unholy alliance between honorable members on the Ministerial benches and honorable members opposite, but one cannot help feeling that this proposal to place an extra burden on the people, and to make possible extra profits far t!he manufacturers of Australia, meets with the general approval of honorable members. I protest, however, against the contemptuous attitude of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten). The Minister should be in his place to listen to the discussion. I take strong exception to three statements made in the course of the debate. One was the statement of the Minister with regard to the attitude of Western Australia ; another was a remark made by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) concerning the possible decline of Great Britain; and the third had relation to foreign traders. The Minister, in his reference to Western Australia, did not state the case fairly. If he had studied the position, he would have found that importations from the eastern States, include a large proportion of goods from other countries, and amount to over £7,000,000 a year. This volume of trade indicates that Western Australia is paying considerably more by way of customs taxation than the amount mentioned by the Minister. Prior to the bookkeeping period, Western Australia was paying a far higher average per individual than any of the other States. The Minister has the records of the department available to him, and should have put the case fairly. I wish to refer also to the published report of remarks by the Minister for Trade and Customs in Sydney, in which he said that the tariff was an issue at the last election. That statement was not correct, for the tariff issue at the election was wholly submerged by another matter of supreme importance. I had much information on the tariff issue that I desired to submit to the electors, but I withheld it, except the one statement that I feared that if we turned the National Government out and put a Labour Government in, even higher duties would be imposed I am exceedingly sorry that the right honorable member for North Sydney, even if he thought it to be so, should have referred to Great Britain as a declining nation. I have great faith in the recuperative power of Great Britain, who, I believe, will return to her original supremacy. She has incurred enormous obligations. She is paying interest on her war debt in full, while not receiving interest from other nations to which she advanced money. Her effort is magnificent and wonderful, and I am exceedingly sorry that anything should be said, especially by one who did such magnificent work for the Empire and Australia during the war, to reflect, even in a small degree, on the future prosperity of the Mother Country.
– Was the statement true?
– Even if we thought that Great Britain was declining, it would be as well to hold our tongues; but I do not believe that the statement is true, and I resent the inference, which too often arises from apathy. How long could we continue to hold this country without the protection of Great Britain? How could the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), and those who support his policy, create artificial conditions here except by borrowing large sums of money ? If we had not the backing of Great Britain, where could we obtain that money in the future? Those honorable members on this side who oppose the tariff have been classed as “foreign traders.” I resented that accusation when it was made, and I resent it now.- The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) recently asked a question that contained an unwarranted insinuation. There is no doubt that an organization called the Town and Country Union was recently formed. A number of persons who believe that we are retrogressing in our fiscal policy have formed that organization, and have contributed money to support it. They have a secretary, who is circulating propaganda throughout Australia, under the impression that he is doing good to this country. Are the operations of that organization any different from those of the manufacturers’ unions? Who paid for the large advertisement that appeared in the Argus newspaper this morning ? None of the money of any of these organizations is coining in this direction. When the last tariff was being discussed, the insinuation was made in the Industrial. Australian that sums of money were being contributed to support the freetrade policy in Parlialiament. That was a libel, and freetraders in this House felt very much inclined to take legal action for damages.
– It was even suggested by another journal that other honorable members could be bought.
– It was suggested that we actually had been bought. The allegation was that money was being obtained for improper purposes. If a person believes in a freetrade policy, he is justified in telling the people that freetrade is best for the country; but when the tariff is approved, is this Parliament to be supreme? If we pass this tariff, will the Minister be allowed to alter it? Will the Railway Department of New South Wales, as it is doing to-day,’ continue to charge specially low railway freights on goods of Australian manufacture ? Will municipal councils be allowed to levy extra fees for permission to install petrol pumps not made in Australia? Will the friends of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) be allowed to meet together, and say, “If you build a big factory in this country, and import the iron and steel required, we shall declare the job “’ black’ “? Who is to be the supreme authority, the Parliament or outside organizations and individuals? The newspapers have had very little to say on this subject, and some of them approve of high protection- but what will they say to the Minister’s statement that, in the near future, he hopes to place a heavy duty on newsprint? An answer to a question asked the other day indicated that the Postal Department is subsidizing the press to the extent of £270,000 a year. If we square that account, and put a duty on newsprint, I think we shall find that some of the newspapers, especially those of the type of the Herald and the Age, will be less pronounced in their desire to place an impost on every section of the community but themselves. I have been wondering why there should be so much fear of freetrade propaganda. Very few people in this House, or in the country, voice their opposition to the heavy import duties. Some of the newspapers suggest that to oppose protection is unjustifiable and improper, and even immoral. I should like honorable members to read Woodrow Wilson’s book, Let there be Light. It deals mostly with tariff questions, and urges the need for reform in connexion with them. It points out, as I have done here, that the United States of America cannot be a freetrade country, because revenue must be derived from import duties, but urges duties that will prevent unscrupulous manufacturers and large corporations from obtaining undue power. In one of his speeches, he very quaintly said, “If an organization contributed 100,000 dollars to our political funds, the members of it would naturally look for protection.” The same statement might be made of organizations in this country, and the fatuous approval of increased taxation on the people tells its own tale. Freetraders are fighting an uphill battle. Surely we can approach the subject on the understanding that every member of this committee desires to do the best he can in the interests of this country, although we differ in our beliefs. One who believes in freetrade, who has studied the conditions under freetrade in Great Britain, and under . protection in the United States of America, and has come to certain conclusions, ought not to be accused of ulterior motives if he voices his opinions. I do not believe that Australia can alford to be freetrade. In a young country, some protection for industries is needed, but I do not say that that protection should necessarily be provided by import duties. It might be provided by bounties, in which case all the members of the community -would contribute towards it. The building up of an industry benefits the whole community, and therefore the whole community, and not only those who buy the products of the industry, should pay for the protection necessary to build it up. I claim to have an equal desire with every other honorable member for the prosperity of this country. I have a great belief in its future,, and I am very hopeful that a grain of sense will soon come to honorable members to enable them to recognize that we are going too far in granting all the demands of Uie manufacturers. Can any one say that the embargo was placed on the importation, of sugar in the interests of Australia ? The only persons who will profit by it are the land-owners . Will it induce any one to open up new land, or increase the population of tins country? Does any one suppose that the sugar-growers will produce sugar to sell at a loss in the markets of the worlds Who cau say that the heavy duty upon bananas has benefited Australia? A moderate duty might have done so, but the action we have taken is a direct insult to a people living iu. the Pacific. We want to live on friendly terms with the inhabitants of the islands in the Pacific, and one of the first things, we do is to insult the people of Fiji by saying to them, “ We do not want to trade with you..” Now they have retaliated by saying, “ We do not want to trade with you.” Is there any statemanship in making enemies of our neighbours ?
– How would the honorable member overcome the cheap black labour difficulty?
– When I was travelling down the Tweed River, in New South Wales, a lady told me that she had just sold a small estate, planted with bananas, for .£250 an acre.
– That was not its- value as banana-growing land.
– I read advertisements in a Cairns newspaper offering v>nimproved sugar-growing land for sale at £100 an acre.
– The land might have been offered for fools to buy, but I have not heard of sugar-growing land of that
Value, and I have been closely associated with the industry since I was fourteen years of age. I ought to know.
– Certainly the honorable member ought to know. I shall take- an opportunity to send the advertisement to him.
– In that case I shall have inquiries made into it..
– The right honorable member for North Sydney spoke at length on the great prosperity of Australia, and cited the progress made from 1903 up to the present tune. With moat of his figures- I cordially agree. Great progress has certainly been made in Australia during that period. The figures were handed to ham from a certain source, and he dealt with them from only one point of view. He drew & magnificent picture of the future, but he did not point out that the public debt of the Commonwealth in 1903 was £222,000,000, and that in 1923-24, it was £955,000,000; or £57 2s. 9d. per head in 1903 and £164 13s. Id. in 1923-4. Taxation per head of the population in 1903 was £3 2s. lid., and in 1923-4, £12 6s. 7d. Every man with a wife and family of three children is taxed, on the average, to the extent of over £61 per head.
– The honorable member must recollect that there was. a. war in the interval.
– In the last five years taxation has increased by £14,728,265,. or 16 per cent.
– How does the honorable member account for that ?
– By extravagance in borrowing, and by raising loans for redemption purposes at higher rates of interest than was paid for the original loan. The result has- also been contributed to by greatly increased interference in industrial matters by both Commonwealth and State Governments, which has necessitated a large increase in the number of public servants employed. The standardization of services in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and of the railway services throughout the States, has also considerably added to the expenses of government.
– But what is the margin between our assets and liabilities ?
– Neither I nor the honorable member can tell; nor can any accountant in the Commonwealth. We must face the fact that our population of about 6,000,000’ people is carrying a debt of nearly £1,000,000,000. Every honorable member must admit, in those circumstances, that we are at least approaching the danger point. I believe that we have passed it. We have been borrowing far too freely.
– The world does not appear to think so.
– It is charging us much higher rates of interest than formerly. If we could get our money for 3 per cent, as we used to do, there might be some prospect of our public services paying; but when we have to pay 5 per cent, for money to build railways, the projects are foredoomed to operate at a loss. Now, when the average rate of interest on money that has been borrowed for railway purposes is only about ‘4 per cent, or less, our railways, in many cases, are being operated at a loss ; and the position must become much more serious as the rate of interest continues to rise. The high cost of living in Australia makes it almost impossible for primary producers and manufacturers to build up their industries on a substantial basis. The fact stares us in the face, in spite of what the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) said last night, that our primary industries are not developing satisfactorily. The YearBook sets out the facts very clearly. It must be apparent to honorable members that a good deal of the increase shown in the figures quoted last night by the right honorable member for North Sydney was accounted for by increased values and not by increased production. If the goods exported in 1923-4 had been sold at the same price as the goods exported in 1913 it would be found that we had made no progress. Assuming that the prices in 1923-4 were the same as in 1913, we should find that the value of our exported agricultural products had increased from £10,677,734 to £18,495,051. That is a fair increase certainly, but it is accounted for principally by the wonderful change that has taken place in agricultural methods, due to the increased use of superphosphates, and to great developments in the Western Australian wheat belt. The figures for the pastoral industry for 1903 and 1924-5 on the same basis are £42,057,346 and £30,884,298: for dairying, £3,854,734 and £3,978,621 : for mines, £14,712,212 and £9,269,370: and for manufactures, £2,304,693 and £2,160,110. It is remarkable that with the vast territory we have available for pastoral purposes, the industry has declined, so far as its export trade is concerned. We have an enormous back country suitable for cattle and sheep, but it is not being used. In the western division of New South Wales there were nearly 9,000,000 sheep in 1900, and today there is scarcely one. The Minister for Trade and Customs knows that the flocks have disappeared because of the ravages of the dingo and the rabbit, but he is not making any move to enable the settlers to wire-net their holdings. He should be glad to provide wire and wire netting duty free, but he will not do so. He has said, in effect, “I am not going to allow any oversea manufacturers to compete with the Australian makers of wire netting.” He has certainly provided a bounty. He has, in fact, overwhelmed the manufacturers with money, but he will not allow any competition.
– Unfair competition.
– If the Minister would lay on the table all the correspondence that he has received from the British wire netting manufacturers and from the High Commissioner recently, we should be in a better position to discuss the matter. I assert, without fear of contradiction, that there has been no dumping of British wire netting in Australia, yet a dumping duty has been imposed. No more preposterous statement has been made in any Parliament in the world than that made by the previous Minister of Trade and Customs that 75 per cent, of the rabbit netting manufactured in Great Britain was for home consumption. That is the sort of argument that we have been compelled to listen to. Who deserves our most sympathetic consideration - the man in the city who has every convenience that it is possible to give him, or the man who has the courage to go out and develop our back country ? Instead of encouraging people to settle in outback areas, we discourage them by imposing heavy Customs duties and heavy shipping and railway freights’ on all their requirements. We do not give them a chance to make good. Although the export trade of the dairying industry has made some progress, it has not developed to anything like the extent we expected it would, and the tariff has practically killed the mining industry. I do not say that it has been entirely responsible for closing down the big mines in Kalgoorlie, but it, together with the Navigation Act and other factors, has contributed to that Unfortunate result. The Mount Morgan mine, m spite of great assistance from the Queensland Government, worked at a loss for a long time, and then had to close down. According to my calculations, the ore it waa producing was worth 50s. a ton. In any other country of the world it could have been mined at a profit. Although wages are higher in the United States of America than here, ore of that value could be profitably worked. Nobody expected that our manufacturers would develop a big export trade. Our artificial methods destroy all opportunity. I wish to refer, under this heading, to the report of the Tariff Board on agricultural implements. The statement is made in it that our farmers get their agricultural machinery for 27 per cent, less than the Argentine farmers have to pay for theirs. Before the war, our manufacturers used to export between £250,000 and £300,000 worth of agricultural machinery to the Argentine every year; but that trade has gone. Why has it gone? If agricultural implements can be bought for 27 per cent, less here than in the Argentine, we ought still to have a magnificent market there. The Minister should tell us the cause of failure. Probably, they do so well here that it is not worth the while of the manufacturers. The figures I haves quoted will show that our debt has increased five-fold since 1903, and our taxation four-fold, while our export trade has seriously diminished. What would be the position of Australia if wheat and wool were at the same price to-day as before the war? People may regard the future without trepidation, while the present high prices prevail, but when prices fall, they will be in a serious plight. They will then literally groan under the income taxation that is imposed on them, for their purchasing power will be sadly reduced, and they will curse those who have brought them to this plight. Our cities will feel the depression first. We should seriously consider the outlook, and strive to make conditions such that we shall be able to face such a period without fear of absolute disaster. I do not suggest that we should abolish every duty, but I do say that Parliament went duty mad in 1920. The result has been that almost ever since we have had manufacturers of every description applying for still higher duties. I know that some honorable members, like the honorable member for Maribyrnong, consider that we should place such heavy duties on all machinery and other products as would compel their manufacture here; but I do not believe in that policy. If it is acceptable to honorable members generally, let them raise the yellow flag of prohibition at once. We are reaching the point of prohibition. I urge that we should cease to interfere in industries, and that we should follow the work lines that have been adopted by Canada and the United! States of America. If there were less going slow, if men were paid according to the work they did, and if our methods of manufacture were up to date, I believe that we should prove ourselves to be as efficient as the people in any part of the world. The Minister, the Tariff Board, and members of this Parliament say, “We need protection against countries employing cheap labour; we do not want our people to have to compete against manufacturers in countries where the industrial conditions are not so good as they are here.” But was that question raised in connexion with the manufacture of agricultural machinery? We know that in some cases artisans employed in the manufacture of agricultural implements in Canada were receiving wages from 30 per cent, to 100 per cent, in excess of those paid here, and yet a demand was made for the imposition of high duties on such machinery. There is nothing the matter with our workmen ; and why can we not manufacture agricultural implements in competition with Canadian manufacturers paying the same or higher wages? Some one made public the fact that one of our agricultural machinery firms doubled its capital in two years. The answer to that by honorable members who support the protectionist policy is that they will watch such a firm and see that its prices are reduced in the future. Is it the business of a government department to discover whether goods are being sold at too high or too low a profit ? If it is, what is to be done in the case of a firm like Meggitts, of Sydney, that has been watering its stock and building up a great industrial organization? The Minister knows all about it.
– I am afraid 1 do not know as much .about it as the honorable member would imply. -Mr. GREGORY. - As a resident of Sydney, the Minister must know all .about it.
– What has it done wrong.?
– We know the capitalization that has taken place from profits on its manufactures. My point is that what has occurred in such a case proves that high duties are not necessary, and no effort has been made to reduce them. We may say that a certain industry should be established here and carried on under conditions that will give it a chance to succeed, and it should, therefore, be given some assistance. But when we find it making f abulous profits, such as have been made by agricultural implement firms, by the firm I have mentioned and by others whose names can be read in the Stock Exchange list, we should consider whether the assistance afforded them by the tariff is not more than they are entitled to . receive. Parliament should decide the assistance in the shape of counties or duties necessary to enable Austraiian industries to stand up against the competition of the world.
– I never heard the honorable member say one word -against the profits made by importers.
– I have not the papers with me at the moment, but I shall be able to show that tike protection given to many industries, not only by the duties imposed, but also by the’ natural advantages they enjoy, is immense. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) referred to our trade with Great Britain, and the Minister quoted the concessions made to British traders under the tariff. We have all along shown a preference to trade with the Mother Country. I hope that “we shall continue to do so, no matter what duties are imposed. But I recollect that not long ago the Minister altered the regulation requiring 25 per cent, of British material or manufacture in British goods receiving the benefit of preference under our tariff, and insisted that, in future, these goods must be 75 per cent, of British material or manuf acture.
– Hear, hear! They ought to be 1-00 per cent.
– They ought not. That is how honorable members make a great mistake in regard to building up trade in this country.. Some time ago I had telegrams from box-makers in Brisbane and Sydney complaining of the duty imposed -on the pulp wood imported for the manufacture of boxes. I received a long letter from a manufacturer of oil engines at Ballarat pointing out that, because of the high -duties on iron and steel, he was unable to carry on his industry unless increased duties were imposed on oil engines. He must have a higher duty on oil engines, because the cost of the material he uses in their manufacture is increased by the duties on iron and steel. Let honorable members consider Thompson’s magnificent workshop in Castlemaine. In the early days of the Western Australian gold-fields Thompson’s supplied nearly the whole of the machinery used in the mining industry. Thompson’s compressors, winding plants, batteries, and almost every other description of mining machinery were to be seen all over Western Australia. The Australian industry at that time was able to compete with foreign manufacturers of such machinery.
– But it paid engineers only 7s. a day.
– Still the wages paid here were higher than those paid in the Old Country at the time. I read some time ago of a firm in Great Britain that was weaving a magnificent quality of linen from yarns received from Belfast. Some Belgian manufacturers offered it a yarn much better than that supplied from Belfast, and at a lower price. The firm realized that if it did not purchase the Belgian yan some competitor in France or in Germany would do so. It, therefore, decided to purchase that yarn, and was able to supply a better quality of linen than it had previously supplied. The Belfast yarn manufacturers were indignant at the loss of a trade which they had held for generations. If they had been in Australia they would simply have gone to the Minister for Trade and Customs of the day and secured the imposition of a duty on yarn. They could not adopt such a course as that, and what they did was to send a couple of men over to Belgium to make investigations. These men found that the magnificent Belgian yarn- was being made by machines manufactured in England’. They installed similar machines iia their factory and; were shortly able to supply a better yarn than the Belgian yarn at the same price, and recovered their lost trade. The practice that we have adopted ki connexion with the imposition of duties has led us into a vicious circle-. The Broken Bull Proprietary people are again asking for increased duties om iron and steel.. If these duties are imposed the cost of all manufactures using iron and steel will be increased. Those carrying on such manufactures, which we should like to> see established here, will have to ask for increased duties on similar manufactures imported into this country. The cost of production must be still further increased, and this will mean bad times for the primary producers of this country. I have referred to the increase in the percentage of British labour or material required to secure preference for British goods under our tariff, and in this connexion let me say that for the manufacture of wire and wire netting British manufacturers were able to get rods much more cheaply from Belgium than in Great Britain. They were thus able to keep their factories going, continue the employment of numbers of people, and carry on against competition from other countries of the world. Our tariff legislation has been open to serious objection. If we pass a law here for the imposition of a certain duty it should be effective. It should not be within the power of the Minister to vary it in the slightest degree without coming to this Parliament for authority to do so. There is no reason why the Minister should have the extraordinary powers that he has. . A proposal by the Minister is submitted without sufficient information, and accepted by the great majority of honorable members. When the tariff schedule was presented the duties on textiles were at once imposed until validated by the Parliament, and had to be collected. Yet the Minister issued an instruction to the Controller of Customs dated the 29th October, 1925, in these terms -
Cotton tweeds for which firm order was actually placed with overseas suppliers on or before the 2nd September,, 1925,. and which are entered for home consumption in Australia on or before the 31st December,. 1925, are to be- admitted under tariff’ item 404- free from United Kingdom;- 10 per cent, foreign.
I do not think the Minister should have such a power. We should consider the exercise of such a power in relation to its effect upon trade with foreign countries. The present Minister for- Trade and Customs will realize that I am not reflecting upon him; but we might have a Minister in his position who would’ do something gravely offensive to another nation in regard to the trade between the two countries. If a quarrel takes= place between: a trader here and another in Japan or Canada, the issue is confined to them, a>nd their respective countries are not brought into conflict. But when the government of a - country takes action damaging the trade of another country very dangerous consequences may ensue.
– Even if the action taken by that government is .to prevent injury to the trade of its own country?
– What I am contending is that the Parliament alone should have the power to take such action.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has nothing like as much power as the President of the United States of America.
– I do not approve of the power vested in the President of the United States of America, which, however, is the same as that of our GovernorGeneral in Council, and not that of the Minister. I do not think the honorable member would approve the acceptance here of the standard of morality said to be associated with tariff matters in America. The powers given to the Minister for Trade and Customs here are altogether too great. On the 29 th July, 1921, when the measure conferring these powers was submitted, the Melbourne Age, which is a great protectionist journal, said -
Tariff making by officialdom and executive act is a degradation of representative government. The resolutions ought to be withdrawn and recast with the object of eliminating both the Tariff Board and the excessive ministerial power-.
If that could be done a great improvement would be effected. I do not object to a Tariff Board, but I want one different from that we have now. I want a Tariff Board appointed by this Parliament, and with the duty to report to it. Its chairman should not be associated with the Trade and Customs Department, thus coming in some degree under the control or influence of the Minister. The chairman should have the qualifications of a judge, and should know how evidence should be taken and received. He should be assisted by two specialists. If we had such a board reporting only to Parliament, the position would be much better than the present position. I am not here to make reflections. I do not know who is responsible for what takes place, but I can never forget the action of a previous government in connexion with the duties on sulphur. A heavy duty was imposed, which had the immediate effect of increasing the price .of superphosphates by from 6s. to 7s. per . ton. This was done at the instance of the Broken Hill, Mount Lyell, and other big companies. A few months later they were able to import thousands of tons of raw sulphur which was admitted free under item 404, whilst the manufacturers of superphosphates here had to pay the duty on the sulphur they used. The Minister also said that the tariff has brought about no restraint of trade, but my information proves the contrary. . I draw special attention to the action of Lysaght Limited, in connexion with pastoral supplies. I have with me direct correspondence sent to the Customs Department showing that this manufacturer in one instance refused to supply wire netting to a firm because it had advertised that British wire netting was better than the Australian article. Whether it did so or not I do not know; but surely the Minister should have been able to judge whether the advertisement was in good taste. Why should a manufacturer to whom we are giving a bounty of £100,000 be able to supply one man and not another? Lysaght Limited refused to supply wire netting to one firm at Dalby. These huge corporations are able, not only to restrain trade, but also to fix prices. The wholesale price of iron and steel is fixed by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, and we know that the price of wire netting is fixed by Lysaght Limited and Rylands. There is not the slightest doubt that there has been restraint of trade on the part of these firms, but we have heard little of it from the Tariff Board. The first necessity in Australia is the peopling of our vast areas. We must settle people on the land if we are to build up great secondary industries in this country. We must produce more in this country, because it is the overseas market that we wish to obtain. We do not want our industries to be in the position of the boot trade. The boot manufacturers have captured 96 per cent, of the Australian trade, and they do not bother about additional manufacture. That industry should have been built up to establish an export trade. The Government should adopt a statesmanlike policy to enable us to people our vast areas and to induce immigration to this country, even if it means enlarging the loan policy. We cannot settle people hare without borrowing money, but great care needs to be exercised so that there shall be some limitation of loans. Every effort should be made to increase production, whether primary or secondary, and I shall show directly that we can increase our secondary industries without doing the grave injury to the primary industries that will result from the operation of this- tariff schedule. The great balance wheel of our production is the export trade, and we must help that trade in every way. The Country party has clearly laid down its policy. On the 13th of March. 1925, 350 delegates from various branches of the Victorian Farmers Union met in Melbourne and unanimously carried the following resolution: -
That this conference considers the Australian Commonwealth tariff unnecessarily high, and that its incidence is hurtful to the great primary producing interests, and also to the welfare and progress of the Australian community as a whole, and this conference further considers that a percentage reduction should be made annually on all tariff items dealing with the staple necessities of primary and secondary industries.
– Every honorable member who attended that meeting is bound by that resolution.
– I do not know that they are bound by it, but that was the unanimous opinion of that large gathering.
– If it comes to a vote the members of the Country party in this Parliament will be divided.
– That is not the question. I have no quarrel with any honorable member respecting his vote. Every man’s conscience is in his own keeping, and he has to account for his actions only to his electors. That resolution shows that the seed that was planted by this Parliament in 1920, and also later by the Town and Country Union, has been propagated throughout Australia, and is making the people realize that it is not the worker who is benefiting by high protection, and that we are building up huge corporations that grasp the whole of the profits that are being made from manufacturing. So far as Western Australia is concerned, the Country party and the Nationalist party before the elections came to the following agreement : -
That as the present high tariff is inimical to the best interests of Western Australia, the full strength of the two associations shall be devoted to securing a substantial reduction in the existing tariff.
– Is that a mandate?
– It is the agreement that was entered into in Western Australia. It continues -
That as a reduction can only be secured through our parliamentary representatives, neither party shall give its endorsement to any candidate not in agreement with this policy.
That, subject to the above-mentioned conditions of policy being accepted as the basis of an appeal to’ the electors, the Primary Producers Association is willing to co-operate with the United party of Western Australia in running a joint team, consisting of two representatives of the United party and one representative of the Country party, for the forthcoming Senate elections. The .team so selected shall receive the endorsement and support of both associations, and no other candidate shall be nominated, endorsed, or supported by either association.
– Was that agreement accepted by the Government’s representatives ?
– I am giving facts, from which the honorable member can form his own deductions. When the 1920 tariff was discussed I did not, except in relation to mining, make a remark regarding the effect of the tariff on Western Australia. I knew that it would hit us hard, but I had no desire then to make an appeal so far as Western Australia was concerned. But the effect there has been so disastrous that I view with great misgivings the future of that State unless it either controls its own Customs or the Commonwealth Government reduces the Customs duties. So far back as 1915, the Tariff Commission referred to the difficulty of Western Australia, under the tariff and the grave effect that it would have upon that State. The Tariff Board in its report directed special attention to the disadvantages of Western Australia, under the Tariff Act and the Navigation Act, Then the Disabilities Commission concluded that under present conditions Western Australia could only obtain real relief by taking control of its own Customs; and with this Parliament, as at present constituted, only such a policy will satisfy us. The Minister has given us to understand that in the near future the duties on paper, cotton, cigars, oil, iron and steel will be reconsidered. I do not know what is proposed regarding paper or cotton. But in regard to cigars, when the 1920 tariff was being discussed, I had statistics prepared which showed that if all the cigars then consumed by the people were imported, the duty on them would be sufficient to enable a pension of £200 being given to every man, woman, and child engaged in the industry, and even then £86,000 would remain unexpended. We know what was the position when a duty was put on shovels. At that time fifteen men were employed in Australia in that industry.
– It is a different story now.
– -That may be so; but it does not give us a cheaper shovel. Then, in regard to oil, we invested largely in the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, and certainly our partners in that firm seem to be doing remarkably well under the agreement. They obtain their own price for the raw product, and charge their own freights. They are making an enormous profit, but the Government have benefited little from it.
– Did the -honorable member oppose that agreement?
– Yes. I opposed it because I did not like the Government becoming interested in industries, and I like it less to-day. I have always fought against the Government entering into competition with private individuals - taxing the people, and then using that taxation to work in competition with them. The iron and steel industry is the key industry in Australia, and if it be necessary to build it up, we should do so by a bounty, as we did in 190S. A bounty was then given to the iron and steel manufacturers to enable other manufacturers in Australia to obtain cheaper raw material. On the 22nd of April, 1915, the Tariff Commission reported -
It is of vital importance, for the successful development of our manufacturing industries, that raw materials for the purpose of manufacture should be made available at the least possible cost.
– Was that the Tariff Board*
– It was the Interstate Commission acting as a Tariff Board. It consisted of Messrs. Piddington, Swinburne, and Lockyer. The report continued -
That cannot in every ‘case be realized if the encouragement of the local production of raw material takes the form of import duties. Snell a method cannot but unduly enhance the cost of manufacture, and hinder the efforts o’f the manufacturer in Iiia competition with imported goods. ‘On this reasoning, encouragement for the local production ‘of raw material should, where practicable, be by means of bounty, and not , by import duty.
The chairman then said -
I see nothing in the evidence to justify the assumption that some form of fiscal assistance will lie permanently inevitable. On the contrary, the richness of Australian ore deposits compared to those of other countries - the Iron Knob ore yields OS per cent, of iron as against uC per cent, profitably worked in Germany - anA the freight charges borne by our nearest competitors, make it probable that Mr. Delprat’s original view that the industry can stand on its own footing in Australia will prove right once output is secured, and with it low production cost. Hae adage “the ore goes to the fuel “ is complied, with in the Australian works. The manager of the Newcastle Steel Works reported in 1912 -
I find that you can assemble at Newcastle the iron ore, coke, and limestone for pig-iron production -at a lower cost per unit per ton than is possible for the United States Steel Corporation, the largest and cheapest producer in the country. (Publication of the company. June, 1915, at page 16.)
In ibc. publication just quoted from the amount of ore necessary for 1 ton -of pig-iron in different countries is given as follows: -
When the company issued its prospectus it told the people what a glorious investment its shares would be, and pointed out that over 2 tons of ore were required in Great Britain to produce a ton of pig- iron, which could he obtained from 1 ton of ore in Australia. Ill 1912, Mr, Delprat, the then general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, in giving evidence before a select com mittee of the New South Wales Parliament upon the bill which was afterwards passed, to enable the Newcastle Steel Works to be started, gave this evidence : -
– He soon changed his tune.
– Of course he changed his tune when he learned that the honorable member and others, who voice the shibboleth of high protection, are prepared to accede to every application for an increase of duties. In 1914, when the Labour party introduced an amending tariff, which left these items free, the honorable member and others were satisfied to grant the duties that were asked for. In 1920, when further enormous increases in duties were made, honorable members were again satisfied to yield to the manufacturers’ requests. And now the secondary industries are asking for still further assistance. Their greed is insatiable, and some honorable members are prepared to give them anything, so long as it is given in the name of protection. That magnificent captain of industry, the late Mr. Hoskins, of Lithgow, “ made good “ under conditions that were scarcely better than freetrade. For some years he had the assistance of a bounty of 12s. a ton on pig-iron made from Australian ore, and 12s. a. ton on steel. Later, the duty on pig-iron was reduced to 8s. a ton. Se built up a huge fortune in spite of difficulties.
– He made his money out of government contracts mid the manufacture of pipes.
– The local manufacture of stee’l rails has cost Australia hundreds of thousands of pounds. The people do not realize the price they are paying for the encouragement of local industries. I made a calculation in regard to the contract given to Thompson and Company, of Castlemaine, for ten locomotives for the Oodnadatta line. Allowing compound interest at 6 per cent, on the margin between the local and foreign tenders, and a sinking fund of 1 per cent., which would pay off the added cost in 35 years, the actual cost to the Commonwealth of the preference given to Thompson and Company would amount to £570,000. Mr. Hoskins, when giving evidence before the Interstate Commission, said, in reference to galvanized iron -
The bounty method could be substituted for my duty -proposal if desired
And speaking of the proposed alteration of duty with regard to steel rails, he said -
When the bonus was initiated it was for the purpose of establishing the industry, and it has done so. We can now do with less assistance, and I am, therefore, asking for a lesser amount.
Unlike the Broken Hill Proprietary Limited, he did not establish his works on the seaboard so that big ships could load alongside the mills: he went 100 miles into the interior aud, in the face of troubles and disabilities, “made good.” He wanted no duty on steel rails; he could compete successfully with other countries.
– The industry was started by Sandford before Hoskins took it over.
– I am merely pointing out how Mr. Hoskins developed the works under what was practically freetrade. In 1921 I prepared some statistics which showed that the new duties in item 136 alone represented, on the basis of the imports in 1913, over £700,000, and that in respect of the iron and steel industry generally, about £1,500,000 extra, plus retailers’ profits, was being taken from the pockets of the Australian people. Thus a very big burden is being placed upon industry. I cannot understand the stupidity of Labour members who delude themselves into the belief that these high duties are beneficial to the workers. About 8 J per cent, only of the bread-winners of Australia are engaged in the highly protected industries. In the boot-making industry, which has enjoyed high protection for many years, the average wage is less than that of a bricklayer’s labourer. Generally speaking, the average wage in the unprotected industries is greater than that in the highly protected industries.
– The honorable member will admit that in many of the highly protected industries great numbers of girls are employed.
– I am quoting the statistics in regard to male labour only; female labour is dealt with separately. In 1922 the average full-time weekly earnings in the blooming mills in the United States of America were, for heaters, 62 dollars ; for rollers, 71 dollars ; and for heaters’ helpers, 43 dollars. In 1919 and 1920 heaters’ wages were nearly 82 dollars, or £16 a week. In manufacturing and jobbing shops machinists were receiving as high as 55 dollars, and machinists’ helpers up to 38 dollars a week. Yet the Americans can sell their machinery in Australia at half the cost of the locally-manufactured article.
– The price at which it is sold in Australia is not always the price in the country of origin.
– I think it is; certainly the prices I have quoted for reapers and binders are those at which these machines are sold to the farmers in Canada and the United States. I am desirous of doing everything possible to build up the secondary industries, but we cannot ignore the fact that some Australian manufacturers are making enormous fortunes. Honorable members opposite must be aware that the promises made to the workers in 1908, when the new protection was introduced, have never been fulfilled. If we could induce our workers to join forces with the manufacturers, accept a share interest in the industries, and be paid according to their output, they would be able to produce, not only local requirements, but a surplus for export. It is a monstrous system under which I and the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), who is a much younger man, must be paid the same wage in a workshop. Such a system must bring the good worker down to the level of the slowest of his fellows. In the United States of America and Canada, most of the higher-grade artisans have motor cars, and generally enjoy a higher standard of comfort than do the men engaged in similar occupations in Australia. We have the right to demand efficiency from manufacturer and artisan alike, when we agree to subsidize their work. I should like to deprive- the Minister for Trade and
Customs of the power to alter duties. This Parliament should establish a Tariff Board composed of two specialists, independent of protectionist and freetrade interests, and a president who would have the status of a judge. That body should investigate all industries, and advise Parliament as to how they could be helped. I believe that if Parliament were supplied with reliable information from such a body, even honorable members opposite would not be so ready to do everything possible to put more profits into the hands ,of the manufacturers.
.- Throughout the speeches of those honorable members who prefer any goods to those produced in their own country, is the implication that the Australian workers are not so good to-day as in day3 gone by, and that generally they are not giving fair value for the wages they receive. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) referred to me, and I shall show that the reference was unfortunate for his argument. My father was imported to work in a protected industry. In his early days he was a shoeing smith in an English mine, but finding the work too strenuous, he became a maker of fireproof safes, and was eventually engaged to come to- Australia. Possibly he would not have had the opportunity to come to Australia, but for protection, and I, being his son, followed him in the factory where he was employed, so I am well acquainted with factory work. I say unhesitatingly that, having regard for their rights as human beings, men in many factories have to work far too long at laborious occupations.
– I suggested piece-work.
– And I know what piecework means. It was the proud boast of my employer that his establishment was thoroughly up to date, and, as he put it, the best factory of its kind . south of the line. Under the piece-work system, and prior to the introduction of our factory legislation, I saw piece-workers pitted one against the other, and the rates of pay gradually reduced until a man had to work like a galley slave to make a decent living. I challenge contradiction by any honorable member who cares to get into touch with those who have worked in factories where piece-work rates obtained. In the factory- which I have in mind, tub. bucket, safe, and oven makers had to go for their lives under the piece-work system. Apprentices in the last two years of their apprenticeship were given what were called half piece-work rates. Some of them, being expert in their particular branch of the trade, were able to earn more than the best journeyman in the place, but, month after month, the reducing process went on until at last it was almost impossible for even the most expert bucket-makers to make a decent living at the piece-work rates offering. In some instances a man was given what was called a “good” job together with a “bad” job so that he could make a living. Men engaged in the making of rain-water tanks were in the same position. Piece-work rates were cut because the output of the factory had to be marketed in competition with imported articles. Luckily I was employed in a shop that did not adopt the ‘ piece-work system , but on several occasions there was agitation for it. I was always opposed to the principle, not because I was afraid of it - I can say, without egotism, that I was as clever at my trade as any young man in the shop, and piecework would have paid me - -but because I believed that it was wrong to pit one man against another in any industrial establishment. I realized that eventually a man’s health must break, and I feel sure that if the piece-work system is ever universally adopted in Australia, we shall, as is the case of the United States, have to look for our middle-aged men in our cemeteries.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– I suggest that we should apply the tariff scientifically, so that in its incidence it will bear equally upon the entire community. If, as has been urged, the tariff in its operation will retard th, development of this country, let us apply approved corrective measures. Above ali, let us be Australians. Let us have, as our goal, the production in Australia of everything required for the development of this country. Honorable members who are opposed to the tariff have had something to say about our wealthy manufacturers. I remind them that wealthy manufacturers are also to be found in America, Great Britain, Japan, and other countries. In Australia we have a splendid . monument in our system of democratic government : and I care not from what angle we regard the position of this country - whether from the point of view of its productivity or the stamp of individual that we breed - we have good reason to be proud of it. I saw Australians tried in the most severe test that could be put upon the men of any race, and they came through with flying colours. I deprecate this attempt to whittle away our protectionist policy. On the contrary, it should be tightened up, even if we have to pay a little more for articles of Australian production. Unfortunately, the working man cannot get much out of the tariff. If prices of commodities decline the working man will not benefit, because down will come his wages. Honorable members who object to the schedule know that immediately a drop occurs in the cost of production the “ bosses “ come along to the Arbitration Court with an application for a reduction of wages in keeping with the decline in the cost of production. They are the people who are in the vicious circle. It was truly said last night that any concessions that have been secured by the workers in Australia have been won from employers at the point of the bayonet. Honorable members who favour a reduction in tariff items would have us believe that their object is to ease the burden on the working classes. Their reasoning is quite fallacious. The country, we are told, is going to the dogs, and’ all because of the high protectionist tariff. Unfortunately for their line of reasoning, the figures are against them. The Year- Book of Australia completely refutes the argument of our free-trade friends. The livestock statistics are a complete answer to their pessimism, and I remind them that the workers of Australia have never been spoon fed or fostered to the same extent as the pastoralists. who have had gifts of wire netting and bounties on meat intended for export. As for the worker, it matters not if, owing to a fire at his factory be is unemployed, the landlord knocks at the door on a Monday morning and must get his rent. We never hear of £150,000 being voted for necessitous workers, although, as has been shown so clearly, they contribute just as much as the pastoralists and others to the creation of community wealth. Their position is being inquired into by the National Insurance Commission ; but if we may judge by previous experience, anything that the worker is likely to receive in the way of unemployment insurance will be in the nature of a charity dole. He will have to strip himself naked to prove his claim be fore he gets anything. The Labour party has never protested against any attempt to assist the primary producers of this country. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) many years ago was Minister for Public Works in the South Australian Government. He will remember when the first Seed Wheat Act was passed to assist necessitous farmers in that State. He must also remember that in the following year another bill, consisting of one clause, was passed to postpone repayment of seed wheat advances ; that a similar measure was passed in the next year, and finally the entire liability was wiped out. Working men never get this kind of assistance from Parliament. There have been “ poor “ funds instituted by the press and philanthropic institutions in the various States. People have been invited to assist necessitous working men, but never has there been a straightout grant, as in the case of our primary producers. I do not say that this form of legislative assistance is wrong. I have voted for it because I realize how essential it is to keep our people on the land. The honorable member for Wakefield will also recollect, no doubt, that the late Mr. T. Price, when Premier of South Australia, threatened to import wire netting in the interests of the farmers unless the importing merchants released wire-netting supplies within the State at a reasonable price. Mr. Price also threatened to import superphosphates unless the importing and manufacturing interests ceased selling sand instead of superphosphates to the farmers. The capitalists, who are looked upon as men of probity, have a nice code of honour where profits are concerned. The trade unionists of the Commonwealth have never dipped their hands deliberately into the pockets of the people.
– I spoke strongly against the operation of trusts and combines.
– I agree with the honorable member. But what was his attitude when we attempted to alter the Constitution in such a way as to authorize the Commonwealth Parliament to deal with these trusts and combines? We do not wish Australia to be peopled with wealthy capitalists, and we . do not propose, by means of tariff reductions, to enable capitalists in other countries to increase their wealth at our expense.
Without adequate protection, Australian manufacturers cannot be expected to meet competition by mass production plus other natural advantages of overseas manufacturers, who have their market at their door, whereas we are 12,000 miles away. We wish to see this country properly developed and managed in the interest of the nation. Broad acres and billy-goats do not make a nation. It is the peoplethat count every time. The live stock statistics in the Year-Booh show that in 1890 Australia had 10,290,913 cattle, 97,SS1,221 sheep, and 891,138 pigs. In 1923, notwithstanding the influence of Labour Governments in several of the States, the operation of arbitration courts and wages boards awards, not to mention the alleged “ go-slow” policy, there was a substantial increase. The people responsible for the live stock in Australia are not the men who meet in Menzies’ Hotel, in Melbourne, and direct their accountants to ascertain how the things are going on their station properties. The men responsible for the cattle and sheep being on the hoof are the drovers and managers of the stations. It is they who bear all the heat and burden of the day, perhaps not seeing a city for years, and perhaps never being able, like the owners, to marry and rear families. I have nothing to say against the stationowner except that I want him to view the other fellow’s position as he would like the other fellow to view his, with consideration for the individual. I have stated the number of live stock for one of the best years revealed by the Year-Booh. In 1923, our cattle numbered 13,357,508, our sheep 80,110,461, and our pigs 897,874. Only in the case of sheep was there a decrease, and from what we know of the ramifications of the wool trade, we can assign reasons for that. To explain the decrease honorable members need only take into consideration the export of frozen mutton. The reasons for the decrease are all revealed in the book. A similar decrease in the figures relating to cheese is explained by the figures for milk. There has been no material decrease in the numbers of cattle, sheep, and pigs.
– There were 93,000,000 sheep before the war.
– I have given the figures for the best year before the war. A million sheep more or less is of small importance. The honorable member for Swan spoke of sheep where there were no sheep. Let him talk to well-informed shearers, who will be able to tell him of many former sheep-runs on which Sir Sidney Kidman has broken down the fences and replaced the sheep with cattle. That man is making a desert of the centre of Australia. There are many things that explain the difference in the figures, but the decline has not been such as should cause us any considerable worry.
– I contend that the number of sheep and cattle should be ever so much greater.
– My contention is that they would not be greater even if fencing wire, wire-netting, and all the other requirements of the farmer were cheapened. The blood that pulses through the heart of Australia comes from the big cities, which hold this country together.
– Every pound spent on wire-netting in South Australia has been repaid to the Government with interest.
– I do not say that it has not been. I referred earlier to the seed wheal; advanced many years ago.
– Five-sixths of the cost of. that was returned.
– I referred to the advances made in 1882 and 1885.
– On that occasion the money was raised by public subscription.
– No; by act of Parliament. I looked up the acts in order to be able to contradict an honorable member opposite, who challenged me. He obtained some publicity in the Adelaide newspapers, but I cited four acts - there were five in all - which were passed year after year to relieve the wheat-growers of the obligation of paying. Eventually the debt was written off. When we consider the figures showing the quantities of wheat, wool, wine, butter, cheese, sugar and other things produced in recent years, we cannot help concluding that no man who has been on the land for any length of time ought to owe the Government a penny. The honorable member for Wakefield knows much better than I that when the Canowie estate was cut up and sold at £11 10s. an acre, it was bought mainly by men who already owned land. My sympathy goes out to the .man who opens up country and encounters difficulties that he cannot easily surmount, but there are very few instances of that to-day. We have had a series of good seasons, and, for every man who has retired in the secondary industries in Adelaide, I can point to a dozen retired farmers. I do not grudge them their success. Good luck to them ! But when’ we are urged, time after time, to abolish the system of “go-slow,” to return to piecework, and to remove restrictive legislation that helps the working man, I am entitled, in justice to the side I represent, to make the comparison I have made.
– What does the honor- . able member think of the proposal that the working man should have an interest in manufacturing concerns ?
– I do not know how that system would be manipulated by the University-trained accountants so that they would still retain their scrip and draw a little more out of the company, and the boss receive perhaps twice as much. I would rather see the socialization of industry, the Kingdom of God on earth, than any of the new-fangled ideas which capitalism is trying to introduce to bolster itself up, and throw dust in the eyes of those who wish to alter the present system. I like the sardonic smile of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), at my mention of that subject, and yet he has said, “ Let us get together in sweet reasonableness. Let us proceed with a plan which will be fairer man to man.” When he puts that into practice he will find that it is not what his sardonic smile suggests it is. The change will come when we abolish the policy of cutting one another’s throats for selfish advantage, and pull together for the common good. That, at least, is my religion, and I am not ashamed of it. I shall not ram it down any one’s throat, but I am quite satisfied that the time will come when it will become the policy not only of the Commonwealth, but also of the world.
– The world is advancing.
– Every enactment which can be claimed to be an advance on the past has had its origin in the utterances and efforts of reformers, who, no doubt, had the same stones thrown at them as are thrown at us to-day. I do not know much about biblical history, but I believe there was a time when the people cried, “Release unto us Barabbas !” They did not realize that the Christ was there for them : they knew nothing of the wisdom of His teaching, or of His sacrifice.
There are those who pray for these things, but they fall a long way behind when they are asked to put them into practice.
– Who does the honorable member say “they”; why not “ we “?
– I am referring to those who are hostile to the policy I enunciate. I intend nothing personal in my remarks.
– There was no tariff in biblical days.
– Mathew was a tax collector.
– If we lived under natural laws, and according to the plan I suggest, no tariff would be needed. When man puts into operation the golden rule - “ Dounto othersas you would be done by,” restrictive tariffs will be superfluous. Let me return to theYearBook. The number of live stock in this country is compared in theYear-Book with the population. Per head of population in 1890 the number of cattle was 3.27, the number of sheep 31.06, and the number of pigs 0.8. In 1923 the number of cattle was 2.31, of sheep 13.88, and of pigs 0.16. Those figures do not show any substantial decline in prosperity, especially when one considers the development that has taken place in city areas. When we compare the progress made in this country in the short time we have been here with that made in other countries, we have reason to be proud. The rearing of sheep is probably a greater industry than the rearing of cattle, and in that industry Australia is first among the countries of the world, with the Soviet republic second. Among the other countries mentioned in theYear-Book are the Argentine, United States of America, France, and Italy. Australia must have progressed when she can maintain that position ahead of all other nations. In the cattle industry we are tenth on the list. If sheep production does not reveal the wealth of a country, perhaps wool production does. The two industries are correlated. In 1919-20 the quantity of wool produced in Australia was 663,249,164 lb. I am stating quantities rather than values, because the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) said’ that as prices fluctuated they did not always disclose the true position. If, however, the quantity of wool is produced, the work has been done, whether the price is obtained or not. In 1923-4 wool production fell to 590,820.185 lb.
There may have been reasons for that decrease, which, however, was so small by comparison with the fluctuations that occurred before we had a tariff, that the tariff cannot be blamed for it.
– ‘Droughts may have occurred.
– Yes. and there may have been a better market for frozen mutton; adverse cirmustances may have necessitated a reduction in the number of sheep; live sheep may have been exported; or owing to climatic conditions, the clip may have been lighter. To show that in the matter of wool production Australia, is not the decadent nation that the speeches of those who advocate foreign trade would suggest, I shall compare our wool production with that of the rest of the world. While the wool production of Australia in 1923 was 590,820,1S5 lb., that of the rest of the world was 2,797,327,000 lb. ; so Australia produced more than 21 per cent, of the world’s supply. This cannot be such a bacl place after all.
– Not very many people leave it.
– That is so. In 1923-4 the value of our exported pastoral products was £65,095,676, of which wool accounted for 87 per cent. Hides and skins and some other side lines made up the other 13 per cent. In view of these figures it cannot be said that the tariff has ruined the country.
– The tariff has not built, up the wool industry.
– Nor has it crippled it. The gravamen of the charges levelled against our protectionist policy by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), is that the tariff has caused stagnation in our primary industries. On the strength of the figures, that I have quoted, I deny it. We have been told that the acreage under crop in Australia is decreasing, but the figures for the year 1919-20 and 1923-4-13,296,407 acres and 16,531,186 acres respectivelydisprove that statement. We are progressing, and not retreating. In spite of the influx of immigrants into Australia the area under cultivation per head of the population increased from 2,507 acres in 1919-20 to 2,875 acres in 1923-4. Those satisfactory figures disprove the argument of the honorable member for Swan that protection is stopping immigration. Even if there was some decrease in the area under cultivation, it might be accounted for by the unsatisfactory method of settling soldiers on the land. Our repatriation experience has not been pleasing in some respects. The great patriots, who urged men to go to the war and themselves remained at home, showed their patriotism after the Avar by selling land to the Government for soldier settlement at exorbitant prices. The gentleman who won the Adelaide seat from me after the war - a gentleman who was younger than I and eligible for war service, but remained at home and urged others to go to the wai- - bought an estate in South Australia, known as the Pinery, for soldier settlement. In the subsequent inquiry into this biggest land scandal that South Australia has known, evidence was given to the effect that the Pinery land was too wet for fanning, too dry for fishing, and good for neither. Mr. H. M. Addison, who has been in the land-selling business ever since I can remember, .said that it was doubtful whether it would be possible to make farming pay on the Pinery if the land had been bought at £6 10s. an acre, but Mr. Blundell, the gentleman to whom I have referred, paid 9 10s. an acre for it for repatriation purposes. The land profiteers are responsible for any reduction in the area under cultivation by returned soldiers, and not the tariff.
– A lot of soldiers were settled on Crown lands in South Australia.
– That is so, but many were not. Large areas were bought for soldier settlement at extremely high prices.
– That happened in other States as well as South Australia.
– I know it did. The war was over, and the land sharks fastened their teeth in the Government. These facts are not palatable to some honorable members, but they account in a degree, at any rate, for the abandonment of land that was put under cultivation after the war.
– The President of the Victorian Legislative Council, the Hon. Frank Clarke,, who took great interest in this matter in Victoria, said that some awful propositions were put up to the Government.
– There was a good deal of palm-greasing also, that ought to have been inquired into. There are persons in the community who rob the working man of his earnings on the one hand, and the producer of his production on the other. They are something like the King William-street farmers in Adelaide, who rob the community every day of the week, and every week in the year, but at election time plead with the real farmers not to vote for the Labour party. In spite of all these circumstances, the wheat yield of Australia continues to increase.
– The increased area under cultivation may result in a reduction in flocks
– That may be so, but it was pointed out in South Australia when certain large sheep runs were being subdivided for closer settlement, that all the men who would settle on smaller blocks would keep a few sheep, and so the aggregate number of sheep on a given area would probably not fall far short of the number that the squatter ran before the property was subdivided. Reference to the Tear-Book shows that the wheat yield of Australia has been larger since the Avar than before.
– But Australia is only fourteenth in the Tear-Book list which shows the average yields of the countries of the world.
– That may be true; I know that there are some countries that produce over 40 bushels of wheat to the acre, but how much wheat do they produce? The higher yield is due, not to better methods »f working, but to better climatic conditions. In the list showing the total wheat yields of the countries of the world Australia is eighth. She is preceded by the United States of America, India, Canada, Soviet Republics, Prance, Argentine Republic, Italy, and Spain.
– But we only produce 3 per cent, of the world’s yield.
– I am concerned not with that, but with pointing out that Australia is not in the sorry plight described by the honorable member. I am glad that it is not possible to represent in Hansard the tears in his voice and the tremble and shake of the papers he held in his hand as he was delivering his speech. If that could be done, those to whom Australia owes money would pur the country up for auction, and sell as a bad proposition. But we are in a satisfactory position in regard to both our pastoral and agricultural industries. The average wheat yield - in Australia per acre in 1920 was 12.53 bushels, and in 1923 it was 14.98 bushels. I am well aware that Denmark produces an average of over 40 bushels to the acre, but that does not detract from the value of our production.
Sitting suspended from G.SO to S p.m.
– The honorable member for Forrest knowing the wheat industry as he does, and the productive capacity of the soil of Australia, will not deny the splendid results from the efforts of the primary producers in the last few years. I shall quote a few figures, so that it may not be said that I am bolstering up a case by assertions without backing. Before the war in 1914, when Australia experienced one of the most severe droughts which it has ever had the misfortune to go through, the wheat yield for the year was, approximately, 24,000,000 bushels. That will give some idea of the wheat yield of Australia in a bad season. Prior to that year there was the biggest harvest ever known up to that time in Australia. It yielded, approximately, 103,000,000 bushels. In the year after the yield dropped, as I have said, to 24,000,000 bushels from practically the same acreage. In the following year, 1915-16, the farmers and others engaged in agriculture were recompensed for the disastrous failure of the previous season by a harvest of 169,000,000 bushels from practically the same acreage, and wheat that year realized a price which was then unprecedented in the history of Australia. The price for home consumption was 4s. 9d. per bushel, and wheat sent overseas realized 5s. 3d. a bushel.
– The world’s average was 8s. 6d. a bushel.
– What I am dealing with just now is the return to the primary producer in Australia under the dreadful tariff of which the honorable member for Forrest complains. The yield in the year I have last mentioned was 169,000,000 bushels, for which the highest price up to that time recorded was obtained.
– And many of the farmers are still waiting for their money.
– That may be so, but my point is that if the producers of wheat did not get a satisfactory return for their labour they could not put the blame on the Minister for Trade and Customs. They must attribute their loss to some cause other than the tariff. At the time to which I refer the leader of the conservative element in South Australia was the Honorable John Darling, who followed his father as manager of the great wheat firm of John Darling and Sons.
– And a pretty mess was made of the handling of the wheat.
– I am not concerned about who was responsible for that. I am satisfied to know that it was not the working man. ‘ If the wheat pools got into the hands of persons who were incapable of managing them; those persons were not drawn from the ranks of Labour. They were drawn from amongst the people who urged the electors not to vote for Labour with its pooling systems and socialistic ideas. The complaint is made that the primary producer is fleeced on every hand, but it is not the working man who fleeces him. Very few farmers’ labourers retire on their earnings as farm labourers. Very few of those whose toiling and moiling are responsible for the products of most industries retire on the earnings of their labour. It is those who manage them who retire. John Darling was practically premier and dictator of the conservative element in South Australia.
– That is quite contrary to the facts.
– The honorable member has only to refer to the records of the time to find that what I say is correct. John Darling was head and tail of the Liberal and Conservative organizations in South Australia. He ruled the government of the day, though he did not himself accept the responsibility of the premiership. One gentleman whom he pushed out of the position immediately got back to it with the aid of the Labour Opposition, and would not resign. The House adjourned against him, and he had to be scraped off ‘the benches, which he reached by the efforts of John Darling and his coterie of Liberals and Conservatives, Any one who knows Adelaide and South Australia is conversant with the rise and progress of John Darling.. He was able to take advantage of an opportunity that came to him, when the firm of John Dunn and Company, of South Australia, got into difficulties. John Dunn died, and his father took over the business. Later, one of the grandsons got into the hands of certain people, and it was not long before the firm became insolvent, and its assets were realized at very much less than their actual value. That gave an opportunity to old John Darling and his son to enter into the wheat business in the way they did. When the younger John Darling died, he left nearly £2,000,600 behind him. I commend that information to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster), who was one of his supporters. He was one of John Darling’s puppets at the time, when the howl went up from the housetops that the electors should vote against Labour men and keep them out of Parliament, because they were the enemies of the fanners. The younger John Darling became a millionaire from the profits he took out of the farmers. Honorable members opposite have complained that the farmer has not. received a fair return for his labours. They say that the farmers do not get what they earn. I am pointing out where the money goes and who it is that receives it. Those who receive it are the people who farm the farmers. It is not lost to the farmer because of the tariff. If the farmer does not get a fair return for his labours, it is due to his own political foolishness. If he had a little horsesense, he would vote for those who would secure to him a fair return for his efforts.
– What about the Labour man who said. “To hell with the farmers “ ?
– The honorable member’s reference is to .Ben Bell. The last time I saw him he was in Keswick Hospital suffering from aneurism of the heart, due to his war service. He suffered because he went where the honorable member did not go. He took risks which the honorable member did not take. He took that stand for his country which has been described as the finest exhibition of citizenship: and yet the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) would bring up the statement to which he has referred against him. Ben Bell was pleading the cause of working men in connexion with the opening up of lands at Pinnaroo, in which the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) is vitally interested. Mallee stumps were feeing gathered into heaps to be burned, and when Bell heard this, knowing that fuel was required in Adelaide, he urged that the railway authorities should bring the stumps down to Adelaide at cost and sell them to the working people of that city. Whilst he was doing so, one man interjected, “ What would the farmers say ? “ and to this man Ben Bell replied, “ To hell with the farmers 1 I am not talking about farmers, I am talking about firewood.” Torn from its context, a part of that statement was used throughout South Australia by the Conservatives in that State.
– The honorable member should deal with the tariff.
Mr- YATES. - I think that what I am saying has an important bearing on the tariff.
– Why not say, “ To hell with the tariff”?
– It is all very well for the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) to interject, but I should like to know what the references of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) to Helen of Troy and the war for which she was responsible had to do with the tariff. Honorable members in the corner contend that the farmers have been ruined by the tariff, and the honorable member for Angas tried to .score off a statement I made. I think that what I was referring to had a. direct bearing on the matter before the committee, because I was showing that the difficulties of the farmers were not attributable to the tariff.
– What the honorable member said had as much to do with the tariff as a bishop with a battlefield.
– It had more to do with the tariff. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) tries to drag in the story of the .bishop who was once a canon but never on a battlefield, and I certainly cannot see what that has to do with the tariff. I have been explaining that the farmers have not been ruined by the tariff. This can be proved by reference to Commonwealth statistics. I have said that .these show that, in 1915-C, the wheat yield of Australia amounted to 169,000,000 bushels, for which the .best price ever obtained for wheat in Australia was paid. I know that at the time my wife had to pay 3s. 8d. a bushel for wheat with which to feed her fowls. Heaven knows that that is a good price for wheat. According to the Y ear-Book the wheat yield in 1919-20 was 4S,974,’9;92 bushels; in 1920-1, 145,873,850 bushels; in .1921-2, 12.9,088,806 bushels; in 1923-4, 124,993.371 bushels; and in 1924-5, 164,544,701 bushels. Yet honorable members of the Country party argue that the tariff is crippling our primary producers, and that the wild dogs, dingoes, and rabbits are eating them out because they have to pay a little more for Australian wire netting than they do for British wire netting. On those figures the primary producers have little to complain about. I come now to the export of fresh fruits. The quantity of fruit exported in 1919-20 was 42,722,200 lb., valued at £466,910; in 1920-1, 51,686,200 lb., valued at £535,525; in 1921-2, 97,343,800 lb., valued at £973,726; in 1922-3, 108,391,900 lb., valued at £1,040,310; and in 1923-4, 78,927,000 lb., valued at £870,260. During that period the tariff was imposed to protect the producers against foreign competition. These are relative figures, and I want honorable members to note that between the years 1920-1 and 1922-3, the quantity of fresh fruit exported, and the value obtained for it increased by over 50 per cent. In view of that how do honorable members of the Country party sustain their argument that the tariff is crippling industries ?
– The honorable member is going bade too far into history.
– I am not going back so far as the time of Helen of Troy, -who was referred to by the honorable member for Perth,
– The honorable member is talking of something of which he knows nothing.
– I resent that interjection. I prefer to accept the Year-Book rather than the vapourings of the honorable member for Forrest. I ‘shall now deal with the dried-fruits exports. From this industry the middleman is making an enormous profit. Raisins are sold in 1^-oz. packets at 3d. each, which represents 2s. 6d. a pound, and we are told that the consumer is getting this article at less than cost. There is not the slightest doubt that the ordinary worker has to pay through the nose for his requirements, and he reaps no advantage from any effort to encourage a languishing industry. The dried-fruits exports in 1919-20 were 18,034,391 lb., valued at £643,670. The following year the tariff came into operation, and one would have naturally concluded from the remarks of some honorable members that the industry would have been completely wiped out. But what are the facts. In 1923-4, the exports of dried fruits were 43,581,329 lb., valued at £1,243,272. Yet we are told that the tariff is crippling production, and is driving returned soldiers from their holdings.
– The honorable member knows that that increase was due solely to the repatriation policy of the State Governments.
– Is not that policy, and the development of the country, part of our national life ? To follow the honorable member’s argument, we should place on all our returns of production a footnote stating that the figures are faked to the extent of the assistance given to returned soldiers. I base my argument on the figures contained in the YearBook.
– The figures are correct, but the honorable member’s deductions are wrong.
– The honorable member may make his own deductions. Nothing else can be adduced from those figures than the fact that we are producing an enormous quantity of dried fruits, notwithstanding the imposition of the tariff. My case is unanswerable. I come now to the wine industry, which is related to the dried-fruits industry, and shows practically’ the same result. Instead of condemning these industries, we should be lauding them; but honorable members of the Country party prefer to decry Australia’s productivity.
– There, again, the repatriation policy of the States helped the wine industry.
– According to the honorable member’s argument, every industry in Australia is languishing, with the exception of those in which returned soldiers are engaged. I am quoting facts.
– The honorable member would not be prepared to go through the Murray Valley and use the same arguments.
– I went through the Murray Valley owing to the courtesy of a State Government. The returned soldiers will not condemn me for quoting these figures. We know that they are not receiving adequate returns for their produce. The Labour party has always protested against the exploitation of returned soldiers, and those who will have to answer for this are the merchants and business men, who absorb most of the profits .obtained from the export of the produce of the soldier settlers. It is the foreigner who appreciates our sparkling wines. Australians refuse to drink them, and will not give the winemaker an opportunity to produce wine equal to the imported article. We hare the fruit, and can produce excellent sparkling wines, but we have not the patriots in this country to consume it.
– They would need to be patriots to consume some of it.
– My honorable friend is possibly a connoisseur of wines, and, since 1 am not. I bow to his superior knowledge. Of beer I may be qualified to express an opinion, but I am no judge of the merits of wines. Give the Australian an opportunity to produce what is wanted, and if he does not supply a wine as good as. the imported article he will be spoiling his record, for there is not one branch of art, science, industry, sport, or war in which the Australian competitor has not come out on top. . Give the Australian the opportunity, and he will produce a sparkling wine which will not only .blow the cork out of the bottle, but will blow the head off the consumer who partakes of it too generously. In 1919-20, the quantity of wine produced in Australia was 7,649,404 gallons, and in 1923-4 it had increased to 14,663,881 gallons. Wine and dried fruits are the products of the crops grown by returned soldiers and others. What has become of all the money thus earned, that the industry is in such a parlous position to-day? Has the tariff affected the production of wine?
– The bounty helped the industry out of its difficulties.
– Having regard to the quantity of wine produced and consumed, there should have been no need for a bounty. Somebody between the producer and the consumer is reaping the profits, and he should be compelled to loosen his throttling hold on the industry. (Mr. Cook. - The honorable member is talking utter rubbish.
– I invite the honorable member to rise later and prove that the statistics I am quoting from the Year-Boole are rubbish. I come now to the industry in which the honorable member is particularly interested, and I urge him, before whining about its disabilities, to look for some cause other than the tariff and the Labour party. The statistics in regard to butter continue the glowing story of progress. From 165,648,791 lb. in 1919, the output increased to 226,665,853 lb. in 1923. Although we are told that the tariff is a handicap to the industry, the outstanding fact is that its production has nearly doubled in four years. “What else must Australia do to justify itself and silence the freetrade Jeremiahs? If I were in the Old Country as a lecturer on Australia, I should require nothing more than those figures to prove the greatness and progress of this country. Yet rabid freetraders, because they desire to see Australia flooded with the cheap-labour products of other countries, vilify their native laud. They ought to be deported under the Crimes Act. The production of cheese decreased from 26,196,272 lb. in 1919-20 to 25,380,525 lb. in 1923-4.
– The factories are making condensed milk instead of cheese.
– They manufacture the commodity that is most profitable.
– Of course; commercial considerations weigh with them all the time. They care nothing for Australia; they are chasing the dollars. “The production of milk increased from 529,547,000 gallons in 1919 to 2,362,227,000 gallons in 1923. The producers know which commodity pays best, and that accounts for the increase in the output of milk and the decrease in the output of cheese. As a whole the dairying industry is doing very well. If I were in the trenches I would say damn well - but I am not in the trenches. !No honorable member has proved that the tariff has had the awful effects upon industries which it is alleged to have had. The tale of pigs is also one of progress. In 1919 there were 695,968 pigs in Australia. In 1923 that number had increased to 897,874. The industry that is secondary to pig raising is the production of bacon and hams. We find that pigs smoked and dried tell the same story as pigs alive and squealing. In 1919 the production of bacon and hams was 57,758,592 lb., and in 1923 it had risen to 67,600,747 lb. Having regard to that increase of nearly 10,000,000 lb., I fail to see that the tariff has detrimentally affected this industry. If high duties are responsible for the result I have mentioned, for goodness sake let us have more of them. These figures are a sufficient answer to those who say that the imposition of Customs duties is sending Australia to the dogs. The production of poultry and eggs is mainly, a side line of dairy farming; but in 1919-20 the value of these products was £8,166,094, and in 1923-4, £9,036,033. The tariff has not even frightened the fowls; in spite of Arbitration Courts, too, they did their job as of yore. They did not “ go slow, ‘’ and I dare say that if the eggs were cracked four out of every five would be found to have double yolks. Turning to an. industry which should interest the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse). I find that the revenue of the forestry departments increased from £389,544 in 1919-20 to £740,292 in 1923-4. Even the production of the forests doubled. I suppose that a good deal of labour was employed in securing that result, and in the face of those figures nobody can justly allege that the timber workers are- going slow and cannot hold their own against the Americans, or that the J apanese could do twice as much work for a third of the wages. Mining is the most arduous and hazardous of the primary industries, and it takes the greatest toll of life and health. Honorable members are aware that the miners had to fight tooth and nail for every improvement in their wages and working conditions. I remember asking the meaning of the term “ bank to bank,” and I was told : “ The time of a factory employee starts from the sounding of the whistle. The time of a commercial traveller commences when he entrains on Monday morning, although his business call may be at a town hundreds of miles away. The miner, however, must descend -into the earth, and by fitful candle light travel perhaps a mile and a half over rubble and rubbish, and only when he reaches the seam face does his shift commence.” That was the meaning of the term “ bank to bank.” These men, who have had to fight for everything they have got out of the industry, are now reproached with “ go-slow “ tactics. We are told that Australian workmen spend too much time at the races; that they go too often to football matches, and that “ two-up” is about all that they know. What are the facts ? I have already shown conclusively that as producers of wealth they have established a magnificent record. I turn now to the silver-lead industry for further confirmation of my statement. In 1919-20 Australia produced 5,886,947 fine oz. of silver, 80,175 tons of lead, and 17,119 tons of zinc In 1923 the figures had risen to: silver, 7,223,236 fine oz., an increase of nearly 2,000,000 oz. ; lead, 124,570 tons, an increase of over 44,000 tons; and zinc, 41,158 tons’, an increase of over 24,000 tons. In what respect has the tariff crippled the mining industry or hampered production ? In 1919 the industry employed 7,576 persons; and in 1923-4 only 5,894. Whilst the number of employees decreased by approximately 2,000, the increased production, in the case of silver alone, was over 2,000,000 fine oz.
– The- honorable member should bear in mind that silver is produced in Hobart electrolytically, and that it is now quite a different proposition.
– It is true that more up-to-date methods of extraction are employed, ‘but )my question is - >” Has the tariff injured the industry?” The figures for the baser metals show that in 1919-20 Australia produced 80,941 tons of pig-iron, and in 1923-4, 94,350 tons. Again, there was a substantial increase to confound the statements of those who declared that the tariff has been responsible for a slowing-down of production. The same position is disclosed by the figures relating to the coal-mining industry, notwithstanding the doleful story about the increased cost of mining machinery, higher labour costs and transport charges, plus the iniquitous provisions of the Navigation Act. In 1919 the output of coal in Australia was 10,455,096 tons, and in 1923-4 our “ goslow “ miners produced 12.517,430 tons. Most people will conclude from these figures that the Australian workman is doing his job very well, and that there was no reason on earth for the Government to introduce a measure to deal with workers who may agitate for improved conditions in their respective occupations, though there might have been good reason for a bill to deal with profiteers and others who get in between the producer and the consumer and fleece the people. An examination of the statistics relating to our secondary industries discloses the same healthy state of affairs. In 1919-20 there were 16,251 factories in Australia. In 1923-4 the number had risen to 20,189, an increase of nearly 4,000 factories. Employees in’ 1919-20 numbered 376,734, and in 1923-4 429’, 900 . The value of the raw materials required for our factories in the latter year was £197,038,726; and the value of the output, representing value added by the manufacturing process, was £348,577,583, compared with an added value, in 1919, of £292,536,608. In 1919-20, each employee produced £777 worth of manufactured products; in 1923-4, this figure increased to £811. Employees in our secondary industries are doing a very fair thing by their employers, so it illbecomes any honorable member to suggest that the Australian working man adopts the go-slow policy, or that the tariff is destroying his efficiency. The speeches made by honorable members who are opposed to the schedule have merely been a recapitulation of the propaganda literature published in the freetrade interest. The figures I have quoted show beyond all doubt that the Commonwealth has made substantial progress since the’ introduction of the last tariff, and, unless it can be shown that some of the items in the schedule have been included merely for revenue purposes, I shall vote for the fullest protection to Australian industries. If necessary, I shall vote for prohibition to prevent unfair competition from outside. I intend to vote for Australia first. Unless I am convinced that the tariff is likely to operate harshly or injure the Commonwealth, the schedule will have my whole-hearted support.
.- I regret that, at the moment, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) is not present, because I desire to say a few words in further explanation of an interjection which I made whilst he was speaking last evening. The honorable member stated that the introduction of the schedule had occasioned alarm in Australia, and I interjected that the alarm here was as nothing compared with the alarm felt by foreign traders at the prospective loss of trade through the operation of the new schedule.; whereupon the honorable member for Perth suggested that I was accusing him of being a foreign trader. I wish to say now that I do not accuse any of the representatives of Westtern Australia who are opposing the tariff of being foreign traders; but, having listened for nearly three hours last evening to the honorable member for Perth, and having heard the speeches of the honorable members for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and Swan (Mr. Gregory), I 1 1 ave come to the conclusion that, perhaps unwittingly, they are tile tools of foreign traders.
– The honorable member is prepared to allow manufacturing interests to dip into the people’s pockets.
– I am looking for nothing. Hitherto I have managed to make a fairly good living without dipping my hands into other people’s pockets, and I hope to be able to do so in future.
– The honorable member might explain his position a little further.
– -I am one of the few manufacturers ki this House.
– The honorable member should not allow the explanation to go any further.
– I should be sorry for the honorable member to suggest that my firm is malting undue profit out of the 35 per cent, protection on articles which it manufactures.
– A manufacturer never thinks he is taking undue profits out of the pockets of the people.
– The honorable member for Perth implied that my interjection last evening was impertinent. I resent being lectured by the honorable gentleman, one of the deputy chairmen of committees, who last evening sat back in his seat for about three-quarters of an hour, and kept up a running fire of interjections whilst the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was speaking. The speech of the honorable member was most un- Australian, and most unreasonable. Judging by their speeches, he and other honorable members who followed him are prepared to accept any but Australian goods. The honorable member for Perth said by innuendo that the Tariff Board was not straight. He did not cite facts to prove that statement, but said he would do so later. We may therefore look forward to more speeches by what the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) described as “ marathon orators.” The honorable member spoke of certain things which, he said, ought to be “ suspiciously inquired into.” But all his suspicions were directed at the Australian manufacturer and worker; he has no suspicion of the foreign trader. Is there not reasonable ground for suspicion regarding the supply of foreign oil in this, country? Is there not need for investigation into the suspicious tactics of the picture film combine? Australians alone are the subjects of suspicion in the minds of the freetrade .section of this Parliament. It is significant that those honorable members are decreasing in number.
– What does the honorable member mean by that ?
– Representatives have been returned to this Parliament who were nominally, if not actually, freetraders, but in recent years they have changed their fiscal opinions. When the vote on this tariff is taken, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) will learn who they are. I do not know of any case of a man who has turned from protection to freetrade, but there have been notable instances of freetraders becoming protectionists. One was the greatest of freetraders, the late Sir George Reid, at one time Prime Minister of this country, who, before he died, became a firm protectionist. The right honorable member for North Sydney is another instance of a converted freetrader. For many years he fought the freetrade battle, but last night he said, “ We must change our opinions according to circumstances.” The circumstances in Australia to-day are such as to warrant the continuation of the Protection policy which this country adopted years ago. The honorable member for Perth referred to the power of the Minister for Trade and Customs under the tariff, but the powers of the Minister are as nothing when compared with the powers of the President of the United States of America, under the tariff of that country. This is shown by the following quotation: -
Whenever the President upon investigation of the differences in costs of production of articles the growth or product of the United
States, and of like or similar articles the growth or product of competing foreign countries, finds it thereby shown that the duties fixed in the act do not equalize such differences., he shall ascertain the. differences and determine and proclaim a rate of duty which will equalize the same.
The President must do that within fifteen days. The honorable member for Perth said there was no such thing as unfair competition. But the Tariff Act of the United States of America, which in population, production, and wealth is an infinitely greater country than ours, says that there is such a thing as unfair competition -
Section 316 makes unlawful unfair methods of competition and unfair acts of importation which have the effect or tendency to injure or destroy an industry in the United States efficiently and economically operated, or to prevent the establishment of such industry.
What about the unfair competition of countries which, with a stroke of the pen, repudiated their war debts, and having thus relieved themselves of hundreds of thousands of pounds of obligations, started from scratch to send goods to this country. A notable example is Germany. In 1919-20 Germany exported £13,000 worth of goods to this country, but in 1924-25 that total had grown to £2,252,000 worth. It is a disgrace to the people of Australia that they should trade to such an extent with a nation that for greed brought about the world war. The honorable member for Perth said that the war was caused by the policy of protection in Germany. No more ridiculous statement has ever been made. I should like to ask those honorable members who support the policy of freetrade whether they honestly believe that freetrade in any country means low prices for the consumer. The New Zealand farmer is not able to purchase his implements at the price he should pay. having regard to what the Australian farmer pays for implements made in the same factories in the United States of America and Canada. Some honorable members have said that it is ridiculous for me to say that’ the New Zealand farmer is not paying less than the Australian farmer. The farmers and freetraders dearly love to cite the price of binders. Binders increased in price in Australia from £32 in 1914 to £95 in 1921. Is that statement correct?
– No. I have purchased binders during the last twenty-five years, and the statement is not correct.
– I challenge the honorable member to disprove it. The figures I have cited show a 200 per cent, increase, despite the fact that no duty was placed on binders until the 1st January, 1922.
– The duty was imposed in 1920.
– No; the duty was a deferred one, and became operative on 1st January, 1922. The Australian manufacturer of agricultural machinery raised his prices, on the average, 60 per cent, during the war period; but on this one line of binders, which were not manufactured in Australia, and on which there was no duty, the increase was 200 per cent.
– War conditions accounted for that. Binders were obtainable for from £35 to £40 at any time before the war.
– The honorable member is begging the question.
– Why were binders supplied to us for £32 when there was no tariff?
– Judging by figures obtainable from America, the manufacturers took more than a fair advantage of us, even in 1914. Let me answer the honorable member’s argument in another way. Newsprint from Canada paid a duty until recently of £3 a ton. The price of newsprint a few months ago was £21. I ask the honorable member whether he can buy Canadian newsprint today for £18 a ton. The newspaper proprietors of Australia are not receiving the benefit of the £3 a ton preference granted to the Canadian manufacturers of newsprint. The case would be different if there were a newsprint industry in Australia, but, in the absence of that, the Canadian trader is able to take almost full advantage of the preference we give him. The price of Canadian newsprint is kept only a trifle below that quoted by the English manufacturers. Freetraders in this chamber say that there is no such thing as a moderate protectionist, but they have said that they desire to foster industries in this country. If there be no moderate protectionists, there are certainly no moderate freetraders. A member of Parliament to-day must either be a protectionist or a freetrader. I should like to know to which category the honorable members for Perth, Forrest, and Swan belong.
– I should say that a moderate protectionist is a moderate freetrader.
– That is my opinion, but those honorable members do not agree with it. The honorable member, for Swan said that this country could never be independent under protection. How does he propose to make us independent under freetrade? We must either be dependent or independent. Many persons, when arguing about the tariff, regard it only from the financial point of view, but to me it is more important than that. The safety of this nation is involved in it, for we must make our key industries secure. It is all very fine for honorable members to say that there will be no more war; we must be prepared for war. The adoption of a freetrade policy will not help use to prepare for war; nor will it give any scope whatever for the development of the brains of our people. There are already too many “wood and water joeys “ in Australia. If we are to be exploited by such combines as the American oil and film companies, at least we should be able to tax them ; but some successfully avoid taxation, notably certain oil interests and the film combines. We can deal with the Australian combines, and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) will fail in his duty if he ‘does not help us to regulate the operations of the foreign combines. The big oil companies, by raising the price of petrol recently, will take out of the pockets of the general community in Australia more than twice the cost of the imported petrol pumps that they propose to install in the first few years. Some honorable members who have participated in this debate have had a good deal to say about honour in trade, but have not mentioned the dishonorable tactics of the foreign combines which are bleeding our people to the extent of millions of pounds a year. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) introduced a discussion on petrol pumps recently, and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who supported him, said that, although he was obliged to pay 2s. 2d. a gallon for petrol in Australia, he had bought it in America for less than ls. a gallon. What tremendous toll the American oil companies are levying on our people ! So are the American motor car manufacturers and film producers. Honorable members who read the financial columns of the daily press will recollect seeing a statement last week to the effect that General Motors, the big American motor car corporation, had further watered its stock and paid a tremendous dividend to its shareholders. Its profits last year amounted to scores of millions of dollars; and Australians, who spent something like £11,000,000 on motor cars that year, contributed a considerable amount to the total. I was pleased to hear the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) say yesterday that he hoped that an all-Australian motor car would be produced in the not too-distant future. Honorable members who complain that our tariff is unjust to other countries should inform themselves a little of affairs abroad. After the war, when there was a tremendous amount of unemployment in the “United States of America, the Government there did not tinker with a tariff, but absolutely prohibited the importation of certain manufactures, with the object of stimulating their production in America. At the same time the steel manufacturers entered into an agreement to pool 10 per cent, of their output and dump it on foreign markets to break down local competition. These moves were successful in practically eliminating unemployment there. The supremacy of America in the world’s trade can hardly be questioned, and she is strongly protectionist. I wish to point out to those honorable members who have said a good deal about British trade, that many millions of pounds’ worth of British manufactures are re-exported. Britain took every advantage of the preference we granted, to her. She sent a lot of her work to Germany, had it returned in an almost finished state, then put the finishing touches to it, and then exported it as British workmanship so that she could avail herself of our tariff privileges. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) said yesterday that while the tariff barriers of the dominions were two-thirds higher now than they were a number of years ago, foreign countries had reduced their tariff, in the same period, by onefifth. A comparison of that kind is of little use. To make his case sound the honorable member should have stated the original basis on which the trade rested. Another incomplete argument that he advanced against the tariff was that years ago 83 per cent, of Australian imports were British. The United States of America at one time in her history had, also, to import practically the whole of her requirements from Great Britain. In the face of the statement of the right honorable member for Worth Sydney (Mr. Hughes), that in the last four years our imports from Great Britain had increased by more than £100,000,000, it is ridiculous to say that British manufacturers are unable to jump the tariff hurdle that faces them. Actually that increase was in three years. Under the tariff schedule before us we are proposing to give Great Britain additional preferences to the value of £500,000. Wo freetrade member has mentioned this further great concession. Britain, as a matter of fact, is, very late, in recognizing that there are two sides; to a bargain,, and that there is such a thing as trade reciprocity.
– “We are giving Great Britain ten times as much preference as she is giving us.
– That is so. We are told by honorable members who support the freetrade principle, that if a country buys our produce we must buy goods from it of equal value. If that is so, I should like them to explain to me how it is that last year we bought goods from the United States of America to the value of £29,000,000 and! she took goods from us to the value of only £11,000,000. The balance of trade between ourselves- and Canada is substantially in favour of our sister dominion. In spite of that, Canada is imposing a dumping duty on Australian butter. Instead of quoting inconclusive figures on a percentage basis, instead of volume, to show that we buy considerably “less from England to-day than a few years ago, the honorable member for Perth would have been better employed in showing the downward trend of British exports to America, and the upward trend of American exports- to Britain. I agree with the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), that Great Britain is losing her hold on the world’s trade-; she certainly has not the hold on it that she had twenty years ago. If the Great War had not occurred in 1914 Germany would have obtained in a few years by means of peaceful penetration what she failed to get by the war. We have been told that it is of little use for a country to produce goods and store them. We must not only produce, but sell; otherwise we shall have, no money to trade. I do not agree, however, that it is necessary for us to export our goods, to sell them. We may dispose: of them within Australia. It is better business for us to produce our requirements than to import them. We have been asked what will happen if the tariff reduces our collections through the Customs. I take it that every employer, as well as every employee, in Australia is a potential taxpayer. Tor that very reason we should take ewers step possible to ensure that foreign combines, as well as local manufacturers, pa.y taxation in accordance with the profits they make here. I have referred to the oil companies and to tha film, producers; and I could mention other similar commercial groups. Is the lesson of the war entirely lost on certain members of. the community? If I had had my way, we should have waited some years longer before lifting the embargo on the importation of German goods.. If the payment of Germany’s war indemnity to us depends upon us buying German goods,, we should be well advised to forgo it altogether; for the importation of German goods to Australia can only result in the unemployment of Australian workmen. I deny that we- are obliged to buy manufactured goods from the countries that buy our raw materials.. There is no reason why we should buy German pianos and mouth-organs and such things; but Germany, being a non-producer of wool, must buy wool from somewhere. Australian wool is equal, if not superior, to that of any other country, so that if Germany wishes to manufacture superior woollen goods she will realize the wisdom of buying Australian raw material, but we shall not be necessarily obliged to take her manufactures in payment.
– Germany must get the money from somewhere to pay us; whore will she get it ?
– I have already remarked that while we bought £29,000,000 worth of American goods last year, America bought only £11,000,000 worth of Australian goods. Where did she get the money to pay us?
– She sold goods to other nations.
– Germany can do the same thing. We are not obliged to buy German goods. We did not buy them during the war, and we got on very well. The honorable member for Perth asserted that the tariff unfairly affects Great Britain. It is said that trade between countries should be reciprocal. If that is so, then trade between Australia and Great Britain is reciprocal, because last year we bought £65,000.000 worth of goods from Great Britain, and she took goods from us to the value of £64,000,000. To describe as- reciprocal the trade between Australia and Canada, or Australia and the United States of America, would be a joke. Certain honorable members seem never to have a favorable word to say of any Australian industry.. I have referred to the agricultural implement industry, and I now refer briefly to the Australian sugar industry.. It seems to me that the service which the sugar industry rendered tor Australia during the war, aud the early post-war period, has been very readily forgotten by some honorable members. When the people in other countries of the world had to pay ls. a lb., wholesale, for sugar-
– In some places ls. 4d. a IK
– I want to keep on the safe side. When in some countries people had to pay ls. a lb., wholesale, for sugar, the Australian consumers were obtaining sugar foE years at 3d. and 3Jd. a lb. The Australian sugar industry saved the fruit industry of this country. It made the condensed-milk industry. It helped quite a number of other Australian industries, notably, confectionery. I do not intend to let the people of Australia readily forget the service which the Australian sugar industry rendered this country in 1915, and up to 1922 or 1923 . If the Government had not assumed control of their business those engaged in the Australian sugar industry could have exacted from Australian consumers the same toll as was exacted from consumers of sugar in other countries. It will be many years before we shall have repaid the services rendered the Commonwealth by the sugar industry. It stood the test of war, which is a test of any industry.
– Does that justify the embargo upon imported sugar now ?
– I believe it does. The honorable member would let any Australian industry go. Suppose that we wiped out the tariff altogether ?
– Nobody suggests that.
– The honorable member interjects that no one has suggested that, but I entirely misunderstood, the three-hours’ effort of the honorable member for Perth (Mr.. Mann), if he does not desire that the tariff should be wiped out altogether. He asserted that there can be no such thing as a moderate protectionist, and, therefore, in his opinion, the tariff must go. He made a number of quotations from American writers of articles on economics, who soared high above the realm of practical things; but I remind the honorable member that in spite of those American writers, the United States of America is still a highly protected country, and in 1922 and 1923 she increased her tariff materially. America is a highly efficient nation, and why did she increase her tariff? It was because she knows very well that it is impossible for her to carry on with her 110.000,000 of population without a tariff against the rest of the world. The trade of America and Germany was established under protectionist tariffs. Australia can, and will, do the same. It seemed to me that the honorable member for Perth could not have been serious when he said that Australia is on the verge of a financial crisis. We should be on the verge of the worst crisis the country has ever known if we were to tinker with the tariff. I am not going to permit it to be whittled down to the slightest extent, because the crisis that the honorable member forecasted would come - if it is coming at all, and I do not think it is - far more rapidly if we had a reduced tariff. We find that this continent, with its 6,000,00 of people, is Great Britain’s second best market. That is not a bad argument in support of the claim that .we give more than a reasonable preference to Great Britain. If freetrade is so good a policy as some honorable members would have us believe, why do not other countries in the world adopt it?
– Is there one country in the world that can be said to be a really freetrade country?
– No, there is not. England is held up to us as a shining example of the benefits of freetrade; but her low tariff is the reason that no fewer than 1,250,000 of her people are unemployed and in receipt of the dole at the present time. T do not know what the result will be in England within a short period if she does not repeat in other cases what she did some time ago when she imposed duties on silk to meet the condition of the silk industry and thus secured the re-employment of numbers of people in the industry, and its further extension. I agree with the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) that England’s position at the present time is precarious. Unless she does something to protect her home market, which is a tremendous one, she must shortly begin to go down hill very rapidly. The honorable member for Swan referred to the increase in taxation in Australia, and blamed the tariff for it. That is entirely wrong. He quite forgot that there appears in our annual budget a sum of not less than £29,000,000 to cover war expenditure. It will be a long time before that expenditure is materially reduced. Loans to the amount of £415,000,000 have been raised by the Federal Government since 1915, and yet the tariff is blamed for the high cost of living and increased taxation in this community. One would think that Australia is the only country that has increased its taxation. I have looked up some figures, and I find that in the United States of America, in 1916, there were 437,000 persons who paid tax on incomes. In 1919 the number had increased to 5,332,000. This was in the country which is probably the wealthiest in the world, and certainly has most of the gold of the world in its vaults to-day. America found it necessary to raise 81, 200,000,000 in taxation in 1919, or more than twice the amount it raised from that source in 1916. This is the country that by its manufactures made all the money it could out of the war and then came in in 1917 to win the war. I admit that the entry of America into the struggle was the deciding factor in the victory of the Allies, but before entering the war America made every penny she could out of it. I say that we have not much to thank America for so far as her trade is concerned. One of the best reasons which can be advanced to induce us to help the Empire is the load which Britain is carrying, and if we are to increase our tariff we should have no hesitation in increasing it against a country like America, or against France, which, apparently, is not anxious to honour its obligations to pay its debts to Great Britain. The British Empire seems to me to be carrying a heavy burden of debt for almost every other country, whilst America has exacted her pound of flesh from England. Great Britain must be carrying a debt of hundreds of millions for countries like Russia, and we should do everything we can to help her. If in order to do> so it should be found necessary to raise our tariff against America and other foreign countries, I should give such a proposal my support. A couple of years ago there was a financial crisis in Australia, due to the fact that whilst we had established a very considerable credit in England it could not be transferred to this country because the British Government prohibited the export of gold. The honorable member for Perth has said that money or gold is sent out of a country only in settlement of a trade balance. Between two and three years ago, we very badly wanted some gold in Australia. I know a Sydney firm that wished to buy its winter requirements of blankets, amounting in value to £40,000. It had practically placed this order with an Australian firm, and went along to the bank to get the money. The bank authorities said they were very sorry, but they could not lend it. Two days later, the same firm went to the same bank and borrowed £40,000 to bring out the blankets required from England. I know a boot manufacturer who got an order for £12,000 worth of boots. He wanted an advance of £2,000 to pay for the raw material he required. His bank could not give him the £2,000 for his operations in Australia, but it advanced the necessary funds to enable him to import the whole of the boots he required from England. Those are examples of the difficulties which Australian manufacturers were called upon to face, despite the fact that at the time there were many millions of pounds to our credit in London.
– The difficulties to which the honorable member refers were clue to the action of the Note Issue Board.
– That may have been a factor.
– Is the honorable member aware that the banks imported £10,000,000 of gold in the last ten months ?
– I am; but if they had been able to do so two years before, the position of the textile industry in Australia would not have been so bad as it was. I was recently in conversation with Sir Frank Heath, the famous scientist, who came out here to advise the Government, and he spoke of the amazing growth of Australia. He said that we had reached in 50 years or less a stage of advance which it had (taken other countries centuries to reach. By the application of science, not only to secondary but also to primary industries, we can continue to maintain our position as producers. Sir Frank Heath holds that the finest thing for the country to have is many industries of a technical nature for the training of men who can help us in time of stress, which need not necessarily be a time of war. It is far better that we should have these men in our own country than to have to import them from other countries. The youth of Australia must be helped in this connexion. I have a tremendous faith in this country and its people. I speak for scores of thousands of protectionists in this country as compared with the honorable member for Perth, who said that he was speaking for thousands who are in favour of a freetrade policy. If a vote were taken to-morrow it would be found that the people of Australia are overwhelmingly in favour of a continuation of the protectionist policy. The state of this House is a proof of that. We would have a great many more freetraders in this chamber if a greater number of the electors favoured a freetrade policy.
– We killed them all in the past.
-Nearly all of them were killed. Unfortunately, some of them still exist. I thought that the war would have killed the last of the freetraders, but it appears not to have taught a lesson to some persons in Australia. The question of piece-work was raised by one speaker. I agree, with much of what the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) said. I discussed this matter recently with Sir Frank Heath. I believe in piece-work, but my system would be to divide the standard rate of wage that is ruling to-day by the production of the individual. As honorable members are aware, practically every factory has a time card, which sets out the time that is taken to perform certain operations. A piece-work price should be struck by dividing the wages by the output. If an operative doubled his output he would double his wages. I do not believe in setting one man against another and fixing the piece-work rate on the basis of the production of the fastest worker. That system would result in many men making a very poor living. I can speak feelingly upon this matter, because many years ago in England my father witnessed the pernicious effects of the piece-work system, and he told me that in his day it did not matter how hard some men worked they could not earn more than 19s. a week, although the rate for those who turned out the good class of work was as high as 33s. a week. I believe that we could considerably increase production in many industries by the adoption of the system that I have outlined. The tremendous burden of the war that Australia carries to-day can be discharged only by doing the job ourselves. We must follow the practice of other countries; we must sell abroad as much as we can, and buy as little as possible. As Australia grows, the requirements of its people will increase1. For many years there will be many commodities that we cannot hope to manufacture commercially, and of necessity they must be imported. But millions of pounds’ worth of goods are imported that could and should be manufactured in Australia. I am hopeful that this tariff will be of great assistance in that direction. No nation has become great by primary production alone. It is useless to try to make our community wealthy unless at the same time we make it secure. I shall never subscribe to any policy under which our security would be taken away.
– I wish, first of all, to reply to one or two of the statements of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates). I desire to refute his statement that the late Mr. John Darling was the head and tail of the liberal organization in South Australia. Nothing is further from the truth, and I give it the most emphatic denial. I should know a good deal more about it than the honorable member, because I am a member of that organization and he is not. By interjection, I referred to the celebrated remark that has been widely circulated in South Australia - “To hell with the farmers !” The honorable member gave the credit, or the discredit, of having originated that remark, to a certain gentleman whom he named. My information is that it was made by a different member of the organization. Its use by two members suggests that it represents the thought of at least a portion of the party to which the honorable member for Adelaide belongs. In the calmness of reflection I think that the honorable member will regret his reference to my not having gone to the front. I do not care a tinker’s benediction what the honorable member says about me, but in fairness to my wife and family of young children I consider that the slur which he cast upon me should be publicly repudiated. It must be patent to all that I have the shortest stature of any honorable member in this House. That was the reason why, at the outbreak of the war, I was not considered eligible for active service. I ascertained that I had no hope of being accepted, my authority for that statement being a lieutenant friend of mine. Later I made several inquiries to see if the regulations regarding height and chest measurement had been relaxed sufficiently to admit me, but. on each occasion I found that I had neither the requisite height nor sufficient chest measurement. “When I finally came within the scope of the regulations, I enlisted, notwithstanding the fact that I was a married man with four young children, and was strongly advised by a number of digger friends that it was not my job. I make this statement, not for self-glorification, but in justice to my wife and children. When I left the town of Gladstone, in which I had lived for a number of years, and in which I had done a great deal of work for re turned soldiers, a gentleman who spoke on behalf of and at the request of returned soldiers, said, in reference to me, “ The departing resident has been the best friend that the soldiers of Gladstone have ever had.” The honorable member for Adelaide dealt lengthily with the dried fruits and wine industries, of which he admittedly, knows very little.
-I know as much about them as the honorable member.
– The honorable member quoted figures to prove that the production in the dried fruits industry had increased. The question is not one of production, but whether the growers can sell their products at a profit. Even he should know that there is at present on the notice-paper a bill to amend the Dried Fruits Advances Act of 1924. The precarious state of the growers rendered it necessary for the Government to make advances to them. When the time for repayment arrived, they were unable to discharge their liability, and an extension of time was granted. But even at the expiration of the extended period these men, who, according to the honorable member, are in a flourishing condition, were unable to pay.
– I did not say the industry was flourishing. I merely quoted the figures that appear in the Commonwealth Year-Booh.
– The honorable member said that the industry was flourishing.
– I deny that.
– The bill to which I have referred provides that repayments may be made in two instalments, spread over a period of two years. Clause 10l reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this act, the Minister may, upon the receipt of a report from the board appointed under this act, release any grower either wholly or in part from his indebtedness in respect to an advance made to him under this act.
That is a proof that the industry is not in a flourishing condition. Its production has certainly been great, but it has really suffered from over-production, and the growers have not been able to sell their products at a profitable price in the markets of the world. The generally accepted reason is that, from various causes, the cost of production in Australia is so high that the growers cannot compete with other countries in which the cost of production is lower, and the distance to the markets of the world shorter. Similar conditions exist in the wine industry. The information that I shall place before the committee was obtained by me from persons who are engaged in the industry. The honorable member for Adelaide said that the production of wine in 1923-4 was 14,500,000 gallons. For his information, I may mention that in the year 1924-5 the production declined to 12,500,000 gallons, because of climatic conditions. The normal consumption of Australian wine is 9,000,000 gallons. It will thus be seen that there has been over-production in that industry also. The grape-growers were not able to carry on, and the industry was in a state of collapse. The Commonwealth Government had to come to their assistance. Let me show what this industry has done. Originally there was an excise duty amounting to 6d. per proof gallon on fortifying spirit. The sole reason for the imposition of that excise was to secure funds with which to cover the cost of supervision. That was found to be insufficient, and the excise was raised to 9d. In 1915 revenue was badly needed, and the excise was raised to 6s. per proof gallon purely for war revenue. The producer’s were led to believe that they would obtain -some relief after the
Avar. The excise of 6s. per proof gallon is really equal to 10s. on pure spirit. No other country has excise on fortifying spirit, and this is a factor that should be taken into consideration in discussing the tariff. A bounty was asked for of 4s. a gallon. Great Britain also gave preference to our wines. The following figures will indicate how essential the bounty is to enable us to dispose of our surplus wine production. Harper’s Wine and Spirit Gazette of the 24th October, 1925, records the sale of Spanish “ Tarragona “ tawny wine at from £10 10s. to £12 a pipe, which works out at a little less than 2s. a gallon. Spanish wines, owing to the fact that they have a shorter carriage, and do not travel through the tropics, can be under 30 per cent, of alcoholic strength, and are ‘ therefore subject to the British tariff of 2s. 6d. a gallon. The wine in bond costs 2s. a gallon, casks included. The duty is 2s. 6d., which means that the cost of the wine out of bond in London is- 4s. 6d. The cost of Australian sweet wines f.o.b. at 5s. 6d. a gallon, less 4s. bounty, is ls. 6d. The casks are of oak, and are priced at the rate of ls. a gallon. The freight, insurance, and landing charges amount to 10d., and the duty on wine over 30 per cent, strength is 2s. I might explain that the British duty on wine of over 30 per cent, strength is 6s. We get a preference of 4s., which reduces the duty to 2s., and this makes the cost of our wine 5s. 4d. out of bond, London. It Will be seen, therefore, that the cost of our wines is 5s. 4d. as against 4s. 6d. for cheap Spanish wines. Against this is the fact that Australian wines contain about 5 per cent, more spirit, and this makes it possible for us to compete with foreign wines in Great Britain. There is no doubt that a crisis would have occurred, and many of our soldier settlers would have been ruined, if the Government had not come to the assistance of the grape grow.ers. It is to the credit of the Government that it was prepared to assist men who had fought for this country and who really had a right to expect something in return. The position will be worse in the future. There are 6,000 acres of vine3 coming in bearing, and if they produce lj tons of grapes to the acre, the result Will be an extra production of 1,500,000 gallons. A ton and a half of grapes is a low estimate for a non-irrigated area. Most of the 6,000 acres coming into bearing is on irrigated areas, so that the estimate that I have given of an extra production of 1,500,000 gallons is far below the mark. I would point out that any disaster to this industry will fall mostly on the returned soldiers on the irrigated areas. Although their returns are greater, their water rates and cost of working the land, grading, &c, are very high. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) quoted figures to show that the grape-growing industry was in a flourishing condition, but the fact that this industry has produced so much does not count for anything. What counts is that these settlers shall be able to carry on at a profit. It is common knowledge that without a bounty from the Government it would be absolutely impossible for these settlers to carry on. The honorable member for Adelaide has endeavoured to mislead the general public. It is absolutely wrong to say that the grape-growing industry is in a nourishing condition. It is a pity that he had not studied his figures more carefully than he did. I come now to the tariff and my attitude towards it. The first care of the Government should be the primary producers, because without them it would be impossible for this country to carry on. I believe in the establishment of secondary industries, and in protection as a means to this end. But Ave must be careful that wo do not go to extremes when imposing duties. I am not a prohibitionist, but I do not believe that the price of any foreign articles necessary in this country should be prohibitive because of the effect of the tariff. It is a great mistake to put a duty on th° whole of a certain class of imports when the Australian industry can only produce, Say, 2£ per cent, of our requirements. I would suggest a bounty in such a case. I have studied the amended tariff item by item, and I shall discuss several items later, particularly those relating to textiles. I have been connected with this business for the last 27 years, ever since I left school. Some of the items show to any one who has a knowledge of softgoods, that either the Tariff Board knows little about the textile trade, or has been woefully misled. Duties are imposed that, to use a colloquial expression, “would make a cat laugh.” The Minister,, when introducing the tariff, said that children’s vests were turned out at as low as 9s. 6d. a dozen at one factory in Australia. The duty on each garment under the tariff is 2s. 6d. It is really a joke, and is not a tariff at all. I can easily see where the mistake has arisen. The full-sized garment was in the mind of the person responsible for the imposition of the duty of 2s. 6d. The duty was rightly imposed to shut out some of the rubbish that was coming here by placing it under the garment tariff. But the person concerned did not understand the trade well enough to bear in mind the fact that the tariff would also apply to children’s vests and underwear generally. So the Minister is proposing a duty of 2s. 6d. per garment on vests which, in small sizes, can- be purchased in Great Britain at 4s. per dozen. An ad valorem duty of even 300 ner cent, would be moderate, in comparison with this impost of 2s. 6d. on a garment worth “4d. in the factory. An injustice in connexion with this duty is that the delivery of goods which were on order when the duty was imposed was delayed until the termination of the seamen’s strike, and the importers then found their warehouses stocked with an article saleable at about ls., but on which they had to pay a duty of 2s. 6d. Household sewing cottons up to 400 yards in the reel have always been admitted free under the British preferential tariff. I can see no other reference to cottons in this schedule except “ sewing threads and sewing cottons, n.e.i., 25 per cent.” I have handled cottons, wholesale and retail, and as agent for a British manufacturer. The cottons used in factories which produce ready-made clothing are on reels or cardboard frames carrying about 2000 yards, and it seems to me that these cottons are to be subjected to a duty of 25 per cent. If that is so. the manufacturers will be penalized, but that surely cannot be the intention of the Minister. That item is another indication that the Tariff Board either knows very little about the softwoods trade or has been misled. In regard to cotton tweeds, I shall have a great deal to say later. Since 1906 I have been actively interested in country stores, and have sold thousands of pairs of cotton - tweed trousers. When I was on the land I used trousers of cotton tweed and what is known as “shoddy.” For the information of the Minister, I may say that that term does not. refer to cotton tweed, but to a cheap, rubbishy woollen material produced from scraps and floor sweepings. I have always advised my customers against the purchase of “ shoddy “ ; indeed, I refused to stock it. But there are such materials as engineers’ twist, naps, and strong cotton tweeds which have taken the place of the old-time moleskin. The cotton tweed is not only easier to wash - and we should remember” that the worker’s wife has no electrical washing appliances - but also> has all the wearing properties of moleskin, besides being more suitable to a warm climate. A person wearing woollen tweeds or serge trousers in the country suffers purgatory from burrs and prickles, but these vegetable nuisances do not attach themselves to cotton tweed. The heavy duty which is being imposed on this class of clothing will be paid principally by the workers both in the towns and on the farms. No doubt the intention of the Minister is to encourage the manufacture of cotton tweeds in Australia. I am not advocating the use of the cheap, rubbishy stuff that is imparted from Japan.
– Who imports it from Japan? The merchant imports it, and the country storekeeper buys it from him.
– I have never knowingly bought any of this material from Japan, but I have sold sound British cotton tweeds. I am informed by a friend in the trade that it is very difficult to get supplies of cotton tweed from Australian manufacturers. What is to happen while local factories are getting ready to supply the demand ? Are the State Parliaments to be asked to amend their legislation so that people may be allowed to go about in a state of nature, or will the workers be compelled to wear woollen tweeds that are more costly, less durable, and uncomfortable ? If a cotton-tweed industry can be established in Australia, rather than impose a prohibitive duty Parliament should offer a bounty until such time as local factories can supply a reasonable proportion of Australia’s requirements.
– Perhaps the honorable member is not aware that from twelve to fifteen mills in Australia are making cotton tweeds.
– If that is so, I wonder why, for months past, they have been refusing orders from people who are prepared to pay cash, but cannot stock their warehouses because supplies are coming forward in an inconstant trickle. I know something about this subject, and I know the difficulty of getting supplies from factories. The proposed duty on children’s vests will do more than prohibit the importation of these articles. Year after year I have placed orders for vests - women’s, children’s, and maids, O.S. and small in all sizes - and as I was able to pay cash I could get full cash discounts, but I could not get my orders fulfilled by Australian factories. Sometimes I would get O.S. vests and sometimes small women’s sizes, but frequently for month after month I was short of maids’, children’s, and infants’ sizes. Consequently, when the winter came on, and customers began to cry out for these sizes, I was compelled to go to the warehouses and ask them to supply me with vests of British manufacture. My patriot ism led me to try to encourage Australian manufacture, but by doing soI lost trade.
– How long ago was that?
– Quite recently. I have only given up my business in the last two or three months to take on the political job of representing Angas in this House. I am not trying to mislead the Minister. I am speaking in quite a friendly way, because it is my desire to see the tariff an effective one, and one in which there are no silly mistakes harmful to the workers as well as to the primary producers of Australia. In general, I agree with the tariff, but there are one or two defects which I should like to see removed from it. To me, speaking with the experience of a lifetime in the soft-goods trade, these seem to be absolutely ridiculous. I do not think the Minister wants to impose a schedule of duties which will afterwards be a laughingstock in Australia and. elsewhere. Therefore, I appeal to him to give these matters serious consideration. In that respect I am sure I shall have the support of the honorable member for
Wakefield (Mr. Foster), who has had longer experience in the soft-goods trade than I have had, and whose opinion the Minister will respect.
– Will the honorable member change his opinion if it can be proved that the Australian factories can supply the whole of the requirements of the community ?
– Even if that were possible, I do not think the Minister wants to impose a duty of 2s. 6d. against Great Britain on an article which can be produced in Australia for 9s. 6d. a dozen. That is a duty I would impose to prohibit the importation of goods produced by coloured labour. At any rate, it is an impost which is incompatible with our general attitude towards Great Britain. The Minister, and also the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) have emphasized the fact that we have a preferential tariff in favour of the Mother Country, but there is nothing in favour of the Mother Country in a duty of 2s. 6d. on an an article which can be bought for 4d. Therefore, for empire reasons, even if the Minister can show that all these children’s vests can be produced in
Australia, and that the demand can be met in March, when the goods are wanted, and not in October, I do not think we should have such a prohibitive tariff as 2s. 6d. on an article which can be produced at 9Jd. in Australia. With all due respect to the right honorable member for North Sydney, one or two of his remarks in regard to the fanners were rather unfortunate, and I do not think that, upon renconsideration, he would repeat them. At any rate, they are contrary to the facts. I admit that the farmers owe a great deal to the inventive genius of those Australians who have produced their agricultural machinery.
– We question that.
– .Yes ; very often the ideas which the manufacturers have incorporated in their machinery have come from the brains of the producers. The right honorable member for North Sydney, in support of his argument, went so far as to say that, whereas some years ago 50 men were required to produce a certain amount of wheat, one farmer, by the use of machinery, could do the same amount of work to-day. I could not quite follow the right honorable member, but it seemed to me that he thought the other 49 men should live on the odd farmer who did the work. It is true that the farmer is employing machinery where, years ago, he made use of the scythe and sickle, and that, as a consequence, there is a larger number of people engaged in the manufacture of agricultural machinery than was required to make scythes and sickles. For that reason, I am quite agreeable to foster the manufacture of agricultural machinery in Australia by a suitable protective duty, but always on the assumption that the farmers of Australia, of whom I represent a large number, get a fair deal from the manufacturers. In season and out of season the manufacturers should endeavour to produce the machinery required at the lowest possible price, because our primary producers have to market their products at world’s parity, and, therefore, must keep down production costs. All classes of the community are interested in this problem. It should be our purpose to make the best possible use of this country, and do all in our power to produce at prices that will enable us to compete with the rest of the world. I have no desire to set party against party. I have lived for many years in a country town, and I honour and respect my fellow man. I hope I shall never be an extremist. During the debate we have heard the diverse views of the honorable member for Perth (Mi1. Mann), on the one hand, and the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), on the other. I do not agree with either, because both are extremists. I shall endeavour to quote the title of one of Sir Phillip Gibbs’s book, to keep in * the middle of the road,” and out of the freetrade and prohibition ditches. This country needs an effective protective tariff in the interests of its primary producers, as well as of those engaged in secondary industries. The right honorable member for North Sydney in his speech last evening was unfair to Australian farmers when he compared them with the primary producers of Denmark and other European countries. As an Australian I was surprised to hear the right honorable gentleman casting aspersions upon our farmers. They get excellent results from the soil, sometimes under the most adverse conditions, and I say, without hesitation, that their methods of production are equal to those adopted by any other country. It is true that very many of them have to work exceedingly long hours. For some years I had a brother engaged in farming in the Pinnaroo district of South Australia. He was doing fairly well until, unfortunately, he met with an accident. One year I arranged to forego my Christmas holidays to help him. After travelling for nearly 48 hours, I reached Pinnaroo late in the evening. The following morning he called mo - at 5.30. He and the other farm employees had had their breakfast, and were yoked up for the day’s work. We worked all that day, and returned to the homestead at a very late hour. This was the daily round for several weeks, and, as it is the life of the average farmer, bc is entitled to enjoy a well-earned rest if and when he retires. Progress reported.
Message received from the Senate, intimating that, having considered message No. 12 from the House of Representatives, it had agreed to the following resolutions in connexion therewith: -
That the Senate agrees to the appointment of a joint committal to inquire into the law and procedure in relation to -
Motion (by Mr. Pratten) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Yesterday, when speaking upon the tariff, I referred to the cost of obtaining copies of evidence taken before the Tariff Board The gentlemen whose business it is to prepare those copies called upon me to-day, andsaid that the newspaper report of my speech appeared to indicate that the board was making unwarranted charges for copies of evidence. I have perused the Hansard report of my speech, and, as I thought, my words did not convey that impression, nor did I intend to do so. I urged that the cost of transcripts of evidence should be borne by the Government. Nothing was further from my thoughts than to suggest that the gentleman responsible for the reporting of the evidence was making undue charges for transcripts.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 March 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260304_reps_10_112/>.