10th Parliament · 1st Session
The Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bayley) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Prime Minister yet received the signed. Migration Agreement from the Queensland Government ?
– I have not actually received the signed agreement from the Queensland Government, but, as I told the House the other day, the Premier of Queensland telegraphed to the Federal Government indicating his intention to sign the agreement and asking that duplicate copies of it should be sent to him. That was done, and I understand that there has been published in the Brisbane press the statement that he has signed the agreement ; but we have notyet received a signed copy of the agreement.
Mattersfor Discussion : Locarno Pact
– Is it a fact that the attitude of Australia and other dominions in regard to the Locarno Pact, and matters arising therefrom, is being freely discussed in London official circles, the press, and elsewhere, whilst the people of Australia are kept in ignorance by the Government of its policy on these important public questions? Will Parliament be given an opportunity of considering the Locarno Pact and matters to be discussed at the forthcoming Imperial Conference; and if so, when ?
– I have no knowledge that the views of the dominions regarding the Locarno Pact are, being discussed anywhere. The communications that have passed on the subject have been confidential between the British Government and the various Dominion Governments. With regard to the second part of the. honorable member’s question, matters for discussion at the Imperial Conference will be considered by this House in the same way as they were on the occasion of the last conference. With regard to the particular question of the Locarno Pact, an opportunity will be afforded to this House to express its views before the Prime Minister leaves to attend the conference.
Application for Advance to the Rural Credits Department, Commonwealth Bank.
– Some little time ago I brought under the notice of the Treasurer the delay which had occurred in the granting of financial accommodation by the Rural Credits Department of the Commonwealth Bank to the Queensland Peanut Pool. Will the honorable gentleman kindly state the present position of the matter ?
– As the matter of advances by the Rural Credits Department of the Commonwealth Bank is one of widespread public importance, I am glad to be in a position to supply the honorable member with a detailed statement in regard to this matter, which I have received from the bank authorities. It is as follows: -
Last year the Peanut Pool was financed by us in Queensland under the guarantee of the
Queensland Government. This year they require substantial advances, but there is considerable doubt as to whether the Pool Board have power to give us a charge over the produce by way of debenture, and it is also considered impracticable for them to place the peanuts in an independent store and give us legal control by means of storage warrants. Under the Rural Credits Act, no advances can be made by that department unless the produce is placed under the legal control of the bank, and as it was extremely doubtful whether this could be done, it was suggested that we should be given the Queensland Government guarantee, as was done last year. Our Brisbane manager, under date 22nd February, writes as follows: - “ Mr. McCormack, the Premier, has informed us that, as the Commonwealth Treasurer publicly stated that he would have the Commonwealth Bank Act amended to provide for a Rural Credits Department, which will make advances against primary products, such amendment to do away with the necessity for State Government guarantees, and’ he finds that guarantees are still required, he does not intend to allow his political opponents to claim credit which they do not deserve. His government, therefore, is not at present prepared to guarantee the Pool Board to enable it to obtain advances from the bank’s Rural Credits Department. He thinks, however, they will guarantee the necessary overdraft, provided the advance is obtained from our General Banking Department, not from the new department. Mr. McGregor is to see Mr. McCormack in this connexion, and will probably submit a fresh application in a few days’ time.”
This clearly indicates that the matter is purely political, and the Queensland Government have no other objection to giving their guarantee. We replied to Brisbane manager, under date 25th February, as follows, and now await his further advices:. - “ We are in receipt of your letter of 22nd instant, and note your advices.
If the Peanut Pool Board have not got the necessary legal authority to give us a proper charge over the produce, they cannot obtain advances from the - Rural Credits Department. They should’, however, quite realize that this is not due to a defect in the Rural Credits Act, but entirely due to defect in their own constitution, which prevents them giving the bank proper security.
As an alternative, they could lodge the goods in an independent store and transfer the store warrants to us, and this would enable them to obtain advances through the Rural Credits Department,
If tliey are unable to adopt either of these methods, we would be agreeable to make . advances through the General Banking Department under the guarantee of the Queensland Government, though we would ourselves prefer to make the advance through the Rural Credits Department were the pool in a position to give us proper security.”
Honorable members will observe from the bank’s statement that the difficulty which has arisen is due not to any defects in the measure passed last year establishing a Rural Credits Department of the bank, but to the constitution of the pool referred to. As widespread publicity has been given throughout Australia to the fact that these advances have not been made, and it has been attempted to suggest that the Rural Credits Department of the Commonwealth Bank is unable to function, it is well that it should be known that that department is in no way to blame, and that the difficulty which has arisen can be met by action on the part of the State Government, or by an alteration of the constitution of the pool.
Electric Lifts at. Parliament House - Openingof the Parliament.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made regarding this matter, and full particulars will be supplied to the honorable member at the earliest opportunity.
Mr.WEST askedthe Prime Minister, upon notice -
– No decision has been arrived at by the Government in connexion with this matter, but the representations of the honorable member will be taken into consideration.
Cashing of Notes Paid to Detectives
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he request the Commonwealth Bank to state, for the information of the House, whether all the bank notes, of which Mr. Terence Callaghan was robbed by certain convicted detectives, have been paid?.
-I shall cause inquiry to be made.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Prices in London and Australia.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
Will he supply the House with a return showing from the time of the inauguration of the Paterson Butter Bonus System -
The daily English prices per pound of Australian butter sold in London?
The daily price per pound of butter sold in Melbourne?
The sum per pound paid on Australian butter exported, with the total amount paid to date?
– The information is being obtained.
Appointment of Successful Clerical Candidates
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the fact that allowance postmasters are receiving small remuneration for services rendered, often in trying circumstances, will he favorably consider the question of increasing their allowances?
– The scale of payment to allowancepostmasters is at present under review.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What allowances are being paid to contractors in charge of the following post-offices in New South Wales: -
What is the detailed annual revenue and expenditure of these offices from all sources?
Have adequate telegraph, bank, and postal facilities been provided at these offices?
In view of the great increases in population, why are not official offices established in the centres referred to?
– The desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
Steel andironwood Sleepers.
– On Friday last. I promised the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), in reply to his question in regard to steel and ironwood sleepers, that I would obtain and supply the desired information at a later date. I now give the following particulars : -
– On the 3rd February, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mi. G. Francis) asked the Postmaster-General the following questions : -
Whether he will, as early as practicable, place on the table of the House -
The following are the replies: - 1.(a) A list of the. cases in which a contribution is made to the department towards the cost of Queensland mail services is attached. (b)No service has been suspended or curtailed because of non-payment of subsidy, but three services have ibeen suspended since the end of last year owing to the inability of the department to obtain a tender at a reasonable rate.
– On the 12th February, I promised the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) that I would submit to the House full details of the inquiry into the aeroplane accident at Canberra on the 11th February. I am now in a position to inform the House that the court of inquiry appointed to investigate the aeroplane accident at Canberra on 11th February, 1926, causing the deaths of Flying Officer P. M. Pitt and Aircraftman I., “W. E. Callander, of No. 3 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, has now submitted its finding. The court,, consisting of three experienced flying officers, two of whom served as pilots during the war, report that the aeroplane flown by Flying Officer Pitt was a de Haviland 9 type, fitted with a Siddeley Puma engine. This type of machine was used extensively during the war, and is considered a safe and suitable aeroplane for the work on which it was engaged. The machine had been completely overhauled in June, 1925, under the independent supervision of inspectors of the Munitions Supply Board, and new elevator and aileron controls were fitted in November, 1925. The engine had been in use only two and a half hours since its last complete overhaul, and a top overhaul was completed the day prior to the flight, although this was not strictly necessary as the engine had been running well. The workshops officer and the technical sergeant-major examined the machine and engine when in the workshops the day prior to the flight, and both were satisfied that the machine was in very good order. The evidence of subordinate ^personnel (concerned with the fitting of the engine and the rigging of the machine support the statement that both were airworthy. On the morning of the flight the machine was tested in the air by Flying Officer Pitt, who was considered to be an efficient pilot on this type of machine. A minor adjustment to the carburettor was found necessary, and, accompanied by the responsible enginefitter, he made a further test flight of ten to fifteen minutes, after which he reported the machine O.K. The machine left Richmond (New South Wales) about 8.30 a.m. to carry out photography of the Mumimbidgee River area, arriving at Canberra, 180. miles away, about 10.30 a.m. A senior Air Force officer was at the aerodrome at Canberra awaiting the arrival of Flying Officer Pitt. He was about half-a-mile away from where the aeroplane crashed, and stated that the machine approached the landing ground at a height of about 100 feet. The aeroplane was apparently under ‘control, and the engine did not either by sight or sound give any indication of trouble. After shutting off the engine preparatory to landing the pilot attempted to turn, when the machine stalled and dived to the ground. Two other witnesses in the vicinity reported the engine apparently running smoothly, and the machine under control immediately prior to the accident. The court returned a unanimous finding that the aeroplane was airworthy, that the proper tests had been completed before the flight commenced, and that there was no failure on the part of the controls, structure, or engine. The court’s opinion was that the accident was due to an error of judgment on the part of the pilot causing the stalling of the machine, and that no blame was attachable to any one. The Air Board agrees entirely with the court’s finding.
. -(By leave.)Yesterday I said that with the permission of the House I would today make a full statement regarding the treatment of tubercular patients by Dr. Smalpage’s serum. Dr. Smalpage commenced work at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories on 14th January, 1926, the arrangement being that he should undertake there the preparation of extract and serum, and also, that by experiments on animals he should demonstrate that experimental tuberculosis . in animals could be cured by the use of these agents. Dr. Smalpage remained at- the Laboratories from 14th January until 9th February, and then after an interval in Sydney he returned to the Laboratories on February 26th and March 1st and 2nd. The preparation of the extract and serum has proceeded and supplies of each of these agents have been prepared. Although the experiments upon auimals and laboratory examination of Dr. Smalpage’s processes had not been completed, he preferred to proceed with the administration of his extract and serum to human cases of tuberculosis in Sydney. The experiments on animals will be continued concurrently with the treatment of test cases of human tuberculosis. The Department in concert with Dr. Smalpage, undertook to arrange that a series of test cases of human tuberculosis should be dealt with in the six capital cities simultaneously. The types of cases to be selected for treatment were defined and the clinical standards of improvement which might be accepted as cures were both drawn up by the Department and accepted by Dr. Smalpage. Committees of leading specialists were formed in each of the capital cities, but, in response to a request from some of these committees, their names have not been disclosed so that they may be saved from the embarrassment of many personal and written applications for treatment.
All the applications which have been received by the Department have been forwarded to these committees in the respective States. In most of the States the selection of the cases has now been completed and treatment either has been, or will shortly be, commenced; the supplies of extract and serum for this purpose have been forwarded. No serum has been supplied for any persons other than Dr. Smalpage himself aud the specialist committees. Although it has been publicly reported that the Tuberculosis Association in New South Wales has made arrangements for the treatment of patients, the Department has no knowledge of this arrangement, and it will not go beyond the terms of its arrangement with Dr. Smalpage that supplies of extract and serum will be furnished only to himself and the specialist committees.. As it is possible that exaggerated hopes may be entertained by sufferers from tuberculosis and by their friends, it is thought wise to repeat the warning which was given at the outset of these investigations, viz., that the Department has not any evidence, other than the unsupported statements ofDr. Smalpage himself, that this method of treatment is of any value for* tuberculosis. It may prove to be a valuable discovery; it is equally possible that it may prove to be merely another of the many disappointments in connexion with this disease. It is not proposed to make available any progress results in connexion with the investigation, or to give other information than a complete report at the close of the investigations.
Report (No. 1) presented by Mr. Corser, and read by the Clerk.
Motion (by Mr. Corser) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– When the report containing the High Court’s judgment respecting the deportation proceedings was presented to this House by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), he promised that it would be referred to the Printing Committee. I should like to know whether the committee have had the printing of that report under consideration, and, if so, whether it has decided not to print it. Copies of the report have been asked for by quite a number of persons interested in the proceedings.
.- The matter was considered by the full committee, and it was decided that it was not advisable to- incur the expenditure involved in the printing of the reports, which would cost about £50. That report has been freely published in Hie daily press and in other journals, and it will also appear in the law reports.
Question resolved in the. affirmative.
Customs and Excise Duties. hi committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from 10th March (vide page 1493), 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 Customs be 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 entering the Commonwealth of Australia from the Dominion of New Zealand (vide page 1228). . . .
– The new tariff schedule has been the subject of considerable discussion, and extremely divergent views have been expressed regarding it. Those who may be termed freetraders, the moderate protectionists, the reasonable protectionists, and even the “ leaky -roof “ protectionists, have taken part in the discussion. We have also been told that on the tariff issue one must either be a freetrader or a prohibitionist. To that statement exception has been taken by those who hold moderate views. I am not a freetrader, and certainly not a moderate protectionist. I am a protectionist who believes in protection.
– That is not very clear.
– It is as clear as the exposition delivered by the honorable member for Fawkner yesterday. The tariff schedule does not satisfy me. What I complain about is the .omissions from it, and not what it seeks to do. I sympathize with the Minister, because as a member of the -composite Cabinet he is surrounded by a mixed party. Some honorable members supporting the Government are absolute freetraders, and others claim to be reasonable protectionists. He, himself, if not a “wholehogger,” is an out-and-out protectionist; but, of course, being a member of a composite government, he has introduced a very moderate measure of protection under the tariff proposals. On« of the first efforts in English history to secure what may be termed protection was made by Edward III., who reigned from 1312 to 1377. He accomplished this, not by passing a measure through Parliament, but by issuing an edict prohibiting the export of wool from Britain, not so much to protect the wool-growers there as to bring about the local manufacture of woollen goods. Coming to the present day, we find that the present occupant of the British Throne, George V., recently inspected a certain institution in which a number of typewriters were being used. His Majesty was anxious to know where they had been manufactured. Unfortunately, upon investigation, it was found that they were of foreign manufacture. His Majesty then practically instructed the British Government to purchase in the future typewriters of British manufacture- It was a noble and proper example to set to the country. Many honorable members seem to be more concerned about the protection of British manufactures than -they are about the protection of Australian manufactures. For their information I wish to make certain lengthy quotations respecting the origin of protection in the civilized world. Listening to the honorable members for Perth (Mr. Mann), Swan (Mr. Gregory), and Forrest (Mr. Prowse), one would think that protection was a policy conceived only yesterday,, and that it was intended only to succour industries in. their infancy, to be removed as soon as they had matured. I shall quote for the information of honorable members an extract from the Encyclopaedia Britannica regarding the report on manufactures submitted to the United States Congress in 1791 by Alexander Hamilton, at that time Secretary to the Treasury, and a colleague of George Washington: -
Alexander Hamilton submitted his celebrated report on manufactures to the Congress of the United States on the 5th December, 1791. It is in a certain sense the first formulation of the modern doctrine of protection, and all later developments start from it as a basis. It is a positive argument directed to proving that the existence of manufacturing is necessary to the highest development of a nation, and that it may be wisely promoted by various means, of which the most important is a system of discriminating duties upon foreign imports. Among the objects to be attained by the development of a flourishing manufacturing industry are mentioned: (1) Independence of foreign nations for military and other essential supplies. (2) A positive augmentation of the produce and revenue of society, growing out of (a) division of labour, (b) extensive use of machinery, (c) additional employment to classes of the Community not ordinarily engaged in business. (3) An increase in the immigration of skilled labourers from foreign countries. (4) A greater scope for the diversity of talents and dispositions which discriminate men from each other. (5) A more ample and various field for enterprise. (6) In many cases a new, and in all a more certain and steady demand for the surplus produce of the soil. (7) A more lucrative and prosperous trade than if the country were solely agricultural.
One hundred and thirty-five years ago, when America had only a very small population, Alexander Hamilton realized that no country could become great unless h deliberately fostered what we now term the secondary industries. His ideas as to how that could be done are well worth placing on record -
The above suggestions contain the outline of a comprehensive scheme for developing the manufacturing resources of the country, and the United States has subsequently adopted, in one form or another, almost all of these propositions. Hamilton considered that the duties, &c., would not have to be very high or very long continued in order to accomplish their legitimate ends, after which they would become unnecessary, and would naturally be abolished.
The United States subsequently adopted in one form or another almost every principle he enunciated. The only marked departure from his scheme is that protection is now a permanent policy, whereas he considered that it would bc necessary only while industries were in their infancy. That idea is voiced by the freetraders in our midst, but the fact that 135 years after Alexander Hamilton’s scheme was submitted to Congress, the United States continues to impose very heavy duties upon imported manufactures is significant.
– But not on agricultural machinery.
– That may be the exception which proves the rule, but I feel confident that if the manufacture of agricultural machinery in America were still, as it is in Australia, a young and struggling industry, it would be granted a substantial measure of protection.
– America has never adopted the principles which Hamilton laid down.
Mr.FENTON . - Hamilton’s ideas have been adopted almost in their entirety. He is now recognized to have been one of the greatest Americans, and one of the most far-seeingstatesmen thnt the world has produced. Ho realized that if the United States was to develop into a great nation its economic foundations must be laid deeply and broadly. List, a German exile living in the United States of America, was so impressed by the progress made under the protective system, that when he returned to Germany he published a book on political economy, in which he dealt with the principles of protection. His book was issued in Germany in 1841, and we are told that from it and the lectures delivered by its author, Germany imbibed the fiscal ideas then prevalent in the United States. From the seeds he sowed the present protective system of Germany developed. The two greatest nations in the world to-day are the United States, which has a population of about 127,000,000, and Germany, with a population of about 75,000,000 people. Those two countries have been able, not only to retain their own people, but also to induce others to settle within their borders. As their prosperity has been built up very largely by the protective system it would be very foolish for a young and undeveloped country like Australia to abandon a policy that has proved so effective. After Alexander Hamilton, other great apostles of protection in the United States of
America were Henry C. Carey and Simon M. Patten. These latter economists brushed aside Hamilton’s idea that protection was only a temporary expedient, and in their writings, which have been translated into many languages, and have influenced the formulation of fiscal policies throughout the world, they argued that protection, to be effective, must be permanent. It is understandable that in 1791, when steamboats were unknown, and the only overseas transport was by small sailing boats, even so far-seeing a man as Hamilton might believe that if industries were fostered in their infancy, they would become in a few years strong enough to withstand competition from abroad. But with the progress of invention and the development of the steamship, the difficulties of sea transport diminished.
– Transport is more expensive to-day than it was in the days when sailing ships were the only means of carrying goods overseas.
Mr.FENTON. - I am alluding not only to the cost but also to the facilities of transport.With one exception Hamilton’s principles stand unchallenged, and for 135 years the manufacturing industries of the United States of America have enjoyed more or less tariffprotection. Many of the early American colonists, like our own forebears, emigrated from the British Isles. They possessed grit and all the other qualities that are essential to successful colonization, but I think that the policy promulgated by Hamilton, and developed by those who succeeded him, is mainly responsible for the fact that the United States of America is to-day one of the greatest nations in the world. Although Alexander Hamilton has been dead 122 years, the principles he enunciated live, and Australia might very well adopt them. There are still people in our midst to whom they would be a valuable education. I commend to honorable members the following ten articles of fiscal faith: -
A poem written by Mr. W. T. Goodge nearly 25 years ago contains a hint that Australians of to-day might adopt -
His clothes are West of England tweed,
His boots are from the Strand;
The bike which he propels with speed
Was made in Yankeeland.
He drinks a glass of Belgian gin,
And smokes the best Virginia in
A pipe that’s made in France.
He looks at his imported watch to see the time of day,
And hurries, for he wants to see a new imported play.
The lamp is made in Germany that lights him on his way -
He’s a patriotic thoroughbred Australian.
He comes up to his cottage, where
There’s lager from the Rhine,
And seats himself upon a chair
Of Austrian design.
His English hat he places on
The Chinese cheffonier,
And drinks from his Italian glass
His German lager beer.
He strikes Italian matches, and he lights the
He sees the jam and pickles with the real im ported stamp,
He tries the Dutch piano for the latest foreign lamp -
He’s a patriotic thoroughbred Australian.
The Chinese washstand in his room
Is near a Russian rug,
He fills the Yankee basin from
The German water jug;;
He takes his German razor and
He shaves himself with ease;
He reaches for the towel stand (The latest Japanese).
With Paris soap he washes off Australian dust and dirt,
Puts on an Irish collar and an English undershirt;
He laces up his London boots, which very seldom hurt
A patriotic thoroughbred Australian.
That poem represents the practice of some honorable members in the corner, who seem prepared at all times to advocate the use of other than Australian goods. I agree with the statements of some of the previous speakers that if, Australians were loyal to Australian industries it would not be necessary to impose many duties. The main purpose of duties is to protect Australians against themselves. Americans are taught to support the country in which they live. Lady Northcote, when she resided in Australia, often went to Australian mills to purchase cloth for her dresses. She set a good example that others should follow. I understand that she was an American, and that, no doubt, accounted largely for her patriotism. One important reason, apart from her tariff, why the United States of America occupies such a strong industrial position to-day, is that her citizens are loyal to their own industries. If Australians were equally loyal to their own industries this country would become highly prosperous. The primary producers have a splendid home market in this country. Some of the speeches of freetraders appear to suggest that a protective tariff deprives the primary producers of benefits that they should enjoy. The more industries we have in Australia, and the more people they employ, the better market we provide for the primary producers. Here are some figures which compare Australia’s production and consumption of various kinds of produce during the year 1 923-4 -
– Increasing the number of persons employed in our secondary industries will increase the market for oats. The development of motor transport has decreased the demand for oats. More than one-half of the city transport work is done by motor vehicles.
– There is a substantial duty on oats, and it protects the producer from the competition of the New Zealand grower.
– That is quite true.
– The figures quoted by the honorable member in regard to maize are probably attributable to seasonal fluctuations.
– I should say that 814,000 bushels is about an average annual yield. We are importing, not only maize, but also glucose. If we cannot make sufficient glucose from Australian maize we should make it. from imported maize; but we certainly ought not to import glucose. If item No. 1 of the schedule is agreed to. we may have to import harley.
– ‘That will never happen.
– Since the duties became operative, one distillery has increased its consumption of barley from 100,000 to 300,000 bushels a year, and has 500,000 bushels on order. I believe that barley-growers are well satisfied with the position.
– A fair measure of protec-tion is given to onion-growers.
– The PostmasterGeneral, who is a freetrader in every other direction, favours prohibitive duties on onions and oats. Unfortunately, some persons who oppose the protection policy of this country, try to make it appear, when they are addressing meetings of primary producers, that the home market is of little or no value, because prices are fixed by oversea markets.
– That is correct in regard to most of the items mentioned by the honorable member. .
– The Australian producer can generally obtain a price that he fixes himself. The Paterson butter scheme is nothing but a price-fixing scheme. I do not quarrel with it; but I wish that price-fixing were extended. Before the Paterson scheme became operative, committees that sat in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane fixed the price of butter in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, but to-day the cooperative selling companies dominate the situation. At one time the firm that handled the “Leura” brand of butter from the Camperdown district fixed ‘the price in Victoria. Australia is in a happy position in regard to wool, for it produces larger quantities of high-grade wool than any other country in the world.
– What about wheat?
– The Australian farmers have nothing to complain about this year so far as wheat is concerned.
– But that is one year only. What has been their experience over a number of years ?
– I agree with the honorable member that we should take the average returns over a number of years. If we do that in the case of wheat, .we shall find that the wheat-growers in Australia have very little cause for complaint.
– Some. of the Australian woollen factories bought the highestpriced clips which were offered. That shows the benefit of the home market.
– That is true. I cannot understand why any primary producer should oppose a protectionist policy. Will any wool-grower in Australia deny that if Australia were to manufacture all her- woollen requirements the home market would be the best market?”
– There would still be a large surplus to be disposed of.
– I cannot understand why the so-called representatives of the primary producers in this House are opposed to protection. Woollen mills cannot be established without protection. The primary producer should be the first to advocate a policy of protection. Australia adopted protection ,as her fiscal policy because a combination of primary producers and manufacturers advocated it. Why are they acting differently today? For seven years I travelled among the primary producers of Victoria, and 1 know that the majority of them are as strong advocates of protection as are any manufacturers in our midst. It is true that some of them have weakened in their advocacy of protection because of the gospel of freetrade, which has for so long been preached to them. But when the facts are presented to them, no primary producer opposes protection.
– They are protectionists, but not prohibitionists.
– Prohibition is necessary at times. I agree with the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) that even were Australia to manufacture all her woollen requirements, there would still be a big surplus of wool. But I understand that, at present, Australia is only manufacturing one quarter of her woollen requirements. If the whole of her requirements were manufactured here, there would be no necessity to ship our wool overseas to be brought back in the form of manufactured articles. It is well known that wool buyers come to Australia from every part of the world, and that very little of the wool which leaves our shores is sent away on consignment.
– The wool-growers only get the world’s parity for their wool.
– World’s parity has given satisfactory results to the woolgrowers. The wool-growers have done well in the past, and are doing well to-day, I hope that they will continue to do so. I am prepared to assist them by a reasonable measure of protection. The wider we make the Australian market the greater the benefit that’ will be conferred on them. I understand that to-day most Australian farmers go in for mixed farming; that most farms have their flocks of sheep. It is the aggregation of the clips from numbers of small growers that constitutes the great quantity of wool produced in Australia.
– The best clips do not usually come from the small flocks.
– It is true that the f farmer generally breeds cross-bred sheep, which are known as dual-purpose sheep, and do not produce the best quality of wool ; but some of those who are engaged in woolgrowing in a small way have done remarkably well.
– The United States of America imposes a duty of 80 per cent, on British worsteds, yet the people there still insist on obtaining British worsteds.
– I think the honorable member will agree that the people of the United States of America, as a rule, support their own industries.
– But they continue to import enormous quantities of West of England tweeds.
– That is because there are no tweeds like them. My point is that those who tell the primary producer that a policy of protection is no good to him are acting inimically to his best interests. I advise honorable members to read the report of the Public Accounts Committee on the munitions supply of Australia. The members of that committee, representing different political parties, and holding different fiscal opinions, were impressed with the necessity for Australia being self-contained in the matter of munition supplies in the event of trouble arising with any other nation. From a defence point of view, it is almost criminal to revile the policy o<f protection. Do honorable members think that, in the event of war., with the seas infested with submarines, we should be able to obtain munitions from the other side of the world ? We may not be able to make Australia wholly selfcontained, but I believe that no other country can so nearly reach that ideal’. Our position is vastly different from that of England, where, even in normal times, food supplies costing £300,000,000 have to be imported annually.
– Does the honorable member suggest that that is an ideal which every country should seek to attain?
-I do not say that. I have referred to the United States of America, and to Germany, which, by adopting a protective policy, have made themselves much more nearly selfcontained than would be the case had a freetrade policy been in operation. Could Germany have held out for so long against the forces that were arrayed against ner had she not, by a policy of protection, encouraged her local industries? Her trained chemists, mechanical efficiency, factory organization, and scientific investigation and research, enabled her to substitute in many instances synthetic articles for flic genuine.
– Germany wielded a dreadful power.
– I admit that. But iu the recent war, Germany, gave evidence of the way in which a- nation, by the organized development of her factories, and by chemical investigation, can not only defend herself, but actually be the aggressor. I do not look forward to the possibility of another war. With other honorable members, I hope that never again will this world experience a war like that through which it has recently passed. But wars may break out again, and in that event Australia should not be dependent for her supplies of munitions on countries on the other side of the world. It is contended by many that future generations will have the same human instincts as those that led to the recent awful war.
– The inhuman instincts.
– While others hold that view, I look into the future with optimism, believing that if we work for it the day will dawn when peace shall cover the earth.
– Is the honorable member equally hopeful regarding peace in the political sphere?
Mr.FENTON.- During an election campaign, many bitter things are said. Opponents are accused of actions of which they were never guilty, and of which their accusers know them to be innocent. But after the election is won, the victors say that some of the Locarno spirit should be manifested. When a man has attained his desires, it is easy for him to say that peace should prevail. To amplify what I have said as to the Australian market being the best market for the primary producer, I may quote once more from the report of the Tariff Board on the agricultural implement industry -
It is the local market that actually decides the position which the primary producer has to occupy, for out of a total production for 1932-3 of £382,000,000, the total value of exports was £114,000,000, including £60,000,000 for wool, leaving a balance for home consumption of £264,457,000.
– Has the honorable member the figures for primary production?
Mr.FENTON.- The total value of agricultural production was £81,124,000. The total estimated value of pastoral and dairying production was £144,955,000. The total value of mineral production was £24,614,000. The value of forestry production was £670,000.
– What percentage of the total primary production was exported ?
– The Tariff Board states that in one vear wool to the value of £60,000,000 was exported. Our exports of primary production also include wheat and some butter. I do not know that other productions would have a marked effect on the figures.
– Yes, wine and meat are exported.
– There is not a great deal of wine exported. The export of meat is considerable. In the case of wine, our production is now little in excess of local consumption. When, during the war, overseas wines were unprocurable, some Australians who were prejudiced against local wines had to have recourse to them. They acquired a taste for them, and now prefer them to imported wines.
Of a total production of 14,000,000 gallons, the Australian consumption is now 13,000,000 gallons.
– No; 9,000,000 gallons are consumed in Australia.
– I think it will be found that my figures are correct. We have not sufficient protection for the primary producer. Honorable members receive the Quarterly Summary of Australian Statistics, and in Bulletin 102, published in December, 1925 - which, I think, is the latest issue - I find that various goods of considerable value are imported which could be produced by the Australian primary producer. In the course of three months we imported foodstuffs of animal origin to the value of £288,000. We should be able to produce those goods in Australia. In three months we imported foodstuffs of vegetable origin and non-alcoholic beverages to the value of £1,523,000 ; animal substances, mainly unmanufactured, and not foodstuffs, £286,000 ; apparel, to the value of £9,000,000; oils, fat, and wax, to the value of £2,499,000. In three months we imported paper and stationery to the value of £1,549,000. Speaking of paper, I have been looking at some of our memorandum forms, and, holding one of them up to the light, I find in water print the words, “ Baltic Bond. Made in Norway.”. Some honorable members may like to conduct correspondence with their constituents on foreign manufactured paper, but I know the kind of reception I would get from some of my protectionist friends if they discovered that I communicated with them on “Baltic Bond. Made in Norway.” I do not know who is responsible for the supply of this stationery for the use of honorable members, but we shall all be responsible if we permit it to continue to be used. It is about time that we set an example to the rest of the community. We are considering a protectionist tariff, and we should use Australian materials ourselves.
– If we can make them.
– Even if this paper could not be made in Australia, what about our policy of British preference? It is possible that this is one of those cases in which British exporters send us goods that are made in foreign countries. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) yesterday had much to say about British preference. I have no animus against the Old Country. My people came from the Old Country, and next to Australia it is the country I love best. But when it is a matter of choice between Australia and Britain I am for Australia every time. I should like to remind the honorable member for Boothby, and those who indulge in similar sentiments, that it would be as well if they considered what is done by British manufacturers. We have sent Australian money to the Clyde to the amount of £5,000,000 for the construction of Australian cruisers which should now be under construction in Sydney, whilst people in Britain are sending their orders for ship-building, in some cases to Germany and in others to Belgium and France. The people of Britain should see to it that the policy of British preference is observed in their Owl] country. I should not be surprised to learn that the memorandum forms U3ed by honorable members are shipped to the Government Printer or some one else in Australia by a British firm, although they were manufactured in Norway. It incenses me to discover that kind of thing when we hear, so much talk of British preference.
– The memorandum forms to which the honorable member has referred would not be the subject of preference under our tariff.
– I do not know that the Customs authorities examine imports of paper so closely as to discover the water print. Honorable members should bear in mind that the Minister for Trade and Customs found it necessary some time ago to take action to increase the percentage of British workmanship or material required in imports from Britain to secure preference under our tariff, from 25 to 75 per cent. The reason for this was that unfair and unpatriotic British manufacturers were sending to Australia good3 which were to a great extent being manufactured in foreign countries.
– And obtaining preference under our tariff.
– That is so. I am afraid we shall require an army of inspectors to prevent the same kind of thing being done in the future.
– Has this Parliament ever used Australian-made paper?
– Yes; at one time we used memorandum forms made of Australian paper. I am not prepared to say that the paper was. as good as the sample made in Norway, to which I have referred, and I cannot say whether we could make as good paper here. I shall make inquiries on the subject. Some honorable members at one time made complaints about the paper supplied for their use, I suppose because it was made in Australia.
– Not for that reason, but because there were defects in it.
– That may have been so, but we should set an example to the rest of the community, and should not continue the use of memorandum forms made in Norway. I am not satisfied with the tariff schedule which has been submitted. There are too many omissions from it. Prior to the tabling of the schedule I visited factories where large numbers of people were being employed turning out goods of first-class quality. They are now in a parlous condition, because they are subjected to all kinds of competition from the outside world. The employees are being reduced in number; the output decreased; and the manufacturers do not know whether they will be able to continue their operations or not. The position I take up on the tariff is that anything which we can produce or manufacture in Australia should not be imported. I make some conditions. I would not permit a local manufacturer to fleece the people of this country . He could not do so if the Labour policy were adopted. Every man on this side is a new protectionist, and, failing the opportunity to give effect to that policy, believes in protection for the local manufacturer, for the worker in the workshop, and for the consumer of the goods produced.
– How is that to be managed ‘I
– By an amendment of the Constitution.
– Honorable members opposite had a number of opportunities to give effect to their policy:
– The honorable member is aware that the Constitution cannot be amended without the consent of the people, and its amendment is necessary to give effect to the policy of new protection. On two occasions the people were asked by the Labour party to sanction such an amendment, but the request was, on each occasion, turned down, though by a smaller majority on the second than on the first occasion. It is rumoured that we are shortly to have a special, constitutional session, and when, it takes place I presume that consideration will be given to the amendment of the Constitution. It is imperative that further proposals to amend the Constitution should be submitted to the people. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) referred to the fact that municipal councils were giving to manufacturers a measure of protection over and above what this Parliament had accorded to them. This action, he contended, was wrong. To put it plainly, I have never heard’ a more foolish argument in my life. If this Parliament has not given sufficient protection to a certain industry, why should not a municipal council encourage that industry by purchasing the locally-made article? Yesterday road rollers were mentioned. Some time ago a municipality in my constituency called for tenders for road rollers, and prices were submitted of American, British, and Australian’ rollers. The Australian article was the highest priced, but the municipal council encouraged the local industry by purchasing the locally-made roller. Although,, in the first place, the price was higher, in the long run there will be a. saving, because the quantity of fuel consumed by the Australian articleis less than that required for the imported roller..
– The council did the right thing on that occasion.
– I am glad to learn that one of the companies which previously intended to import petrol pumps, has now placed orders in two of the States, at any rate, for more than £100,000 worth of locally-manufactured pumps. In South Australia there are some fine factories, which are a credit to those who conduct them, to those who work in them, and also to the State. We want to give employment to our workmen. Since these orders for petrol pumps have been placed in Australia, men who were dismissed twoor three weeks ago have resumed work. There is much inventive genius in
Australia, and when new machines are imported here, it is not long before out own engineers and mechanics vastly improve them to suit Australian conditions.. This happens in 99 cases out of 100. The first combined churn and butter worker was imported here by a Dane about twenty years ugo, and it was sold like hot cakes to the butter manufacturers. That man communicated with the manufacturers in the United States of America, and received permission to manufacture these churns in Australia on the payment of a royalty. He has since been able to make so many improvements to that machine that the original type is almost unrecognizable. The other night, at the invitation of the headmaster, I visited the great technical school in Footscray, which has an attendance of 1,200’ students. They attend voluntarily in the day and at night to gain mechanical knowledge which will help them in their various trades. The headmaster informed me that visitors to the school had marvelled at the wonderful attendance of the scholars. There are many other technical schools in the capital cities, and in the country centres of Australia, but they are not so complete as that institution. These schools are being established to equip the young Australian manhood and womanhood better for the business of life. There would be no use for technical schools if freetrade had full sway, and industries were abandoned. When men engaged in the farming industry have called me a protectionist and a socialist, I have freely admitted it, even* to the primary producers with whom I used to work. The farmer to-day, with four or five sons ranging from nine te fifteen years of age, will tell you. that Dick and Tom will take up farming, but that Bill, Harry, and John will follow other vocations. To the wise father the leanings of the boy are apparent. If he has. mechanical skill ib is useless for him to remain on the farm. If the workers at the Sunshine Harvester Works were asked. “All those who come from farms hold up their hands,” a forest of hands would instantly be raised. Those men would not be good workmen on farms. If honorable members of the Country party are not prepared to support the policy of protection, and thus help to establish our industries, where will our people find employment? We must have diversification of industry to give full play to the giftsand qualifications of our people. I regret that the schedule is not more extensive. I am in accordwith the remarks of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) regarding the timber industry. I have received correspondence from the timber workersunion and the saw-millers pointing out the parlous condition of the industry and the need for assistance. We are allowing the trade togo to the importers. Mostof our timber is imported from Canada and from the United States of America. Japan is becoming a serious competitor with the Australian timber industry. We do not know what operations are taking placein theEast. The Japanese are a progressiverace, and Iadmirethem for that quality, but they and the Americansare obtainingtimber rights inSiberia and othercountries, and the industry there is being worked by cheap labour, in some cases 3s. and 4s.a week being paid to the workers. How can we ask tour Australian sawmillerstocompete with thoseof other countries under such conditions? It would be absolutely im possible for them to doso.
– I ask the honorable member to compare the prices of Oregon and Australian hardwoods ?
– The timber workers’ own journal shows that 70 great timber mills in Canada are working at a loss.
-Our timber mills are closing down.
– Many have closed down, and thousands of men have been thrownout ofemployment. The honorablemember cannot be a good Australian if he is preparedto allow the cheap labour productto competeunfairly with the Australian article. I amagainst the importation ofcheap labourproductsof any kind . I refusetobow to thegodof cheapness. We have raised a standard here that should on noaccountbe lowered . We stand first amongst the countries of the world in physique and other qualities. We can maintain Australian conditions and wagesonlyby means of protection. I shall support the tariff schedule with such protection as it affords, but I regret that many impor tant industrieshave been neglected. I hope that if the Tariff Board is prepared to receive further information concerning certain industries,the Minister will bring down an amending schedule sothat they may reap some benefit. Those who are opposed to the policyof protection are in actual fact opposed to the best interests of Australia.
.- Thisschedule should not be regarded as an invitation to a contentious debate upon the relative merits of freetrade and protection. The policy of protection is in almost world-wide operation, the most notable exception being Great Britain. The schedule now before us provides for increases, reductions,and re-adjustments of duties. We shall havean opportunity laterto deal with items in detail. I am rather disappointedto learn, from the general debate, that thisChamber still contains so many geographical protectionists - men who are prepared to embrace the principle of protection when its benefactions will be enjoyed by their districtsorconstituencies, but resist it when the advantages extendto the nation generally. Ifthe principlebe sound it should apply toall industries, and I hope to prove to the committeethat protection is daily operating to the advantage ofthe primary industries, and that people on the land owe their daily existence to the protected home market more thantoany other. There are certain primary products which by reason of their excellence will, without any protection,sell themselves against world-wide competition.. Amongst them is our wool, which for quality and character is unsurpassed. Australian wheat isprobably superior to the wheat of all other countries but one. Best Australian butter is not inferior to any, and I do not except Danish, NewZealand,, or Irish butter. Sir Phillip Proctor, whosucceeded Lord Rhonddaas Food Controller of Great Britain,said when ona visit to Australia that the butter produced by the Western District of Victoria is unsurpassed. Our meats also will sell themselves; the producers of mutton and lambhave enjoyed fora number of years unprecedentedl y high prices ; but the price of beef has been low for some time because a very powerful competing country, which was able to build up tremendous reserves outof profits made during the war, is mow using those reserves in fighting for controlof the market. Whilst someof our primaryproductscan hold their own in the world’s markets, there are others, such as fruit and maize, which could not hold even the Australian market against foreign competition were they not highly protected. I cannot allow to pass this opportunity to remind some honorable members that, while railing against the tariff generally, they fought strenuo’usly for protection when it would benefit industries in their own electorates. For a period I administered the Department of Trade and Customs, and so gained inside knowledge of the anxiety of some honorable members to secure every possible advantage from the tariff for industries . in which they were interested. Naturally, I expect them to support the protection principle in its general application. Amongst the primary products that are well protected are wine, tobacco, sugar - this industry is highly protected, and has a further advantage from the prohibition of imports - sheep, pigs, . cattle, horses - on these the tariff . protection is little more that complementary - millet, butter, cheese, and condensed and dried milk. This schedule provides for the admission of home separators free of duty, and tim!ber for butter-boxes also is admitted free. I regret that the true story of the benefit he enjoys from a protected home market does not reach the primary producer, and in many country districts there is a wrong conception of the operation of the tariff in relation to primary industries. Other protected commodities are cotton, eggs, and fruit. When the general tariff was before the House in 1921, the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Massy Greene) proposed a duty of 3d. per lb. on prunes, but at the instance of the honorable member for Echuca the rate was increased to 4Jd. The canning and dried fruits industry could not carry on without the protection afforded by the Customs tariff. All the grains are protected. So far as wheat is concerned, the protection is not worth much, because Australia has a surplus, and actually exports about two-thirds of its production. But on oats there is a duty of about ls. 6d. per cental, and barley and maize are protected substantially. No member of the Country party is game to move for a reduction of any of the duties on primary products. The time has come for honorable members to take a definite stand in regard to the fiscal issue. If the principle of protection is sound, let us embrace it sincerely. We must not monkey with it. A member has no right to be a protectionist on Monday and a freetrader on all other days of the week. The duties on hay, chaff, and herbs are not worth much, but those upon honey and hops are very helpful. When I was Minister for Trade and Customs, I was not only requested to administer the tariff in such a way as to give very, full protection to Australian-grown hops, but I was actually asked to prohibit the importation of hops and maize. The primary producer cannot expect the principle of protection to be operated when its operation will benefit him, and then claim the right to oppose it when the benefit is enjoyed by his fellow citizens. The duties on meats are not of much value, but nuts are well protected, and I notice that Queensland is negotiating for a peanut pool. As pools have become the fashion, there is probably no reason why the principle should not extend to peanuts, but I think this is about the limit in community bargaining. There is a substantial duty on oni.ons, in regard to which the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. ‘ Gibson) was a whole-hearted protectionist ‘ in 1921. Potatoes also are protected, and those who are interested are moving for an increase of duty. Every honorable member in whose constituency potatoes are grown is to be asked to support the granting of a greater measure of protection. I shall lose no opportunity to get the full benefits of protection for the primary producers.
– Nil desperandum
– Later I shall quote figures showing the drift of trade outside the British Empire. We have reached a stage in our economic development when the marketing .of our products should be the supreme aim of the nation, and we in this Parliament should not be bothered with old shibboleths and academic controversies that are more suited to debating clubs. We must get down to the fundamentals of trading. I am not, and never will be, a tariff, prohibitionist. I admit that trade and commerce are the life blood of the world. There is no such thing as a self-contained nation. There are times, such as when wars are being waged, when grave struggles for national existence take place, and all the resources of a nation have to be marshalled for its preservation. Australia is ill-equipped for a struggle, but we may conceivably have to fight for our existence as a White Australia. Are we prepared to do that? Can we expect, on such an issue, to have the .assistance of the Mother Country immediately? There are . nearly 400,000,000 people in the British Empire, and not more than 65,000,000 of them are white, so that a war on that issue would disrupt the British Empire before Great Britain could come to our aid. It is said that the crimson thread of kinship runs through the veins of our cousins in America, but it must be remembered that long years ago America went to Africa and obtained negroes to do her donkey work. There are millions of the descendants of those negroes in America to-day, and she would have a racial fight within her own borders if she came to our aid. There never was a time when it was more necessary for Australia to take stock of her resources. The present is a great opportunity for stocktaking, and I certainly hope that the trade policy of the nation will be approached in a comprehensive way. Bicegrowing is a great industry, and the production of salt is also an important one. No one will doubt the importance of having, for the growing of our crops, pure, clean Australian seed, free from the diseases that infest the crops of other countries. I do not attach much importance to vegetables, except canned vegetables. There is also timber of all descriptions. As the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) has returned to the chamber, I shall repeat my reference to the gentlemen who became enthusiastic about protection when it applied to their own constituents. I was referring to the Postmaster-General and his enthusiasm for a duty on onions.
– Did the honorable member refer to a former Minister, who objected to duties being placed on goods required in his own constituency ?
– Will the Minister give an instance ?
– Electrical machinery.
– No electrical machinery went into my electorate that could have been produced in Australia, or- was tendered for iri Australia. I gave no favours while I was in the Customs Department, and my name is not on the share register of any business concern in this country. I rather resent the suggestion. I do not blame the honorable gentle man for his vote on the onion question - I am with him 100 per cent. - I was merely taking the opportunity of showing that he was sensible on this matter, although, he lost his balance on others. It is of no use trying to sidestep matters of importance. Honorable members ought to be able to speak their minds without feeling. There is no reason for any honorable member to get irritable or flushed because of what I say, as my remarks .have no personal animus. The illustrations, however, must be given. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) has served the dairymen of this country very well. I give him credit for having evolved a scheme which superimposes upon the protection afforded by this Parliament a further protection. His scheme is protection in, excelcis, double dumped; but, in spite of that, the honorable member the other daymoved the adjournment of the House to direct the attention of the Government, to which his leader and several other members of his party belong, to the disadvantages under which the farmer labours on account of the tariff on agricultural machinery. His action was a political gesture which would have been better made privately to the Minister and the Leader of the Government. I have no doubt that he would find the Minister very sympathetic, although’ I am afraid he would not succeed in his request. There was a time when the honorable member’s action might have borne fruit. Had a deputation gone to the Leader of the Government or the Minister for Trade and Customs when the tariff was being moulded, I might have been disposed to assist it. Senator Massy Greene was then Minister for Trade and Customs, and the Prime Minister was the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who was very solicitous for the welfare of the man on the land. That was the time when the representations ought to have been made.
– That is when they were made.
– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), with wonderful persistency and consistency, fought the previous tariff almost single-handed. The price of agricultural machinery in this country to-day is very high. It is not a question of bow much the machinery costs per bushel of wheat; the difficulty is to buy it when it is needed. I am not very enthusiastic about settling young men- without capital on the land. Young men who go on the land, some of them for the first time, with debts of 100. per cent, on land, stock, and implements, with the rate of interest, the cost of production, and the cost of living at their present high level, have a tough proposition to handle. Their prospect is next door to hopeless. There is no class of man in Australia that I would more readily help.
– In Australia’s interest.
– In Australia’s interest as well as their own. I believe that the economic condition of Australia to-day is unsound. That is not due to the tariff alone,, as some honorable members would suggest;, there are many contributory causes. A condition of inflation has been brought about by a wonderful succession of prosperous years, with high prices, prolific production, and borrowed money. The wonderful natural advantages we enjoy iri Australia stood out in bold relief in those years,, when we had only a few people to feed and clothe,, and a surplus of what the world needed. We enjoyed a long period of prosperity, and it has brought in its train a chapter of troubles now that lean years have come upon us. The benefits and benefactions of the past have been spread over the whole nation, in every branch of industry. One can buy nothing to-day at prices corresponding to the old! prices. This will never be a great country unless our products can be sold in the markets of the world. I say that with regard to the secondary,, as well as the primary,, industries. Unless the conditions of production are such that we can employ our people and show a clear profit, we cannot be prosperous. “Whether it be a business, a farm, a station, or a mine, the test of prosperity is,, How much clear money? If the sovereign will not go round, if it will not go far enough, ours is a false prosperity. I say, with all the emphasis
I can muster, that the benefits- of our protective policy are being nullified by oversea borrowing and the importation of foreign goods. One neutralizes the other. We have been borrowing far too much money overseas, and we have been paying the penalty in imported goods. Here are figures of our imports f or the last threeyears -
We have the remarkable paradox that while our tariff has been increased, our imports have also increased:.
– That is because the tariff is not high enough.
– It is of no use being blind to the situation. This country set out to develop its industries and find employment for its own people, and as- it. has forged its, machinery for that purpose,, goods have poured into the country at an increasing rate. Borrowing overseas is ruining this country. The rate of interest is too high for the money to> be profitably used in developmental work, Our fiscal system bleaks- down when we borrow money from- overseas-. If we borrow from the United’ States of America we shall have. American goods taking- the. place of British’ and Austraiian goods. Let us stop thos overseas: borrowing;, and put our own house in. order-.. While we claim- that the standard of living- in Australia is higher than im> any other country, the sovereign wall not go- round. It is uselesS four us to attempt fca preserve am artificial system, and to deceive ourselves by claiming that we are1 enjoying great prosperity at a time when itr is impossible to settle our young men on the land. W.e are making an arrangement with Great Britain by which £34,.000,000. will be made available to Australia for the settlement of migrants.
– An absolutely wrong policy.
– No. I want to see the sons and daughters of Great Britain frere. In the past Britain has stood the heat and burden of the day for as. It is om? turn now to assist her. The present position is- both unsound and uneconomic. While certain honorable members lay the blame on the tariff and the Arbitration Court, there are other contributing causes which go deeper and1 are more fundamental. Surely we can atop this drift and put our house in order ! 1 stand for a sound measure of protection, but I cannot, and will not, go to extremes. Anything which, in my judgment, will cripple our primary industries, will not have my support. I intend to put first things first ; and I say that the primary industries of Australia are the very sheet anchor of our prosperity. I stand foursquare for the development and the maintenance of a proper relation between our primary and secondary industries. I repeat that Australia’s best market is the protected home market. Some honorable members appear to have forgotten that some of our primary industries not only enjoy a highly protected home market, but also bounties on their exports. That the fruit industry of Australia cannot carry on without the dual assistance of protection and a bounty is evidence of an unsound position.. If we were experiencing abnormal times, I should say that whatever was. necessary to preserve that industry should be done. But I ask the primary producers of this country, and their representatives in this Chamber, to .be fair to other industries, and to give them a fighting chance. I am neither a prohibitionist nor an extremist in protection matters. But I want protection to be effective. If it is not effective, something is wrong. When I see the “barrier going up, and the flood going over it, I can only conclude that something is seriously wrong. It is for this country, and this House, as well as for those engaged in industry, to put their house in order. Australia can never take her place among the nations of the world until her produce can compete profitably in the world’s markets. Every other country preserves its home market for its own people. The trade fight comes when the surplus has to be disposed ‘of.’ That difficulty is, to some extent, met by trade treaties between countries which give preferential treatment to each other. Nearly the whole of the items in two trade treaties which I negotiated were for the benefit of the primary producers of Australia. Those treaties provided for new markets for Australia’s surplus production. “Under our agreement with Great Britain the primary producers of Australia enjoy a preference of 12 per cent. The principle underlying the agreement which in 1907 was made with Great
Britain was one of the ideals held by the late Mr. Alfred Deakin. He was a great enthusiast for British preference. Ninetyeight per cent, of the people of Australia are in favour of goods from Great Britain receiving preferential entry into Australia.
– So long as it does not hurt them.
– Under her agreement with Australia, Great Britain enjoys an advantage of £500,000 per annum. But Great Britain has been slow to take advantage of the markets available in British dominions. When I was Minister for Trade and Customs I discussed this matter on several occasions with trade representatives from Great Britain. I pointed out particularly that British manufacturers ought to produce in Australia a motor car which the people of Australia wanted. Britain has, however, lost a substantial portion of the business that she should have. During the war her man power, as well as her material resources, became exhausted. But when many of her customers were unable to purchase her goods, and her own dominions were, of all the belligerents, in the most favorable position, Great Britain should have established her manufacturing organizations in those dominions, and secured their trade. I know that she had her own problems; but she could have sent her skilled people, and some of her capital, to the dominions to develop trade with them. Although Great Britain has done much as the guardian of world interests, it would have been better, in a material sense at least, if she had developed her trade with the dominions % Australia calls out for people to develop and defend it. Great Britain has those people. At the present time there are over 1,000,000 unemployed in Great Britain.
– Those people may not be suitable for land settlement.
– When my father came to Australia he was not an ideal settler; but he was able to rear a family of thirteen, and make a living.
– Land was cheaper in those days.
– Of course it was. Even if the present-day migrant be not entirely satisfactory, those who will comprise the next generation will be satisfactory, because they will be born in Australia. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the value of the human asset. A nation’s people constitute its greatest asset. I hope that as a result of this discussion, more concerted support will be given to Australian industries, that there will be a better understanding of the needs of our primary and secondary industries. There should be no conflict between them. I am the last to desire to add to the existing burden upon production, but there are some things that are even more essential than increased production. Australia needs people to occupy her territory. She needs industries in which they may be employed. The rising generation needs to have before it a hopeful outlook, so that the nation may be well balanced. We need, also, the application of science to industry to a greater extent than is the case to-day. Australia may yet produce some great scientists. She will need them in the days to come. I hope that this discussion will narrow the gulf that now exists between Australia and England, and that we in Australia shall take a greater pride in. the products of our own country, and to a greater extent place Australia first.
.- It has been refreshing to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), especially after having listened to some other honorable members on his side of the chamber. I should not have contributed to the general debate on the tariff had it not been that some honorable members who were elected by constituents who are in favour of protection have advocated f freetrade doctrines.
– That -is a matter for honorable members to determine for themselves.
– The policy of the people of Australia is protection. This is not a subject into which party considerations enter. If it’ were, the Minister would be awkwardly situated. I should imagine that he has felt his position keenly during the course of the debate. I remember that in a previous Parliament, when the tariff was under discussion, some honorable members adopted the attitude which has been adopted on this occasion by those who are opposed to protection. Some honorable members, I admit, are consistent on this occasion. At that time, the honorable member for Swan (Mr.
Gregory) strenuously opposed the proposed duties, as he does now. To his action I take no exception, because I believe that he is sincere iu . his convictions. His constituents know .his views. The same remarks apply also to the honorable member for Perth. (Mr. Mann). But some other honorable members occupy an entirely different position. Some who now hold portfolios in the Ministry were then advocates of protection. Since then they have altered their views, and to-day they are prepared to accept protection only when that policy is beneficial to their own interests. At the same time theycondemn others in this chamber who are consistent in their views. Mav I allude, in this connexion, to the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) ? If I remember aright, when the honorable gentleman first came to this House he was accepted as a pronounced protectionist.
– We thought he was.
– Some honorable members think so yet, but I have very grave doubts about the matter in view of his action in connexion with the tariff and other measures.- At Ballarat recently he endeavoured to preach a class doctrine. I have already said that honorable members on this side have never claimed that this is a party question. I am justified in saying that the party on this side appears to be the only one that is unanimous in its support of our industries. I do not know one honorable member on this side who is opposed, to the doctrine of fostering Australian industries. Notwithstanding this, we know that we have to bear the hostility even of manufacturers in this country, especially at election time. Since I came into this chamber, the party on this side is the only one that has at all times been true to the interests of manufacturing industries and the development of the country along sane lines, to make it, as far as possible, self-contained. We have not received credit for that. We assisted the Minister for Trade and Customs to pass the last tariff ; we are assisting him to pass that now under consideration, and yet it is made to appear that the party on this side stands, not for the interests of the country, but for a section only of the community. I take exception to remarks intended to give that impression, because they are not in accordance with the facts.
No doubt at Ballarat the Treasurer was endeavouring to do something to pacify those in the Country party who are opposed to him and his leadership. But that does not justify him in attacking members of this House, and making statements that are not in accordance with fact. What did the. honorable gentleman say at Ballarat? He said: -
At present the biggest exploiter of rural industries and people was political Labour. . . It demanded prohibition of imports, thus unduly raising theprice of goods generally, demanded fixed wages for its own services regardless of the conditions of prosperity or adversity of other industries, and yet refused to give help to the producer to get better prices for his own goods or to lessen the cost of distribution. The Federal Labour party’s attitude on the Imperial preference question, whereby it attempted to condemn the white producers to compete on level terms with the black producers of other countries constituted an ineradicable blot on their escutcheon.
Every one knows that that is not a fact. No one knows it better than does the Treasurer himself. I am surprised that the right-hand supporter of the Prime Minister should make such statements outside to cover up his own tracks, and heal the breaches in the Country party movement. It is well known that the Labour party has on every occasion assisted the primary producer. I listened just now to the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) speaking of superimposing bounties upon the protective tariff. It is absolutely true that in the interests of the primary producers of this country that has been done. But when did the party on this side oppose such proposals? What proposal was ever submitted here which was opposed by honorable members on this side when they believed it to be necessary in the interests of the primary producer ? We have endeavoured to regard these questions from a national point of view, and to assist the primary producer in common with every other section of the community. Every sensible person is aware that we cannot expect to satisfactorily develop Australia by sectional legislation. If there is any room for a charge of sectional legislation, it lies at the door of the Country party, and of no other party in this House. Both the National and Labour parties here have endeavoured to do what is fair to the industries of the country. We are told that we have never assisted in this wav. Do those who make this charge forget the Canned Fruit Bounty Act, which was passed in this House? Was there anv one on this side found opposing it ? Was there a division taken upon it ? Were we not all united in support of it? Whatjustification is there then for the statements made outside by the Treasurer and others ? We passed a Wine Export Bounty Act in 1924. Did this party not support that measure in order to help the primary producer ? We recognized that it was necessary in the interests of struggling producers, many of whom were returned soldiers who had been placed on the land, aud we gave the measure our whole-hearted support. A Meat Export Bounty Actwas also passed in 1924. Did we not support that measure ? No division was taken on any of those measures. The reason whysome of them were not regarded as party measures was that honorable members on this side recognized the necessity of doing everything possible to assist the development of this country. We recognized that our legislation must not be sectional. In 1924 we also passed a Cattle Export Bounty Act. Did we oppose that measure? No, we supported it.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) opposed it.
– Two or three honorable members on the other side opposed it. There was the Advance to Settlers Act for the supply of wire netting by means of loans to the State Governments. Honorable members on this side approved and supported that measure. Take the Paterson butter scheme. Was there any measure ever brought before this Parliament which offered more room for criticism by the Opposition than that? After all, it involved the raising of the price of butter in order to stabilize prices and secure the British market forour producers. We have never questioned this legislation. We wanted to assist the dairy farmers because we know that they toil from morning to night, and we are aware of their disabilities. We raised no opposition to the measure, but permitted it to go through. Again this party has been on the side of the sugar-growers of Queensland from the inception of legislation affecting the sugar industry. This party supported the DriedFruit Advances Act of 1924, and the measure to establish a rural credits department of the Commonwealth Bank. I endeavoured to improve that measure. I moved an amendment to permit of an individual primary producer, going to the bank, and if he had the necessary security, obtaining an advance directly. Honorable members opposite voted against that amendment. They would not give that facility .to the individual producer. In the face of all these facts, how can any one make such statements as the Treasurer has made? The honorable gentleman said that we were opposed to the imperial preference proposals which emanated from the Imperial Economic Conference held in Great Britain. The honorable gentleman knows, as does every other member of the committee, that from my place in this chamber I asked that that question should be separated from the question of defence. I wished the two questions to be dealt With separately, as they should have been, because they came to us separately from the Imperial Conference. I moved an amendment to that effect, and the party opposite deliberately refused what I desired. The result was that honorable members on this side were compelled to vote against both proposals because they did not approve of the construction of” a naval. base at Singapore and other matters connected with the defence proposals. The Treasurer knows that I, and every other honorable member on this side, definitely stated that we were favorable to the imperial preference proposals.
– Honorable members opposite were responsible for what took place at that time.
– They were responsible for a political trick which I hope will never be attempted in this chamber again. When I was in the Old Country I spoke on the subject of imperial preference on several occasions, and urged that Great Britain should give preference to Australian products if she expected us to take her surplus population. I said it was not fair that the people of Britain should go to other nations for what they required, but should take Australian goods because they were made by their own people. I have stated our position in a nutshell. The party on this side has consistently endeavoured to assist the man on the land. It is its policy to do so, and its policy is broad enough to assist every section of the community. Having pointed this out, may I ask the representatives of primary producers whether they expect to increase development in land settlement and to make conditions better for those who aTe on the land by the policy they have adopted. After all, what is the difficulty 1 We have often discussed it in this House. It is that we have been unable to find sufficient markets for our surplus products. Where must we loot for markets? We have to look to the home market, which is the. best market. It is a sure market from which primary producers are certain to get a return. If we have to look to the home market, and it is best, in the interests of the primary producers, to give bounties to assist them, in addition to the tariff, surely to goodness they should in turn recognize that the different sections of the community must work together if Australia is to be developed on proper lines. We can only do that by manufacturing everything we possibly can within our own country. By doing so we shall find employment not only for our own people, but also for those who come here from overseas. Every honorable member admits that we require additional population, and that the increase in our population should be more rapid than it is. But we must lay the foundations to enable us to absorb those who come here, and we cannot do so without encouraging our own industries. When we send orders overseas for what we require. we are finding employment for people overseas, and not for people within Australia. It is absolutely necessary that honorable members should take an Australian, and not a sectional, view of these matters. I repeat again that no- party in this chamber has taken a more sectional view than has the Country party. There is ample proof in what I have said to substantiate that statement. I say to the Treasurer and those who follow him that, in the interests of this country, they should be at least consistent, and when making statements outside this chamber should confine themselves to the truth, and should not make statements at. variance with it.
– Does the honorable member suggest that my statement was not true? It was absolutely true.
– I have proved what I said by references to the legislation which has been passed in this chamber. I am astounded that the Government should continue to have men in its ranks who are, in regard to some industries, strongly protectionist, and in others completely opposed to a protective policy. I suppose that the Minister for Trade and Customs takes the tariff schedule to Cabinet, and explains the whole thing, and Ministers agree to the proposals to be submitted to Parliament. When the tariff is submitted we find honorable members supporting the Government who, on some questions, strongly favour protection if it suits the locality from which they come, and on other proposals take a different view.
– Has the honorable member ever heard of explosives?
– I have, and I expected the honorable member to make that interjection. Everybody knows that I supported the Government on the last tariff, excepting in regard to explosives. I told the Government then that I would not support a duty on that article because there was no testing station in Australia. Since 1910 I have made representations to the various governments for the erection of a testing station for explosives. Immediately that is done I shall vote for any duty that the Government likes to impose upon explosives. With my knowledge of mining I dare not have it on my conscience that I permitted explosives to be used in gaseous mines, perhaps thereby causing the deathsof hundreds of men. I regret that since the last tariff was passed there have been no less than three explosions in Australia, with a consequent great loss of life. Although the Commonwealth Government has taken no action to erect a testing station at a cost of only a few thousand pounds, yet the Government of New South Wales now proposes to establish one for the protection of the men engaged in the mining industry. I shall never be a party to allowing untested explosives, which may emit fire, to be used in mines, because their use is likely to send hundreds of men to eternity. We should do everything possible in the interests of our own industries. I want this country to advance and to be practically self-contained. I agree to a large extent with the last speaker, who said that we could never hope to reduce imports to any great extent while we continued to borrow money overseas. When we borrow overseas we receive not money but goods. Great Britain has agreed to lend Australia £34,000,000 for immigration purposes. Does any honorable member imagine that that will be received in cash? It will be received in goods manufactured overseas, while our own workmen remain unemployed. We shall bring people here under the migration agreement to add to the ranks of the unemployed. The only way to prevent this is to borrow money within Australia. It is quite evident that so long as we continue to borrow money overseas we shall have to import goods. Although we have amended the tariff from time to time the Customs receipts continue to increase. I find that the Customs duties in 1922-3 amounted to £22,597,306; in 1923-4, to £25,177,882; and in 1924-5, to £26,405,161. The Treasurer’s estimates in those years were respectively- £17,500,000, £19,750,000, and £23,675,000. His estimate for 1925-6 is £26,500,000. On these figures the Treasurer estimates an increase in Customs receipts this year of about £2,750,000, notwithstanding that this new tariff schedule has been in operation for six months. What does that imply? It implies that although we are passing this tariff to bring about employment by. encouraging our own industries, yet at the same time the Treasurer anticipates importing more goods into this country. If we borrow money overseas we must purchase goods overseas. It is idle for us to talk with our tongue in our cheek about bringing people to Australia, about borrowing money overseas, and saying at the same time that we expect to increase our manufactures. The two things are in opposition. We must manufacture in this country to employ our own people, and this cannot be done under present conditions. There is no escape from the position. The estimates of increased Customs receipts given by the Treasurer from time to time in this chamber are ridiculous, because in each instance during the last four years he has considerably under-estimated the receipts. We have been given to understand that the effect of the new schedule will be to reduce the Customs receipts by £2,000,000 or £3,000,000, yet the figures show that they have actually increased during the operation of this tariff by £2,750,000. The whole position is wrong, and we should start now to rectify it. We should borrow whatever money we require within Australia, but we shall not be justified in borrowing too lavishly in view of the huge national debt of tie Commonwealth and the States. I wish to refer to the timber industry, which is not mentioned in the tariff schedule. I shall not discuss this subject at length, because last night the Minister promised the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) that the Tariff Board would make further investigations, and if necessary the matter would be brought before Parliament. There is grave necessity for early action, because the timber industry in every State is in a parlous condition. The sawmills are closing down. In Victoria only 69 mills are working, although at one time 400 mills were engaged in this industry. Similar conditions apply in the other States. Everybody knows that the timber industry is in a very bad way, yet no assistance is being given to it under the tariff schedule. We should foster this important industry. It is very necessary in the interests of Australia that we should have a proper system of afforestation, but, unfortunately, there are millions of pounds worth of timber at present wasting in this country. Years ago, when I visited a Victorian forest, I was shown by the Inspector of Forests acres and acres of good timber which had been allowed to become over-matured, and therefore was of no use commercially. It is a crying shame that in this country valuable timber should go to waste through lack of proper facilities and treatment. This forest and others should be properly worked to provide employment for some of our own people. We should then have less need for imported timber produced under cheap labour conditions. After all, in view of the high standard of living in this country, we can afford to pay a little more for certain articles manufactured locally. The more we encourage our industries the more employment there will be at better wages. The one is the natural corollary of the other. Nobody contends that conditions in Australia should not be better than those in other countries.
– Timber is dear enough now.
– I do not say that it could not be cheaper. There is possibly some special reason for timber being so dear, and when we get to bedrock we may find that there is some parasitical agency operating between the cutting and the selling of timber.
– To remedy that would be better than increasing the duty on timber.
– It is quite possible that the trouble is internal, and could be dealt with apart from the tariff. Wc are not justified in setting up a tariff to plunder the people. Its purpose is to foster industries under proper conditions, so that any man who invests his capital in industry may receive a fair return, without imposing undue hardship upon the producer and consumer of the locallymanufactured article. That is all that we can expect iu Australia. It is idle for us to talk about competing with other countries. We shall be able to compete with foreigners only in certain commodities produced here that cannot be produced elsewhere.
– That is an unusual admission.
– It is. We produce a considerable amount of wool over and above our requirements that finds a ready market overseas, simply because wool of the same class is not produced in other parts of the world. The same applies in a lesser extent to wheat, because other countries cannot wholly supply the markets of the world. But dried fruits and other commodities are a horse of a different colour. In certain European and Asiatic countries these con.modities are produced by cheap labour, and can be placed on the British market at a low price. Does any honorable member expect us to compete with other nations under such conditions? We cannot do it, and it is absolutely unsound to argue that we can. Certain of our industries must depend upon the home market. We must manufacture most of our requirements in our own country. We shall then be able to populate Australia by absorbing immigrants in our secondary industries. Our primary and secondary industries must work together for their own advancement. Honorable members cannot work in the interests of one particular section of the community without being dubbed class legislators.
– But the honorable member would help manufacture for export’?
– Yes, in certain industries; but there are articles produced by Asiatic countries that we cannot compete with abroad. We must have a home market. If we produce commodities worth £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 more than the value of those now imported into this country, our population will grow, and home markets will be established for. the primary producers. I think that we are all united in our aim to make Australia self-contained as far as possible. No honorable member is justified, merely because there is dissension in the section he represents, in saying from the public platform that one party in this House is opposed to the interests of that section. I remember when the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), as leader of the Country party, denounced the then Nationalist Government as strongly as he denounces the Labour party to-day. He was opposed to that government lock, stock, and barrel ; it could do nothing right; its policy, he said, was ruining the country. Having been in office for three years he now has no fault to find with those things which, in earlier years raised his ire. The Labour party has never made the- tariff a party question. It has endeavoured to assist the primary producers, and I have, enumerated the many proposals, some of them introduced by the Treasurer, which honorable members have supported during recent years. If the Treasurer hopes that by talking of the Labour party he will heal the breach caused in the Country party by his own -actions he will be disappointed. But if his desire is to cause disruption of the composite Ministerial party he is doing the right thing to succeed. I am surprised that the Nationalists should allow fourteen country members to resist them on every occasion when the interests of one section of the community are at stake. For the adoption of this tariff schedule the Government is dependent upon the support of the Opposition. That support is being afforded by honorable members on this side. All the kicks which the Minister is receiving are coming from members of his own party. Some country members who three years ago were strong protectionists are to-day attacking the Minister for Trade and Customs. I marvel that such a reversal of opinion should have occurred in such a short’ time. What this country most needs is stable government, and it cannot have it under the present composite Ministry. It would have been a good thing for the country if the Nationalists had won a few more seats, so that they could have accepted the full responsibility of governing the country according to their own policy, instead of being allied with men who, although few in number, have a very big influence in the Ministry, and are constantly threatening to drive a dagger into their colleagues. The least that might be expected of the members of the Country party is loyalty . to the party with which they are allied. Instead of that, knowing that . the Labour party stands steadfast’ for the fostering of Australian industries, and that in any division on the tariff the Government will be secure, they are trying to gain kudos for themselves by attacking the policy of the Minister for Trade and Customs. I except from that remark the honorable members for Perth, Swan, and Forrest, who have- consistently advocated freetrade; but there are other honorable members who, although returned as protectionists, are opposed to the protective policy which the Minister has submitted to this House. Many of the statements made by the Treasurer on public platforms, from time to time have not been in accordance with facts. I should like to meet him on the public platform to debate whether the Labour party has done anything inimical to the interests of the man on the land.
– What did honorable members opposite do in regard to the British preference motions?
– The Treasurer knows very well that we were in favour of those motions.
– What did the Labour Government in Great Britain do?
– Never mind the Labour Government in Great Britain. The Treasurer has been talking about the Australian Labour party, and he knows that at Ballarat a few days ago he lied about honorable members on this side of the House.
– I ask that that remark be withdrawn.
– I ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the statement he has made.
– I withdraw if, and say that the statement made by the Treasurer at Ballarat was inaccurate. He knows that honorable members on this side pleaded with the Government to separate the portion of the motion relating to preference from the portion dealing with defence.
– “We pleaded with honorable members opposite to support the preference proposals, but they remained dumb.
– Our attitude is on record in Hansard. The Government absolutely refused to afford us an opportunity to record a separate vote on the preference proposals. We were in favour of them then, and have been at all times. The Treasurer should be grateful to Labour members for having supported every proposal which the Government has made for the assistance of the primary producers.
– They support him in a very extraordinary way.
– I have enumerated the measures for which we voted. But for our sympathetic attitude more might, have been said in and out of this chamber about some of them. For instance, we said not a word against the butter agreement, because we desired the dairy farmers to be assisted by the stabilization of prices. Very strong opposition can be offered to a proposal of that kind.
– Not sound opposition.
– Yes, sound opposition, because the agreement has been superimposed upon the protection afforded by the tariff.
– I ask the Treasurer not to interject so frequently. The Leader of the Opposition should be allowed to make his speech without interference.
– All I ask of the Treasurer is that when speaking on the public platform he will relate the facts regarding the Labour party’s attitude in this chamber towards measures affecting the primary producers. The statement made by .the honorable gentleman at Ballarat was absolutely incorrect. I am pleased that the Minister has promised that the timber duties shall be referred to the Tariff Board.- I ask the honorable gentleman to give further consideration to the duty on cash registers. In 1921 a duty of 40 per cent, was imposed on these machines. With that encouragement, a company was formed in New South Wales, which has been producing a small machine registering up to £2 19s. 11 1/4d. When the last amending tariff was submitted, the duty was reduced from 40 per cent, to 10 per cent., without previous warning to the Australian manufacturer. As a result, registers are being imported from America to the detriment of the Australian industry. This has led to a reduction of the local output and a decrease in the number of employees. Australia requires about 500 of these small registers each year, and the Australian factory was producing approximately 200, which were being marketed at about £50. The American manufacturers took advantage of the tariff alteration to reduce their prices, but whereas the reduction in respect of the large machines, which are not made in Australia, was only 10 per cent., the price of the smaller machines was reduced by 26$ per cent. The Australian industry is not able to hold its own against that sort of competition.
– That sounds like dumping.
– The matter has, I understand, been brought under the notice of the Minister. Those who have invested their money in the industry say that they will have to go out of business unless something further is done to protect them against the American competition, because it is impossible for them to produce machines ait the price at which the imported article is being sold. The Minister might inquire whether the American registers are being sold in Australia at a lower price than in the country of origin. Those who invest capital in local industries should be assisted to make a success of their enterprises. I understand that the Australian factory charges a fair price for the register it produces, and makes only a reasonable profit on the capital invested. If those are the facts, the industry is entitled to further consideration from the Minister.
.- This schedule has led to a discussion of the relative merits, not. of freetrade and protection, as some “honorable members have asserted, but of moderate protection and extreme protection or prohibition. Two or three honorable members on ‘this side of the chamber have advocated freetrade, but the great majority of us axe moderate protectionists. The statement made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) regarding the Country party’s attitude towards the tariff is wide of the mark. The Country party is not opposed to the Government’s policy.
– Many of the honorable member’s party are opposing it.
– We differ amongst ourselves as to the amount of protection that should be given to various industries, but twelve out of fourteen members of the Country party are moderate protectionists. Ever since I have been able to understand the difference between different fiscal systems, I have believed in reasonable protection. I have no sympathy with prohibition, which would not be in the interests of any section of the community. Protection will develop the secondary industries and populate the country more rapidly than would freetrade, and I desire to see secondary industries established, but in the country towns instead of being centralized in the cities. At the same time, the primary producersalso should receive more protection. Despite what was said by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton) of the benefits conferred by the Protectionist policy on the primary industries, I contend that it has been of little or no advantage to them to date. Of our main products, including wool, wheat, ibutter, and fruit, we have exportable surpluses, and while that remains so the producer will derive no benefit from the tariff.
– What about maize, millet, sugar and lucerne?
– I admit that the growers of some products benefit, but those in our main primary industries do not. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) contended that the primary producers hadall the protection to which they were entitled. Of what use is the duty on wheat to the wheat-growers ? I have been growing wheat for about 30 years, and during that time the duty has not benefitedthe wheat-growers more often than on two or three occasions, and even then it benefited only a few who happened to have crops when the many had none. In drought times there are (always some districts that get rain, and the wheat-growers in them then derive some benefit from the tariff. The only time the tariff benefits the wheat-growers is when insufficient wheat is produced for local requirements. The primary producers, who supply about 97 per cent. of the exports of this country, and create something like 73 per cent of its wealth, are entitled to some consideration. The only way I can see in which they can be protected is by allowing their tools of trade, machinery and implements to come into this country free of duty, and by compensating the manufacturers of those articles with a bounty. The manufacturers of machinery would then be placed in as good a position as they are in under the tariff. Even if that policy were adopted the primary producers would not be in so favorable a position as those engaged in the secondary industries, but it would provide some set-off against the disabilities under whch they now labour. To ask that the farmers’ tools of trade be imported free of duty is not unreasonable. If protection is good for the country generally, as I believe it is, all the people, and not merely one section of them, should bear the cost of it. The cost of a bounty would fall on the whole community, but the present duty is paid by only one section - the primary producers. The Parliament should consider what amount of protection is necessary to enable Australian industries to compete successfully against the industries of other countries, where wages and the standard of living are lower than they are here. To assist honorable members in deciding that point, I submit some figures for their consideration. In the year 1923-4. the value of the output of Australian industries was £348,577,583. The salaries and wages of all the employees in all those industries totaled £77,278,265. Those figures show that the salaries and wages amounted to 22.14 per cent. of the output. If duties of 25 per cent. were imposed,our manufacturers would have an advantage over overseas manufacturers, even if the latter obtained labour and freight for nothing. I am not suggesting that we should reduce the duties to an average of 25 per cent., but if we added 5 per cent. to that, our industries would with the natural protection they get be very liberally protected. In some cases they might need a little more protection and in other cases they might be able to prosper with less. Many of the duties in the schedule are too ‘ high, ‘ and are not required. Moderate duties would be more in the interests of the community, for they would not discourage efficiency in business. Extremely high duties put a premium on inefficiency . We know from experience that every increase of duty raises the cost of living, and then the workers naturally, and generally quite fairly, ask for an increase of wages. Later the manufacturer applies for a further increase of duty, to compensate him for the extra cost of wages and other expenses. So the vicious circle continues, and the dog still chases its own tail. With all these increases, no one is better off, and our industries, instead of being placed on a sound business footing, are enjoying only an artificial prosperity. I shall mention two or three items on which the duties are too high. “ The duties on piece goods containing wool, and cotton tweeds under 5s. a yard in value, have been increased to 120 per cent. British, and 200 per cent, general. The previous rate was 35 per cent. On men’s underpants made in England the duty, which was formerly 40 per cent., has been raised to 158 per cent., which means that the cost of those garments retail will be increased from 5s. lid. to 9s. lid. a pair. The previous duty on brown cotton underwear was 40 per cent., and it has now been raised to 118 per cent. That will mean an increase of the retail price from 3s. lid. to 5s. 6d. The duty on women’s underwear from the United States of America has been raised from 55 per cent, to 625 per cent., which will mean an increase in the retail price from ls. to 5s. 3d. That duty may be regarded as prohibitive. Cotton tweed pants made in Australia from imported material cost, under the old tariff, from 8s. to 10s. a pair retail, but now they will cost from 17s. to 20s.
– But if made of Australian material they will cost no more.
– I do not admit that. We always find that a duty raises the price of the locally-made article. I should be very glad to think that the Minister’s statement was correct: I am afraid that he will find it is very far from correct. The duty on knitted underwear was formerly 160 per cent., and it is now 600 per cent. Those duties are much too high, and I fail to see how they will benefit any one. Wages will be increased, but the increased wages will not purchase any more than the old wages purchased. Manufacturers will not benefit, and the general community will suffer because it’ will have to pay more for its requirements. The Parliament ought to impose what it regards as a fair duty, calculated to give the manufacturer a reasonable profit, with good wages and the best possible living conditions for the workers. I am not in favour of a reduction of wages. Two- honorable members have shown that the duties on imported machinery are so’ high that they will cripple industries and prevent production. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) mentioned several of those instances, and the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott) cited one. A case of that kind has come under my notice. The municipal council of Nyngan, in New South Wales, wished to install an electric light plant. It called for tenders for the necessary machinery ; it received only English tenders, because no machines of the size required were manufactured in Australia. The council found that the duty on the machinery would amount jio £300 or £400, which it could not afford to pay. Unless a remission of duty can be obtained, the council will have to abandon the project or install a much smaller plant, which will not give satisfactory results.
– Those engines are now on the water, and the case is still under review.
– I believe that the Minister desires to do what is right. I have mentioned this matter in the hope that he will realize the justice of remitting the duty. If these engines could be made here a remission of duty would not he asked . for; but they cannot be manufactured commercially in Australia, The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott) said yesterday that some people engaged in the woollen trade in Sydney had stated that they could carry on without any additional duty being imposed. I believe that to be the opinion of other manufacturers.
– It would be interesting to Iia ve the name of the mill.
– A large woollen manufacturer told me that he considered that the duties were so high that they were not benefiting the employers, the employees, or any other section of the community.
It is time that we called a halt in this policy of extreme protection. One leading manufacturer has said that although he could double his output without increasing the working costs if he installed up-to-date machinery, it would not pay him to obtain the plant from England because of the high duty payable on it. He concluded that it would be better to carry on with the existing wasteful methods than to import machinery on which the duty was so high.
– What was he producing?
– I do not know. In his day the late Mr. Alfred Deakin was the apostle of protection. When in 1892 it was proposed in the Victorian Parliament that a duty of 44 per cent. should be placed on woollens, Mr. Deakin said - .
If we are to follow some of ihe arguments that have been made by the other side we shall have to haul down the national standard of protection and hoist in its place the yellow flag of prohibition. We shall put this colony into commercial quarantine.
That was the opinion of one of the most respected protectionists who ever sat in an Australian Parliament. If Mr. Deakin then objected to a duty of 44 per cent. on woollens, what would he have said had he been here and listened to these proposals to increase the duties from 100 per cent. to 200 per cent., and in some instances more ? He would have ridiculed the idea. On many occasions the Prime Minister has said lately that the policy of the Government is to grant a fair measure of protection, but that it did not favour prohibition. That is the policy I support. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton) said that the primary producers of Australia have a splendid home market. Our main primary products have no home market of value, because the price in Australia is governed by that obtained overseas for the exportable surplus. That applies in the case of wheat, wool, meat, butter, fruit, and some other products. I have been a woolgrower for many years, and I well remember the time when wool brought only 5d. or 7d. per lb. The wool-growersof to-day do not ask for protection ; they are satisfied with the prices they are receiving. But there is no certainty that those prices will last. For some years wesold our wool at a price which was less than the cost of production. We found it neces sary to reduce wages aud the cost of production; but even then we found it difficult to make ends meet. Those days may return, and the wool-growers may then ask for protection. I agree that our primary and secondary industries should go hand in hand. I want to see our secondary industries expand, especially in our country towns. A moderate measure of protection will result in greater decentralization of our secondary industries. I do not see any way by which our primary and secondary industries can be placed on anything like an equal footing other than by allowing agricultural implements and machinery to enter Australia free of. duty, and paying a bounty to Australian manufacturers of such articles. ‘ When the individual items are before us I hope that the Minister will be reasonable and agree to a reductionof some of the rates which are almost prohibitive.
.- When the tariff was tabled I was under the impression that we should have a discussion on its merits, andnot that the whole question of the relative merits of freetrade and protection would be raised. I thought that we had got past that stage in Australia, but, apparently, there are still a few freetraders among us. I agree that some honorable members have been consistent in advocating freetrade doctrines. But others, to whom the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) in an able address referred, are freetraders in respect of some things and high protectionists in relation to others. I have made no secret of the fact that in respect of all things than can be made in Australia, I am a high protectionist. I do not apologize for being a prohibitionist when foreign trade interferes with the development of Australia. The issue be-‘ fore us is whether this Parliament is prepared to foster Australian industries or support foreign traders.
– That is not the issue.
– While the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) is consistent in his advocacy of freetrade he is inconsistent in that he is willing to allow foreign goods to enter this country and compete unfairly with Australian- made goods.
– It is a matter of method, not of policy.
– The honorable member delivered a well-considered speech setting forth his views on this question; but with those views I entirely disagree. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) said that there was a. general desire among manufacturers for a reduction of the tariff, but he adduced no evidence to that effect; he merely asserted that there were manufacturers in Australia who not only wantednoincrease, of duty, but actually desired a reduction in some instances.
– That is true. Mr. SCULLIN. - The honorablemember for Riverina said that one of the persons whom he mentioned was. a woollen manufacturer, but. when I asked him the name of the mill he was unable to give it. The honorable member saidalso that he knew a manufacturer who had told him that he could by importing machinery double has output without increasinghis manufacturing cost, but it paid him better not to do so because of the duty which would have to be paid on the machinery he would have to import..
– I did not say that the manufacturer told me that.
– I understood the honorable member to say so. In any case the honorable member was prepared to vouch for the fact that some manufacturer in Australia did make such a statement. In this case, I did not ask the honorable member for the name of the manufacturer, but I did ask, “What did he manufacture?” And the honorable member said that he did not know. That kind of thing will not convince any parliament of reasoning, men that they should oppose the well-established protectionist policy of this country. The. statements of individuals who are. unnamed,, and the work of others which is unknowm, case submitted to the committee as arguments to induce honorable members to abandon thelong-established policy of protection!.
– The honorable member himself deals, often in vague generalities.
– The honorable member is. welcome to that opinion. I am not concerned about hisopinion of what I have to say. Perhaps the great reasonwhich induced this Parliament to adopt the policy of protection, and has induced the vast majority of Australian peopleto endorse it again and. again is that, in Australia, we have a wonderful continent possessing a genial climate, rich soil, and abundant resources, aud also the brains and the brawn tor enable us to produce within its boundaries practically everything the people; of this country require. We are determined in Australia to be as nearly self -contained as a nation can be to be able, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton) said, to protect and maintain our country in times of danger and to keep our own people employed in reasonable comfort, instead of sending our money abroad to keep the people, of. other lands employed. If manufacturers in other countries wish to manufacture goods to be consumed by thepeopleof Australia, let them come here and manufacture them in this country. I do not propose to argue the general question of freetrade and protection, because it is not proposed to reverse, the policy of protecting our industries, which the people have adopted,and this Parliament has put into force. I agree with the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), the honorable member forWannon (Mr. Rodgers), or any other honorable member who says that we should be prepared to consider every proposal put forward to. improve our protectionist policy, and remove any anomalies that may exist, under it.
– Everything depends on what the honorable member means by improvement.
-I shall tell the honorable member if he will be a little patient. I listened to him with interest, as I have done to practically all who have spoken in. this debate. The speecheswere interesting and somewere instructive. I listen particularly to freetrade or semi-freetrade speeches, because I want to know what criticism of our established policy can be offered. I am not one of those who believe that we have attained perfection, and I liston with special interest to the criticism of those who are opposed to the protectionist polley,, because I hope to gain from it something that wild: help us to improve that policy: There were some remarksmade by honorable members who advocated the freetrade policy- with which I find myself in agreement. Those remarks had reference to defects in our protective system which, however, I suggest can be remedied by much better and easier means than those proposed by freetrade speakers. What is after all the basis of the criticism levelled against the protectionist policy of Australia?For the purpose of simplification I should boil it down to two points. I take the. speech of the honorable member for Perth as a typical example of the argument of the freetrader, and possibly the best case that could be made against our. national policy. The honorable member is opposed to the protectionist policy because the manufacturers of Australia use it as a shelter for inefficiency and f or profiteering. That is the case put up against the protectionist policy . The honorable member said -
The fact that Australian manufacturers seek tariff protection is a proof of inefficiency.
He amplified that statement later by saying -
The only test of efficiency is ability to compete.
– I did not adopt that of the honorable- member for Perth.
– I do not suggest that. I refer to the honorable member for Fawkner only because he stressed the need for efficiency, which I entirely endorse-. What is the test of the honorable member for Perth? It is the ability to compete; but let me say that before competition can be fair it must be on even terms. Before you can have competition that will be a true test of efficiency, conditions must be equal. In the case of competition between Australian manufacturers and those abroad, I deny that the conditions are equal or that the test is a fair one.
– What about the United States of America?
– The test of competition with the United States of America would not be a fair one. What have our industries to face ? The. first considerationis that we. are starting in the race much later than our competitors. Our competitors abroad have had a start of many years, and with such a start the race is not fair.
– They have the start of generations of goodwill.
– They have the start of generations in which they have been able to build up their industries, to capture trade, and to make their brands known. Honorable members will agree that everything is in favour of the man who starts first..
– And has the knowledge.
– The knowledge is something which comes as, the. result of experience. The honorable member for Perth does not lack intelligence, and he must know that in many cases it is only after years of experiment that manufacturers have brought their manufactures up to their present standard. Manufacturers abroad have sometimes half a century or a century of work and experience behind them, gained before similar manufactures were started in this country. Let me say at the outset, on the question of efficiency, lest I should omit to say it later on, that I do not pose as an expert but as a layman of ordinary intelligence. I have inspected manufactories in Australia, and my judgment and opinion for what they are worth are that I am proud of Australian industries so far as efficiency is concerned. That is not to say that I believe that they are entirely efficient, that there is no room for improvement, or that those engaged in them ought not to try to improve them. I say that they should do so. At the same time, to shelter oneself inopposing the Australian policy of protection behind the plea that industries in Australia are inefficient, is an attitude which I shall condemn at every opportunity. Another handicap our industries have to face is that they are expected to maintain a standard for their workers which is infinitely higher than that obtaining in most of the countries with which we have to compete. We must endeavour to maintain that standard.
– We all want to maintain it.
– The disadvantage of a late start in the race can only be overcome by time, and if it is contended that, when that time has arrived, our policy should be freetrade, I say ‘’ No,” because we have our standards to maintain, and there are but two alternatives, either a levelling up or a levelling down of the standards of wages and conditions ‘ of industry. We are hoping that there will be a levelling up of standards in the industries of the world. One of the aspirations of the League of Nations in setting up the Labour Bureau to which we annually send delegates of employers and employees; is to level up the conditions of industrial workers throughout the world, because it was felt that the unfair competition- between industries in different countries has been the cause of much of the friction that has arisen between nations.
– I hope the honorable member will not forget my remarks on that point.
– The honorable member made so many that it is hard, to remember them all.
– That is very true. The arguments in support of freetrade are like those which were used to support the discredited principle of freedom of contract. One term is practically synonymous with the other. In the last decade or so, the phrase “ freedom of contract “ was mouthed again and again, but, fortunately, it is not so often heard to’-day. Freedom of contract between the worker and his employer meant the freedom of the worker to get behind a wire fence and die of starvation, or accept any terms offered him. We object to freetrade of. a similar character, and refuse to throw down the protective barricade we have set up against the sweaters of other countries Let us examine the matter of efficiency a little further. Various factors contribute to efficiency or inefficiency. “The most important factor in industry is the worker. Then there is the management, and then the plant and machinery. There are other factors, but we may confine ourselves to these three. The suggestion is that the workers of Australia are less efficient than the workers of other countries.
– That, has been not merely a suggestion, but a charge made again and again, slandering the workers of this country generally.
– By whom?
– I am not concerned at this stage with making the matter a party question. I am concerned only with facts. There are examples of inefficiency in every country, and things of which one does not approve. But, speaking generally of the workers of Australia, I .say that, taking into consideration their experience and the opportunities they have had to gain experience in industry, they are as efficient as the workers in any other part of the world.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to S p.m.
– I was - dealing with the question of efficiency, and examining one of the two main charges levelled by the freetrade section against the protection policy. . The two charges were that that policy was a shelter for inefficiency and provides an opportunity for high prices and profiteering. In regard to the general charge respecting the inefficiency of the worker, I ask honorable members to contrast the conditions in some of our factories with those obtaining in American factories. In my judgment it is not efficiency to get the last ounce of strength out of the working man in a short lifetime, and send him to the cemetery at the age of 40. That is not efficiency. If a man were employing a team of horses he would not think it efficiency to take the last ounce of strength out of the horses, and to break them down before he had received the service that could be expected during their ordinary lifetime. From a purely national point of view, surely the asset of human labour is the greatest of all assets. It is an asset that has to be conserved, and the depreciation of human labour has to be taken into consideration. When a person calculates efficiency by the quantity of goods turned out under the speedingup piece-work system obtaining in many factories of the United States of America, my answer is that that is not national efficiency at all; it is sweating. In regard to the other aspect of efficiency - management, machinery, and plant - it is true that we have not reached the stage of efficiency that has been reached in other countries.
– Is it not a question of output more than of efficiency ?
– It is a question of experience and output. There is nothing inherent in the management of factories in America and other countries that renders it more efficient than the management of our factories, but we have not developed in Australia the mass production of other countries. I hope that we shall not develop some of its phases. I admit that mass production to some extent must come in Australia, but to the extent to which it has gone in other countries in the specialization of industry, monotony of work, speeding up, and rendering human beings so many cogs in a machine, I venture to say that the price paid for efficiency is too high. I am concerned with getting in our factories not that class or standard pf efficiency, but good, sound all-round efficiency.
– If that applied to every section of the community it would be well and good.
– I should like to see it applied to all sections of the community. When we discuss the relationship between employers and employees, I suggest to the honorable member and to others who hold his views, that there is the same human nature in workers as there is in employers, and vice versa, and that when honorable members are prepared to give some recognition to those men who work in industries, and some voice in the control -of industry, and do not treat them as so many cogs in a machine, we shall get better conditions and more efficiency. ‘The Treasurer dealt with the spread between the- producer and the consumer. Running through his speech was the charge that the Labour party was responsible for that spread. Now, the Treasurer has pointed to one of the greatest instances of inefficiency that we have in this country, which most countries of the world also seem to have, not inefficiency of production, but inefficiency in the methods of distribution. I ask honorable members opposite to show me what the Labour party has done to widen the spread between the producers and the consumers. They can show nothing. On the other hand, where Labour has ruled, it has done much to bring them closer together, as, for instance, in Queensland. But there is no doubt about the inefficiency of the methods of distribution between the producer and the consumer, and between the manufacturer and those who use his products. I ask the Treasurer and those who support him in his attempt to lay that charge at the door of the Labour party or of the organized workers whether the middlemen of the country generally, support the Labour party or those who oppose the Labour party? Do the Flinders-lane people stand behind the Labour party, or behind those who are anti-Labour? To illustrate what I have said about inefficiency of distribution, let us take some striking examples. At Ballarat there are two woollen mills turning out good material. I do not say that they are 100 per cent, efficient, but they are generally efficient mills so far as production is concerned. From the taking of the wool from the sheep’s back to the making of the finished article there is little to complain of on the score of inefficiency, but when the mills have manufactured a roll of tweed, a pair of blankets, or a rug, then inefficiency begins. The articles are placed in a lorry and sent to the Ballarat railway station. They travel 75 miles to Melbourne by railway, are sent to Flinderslane, and stacked on the shelves of the warehouses. The traveller from Melbourne sells those goods to people living within half a mile from the mill in- which they were manufactured, and back they travel to Ballarat 75 miles by rail. There is no efficiency about such methods of distribution, and it is the rake-off secured by the Flinders-lane people that unduly increases the price of those woollen goods. Take another article. I venture to say that more boots are made in my electorate than in the rest of Australia. The boot factories ‘ are efficient. The workers are skilled, and the organization is efficient. A pair of finished boots, polished, and placed in a box ready to be handed over the counter, costs 12s. 6d. The price of the same boots in Bourke-street or in the other main streets of the city is 25s. Economic service is rendered by the factory. It turns the raw material into a good article ready for use. The only service rendered by the distributors is to provide the brown paper and string to wrap round the boots, and the charge for that is as much as the cost of making the boots. Before honorable members opposite talk about speeding up the workers by piece-work and specialization to bring about efficiency in the production of articles, they should turn their attention to the awful waste caused by the methods of distribution.
I now take the graver of the two charges, which is that the protection policy is a shelter for tihose whowish to extort high prices from tibe people. The honorable member for Berth (Mr. Mann)summed up the position wihen he said, “ These were raids on the public.” He quoted the high prices that were charged. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), who supported his arguments, spoke of the combines, monopolies, and millionaires created by protection. In effect, profiteering was laid at the door of the protection policy. I do not deny that manyof the Australian industries protected by that policy have taken an undue advantage of the high tariff by extorting high prices. Iadmit it, and join with honorable members in the charge, but I shall see how far they will agree with me when we come to consider the remedy. An interstate commission, under the instructions of the Federal Government, investigated the question of profiteering. That commission disclosed shameless profiteering by industries that were protected by the high protection policy of this country. For instance, woollen mills that had been built up under that policy, and under the sheltering wing of the Government, had taken undue advantage of the people of Australia, particularly during the time and stress of war. One mill actually made 90 per cent. profit in one year. Knowing these facts, one would be mad to deny that there was undue advantage taken by some manufacturers under the protection policy; but we cannot say that the charge lies at the door of all Australian manufacturers, nor can we say that asa remedy we should adopt the freetrade policy. I ask those honorable members who put up that argument whether they cannot find cause for conplaint against manufacturersof other countries for profiteering in this country ? Have they no words of reproach for the importers?Are there no examples of profiteering by the Flinders-lane warehouses handling imported goods? For evidence of shameless profiteering commend me to the manufacturers of foreign goods and the importers of them. What innocentgentlemen these freetraders are who imagine that we shall have no exploitation if we allow the foreigner to obtain our markets and thus destroy Australian manufactures. These gentlemen, in an endeavour to be logical, say that the protection policy destroys competition and creates monopoly, allowing it to take advantage of the people by extorting high prices. My answer is that the trust is international to-day. The trusts abroad have better advantages, and are better organized, than the combines and monopolies here. They parcel out the world amongst themselves. They give this country to one group and that country to another. They split up the monopoly, control the market, and have a much greater advantage than any monopoly here built up under a high protection policy. On the other hand, the building up of industries by protection, far from creating monopolies, frequently creates competition in the countries in which they are established. Let me give honorable members a few illustrations and facts. Much has been said in this chamber by the Country party about the price of machinery. They suggest that the burdens of the man on the land would be considerably lightened if he could obtain agricultural machinery under freetrade conditions, and that if the farmer were left to the mercy of the American and Canadian manufacturers all would be well.
– That is a deliberate untruth.
– That is practically what the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) aud the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) advocated in this chamber. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Cook), who has interjected, announced that he would be perfectly satisfied with a duty on millet and tobacco, and om one otherarticle produced in his electorate, but no more.
Mr.Cook. - I rise to a point of order. Thestatement made by the honorable member for Yarra is deliberately untrue.
– The honorable member for Indi must withdraw that remark.
– I ask that the honorable member for Yarra be made to withdraw the statement he made concerning me.
– The honorable member for Indi must withdraw his remark. It is offensive and unparliamentary.
– The statement of the honorable member regarding me is untrue, andI ask for the protection of the Chair.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Will the homorable member for Indiobey the call of the Chair to withdraw his offensive remark ?
Mr,.Cook. - I withdraw it, and say that the statement of the honorable member for Yarra was not correct. I now ask that the honorable member for Yarrabe requiredto withdrawhis statement.
– I shall withdraw even more gracefully than did thehonorable member. I said that he had had indicated that he would be quite satisfiedwith duties on millet and tobacco,and the construction of good roads. I now withdraw that, and say that he does not desire protection on milletand tobacco, and does not want good roads..
– That is not a withdrawal. It is a misstatement, and I ask that itbe withdrawn.
– I withdrawthe statement, andsay that the honorable member does not want anything. The man on the land would not have such a heaven on earth as he thinks he would if the glorious policyof freetrade were applied to agricultural machinery. I shall quote from the report of the Tariff Board a comparison of the prices of agricultural machinery in the Argentine, where freetradeobtains, with those charged in Australia for the samearticles after the payment of duty on them : -
Notwithstanding the duties, the machines aresold in Australia at the same or slightly lower prices than those at which they are sold in the Argentine under the vaunted policy of freetrade.
– We would like to have a little experienceof it, anyhow.
– I am telling the honorable member of the experience of other countries. I have said thatby the building up of local industries, competition is stimulated, the monopoly of the importer is destroyed,and the community benefits. Although some manufacturers have taken undue advantage of the tariff to raise their prices, others have not done so. The moststrikingexample of the protected manufacturer not having taken full advantage of the tariff is supplied by the agricu;tural machinery, of which honorable members in the ministerialcorner complain so much. Iagree that probably the prices of agricultural machinery are too high, but the remedy isnot to he found in freetrade. I takeanother illustration from the Tariff Board’s reportto show the effect of destroying the importer’s monopoly by the stimulation of our own industries. Following the imposition of a duty of 55 percent. om motor gears, the localarticle was immediately available at half the price charged for the imported commoidity. Shortly afterwards the price of the latter was reduced to10 per cent. below that of the Australian product, and the new price still returned a good profit to the importer. The price of imported ammonia chloride was £47 10s. The local product was put on the market at £45, and the price of the imported material dropped to £45, later to £42 10s., and finally to £41 . 15s. The next striking illustration should interest those honorable members who claim to represent ruralindustries. In 1921 the price of British No. 8 black fencing wire was from £46 to £50 per ton. An Australianmade article was put on the market at £30 a ton, and the price of the British wire dropped to that figure, and later to £22 10s. ; but the priceof imported galvanized wire was unchangeduntil a locally-manufactured article was put on the market at a cheaper rate. ‘Such illustrations could foe multiplied considerably. Honorable members on the Ministerial cross benches talk a good deal of profiteering, and one would imagine from their speeches that the importer would never dream of taking an unreasonable profit. But I find that in 1913 the average price at which whiskywas landed in bond was 6s. 6d. a gallon. By 1922 that price had increased to 26s.6d. a gallon. On the other hand, the price of the Australian article in 1913 was 7s. 6d. a gallon, and in 1922 10s. 6d. In other words, the increase in the price of the Australian whisky was 3s. per gallon in nine years, whereas the price of the imported liquor advanced by £.1 in the same period.
– Why ?
– Because the importing firms formed themselves into one of the closest combines in the world, and profiteered.
– What about the British war impost on spirits?
– The war affected prices in Australia as much as in the Old Country. I turn now to bottled spirits. A case of one dozen bottles of proprietary Scotchwhisky is landed in bond for £3 9s. 6d.; the price of a dozen bottles of Australian whisky is £1 15s.. a difference of £1 14s. 6d. in favour of the local article. If the people on the other side of the world are so efficient and such benefactors to this country that we should admit their products free of duty, how do honorable members account for the differences between the prices I have quoted ?
– Is the honorable member sure that the £3 9s. 6d. does not include the British excise duty?
– No excise duty is imposed on whisky exported to Australia. The figures I have mentioned show a striking disparity, and I invite the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) to explain them.
Mr.Prowse. - Did not the honorable member for Yarra say that protective duties would promote competition? He is now combating his earlier argument.
– The honorable member is quite at sea. I said that in some instances undue advantage was taken of the tariff by local manufacturers, but there were other instances in which the protective duties had stimulated competition and reduced prices. Then I proceeded to illustrate how a monopoly, having obtained a good hold of the market and created a certain taste for its products, profiteered at the expense of the community.
– Does not the disparity between the price of the imported article in bond and the price of the local whisky suggest that the natural protection is sufficient and that the duties are not necessary?
– No. Anyhow, the Australian whisky is good enough for anybody.
– The honorable member is a teetotaller.
– If the palates of some people are so fastidious that they will not drink Australian whisky, just as some people will not wear Australian hats or boots, a good stiff duty should be put on the imported article, so that such persons may be made to pay dearly for their lack of patriotism. The majority of the Scotch whiskies on the Australian market are blended. They are not made, and it is not required that they shall be made, under the same conditions as Australian whiskies. That condition of things ought to be remedied, and it at least justifies a special tariff on whisky. These blended whiskies, that may be made from grain, molasses, and various other things, compete with Australian whiskies made from pure malt.
– They cannot do that.
– But they do it.
– There is an act in Great Britain that prevents them from doing it. The distillers must state what is contained in a cask of whisky before it is permitted to be exported.
– That act does not prevent the manufacturers from making other than pure malt whisky and exporting it to Australia; it only requires that they shall brand it truthfully. It is now generally recognized that the majority of the Scotch whiskies known on the Australian market are “blended spirits,’’ consisting of approximately 25 per cent. to 30 per cent, “pure malt” whisky, and the balance “ silent “ or “ neutral” spirit. This “ silent “ spirit, which is also known as “ Cologne “ spirit, is manufactured in large quantities on the Continent, as well as Great Britain, and may be distilled from unmalted grain, beet, potatoes, molasses, &c. It is, of course, a very much cheaper spirit to produce than the pot still malted barley whisky, and for this reason it is used largely for blending purposes. As an instance of the difference in price between “ pure malt “ whiskies and socalled “ grain “ spirits, a reference to a recent issue of Harper’s Wine and Spirit Gazette, published in London, and bearing date 31st October, 1925, will show that “ pure malts “ are realizing prices which are from 250 per cent. to 900 per cent. higher than the prices of the “grains.” (See page 683, Scotch grain spirit, about 3 years old, 5s. 9d. and 6s. per gallon; Scotch pure malt spirit, about 4 to 5 years old, 55s. per gallon.) As the Australian, -whiskies are all “pure malt,” it would not be unreasonable to assume that the “blended” Scotch whiskycould be landed in Australia with freight and charges paid, at a lesser price than it would cost to produce the “ Australian pure malt”; however, for purposes of comparison, we will assume that the cost of the “ Scotch “ landed in Australia ‘ is equal to that of the Australian-made: -
The total quantity of imported whisky duty-paid in the Commonwealth for twelve months ended 31st December, 1925, was 1,232,409 proof gallons. On an estimated profit of about 20s. a proof gallon, the importers are exploiting this country to the extent of £1,250,000 a year. This Scotch whisky is invoiced by firms in Great Britain to their Australian branches at a very high price, which leaves the Australian branches hardly a margin of profit. They do not expect the branches to make a profit, for all the profits are made in Great Britain. Thus the firms escape the payment of income tax in Australia; whatever income tax they pay is paid in Great Britain. Thus we in Australia lose not only the trade, but also a large amount of income tax. The price quoted per gallon in 1913 was 6s. 6d., and in 1922 26s. 5d., an increase of 306 per cent, in those years. This is the class of goods that some honorable members would admit into this country free of duty, at a time when they find that, because of the increase “in the tariff, and the increase in the price of Scotch whisky, there has been a revulsion of feeling against the profiteering of the importers, and an increase in the consumption of Australian whisky. The increase in the consumption of Australian whisky has roused the importers to organize an active campaign. Since this tariff was imposed there has been an- increase in the sales of Australian bottled whisky of 700 per cent. That is one of the reasons for the activity displayed on this item, and it explains, also,’ why some honorable members are prepared to forswear their protection principles and vote against the increased duty. I leave that aspect of the subject, and join issue with my freetrade friends who’ talk of high prices, profiteering, and the undue advantage taken of the public by some of the Australian manufacturers. Suppose we admit all that, and emphasize it again and again. What doe’s it. prove? floes it prove that the freetrader is right? What is the remedy if these things recur ? I have been through many factories in Victoria, and have talked with their managers, who have placed their books in front of me. While I do not understand the technical side of their businesses, I can understand their bookkeeping and their balance-sheets. I have discovered that there are scores of industries in this country working below a fair margin of profit because of competition from abroad. Are these manufacturers to receive no protection because others extort high prices from the public? The remedy does not lie in throwing down the tariff wall and admitting foreign goods free. To crush the Australian manufacturer would be to give a complete monopoly to the foreigner, and to allow him to squeeze the last shilling out of us to spend abroad. Those who advocate that policy are advocating a policy of destruction and despair. Those who say, “ Throw down the tariff barriers “ would wipe out Australian industries. What is the use of honorable members humbugging and saying that they believe in Australian industries but not in protecting them ? What is the use of platitudes? We know how few industries there would be in this country if they had to meet unrestricted competition from other part-9 of the world. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) asked what unfair competition was. There are so many kinds of unfair competition adopted by those who wish to dump goods into this country that I can hardly enumerate them. They dump their goods and, by their artful methods, defy the department to discover the facts. They sell goods below cost in this country to keep their machinery going in the Old
Country ; but the department, when it makes an examination, is often defeated by clever methods of manipulation. Strawboard, I insist, is being dumped into Australia at a price below the cost of production.
– Kraft paper also.
– The Ministerreminds me that kraft paper is also being dumped. Kraft paper is being sold at £32 10s. a ton in Canada, but the. f . o.b. price in Canada for export to Australia is £21 a ton. Surely that is evidence of dumping in Australia.. Strawboard, as its name implies, ia made from straw. The secret of its successful manufacture is to keep the machinery continually employed. Inorder to dump strawboard into Australia, the manufacturers reduce the. price of the raw material, on which they make their loss, and thus contrive to show a profit on the manufactured product. Most of the strawboard mills in Holland are co-operatively owned by farmers. When they desire to dump goods abroad, they agree to accept a price for their straw which represents merely the cost of carting, or less. In that way they can send the finished article to this country at less than the cost of production, and tha department is unable to find evidence of dumping. There are strawboard mills in Australia that were encouraged to import machinery in wartime, whentinplates were unobtainable, and cardboard food containers were in general use. The then Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Massy Greene) gave a definite guarantee on behalf of the Government of that day, of continuity of supplies and adequate protection if the firms would install machinery. There is lying idle in Richmond a £60,000 machine which has hardly turned a wheel because of competition from abroad..
– In a case like that, how would the honorable member fix what is a fair duty?
– I admit that there are difficul ties in fixing a fair duty. It is a question of evidence. I refer the honorable member to the evidence submitted to the Tariff Board. In my judgment, a convincing case was made out. Unfortunately, there is not an item in the schedule covering strawboard but I earn furnish the honorable member with evidence of thecost of production in this country. The protection should be based on the allowance of a, reasonable margin of profitover the cost of production:. The present Government was, the. first Australian Government to buy strawboard from Holland for one of its departments. I introduced a deputation to protest against its action, and I do not think it has done the same thing again. Thespirit of protection is evidently not strong even in the ranks of the Government party. Admitting all that my freetrade friends say about high prices and profiteering, the remedy is not the freetrade policy of destruction and despair. The remedy for a foul chimney is not to demolish it, but to clean it. The freetraders would do like the ancient Chinese - burn down a house to roast a pig. The remedy is still to. keep our industriesin this country, where they can be controlled, and to control them. I recall a debate in this chamber when the Fisher Government was in office, and the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) was AttorneyGeneral. The right honorable member very ably steered through this Parliament the Constitution Amendment Bill, which sought from the people of this country power for the Parliament to deal with, trusts, combines, and monopolies, and to regulate prices. Speaking in this chamber in 1912 he said that food, coal, and transport were all. controlled by combines or. monopolies. He instanced a company that fixed the price of sugar, a combine that controlled the output of coal, and a monopoly of shipping. He advanced argument after argument to show why this Parliament should have power to deal with those evils. The need for dealing with trusts, combines, and monopolies is as great to-day as it was then. Let me refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen), and contrast them with the statement made bv the Treasurer at Ballarat a few days ago. The honorable member for Riverina said that certain items in the tariff were prohibitive duties. With that statement I cordially agree. There are items in this tariff, which the Minister will admit have been specially designed to prohibit the importation of certain articles. The cheap, shoddy tweeds which were entering Australia from Japan were absolutely destroying our textile industry in ite lower grades. Japan had already captured the greater part of this trade, and in another year would have captured the lot.
– Is that an excuse for imposing a high tariff on British goods ?
– We are entitled to pass a prohibitive tariff to prevent cheap goods, made by cheap coloured labour, fromentering Australia. Let there be no mistake regarding my position ; I stand behind the Minister in this matter.
– The duties to which I referred were those on British goods.
– The honorable Member forRiverina spoke vehemently against prohibitive duties beingimposed. Two days ago his leader, the Treasurer said that the Labour party demanded prohibitive duties, thus unduly raising the price of goods. What does the honorable member for Riverina think of his leader, who, having sat around the Cabinet table at a meeting which endorsedthe tariff, and while still remainingamember of the Government which introduced the tariff which the honorable member for Riverina rightly described as containing prohibitive duties, went to Ballarat, and stated there that the Labour party unduly raised prices by standing for prohibitive duties? I describe the Treasurer’s action as a mean and miserable method of electioneering. He tried to tickle theears of the members of the farmers’ convention in his fight against division in the party. He tried to divert the attention ofthe delegates from his broken promises and the speeches which he made on tariff matterswhen he sat in the corner. At Ballarat he said, in effect, “ Don’t think of what I have done; but look at the horrible things which the Labour party would do,” This tariff has not been tabled by the Labour partv.. It is the tariff of the Government of which the Leader of theCountry party is the Treasurer, and a tariff which the honorable member for Riverina rightly says contains prohibitive duties. Yet for that tariff the Treasurer blamed the Labour partv.
– Would not the Labour party have introduceda very much higher tariff?
– A tariff cannot be higher than prohibitive - I am only adopting the honorable member’s own terms. A prohibitive tariff cannot be exceeded : it is the maximum. To the charge that the Labour party will support these prohibitive duties, I, on its behalf, plead guilty. With my respected leader, Igo further, and say, “ God help the Australian industries if the Labour party acted as an Oppositionagainst the tariff proposals of the Government.” If we voted on party lines, holding that our dutyas an Opposition was to oppose the Governnent. Austraiian industries would not get even the inadequatemeasure of protection which this tariff offers. The Labour party has long since realized that Australia’s protectionist policy is inadequate. Twenty years ago it recognized that something more should be done to protect the Australian manufacturer, and, at the same time, protect the workerand the consumer.In 1906 the Labour party went te the country for the first time with the new protection on its platform. At that time the Labour party contained a number of f reetraders. who came mostly from New South Wales and Western Australia. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who a few nights ago made a strongprotectionist speech, was at that time an uncompromising freetrader. At that time, also,the present Minister for External Affairs (Senator Pearce) was a bitter opponent of protection. After some years of agitation we were able to get their support to the new protection, which was defined as protection to the manufacturers by a high tariff, protection to the workers by industrial tribunals, and protection to the consumers by the regulation of prices. The Deakin Government which was then in office supported the new protection policy, and went to the country advocating it. No party obtained an absolute majority at that election, but an overwhelming majority of members pledged to the new protectionist policy was returned. Iremind honorable members that that occurred twenty years ago. The first attempt to put that policy into operation was in connexion with the very industry which has been mentioned frequently during this debate - the agricultural machinery industry. A test case was made of the harvester. A duty was placed on harvesters in order to meet the competition of harvesters from othercountries. On certain machines the duty amounted to £12. An excise duty of £6 was imposed, which was to be refunded to the Australian manufacturer on the condition that he paid arbitration award rates and charged a reasonable, fixed price for his article. That is conclusive evidence that twenty years ago the Labour party stood with the Liberal party of the day for fixing the maximum price which could be charged for a protected article. From that position the Labour party has never departed. It is true that the High Court said that its action was unconstitutional. In 190S Mr. Deakin said that at the first opportunity he would appeal to the people for extended power to carry out the new protection. The opportunity came in 1910. But in the meantime Mr. Deakin had joined forces with the ReidCook party, which advocated freetrade, and to which Mr. Deakin had frequently referred as the “ wreckers of Australia.” The result was that the new protection was not submitted to the people by that combination of parties. It was, however, submitted to them by the Labour party, which redeemed its promise to go to the country on the question of protection. In 1911 a referendum was submitted to the people. The Labour party was defeated because the great combines of this country poured their money into* propaganda to defeat our aims. In very few electorates did the Labour party obtain a majority in favour of its proposals. Nevertheless, that party again took its courage in its hands in 1913, when the proposals were again submitted to the electors. Again they were turned down. Notwithstanding those reverses, the Labour party still stands for the same thing. It wa3 defeated, not because the people were against its policy, but because its opponents misled the people by statements regarding unification and other things. I have reason to hope that to-day no constitutional difficulty arises in this connexion. I take the more recent decisions’ of the High Court to mean that there would be power to-day to regulate the prices of those articles which are manufactured in this country under high protective duties. We shall never have a sound or scientific fiscal policy until we are prepared to say that, while we keep out the goods of other countries, we shall also protect the people of this country from exploitation by those industries which we protect. That is the remedy for the evils which the freetraders point to. We must regulate the protected industries.
I am satisfied that many Australian manufacturers would not object to regulation if they were given a decent protection. Some might say that that would be Government interference with private enterprise. Of course it would be; but is not the tariff itself Government interference with private enterprise ? Does it not say to the people who are importing goods that they shall not import them unless “ they pay a certain duty ? If we grant protection to Australian manufacturers, surely we have the right to say that they shall act fairly towards the people of the country who give them that protection? The * right thing to do is to provide for the regulation of prices or profits under a practical price-fixing scheme. It may be asked whether price-fixing is possible, and whether the necessary data can be obtained. I answer both questions in the affirmative. There is scarcely an article manufactured to-day in Australia the price of which is not fixed. If prices can be fixed by private law-making, surely we can fix them, by public law-making. The data which are submitted in support of an application for the imposition of the duty could be used as a basis for ascertaining “the price to be charged. There are many factories in this country which to-day are working below a fair margin of profit. Some are even carrying on at a loss in the hope that the duties will be increased sufficiently to enable them to carry on profitably. Some Australian industries have been neglected by this tariff, and others have been only inadequately protected. I shall have something more to say about that later. I believe that the majority of Australian manufacturers would welcome a scientific protective policy which would give them the Australian market and regulate the price to be charged for their goods. Their books- are open for inspection by the Minister or the Tariff Board; their cards have been placed on the table ; they have nothing to hide. They want only a fair margin of profit in order to enable them to compete, against the foreign trade that is crushing them out, and creating unemployment. Let me refer to some figures showing the crushing effect of the importations into this country. My serious charge against the Government is that not only is the tariff which it has introduced inadequate, but also that there has been too much delay in tabling it. That delay ‘has already crushed some Australian industries. When the present Government assumed office, it should have seen the trend of world trade. . In 1921-1922, Australian imports were, valued at £103,066,436, and the exports at £127,846,535. By the next year those figures had increased to £131,757,835 and £117,870,147 respectively. A further increase during 1923-4 raised the value of the imports to £140,618,293, and the value of the exports to £119,487,164. In the following year, 1924-5, the imports had increased to £157,143,296, and the exports to £162,030,159. The Minister referred to the protection which the tariff had afforded to Australian industries. Let us take the last six months of last year, a period which included a number of months under which this tariff was in operation. For the six months from July to December, 1925, Australia’s imports wore valued at £76,775,921, and her exports to £72,458,988. Let us compare our imports with our exports. In 1921-2 the excess of exports over imports was £24,780,099. In the first year the Government came into office, the excess of imports over exports was £13,887,688. In the next year the excess was £21,131,129. In 1924-5 the excess of exports over imports was only £4,886,863. For the last six months of last year the balance of trade was again against us, and the excess of imports over exports was £4,316,936.
– ‘Those figures need to be considered in the light of existing conditions, which vary considerably.
– It is just in the light of existing conditions that those figures are significant and grave. The honorable member for Perth took the Minister to task for saying that the more we can export and the less we need import the better for Australia. The Minister, of course, knows that there is a limit to that. When the honorable member for Perth was satirizing the Minister’s statement, there was an interjection from the Country party corner: “Every country cannot go on exporting more than it imports.” That is perfectly true, but one thing we cannot afford to forget is that, unfortunately, this country must export more than it imports, or we shall go insolvent. We are a debtor nation, and are, therefore, compelled to export more than we import. I agree with the honorable member for Wannon that . whilst we keep on borrowing abroad we are only adding to our imports, and are putting off the evil day. We have to build up sound industries in this country. The way to pay our debts is to increase production in this country instead of increasing production in other countries. That is the only way in ‘ which we can ensure the solvency of Australia. The figures I have quoted are very disquieting, since they show that we are importing more than we are exporting, whilst we should be exporting more than we are importing so long as we are a debtor nation. Some honorable members ask where this business is to end. They say that we passed a protective tariff in 1921, and should have been satisfied with that. They should not require reminding that we are not living in normal times. The period of construction after the war was an abnormal period, and no financier in the world was able to explain the situation. The depreciation of currency and reconstruction in Europe, where things had been destroyed, brought about a condition of affairs that was not normal. In the reconstruction period nations were engaged in building up their shattered fortunes. All countries were doing this at any price and under any conditions. Their sole aim was to capture, under any conditions, the trade they lost during the war. That applies not only to the countries of central Europe, but also to the Allied countries, and to Great Britain herself.
– Look at the position of France.
– It is a striking illustration of what I say. Little factories sprung up in the country to supply wants which would not have been supplied at allhad we had to depend on the markets of the world, because they were shut to us. Enterprising men who returned in the early stages of the war started factories here and there, employing 20 or 30 men, and manufacturers in the Old Country, out to” capture this market, are now sending us goods at prices below the cost of production. No matter how- Australian manufactures reduced their prices the prices of imported goods were brought down to meet those reductions. It is for us to take a stand against that. kind of competition. I address the Minister for Trade and Customs more in sorrow than in anger, because I know the task before him in battling through a tariff even of this description with a following so divided.While I sympathize with the honorable gentleman, I submit that his proposals are not adequate. In some cases the protection proposed is insufficient. The strongest objection to this tariff is based upon items that havebeen omitted. The timber industry was referred to very ably by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney), the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) . I leave it with what those honorable members said, because I can add nothing to that. They made out a strong case for higher protection for the industry, notwithstanding the unpatriotic attitude of an honorable member who comes from a wonderful island, in which beautiful timber is grown, but would not protect the industry because he is afraid that working, men employed in it would receive more wages if he did so. This whole-souled freetrader, however, wants a prohibitive tariff on hops. He quoted the figures, of the production of workers in the timber industry in Australia and compared them with those of the production of workers in the industry in other countries. His statistics would not stand five minutes’ analysis.
-The honorable member cannot contradict them.
– I do contradict them.. The honorable member was not comparing like with like. He said that so many hundred superficial feet was produced perman in the industry in Canada, and that so much less was produced by workmen in the industry in Australia. But the honorable member did not tell us the quality or the sizes of the timber.
– That does not matter.
– It does matter. If the honorable member was sent into a forest with an axe to cut down Australian hardwood, and I was sent into another to cut oregon, and claimedto have made the better score at the end of the day, he would see that ifr did matter when he looked at his blistered bands. I worked in the forests of this country, and know something of what I am talking about, though the honorable member, perhaps, does not. The sizes, quality of timber, straightness, and dimensions of spars have to be taken into consideration, as well as transport facilities and the means of getting logs to the saw-mills. The honorable member did not consider amy of these things. Unquestionably, the timber industry should be better protected. I say the same of the iron and steel industry, which is a key industry and the basis of most other industries. How the Government overlooked the needs of that great industry is quite beyond me. I have; previously referred to the paper industry, which is languishing here, and will have gone entirely if something is not quickly done to protect it against unfair competition. There is a little factory in my elector ate and another in the electorate of Hindmarsh, which, although in a small way, employ a number of people in the manufacture of aluminium ware-. They put up, a good case for a protective tariff, but they have been passed order. The industries for the manufacture of matches, cigars, and tobacco also require more protection. One of these will, no doubt, be dealt with more fully later on. They could employ more people if they were given more protection. It may be news to honorable members to learn that our imports of aluminium ware are valued at £250,000 per annum. The output of the local industry is valued at £30,000. One firm that employed 31 employees last year is employing only nineteen at the present time. With its present machinery it could extend its output fourfold, and, if I am any judge of efficiency in an industry, I should say that for the. class of work it turns out the Australian industry is absolutely efficient. I challenge any one to wove that it is not. There are about six factories in Australia, all working part time, and some are nearly out of business. I suggest to the Minister that this industry is given a very small margin of protection, which should be increased very quickly. The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) talked a great deal about an item in what he regarded as a prohibitive tariff affecting imports of cotton tweeds. His. appeal was made on the score of interest in the working man who will have to pay a little more for a pair of trousers.
– About double what he paid previously,.
– I deny that. The only evidence upon which the honorable member speaks is the freetrade propaganda of British importers.
– We shall come to the evidence later.
– We shall, andweshall be able to answer the honorable member. Let me tell the committee that this item was included in the tariff last September, and within a week of the schedule being tabled in this House one firm had turned out cotton tweed in its mill.
– How much ?
– I shall tell the honorable member. This is an article which it was said could not be manufactured in the woollen mills of this country. The statement was proved to be untrue by the articles being turned out in an Australian mill within a week after the tariff schedule was tabled.
– How much?
– I shall tell the honorable member, who must be more patient. There is nothing imported to beat the article manufactured in Australia. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) laughs scornfully at that statement, exposing his foreign-trade tendencies whilst he calls himself a protectionist.
– I spent years in the trade .
– I do not care if the honorable member spent 70 years iu the trade.
– Nothing would convince the honorable member.
– I can supply argument, but not understanding, for the honorable member. Ten mills in Australia have commenced to make this kind of cloth. They turn out 28-inch material at 1s. 9d. and 2s. 9d. a yard. Four mill’s alone are prepared to take orders for 2,000,000 yards a year, which equals half the total consumption of this material in
Australia.. Yet these foreign traders say that it cannot be made in Australia. The average price of imported British cotton tweed - and it is that about which honoirable members are talking - is, landed in this country, 3s. 8d. per yard for 54-inch material. The Australian price is 3s. 6d. per yard for 56-inch material .
– Then why do we need a big duty on the article?
– We. need a duty because, as I need to remind the honorable member,who has forgotten the fact, Japan was exporting this article to Australia at half the British price. Let us see what was happening. In 1922-3 Japan exported to this country £74,000 worth of this material. In 1924-5 Japan’s export of this material had risen to £139,000 worth, whilst the exports of the article from the United Kingdom had gone down from £116,000 to £63,000 worth. Japan was simply crushing the British goods out of the Australian market. Now British manufacturers say, “ We do not want a protective tariff against us. but we do want it against Japan and other countries.” That is pretty cool cheek.
– Does the honorable member believe in British preference?
– I believe in giving preference to Australia, first, and after that to Britain. We should make every article that we can in Australia. As the honorable member for Maribyrnong. (Mr. Fenton) well said, when the British manufacturers are prepared to give their own industries full protection, it will be time for their representatives here to demand protection for British manufactures imported into this country.. We placed orders for two cruisers in Britain, so that, as the Prime Minister said, the unemployment there might be relieved to some extent. At about the same time British firms placed an order for five motor ships in Hamburg. The attempt on the part of representatives of British manufacturers here to be patriotic is ill-timed, seeing that the manufacturers themselves refuse to be patriotic in respect of British industries. I am prepared to support British trade when it does not conflict with Australian trade. The Minister stated that we were putting on a high protective duty to protect British interests respecting certain articles sold in Australia. At the same time these articles are being imported into Britain from foreign countries- free of duty. That seems to me to be a lopsided arrangement to protect Empire trade. Let me tell the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), with his “ moderate “ protection and his denunciation of those public bodies that go beyond this Parliament in giving preference to Australian-made articles, that this tariff has been delayed for at least three years, during which time this country has been flooded with imports produced in other countries under the abnormal conditions that succeeded the war. In spite of that, no action was taken by the Government. Does the honorable member say that a State Government or a municipality should not be patriotic enough to support local manufactures even although the Federal Government falls down on its job? The honorable member’s argument is wrong, because such an action does not get behind this Parliament. As I said by interjection, it goes ahead of this Parliament.
– It is a vicious principle. Public bodies must respect the decision of this Parliament.
– I join issue at once with the honorable member. It is not a vicious principle.
– Whose function is it to fix duties?
– It is a function of this Parliament, but when the Government fails in its duty, it. is only right that public bodies should give effect to the protectionist principle of Australia.
– The Labour party in “Western Australia did not observe that principle. ;
– It should have done so. The honorable member for Fawkner asked what was the limit of protection. He said that he was a reasonable and moderate protectionist, and he asked whether members of the Labour party were prohibitionists. Under certain conditions I would support a prohibition tariff, but not under other conditions.
Given a reasonable advance in efficiency and in our capacity to increase supplies, given decent industrial conditions under proper tribunals, and fair prices and just means of distribution, there should be no limit to the protection given to Australian industries. These conditions if given to the full limit required to establish industry, will afford a scientific protection for our own people, enabling us to develop our great natural resources, to increase our population, tq provide work for- the unemployed, and, in short, to ensure this country’s prosperity, and make Australia one of the finest nations of the world.
– T did not intend at this stage to discuss at length the merits of protection as against freetrade, but in view of the long general debate I feel that I am bound to say a few words on general principles. There are few people in this country who do not desire to build up Australian industries under reasonable conditions. Considering the age of this country and the conditions at present obtaining, the efforts to cultivate and develop Australian industries have by no means failed. The basic tariff of 1922 introduced by the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Massy Greene) was considered by most people to be extravagant, but that gentleman won a world-wide reputation for the ability and care he showed in preparing and conducting the tariff through this Parliament. One thing that was particularly commendable in his treatment of it was his untiring effort not to dislocate trade, and not to place the ordinary trading operations at an unfair disadvantage. I cannot say that the- incidence of this tariff will have the same exemplary effect. I ask honorable members to consider the results of the tariff of 1922, and the consequent extensions of manufacturing in Australia. We should scrutinize this tariff to ascertain if some of the added imposts are justified under present industrial conditions. The advocates of the new tariff schedule have mentioned, to show its urgent and pressing need, some failures of industries that, in my opinion, should never have been established. There was at that time a new-born zeal to transfer people from the city to the country. That was a desirable step if their conditions were improved.- It was also thought desirable that the men already on the land should be encouraged to stay there, and that led to a new development. Many honorable members with praiseworthy intentions imagined that it was possible to establish in various country centres, many of them relatively small, industries which would eventually flourish. I opposed that project strenuously. The Government, at that time seeking to develop Australian industries, appointed Mr. Stirling Taylor, theu Director of the Bureau of . Trade and Industry, to encourage the establishment of country industries. I thought at the time that it was a wrong appointment. I believe that this gentleman did his best, but he went up and down the country making people believe that, even in relatively small towns, they could run mills successfully. The craze extended to this Parliament. Most of the industries then established failed. I pointed out at that time that the trend of trade was in the direction of big, efficiently-equipped concerns. Geelong contains examples of such concerns. The woollen mills that have been established there are models of efficiency so far as machinery, man-power, andorganization are concerned. As the result of the 1922 tariff the mills of Geelong can hold their own against those of other parts of the world. This also applies to Ballarat, where there are other up-to-date factories by which relatively new industries have been established. We should know exactly who the people are that have asked for additional tariff protection, and with what industries they are concerned. Take the knitting mills as an example. Unfortunately, few of the Melbourne mills have been successful. The present Maryborough mill originated at Clunes. I believe that that mill is a splendid success, and I am informed that it employs no fewer than 300 operatives. So far as my knowledge goes, they have been so successful that they need no additional assistance from the tariff. The Australian Knitting Mills have been a pronounced success ; they have made a huge profit and set aside large reserves, which are being applied to the extension of other mills of a similar character. In the face of this evidence the Minister for Trade and Customs cannot claim that there is any need for further protection. The textile mills in every part of Australia have fought their way successfully without the aid of an impost such as is proposed in the schedule.
– How will the honorable member vote?
Mr.FOSTER. - I shall vote for reasonable protection: but as a business man, and for the proper performance of my duty as a representative of the people, I must have all the facts placed before me. I must know what industries have failed and why they have failed, and whether efficiently conducted factories are in such straits as to justify the higher duties which the Minister has proposed. If their management is characterized by efficiency, and they have a prospect of ultimate success if granted temporary relief, I shall stretch a point to assist them to become thoroughly established. I want honorable members to consider the history of the textile trade. The Onkaparinga. Mill at Lobethal, in South Australia, is one of the oldest established in the Southern Hemisphere, and can compete against all comers in supplying not only South Australia, but a big portion of the trade iti Victoria also. That mill did not require the artificial aid of even the existing duties. The quality of its blankets and rugs cannot be surpassed by that of the product of any other mill in the world. The tweeds made by the Australian mills are as good as can be made anywhere. But what is known as the West of England type of tweed is a distinctive product of the United Kingdom.
– How long has the Onkaparinga Mill been in existence?
Mr.FOSTER. -For at least 40 years.
-How much bigger is it now than it was then?
Mr.FOSTER. - A great deal, and it has more than doubled its output in the last20 years.
– Did not the company have to reconstruct a few years ago?
– No; and shares in the company cannot be bought.
– Did not McGregor buy into the company?
– He did not; he bought into another concern. I am surprised that the honorable member should reflect upon one of the most prosperous industries in the Commonwealth.
– I am notdoing so. But where does the honorable member stand in regard to this tariff?
– I am one who will not do what he is told, without rhyme or reason. Nobody will induce meto vote for extra imposts unless I understand clearly aud intelligently that they are necessary. The demand for these extra duties comes, not from Melbourne, but from Sydney. Will any honorable member say that the hosiery industry has not been highly successful ? In respect of quality and selling price; the hosiery mills have almost reached that stage of development when they can oust the imported article from the market. Yet another considerable increase in duty is proposed for the purpose of fattening men who are already making fortunes out of the industry. It is regrettable that the Minister has notgiven thecommittee a definite statement as to which of these duties are proposed iby him and which by the Tariff Board. I was the first member of this Parliament to advocate the creation of a tariff board. In 1921 I said that I would oppose the tariff unless theGovernment consented to the establishment of a body which would advise Parliament as well as the Minister so that honorable members would know the true position of every industry. My idea was that t?he board shouldsee that justice was done to new and struggling industries, and assure Parliament that manufacturers were not receiving more protection thau they needed. In other words, the purpose of creating the board was to promote the development of Australian industries, and not the creation of manufacturing millionaires. We are not told as much as we should be told of the work of the Tariff Board. As each item comes before the committee I shall insist upon knowing from the Minister whether the duty proposed was recommended by the board or has been drafted on the Minister’s own initiative, and I shall want an assurance that each increase is necessary before I consent to add to the burdens of the people by raising the cost of living. In regard to the manufacture of cotton-piece goods, I listened very carefully to the speech of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), who is one of the most able debaters in this committee, and, Ibelieve, thoroughly conscientious. He said that ten factories areeither making, or are ready to make cotton goods. I suppose that each has made enough material for one pair of pants, and has submitted a sample to the Department of Trade and Customs. So Obsessed is the honorable member with the idea that we should manufacture everything we need that he declared the local article to be better than the imported one. I give him credit for believing that statement, but it is not correct by a mighty long way. I have seen the local cotton tweed, and I would like the honorable member to do three months’ hard labour while wearing a pair of pants made from it. If the pants became saturated two or three times a week he would beso troubled withboils and sores that he would speedily lose his enthusiasm for local manufactures at amy cost. A new industry cannot in its first year of operating produce an article of character. We import from England a wonderful cotton tweed that is worth four times as much as the product eulogized by the honorable member for Yarra, and yet we are asked to impose a duty of 100 per cent. on it. Cotton tweed trousers are worn principally by the men represented by members of the Labour party and the Country party. The English cotton tweed is almost untearable, and is more comfortable than moleskin. There is only one better article of the same description made anywhere,and that is American. It is a marvellous cloth, but the duty on it is 200 per cent. These are hard facts. Assuming that this new Australian-made product is all that it is said to be, and I know that it is made by a firm which makes fine ladies’ goods, it is ridiculous that we should need a 200 per cent. protective duty to enable us to make it. We have been told that there are two mills making cotton tweed in Australia, that could turn out 2,000,000 yards of cloth a year; but they are not yet in proper working order, and as importers have to make their arrangements for supplies six months, and in some cases twelve months ahead, it would not be possible forthese mills, under the very best conditions, to produce their requirements within that period. They would not be able to produce even relatively small quantities. We are imposing a duty of from 200 to 300 per cent, on certain knitted and other cotton goods. I shall require considerably more detail in regard to those items when they are specifically before us, before I shall agree to the imposition of such a high duty. It is our right to know all the facts upon which the Tariff Board has based its recommendations. The board was established as much for our assistance as for that of the Government or of the industries into the affairs of which it inquires. It seems to me to be ridiculous that because a single thread of silk is run through a knitted cotton garment it should be subject to a much higher duty than would otherwise be the case. I shall postpone my remarks in regard to machinery until we reach that item in the schedule. On the general question of the development of our secondary industries, I wish to ask this question - Are the industries in existence to-day efficiently conducted ? If they are not, they have no right to expect protection.
– Does the honorable member say that they are not?
-!, say that some are, and some are rank failures. The industries that are efficiently conducted do not, require more protection than they are gutting. If honorable members had visited the annual Australian Natives’ Association Exhibition, that was held two or three weeks ago, or the larger exhibition that was held some little time since, or the magnificent display in Adelaide last year, they would have had substantial evidence of the prosperity of our Australian secondary industries. In arguing in favour of heavy duties, some honorable members have said that we do not want in Australia the products of cheap black labour countries. 1 agree with that; but I do not think that Australian industries that are not efficiently conducted should be protected by a tariff.
– The most inefficient engineering business in Australia is conducted in the honorable member’s own constituency by Messrs. Hawke and Company, and subsidized by Sir Sidney Kidman.
– All the tariff protection in the would would not help a good many industries at the present moment, for there is no money available to buy their products. It must be remembered that if we are not importing the products of cheap black labour countries, we ‘are importing from countries which pay much lower wages than we do, and also from countries that pay better wages than we do. Are we to acknowledge that we are lacking in man power, mechanical efficiency, and organizing and controlling ability? 1 do not think that We are in many of our industries. I could name quite a number of wonderfully successful manufacturing projects in Australia. One of these is Holden’s Motor Body Works, in Adelaide. Unfortunately, the head of that firm, a grand citizen of Australia, passed to his reward at an all too early age the other day; but he lives in the hearts of 3,000 of his employees, who acclaim him as one of the best masters they have ever had. Fortunately, he left behind him a son who is as able as he was. Before he established his business six or seven years ago, he and his son visited America aud investigated the most up-to-date manufacturing processes there. They brought back to Australia with them machinery that was the very last word in efficiency ; and they engaged in America a number of expert craftsmen to instruct the Australian workmen. On that foundation their remarkably successful and progressive business has been built up.
– Holden’s make the best motor bodies in the world.
– That is so, and. they distribute them to the capital cities of Australia at a flat rate of about £56 per body. That firm is not asking for more protection. Messrs. Foy and Gibson, in Melbourne, are, I suppose, as progressive a firm of manufacturers as may- be found anywhere; and Myer’s Emporium may also be quoted as a successful Australian commercial enterprise.
– What about Bryant and May ? Their matches cannot be obtained in Adelaide.
– Is that so? I know that the use of wax matches is prohibited in South Australia; if it were prohibited in Victoria, there woul’d be fewer bush fires. In conclusion, I wish the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten”! to understand definitely that I shall need substantial evidence to cause me to vote in favour of many of the extraordinarily heavy imposts that he has. proposedimposts that are so heavy that they have staggered the trade journals of the world.’ The United States of America, in. its wildest protectionist days, did not dream of a duty of 200 per cent. If we intend to authorize duties like that, we might just as well prohibit all importations. I shall require ‘ full information as to the reasons that led the Tariff Board to recommend these high duties.
– The reports of the Tariff. Board have been printed.
– But they do not give many facts that I shall need, and that I think I have a right to have. The Minister for Trade, and Customs, as a matter of fact, has been out-heroding Herod in the last couple of years. I feel satisfied that if our manufacturing industries were organized on a right basis, and were able to obtain the latest machinery, duty free, there would be considerably less need for such heavy protective duties. However, I shall have more to say on the separate items as we reach them. I trust that for the good name of the Government and the good name of Australia the Minister will be able to justify these very heavy imposts, and particularly his treatment of the Old Country, which is not a credit to him.
Order of the day called on for resumption of debate from 5th February (vide page 772), on . motion by Dr. Earle Page -
That the bill be how read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative, and . bill passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
House adjourned at 10.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 March 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260311_reps_10_112/>.