10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Eon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and road prayers.
– (By leave.) - I move -
That the House at its rising adjourn until ‘ Monday next at 3 o’clock p.m.
Honorable members have been sitting continuously since early January, and I think it would meet their convenience if we expedited business, so as to enable the House to adjourn for a reasonable time over Easter. If thai is done, honorable members will enjoy a. period of relief from their onerous parliamentary duties, and those who represent the more distant States will have an opportunity to return to their homes. By meeting every day next week the House should be able to dispose of the tariff.
.- I have no objection to the motion, although meeting every day next week will inconvenience some honorable members who have made arrangements to go to other States. However, I appreciate the desire of the Prime Minister to dispose of the tariff next week, so as to enable the House to adjourn for a reasonable period.
.- It would be of advantage to the House if the Prime Minister would indicate, so far as he is able to do at this stage, how long the Easter recess is likely to last. I do not suggest that the Government should give a binding promise, but I think it should indicate to honorable members who have engagements in other parts of Australia how long they are likely to be free of sessional duties.
– I cannot say definitely for how long the adjournment will be. The Government hopes that the House will not assemble before May, but no definite date can yet be indicated. Of course, the House will adjourn on the understanding that it will be called together by notification from Mr. Speaker.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I have read in an American publication of a new serum discovered in Japan, which is said to be wonderfully effective in facilitating the mending of broken bones and the cure of bone diseases. Will the Minister for Health make inquiries in Japan with a view to making the serum available in Australia
– I have no knowledge of the new discovery, but inquiries regarding it will be made by the Health Department.
– Has the Prime
Minister noticed the suggestions in the press and elsewhere that this Parliament should assemble at Canberra on Foundation Day of next year, for a special constitutional session, to consider urgent amendments of the Constitution? Has the Government given any consideration to this proposal? If not, will it do so?
– I think the suggestion that Parliament should meet in its new home on Foundation Day, 1926, emanated originally from Mr. Butters, the chairman of the Federal Capital Commission. Both the date of meeting at Canberra and the desirability of holding a constitutional session have been, and are, occupying the attention of the Government, but I am not yet in a position to make a definite announcement as to whenthe Parliament House at Canberrawill be formally and officially opened.
– Is the Prime Minister unable to mention a definite date because he is likely to be absent from Australia in the New Year ?
-The date of the first formal session at Canberra will not be affected by the fact that I shall attend the Imperial Conference in London in October. The earliest date contemplated for the meeting at Canberra is the 26th January, 1927.
– In the absence of the Attorney-General, I ask the Prime Minister whether he has noticed the comment by Mr. Justice Isaacs, in the High Court yesterday, about the doubt and confusion that has arisen regarding the meaning of the word “ charitable.” His Honour hinted that Parliament should couch its acts in simpler language so that they may be understood by the ordinary citizen. Will the Prime Minister consult with the Crown Law authorities with a view to the adoption of that suggestion ?
– This suggestion will receive consideration.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What was the amount of Customs revenue received during 1923-4 and 1924-5 on the importation of motor cars, chassis, and. accessories, motor cycles, and petrol?
– Including tires, the figures are as follows : - 1923-4, £3,515,319; 1924-5, £3,684,347.
Mr. MAHONY (through Mr. E.
Riley) asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– I am having inquiries made, andwill furnish the information at a later date.
Connexion with Port Augusta.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the SydneyCondobolinBroken Hill broad gauge will be completed this year, will he consider the advisability of co-operating with the State authorities concerned in the linking up of Port Augusta with Broken Hill with a broadgauge line, in order that this line may have a strategic value and considerably lessen the east-west travelling time?
– This question will receive the careful consideration of the Government.
Royal Commission - Telephone Switchboards
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the prevalence of the borer and the fact that its existence constitutes an undoubted and growing menace to many vital industries in the Commonwealth, will action he taken to constitute a, royal commission to inquire into the borer menace and to ascertain what steps should he taken to counteract it?
– The whole question of carrying out investigations into the ravages of the borer pest, and the best means of counteracting its menace, will be referred for the consideration of the Institute of Science and Industry when reconstituted. It is expected that the re-organization of the Institute will be effected at an early date.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information will be obtained if available.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of theCommonwealth Public Works Committee
Act 1913-21, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, viz. : - Garden Island (New South Whales) Naval Establishment - Construction of a new wharf.
Following parliamentary sanction of the construction of two 10,000-ton cruisers for the Royal Australian Navy, it has become necessary to remodel the wharfs at Garden Island, New South Wales, to accommodate the new cruisers. The proposal now being referred to the Public Works Committee provides for the construction of a wharf 950 feet in length, equipped with a travelling crane, with a capacity of 8 tons at 90-ft. radius, capstan and bollards. Near its edge, the wharf will he provided with a water main for fire extinguishing purposes, a fresh water main, a compressed air service, and electrical connexions for supplying current to ships, the crane, and other accessories. The total estimated cost is £150,000. I lay upon the table plans and papers relating to the project.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Customs and Excise Duties
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 18th March (vide page 1763), 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’ noticehas 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). . . .
.- I showed clearly before I finished my remarks last night that there was a great difference between the price received by the farmer for his wheat and the price at which bread was sold to the consumer, especially in respect of whole wheat meal flour, from which a greater weight of bread is obtained than from white flour. I showed clearly the huge price charged to theconsumer as against the small return received by the wheat-grower. Any one may see blazed all over the city of Melbourne the words, “Eat raisin bread,” and “Raisin bread can be obtained at the railway station.” Raisins can be obtained at the average shop at about 9d. a pound, and at less if large quantities are purchased. Yet if a small handful of raisins is added to a loaf of bread, its price is immediately increased 100 per cent. The price of a 41b. loaf is increased in round figures from ls. to 2s. Could any one be so stupid as to think that a handful pf raisins warranted increasing the price to such an extent? I have made inquiries respecting the sale of whole wheat meal bread, and in every case the charge was the same as white flour bread, and sometimes £d. extra for a 1-lb. loaf. I have been told that great difficulty is sometimes experienced in getting this bread. If the producers would only organize to do away with’ the middleman, and enable the baker to sell bread at a fair price, they would receive a better profit and the public better value for its money. Under our policy of new protection, we wish to protect the employer against foreign competition. “We wish to protect the employee. When I use that word, I think of the late Judge Higginbotham, that great democrat of Australia, who refused to use the words, “ master “ and “ man,” and used instead “ employer “ and “ employee.” We wish to protect the employee and also our Australian citizens by enabling them to get their requirements at fair prices. That should appeal to every member of this Chamber, especially Country party members. I have here a book entitled The Party of the Third Part, by Henry J. Allen, in which is a report of a debate that took place between him and the late Mr. Gompers. While the Australian Labour party did not agree with all the ideas of Mr. Gompers, still, while he lived, we recognized him, as the world recognized him, as a man of great intelligence, wielding a tremendous power. Mr. Elmer T, Peterson, commenting on this debate, said -
The message I desire to leave to-night is that the ‘highest purpose of the Kansas Industrial Court is not to prosecute labour or to prosecute capital. It is a court of justice, and its aim is to protect labour against capital, capital against labour, and the public against both or either of them.
That is a very fair definition of what we call New Protection. A truth left the lips of the right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) when he said that the agreement that had been entered into in Western Australia during the recent election campaign was an immoral one. I leave that matter there. We shall - watch very closely, when the tariff schedule is before another Chamber, to see whether the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) tries to give effect to that agreement by reducing the tariff. I doubt very much whether he will attempt to do so, but if he does, either by vote or speech, then I say that the solidarity of this Government is not worth anything, and the only course left to the Prime Minister will be to ask Senator Pearce to retire from the Cabinet. At elections the majority of’ us sometimes do things that we afterwards regret. I admit that during my political career I have changed some of .my opinions. In one instance I felt it my duty to call my constituents together to tell them why I had done so. About 38 years ago I wa3 returned to Parliament as an avowed republican, but I changed my views when I went to the East and saw the mighty millions massed there living under insanitary conditions which would be impossible for Europeans. I then saw how serious it would he for us if we cut the painter with Great Britain, and I immediately called my electors together and explained to them why I had changed my opinion. I am still republican in many respects, but while the Homeland is ruled by the most limited monarchy in the world, no act or thought of mine will sever our ties with Great Britain. I look forward to the time, as the late King Edward did, when the British Empire will consist of a union .of republics - something like the United States of America. is to-day. I have come to the conclusion that the matter with the workers to-day is this need for more protection and more work. Let us have a really protective policy such as exists in the United States of America, or, better still, similar to that adopted by Japan. I have also concluded that the matter with Flinders-lane and freetrade is their uselessness. I remember when Flinders-lane practically controlled the government of Victoria, and we had no real protective policy. I remember when the Flinders-lane magnates debased human beings by employing young women under conditions which would not allow them to earn a living. I have with me a report by Mr. W. P. Harrison Ord, Chief Inspector of Factories, of the 1st June, 1899. It is headed : “Minimum “Wage in all Factories.” At that time a splendid committee was formed, of which the late Rev. Edgar was chairman. Mr. Samuel Mauger was one of its active organizers. The late Senator Barker was secretary, and Mrs. Muir and Mr. Sincock were members. All have passed away with the exception of Mr. Samuel Mauger and myself. That committee investigated the conditions in factories, and brought the matter before the State Parliament. As a result, the Factories Act was passed, thanks, greatly,to Sir Alexander Peacock, which provided that the unfortunate girls who were employed in factories should receive a commencing wage of 2s. 6d. a week. Previously they had received nothing. They were wage slaves in every sense of the word. Some of the great houses in Flinders-lane were the greatest sweaters of that day. In this report Mr. Harrison Ord says: -
This modest provision simply required that every employee in a “ factory or work-room “ should receive not less than 2s. 6d. per week, or 2.5 farthings an hour. . . . Hie kind employer will then say that, instead of insisting on the money down, he allows her to return to him on Monday the 2s. 6d. he pays her on Saturday.
On this subject, Miss Cuthbertson, one of God’s good women, reports: -
It .may be argued that if a girl is being taught the trade thoroughly she receives a fair equivalent for the 2s. Gd., but it is a very rare thing to find a girl properly apprenticed to learn dressmaking. The means by which this provision is sought to be evaded are various.
These young Australian girls were paid 2s. 6d. on Saturday morning, and were compelled to return it to their employer on the following Monday morning. When they asked for an increase they were promptly dismissed, and others engaged in their places. At that time the socalled freetrade policy was giving place to a policy of protection. At one factory in Lonsdale-street, facing the hospital, the girls were compelled to enter from the rear of the premises. In the yard ‘were two houses occupied by our unfortunate sisters, members of the demi-monde. Three others were occupied by Chinese. Every young girl who entered the factory was compelled to pass through that yard. Those conditions benefited the big warehouses of Melbourne. They existed within my memory, and within my political life. Mirabeau once said -
Why should we call ourselves men, unless it be to succeed in everything, everywhere, say of nothing “ This is beneath me,” nor feel that anything is beyond our powers? Nothing is impossible to the man who can will.
So we are endeavouring, as far as we can and as quickly as possible, to make Australia progress. Switzerland has been termed the school-house of. Europe. We should endeavour to make Australia the school-house of the world. A majority of the honorable members who have been returned to each Commonwealth Parliament since the inception of federation have been protectionists. I viewed with pleasure the entry of the Country party, because I thought that it would set the example of honesty in politics. I was mistaken; the lure of position and power has been too strong for it. The majority of its members are mere ciphers, who evade the problem to. grapple, with which the party was brought into existence. If they intend to try to whittle down our tariff schedule I suggest the formation of a real Nationalist Government independent of party. The Government was supplied with funds with which to fight the recent elections. Although the Country party has denied that it had any connexion with that matter, I believe that the writer of the article that appeared in Smith’s Weekly two weeks ago rightly stated that that party received payment, but that in order that it should not appear in the balance-sheet the amount was distributed among the local members. Every constituency in Victoria received a certain amount. The sum of £900 was sent to my electorate. If an inquiry is ever held into the matter I shall be in a position to give evidence to that effect. I have here a quotation from Oliver Cromwell, a man who probably did more for England - though not for Ireland - than any other individual. On one occasion he said -
That which makes many poor to make a few rich, that suits not a commonwealth.
I hope that honorable members are sufficiently honest to adopt that as their motto. I had upon the notice-paper to-day two questions relating to the prevalence in Australia of the woodborer. ‘ A large number of pianos are imported into this country. The manipulation of the currency enables such instruments to be manufactured abroad at a cost very much lower than that which ruled prior to the war. Unless the dumping provisions of the act ure rigidly enforced by the Minister the Australian piano manufacturers will be placed at a great disadvantage. There is no doubt that borers have been brought to Australia in imported pianos. I hold in my hand the translation of an article that appeared in the Leipzig Musical Instrument Gazette of 1st October, 1925, in consequence of complaints that had been made regarding the presence of wood borers in pianos. It dealt with suggestions that had been made for the destruction of the borers. It set out that hydrochloric acid would be useful if it reached the larvae - which was very doubtful - but it would injure the wood still more, and the salts of the acid would sweat through the wood. Fresh acorns were suggested as a trap to inveigle the grubs to come out of the wood, but twenty years’ experience had shown that that is a fallacy. Formalin, -a very fine antiseptic, with bisulphide of carbon, would be effective, but the trouble was that it darkened the wood and injured the furniture. Nitrobenzol, for small portions of the wood, was vary useful, but subsequently the holes which were left by the borers had £o be filled with shoemaker pegs. The idea behind that suggestion was that the borers would not be able to get out. Any one who is acquainted with insect life must know that if a borer can bore a hole to get in, it can bore another to get out. The opinion of Dr. Cumpston and other experts is that super-heated steam might destroy these insects. The Government has wisely decided to prevent the importation of broom millet because of the fear that a pest will be introduced into Australia. Why does it not act similarly in regard to pianos? Mr. French, junior, one of the greatest entomologists Australia has had, says of the auger beetles -
They are very destructive to forest, fruit and other trees. They are sometimes so numerous that much damage is caused to pine, oak and other plantations. The specimens submitted by you are unknown here. If these insects were introduced into Victoria, considerable damage might be caused by’ them.
Some persons, including scientists, believe that if a germ is used to destroy a parasite, when that parasite has been wiped out the germ will begin to attack other forms of life. If the human race were deprived of meat, would it not cultivate to a greater extent its vegetable foods? Are the insects, with their high instincts, less able to provide an existence for themselves than a human being with his intelligence ? Many scientific men will agree that if a parasite was employed in the destruction of prickly pear, so soon as the pear disappeared that insect- would attack other vegetable food. I thank the Government for having introduced this measure. No matter what the machina-tions of the Country party may be, the Nationalist partly evidently intends to give effect to our policy of protection. We have on the Tariff Board three men of ability and integrity who can obtain any evidence they require in support of or in opposition to any proposed duty. A ministry that desires to remove anomalies and to right wrongs should not wait for a lengthy period after the completion of an inquiry, before bringing forward a proposal to amend the tariff in any direction. Any amendment could be limited to a few items if it were necessary to remove grave injustices. If that policy were adopted we should make much greater progress. I have here a volume containing the Customs tariffs of the world. In it .will be found a verification of the statement that a machine manufactured in America can be sold in Australia at a lower price than in the Argentine, where a ‘ big combine Has absolute control and can charge what it likes. Honorable members would be well advised to examine the tariff of the United States of America, which, in my opinion, has been responsible for making America the greatest manufacturing country in the world. Both the Japanese and German tariffs could also be studied with profit. The sole reason why Germany was able, under the leadership of Bismarck, to develop her manufactures to such a great extent, to build up a navy which rivalled that of Great Britain, and to organize the greatest army that the world has ever known, was that she had a thoroughly sound protectionist policy. Years ago she had only a revenueproducing tariff, but when she changed frommore or less freetrade to sound protection she began to develop by leaps and bounds. I do not say for a moment that the adoption of a strong protectionist policy will banish poverty from a country, but I say, without hesitation, that it will provide far more employment than a freetrade policy can possibly do. Australia to-day is producing far more wool, wheat, fruit and other primary products than she can possibly use. Our home market is so limited that we are obliged to export a great deal of our primary produce. T contend that, if we adopted a more effective protectionist policy, we should be able to develop our secondary industries. While our home market is limited, the export market for products manufactured from our raw materials is unlimited. May I suggest for the consideration of the Government that, instead of bringing people from London to Australia and sending them into agricultural areas to ;take up farming work which is absolutely new to them, they should bring out qualified tradesmen who would be able to assist in the development, of our secondary industries. In saying that, I do not wish it to be thought that I am antagonistic to the primary producers. No man in this House has voted more frequently than I in the interests of the farmer. As a selector I took up land 52 years ago, but a foolish government sent me - a poor, miserable little bank clerk I was then - into the country where the biggest trees grow. I am afraid that immigrants’ are being used in our country districts to reduce the wages of the Australian rural workers. That is certainly the case at Kondonin, Western Australia. I commend the Government for introducing this tariff schedule. Had it been longer, I should have been better pleased; but on the principle that if I cannot get a loaf of bread I will gladly take a bun, I am thankful for it. The Government can rely upon my hearty support in .passing the tariff.
.- In the course of this debate some honorable members have protested against the imposition of high duties irrespective of whether the industries it is intended to protect are efficiently conducted or not. It has been suggested that the plant and machinery of many of our f actories are not up to date, and that workmen are not giving a fair return for the wages that they receive. My opinion is that no honorable member who has had the opportunity of visiting the factories throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth can do other than admit that, generally speaking, they are a credit to Australia. Recently the Australian Natives Association held an exhibition in Melbourne which thousands of people took the opportunity of visiting. If the freetrade members of this chamber had paid the exhibition a visit, they would have realized how progressive our Australian -manufacturing industries really are, and they should feel proud of the artisans of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) said that an increase in the tariff tended to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. I entirely disagree with that view. The Tariff Board has been submitted to a great deal of seriously adverse criticism during this debate. My view is that the board would not be justified in recommending the imposition of duties to protect industries which are not efficiently conducted. I regard it as the duty, not only of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), but of honorable members generally, to carefully examine the reports Submitted by the board, in order to ascertain that the industries it is proposed to protect are efficiently managed, operate with uptodate machinery, and maintain good working conditions. If we are satisfied on that score, I believe that we may safely adopt the recommendations of the Tariff Board. Recently I read an article in Scribner’s Magazine by Mr. Elsworth Huntington, an American member of the Pan-Pacific Science Congress, in which he remarks that many of our Australian cities possess groups of workers who are unusually competent, so competent that we have established a fundamentally new system. After observing that he had visited the best factories in America and Australia, he makes this significant statement -
Comparing factories of the same type in the two countries, I am obliged to give the palm to Australia.
That is pleasing testimony of the progressive policy that our industrial con- cerns are adopting. I congratulate the Minister for Trade and Customs upon having introduced this schedule, although I do not suggest that it is all that it should be. It appears to me that quite a number of Australian industries other than those directly interested in the provisions of this schedule merit more protection than they are getting. Honorable members have received a circular letter from McPherson’s Proprietary Limited in regard to the duty on bolts, nuts, and rivets, in which the following paragraph appears : -
We have been manufacturers of bolts for upwards of 23 years, and two years ago, after sending our works manager to America and England to investigate the best methods and to purchase the best type of machinery required, we built new up-to-date works, which are generally considered to be as up to date as anybolt works on the other side of the globe. The total amount of money invested in these works is upwards of£ 150,000, and the number of employees at the present time is over 200. While appreciating the proposed new rate now before honorable members in the Federal House, we would like to bring before the notice of those members that, although the rates have been advanced, the effective tariff on bolts is actually below that in force in 1914.
The fact that the industry has less effective protection to-day than in 1914 is due to bar steel being a good deal more expensive now than it was then. The unfavorable position of this key industry is not singular. Quite a number of other concerns are in a similar position. During this debate honorable members have discussed the meaning of the phrase “ sufficient protection.” In my opinion, it means that measure of protection which will permit progress in factories with up-to-date machinery and plant and economic overhead charges. Of course, it is essential to success in any factory, no matter how up to date its machinery may be, that the workmen shall give an honest return for the wages that they receive.. I believe that the people of Australia are prepared to give all necessary protection to properly conducted, well organized industries. Seeing that Australia imported last year goods to the value of £175,000,000, it is ridiculous for the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) to suggest that our industries do not require any further protection. If we were to adopt the freetrade policy that they advocate, many of the 429,990 workmen employed in our 20,189 factories would have to be dismissed.
– We have already answered the honorable member by showing him that as the tariff goes up importations increase.
– There have been special circumstances operating during the last couple of years to account for that, and possibly we shall never again experience the same conditions.
– Does the honorable member for Forrest(Mr. Prowse) suggest that under a policy of freetrade importations would decrease ?
– I am very pleased to find that the Labour party is supporting the tariff proposal’s of the Government. It is readily understood that we cannot have prosperity unless our factories are enabled to manufacture, not only for home consumption, but also for export. I give members of the Labour party throughout Australia the credit of believing that, in the matter of Customs duties, they are very anxious to do justice to the employer, the employee, and also the consumer. All three must be considered in the framing of a tariff if its incidence is to be fair and equitable. I hope that honorable members opposite will not think that I am attempting to make any political capital out of this question when I make some further quotations from the magazine article written by Mr. Ellsworth Huntington. In one part of his article he deals with work and wages in Australia, and he says -
Constantly Australia has been progressing towards a condition in which the State not only insists on, but almost guarantees, high standards of living for people of all classes. Thus Australia has evolved a social and economic system which stands out as one of the important recent contributions to human progress.
That is a very fine testimonial, and we may be justly proud of conditions here. Mr. Huntington makes these further observations -
Neither the unions, the men themselves, nor the Australians as a whole have learned that high standards of wages and living cannot exist permanently unless high standards of work are also enforced.
He goes on to say -
So far as the law is concerned, the good man gets no more than the incompetent. . . In many trades the minimum wages of the unskilled are so nearly the same as those of the skilled, that there is little incentive to acquire skill. The number of apprentices is likewise sharply limited in many trades, which again deters men from ‘ becoming skilled. Moreover, the law makes no provision whereby the industrious man gets more than the man who merely does enough work to hold his job. Thus, in a business which is having hard sledding, the employer may pay his best men scarcely more than his worst, because he feels that what he pays to the poorest is enough for even the best.
– The law attempts only to fix a minimum wage.
– That criticism may not be welcome, but it suggests that Australia is carrying out experiments at the present time that are attracting the attention of world observers. I believe the Labour party could profitably use its influence in the direction of remedying some ‘ of the weaknesses of our present industrial system. If its influence were so used, it would give confidence to the large body of people in Australia who are anxious to build up our industries, and willing to give all the protection necessary to accomplish that end.
– What about the employers ?
– I said a few moments ago that I believe in justice to the three parties concerned - the employer, the employee, and the consumer. I do not approve, but on the contrary strongly condemn, a practice that is followed more or less at the present time. When there is an increase in the duty on a certain article the manufacturer concerned is tempted to raise his price as near as possible to that of the imported article, plus the duty. I strongly condemn that sort of thing. That is one of the reasons why I say the Tariff Board might reasonably bo expected to closely examine all the circumstances connected with the manufacture of any article before any increase in the duty upon it is approved. Even after duties have been passed by this Parliament I suggest that it should still be a responsibility of the Tariff Board to keep an eye on the manufacturers, so that there may be no exploitation of the people. If increased protection means increase in production, and the tariff is to be beneficial to our people, it is clear that many more factory hands will be required in Australia. In this connexion I feel that the Labour party might reasonably cooperate with the National party.
– The tariff could not be passed without our- assistance.
– I recognize that, but I am dealing now with the question of the increase of factory hands, and I say that the Labour party might reasonably be expected to co-operate with other sections of the community to induce a vastly increased migration to Australia from overseas. I do not believe that there is one member of the committee who would for a moment advocate the introduction of migrants for the purpose of lowering our social conditions or standard of living, or to swell the ranks of the unemployed, but I refuse to believe that Australia is less capable today of absorbing population than it was in previous years. It is said in some quarters that we are too particular in our methods of selecting migrants, and should be prepared to admit what might be described as a fair average quality of migrant. There are people who say that our medical standard for migrants is too high. That it is high is evident from the fact that last year only two persons per thousand were sent back to the Old Country because of medical defects discovered after they had left for Australia. The official figures show . that in 1911, 1912, and 1913 we obtained 123,953 assisted migrants. But during the years 1922, 1923, and 1924 we obtained only 75,939. In reply to a question I asked in this House only a few days ago, I was informed, by the Minister that for the year ending 1925 we obtained 24,990 migrants. It is quite evident that these people were not of the pauper class, because it is officially stated that they possessed between them no less a sum than £380,000 of declared capital. Australia should endeavour to obtain the very best class of migrants in order to assist us to build up our industries) and at the same time provide customers for our manufactured products. We have to remember that in this matter we have a very formidable rival in Canada. Canada aims at the present time at introducing some 200,000 migrants annually, and with that object in view has reduced the cost of the passage to the Dominion to £3. If the people of Australia are desirous of competing for migrants, the time has arrived when we also should consider whether our present passage rates are not too high. No sacrifice in money is too great to make in order to adequately populate Australia. In this respect, I consider that the two State governments who so far have not signed the migration agreement should he urged by the Commonwealth Government to do so at the earliest possible moment. I am going to support the .tariff proposals of the Government because I believe they will tend to develop Australian industries. I certainly place Australia first in the consideration of every national question j but I am very pleased indeed that the system of granting British preferential duties is to be maintained. Recently Mr. Howard Hudson, chairman of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Association of British Manufacturers, at a meeting over which _ he presided in Sydney, made the following very serious charges against representative institutions in Australia: -
I submit that these are very serious charges against representative institutions in Australia. In view of the fact that we place so much dependence on Great Britain in connexion with our defence policy, and whenever we are in need of money for developmental purposes, it is most regrettable that government institutions, unable to obtain what they require in Australia, should not be prepared to give Great Britain preference over other countries.
– We borrow money from the United States of America, and expect to trade with them.
– I have some observations to make in that connexion. In 1925 Australia imported from Great Britain goods to the value of £69,000, and we exported to the United Kingdom goods to the value of £64,000,000. In the same year we imported from the United States of America goods to the value of £38,000,000, but America purchased from Australia goods to the value of only £7,500,000. It is evident that if we are going to America for money we cannot hope to compete with that country in production, and it is hopeless to expect that we shall be able to export to the United States of America goods of Australian manufacture to anything like the equivalent in value of what we receive from that country. In addition to the imports just- referred to, Australia, in 1925, purchased goods to the value of £50,000,000 from other foreign countries. Mr. Hudson made a timely suggestion that we should indulge in less flag waving .and more waving of order forms. I am glad, however, that the system of preferential duties in favour of Great Britain is to be maintained, and I hope that the committee will, without undue loss of time, endorse the tariff proposals introduced by the Minister.
.- I cannot allow the general debate to conclude without refuting many of the wild statements concerning the alleged inefficiency of Australian workmen and manufacturers, which have been made from the Government benches, and I have been asked to put before the committee certain facts in refutation on behalf of the engineers and electrical manufacturers and the workmen they employ. It was a refreshing novelty to hear the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) defending this tariff schedule. We have listened to a long and sorrowful procession of speakers on the Ministerial side who have ‘ ‘ fouled their own nest “ by endeavouring to show that the duties contained in the schedule are prohibitive. The only two Ministerial members who have consistently supported the schedule are the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson). The others have said that they are not prohibitionists; they stand for moderate protection. What do they mean by moderate protection ? Protection is not protection if it does not protect. There is no virtue in tariff moderation if it is ineffective. The term “ moderate protection “ is a paradox. One might as well talk of moderate truthfulness or moderate virtue in a woman. I feel sympathy for the Minister, insofar as he has to rely upon the Opposition for the validation of the items in this schedule, and cannot trust his own followers. The worst feature of the debate has been the disclosure by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) of the disgraceful and sordid pact between the Nationalist Association and the Country party in Western Australia. I am surprised that the honorable members for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and Perth (Mr. Mann), for whose consistency and political honesty of purpose I have the utmost respect, have allowed those accusations to be made without explaining their attitude towards the Government and the agreement. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) made a weak apology for the action of Senator Pearce in still remaining a member of the Ministry, and argued, in effect, “Whilst this is an agreement, it is not an agreement.” The pact clearly sets out that the two parties are pledged to secure a substantial reduction of the existing tariff, and on that understanding they went before the electors as one political entity.
– Both the Tariff Board and the Royal Commission on Western Australian disabilities recognized that the people of all parties in that State’ consider the tariff oppressive.
– If that is so, why does Senator Pearce remain in the Cabinet? Either he must honour the agreement to which he subscribed, or hot must dishonour himself.
– Would he help his State by retiring from the Government?
– At least he would be adhering honorably to the terms of an agreement to which he subscribed. How does the Minister for Trade and Customs regard -the arrangement? He stumped New South Wales and Victoria as a high protectionist, and said that he stood for the protection of Australian industries. Did he know of the existence of this agreement? Did the Government know of it, and approve it? If it did, its conduct was dishonorable. If it did not, it should have repudiated it, and those who were parties to it. I am surprised that Ministers have been so silent on the subject.
– The agreement was made only for the purpose of winning the elections.
– Apparently, in Western Australia it was an S.O.S. signal - “ Save our skins.” Senator Pearce realized that he could not retain his seat, unless he became a party to that iniquitous arrangement; and I hope that the honorable members for Forrest and Perth will have something to say about it, and the subsequent conduct of Senator Pearce in continuing to be a member of a Government which is doing the very thing that the agreement was designed to undo.
– I hope that he will endeavour to influence the Cabinet.
– The honorable member for Perth says that he has already done so.
– According to the utterances of the honorable member for Perth, this schedule is a dreadful conception.
– If the Ministerialist face both ways and pull in opposite directions, what more can they do ?
– Quite so. “ The longer the Ministerialists continue at crosspurposes, the greater the ultimate benefit to the Labour party. I listened with patient interest to the dire prophecies of ruin that emanated from the foreign-trade advocates, particularly amongst the mem- bers of the Country party. I pay this tribute to the honorable member for Perth that, in addition to being consistent, he made a very able speech from his point of view. Still, it consisted mainly of unsupported allegations against Australian industries and economic abstractions that were strangely reminiscent of Adam Smith. There was nothing concrete or constructive in it.
– The honorable member is paying me a very high compliment.
– I do compliment the honorable member on the extent of his knowledge of economics, but his theories are archaic - fitted, no doubt, for the time and circumstances in which Adam Smith wrote, but not at all suited to present-day conditions in Australia.
– Does not the honorable member think that the original Adam had more to do with the attitude of the freetraders ?
– It certainly seems as if the freetraders desire the Australian community to revert to the primitive conditions of Adam and Eve. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) in a well-reasoned speech exposed the fallacies uttered by honorable members in the Ministerial corner, and clearly showed the value of the protectionist policy to the primary producers. I commend that speech to members of the Country party and the Australian people generally. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), on the other hand, made an excellent defence of protection. Most of the speakers on the Government side advocated moderate protection without defining their conception of moderation. In addition, they hurled vague charges of inefficiency at Australian industries without furnishing any evidence in support of their statements. For my part, I stand for the prohibition of the importation of such goods as can be manufactured in Australia with economic advantage. By that I mean such industries as have a large capacity for absorbing labour, and producing wealth, and those that utilize waste products. Furthermore, I consider that industries that are important to the defence of Australia should have the maximum of protection, and luxuries that can be manufactured here should be subjected to prohibitive duties. In conjunction with protection on those lines, and consistently with the Labour policy of new protection, the Government should regulate prices, and thus prevent that profiteering which some honorable members alleged existed amongst manufacturers. I protest against the unfair attacks that have been made upon the Tariff Board by honorable members on the Government benches. The board has carried out its duties with remarkable efficiency and moderation. It is clearly the function of the Tariff Board to reject applications from industries that are inefficient in methods of production or distribution, and its reports show that many applications for increased duties have been rejected for that reason. The only criticism that I wish to direct against the board is that it has no representative of the workers. It includes a representative of the rural industries, and I consider that it should have also a nominee of the workers engaged in the secondary industries. It would then be well balanced, and representative of all interests that are affected by the protectionist policy. I notice that the Minister nods his head in approval of that suggestion, and I hope that he will give effect to it.
– Does the honorable member think that every industry which asks for protection should have a representative on the board?
– There must be a limit. All interests, large and small, cannot be represented, but if a nominee of .the workers were on the board it would be fairly representative. I believe also that the evidence taken by the board should be published and made available to honorable members. At the present time Parliament prints many reports that are of little value - for instance, reports on the erection of a telephone exchange at Woop Woop, or some such place - but the reports of the Tariff Board are of far-reaching importance to Australia, and may involve an increase in the price of commodities. The Government should recognize their importance by publishing the evidence, and thus stifle many of the wild allegations that are made concerning the grounds upon which the board is asked to recommend increases of duties. My main purpose in rising was to deal with the manufacturing and engineering industries. Those who advocate a reduction of the tariff evidently fail to realize that their action would immediately destroy many of the secondary industries. The present duties have proved inadequate, and, as a result, according to the latest statistics available, 13.5 per cent, of workers in the manufacturing industries, and 11.4 per cent, in the engineering industries, are unemployed. Those percentages of unemployment are higher than in any other Australian industry.
– There will be more unemployment if the tariff is increased.
– No. Past increases have been followed immediately by increases in employment and production. Already industries are employing additional men. The other day I visited a certain distillery which was adding to its works and employing extra hands in anticipation of the benefits to be gained under the tariff. I sympathize with the Minister in his difficulty with his own supporters respecting some of these matters. To my mind, the schedule is but’ a thing of shreds and patches. It is by no means adequate or sufficiently extensive, and, therefore, will not give satisfaction. Certain engineers have already pointed out to me that there will shortly be need for further revision of duties, because the continuation of the depreciation of foreign exchanges and the consequent reduction of wages in continental countries will enable foreign manufacturers to unfairly compete with ours. Without exception, the members of the Labour party stand for the fullest possible measure of support for our secondary industries. We have heard a lot from the members of the Country party about inefficiency in Australian industry, but they have not yet produced any evidence in support of their statements. I ask them whether primary production has reached its maximum degree of efficiency. I make bold to say that it has not. We have heard how overproduction of dried fruits unsuitable for export has taken place, and how bungling in regard to land settlement has adversely affected primary production and its value. The mem bers of the Country party would be better advised, instead of decrying secondary industries, to advocate co-operative methods, the elimination of the middleman, an effective system of rural credits,, as against the piebald system proposed by the Treasurer, cheap freights, and the extension of shipping facilities by additions to the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers.
– How can we bring about cheap freights under present conditions?
– I refer the honorable member to Queensland, where railway freights are lower than anywhere else in Australia, and where the railways are conducted as a necessary adjunct to production. In that State the primary producers are assisted in every possible way. To return to the machinery items, our engineering and electrical trades are of paramount importance to the defence of this country. The demands of armies and navies, during war time, have usually to be met by the private manufacturers of armaments and munitions. Had not Great Britain and America possessed well-developed steel and engineering industries, the Allies, during the war, would have suffered a serious handicap in lack of munitions. Leading Australian military authorities have stated that Australia could not withstand an attack for twenty-four hours, owing to her lack of munition-making plant. It is, therefore, of paramount importance that we should encourage our engineering and electrical industries. Not only should we give them adequate protection, but we should encourage them to provide the plant necessary for munitions by considering whether they should be given a subsidy. This would be a more economical policy than the establishment of government munitons factories which could not, or would not, be utilized commercially. Returning to the statement of members of the Country party that Australian industries are inefficient, I would remind them that the English Electric Company, whose works are established in my electorate, was recently placed upon the British Admiralty list of repair shops. The British Admiralty demands the highest degree of engineering skill, efficiency, and ingenuity, and it is a great tribute to Australia that it is satisfied with, our standard of engineering efficiency. Australian engineers declare that they are no longer afraid of American competition outside of specialized lines of mass production such as motor cars. They say that they could export engineering products to America were it not for that country’s tariff. In one instance we compete successfully on the American market; I refer to the manufacture of gelatine from waste products in Sydney. It has reached such a high degree of perfection and purity that the Davis Gelatine Company advises me that it is able to sell its product in America. While in America shortly after the war, I lectured on the potentialities of trade development with Australia, under the auspices of our Commissioner in New York, and with the sanction of our High Commissioner in London. I was amazed at the number of inquiries that I received about the possibility of opening up trade with Australia, and at the crass ignorance of our conditions evidenced by many American business men. At that time I met many people of eminence and standing in the American business world. I believe that there will later be a market in America for Australian textiles. Honorable members opposite have talked about the world-famed quality of English textiles, but to. my mind our Australian textiles in quality, durability, and texture compare more than favorably with those of other countries. If honorable members could see the kind of American textile sold in the leading New York stores, they would quite understand why Americans prefer British cloth. We know that during the war Australian military cloth was acclaimed everywhere as superior in durability and quality to any other. I am not given to crying “stinking fish,” because just at present we are unable to compete on the American market. I am satisfied that our Commissioner there has already done good work, and will continue to do it. The fact that American interests are contemplating establishing a trading bank in Sydney shows that they expect future trade expansion with Australia. I believe that later Australia will be able to manufacture certain lines for export, but it will first be necessary for our production to increase sufficiently to provide for our own requirements. Most of our Australian factories must be highly efficient, otherwise they would not have done so well in competition with lowwage countries. It must be remembered that Australian manufacturers such as the English Electric Company of Australia, Metropolitan Vickers of Australia, Fitzgerald Pailin Limited, and the Electricity Meter Manufacturing Company Limited all have allies abroad from whom they obtain the latest designs and information. There are other Australian companies in a position to study latest methods abroad, and to adapt them to their own conditions. Therefore, even from the stand-point of being up-to-date and of scientific efficiency, our factories and workshops compare more than favorably with those abroad. Any honorable member who cares to visit our workshops will find that the inventive genius of Australians has improved foreign inventions. Our engineers are most adept at inventing labour-saving devices. Dozens of factories have decreased the cost of production by using inventions made in Australia. I have unbounded faith in the manufacturing genius and the engineering skill of our people, and I see no reason to question their efficiency. Mr. James Hendry, of Sydney, in a letter mentions a tour that he recently made through Europe, Britain, and the United States of America. He is a prominent business man in Sydney, and is associated with the Chamber of Manufactures. In his letter he says -
I have no hesitation whatever in stating that many of our factories in Australia compare very favorably with what I have seen in other parts of the world. The factories are modern, efficient, and well equipped; whilst Australian factories are not on the same gigantic scale, their methods and processes are very similar, and I am sure if a larger market was here, or if the market that is here was reserved to the Australian manufacturers, an improved condition of affairs would arise giving stabilized prices and regular employment to those in the industry. So far as I can see, the bigger market can only come from an increase of tariff or the application of the quota system of limiting the imports. Both Germany and the United States of America being protected countries, it was interesting to compare these with Great Britain, which is practically a freetrade country. In the United States of America the tariffs were very elastic, and many of them amounted to prohibition. In Germany the tariffs were what we might call medium, somewhere in the region of 50 per cent., but a quota was fixed on a large variety of articles, so that only so many pieces of foreign-made machinery or goods were allowed into that country per month. This quota proved much more effective than the higher tariff of the United States of America, and you will readily see it practically reserved to the German manufacturers the trade of that country. . During my investigations in the different countries, I did not see anything very far in advance of our manufacturing methods, except in one or two instances where specialization was extensively practised; these factories making only one or two lines of goods. In view of these experiences, it appears to me that the Australian manufacturer iB handicapped, not so much by the want of equipment, efficient management, or skilled artisans as the hours of labour, rates of pay, and smaller markets, and these items he has little or no control over.
– Is that gentleman a manufacturer ?
– I understand that he is engaged in manufacturing in Sydney. Mr. S. Smith, a Canadian of wide experience of engineering practice in Canada and the United States of America, who was until recently employed with the English Electric Company of Australia, made this statement -
I find the English Electric Company are far better equipped to handle the construction of turbines, electric lifts, or any kind of general engineering that they specialize in than the average Canadian or American shop. The management is on a business-like footing without being over-systematized, which is a great fault with American concerns. The system of apprentices’ help in vogue in Australia creates a better and more thorough workman than is to be found in any other part of the world.
I quote those opinions from practical men for what they are worth, and, to my mind, they are worth a great deal. It is well known that the great flow of population to Australia has. been caused by our manufacturing development of recent years. The best type of British migrant is the engineer and artisan, the industrial operative who has the highest standard of intelligence, general efficiency, and usefulness in the community. The skilled British agriculturist has such an excellent home market for his produce that we experience the greatest difficulty in inducing him to leave England. Under these circumstances, we must fully develop our secondary industries by giving them every measure of protection. It has been stated that the manufacturers have exploited Australian markets; but it must not be forgotten that’ the de velopment of industries in Australia has checked the exploitation of foreign combines here. The electrical engineering industry is a striking example of this. Combines to secure high prices are in their scope more international in engineering and oil products than in other things, and while American combines are not permitted to exploit the American market, yet they are fostered and encouraged by the Government for purposes of international trade. As an illustration of the manner in which these foreign combines are exploiting Australia I mention the fact that in 1920 a large Australian customer invited prices for a certain size of electrical transformer. The lowest overseas price was over £1,000, but an Australian manufacturer, tendering for the first time, secured the order at £949. The overseas manufacturers promptly cut their prices, and they continued to do so until that identical customer was. quoted £300 for the same type of transformer, subject to the same conditions. It will thus be seen that foreign prices fell to the extent of 70 per cent, when the Australian manufacturer appeared in competition with them. I admit, of course, that there was a decrease in foreign wages during the same period, but it was not in anything like that proportion. A publication by the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association sets out that the average drop in the prices of British electrical machinery was only 30 per cent, during the period when their prices to the Australian customer to whom I have referred fell to the extent of 70 per cent:, clearly indicating that profiteering was being indulged in. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) referred to locomotives. I represent- the electorate in which is situated the Clyde Engineering Company, which I believe is one of the largest locomotive and general engineering shops in Australia. The manufacture of locomotives is of great importance to Australia, not only from the stand-point of absorbing skilled labour, but also from the stand-point of the defence of this continent. It is interesting to review the evidence that was given before the Tariff Board by Mr. Alexander, on behalf of the Clyde Engineering Company. He pointed out that the wage of mechanics in New South Wales, with the addition of holiday payments, &c., amounted to £5 15s. 6d. a week, and that the wage of mechanics in England was £2 16s. a week.
– Is the purchasing power the same in both countries?
– - When everything is considered, it probably is. In the construction of a locomotive the labour cost represents 60 per cent, and that of material 40 per cent. Therefore, the price of a locomotive is largely affected by labour costs. In a locomotive having a delivery price of £12,000, the labour cost and charges would represent £7,200, and the cost of material £4,800. The wages in England are less than half what they are in Australia. In’ a locomotive of a similar value in England, the wages and charges would amount to only £3,600, compared with £7,200 in Australia. In the Clyde Engineering Works 500 men are constantly employed on locomotives, and 100 mon in employment subsidiary to the construction of those engines. If we were to delve more deeply into the matter we should probably find that many thousands of persons who are engaged in the steel and allied industries are partly dependent upon this industry’ for’ their livelihood. On the question of comparative costs it is amusing to notice what can be described only as the impudent request of the representatives of the British manufacturers. In effect, they say, “We do not object to a duty operating against every one else, but you must not impose a duty in favour of Australian locomotives.” I have here the copy of a letter that some time ago was sent to certain honorable members by the Australian Association of British Manufacturers and their representatives, asking for additional protection against foreign locomotives. In it they said -
Where previously a preference of 10 per cent, was considered sufficient, to-day it is insufficient to cover the difference in costs of production between British goods and similar products of other manufacturing countries.
The comparative costs of a certain type of locomotive were set out. The British prices for locomotives required for India ranged, from £4,300 to £5,332. The German price was £2,320, or 46 per cent, below the British. Therefore, if honorable members wish to give British manufacturers an effective preference in regard to locomotives, they will have to impose a 90 per cent, duty on the foreign article. The letter also set out the prices which were tendered for locomotives for Egypt The British prices ranged from £4,920 to £6,600. The German price was £2,050, or 59 per cent, lower than the British. When we consider the big difference in labour costs, the depreciated currency, and the other factors that are operating to compel certain foreign countries to strive desperately to rehabilitate their industries, we must realize that the preservation of the existing duties on locomotives is of vital importance to the engineering industry in Australia. I advise honorable members to go through the Clyde Engineering Works and see the magnificent engines that are being manufactured there by Australian labour. According to the evidence of Mr. Alexander, in the last tenders that were received by the Railways Commissioners of New South Wales, the lowest price for locomotives quoted by British firms was £10,045, compared with £12,000 from an Australian manufacturer. A German firm tendered at £6,089. That was landed here free of duty. There was also a quotation from an Italian firm - £7,212, duty paid. Italy, of course, enjoys the advantages of a treaty with Great Britain, under which the antidumping provisions of the Industries Preservation Act cannot be effectively applied against her, and doubtless . she is in a position to quote an infinitely lower price than other countries. Numbers of quotations have been made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) and other honorable members. When the McKenna duties were imposed by the British Government the price of imported motor cars was not raised. Similarly the price of oil engines was not raised in Australia after our tariff was imposed. That proves conclusively either that the oversea manufacturer was previously profiteering, or that subsequent to the imposition of the duty he dumped his goods. Let us consider. the question of motor car bodies. Practically all’ our motor car bodies ar-e to-day being manufactured in Australia, thus assisting motor body builders and a number of other industries and creating widespread employment. According to the president of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures, although there is a £60 duty upon motor bodies, the advertised price of a Ford car is only £169 10s. The price of a Ford chassis is £145, the difference representing the amount paid to the motor body build.er, plus wholesalers’ and distributors’ profits. The following figures will show how stationary farm oil engines are affected by the new schedule:–
– The manufacturers ought to have been able to sell at the lower figure before the new duty was imposed.
– Either that, or they are now dumping their products. Whichever is the case, they are not deserving of consideration. Recently there was an advertisement in a newspaper which illustrated the’ manner in which FairbanksMorse engines had been reduced in price notwithstanding the increase in the tariff. One could quote hundreds of similar instances -
Imported electricity meters, duty free in 1921-2, were sold at £2 5s. In 1924,” after paying a 45 per cent, duty, they were sold for £1 7s. 6d. (thanks to Australian competition). Australian manufacturers of steel split pulleys marketed their product in Sydney and not in Melbourne. Prices fell in Sydney whilst they remained stationary in Melbourne. Ultimately the price of a 24-in. x 6-in. pulley was 86 per cent, higher in Melbourne than in Sydney.
– That was because there was no local competition.
– -That is so. I am interested in steel split pulleys, because works for their manufacture have been established in my electorate, and under the tariff schedule they are doing well at the present time.
Directly the manufacture of silicate of soda was commenced in Australia the price of the imported article was reduced by 31s. per ton.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.
– In support of my contention that the primary producer is being exploited in more than one direction, I quote the following figures published in the newspaper Calcutta Capital on the 6th August, 1925. to show the average dividends made by certain interests engaged in the jute exporting in dustry in Calcutta, in the nine years’ period from 1916-24: -
Lawrence United Company, 1,020 per cent.
Union Company, 1,125 per cent.
Fort Gloster Company, 1,215 per cent.
Kelvin Company, 1,222 per cent.
Gourepore Company, 1,290 per cent.
Kinnuson and Company, 1,785 per cent.
– What was the capital of those companies?
– I am sorry that I cannot supply that information. These figures show that the firms mentioned are downright exploiters.
– ‘Jute is imported free of duty.
– I know that. The moral of the figures1 is that we should try to produce jute in Australia. I have another illustration to show how business firms abroad which are not subject to competition in Australia increase the price of their imported products unreasonably. Between January, 1924, and January, 1925, all the importers of such goods as insulated electric wires and cables increased their prices by as much as 35 per cent. In April of last year the general manager of the Electrical Department of the Sydney Municipal Council reported that -
He thought it well to inform the committee that the practice of all the firms tendering for the council’s requirements in rubber insulated wires and cables in the same amounts was being continued. Recently the council received tenders or quotations for the supply of wires and cables to the value of £2,717 6s. 6d. from ten firms, and the amounts of all the tenders or quotations were precisely the same.
That goes to show that there is an international understanding between firms that tender for requirements of this nature. It is well for us to remember, when considering manufacturing industries, that nearly the whole cost of the articles produced represents labour charges. Even the material that is used in the majority of cases has been improved by labour. In the steel industry labour produces the ore, manufactures it into steel, and then makes the various machines required. From the economic stand-point the establishment of local manufacturing industries is of inestimable value to Australia because of their labour absorbing and wealth-producing power. In view of this circumstance, let us consider for a few moments a comparison of the wages paid in the various countries. An exact state- ment of the case is impossible, as the conditions change in different districts, and the figures are affected by such factors as bonus systems, payments for holidays, and so on; but, by and large, the position is cleaT. The following table, which shows the rate of wage in pence per hour in the countries mentioned, was published in the British newspaper Engineering, on the 8th May, 1925: -
A careful investigation into the position was also conducted by Mr. James Hendry, the Sydney manufacturer, a letter from whom I quoted earlier in this debate. His figures show that the German manufacturers pay 7.5d. per hour, or about 1 per cent, less than the rate quoted in Engineering. Mr. Hendry’s figures for Great Britain are 15. 4d., and for the United States of America, 37d. Although the two calculations differ slightly, they show that the Australian worker gets about twice as much as the British worker, and about four times as much as the continental worker. In spite of all the varying circumstances, the international engineering firms have entered into an agreement as to prices, the effect of which has been to force some firms in countries which pay high wages to establish branches of their works in countries where low wages rule. Switzerland, for instance, pays 13.4d. per hour, and because the wages there are higher than in the adjacent countries, a well-known Swiss engineering firm has been compelled, in order to compete against its neighbouring firms, to establish a branch of its works in France, where the rate of payment is only 9.5d. per hour. The following is an extract from a letter written by that firm to a Sydney manufacturing company -
We have controlling interests of a factory in Millhouse (France), so that we can build the various parts in the country offering the most advantageous cost conditions.
All these facts go to show that we should make it increasingly- difficult for low- wage, sweated-labour countries to import their goods to Australia to compete against the Australian-made article. Although Britain has no tariff, some of her municipal authorities give their manufacturers a preference. The Electrical Times, of the 7th May, 1925, contains the following report -
The York City Council has accepted an English tender for a converting set at £6,547 instead of a Belgian tender at £5,347. The difference is about £1,200, which means that nearly 22$ per cent, more is being paid to keep the work in this country. Councillor T. J. Kilyon remarked: - “We have a duty to the British workingman to give him work, and I contend that the difference in price does not warrant the council sending this contract outside the country in view ot our large number of unemployed.” “ Them’s my sentiments.” I know that I may be told by some honorable members that Great Britain has even imported ships from Germany; but we must be fair, and admit that the British municipal authorities, at any rate’, are in many instances giving a preference to British goods. Their policy could be well applied to Australia in some directions.
– It is being applied to-day.
– It is a pity that it was not applied to cruiser .construction.
– That is so. It is said that we enjoy a natural protection against foreign manufacturers, because of freight and landing charges that they have to meet, but it has been estimated that on engineering and electrical products these charges do not exceed about 6 per cent, of the British cost of the goods. It must be remembered also that the freight charges from Great Britain to Adelaide are almost as high as those from Sydney to Adelaide. That is accounted for by the different economic conditions that prevail in the two countries. The depreciated currencies and low wages that are operating in Europe at present have forced our international competitors to reduce their prices to such a point that, in my opinion, the present schedule does not impose sufficiently high duties to protect our local engineering industry. Our high standard of living makes the cost of production higher here than it is in some other countries, and I submit that if we intend to maintain the standard, this schedule should be amended at the earliest possible moment. During the luncheon adjournment I was handed certain figures, which showed that even with the present tariff German firms are able successfully to compete against Australian firms in supplying engineering products. I am pledged not to divulge’ the names of the parties concerned, nor the exact nature of the goods; but a certain Australian firm submitted a tender of £123 19s. 2d. for certain supplies, while a German firm, in spite of a duty of 35 per .cent., and 10 per cent, ad valorem, and landing charges of 6 per cent., submitted a tender of £124 7s. 3d., a difference of a little less than 8s. That shows the length to which Continental manufacturers are prepared to go. I am told that the German manufacturing firm intimated, in the case I have mentioned, that it would be prepared to quote 2£ per cent, or 5 per cent, below the rates in its tender, in spite of the tariff. It is of little use for us to talk about moderate protection unless moderate protection is adequate to protect our industries; we must have a tariff sufficient to ensure that our manufacturing concerns will not be ruined. I am sorry to say that the usefulness of the Industries Preservation Act has been largely nullified because of the discovery of a treaty which debars certain sections of it from being applied to Italian imports. The manufacturers of these supplies in Italy have, on this account, become serious competitors against the Australian manufacturers. I realize that the Government is endeavouring to meet the situation, by increasing the duty on marble and other imports from Italy, but I am afraid that the trade recovery in Italy, and the continued depreciation in exchange rates, will enable her, before very long, to become a real menace to the engineering and allied interests in Australia. Imports from Italy in 1921-22 were valued at £944,226, while in 1924-25 they were valued at £1,506,3S3. I admit that we export a considerable quantity of wool, hides, skins, and other products to “Italy, but I should like the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) to see whether there is not some way by which Australia could renounce her obligations under this treaty, which was negotiated by Great Britain as far back as 1883.
– The honorable member realizes, I think, that the balance of trade between Italy and Australia is greatly in our favour.
– I do, but I am afraid that with the trade recovery in Italy the position may be altered with disastrous results to us. Notwithstanding the increased duty on marble and other products, the Australian imports from Italy have increased largely. The invalidity of certain sections of the Industries Preservation Act in respect to Italian goods leaves a breach in our tariff wall which is gradually being enlarged. . I realize the difficulty of the situation, but it seems to me to be a most undesirable state of affairs that a selfgoverning nation like Australia should be bound by the terms of an Imperial treaty, which Britain entered into without consulting her in any way whatever. That is absolutely wrong. We are being made the victims of British trade interests in this matter. There are ways out of the difficulty. Great Britain might denounce the Treaty and enter into a fresh one to which Australia would not be a party. No serious effort is made to make the British . authorities realize that it is not right that Great Britain should jeopardize the economic position of this country as a result of her relations with Italy. ‘ We had a lot of criticism from honorable members in the Country party’s corner on the ground that they were told that the last tariff passed by this Parliament was to bo the last tariff to be submitted. It should be remembered that when the last tariff was passed war conditions were still operating, and wages in Great Britain, plus bonuses and various other privileges, almost balanced our own. In i921, wages in England in certain industries were double what they are to-day, with the result that competition was more equalized than it is to-day. Wages in Great Britain in many industries have dropped by 50 per cent, and 60 per cent, since then, whilst wages in Australia have increased. It is fallacious to argue that the present tariff is prohibitive when figures as to labour costs in Australia and other countries are examined. The only country that pays higher wages than are paid in Australia is the United States of America. But even manufacturers in
America are now making use of allied factories in England, and on the Continent, to exploit the Australian and other markets. The Americans have established factories in countries paying the lowest wages, and all tenders for electrical and engineering equipment reflect wage rates, when all is said. American companies have gone so far as to start factories in Japan and in China, and it is quite likely that articles alleged to have been made in America will be sent to Australia which were really made in China or Japan. In a report of the Western Electric Company for the year ended 31st December, 1924, the following statement is made : -
Likewise the Japanese Government has determined its standards for rebuilding central offices in the Tokyo and Yokohama districts, and important orders have been placed with the international companies allied company in Japan. For another type of automatic equipment developed and manufacturedby the international companies allied factory at Antwerp, orders have been received during the past year from as widely separated places as Shanghai, Durban, and Bucharest (Roumania), as well as from Continental countries nearer by.
This proves that competition is made international, and an international company has established factories in the lowest wage countries. America, owing to depreciated currencies on the Continent, has found difficulty in successfully competing against foreign products, and it is on this account that her manufacturers have been compelled to establish allied factories in low-wage countries. Belgium is a low-wage country, and the competition of Belgium in machinery is likely to be a serious menace before long.
– Has the honorable member figures relating to Canadian industries as distinct from American industries ?
– I have not such figures, but we know that American capital has been expended in Canada in the establishment of allied factories there with a view to exploiting Canadian Imperial preference.
– The statement was made that wages in Canadian industries are higher than in Australian industries.
– I am unable to furnish information on that point. Turning to the general question, let me say that no matter how much it is denied by the honorable member for . Swan (Mr. Gregory), the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) - the three blind mice, from the fiscal point of view - if I may be permitted to so describe them - the fact remains that the American tariff has contributed to the expansion of American secondary industries. The period of America’s greatest expansion and development started with the introduction there of a prohibitive tariff against foreign goods.
– The same thing applies to Australia.
– Quite so. Our period of greatest expansion and development succeeded the introduction of the first Commonwealth tariff. On the continent of Europe, in spite of statements to the contrary, the ad valorem system is but little used, duties being levied according to the weights of the imported articles instead of on the ad valorem principle. That is regarded as a better system, because it avoids the levying of the lowest duties on the products of the lowest wage rate. Poland is not regarded as a country having any industries worth protecting, but Poland was re-constructed as a result of the war and recently increased its already stiff -duty on electrical machinery by no less than 1,000 per cent. to guard against fluctuations in exchange. Roumania, another obscure eastern European country, which certainly has no industries of any great importance, has added 500 per cent. to the duty on electrical and engineering equipment.
– Is that any reason why we should do the same ?
– What I am saying shows that these countries are anxious to develop their industries and are afraid of foreign competition. France has increased her pre-war duty by 2.9 per cent., in spite of her depreciated currency and low wage standard. May I say that these countries set’ a splendid example to Australia, because they have realized to the fullest extent the importance of secondary industries. I have, I think, submitted a case in defence of Australian manufacturers and workers. I deny that there is any general inefficiency in Australian industries. No evidence has been produced to show that there is. There may be one or two isolated cases, but as I stated earlier it is a function of the Tariff
Board to refuse additional protection where production or distribution is inefficiently conducted. I believe that if there is any inefficiency in industry it is universal under the present bourgeoisie system, which creates inefficiency, because of the cost of distribution. This was eloquently dealt with by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), who quoted an instance in which boots supplied at 12s. 6d. were sold at 25s. by the retailer. It should be the business of manufacturers to try to reduce the cost of distribution by direct sales to consumers. I remind honorable members that in the United States of America, where there are many small manufacturers who experienced difficulties owing to the cost of distribution, they formed mergers, and there is one splendid example of co-operation amongst manufacturers in the Bush Terminal Building in New York, where under one roof the marketing is carried out for hundreds of factories established in different parts of the United States. If we are to have any improvement in the reduction of distribution costs, it will have to be brought about by the manufacturer, eliminating the middleman or reducing his abnormal cut on the finished product. Some persons have spoken of the freetrade policy of Great Britain, and while I do not want to traverse the McKenha duties again, we all know that Great Britain found it necessary to take steps to protect herself from the introduction of low-wage products of other countries. It should be borne in mind also that British trade is assisted by shipping subsidies. The Peninsular and Oriental Company and other sniping companies receive huge subsidies from the British Government. There is also to be considered the Safeguarding of British Industries Act, under which subsidies in the form of advances over long periods at low rates of interest are given to struggling industries. All these methods are forms of protection when w.e get down to fundamentals, and it is only a question of whether they are more or less efficient than the system we have adopted in Australia. I am of opinion that the rates on electrical machinery and apparatus should be increased, and I shall deal with the matter in greater detail when we come to consider items 178, 179, and 181. I consider that all dynamo electric machines and static transformers should be dutiable at the same rate. There is no justification for a reduced duty on the larger dynamo electric machines and static transformers.
– To be consistent the honorable member should vote for absolute prohibition against the introduction of these articles.
– Where goods can be manufactured in Australia efficiently I am in favour of a prohibitive duty. At the same time I stand for the Australian Labour party’s policy of new protection, which would enable us to regulate the prices of the finished commodities, and thus check profiteering.
– Meanwhile the honorable member is supporting the proposed tariff.
– Yes, I am, rather than see Australian industries go to the wall. I make no bones about that. I should like to see a representative of the workers on the Tariff Board. I should like its functions to be extended, and that they should be of an economic character. What we needed, as the honorablemember for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) has said, is an economic stocktaking. We want an examination of industries to ascertain, in view of prices charged, whether they ;are efficiently controlled in’ view of the allegations made, and to find out what is the relative production of the Australian workmen compared with the examples of production from the lowwages countries which our foreigntrade friends in the Country party corner have supplied. I have said that I think the Tariff Board should be reconstructed. I admit that it has so far carried out its work excellently. I quite agree that it is possible to carry the policy of protection on certain things to an absurdity. There mav be some, industries of no economic value, and no labour-absorbing power that is worth talking about. They may be producing goods of value so slight as not to warrant their protection. We must have industries that have a labourabsorbing value. One honorable member opposite quoted the artificial-flower industry as one that is of no importance. 1 would not stand for the protection of such industries that might give employment to only a few people unless facts justified it. That would be carrying the policy, in my opinion, to an extreme.
– Shovels, for instance?
– We can discuss shovels when the proper item is before the committee. I understand that shovels are made in Australia to meet our own requirements. There is something inspiring in the remarkable growth of industrialism in Australia. It is only by a continuance of that growth that we can hope to rank amongst the foremost centres of the civilized world. There is a Latin word vis, which stands for strength and force, and_ which we might well adopt as a national motto. It would stand for virility in our policy, initiative in our development, and self-reliance. In Australia we should manufacture everything possible. If the Labour party were so selfish as to regard this question from the stand-point of temporary political advantage, there is no doubt that it could defeat the Government by voting against these duties. But the Labour party takes a broad, national view on this question. The Minister for Trade and Customs has to look to it to defend his policy, and support him in his efforts to save Australian industries from a flood of foreign imports. I hope that the manufacturers of Australia will realize where their real economic interests lie. The Labour movement is out to protect both primary and secondary industries, and those manufacturers who want to ensure the expansion of their businesses, and at the sa:ne time help Australia, will have to alter their political allegiance in the very near future.
.- It is unnecessary for me to inform the committee of the stand I take with regard to the development of a great nation within the boundaries of Australia. Notwithstanding the existence of a small band of freetraders, decreasing in numbers, the people of Australia are protectionists. Society moves along the lines of evolution, it does not stop for long in any one place, and those who still prefer to remain in the position assumed by Henry George naturally find themselves left behind in the evolutionary march of society. There are some people who seek protection for primary industries, and yet decry any attempt to afford protection to Australian manufacturers. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr.
Stewart) refuses to believe that there is no middle course between blatant freetrade and prohibitive protection. He wants to be in a position to shift his ground from ‘ time to time as party politics may direct or party conferences or compacts may require. He and his colleagues in the corner often shift their ground to suit their politics. The somersaults of some honorable members are marvellous. To say the least of them, they are fiscal gymnasts. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), in a desire to help the honorable member for Wimmera, interjected, “ You refuse to be either a teetotaller or a drunkard,” and the honorable member who was speaking seemed to think the interjection put the position very aptly, because he said he refused to totally abstain, but at the same time had a tendency to be a teetotaller.
– The honorable member was moderately immoral.
– The honorable member’s interjection sums up the attitude of the honorable member for Wimmera. You cannot have a moderate murderer, or a moderate burglar, and I do not think you can have a moderate freetrader or a moderate protectionist.
– Solomon said, “ Be not righteous over-much, neither over-wise.”
– In a man’s political career there comes a time when he must determine whether he stands for principle or not. He cannot have it both ways. If he fights for a prohibitive duty on maize or barley, it is useless to demand that the machinery by which these cereals are produced shall come in free of duty. It seems to me that the semi-freetraders of Australia - I call them semi-freetraders, because there are no real freetraders here - get drunk on protection for primary production, and then deliver a teetotal tirade against those who ask for protection for manufacturing industries. A compact made by Western Australian candidates at the recent election, to which frequent reference has been made, has been characterized by some honorable members as an immoral compact, and I have no doubt it is so regarded by the people of Australia, particularly when one of the parties to the compact was a member of the Government which introduced this tariff. Senator Pearce went on to. the hustings pledged to reduce the duties in a tariff schedule which in a few weeks’ time he will be piloting through the Senate on behalf of the Government. To my mind, it is immoral for a man occupying a responsible position in a government to take up a certain attitude in Cabinet and in Parliament, and a totally different attitude before the electors. I do not know whether the Government proposes to relieve Senator Pearce of his duties when the tariff is under consideration in the Senate, but if it does so it will relieve him from a very unenviable position. The fiscal gymnastics of Senator Pearce are even surpassed by some we have seen in this chamber. For instance, the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) appeared . before the Tariff Board as a strong advocate of a prohibitive duty on maize. The old duties on maize were : British, ls. 6d.; intermediate’, 2s. 6d. ; and general, 3s. The amended rates in this tariff are: British, 2s. 6d.; intermediate, 3s.; general, 3s. 6d. Under the South African agreement the rate was ls. j but the honorable member for Gippsland asked that the duty be 3s. 6d. per cental, an increase of 250 per cent. Before the Tariff Board it was stated that the cost of producing maize in Victoria is approximately 4s. 8d. a bushel, or 8s. 4d. per cental. The honorable member for Gippsland was therefore asking for an increased duty of 42 per cent. American maize sells at from ls. 6d. to 2s 6d. a bushel. The people who are loudest in their protests against high duties on agricultural machinery, shovels, and so forth, and are absolutely opposed to the existing rates, which are by no means prohibitive, cry, “ Let us have a prohibitive duty “ when it is a question of protecting an industry in which they are intimately concerned. They would prevent the product of any country from interfering with a primary industry of Australia. If we are to get the cheapest article for the people of Australia, why not advocate the complete break-down of the whole tariff wall? It is infinitely cheaper for us to import the whole of the clothing used by the people of Australia than to attempt to make it ourselves. It is a great deal more economical to import “the whole of the iron and steel goods used in. Australia than to produce them ourselves. Many other countries can manufacture these goods more cheaply than we can. Rightly or wrongly - rightly, in my opinion - we have determined to make Australia selfreliant and self-contained, and at the same time maintain the working conditions and rates of wages it has taken us 30 years to build up. The basis of the nation is the unit of society. If the unit of society is not prosperous, well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well educated, the whole structure of the nation is unsound. It is an utter impossibility for us to maintain our secondary industries without heavy protective duties. We have a general basic wage of from £4 2s. 6d. upwards, and in some industries, particularly in New South Wales, the average ‘ working week is 44 hours. In other countries the average wage runs from 10s. to 20s. a week of 60 hours, or more. Textiles can be produced in Japan and sold on the Australian market at a price with which Australians cannot possibly compete. The same remark applies to articles manufactured in China, Germany, France, Czecho-Slovakia, and other European countries. We cannot compete against those low-wage countries, nor do we desire to do so if it means that our wages are to be reduced and our working hours increased. If the question is asked, “ Are we to build up our industries in order that we may be in a position to defend this country?” it must be answered in the affirmative by all good Australians, even by the freetraders. The Tariff Board is playing a very important part in the development of our secondary industries. Its members, although they may not have had special knowlege at the inception of their work, are gradually gaining experience and training which qualifies them to make reasoned recommendations in regard to the matters that are referred to them from time to time. Much criticism has been directed against them, but they need not be alarmed thereat, because every possible weapon has been employed by the freetraders to defeat the protectionist policy, and the board is being used by them as another whip with which to beat the dog.
– A very definite reply will.be forthcoming if specific charges are made.
– Specific charges are never made in such instances. The board is not without fault, but no body of men discharging public duties dan en- tirely escape criticism. The only fault I find with the board is that it does not carry the protectionist policy far enough. The freetraders’ criticism is that it goes too far in that direction.
– No Tariff Board would suit the freetraders.
– No, because it is carrying out a policy that is opposed to freetrade principles. The functions of the board are highly technical, and relate to thousands of subjects. Both importers and local manufacturers submit technical and intricate evidence in support of their respective claims, and the responsibility devolves upon the board to consider both cases and decide what policy will be in the best interests of Australia. After the application by the iron and steel interests had been dealt with by the board, the representatives of the different parties made some remarks which are worthy of quotation: -
The chairman, in declaring the inquiry closed, expressed appreciation of the thorough and exhaustive manner in which the evidence had been placed before the board by both sides.
Mr. Hutchinson expressed appreciation of the attention and consideration given to the voluminous technical evidence by the members of the board, and was supported in this by Mr. Rowe, Mr. Gravely, and others.
That is only one indication of the manner in which the work of the board is appreciated by those who have business relations with it. Whilst we may, in our enthusiastic advocacy of a cause, attack the board, we should be fair-minded enough to realize that it has very delicate and intricate problems to solve. Parliament created the board; let us help rather than hinder it in its work. In regard to the duties on spirits, when evidence was given before the Tariff Board in June, 1925, the combination representing the importers of whisky was at great pairs to counteract the application made by Australian distillers. I do not pretend to be a judge of whisky; I am dependent upon the evidence given by ‘the manufacturers and the importers. It is admitted that whilst the purity of the Australian article is unquestionable, the purity of the imported whisky is extremely doubtful. Mr. Brind, when giving evidence in regard to neutral spirit, which, though it may be good in its way, is not made from malt, said that any spirit described as “ whisky “ and matured in wood for not less than two years can be imported from the United Kingdom at a duty of from 30s. to 33s. a gallon. It will be noted that there are no restrictions or regulations as regards methods of manufacture or raw materials used in producing such spirits. The British Government very jealously guards the purity of the whisky consumed in Great Britain, but does not pretend to exercise any supervision over spirits made for export.
– The cask must be branded as pure Scotch or Irish whisky. No blending is allowed.
– The honorable member, who is in the trade, will admit that as much as 75 per cent. of the allegedly Scotch whisky sold in Australia is merely neutral spirit.
– That is absolutely wrong.
– I shall quote evidence in support of that statement. Neutral spirit, as described by Mr. Brind, is a flavourless and odourless spirit, light in body, and can be produced from various raw materials. Although in many cases Scotch whisky exporters obtain their supplies of this spirit in the United Kingdom, large quantities of molasses, maize, and other ingredients are imported from Europe, and used in its manufacture.
– Not for export.
Mr.BLAKELEY. - A certain amount of genuine Scotch whisky is blended with the odourless and flavourless neutral spirit. The blend may contain 75 per cent. of neutral spirit, but is sold as Scotch whisky.
– The importers say that that is not so.
– They did not attempt to controvert the evidence given before the” Tariff Board.
– They did controvert it.
– Their contradiction appears in the report.
– Apparently the honorable member, like others in this chamber, is a protectionist in regard to some things, but for selfish reasons, believes in freetrade in respect of other commodities.
– That is incorrect.
– The honorable member may explain his attitude later.
The evidence given before the Tariff Board showed that in other cases the neutral spirit is manufacturedon the continent and elsewhere, and shipped to the United Kingdom for blending purposes. The same witness, in dealing with the purity of Australian spirit, said that Government experts had declared that, in the best interests of the public, the regulations applying to the manufacture of the local product, are highly desirable for the reason that a more wholesome product results. That standard was fixed after the very lengthy deliberations of the Tariff Commission in 1905, or thereabouts. The Australian standard for malt whisky is the highest in the world.
– That is uncontroverted.
– Why will the people not drink Australian whisky notwithstanding that it is so much cheaper than the imported article?
– They are drinking it, and enjoying it. At one time it was sold as excellent Scotch whisky, and no doubt the honorable member has smacked his lips over some of it. The standard adopted by the Australian manufacturers is absolute purity; that adopted by the importers is very questionable, and realizing the superior quality of the Australian article, they blend it with their own. Another witness, Mr. F. E. Thonemann, referred to an importation last year, which was described as “ Scotch malt whisky,” but consisted of a blend of 25 per cent. still whisky and 75 per cent. of foreign neutral spirit. He said he had seen neutral spirit made in Scotland from maize, peas, beans, oats, and a percentage of low-grade barley. Some time ago the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) was a very enthusiastic supporter of Australian whisky, and in 1924, asked certain questions which disclosed an extraordinary state of affairs in connexion with the importation of spirits.
– I am strong on the same point to-day.
– The honorable member may be, but he has turned a remarkable somersault. On the 16th September, 1924, the honorable member asked the following question: -
Is it a fact that during the past few months there has been landed in Australia a consignment of spirit, described as whisky, consisting of a blend of 30 per cent. Scotch malt whisky and 70 per cent. “foreign neutral spirit,” and? that the Scotch house offered to supply labels bearing the words “ The Cream of Scotch Whisky “ ?
Whisky made from peas, beans, maize, malt, potato peelings, or from anything else that would produce a flavorless and odourless spirit was brought into this country as “ the cream of Scotch whisky.”
– The honorable member should read the conditions under which whisky is exported from Great Britain to see that whisky such as he describes could not be exported.
– It is described as “ the cream of Scotch whisky.” To that question the Minister replied -
A blended bulk whisky was so landed, but the percentages of spirit of different kinds contained therein are unknown. It is commercially a whisky, and certified by the Edinburgh Customs to be composed of plain British spirit and foreign unsweetened unmixed spirit from the United States of America. When bulk spirits are duty paid and leave the control of the Customs, the department has no knowledge of, or control over, what labels may be placed on the bottles into which the spirit is put. It is only when the bottling is done in bond that the Customs have control. Inquiry shows that in this case the exporters offered to supply labels bearing the words “ Cream of Scotch Whisky.”
I wonder how much good Australian whisky was used to make that whisky conform to anything like the standard of Scotchwhisky. A further question asked by the honorable member was -
What is the country of origin, and from what ingredients is this “ foreign neutral spirit “ manufactured ?
To that the Minister replied -
The country of origin of the foreign neutral spirit is not definitely known, but it is described on the certificate of age as being from the United States of America. The ingredient from which it is manufactured is not indicated on the certificate.
The honorable member’s third question was -
Is it permissible for Australian distillers to manufacture a spirit of similar composition and pay- duty on same as “ whisky “?
The reply given by the Minister was -
If the source of a neutral spirit were grain, it would be permissible to blend it with not less than 25 per cent. of pure barley malt spirit separately distilled and matured as prescribed, and pay excise duty thereon as blended whisky, at 28s. per proof gallon under excise tariff item 2 (e), otherwise duty would be chargeable at 38s. per proof gallon, item. 2 (o), spirits n.e.i.
To the question -
If the answer to the last question is in the negative, then why is this “ foreign neutral spirit “ allowed to be imported and described as “ whisky “ ? the reply was -
The article is commercially known -as whisky in the trade.
– Why did the Customs Department not take action against the importation on the ground ‘ of wrong description ?
– Something in that direction should be done. Those honorable members who desire to see pure whisky consumed by the Australian people should vote for the schedule. The Australian people would then be educated to the use of good whisky, and it would not be long before they would refuse the inferior product.
– If the importation of poor quality whisky had been prohibited, increased duties would not now be necessary.
– While I do not agree with the honorable member’s contention, I agree that any article which enters this country should be accompanied by a certificate from the government of the country of origin. Seeing that this Australian industry has already benefited during the period that the schedule has been in operation, I am wondering what the alleged representatives of the primary producers in this chamber will do when this item is being dealt with. During that period the barley-growers of Australia have been able to get rid of almost the whole of their production. And as the Australian article becomes better known it will be consumed in greater quantities, to their further advantage. This year over 500,000 bushels of barley, valued at approximately £100,000, have been used in the manufacture of whisky in Australia. Had it not been for the whisky manufacturers, the barley-growers of Australia would have been in a bad way. It is predicted that should the tariff schedule remain unaltered, 1,000,000 bushels of barley, worth over £200,000, will be converted into whisky in Australia each year. I desire now to deal with cotton, cotton tweeds, and textiles. I offer no apology for doing so at this stage, as I do not propose to refer to them again. In our desire to assist our primary producers we should do all that is possible to build up our secondary industries. Slowly, but surely, the textile industry of Australia has grown until to-day it has developed into a very fine organization. Honorable members have heard of the Australian Woollen Mills, Vicker’s Marrickville Mills, the Geelong Mills, as well as others in South Australia- and the other States, in which modern plant capable of producing textiles of very high quality at a reasonable price has been installed. Instead of depending upon shoddies from England and other countries, we are now able to get good woollen articles manufactured in our own country. Our primary industries are thereby assisted. We are now commencing to build up the cotton manufacturing industry in the same way. Large areas in this country are eminently suited to the growing of cotton. To visit any of the factories in Australia which manufacture cotton goods is an education. By the gradual elimination of outside competition in respect of sheeting, towels, and other cotton goods, we shall further assist those engaged in primary production. In the United States of America a definite attempt has been made to eliminate entirely all Australian wool in the manufacture of textiles: a prohibitive tariff has been imposed on Australian wool. Mr. F. W. Hughes, when giving evidence before the Tariff Board on the 6th March, 1925, said that the tariff which was imposed by the American people at the behest of the American farmers practically meant that Australia lost £3,000,000 per annum because of the loss of this market for her wool-tops. In the United States of America they have adopted a duty based on 24 cents a lb. on the lowest grade of wool in an endeavour to protect their own woollen’ industry. I say to the representatives of the farmers in this chamber that if that policy is good for American wool-growers it should be good for Australian wool-growers also. Mr. F. W. Hughes was asked by the chairman of the Tariff Board the following question : -
Bo you ask .that the duties should he started on a 24 cents basis?
He replied -
America grows its own wool. It imports a very small percentage of the wool that it manufactures into hosiery and woollen goods. It imports a certain quantity of super -wools; but they base the whole business on the production against the manufacture of their own wool, on which, of course, there is no duty.
The same thing applies to Australia. Replying to the question -
Do they grow their wool throughout the United States?
Mr. Hughes answered ;
Yes. We were exporting tops to the United States of America. We sold ?3,000,000 worth in one year, hut when this American schedule came into force, we were cut right off.
That shows that the people of the United States of America have a patriotism which could well be emulated by many in this country. In answer to the further question -
That rate of 36 cents for worsted yarns is really based on the 24 cents that they charge to protect the wool grown in America?
Mr. Hughes said ;
I do not think so. The idea is to protect their wool-growing industry- There was quite a lot of public agitation on the matter. The farmers were responsible for that portion of the American tariff to which I have drawn attention. They said that they wanted all the manufactures in America to be made fromAmerican wool, and that they wanted the tariff to be devised on that plan. If they were to reduce the duty on tops by 10 per cent., we should be able to sell tops there at once.
The American Government is patriotic enough to say, “ We can grow our wool ourselves, and we will not depend on other countries to do it for us.”
– Japan proposes a duty of 100 per cent, on wool tops.
– That is. so. Japan has been a serious competitor of ours so far as wool tops are concerned, and yet that country, like America and Australia, has been compelled to protect its industries. Take woollen yarns used in the manufacture of certain articles turned out by Bond and other companies. The Australian amended duties are - British preference, 20 per cent, per lb. ; and general tariff, 35 per cent, per lb. The American tariff for garments of wool or in chief part wool, valued at not more than 30 cents per lb., say ls. 3d.-, is - duty, 24 cents per lb., or ls., and 30 per cent, ad valorem, equal to 4?d.; totalling ls. 4?d., or over 100 per cent, increase. That is sufficient answer to those who talk about the prohibitive tariff of Australia. The Americans, to conserve the interests of their manufacturers, have imposed much heavier duties than has Australia. Under the American tariff, the same class of garments, valued at more than 30 cents per lb. up to 1 dollar per ib. - say 80 cents, or 3s. 4d. - the duty is 30 cents per lb., or ls. 3d., and 35 per cent, ad valorem, equal to ls. 2d., totalling 2s. 5d., or- 72 per cent, increase. The American tariff for hosiery, hose, or halfhose valued at not more than 1 dollar 75 cents, or 7s. 4d., a dozen pairs, is - duty, 36 cents.’ per lb., or 3s. 9d., and 35 per cent, ad valorem, equal to 2s. 6d., totalling 6s. 9d., or about 84 per cent, increase. The tariff . on similar articles valued at, say, 2 dollars, or Ss. 4d., a dozen pairs, is - -duty 45 cents per lb., or 4s. 8d., and 50 per cent, ad valorem, equal to 4s. 2d.; totalling 8s. 10d., or over 100 per cent, increase. The tariff on similar articles valued at, say, 3 dollars, or 12s. 6d., a dozen pairs, is - duty, 4s. 8d., and 50 per cent, ad valorem, 6s. 3d. ; totalling 10s. lid., or 88 per cent, increase. Those are only a few illustrations, and hundreds more could be quoted to show that America, Japan, and Britain are establishing protection far in excess of what we are asking for in Australia. I think it was the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) who painted a very gloomy picture indeed about one line of ladies’ singlets. It is an American cotton article, which I should describe as inferior cheesecloth. It could almost be used as a sieve. It is retailed in Australia at ls. 6d. The importers decided on this . garment to bolster up their case against- the increased tariff, and in this’ connexion the following extract is taken from the Baily News, Perth: -
A striking illustration of the effect of the new tariff on cotton goods is afforded by the statement of the manager of a well-known city warehouse, made to a representative of the Daily News this morning. This firm had imported from America ?233 worth of women’s vests, &c. The new duty upon these articles would amount to no less than ?700. The firm is therefore returning the goods to America for sale there, and will have to stand the loss of freight, &c, on the shipment, and. a possible loss on realization. Hie manager of the wholesale house in question went on to explain that women’s vests have in the past cost 8?d. to land in Perth, have been sold out at 10?d., and retailed to the public at ls. The effect of the tariff would be that the same article would now have to he sold to the public for 5s. Another line of cotton goods has jumped from 10s. to 46s., the difference being represented entirely by the new tariff. Cotton tweed, which is made up into working-men’s trousers, had’ jumped from 3s. lid. to 7-s. lid., and the price of the finished article from 8s. lid. to 17s. 6d. It appears that the tariff has been imposed with the object of protecting one small-goods manufactory that has recently been established in tlie eastern States, and this will mean that one local wholesale house, at all events, will lose one of its. staple lines, unless the British manufacturer can come to the rescue.
As a matter of fact, there are ten firms successfully manufacturing cotton tweeds.
-hughes. - How many men are- employed hy them?
– I cannot give the honorable member that information, but it will, no doubt, be available later during the discussion. In reply to this extraordinary statement which shows that the importers, in their desperation, are prepared to go to any length to gain their objective, I quote the following statement : -
The writer of the article in the Daily Hews, Perth, Western Australia, regarding the increase in the price of ladies’ underwear is apparently not well versed in his subject. It is found that the total value of importations of knitted wear from overseas (other than socks and stockings) into Western Australia for the year 1923-4 only amounted to £4,667. One Australian manufacturer alone is supplying Western Australia with three times this amount - of knitted underwear. The author of the Daily News article chooses the very worst lines he can in quoting an article which costs 8-Jd to land in Perth, and is retailed at ls. per garment. The women folk of Australia can be given credit for better sense in the purchase of . their underwear. What class of garment would this 8Jd. article be? What wear could reasonably be expected of it? The very essence of the protection given is to exclude from Australia this unhygienic rubbish.
This particular garment can be very well termed unhygienic rubbish. The garment made by Bond’s, in Australia, is mostly of Australian materials, and is produced by Australian workmen under Australian conditions. The industry is helping to build up this country. This garment is 100 per cent, a better article than the foreign- one, and is retailed in Australia at ls. 6d. The wholesale price is 12s. a dozen, and 14s. a dozen outsize, j Yet the honorable member for Riverina contended that this tariff would increase the price of the imported article to 5s. Then there is a better garment, Australian made, the wholesale price of which is 36s. a dozen, and 45s. a dozen outsize., It is being retailed at 4s. 3d. It is made of artificial silk, wool, and cotton, and is a very beautiful garment. Its workmanship compares more than favorably with that of the Japanese, American, and in some cases the British, article. We have established in Sydney and Mel-, bourne a great knitting industry employing thousands of girls, boys, and men. We are building up an industry that will ultimately absorb the cotton that is grown in this country. This is only possible so long as Australian industries are protected from foreign competition. Much has been said regarding cotton tweeds. Those of us who, in the earlier days, had to work in different vocations from those which we are now following, know something of the materials used in the average working-men’s clothes. As a matter of fact, until recently the workers of Australia have been using imported garments, and, in some instances, the workmanship and material have been far from satisfactory. Owing to the tariff the Australian manufacturers, of whom there are ten, are now producing an article equal to, if not better than, anything ever imported into this country.
– Not better.
– I have compared as many as fourteen samples, and not picked samples, taken from a book of an importing firm, with Australian cotton tweeds. In eleven cases out of fourteen the Australian article was the better, and in the other three cases it was equal to the English tweed.
– In price?
– The prices were higher for the Australian tweeds.
– Were they much dearer ?
– I cannot give the honorable member that information just at present. We can obtain cotton tweeds from Japan at less than half the cost at which they can be manufactured in Australia.
– Japanese goods should be excluded from this country.
– I agree with the honorable member.
– What is the price of the British cotton tweeds?
– It is considerably lower than that of the Australian tweed.
– The Australian mills are at present making cotton tweed at a price that is practically equal to that of English cotton tweed free of duty.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– It is not.
– Of course, we could obtain articles more cheaply from other countries. But if we applied that principle to* every article, instead of manufacturing Australian serges, worsteds, and woollens, and thus giving employment to good Australians under attractive conditions and decent rates of wages, we would import our requirements from Japan.
Mgr. Parsons. - I did not say that.
– The honorable member must be consistent. If he wants the cheapest article, he must go to the cheapest country for it.
– I made no reference to the cheapest article. I was talking about the British manufactures.
– Whenever we try to pin the honorable member down, he wriggles away. It would be infinitely cheaper for the Australian people, so far as the actual purchase price is concerned, to get their goods from Japan; but who wants to do that? If shovels, singlets, boots, socks, or machinery can be manufactured in Australia, and thus provide employment for Australians, at the same time creating a market for our primary products, they should be manufactured here. I, for one, am prepared to pay my quota of the additional cost that such a policy imposes, and I believe that the whole of the people of Australia would act similarly. I decline to accept the statement of honorable members who sit in the corner opposite, that the Australian workman refuses to pay a price which will enable an article to be manufactured in Australia, thereby providing work for himself and his fellows, and. creating a market for other industries. The subjects with which I have dealt have been picked out at random. There are probably a thousand that one could discuss on the tariff, but I think that three are sufficient i to indicate the position in which I stand towards the development of Australian industries. I am not satisfied with the attitude that has been adopted by the Tariff Board towards the application for a duty on pianos ; but I shall not condemn it solely on that account. I believe that ultimately the weight of evidence will compel it to bring down a recommendation to give adequate protection to Australian instruments. Those of us who are fortunate enough to possess an Australianmade instrument know perfectly well that it is cheaper and better than the German, the American, or the British instrument. The Tariff Board obtained very valuable information from several witnesses, who disclosed the fact that gradually the Australian market is being cornered by the German manufacturers.
– How can that be, if the Australian piano is cheaper and better?
– It is cheaper and better. Those who handle imported instruments have, from the beginning, carried on a campaign of vilification of the Australian article. That attitude has been most pronounced in regard to pianos. Every little tin-pot agent, importer, manager, and commercial traveller in musical instruments is a walking encyclopaedia in opposition to Australian musical instruments, particularly pianos, and undoubtedly they have exercised a considerable influence upon the public. Wertheim’s have established a factory in Melbourne, and another has been established by Beale in Sydney.
– There is a factory in South Australia that makes very good pianos.
– I hope that the honorable member will, by his vote, assist to give it adequate protection.
– Has not Beale done remarkably well ?
– He has established a very fine factory. By his scientific handling of materials and the skill which he has put into his business he has built up a very fine organization, that produces a remarkably good instrument. The Tariff Board, however, is not yet satisfied that he should receive a greater measure of protection. Summing up on that particular application, it made the following declaration : -
At the moment it appears to the Tariff Board as though the present protection should be adequate, but such an opinion may be required to be revised within a few months.
I cannot understand why the Tariff Board should make such a declaration, and in the same breath express what amounts to a fear that that declaration is not a correct summing up of the position. The next paragraph places the board in an even worse light. It cannot adopt the role of those who want to be protectionists in regard to onions but freetraders in regard to shovels; it cannot say, “ The present tariff is adequate, but may possibly be inadequate within a couple of months.” The evidence that was tendered to the board showed that the Australian piano manufacturers were gradually being affected, and that the increase in the number of German-made pianos that were landed in Australia was remarkable. It further showed that within a few months protection must be given to the. Australian instrument. The board also made the following statement : -
Such being the position, as far as can be judged from the evidence submitted to the Tariff Board at this investigation, the board cannot recommend that the request of the local manufacturers for an increase in duty De granted. At the sarnie time the Tariff Board desires to place on record its conviction, from the nature of the evidence tendered, that the position called for constant vigilance, in view of the fact that normal world conditions are being restored.
The board’s own recommendation proves the necessity for having the matter again referred to it at a very early date, with a view to giving adequate protection to Australia’s instruments. I shall conclude by saying that I am a protectionist, not from expedience but by conviction. I am a protectionist because I am an Australian, and love my country , because I believe that it is infinitely better to have one Australian working for good wages and under decent conditions than to have ten Japanese, Chinese, Germans, Frenchmen, Americans, or Britishers working on our behalf in their own country. I believe that this is our job, and that no other country can do it half so well as we can.
– -A great deal of argument for and against the policy of protection has been used during this debate. My position is rather different from that of other honorable members who represent constituencies in Western Australia. From the Australian stand-point, I am’ a protectionist. I believe that a policy of freetrade would wipe out many industries that at present are of an artificial nature but which ultimately will become firmly established. But I fail to find in the protection that we have in Australia today those virtues that are claimed for it by” many of my colleagues. Whilst, as an Australian-wide policy of protection is a good thing, it undoubtedly acts detriment ally to the State of Western Australia. If I represented a closely-settled industrial district in the suburbs of Melbourne or Sydney I should certainly be a “wholehog” protectionist. The endeavour has been made to show that a man who argues that the tariff acts detrimentally to the primary producers is not patriotic, that he is un-Australian, that he has no love for his country, and would sooner have goods imported from Japan than have them manufactured in Australia. A man who differs from the policy of high protection should not be placed in that false position. Many members of my party have endeavoured to make a shibboleth of protection, and to convince the Australian workers that it will bring in the millenium. I deny that. Notwithstanding the fact that the representatives of the workers in this chamber have, from time to time, consistently done their best to secure increased protection where they considered it was necessary, the average manufacturing employer is not more closely allied to the Labour party than is the importer, but, on the contrary, he will just as strenuously fight his workmen when they seek decent wages. In the past the Labour party became dissatisfied with the old policy of protection. It is freely admitted that in the United States of America, which has the highest tariff in the world-
– Their tariff is not so high as ours.
– I have not investigated the matter so closely as has the honorable member for Perth, and I dc not wish to enter into a discussion of that point; but I can at least say that in the United States of America the-* have a very high tariff, and that th( manufacturers there are not imbued with more philanthropic ideas towards their employees than are the importing merchants of that country. The Labour party there recognizes that, and has demanded something better than the old form . of protection. It has been said, “ The protection of the United States of America is no good for the working men of Australia. What we want is something more4 and we can obtain it in new protection,’ which will ensure that as the duties increase the working man will share in the general prosperity.”
– Do npt the colleagues of the honorable member recognize that the “ new protection “ comes through the Arbitration Court?
– The honorable member speaks on behalf of my colleagues, but I would rather they spoke for themselves.
– And they would rather the honorable member did not speak at all.
– I am entitled to express my views, and I shall always be found, I hope, standing in the Labour movement for the principles I have held all my life. I should be entirely false to my trust as a representative of Western Australia if I did not voice in this committee my view of the difficulties placed by the high tariff in the way of the development of that State. I do not believe for a moment that a practical solution of those difficulties is to be found in the representatives of Western Australia asking the rest of Australia to adopt a policy of freetrade.- It would be futile for me to ask the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton) to support a proposal for reduced duties: the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) would not receive me with open arms if I proposed anything like that to him; and the honorable .member for East Sydney (Mr. West) would be equally adamant. The settled policy of Australia is protection, but it does not benefit Western Australia. Therefore, I ask honorable members to consider whether something cannot be done, without destroying the protective policy of Australia, to solve the difficulties of Western Australia. When freetrade or protection is put forward as a panacea for Labour troubles, and as a general cure for our social ills, I say “A plague o’ both your houses.” After all, our views are mainly the result of our geographical location. In Great Britain the Labour party favours freetrade. In Victoria a large number of members of the Labour party favour protection; and the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers), who represents a district which is largely agricultural, and is a Nationalist, is a high protectionist. The honorable member is, I suppose, in a better position than any other member of this committee to judge of the requirements of his constituents. In a highly-developed State of comparatively small distances like Victoria, the primary producers have a large local market as a result of the establishment of secondary industries by the policy of protection. Thus the primary producers of Victoria may be greatly assisted by the protective tariff. That, however, is for the honorable member to say. The Tariff Board decides the tariff rates that shall be submitted for the consideration of the Parliament. I say nothing of the standing or sincerity of the members of the board. I am sure they are quite sincere, but there is just a possibility that they may be over-zealous. Protection being the policy of Australia, the members of a board, which is mainly concerned in protecting Australian industries, would be most unlikely to advocate lower duties. In practice, the board does not do that. I cannot help thinking, when I consider the history of this country, that when the protection craze runs mad, it’ makes us like Oliver Twist. - we continually ask for more.
– But the honorable member will admit that Oliver did not have enough.
– Presumably the honorable member means .that the manufacturers of this country have not had enough protection. They will never have enough. If this tariff imposed an average import duty of 100 per cent., when the Minister for Trade and Customs came forward with a revised schedule, 200 per cent, duties would be proposed. The Tariff Board has, perhaps, not been so thorough as it might have been in asking those manufacturers who have applied for higher duties to produce their balance-sheets, so as to show how much they have placed to reserves, and the profits they have made. I can understand the need for protecting industries that are just starting in this country, and I shall be found voting for that kind of duty in the schedule. But when industries have been established for many years, like the agricultural implement industry, the need for a heavy duty is not so apparent. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) pointed out that the price of a binder in Canada was very little more than half the price in Australia, where the cost of wages, which is what concerns me, is lower than in Canada. With a natural protection of 27£ per cent. I should like to know why it is considered necessary to have ‘a high duty, which enables the local manufacturers to charge twice as much for a binder as the Canadian manufacturer can charge.
– The answer to the honorable member is that Australian manufacturers are making binders at the same price as they can be landed at free of duty from Canada.
– If that is so, why is it considered necessary to build a high tariff wall to .prevent the importation of something that is not being purchased here? As the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) is well versed in these matters, and is a real knight errant on the war path when dealing with tariff reform, he could keep me employed answering his questions all the afternoon. I do not wish to detain honorable members by answering any more of them. I am concerned with the effect of the tariff on the State I represent, and particularly on the gold-mining industry there. In the course of a few years the number of men employed in that industry has decreased from 16,000 to 5,000, and the prosperity of the industry is disappearing everywhere in Australia. Assistance from the Government has frequently been sought. The Tariff Board, in a special report,- acknowledges that the industry is in a sad plight, and it has made certain recommendations; but in this schedule the duty on mining machinery has been increased from 27£ per cent., British, to 40 per cent., British, and from 40 per cent., general, to 55 per cent., general. Although the members of the Tariff Board admit to me, when I call upon them, that the industry is declining, and offer to do everything possible to help it, the duty on essential mining machinery has been substantially increased, I am inclined to say, with the old lover: -
Perhaps it was right to dissemble your love; But why did you kick me downstairs?
The tariff on the machinery required by a very deserving industry has been in; creased to a very drastic extent, and the effect of the increase will not be to make the mining companies purchase machinery manufactured in Australia. Mining men are not unpatriotic, but they have to look to results. It is generally recognized that much of the imported mining machinery is of a highly technical character, and parts of many of the ma chines are protected by letters patent. It is impossible to reproduce the machines in Australia. Thus the effect of the tariff will be to compel mining companies to pay increased prices for imported machinery, and it will not assist the manufacturing industry one whit. I think you, Mr. Temporary Chairman (Mr. Mann), will agree with, me that the increased duty places the industry in a parlous condition, and cannot be justified. A different attitude has been adopted in regard to the coal-mining industry, which, I understand, is highly lucrative, for the simple reason that when the profits are not high enough to please the. coal barons, they increase the price of coal to the public. The price of gold is fixed, and, although the return per oz. to the producers is nominally the same as in pre-war times, it is actually worth only half what it was then. In spite of these differing conditions, certain coalcutting machines are to be admitted free under the revised tariff. It is time that the gold-mining industry received a little more sympathetic consideration. The duty on steel boiler tubes, forged chrome steel battery dies and shoes, and manganese steel ball mill spares should be decreased. I hesitate to speak of these items and so weary honorable members on account of the technicalities that they involve ; but they are highly important to the gold-mining industry. Although some of the items are manufactured in Australia, they are of no use whatever to those concerned in gold production, I have voluminous evidence in support of that contention. I suppose that if I were “patriotic,” I should say that they were eminently satisfactory, but the simple truth is that they are not. It is unfair that the imported article, which is the only one that the gold producers can use, should be subjected to a heavy duty, when the locally-made article is of no use for the purpose. The only effect of forcing those interested in the gold-mining industry to pay high duties on machinery that they need, and which is not manufactured in Australia, is to make the cost of producing gold prohibitive. I hope the Minister vill give some reconsideration to the duty imposed on residual oils. Residual oil is becoming an increasingly important factor in goldproducing operations, and, in fact, in the treatment of many minerals. It is used very largely at Broken Hill. In the new Wiluna gold-field, in Western Australia, which is being opened up by a company with a capital of £800,000, it is proposed to use residual oil entirely for refining purposes. Seeing that this field seems to offer the best hope of producing gold in payable quantities from a new source in Western Australia, and that the experts are of the opinion that, on account of the low grade of the ore, the difference between the cost of production and the selling price of the product will be so narrow that it is problematical whether the operations will pay, it is highly important that every consideration from the tariff point of view should be given to the promoters of the project. As the field is far removed from the seat of government, and from the influences that are being exerted, and will continue to be exerted, on honorable members, even within the precincts of Parliament House, until the tariff schedule has been finally disposed of, it behoves the Minister to do everything possible to help the company. I urge that residual oil for gold-mining purposes should be admitted duty free, like residual oil for power purposes. These are a few items in the schedule that merit consideration from the point of view of the gold-mining industry. The Tariff Board should be more lenient in its consideration of all proposals made to it with a view to stimulating gold production. If the machinery and supplies that I have referred to were admitted duty free, Australian manufacturers would not be deprived of a threepenny piece. Seeing that even the most rabid protectionists in this chamber say that they do not stand for imposing duties on goods which are not being made on a commercial basis here, I trust that they will assist in eliminating the duties that are being imposed on the items to which I have referred. They must do so if they wish to be logical.
– Does the honorable member say that the machinery that he has been describing is not made in Australia?
– -Some of it is not; and a good deal that is made here is of no use for gold production in Western Australia. It is most difficult to get any sympathetic consideration from the Tariff
Board. I speak from my own experience. Even when an attempt is made to have a duty remitted on some article not manufactured in Australia the attempt is bound to fail if the most casual witness comes along and says that he is manufacturing the article, or something like it, or intends to manufacture it here. For instance, if a man came along and said that he intended to make dolls’ eyes, and required a duty of 150 per cent, to protect him from foreign manufacturers of dolls’ eyes who might flood the market, he would be certain to have his request granted. A small item in the schedule which adversely affects the pearling industry is the duty on lugger chains, which are not manufactured in Australia. Unless the policy of “Pile on protection,” which seems to be a fetish with the Tariff Board, is altered, the pearlers will find that, although the original intention of Parliament was that lugger chains should be admitted free, they will have to pay duty on them. The board decided that they would be admitted free; but the AuditorGeneral said that lugger chains were not appliances. The Attorney-General, to whom the matter was submitted, also said that they could .not be regarded as appliances. In consequence, the pearlers were obliged to pay duty on six lots of these chains that have been imported in the last twelve months. The duty was afterwards remitted ; but, unless something is done, it will be imposed on all future importations. I understood that when this tariff was introduced provision would be made to prevent that kind of thing from happening. I thought that appliances would be definitely defined, so that it would be possible to call lugger chains appliances; but it does not seem that that has been done. The pearlers, in the far north-west of Australia are having great difficulty in disposing of even limited quantities of their pearl shell. Formerly, they had no trouble to dispose of all of it in London ; but now they have to operate most disadvantageously through New York. Seeing that lugger chains are not manufactured in Australia, there is no justification whatever for imposing a duty on them. It is proposed that only anchors weighing over 168 lb. shall be free. The result will be that, because some little hole-and-corner business man in Sydney, whose premises are probably situated next to those of the wonderful shovel manufacturer, turns out a few anchors in twelve months, every man with a small boat who needs an anchor weighing less than 16S lb. will have to pay a heavy duty on it. I must say that the tariff seems to me something like the grace of God; it passes human underStanding. From the point of view of the needs of the farmer, I suppose I am as qualified to speak as the Treasurer, Dr. Earle Page.
– More so, I should say.
– Probably so ; because while he talks agriculture, I try to make a success of it. Apart from- that hardshelled freetrader, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), I suppose that I cultivate more acres than any honorable member opposite, including the representatives of the Country party. I have my money engaged in the industry, and am interested in everything that concerns farmers. When the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) said that there was 57 per cent, fiscal protection, and 40 per cent, natural protection on a binder, I, with the rest of the farmers present, naturally sat up and took notice. My fears were allayed as I listened to the excellent speech made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) - the best speech that could be made on protection, I suppose. He informed honorable members of the intrinsic beauties of protection, and the fallacies of freetrade. He pointed out what awful fellows the manufacturers abroad were, and what angels’ from heaven the local manufacturers were. He said that the price in the Argentine of an American reaper-thresher was £519, and that the same implement was priced in Australia at £397 12s. 6d.; so that there was a difference in favour of the Australian farmer of £131 7s. 6d., which was due entirely to the fact that the American manufacturers had to compete, in Australia, with the Australian-made implements. But I do not think that the particular implement he referred to is made in Australia, for it is powerdriven. In that circumstance, I cannot see why the American manufacturer should be everything that is bad and vile - a money-grabber, and everything else, so far as the Argentine is concerned ; and everything that is angelic and philanthropic as far as Australia is concerned. Let us discover the source of the statement. It emanates from the Tariff Board itself. The board tried to discover the prices of reaper threshers and other kinds of agricultural machinery in Argentine and in Australia, to make out a case for a duty. It, went to a great deal of trouble and wrote to the Trade Commissioner for the United States of America. His reply to the board, dated the 2nd June, 1925, is as follows : -
Referring again to your request of 3rd March for prices of certain agricultural machinery in the United States and elsewhere, which inquiry was cabled to Washington, and my letter of 12th May, giving the belated reply, ]’ am now in receipt of a communication bv mail from the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce at Washington on this subject The explanation given of the failure to secure the desired prices is supplied by the Agricultural Implements Division as “difficult to carry through.” “As you probably know, that industry is not in a flourishing condition just now, and they (the manufacturers approached) are not inclined to give out information about the prices at which they sell their various products to farmers in the United States, and in particular foreign markets.” Again I have to express my regret at the unsatisfactory results of the inquiry.
It seems to me that if the Tariff Board had really been very anxious to discover the prices at which these articles were sold in Argentine, the information could have been obtained within a week, from our representative in America, from the British Consul -General, or a dozen other reliable sources. The information, however, is supplied in the Tariff Board’s report, and who supplied it? The figures have been quoted by the honorable member for Yarra from the report, and it is found that they were supplied by H. V. McKay Proprietary Limited, and the board says that it “has not been able to confirm them, but has no reason whatever to doubt their accuracy.” Honorable members will see that this ‘wheeze - for I can call it nothing else - about the enormous prices American manufacturers charge for their goods in the Argentine, and the rates at which they supply them in Australia, is only confirmed by the statements of Australian manufacturers. Such evidence would not be accepted in an ordinary court of law. I want more satisfactory evidence. Honorable members of the Labour party should be very careful to see that in Australia, under protection, combinations do not grow up similar to the great trusts which have grown up in the United States of America. As >a party, we have recognized that trusts have already been established here.
– We can deal with them here.
– How? That is something I should like to know. The way in which to deal with trusts presents a tremendous problem. We make it easy for the manufacturer engaged in a particular industry, who knows far more of the technical difficulties of his industry than any member of the board, to go before the board and tell it one of those old, old stories about the way he’ is suffering from foreign competition. He does not produce balance-sheets to show the profits he is making, and how much he has put to reserve and how much paid in dividends. I do the Tariff Board the justice of admitting that I believe its members desire the establishment of industries in Australia, but it may be very easily taken in by the specious arguments of men interested in making more profits from the industries in which they are engaged.
– - Does the honorable member suggest that the agricultural implement manufacturers in Australia would not submit their books for inspection? As a matter of fact they did, whilst the importing firms refused to do so. That is stated in the Tariff Board’s report.
– Let me ask the honorable member how it is that in Canada, where just as high and higher wages are paid than are paid in Australia, a binder is sold for £47, whilst here the cost of the same binder is £75 ? Why is a grain and fertilizer drill sold for £31 ls. in Canada, and for £61 . 5s. in Australia? These are difficulties which the primary producers of Australia have to face. It has been said so often as to have become tiresome that our wheat has to be sold in a foreign market. Twothirds of our wheat production has to be exported. It will be readily seen that, because of its smaller population, the proportion of wheat produced in Western Australia that is locally consumed is. less than the proportion in other States of the Commonwealth. But the wheat industry, perhaps with the exception of gold-mining - for which industry also I am pleading this afternoon - is the most important industry of that State. In the circumstances, whilst I stand for a protectionist policy for Australia, it is my duty to see that every care is taken to prevent manufacturers, as well as importers, making undue profits. If they are to continue, after years of experience and experiment in well-established industries, to come before the Tariff Board -with requests for increases in duties, it seems to me that it will be hopeless for Australia to place her products on the markets of the world. I have no fault to find with a representative of one of the eastern States for advocating protection. If I were the “honorable member for Yarra, and had in my electorate a match factory on one side and an aluminium industry which was represented by twelve or fifteen utensils at the Australian Natives’ Association Exhibition, I should very likely conclude that the advance of those industries would increase the working population of the district, and I should be a whole-hogger for protection. But I come from another State, arid I say that, whilst I am a protectionist, I realize that in Western Australia serious difficulties result from our high-tariff policy. I ask honorable members what they propose to do about it? What are they prepared to do to help a State with a population of only 375,000, and an area of one-third of Australia? There is no chance of establishing secondary industries in Western Australia by means of the protectionist tariff ; that is admitted by the Tariff Board in its annual report for 1925. It says-
The Tariff Board is free to admit that the main contention of Mr. Morrison and other critics is true, viz., that whatever additional cost the policy of protection may add to the price of goods and material imported by the Australian consumer, the citizens of the eastern States gain, as a compensating advantage, the presence of a large production and manufacture. Such is not the case with Western Australia, which is so placed that at present it has to bear whatever burden may arise under the protectionist tariff, without reaping any of the accompanying advantages. . . The Tariff Board again affirms that it is of the opinon that such evidence warrants an expert investigation into the position now occupied by the State of Western Australia within the Federation, with a view to determining whether or not further financial assistance is not justified.
That is signed by R. McK. Oakley, chairman of the Tariff Board, and by Walter Leitch and Herbert Brookes, members of the board. They are all good protectionists. The board quotes from a speech by Mr. Colebatch, who is now AgentGeneral for Western Australia in London, in which he said -
Thus over the whole of Australia the output of our manufacturing industries was nearly trebled, but in Western Australia the progress made was almost negligible. In 1913 there was a 59 per cent, increase in the number of men employed in all forms of manufacturing industries throughout this State, hut the hulk of this was in the forests, saw-mills, and the railway and tramway workshops. . Chaffcutting, saw-milling, and’ fertilizer works practically accounted for the whole of the remaining increase. Many industries showed a decline in the period. For instance, in 1900 there were 284 men and 5S women employed in our boot factories in this State, but by the time the war broke out, notwithstanding the . enormous increase in importations and the steady increase in price, the number of employees had decreased by one-half. It is only one of many instances in which the Federal fiscal policy, whilst saddling our primary industries with ever-increasing costs, has increased the difficulty of establishing Western Australian secondary industries. Since thu outbreak of war the condition of Western Australian secondary industries has gone from bad to worse.
I quote that to show that the difficulties I have suggested are real, and not a chimera of my own imagination. They are recognized by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), and- whilst the freetrade utterances of those honorable members may sound entirely out of place in a chamber pledged to protection, they have been confirmed in their views by their knowledge as representatives of Western Australian that protection does not assist Western Australian industries-.
– I do not think that any sound Australian protectionist would deny assistance to Western Australia in her special difficulties.
-I am delighted to have that assurance. What I say may not find favour in this chamber. I would probably be more popular with the majority of honorable members if I concurred with their views,- but as a
Western Australian representative I must say what I believe to be true concerning the effect of the tariff on Western Australia. My blood boils when I think of the fact that, during 1923-4, the United States of America exported to this country goods to the value of £34,500,000, and bought from us only £7,109,000 worth of commodities. I deplore that state of affairs; to me it seems economically unsound. I agree with other honorable members who declare that there should be a reciprocal trade treaty, or some other arrangement whereby we can send overseas more of our primary products and manufactured products also, if there are any secondary industries in which we are pre-eminent, and so bring about a better balance of trade.
– America . does not do that.
– No, and when we raise the tariff against American goods, we are said to be guilty of an unfriendly act. Similarly, when the Prime Minister expressed high and lofty sentiments about “ our gallant ally, Japan,” the Japanese people were unable to reconcile them with heavy duties on their products. They naturally would like the friendly sentiments to be expressed in trade advantages. The balance of trade between America and Australia is considerably in favour of the former, and I am in accord with the greatest protectionist in desiring to rectify that state of affairs. As a Western Australian I have the same feeling towards the eastern States. I do not regard the people of the eastern States as foreigners - I trust I am as good an Australian as the next man - but I cannot ignore the fact that the people of my State bought’ from other parts of Australia in 1924-5 over £6,000,000 worth of goods, and sold to them approximately £1,000,000 worth. If I travel by sea to Fremantle the ship is laden to the Plimsoll ‘ mark, but on the return trip I travel in a vessel that is lightly laden. That is not equitable. Just as America’s big trade advantage is detrimental to Australia, so the fact that the balance of trade is in favour of the eastern States in the ratio of six to one, is prejudicial to Western Australia. The Disabilities Commission recommended the payment to that State of £350,000 per annum, over and above the £100,000 now received, until it is allowed to establish a separate tariff. The Government has partly carried out that recommendation by making a grant of £350,000 for one year only. What I am about to say will not be sympathetically received by honorable members other than those representing Western Australia. I voted for federation, and, notwithstanding 25 years’ experience of the disabilities under which Western Australia labours, as a result of the union, my Australian sentiments would not allow me to vote against federation, even although it involves some cost to the State I represent. There would be no true federation of Australia if Western Australia were out of the union. But if Western Australia could have a separate tariff for a limited time, it would, I believe, be able, with its increasing population, to consolidate its infant industries in the same way as Victoria did by a protective tariff iri pre-federation days, when in some quarters protection was considered economically unsound. Victoria was able to export hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of goods per annum to the sister State of New South Wales, which although better endowed by nature, was handicapped by a freetrade policy. The grant of £350,000 for one year, or even its renewal from year to year, will not be a solution of Western Australia’s problem. It will merely put the State in the position of a mendicant.
– No; it is merely an adjustment of finances.
– The only possible way by which the State can overcome its difficulties is the imposition of a separate tariff, which, I assume, would be on very much the same lines as its pre-federation tariff, with a 5 per cent, duty on mining machinery and other tools of primary production. Probably preference would be given to Australian manufactures. Representatives of Western Australia, irrespective of party, the Disabilities Commission, and the Tariff Board, are agreed that the State’s problems cannot be solved by any ordinary means; but I believe that if it were allowed to control its own tariff for a number of years, its secondary industries would become so established that we should be able to revert to one tariff zone bounded only by the seaboard. The existing tariff is crushing the primary industries, espe cially mining, and inflicting great hardships upon our State. Whilst the views T have expressed may not be in accord with those of my colleagues on this side of the chamber, or, indeed, with those of the majority of the committee, I should not be doing my duty if I did not point out the manner in which Western Australia is being oppressed to-day.
.- My intervention in this debate is rendered necessary by the efforts of a Government composed of freetraders and protectionists to - square itself with both fiscal camps. I desire to refer particularly to a statement made by the Treasurer at Wingham a few days ago in which he said the timber industry was languishing because the Labour party opposed a duty on timber. A few days ago the Treasurer went to Ballarat, and told the farmers that the Labour party was responsible for the high duty on farming implements. Yet, in his own electorate, where the timber industry is languishing, because the Government has refused to assist it, he told the people that Labour members are a mob of freetraders. When the Tariff Validating Bill was before this House last year, T emphasized the needs of the industry, and called the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs to the fact that in this amending schedule no duty was imposed upon timber. He replied that the Government would not endeavour to influence the Tariff Board, or do anything to protect the industry. The Treasurer is not playing the game ; he is using political tactics to which no responsible Minister, especially the Deputy Prime Minister, should resort. The Labour party is not opposed to the imposition of duties on timber. If the Government will propose such duties, honorable members on this side of the committee will support them. We have said that repeatedly, and I do not believe that there is one honorable member of the Opposition who -will refuse to give adequate protection to the timber industry. Travelling along the southern coastal districts of New South Wales, one would think that he was viewing the ruins of a decadent civilization. Mills are falling to pieces, and dozens of homes have been abandoned. The late Sir Austin Chapman brought this matter under the notice of the Government; but nothing was done. It is hoped that the representations of his successor will have more satisfactory results. The Treasurer tried to blame the Labour party for the Government’s inaction.
– What did he say regarding timber?
– At a deputation which waited on the Treasurer, Councillor H. Machin put the case for the timber industry, pointing out that mills were closing, and that the money which previously had been paid in wages was lost to the district. In his reply, the Treasurer outlined what had been done by previous Parliaments. He said that the trouble’ was that many Labour men were opposed to a duty on timber because it would increase the cost of building. He should be called upon to withdraw that deliberate misrepresentation.
– Reference to the last tariff debates in this House would show that the Treasurer’s statement was correct.
– Will the Minister say that the reason why a duty has not been imposed on timber in this tariff schedule is because of the attitude of the Labour party?
– The Government could have a duty placed on timber, in spite of the Opposition.
– Has the honorable member read the Tariff Board’s report on timber?
– Not the whole of it. I am now more concerned with refuting the statement made by the Treasurer. When it suits him, the Treasurer says that the Labour party exercises no influence over the Government; at other times, he blames that party for the Government’s inaction. He cannot have it both ways. Honorable members in the corner have said a good deal regarding the profits made by Australian manufacturers, but they have provided us with no figures showing profits made by the importers, or with any facts regarding the methods which they adopt. They have not attempted to show that Australia would be at the mercy of these soulless exploiters were there no secondary industries in this country. The honor able member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) waxed eloquent, regarding the inflated balance-sheets of the machinery manufacturers.’ I remind .him that when tha Labour party, during and after the years of war, endeavoured to deal with the profiteer and the manufacturer who made undue profits, it received no assistance from Country party members. The Government has the means whereby the profits made in any Australian industry may be curtailed. The primary producer must realize that Australia has ‘reached that stage when new industries are necessary. Can any honorable member point to a purely pastoral or agricultural nation which is not practically a serf nation? Germany’s strength was due to her efforts to build up her manufacturing industries. The present strong position of the United States of America is due to the same cause. Australia must do what they have done. If we are to depend for ever on markets 12,000 miles away, we shall remain at the mercy of the market manipulator; and the last position of the primary producer will be worse than the first. Some time ago, I visited Bond’s hosiery establishment, and saw there some fine machinery, which Mr. Bond said had been invented by his own employees. In Melbourne, also, I have seen machinery used in the production of matches which is superior to any match-making machinery in then world. These things make for progress. I know something of the methods adopted by the importer, as I have sold some of his goods. The importer exerts his influence most in backward and undeveloped countries. The only interest which he has in any country is to take as much money as he can from it. He has no interest in the country itself. During the years of war, I was engaged in the drapery trade in a New South Wales country town. On one occasion, I placed an order with a Sydney firm of importers for 100 pieces of print. Some time later, I received a nicely-worded letter stating that the firm regretted that the vessel by which the material was being brought to Australia had been sunk by a German submarine, and that my order could not be fulfilled. The pre-war price of that material was 4£d. a yard. My order was placed at 12£d. a yard. Later, I received a further letter advising that the firm had another shipment on order, and that if I was prepared to pay1s. 6½d. a yard, my order could be supplied. I went atonce to Sydney, and in the Manchester department of that firm, I found a room bigger than this chamber filled with the very print that I had ordered. That is the position in which any section of the community would be placed when at the mercy of the importer, who is the most soulless exploiter in the world. Let me give another, and a worse, instance, showing that even the war widow and orphans were exploited by the importer. During the war, large quantities of black dress material were sold for mourning. Previously, a material known as alpaca orsicilian was used extensively ; but it had gone out of fashion. In the five years prior to the war, with the exception of a rare piece purchased by some old-fashioned lady, very little of it was sold. Large quantities had been carried on from year to year; but owing to. the small demand for it, the price had been written down in the books of the various firms to probably 4d. or 5d. a yard. When the demand was at its highest, that material had been sold at from1s. 6d. to 2s. a yard wholesale. When during the war a demand for black dress material arose, the alpaca stored in the cellars of the various drapery establishments was brought out, and sold, not at 1s. 6d. or 2s. a yard, but at 8s. or 10s. a yard. I do not profess to be a protectionist at any price. I reserve to myself the right to examine each item in the schedule as it comes before us, and to vote as I think best in each instance. Parliament can deal with the Australian manufacturer who exploits the public; but when honorable members hold up the importer as a person with a halo around his head, I consider that it is time for one who knows something of his methods to rise in defence of the Australian manufacturer. I say, God help Australia should we again be placed at the mercy of the importer with no competition from Australian-made goods. For that reason, I shall, when dealing with the items in the tariff, vote in the manner best calculated to build up Australian industries. To become selfsupporting, Australia must establish secondary industries. We can no longer afford to rely solely on our primary products.
There are many things yet to be done to improve conditions in Australian industries. I always give praise where I see employers honestly endeavouring to improve the conditions of their workers. Quiterecently I visited Bryant and May’s factory in Melbourne, and I can pay a tribute to the endeavours of that firm to give their workmen something more than a bare existence and an opportunity to enjoy some of the good things of life. We know the conditions that exist in other countries. We know that there are countries where there are no laws regulating hours of labour or conditions of work. We cannot allow the goods produced under these conditions to come into unfair competition with goods produced under healthy and fair conditions in Australia, and any one man who has the interest of this country at heart must give his vote for duties which will prevent that unfair competition.
– The general debate is now concluded. Item 3 inthe schedule will now be dealt with.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Income Tax Assessment (Bonus Shares) Bill.
Dried Fruits Advances Bill.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister a matter which requires investigation. It is claimed that, in November last, two ladies called ontwo invalids and obtained their postal votes. The invalids in question were husband and wife. The ballot-paper of the wife, who voted for the Nationalist candidates, was duly lodged with the returning officer, but the ballot-paper of the husband, who voted for Labour candidates in both Houses, was not lodged, and subsequently the husband received a letter from the Electoral Department calling upon him to show cause why he should notbe prosecuted for failing to record a vote. Be has made a statutory declaration regarding the matter. There may be some reasonable explanation, but in view of the fact that there is very much doubt concerning the manner in which the postal voting provisions of the act are carried out, there should he an investigation. If any wrong has been done the guilt should be sheeted home to the proper person, and the proper punishment inflicted. The statutory declaration is as follows: -
I, Henry Weir Simpson, of 101 Botany-street, Carlton, in the State of New South Wales, do solemnly declare and affirm: that I am an invalid pensioner, and that prior to thelast Federal elections, I did apply for and receive a form upon which to record a postal vote. On orabout the eleventh day of November,1925, two women - one a Mrs. Bennett, J.P., and another a Mrs. Humphrey - called at my house and inquired about the postal vote. My wife, since deceased, was also about to use her ballotpaper. My wife filled in her ballot-paper, duly recording her vote for Mr. T. J. Ley, in the House of Representatives, and the other anti-Labour candidates in the Senate,I declined to vote in the same way, and recorded a full vote for both Houses, favouring the Labour candidates. My ballot-papers were taken away by these women, viz., Mrs. Bennett, J. P., and Mrs. Humphrey; but 1 have recently been called upon to show cause why I should not be fined for not recording a vote at the Federal elections.
My wife’s vote was in order, and duly received by the ElectoralRegistrar at Kogarah. My niece, Miss MaryRailt, now resident of Canonbar Station, Miawera, New South Wales, was present in my house when Mrs. Bennett, J. P., and Mrs. Humphrey called in connexion with this matter.
AndI make this solemn declaration as to the matters aforesaid, according to the law in this behalf,made and subject to the punishment by lawprovided for any wilfully false statement in anysuch declaration.
Declared before me, at 101 Botany-street, Carlton, this 11th day of March, 1926. - Chris. J. Kelly, J.P.
There should be no difficulty in probing this matter. If there is any wrong-doing in connexion with postal voting the sooner it is rectified in the interest of all concerned the better. This is an important matter to all, and I trust the Government will investigate it and see if anythinghas been done which is not in accordance with propriety.
Dr.EARLEPAGE (Cowper- Treasurer) [5.22]. - I take this opportunity of informing the House that the 5¼ per cent. loan for the States which was re cently offered by the Commonwealth Government closed yesterday, and proved a complete success. The public were asked to subscribe for a total of £5,100,000, and the loan result shows £6,182,000, with further returns yet to come in. The flotation of this loan marks a very important change, which is to the advantage of the taxpayers. In October, 1924, the Commonwealth on behalf of the States raised a loan in Australia of £10,300,000, and the effective rate which was earned by the investors in that loan was £6 6s. 8d. per cent. for the shorter period and £6 4s. per cent. for the longer period. The present loan gives to the investors exactly £5 5s. per cent. for each of the three periods of six, eleven, and sixteen years. This reduction of 1 per cent. per annum in a period of less than eighteen months is of the greatest importance to the taxpayers, and has been brought about to a large extent by. the existence of the Loan Council, acting in co-operation and co-ordinating public borrowing for the States and the Commonwealth. Honorable members will remember that the conversion loan of £67,000,000 which closed in December last bore interest at the rate of 5½ per cent. When subsequently the Loan Council decided to offer the loan of £5,100,000 at 5¼ per cent. doubt was expressed in some financial quarters as to the propriety of reducing the rate, but the event has fully justified the action of the Loan Council, and has shown that the advice upon which it acted was sound. The 5¼ per cent, rate for government borrowing under existing conditions has been definitely established. Another point worthy of notice is that whereas in 1924 the difference between the Commonwealth borrowing rate in London and the Australianrate was £1 6s. for each £100, the difference between the two rates may be set down now as approximately 2s. 6d. That is to say, the rate which the Commonwealth has now to pay for money in Australia is approximately the same as the London rate.
– I hope that the matter brought up by the Leader ofthe Opposition (Mr. Charlton) will receive early consideration. I know of cases where people have gone to hospitals and taken postal votes from inmates of those institutions, and those votes have not been lodged with the returning officers. That it is possible to do this is a scandal, and I hope that the Prime Minister will see that something is done to prevent it.
Mr.BRUCE (Flinders- Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs) [5.26]. - I shall certainly have investigated the specific case brought under my notice by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton). While I express no opinion upon the particulars set out in the affidavit, I agree that anything done by individuals to prevent votes from being recorded, or to prevent elections from being conducted in aproper manner, should receive the most serious consideration of the Government. Everything should be done to prevent the occurrence of such things.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bouse adjourned at 5.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 March 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260319_reps_10_112/>.