12th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Norman Makin) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and offered prayers.
– Was the gentleman who was recently appointed Public Service Arbitrator at any time engaged in fighting, before the previous Public Service Arbitrator or any other tribunal, the employees of the Commonwealth on whose claims he is now expected to be an impartial adjudicator?
– The present Public Service Arbitrator occupied for many years responsible positions in the Postal Service. Beyond that I am unable to answer the honorable gentleman’s question.
Reduction of Wages and Pensions
– Having regard to the importance, of the Premiers’ Conference and the Loan Council meeting in Melbourne, will the Attorney-General arrange for a verbatim report of the discussions to be made available to honorable members before the Government proposes in this House any action based upon the decisions of those gatherings?
– I understand that a careful note of the proceedingsis being taken, and I shall refer the honorable member’s request to the Prime Minister.
– A newspaper report of the Premiers’ Conference now sitting in Melbourne states -
It has been made clear that the Federal Ministry is now reconciled to the proposal of the economists that pensions of all kinds should be reduced.
I ask the Acting Leader of the House whether that statement is correct?
– I am not in a position to make any announcement regarding the decisions of the conference.
– As the Attorney-General seemed to misunderstand the question just put to him, I ask him if it is true, as has been stated in the press, that the members of the Ministry are in complete agreement concerning the desirability of reducing wages and pensions by 20 per cent. ?
– If the question that was asked me by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) was tothe same effect as that of the honorable member for Grey, my answer is that no such agreement has been arrived at.
– If consideration has been given to a general reduction of 20 per cent, in governmental expenditure, will the Government consider a proposal to reduce by 20 per cent, the Commonwealth grant of £330,000 to Western Australia?
– The honorable member’s question is objectionable, first, because it is hypothetical, and, secondly, because it is premature.
– In view of the intolerable burden that has been placed upon Western Australia because of the spoon-feeding of Queensland, will the Government consider the appeal of Western Australia for release from federation altogether ?
– Without admitting for a moment the soundness of the premises of the honorable member’s question, I promise him that I shall take into consideration the concluding part of it.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral inform the House if the proposal submitted by the Treasurer to the Premiers’ Conference in Melbourne, to tax loans that were issued free of income tax, was made on his own behalf or on behalf of the Government, and whether the Attorney-General considers that such a proposal is not equivalent to repudiation?
– It is undesirable that I should attempt to give piecemeal, and without possessing the fullest knowledge, any information regarding the serious and far-reaching deliberations now proceeding ‘ in Melbourne among responsible Ministers.
– A considerable time ago this Parliament appropriated £100,000 for the repatriation of surplus coal-miners in New South Wales and Queensland. I ask the Assistant Minister for Industry what progress has been made with the distribution of that sum; how many miners in Queensland, if any, have been repatriated, and when he expects finality to be reached?
– Of the £100,000 appropriated by Parliament £93,000 was allocated to New South Wales and £7,000 to Queensland on the recommendation of representatives of the men engaged in the industry. The work of repatriation in New South Wales is proceeding satisfactorily. Several agreements have been reached between the committee in charge of this work and the mine-owners, and between 60 and 70 men have already been drafted into other occupations. Arrangements are in progress for the gradual absorption of others. In Queensland we have had the assistance of an expert committee consisting of Mr. Rowe, Repatriation Commissioner, in Brisbane; Mr. Evans, of the Sub- Treasury ; and an officer of the Miners’ Association. But I regret that because of the large number of applications for assistance and the small sum of money available, no definite action has yet been taken. Mr. Gunn is to meet the Queensland committee next week with a view to completing arrangements for the utilization of the £7,000 available.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral, whether Ministers of the Crown, when absent from Canberra and engaged in political propaganda and the formation of new organizations, are paid the usual travelling allowance of £2 2s. or £3 3s. a day?
– Will the Minister in charge of War Service Homes say whether it is still the policy of the Government not to evict from their war service homes returned soldiers whose payments are in arrears because of unemployment ?
– A few days ago I asked that the Camperdown drill hall should be made available to the unemployed in that district. If the Minister finds that the occasional occupancy of the hall by the light horse prevents its use by the unemployed, will he make available instead tents from the defence stores?
– I shall allow the honorable member to peruse a lengthy report I have received regarding the Camperdown drill hall. In regard to the latter part of his question, as the department has already loaned to the unemployed all its surplus tents the number now in stock is very limited; but if any more can be spared they will be made available.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the Government has considered the advisability of subdividing the tariff schedule so that as divisions are agreed to in this chamber, separate bills covering them may be sent to the Senate and thus avoid the delay which will be inevitable if it is unable to commence consideration of the tariff until the whole schedule is before it?
– Consideration will be given to that suggestion, but the Government’s course of action will depend on the extent to which the Opposition facilitates the passage of the tariff schedulein this chamber.
– In view of the great sacrifices that are now being made by the workers and by almost every section of the community, because of reductions in wages and salaries, will the Government give consideration to the necessity for modifying the sugar agreement. ‘ so that hundreds of thousands of householders may benefit therefrom?
– All phases of the sugar question, including that mentioned by the honorable member, will be taken into consideration.
– I understand that there is at present in Australia a representative of the British Pensions Department, who is prepared to take evidence with respect to a proposed reciprocal agreement between this country and Great Britain in the matter of old-age pensions. If that is so, will an opportunity be given to the various sections in this House - or, as the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) calls them, “the. spare parts of this assembly” - to interview this person with a view to placing their opinions before him?
– I know that the Treasurer (Mr. Theodore) is now negotiating with the British Pensions Department in connexion with the reciprocal payment of old-age pensions. Whether he will meet all the “spare parts” of this assembly I do not know, but I shall question him on the subject.
– In view of the statement that Imperial pensions are being paid less exchange, and in view of a further statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) that exchange would be added to these pensions, when does the Government propose to make the necessary adjustments so as to pay the pensioners the Imperial rate plus exchange?
– The matter is now under consideration. Whether the adjustment suggested by the honorable member will be made I cannot say, but I assume that the negotiations with Great Britain will soon be completed.
– Has the Minister taken into consideration the remarks of Chief Justice Irvine in regard to the effect of some of the pictures that are now being released for exhibition within Australia?
– The remarks referred to were brought under my notice, and submitted to the Chief Censor, Sydney, for perusal and comment.
– Will the Minister supply to the House a statement of any information that may be in the possession of his department as to acts of retaliation by foreign countries brought about by the Government’s tariff policy?
– I shall give consideration to the suggestion of the honorable member.
Curtailment of Expenditure
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that his department is continually withdrawing postal facilities from the people of the Hunter electorate? About once a fortnight I receive a letter from the Deputy Director of Postal Services for New South Wales to the effect that such and such a post office has been closed. I have with me two communications, stating that the Bishop’s Bridge and Rosebrook post offices are to be closed at the end of this month, but I have since been informed that they are to be closed to-morrow. The attitude of the department is totally unfair. Will the Postmaster-General look into this matter, and see if the facilities that were previously enjoyed by the Hunter electors cannot be restored, at least to the same extent as in other parts of the Commonwealth?
– I am not aware that any discrimination is being shown by the department against the people in the Hunter electorate. At the present time it is necessary to curtail considerably what at another period might be considered almost necessary services. The inspectors in the various parts of the Commonwealth have had to curtail services that under ordinary conditions would be considered essential. However, if the honorable member for Hunter, in common with other honorable members, will furnish me with particular complaints, I shall have them further investigated.
– In view of the necessity for the curtailment of expenditure in the Postal Department, does the PostmasterGeneral consider it necessary to retain the services of Mr. Brown at the princely salary that he receives?
– A salary of £80 a week.
– Mr. Brown was not appointed to his present position during my term of office. He was appointed under contract, andwe have to honour that contract. Even if we were to save the whole of that salary, the saving would be infinitesimal compared with what it is necessary to save, and the amount would not go very far towards providing employment for other men.
– In view of the cuts which the Government is contemplating in salaries, pensions, and wages, will the Acting Leader of the Government consent to defer consideration of the tariff for the time being so that reduced tariff rates may be dealt with simultaneously with the other reductions?
– The right honorable member, in asking his question, violated the rule that he should not at the same time seek to impart information - certainly not unreliable information. I know of nothing which should induce the Government to discontinue its good work on the tariff.
– In view of the hardships suffered by many importing merchants who, having ordered and paid for goods, find upon taking delivery that a prohibitive duty has been imposed on them, will the Minister for Trade and Customs consider the suggestion that when it can be proved that goods have been shipped prior to a new tariff schedule being tabled the old schedule shall apply?
– I shall give consideration to any suggestions which the honorable member may bring forward, but I may inform him now that his present proposal is quite impracticable.
– Is the Minister for Markets aware that the Minister for Agriculture in the New South Wales Government has announced that a ballot of wheat-growers is to be taken on the question of the formation of a compulsory wheat pool in that State? Does that not indicate that the New South Wales Minister is unaware of the Commonwealth Government’s intention to introduce a wheat bill, which will also involve a ballot of wheat-growers?
– I do not think that the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales is unaware of the Commonwealth Government’s proposal to introduce a wheat marketing bill at an early date; nor do I believe that the holding of a ballot in New South Wales would in any way interfere with the Commonwealth Government’s proposal. The two plans might, I think, very well be dove-tailed one into the other.
– Seeing that the Victorian mail failed to arrive at Canberra to-day, will the Postmaster-General take steps to improve the mail service between Melbourne and the Federal Capital?
– The arrival of the southern mail at Canberra to-day has been delayed by an act of God; the mail car has been unable to get through from Yass because of floods, and the mail due at Canberra this morning will not reach here until 6 a.m. to-morrow, and will come via Goulburn. To-morrow’s Melbourne mail will arrive here via Goulburn at 12.30 p.m. The mail which left Melbourne last night will be brought all the way by train, instead of being carried from Yass by road.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) has given notice of a question regarding the cost of gristing wheat and the cost of gristing machinery. An endeavour will be made to obtain the desired information.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
In regard to thefiltration plant at the Canberra swimming baths, willhe supply the following information: -
What prices were submitted by each of the firms asked to submit quotations ;
What were the details of the plant offered by each firm;
What was the percentage, also the items in detail, manufactured in Australia by the successful contractor ?
– The following information has been supplied by the Department of Works: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The question of the exemption from primage duty of chaff, potato and other such bags is now receiving consideration.
– The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Keane) has given notice of a series of questions regarding sinking fund contributions. The replies will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– Inquiry will be made.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Is it a fact that drain plugs for Ford trucks, that were quoted at1s. each in 1927, are now quoted at 5s. 8d. each; if so, will he cause inquiry to be made to prevent profiteering of this nature being foisted upon the Australian primary producer behind tariff walls?
– Inquiry will be made.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice -
What was the total staff wastage resulting from retirements, dismissals, &c, among permanent staffs in the Commonwealth Public Service for the years 1928-29 and 1929-1930?
– I am advised by the Public Service Board that the total staff wastage from all causes for the years 1928-29 and 1929-30 was as follows: -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– On the 22nd May, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Keane) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now in a position to furnish the following information : -
Effect on Industry.
– On the 5th May, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Keane) asked the following questions, upon notice-: -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
Tobacco, cigars and cigarettes, hosiery, sauces, condiments, gin, confectionery, garden hose, industrial hose, belting, radio receivers and parts, spark plugs, lawn mowers, loud speakers, electroplatedware, piston rings, perfumery and toilet preparations, stamped brassware, brushware, proprietary medicines, soap, spices, cleansers, polishes, corsets, foodstuffs, vinegar, acetic acid, ship compositions, lead and zinc products, dry batteries and dry cells, vermouth, potato crisps.
– Yesterday the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) asked me whether the sugar agreement had been signed on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. I am now in a position to inform him that the agreement has not yet been signed. It is with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde), and consideration of it will be resumed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) as soon as he returns to his place in Parliament.
The following papers were presented : -
Canberra University College - Report of the Council for 1930.
Dairy Produce Export Control ‘Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, No. 55.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 27th May (vide page 2336), on motion by Mr. Forde -
That the schedule to the customs tariff be amended -
Division V. - Textiles, Felts and Furs, and Manufactures thereof, and Attire.
By omitting the whole of sub-item (b) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - “ (F) (1) Piece Goods, woollen, or containing wool,ordinarily used in the manufacture of outer clothing for human wear and weighing more thanthree Ounces per -square yard, - per square yard, British. 2s.; intermediate, 2s. 6d. ; general, 3s., and ad val., (British, 35 per cent.; intermediate, 45 per cent. ; general, 50percent.”
Upon which Mr. Francis ‘had moved, by way of amendment -
That the item be further amended by adding to sub-item (F) (1) the ifollowing: - “And on and after the 29th May, 1931- ( 1 )Piece goods, woollen, ‘or containing wool, ordinarily used in the ‘manufacture of outer clothingfor . human wear and weighing more than three ounces per square yard - per square yard, British 1s.; intermediate,1s.6d. ; general, 2s.; and ad val., British, 30 . per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.: general, 45 per cent.”
.- One can understand that the object of the Government in imposing these increased duties was to correct the country’s adverse trade balance; but it must now be realized that the Government has failed to achieve its purpose, and that, in view of the high rate of exchange between Australia and other countries, and the need for competition in order ‘that efficiency may be promoted, a scale of duties that are almost prohibitive in their incidence must be bad for Australian industries. I desire to move that the rates which were in force in 1928 be reverted to. Even when those duties were imposed they were regarded as abnormal, and there was no justification for them. I am surprised that, in no instance, has the slightest consideration been given to the effect of these duties on the community generally. I expected to hear that their imposition would result in cheaper and better goods for the consumers, and that the prices would be somewhat in consonance with those charged in other -countries. The committee is entitled to proof that duties of this description are necessary to the factories concerned. If we look at the rates imposed in 1920, we find thatthe factories in Victoria, particularly, were able to make good underthem. I venture to say that companies like Foy and Gibson’s have never made an application for such increases. The duties formerly imposed by protectionists on woollen piece ; goods, and . on (piece goods containing wool, were 30 per cent. British preferential tariff, 40 per cent, intermediate tariff, and 45 per cent, . general tariff, but we have those duties more than trebled under the present proposal. -Unless the tariff is -so framed as to secure something in the nature of competition, it must fail in its object.
I have before one a copy of the balancesheet of the Mosgiel “Woollen Factory ‘of New Zealand, which has a duty of 20 per cent, against Great Britain, and 35 per cent, against the world, and yet it has been able to export a considerable quantity of goods. It was pointed out in the annual . report that the directors of the company submitted in November, 1927, that, during the year, the companyhadbeen able to dispose of all its output at remunerative prices, and the result of the year’s trade had been quite satisfactory. The report continued -
The liquid assets of the company in the form of New Zealand loans, cash on deposit and the amount standing to creditof the company’s current account at the bank shows this year the amount of £58,490, as against £52,987 in the previous year. In view of this increase, and. seeing that, we have more than sufficient capital for our business, the directors recommend that a special bonus of 10s. per share, which will absorb £11,922 10s., shall be payable to share-holders,and the same will bechargeable tothe reserve account.
That special bonus was additional to : the 10 per cent, dividend declared on -the capital ofthe company. The report went on -
The board has deemed it wise to make an addition of £2,000 to -the Employees’ Benefit Fund.
That fund is shown to amount to £13,150 of which £12,000 is invested in war loans. Are there any factories in Australia that can show such results, and show such a desire to create good feeling and care towards their employees ? Of the assets of the company, land, the buildings and machinery Were declared to bevalued ‘at £41,063 ;but if a similar company ‘began operations in Australia, it would have topay,, atthe -outset, -nearly £40,000 in duty on plant. The new machinery added by the Mosgiel factory during the year was valued at £744, making a total of £41,807, which, less £5,000 for depreciation, showed a value of £36,807. Other assets were: - Book debts, £25,689; bills recoverable, £2,465; war loan, employees benefit fund, £12,000 ; New Zealand Government loans, £19,281; cash on deposit, £37,500; Bank of New Zealand, £1,708 ; and goods manufactured, in process, and raw material, £44,988. This company, it will be seen, has made a wonderful success of its business without such exorbitant duties as wo have prescribed in Australia. Might not one well ask what is the matter here?
In order that honorable members may appreciate the serious effect of the alteration which the Government has made in the duties on light weight woollen materials I shall quote a few figures. A standard 54-in. British woollen materialinvoiced at 2s.11d. per yard carried a duty of 4s.11d. per yard under the old rate, whereas the duty is 9s.1d. per yard under the rate of duty in operation since the 20th J une. Is it fair to call such” a dutya protective duty? It is really a prohibitive duty. There can be no justification for increasing the cost of this’ material from: 2s.11d. per yard to 9s.1d. per yard under the plea of protection. It must be remembered that to the 9s.1d /must be added the cost of packing, freightage and exchange.-
– What is the price of that material where it is made?
– I do not know. But a friend of mine some time ago visited a large emporium in Hong Kong and priced certain goods-. When he returned to Australia he priced exactly similar standard lines in Sydney and found that the prices were 700 per cent, or 800 per’ cent, higher than in Hong Kong.
A 54-in. Britishwoollen material invoiced! at 4s. per yard cost 6s. 8d.- per yard to land in Australia under the old duty, whereas it now costs l0s. 8d. per yard’ to land it. This is utterly ridiculous. But: unfortunately the same kind of thing is happening in connexion with other good’s. It will be remembered that the report of certain economists published two years: ago showed that although the wages’ in the Australian rubber industry amounted to only £1,300,000 per annum, the value of the duty was £2,100,000. In other words the value of the duty exceeded, by £800,000, the total amount paid in wages’.
The raw material of these woollen piece goods is available to local manufacturers for less than the overseas manufacturers have to pay for it. A 54-in. standard woollen material invoiced at 8s. cost 13s. 3d. per yard to land under the old duty, whereas it costs 17s. 7d. per yard to land it under the new rate. This is monstrous. The Government should bear in mind the interests,not only of the comparatively few people employed in this industry in Australia, but also those of the people who have to buy thesematerials to make clothing for themselves. When we are discussing the duty on manufactured clothing I shall read some startling figures ; but surely those I have already quoted should arrest the attention of honorable members. These duties have not had the effect intended by the Government. Employment has not been stimulated. As a matter of fact, more men arc out of employment to-day than when the Government embarked upon this tariff-run-mad policy. The Country has suffered a serious loss of revenue without any compensating advantages. I was discussing the subject of employment with a big machinery manufacturer in Sydney a fortnight ago,- and he told me’ that although recently he had 1,700’ persons employed, the number had since’ been reduced to 170. We have been told frequently, and rightly so, that this is a time’ when all sections’ of the community should make sacrifices;but it isunfair to penalize the poorer people in the community by obliging them to pay heavily increased prices for their clothing. The’ following table’ shows the retail prices of popular dress materials in England and Australia : -
How any sane person can justify duties which have that effect I do not know. I recognize, of course, that many influences are brought to bear upon honorable members to secure their approval of certain duties. The conferences that occurred in this chamber last week between the Minister for Customs and certain honorable members opposite during our discussion of the duties on cotton piece goods were, in my opinion, degrading. It appeared that the Government was willing to consider the interests of particular employers and employees, but would give no consideration to the welfare of the people of Australia. It is absolute impertinence to call these protective duties. In my opinion they are prohibitive duties and are intended to be such.
As I understand that the amendment of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) provides for a restoration of the previous rates of duty, and for the alteration of the three ounces to “ six ounces “ I shall not proceed with the amendment that I intended to move.
– I hope the amendment of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) will not be carried. The rates of duty provided in the schedule have been very carefully considered. The woollen manufacturers of Australia have invested large sums of money in the purchase of factory sites and machinery, and are, therefore, entitled to a fair measure of protection. During the later years of the war the slogan in this country was “ Produce, produce “. It was claimed by the people of Australia that this country offered a magnificent opportunity to those who cared to invest in the establishment of woollen mills here. Investors accepted that advice, and now Victoria is a hive of industry in the manufacture of woollens, worsteds, and lighter woollen materials.
– What woollen goods does that State, export ?
– I am speaking of Australian woollen manufactories, not of exports. We induced those people to invest their money here. Their efforts have succeeded only because of the tariff protection granted to them by different governments. There are three or four fine woollen, mills in Ballarat, also others at Geelong, Stawell, Warrnambool, Castlemaine, Bendigo, Albury, and Wangaratta. Those mills have been erected with money from overseas investors, and are turning out a product second to none. This party stands for decentralization. Every factory established in a country district is a step towards decentralization. Those mills and other factories give employment to local labour. If they were non-existent the young men and women of the country districts would have to migrate to the cities to seekwork in. the factories there. It would be unjust to those investors if this committee carried the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis).
– Will the honorable gentleman explain why such heavy duties are necessary?
– Until those who have invested their money in the establishment of woollen mills get out of deep water, it is the duty of the Government to protect them. I do not claim that this protection will always be necessary.
– Here is a Labour supporter advocating the rights of vested interests !
– I stand for the protection of the interests of those who have invested in factories in Australia. It has been said that this is a hostile tariff-
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).Order ! I remind the honorable gentleman that the committee is dealing with item 105 f.
– I submit that the item cannot properly be discussed unless honorable members are allowed to reply to the statements made by previous speakers. It has been said that these duties are aimed at other countries. I claim that that is not so.
– They are aimed particularly at Great Britain.
– That is incorrect. In any case, Bradford has not been a very big buyer of our wools in recent years. We sell a great deal of our product to local factories, to Japan, France, Germany, and to Russia. This tariff is not a hostile action against any of those nations.
– They have certainly retaliated against it.
– That may be so, but they have to come to Australia to obtain the best wool in the world. Our secondary industries can prosper only if granted protection by a tariff, so that they may compete against cheap-labour countries.
– Why is this great increase in duties necessary?
– Because we have to maintain the standard of living of which we are so proud.
M r. Gregory. - It is no better than that of New Zealand or Canada.
– Those countries are in a different category from the cheaplabour nations to which I refer.Japan is a great buyer of our wool, and has captured the textile trade of China, so that it will continue to be a heavy buyer of our product, as also will be other countries that I have mentioned. The acceptance of the amendment moved by the honorable member for Moreton would impose an injustice on those who have invested their money in the establishment of the woollen industry in Australia, and I urge honorable members to reject it.
.- I support the amendment of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). I would be better pleased had it been moved by one who was more consistent on the fiscal issue, because I cannot see that the question before us now differs very much from that concerning textiles made from cotton. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) said that this item should be taken on its merits. I shall deal with it on that basis. I cannot see anything in the duties that will be helpful to the Australian people. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) wanted the committee to believe that these duties will be beneficial to the Australian wool-growers. What our woolgrowers desire is a greater use of their product by the people of Australia. Nothing prevents the use of wool more than the high prices of the materials made from it. I assure the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) that the high prices asked for woollen goods in Australia, as compared with those obtaining in other countries are greatly detrimental to our woollen industry. Australian manufacturers buy our wool in the same exchange as do foreign buyers. The amount that our buyers take in competition with those from overseas makes very little difference to the wool-grower, generally speaking. He fared just as well when no wool was bought in this country.
Taking it on its merits, the serious thing about this item is that it is an extravagantly excessive form of protection. It involves an imposition of 10s. on each pound of manufactured wool, at a time when the price of wool does not average more than1s. The value of the protection is, therefore, equivalent to 10 lb. of wool. That is absurd, and a disgrace to the country. Where does our vaunted ability and efficiency come in when we find it necessary to support our industries in that exaggerated fashion? The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) referred to a woollen mill in New Zealand that has been able to carry on effectively, pay dividends, and invest its earnings in New Zealand stocks and shares on a protective duty of 20 per cent.
– Until recently it also did business in Australia, on a competitive basis.
– The honorable member for Balaclava twitted me by saying that if this were a wheat question my opinion would be different. Evidently the honorable member is judging others by his own standards. I am a shareholder in the Geelong Woollen Mills, and also in the only woollen mill in Western Australia, which is in my electorate. In addition I am a wool-grower. But I would rather go out of politics altogether than stand for an exorbitant duty like this. The State Premiers and economists are studying in Melbourne means of lifting the Commonwealth out of the financial bog. But regardless of that fact, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde) is heaping additional costs on the people by increasing the price of everything they eat and wear. The manufacturers as well as the primary producers should be required to contribute to the general sacrifice and to work harder in order to produce more cheaply instead of asking for exorbitant duties so that their industry may be sheltered and made sacrosanct. The Minister for Health (Mr. McNeill) referred to the Ballarat mills. Not long ago the manager of that enterprise told me that the cost of producing a certain material was 3s. a square yard. He sold it in Flinderslane at 6s., the merchant sold it to the tailor at 12s., and I have no doubt that, in turn, it was sold to the consumer at 24s. Thewool-grower is not to be fooled by the pretence that these duties will benefit him. Whan the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) was speaking, another honorable member interjected that wages in New Zealand are lower than in Australia. Whatever the wages are in New Zealand, the workers there are permanently employed and satisfied, and the purchasing power of the money they receive is greater than that of the higher wages in Australia. The false standards we are setting up are isolating Australia. Some honorable members have the fantastic notion that we should buy nothing from any other country, but that all the world should buy from us. The trade between Australia and France shows a balance of £11,289,000 in our favour. Is it to our advantage to offend such a good customer by refusing to buy even a little from it? Apart from the prejudice that such a policy creates abroad the Commonwealth loses revenue. The £11,000,000 decline in customs revenue under the policy of the present Government has to be recouped from the already depleted pockets of the people. Australia’s trade with Japan, Germany, and Belgium, shows balances in our favour of £8,289,000, £7,406,000, and £8,384,000 respectively. We should recognize that our prosperity depends on our trade with other countries; that other people can produce some things better than we, whilst we can do other things better than they.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the item before the committee.
– They are strictly relevant ‘to the item. The protection granted to this industry by the 1928 schedule was more than sufficient, and I would support a reduction, of that. Although I am a wool-grower and an investor in woollen mills, I am more interested in the welfare of Australia. The country cannot progress under the Government’s policy of spoon-feeding exotic industries. [Quorum formed.]
– I totally disagree with the amendment moved by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). The duties proposed in the schedule are 2s., 2s. 6d., and 3s. a square yard, plus ad valorem duties of 25 per cent., 45 per cent., and 50 per cent. The amendment proposes a reduction of the fixed duties to1s. 3d’., 2s., and 2s. 6d. Listening to the appeals of honorable members of the Opposition for the withdrawal of duties designed to protect Australian industries, it is difficult to believe that one is in an Australian Parliament. The textile industry is one of the most important that we have established. Of the total wool clip,’ we are fabricating only about 55,000,000 lb., representing the product of a little more than 8,000,000 sheep. I cannot see that the development of the secondary industries and the utilization of more of the raw material would detrimentally affect the wool-grower or the consumer of the finished goods. One honorable member said that the duties on these items are considerably higher than those in the United States of America. The following extract from the Board of Trade J ournal of July, 1930, shows the American duties on light woollen fabric to be - under 4 oz.. per square yard, not exceeding in value $1.25, equal to 5s. 3½d., specific duty per square yard, 50 cents, equal to 2s.1d., plus 50 per cent, ad valorem; over 4 oz. per square yard and valued at more than $2, equal to 8s. 4d., specific duty, 50 cents per square yard, equal to 2s.1d., plus 60 per cent, ad valorem. Those duties are considerably higher than are contained in. this schedule. In the absence of firsthand practical knowledge of the woollen industry, particularly the secondary stages of it, we must be guided, to a large extent, by the opinions of people who have a thorough knowledge of it, and have been engaged in it, all their lives. I am prepared to accept their statements as authoritative.
– Are they advocating their own interests?
– They are advocating Australia’s interests. John Vicars and
Company Limited, woollen and worsted manufacturers of Marrickville, report -
The duty applied to lighter weight materials has given “us a distinct help; we have catered successfully for these goods, particularly crepes mid such goods; the orders were satisfactory and repeats are now coming along. We look to increased work and to employ a greater number in the early future. . . . Prices generally are from 10 per cent, to 20 per cent, lower. Anticipating good results from the tariff we installed more machinery, mid would have been running to our utmost capacity but for the trade depression.
The Globe Worsted Mills state-
We have, thanks to the tariff, been able to retain our employees at full strength. There has been an average reduction in prices of Hi per cent, since the imposition of the tariff, rr ices of imported lines have fallen on account of the lower prices of wool. We received new business us a. result of the tariff, and, no doubt, we , ,v0111 d not have been able to cope with orders with our present plant were it not for the depression.
Since the introduction of the present tariff these mills have been able to manufacture crepes, wool marocains, georgettes, and numerous other light goods which hitherto could not be exploited on the local market by Australian manufacturers. Previously French and Italian goods of this description had flooded the Australian and English markets, thereby making it impossible for our manufacturers to compete in those lines without the additional protection which the new duties afford. Within the last hour I have received an urgent telegram from Vicars Limited of Marrickville, New South Wales. and strange to say it relates to the item now under discussion. It reads -
He yesterday’s debate on textiles the incidence of 3 oz. mini m urn weight has by guaranteeing a market enabled mills to cater for wool crepes and such dress goods which are being sold at from 5s. per yard of 54 inch. wide and lower prices for narrower widths. We have sold up to date upwards of 100,000 yards. Other mills producing similarly, thus keeping employed many who otherwise would have been without employment. Prospects sire for substantial trade next season.
All the mills which aTe working within the boundaries of my electorate are paying award rates of pay, and one mill is even paying above the award rate. It bus been stated that the excessive duties have had a bearing upon the cost of living in Australia, and in other countries, including New Zealand. Mr. N. Skene
Smith, assistant in the Department of Commerce, London School of Economics, in his book The Structure and Working of the Australian Tariff, says that since the introduction of tariffs the cost of living has increased in New Zealand by G2 per cent., and in Australia by 46 per cent. Those figures are an effective reply to the statement that the excessive duties imposed by this Government have had an important bearing on the cost of living in Australia. One honorable member opposite was much concerned with the possibility of a monopoly of Australian manufacturers as the outcome of the tariff policy of this Government. It is significant and perhaps remarkable that no honorable member who is opposed to this tariff has mentioned the possibility of the formation of a monopoly among the Australian importers, who in the past have had an open field for exploiting the people. If it came to a matter of supporting, either in or out of this Parliament, Australian manufacturers as against Australian importers, I should stand firmly behind the Australian manufacturer. I fail to see that these duties will have any detrimental effect upon the woollen industry, upon the workers employed in it, or upon the consumers of its products. I suggest that on the contrary the introduction of these duties will considerably help this industry and its subsidiary industries throughout Australia. I shall therefore vote against the” amendment.
– I understand from the last speaker that the proportion of Australian wool that is manufactured in this country is about onetwelfth of the total clip.
– The proportion is less than that.
– That shows that our factories, even with the assistance of the exorbitant duties that have been imposed, are not accomplishing much in the way of production. Only a very small proportion of our wool is being manufactured into cloth within Australia. The Minister surprised this committee by referring to a revival in trade, and I think he is the first person who has, within the last twelve months, made such a discovery. Prohibitive duties halve helen imposed on goods for which there is a local demand, and that, of course, has led to some increase in local production, but our total production under the new tariff has not increased to any appreciable extent. It is easy to instance particularly industries which have been spoon-fed and entirely excluded from foreign competition. Those of course must make some progress; but generally speaking, the tariff has been not merely disappointing, but almost disastrous. I do not object to fair protection being given to the woollen industry. We are quite entitled to establish the industry, but my complaint is that excessive and unreasonable protection has been given to it. The Pratten tariff gave a fair measure of protection, and it had the effect of increasing the Australian prices for woollen material. Apparently that was recognized by this Government when it came into office, because the tariff increase of November, 1929, was comparatively small - 3d. per square yard and 5 per cent, on invoice value. The present increase is to 2s. per square yard on these materials, and, in addition, the scope of the prohibition has been extended to almost all goods over 3 ounces in weight. There is no necessity for these excessive duties. If we wish to build up the woollen industry in Australia, we should follow the example of New Zealand. That country has been able to establish this industry, and to carry it on profitably. The industry in New Zealand has built up reserves, is paying good wages, has established an employees’ fund, and is in every way successful under a duty of 20 per cent. For the most part the only market is the local market. That country has a population of about 1,500,000, whereas Australia has a population of nearly 6,500,000. The industry in New Zealand is successful under a duty of 20 per cent., but the industry in Australia is unsuccessful under a duty of 82 per cent. What is the trouble with the manufacturers and workers of this country? Various honorable members have produced correspondence from manufacturers to the effect that they cannot carry on their businesses without these excessiveduties, yet the manufacturers of New Zealand are able to carry on under more adverse conditions. The fact is that our people are not doing their job. The reason for these large increases of duty is clear. The Government is being prompted from outside. The last speaker quoted communications from three Sydney manufacturers. They are the persons who have approached the Government and obtained from it this excessive protection. The general result of the Government’s policy is that a few manufacturers benefit at the expense of the rest of the community. A few manufacturers are making profits, and the few unionists employed by them are receiving good wages, but there are 300,000 persons out of employment in this country. Honorable members supporting the Government talk about the standard of living within Australia, but let me tell them that our general standard to-day is very low, and does not compare with the general standard of living in New Zealand. These heavy duties and prohibitions hit not only the more wealthy people, but also the poorer people in the community. Thousands of people in this country are in a bad way, and that is one of the results of the tariff policy of this Government. Another objection which I have to the tariff is that it operates against the interests of Great Britain and other countries with which wo trade, particularly in our biggest line of export.
– The tariff is not intended to operate against any one country.
– It strikes most directly at Great Britain, France, and Italy, countries in regard to which the balance of trade is considerably in our favour.
– That is not the intention of the tariff. It applies generally.
– This Government is composed largely of Anglo-phobes. Australia is a large customer of the United States of America, although that country buys practically nothing from us. Yet the tariff is to operate against, not America, but Great Britain, the land of our forefathers. There is undoubtedly a number of Anglo-phobes in the Government.
– What does the honorable member mean?
– I mean anti-Britishers.
– The remark of the honorable member for Perth is offensive to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I consider that the remark is not offensive.
Mr.Forde. - When an honorable member takes objection to a remark of another honorable member, which he considers is offensive to himself, it is usual for the Chair to ask for the withdrawal of that remark.
– I still consider that the remark of the honorable member for Perth is not offensive.
– Had I been asked to withdraw my remark, I should have done so. ‘[Quorum formed.]
– I call your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the fact that there is still not a quorum present.
– I can give you my personal assurance, Mr. Chairman, that I counted the members who were present when the last quorum was formed, and it was short of the requisite number by three.
– When it was stated that a quorum was present there were not 25 members in the chamber. I ask that they be counted now.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Perhaps I was too ready to accept the assurance of honorable members that a quorum was present. I observe now that there are only 23 members present. [Quorum formed.]
– Some time after, his return from abroad, the Prime Minister made this statement.
At the Imperial Conference a strong case was made out for preference to Australian products in Great Britain.
It is not surprising that the Prime Minister has not been able to make any progress in the direction of obtaining preference. How could we reasonably expect any proposal for preference to be favorably received in Britain, when the general effect of our tariff has been to injure the trade of British manufacturers with this country? About one-tenth of the wool we produce is used in Australia, and we must find a market abroad for the rest. It seems to me that we are endeavouring to develop the less important, or local manufacturing industry, at the expense of the more important exporting industry. No doubt we could supply a great many of our own requirements in woollen goods, but we should not exclude such lines as we cannot make here, except at a cost greatly in excess of what similar goods could be bought for abroad. Take, for example, the case of woollen crepe de chine. The British price is 5s. a yard, whereas the cost landed in Australia is 13s.11d. a yard. There is no fair relation between those costs. If we cannot produce an article at a reasonable price, it is uneconomic to force its manufacture in this country. It is not right, either, that the public should be denied the use of the article. Light woollen fabrics are ideal for a climate such as we have in Australia. If we will not encourage our own woollen industry, who else will ? There are some lines which, apparently, we cannot, or will not, manufacture at a reasonable price, and it is false economy to force up the prices of such articles until they are within the reach of only the very few, while the great mass of the people have to be content with inferior substitutes. It is, of course, proper that we should build up our industries, but they should not be spoon-fed to such an extent that they become unhealthy. Other countries have established local industries by means of duties much lower than ours. If our manufacturers were given a fair measure of protection, and told that they must compete on that basis, it would be found that they could do it. So long as the price of manufactured goods remains at its present high level there can be no all-round reduction in the cost of living. Such reduction as has already occurred has been due to the lower prices received for farm products. At the present time in the city markets cauliflowers are selling at two for 6d., and rhubarb at1s. 6d. for a dozen bunches. If the cost of living has fallen to a greater extent in Australia than in New Zealand, it is due to this reduction in the price of farm products. No corresponding reduction has taken place in the price of manufactured articles. This is especially’ true in regard to woollen goods, the price of which is much higher now than it was ten years ago, while the quality is lower. We should certainly protect local industry by means of import duties, but they should be fixed at such a level as to allow of a little healthy competition, which would keep up the standard of manufacture, and keep prices down. I am opposed to the duties contained in this item, because they are too high, and will in some respects defeat the object aimed at.
– I support tlie duties set forth in this item, because it is intended by their means to afford adequate protection to the woollen manufacturing industry in Australia. Last night the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) assured the committee that Australia was indebted to the Government of which he was a member for the protection which had been afforded to the woollen-manufacturing industry, among others. After taking due credit to himself” for this fact, he proceeded to emphasize the dangers associated with a protectionist policy. He said that, in affording protection to the industries of Australia, we ran the risk of placing the country in the hands of monopolists. A little later he informed the committee that the measure of protection afforded by the tariff introduced by the Government of which he was a member was not sufficient to enable them to capture the local market. In other words, he confessed that the protection, of which he approves consists of duties which are just sufficiently high to provide additional revenue for the Treasury, but not high enough to foster local industry. The Minister for Trade and Customs has every justification for asking the committee to agree to this item. When he was Acting Minister for Trade and Customs he paid a visit, at my invitation, to Geelong, where he inspected practically all the local woollen mills. We found many of the mills idle ; some were working half time. In only one or two of the mills was employment- anything like regular. As a result of that visit, and of inquiries made by the Minister, he was able to ascertain just what measure of protection was required to re-establish the industry. He learned that, as a result of the embargo placed on the importation of certain, woollen, goods, the Australian manufacturers had been encouraged to spend large sums of money in carrying out experimental work, particularly in regard to the production of lighter piece goods. Up to that time the mills had been producing only the heavier class of woollen piece goods. The mill proprietors explained to the Minister that, if they were given sufficient protec tion, they would be able to re-employ all their previous workers. It is true that, for some time after the visit of the Minister and the granting of an increased measure of protection, the industry continued to languish, and unemployment was rife. That was largely due to the fact that immense supplies of woollen goods, which had been imported from abroad, were still lying in the warehouses unsold. . Until they were disposed of the local manufacturers had very little chance of finding a market for their products. The imported stocks have now been almost entirely consumed, and the woollen mills in the Geelong district are working, not only full time, but in many cases overtime, to supply the demand. This shows how adequate tariff protection has rehabilitated the woollenmanufacturing industry. More than 2,000 persons axe employed in the woollen mills at Geelong. The Federal Woollen Mills, which formerly belonged to the Commonwealth Government, but was disposed of by the Bruce-Page Government, now employs twice as many persons as it did when it belonged to the Government. That shows what has been accomplished as a result-
– Of private enterprise.
– Of the protection granted by this Government.
It has been said that it is unnecessary to impose high duties on the lighter fabrics in order to afford the protection that honorable members supporting the Government think necessary for the continuance of the industry. Although there can be no gainsaying the fact that the quality of the cloths being produced to-day in the Geelong mills is equal, if not superior, to that of similar goods manufactured in any other part of the world, we are still in the experimental stages of their production.. A considerable amount of experimenting will be necessary before we are able to reduce still further the cost of these articles to the consumers. I may give an instance of what has been accomplished in the manufacture of velours, which are largely used for women’s overcoats. One of the mills endeavoured to produce velours that would compare in quality with the imported article. For a considerable time, the local mills were unable to manufacture it within 3s. a yard of the price of the imported material. They tried to eliminate all unnecessary costs and operations, and they still found it impossible to reduce the cost to that of the imported cloth. Finally, representations were made to one of the large buyers of velours in Melbourne, and one of the mills received an order of such a substantial nature that it devised means of setting up its loom for the production of velour cloth without the necessity for a resetting of the loom for the purpose of producing other materials. The increased production resulting from that large order enabled the mill to produce velours at a lower cost than was charged for similar material from abroad. What has been accomplished in regard to velours will be repeated in the case of the lighter fabrics now being manufactured in the mills at Geelong. Until they could produce a sample that earned the approval of the warehouse representatives, no order could be obtained. So successful have been the experiments that the mills are now receiving large orders for the light-weight fabrics that previously had been imported from overseas.
– Then why do they want a duty?
– It is essential to prevent overseas manufacturers from dumping their products in Australia, and there is the additional advantage that continuity of operations in the mills will enable them materially to reduce their overhead charges on all products. A considerable reduction of the prices of the products of these particular mills has already been made. The difficulty that has been met with in regard to the lighter fabrics was experienced, in the earlier stages, with respect to the heavy fabrics. [Quorum formed.]
During the late war local manufacturers found that there was a big demand for woollen piece goods of the heavier class. Previously most of the finer materials had been imported from overseas ; but when, owing to war conditions, it was impossible to obtain them, our maniuf acturers began to produce these cloths. They so improved the quality of the local product that it has never been displaced on the Australian market, and nobody can seriously suggest that the heavier fabrics now produced in various parts of Australia will not bear more than favorable comparison with the finest materials of the kind from any part of the world. What is true of the local manufacture of heavy piece goods will, in the course of a short time, apply to the production of the lighter fabrics.
– I suppose that a reduction of the duties willsoon be asked for.
– It may be possible to reduce the duties, or to reduce the prices. Once our manufacturers have succeeded in capturing the local market, their pro- duct will probably never be displaced by that of foreign manufacturers, because the quality of the Australian article will be superior to that of any other country. It is well known that the products of the Australian mills now compare more than favorably with those made elsewhere. Our manufacturers, in making wool tops or cloth, do not mix any of the lower grade wools which are always used abroad in the production of woollen fabrics, whether made in Bradford or Yorkshire, or in any other part of the world.
– But they are not using all the wool that is produced in Australia.
– That is because our population is not sufficient to enable that to be done ; but, as the result of the protection afforded to the industry, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that, in the course of time, Australia will be able to manufacture sufficient woollen goods to supply our home requirements, and to have also a surplus for export.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) complained last evening about the increase of these duties on the ground that certain persons in parts of his electorate were going about clothed in bags. Why he raised that subject 1 do not know. Does he consider that, by the importation of cheap manufactured material from overseas, those persons may be provided with even cheaper material for clothing? I have no doubt that hessian is worn by those who are reduced to dire extremities. I could cite instances of mothers who have been compelled to make paper underclothing for their children in order to keep them warm. But that condition of affairs would not be remedied, even if every duty on woollen piece goods were abolished. The deplorable conditions referred to by the honorable member obtain in a more aggravated form in other countries. Although manufacturers abroad can turn out fabrics at much lower prices than are charged for similar materials in this country, the wages paid overseas are infinitely lower than the average rates received by workers in Australia.
– Unemployment has doubled since these schedules were introduced.
– That is due entirely to circumstances other than the imposition of increased duties. It cannot possibly be attributed to the increase in the duties on woollen goods. As I have already said, the mills at Geelong arc now working overtime, in order to cope with their orders, and this fillip is due to the encouragement given under the tariff.
I am unable to understand the attitude of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) towards this item, since, on the subject of . biscuits, he took an entirely different view. He said last night that we should encourage other countries to purchase our exportable surplus of primary production so that we could build up credits to enable us to meet our overseas obligations. But, in discussing biscuits some days earlier, the honorable member pointed out that even if we sent wheat and flour overseas, and afterwards imported biscuits of an equal value, we should not add to our credit because the sale of our products would be offset by the value of the imports. What is true of biscuits is, I submit, equally true of woollen piece goods. If we send £10,000,000 worth of raw wool to Great Britain and, subsequently, import £10,000,000 worth of woollen piece goods to satisfy the needs of our local consumers, we shall not build up our credit ; the position will be “ as you were.” But insofar as Ave produce in this country the woollen fabrics required hy our people, rendering importations unnecessary, and the exportation of our surplus primary production results in the building up of credits which enable us to meet our commitments, I am quite unable to understand the attitude of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) on this subject.
The woollen industry is important to Australia, for it has made possible the employment of 12,000 persons in different parts of the country, and has given an opening for the investment of a considerable amount of capital. If a reduction is made in these duties there will necessarily be a falling-off iri manufactures, and an increase in imports, which will, in turn, result in an increase of unemployment in Australia. We should build up this industry. History shows conclusively that no country has ever yet become really wealthy which has relied entirely upon agriculture or primary production for trade purposes. We need diversified primary and secondary industries in Australia to provide suitable work for our people. Of what earthly use would it be for us to put people on the land to grow wool and wheat unless we also made provision for manufacturing their products in Australia? In the circumstances, the duties provided in this schedule have my hearty approbation. I trust that the amendment of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) will be ignominiously defeated.
.-I shall support the amendment. I heartily agree with the speech delivered on this subject yesterday by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron). It has been said that we can produce anything in Australia. That is very true; we can produce anything at a cost. But surely we must bear in mind the cost of production. Our high tariff duties have been the means of maintaining prices at a very high level in Australia. So long as these extremely heavy imposts are in operation, we shall be able to produce certain goods; but it cannot be reasonably contended that these duties should be maintained to make possible the production of high-priced woollen materials. In certain lines it is possible for us, with a fairly low tariff, 1 to compete with other countries in the production of woollen goods. But when such considerations as fashions, patterns, quality and weight are borne in mind, it must be apparent that it is ridiculous for us even to attempt to compete with overseas manufacturers, who have the world’s markets at their disposal. The admission .into Australia of a certain quantity of British material of various patterns and qualities is a good thing for Australia. On the other hand, it is a bad thing for this country to oblige our people to confine their purchases to such fabrics of limited design and pattern as can be produced in this country under the unreasonable conditions -which, now exist. It is not desirable, for instance, that people in small country towns should be obliged to buy fabrics of the same pattern as their neighbours. Fine woollen goods, such as worsteds, and other dress materials, are not bought haphazardly by storekeepers. It is well known that travellers display patterns of these goods in the country as well as in the city nine or twelve months before the delivery of such goods is desired. This makes it possible for city and country storekeepers alike to avoid purchasing material of identical colourings and patterns. Those who have lived in country towns know very well that no two storekeepers would dare to buy two hats exactly alike, for no woman willingly buys hats like her friends wear. That also is true of dress materials. Mrs. Brown is always careful to avoid, if possible, buying material of the same pattern as Mrs. Jones. For this reason, as well as for others, it would be unwise for us to prevent the entry into Australia of a certain quantity of English and French light-weight woollen dress material, or to allow the entry of such fabrics only at prohibitive prices.
There is a great future for the woollen industry in Australia, but until our population increases very greatly, it would be wise for us to confine our activities to heavier woollen goods. We could easily turn out all our requirements of woollen underwear, for instance. In fact, we are to-day producing the bulk of our requirements in these lines. The patterns, quality, and fashions of underwear are not of- such great importance as are those of dress materials, for these garments are worn unseen. Our manufacturers have consequently concentrated on the production of woollen goods of which considerable quantities can be made witbout detriment to trade. If our mills could run to capacity in the production of these goods, I have no doubt that the prices in Australia, with even a low protective duty, would compare favorably with the prices of similar goods overseas.
We are also producing to-day nearly all our requirements of blankets. Very few blankets are imported. This is true, too, of heavier woollen goods, such as tweeds. But when it comes to lighter woollen materials, such as those now under consideration, it is desirable that a wide variety of patterns, weights, and colours should be available, and we cannot make them available with our present population, because of the comparatively small quantity required, except by the aid of a very heavy duty. Our women folk wish to dress nicely, but if these duties are insisted upon many of them will have to dress alike, which will not please them. When a British manufacturer sets out to put a new line on the market, he is not much worried by the volume of his output, for he knows very well that he has the world’s market at his disposal. Consequently, he sets his machine as he desires and goes ahead with his production. If we close our doors to the importation of light woollen goods from overseas, we shall restrict the sale of our raw wool; for manufacturers of these goods abroad will either buy wool elsewhere or else transfer their attention to the production of silk, artificial silk, or other substitutes, or cotton and linen goods. This would be a bad thing for Australia.
While, as 1 have said, it is possible for us to produce almost anything at a cost, we have to bear in mind that the capacity of our people to pay the cost of the things we produce is becoming more and more limited. It would be a poor woollen mill which could not produce even .lightweight woollen goods at a price less than the price of the imported article when the latter is loaded with a duty of 2s. per square yard, plus 35 per cent, ad valorem, plus 30 per cent, exchange, plus 25 or 30 per cent, to cover freight, insurance, and incidentals. We should not be attempting to manufacture these finer fabrics until our population has increased very considerably. In my profession I frequently visit woollen mills. I am interested, not in the manufacturing, but in the financial side of this industry. I enter the mills with a professional eye.
I have frequently said to managers, “ Can you produce fine worsteds, or other fine quality dress materials in fair competition with English and French mills?” The managers have quite frankly said that they cannot.
– =Name some of the mills.
– I have asked this question, in some of the mills referred to in this debate, but I do not intend to mention particular names. The point is that the managers have said to me that it is not feasible for them to engage in this class of manufacture without the assistance of a practically prohibitive tariff. They say that because of the limited market they are able to produce only a small quantity of each pattern, and quality of cloth required. That means that their machines have to he set up to execute a special order; the material is made, dyed, and processed, and the whole procedure has to be repeated to supply other small orders for fabric of a different pattern and quality. On the other hand, the English, mills are able to run for weeks at a time turning out one pattern and one quality, because they have the world’s market to supply.. Managers of Australian mills have told me that because of the drawback to which I have referred, it is absolutely impossible for them to produce any of the finer quality fabrics in competition with imported material?. This high protection has been granted so that the price of the imported article may be made unduly high, and a good margin provided to. cover, the wasted energy and duplication of process that must necessarily be required “of the local manufacturer with his restricted market In some cases, the actual process of manufacture occupies only three hours, hut the setting up and re-adjusting of the machinery spreads the task over three days.
The only -way to remedy the position is to effect an amalgamation of the Aus-: tralian woollen mills, by cartels or other means. One mill should manufacture fine worsteds., another a different type of fine quality dress material, the next wool or silk material, and so. on. Each would concentrate all the year round on the one type of fabric, and thus waste effort would be eliminated.
Many of our woollen mills were established during wartime, when prices were high, Some companies actually went overseas, bought machinery that had been discarded by British mills, and set it up here. “When they found that the machinery was breaking down, and could not carry on, they appealed to the Federal Parliament, and were granted an extremely high rate of protection which made the fortunes of many’ other woollen manufacturers. We shall not bo in a position to compete with overseas pro,ducts until our woollen mills are established on an economic basis, and are able to wipe off the over-charge on the capital invested. Before manufacturers can justify their request for- exorbitant duties- of this nature, they must answer the question why they cannot produce wool tops, and export woollen products.
I have seen the samples that are in the possession of the Minister, and of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). They have no effect on me, as I realize that it is possible to produce anything at a price.. Before I am willing to load the people of Australia with these duties, and cause the producers of wool to. lose some of their overseas market, I want to know the price of those goods, and that of English articles of a similar quality. These duties affect two classes of people. The honorable member for Brisbane (Mr, D. Cameron), mentioned wool-growers. He is familiar with that aspect of the question, as he is a grower himself and also represents growers. We should encourage our best customers to buy our wool, and not divert their attention to other fabrics, that, compete with wool. Last year-, the Brisbane retailers definitely stated that they could not obtain the woollen goods that they needed from Australian manufacturers, They cannot do so now. The samples that have been exhibited in this chamber cannot be supplied in quantity for sale this winter. From nine to twelve months elapse after an order has. been taken, before the material can be placed on the shelves of the retailers. I asked the retailers what was their alternative. They declared that they had to use their discretion. The people desired certain articles. Imported woollen goods have been made prohibitive in price, and retailers have had to oast around for other articles that will take the eye of feminine buyers. They have done so, and their shelves are now fully stocked with artificial silks, cotton mixtures, pure silk mixtures, and wool and linen mixtures. These duties interfere with the wish “of every woman who seeks to retain her- individuality-, who objects to wearing a dress material precisely the same as that worn by her neighbour, and who wishes to dress as cheaply as possible. The object of these duties is to compel women to wear- clothing uniform in fabric and design. Because the Geelong Woollen Mills turn out a. certain kind of tweed a woman is expected to purchase it, and every man is expected to buya suit length similar to that bought by his friend. If they do not like it they must pay very dearly for the expensive imported materialor turn to other fabrics.
I shall vote for the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Moreton. If it is not carried we shall have to endeavour to carry another, to give the people of Australia a chance to dress decently, with individuality, and at a reasonable cost.
Mr.LAZZARINI (Werriwa) [4.54].- I findmyself in sympathy with the amendment of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis). That is not because of the reasons advanced by the honorable member, or those who support him. In my speech during the general debate I indicated that I do not intend to be a party to bolstering up protection in order to assist the wagerslaahers, manufacturers who are continually applying to arbitration courts in an endeavour to cut down the wages of the workers, and to lengthen hours; and who simultaneously cry out to the legislators of the country to be spoon-fed, so that they may make big profits.
I am astonished that the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Long), who represents an industrial electorate, should have put up a strong plea for the manufacturer. The honorable member quoted long screeds of propaganda in favour of John Vicars & Company, the leaders of a wage-slashing gang in New South Wales. Those are the people, who atall times stood behind the Bruce-Page Government in its attack on wages, and hours. The sooner that men who claim to support industrial communities readjust their ideas the better. The New. South Wales woollen manufacturers are crying out not only about overseas competition, but about that from other States.
– How do the wages paid in other countries compare with those paid here?
– I ask the honorable member not to anticipate. I shall come to that aspect of the matter later. The honorable member is one of those in the Labour movement who subscribe to the doctrine of protection, and tickle the ears of the workers by telling them that they will be economically emancipated by that policy. He ought to revise his ideas’. The movement has gone beyond that sort of thing, and the workers will not tolerate representatives of that type much longer.
The only claim that the protectionist policyhas on. the support of labour is that it will provide decent conditions for the workers. The manufacturers of the goods, covered by this item are the first to rush into the courts in an endeavour to lengthen hours and decrease wages, and it is time that Labour supporters readjusted their opinions. Their . representatives should seek not only the support, but also the respect of the organized labour and workers of this country. Arguments? supplied by the manufacturers have been used to justify these duties. Those who use them conveniently overlook the fact; that these manufacturers are continually endeavouring to whittle away the conditions that organized labour has striven so long to obtain. It is now not a matter of bettering conditions, but of retaining them. I should like to have seen one of my colleagues move that this item be deferred, in order that an effort might be made to compel manufacturers to realize that their selfish demand is not the only . one to be considered. Ifthe manufacturer is prepared to’ allow some of the advantages of protection to goto the workers I shall reconsider my attitude. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) mentioned a manufacturer . who produceda fabric for 3s. a yard, and sold it to the merchant at 6s. ; the merchant in turn sold to the retailer at 12s., and the latter sold to the public at 24s. That extortion is the result not of protection, but of the capitalistic system of production for profit, and it will be in evidence under freetrade, or protection, or a shandygaff fiscal system. This Parliament represents merely two phases of the capitalistic system, industrial capitalism and financial capitalism. The workers are not represented except by the group to which I belong. Before I entered this Parliament I was engaged in the softgoods trade, and I know that when the importer had an open field he was even worse than the manufacturer. I was selling a line of prints which were not made in Australia; they were admitted duty free, and before the war were sold for 6d. a yard. During the war I gave a large order at 12-Jd. One day I was advised by letter from the warehouse that the ship conveying the prints to Australia had been submarined, and that the goods would have to be replaced at ls. 6-£d a yard. I went to Sydney and found that the ship had not been submarined, and that the warehouse was filled to the ceiling with these identical prints, which had been in stock for months. That is an illustration of exploitation by the importer, and I mention it as an offset to the charge made by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) against the manufacturer. Economic justice is not obtainable under the capitalistic system. While we continue production for profit, neither protection nor freetrade is a panacea for the evils of the economic system. The honorable member for Forrest said that he is a wool-grower and a shareholder in woollen mills, but that he placed the prosperity of Australia above his own interests. I am certain, however, that if he could produce wool for 6d. per lb. and sell it for 5s. he would do so cheerfully. The solution of our problems is to be found in production for the use and benefit of the many instead of for the profit of the few.
-T-I ask the honorable gentleman to confine his remarks to the item, and not to make a secondreading speech.
– Neither I nor my colleagues will vote to give more profits to manufacturers who are engaged in the fight to slash wages. When Mr. Bavin enunciated his policy for the reduction of wages and an increase of working hours a huge advertisement was published in the daily press above the names of certain industrialists, stating that they were supporting the Government. Amongst the leading signatories were the woollen mill proprietors who are now asking for increased protection. They were similarly prominent in identifying themselves with Mr. Bruce’s proposal for the abolition of the Federal Arbitration Court. Some of them are in this ‘building now, lobbying honorable members, telling to Government supporters hard-luck stories about the poor wage-earner whom they wish to keep in work, and to the members of the Opposition that with lower wages and increased protection their industry will assure an even better return on any money they may invest in it. Manufacturers who adopt that attitude are entitled to no quarter from those who claim to represent the workers.
– Is the tariff a political matter?
– The tariff is an economic question, and economics cannot be divorced from politics. If the employers are to exploit protection solely for their own benefit and profit-making, the day is fast approaching when the tariff will have to be thoroughly revised, even to the extent of abolishing certain duties. We cannot allow the protectionist policy to be used in Australia as it was in America, for the creation of huge monopolies. Any Labour member who supports the selfish demands of wageslashing manufacturers is recreant to his trust, and should receive short shrift from workers’ organizations. Such men misrepresent Labour, and should have no place in this chamber as champions of the workers.
– My opposition to these duties is due to a desire, not to do injustice to the manufacturers, but solely to secure justice for the primary producer. Without any disadvantage to the secondary industries, the duties could be considerably reduced, and the objects for which they were originally imposed would not be imperilled. The Minister proved conclusively that the woollen-manufacturing industry was successfully established under the duties hitherto imposed; therefore, the case for the additional protection which the honorable gentleman is now proposing breaks down. *[Quorum formed. * The most amazing anomaly in the textile division of the schedule is the imposition on woollens of heavier duties than are imposed on imported synthetic fabrics that are in direct competition with them. Up and down the country at the present time we hear once again the cry, “ Use More Wool.”
– Hear, hear!
– I agree with the honorable member for Forrest that it is a very useful cry, which should be taken up and extended. But how can the Australian purchaser buy fabrics priced at from 50s. to 60s. per lb. when the producer in Australia is selling his greasy wool abroad at a price of from 8d. to 9d. per lb.? Until these woollen fabrics are reasonably priced, the purchasing public of Australia cannot buy them, and while we keep on tariffmongering, we are preventing the retailers from offering these goods to the consumers at reasonable prices.
– What relation have the honorable member’s remarks to the item under discussion?
– I am showing conclusively that this reckless tariffmongering on the part of the Government is having the inevitable and inexorable result, not only of preventing the sale of woollen goods at reasonable prices, but also of preventing the people from wearing and making use of them. Another result of this tariff-mongering is increased unemployment. The Minister and other honorable members on that side have said repeatedly that these tariff schedules would bring about increased employment. I contend that the schedules have had the opposite effect. This tariff item, in particular, has definitely contributed to the increase of unemployment in Australia. The woollen industry is the industry that, above all others, should be directly, and indirectly, providing considerable employment in this country. Another factor, which we cannot lose sight of when considering these preposterous duties, is that they are highly inimical to the trading interests of Australia. The honorable member for Corio just now took upon himself the task of lecturing upon the unwisdom of sending out of this country products that could be manufactured locally. I submit that so soon as we lose sight of the central fact that Australia, like every other country, has to live by trading, we shall face financial and industrial disaster. We perhaps more than any other people have to recognize that we can meet our interest charges and our obligations both here and abroad only by developing our overseas trade, and one of the greatest items in that trade is our fine wool. The tariff policy of the Government has adversely affected our overseas trade.- It is hindering us in the development of those international relations which are essential if we are to gain the wherewithal to meet our overseas obligations. Our greatest source of income is our export trade in wool. By erecting tariff barriers against the fabrics that are manufactured from our fine wools, we are directly antagonizing the nations which are our best customers. We are not only antagonizing those nations, but we are challenging reprisals and retaliatory tariffs, and to a certain extent we have already felt the effect of retaliation. It has hit us in connexion with the export of our wheat, meat and wool, and if we contine this infamous tariff policy we shall be hit still more severely. We should revert, particularly in respect of this item, to the schedules of 1928 and 1929. That is all the more necessary because of the absence of the Tariff Board’s report. Until that report is before us we should stand by the tariffs of 1928 and 1929.
– This Government has time and again ignored the reports of the Tariff Board.
– It is to the discredit of this Government that it has time and again, not only ignored the reports of the Tariff Board, but also at times suppressed them or has acted upon them surreptitiously. I propose to vote for the amendment, not because I have any disregard for the Australian manufacturers who” are well able to look after themselves, but because these high duties will adversely affect one of our principal producing industries.
.- The display on the table of the contents of a glory box leaves me stonecold.
– Wear more wool.
– This committee would he well advised to follow the advice of the honorable, member for Balaclava (Mr. White) and consider all these items- on their merits. This is an important item, because it, involves, a challenge to our best customers overseas. It. has been stated that the local manufacturers are at present consuming considerably more wool than they did in the past. I wish to contradict that statement. The Australian Year-Book of 1930 indicates definitely the consumption of wool in Australia. It embraces wool - greasy used in local woollen tweed and top mills, 1924-25 to 1928-29. The following are the quantities used: -
The actual purchases of wool during 1928-29 by Australian manufacturers for use in Australia did not exceed the purchases of 1926-27. The actual money paid for the wool which the local manufacturers used in 1927-28 was more by £1,375,164 than in 1928-29. The figures for 1928-29 are the latest available, because the wool purchased in 1929-30 is not yet on sale to the public in the form of the manufactured article. The manufacturers used less wool last year than in the previous year, yet they are now claiming that these increased duties are necessary if the industry is to be kept in operation. The actual wage cost to the manufacturers in Australia has lessened very considerably, and, as one honorable member has pointed out, efforts are being made to reduce wages still further. It was said by the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis) that the Australian manufacturers were buying a higher quality of spinning wool, and were putting it into the articles they manufactured. As a matter of fact, the Australian woollen mills are largely engaged in the manufacture of blankets and such coarse fabrics for which they require a broader or stronger quality of wool than that. usually sought by overseas buyers.
For that reason the local manufacturers are generally in- the market for the cheaper grades of wool.
We in Australia are prone to surround ourselves- with a fiscal barrier, and to say to the rest of the world that we are going to do- just what we like, irrespective of what, they think of us. This is a shorts sighted policy. Of the wool produced in Australia, and largely sold here, only one-tenth is required for our own use, leaving 90 per cent, to be sold for use abroad in countries upon which we depend for the money with which to meet our overseas liabilities. I do not agree that the Australian manufacturers last year were important competitors at the Australian wool sales, or that their operations tended materially to increase the price of wool. The Australian manufacturers did nothing of the kind. I have watched the local wool sales carefully, and I am convinced that the Australian buyers have always bought on the lowest possible market. We must look to overseas countries to buy the greater part of our wool. It is true that at the earlier sales Bradford buyers largely controlled the situation; so much has been testified to by our own representative overseas, Mr. Devereux. Later, however, France, Belgium, Germany and Japan came on themarket, particularly for the highest spinning qualities of wool, and it was then that prices rose to the great advantage of the Australian growers. We have already intimated to the countries which, purchase wool from us that we are not. prepared to allow them to obtain stud sheep from Australia with which, to improve the quality of their flocks. We have made it clear that wo intend to retain for Australia, so far as possible, a monopoly of the production of high-grade wool.
– The embargo against, the export of stud sheep was directed against South Africa.
– That is partly true, but the honorable member must he aware that Japan is also endeavouring to develop her wool-growing industry, while the French are producing in French Morocco a . quality of wool which is almost equal to that grown in any part of the world. She was paying large sums for stud sheep, and was paying high salaries to stud masters, in an endeavour to improve the quality of her flocks. In my opinion it has not yet been proved that it is necessary to increase the tariff in order to develop a woollen manufacturing industry in this country, and we have, therefore, taken the risk of unnecessarily offending the overseas buyers of our wool by telling them that we will not take from them the product of their looms and factories. We appear to ignore the fact that those countries have it in their power to injure Australia even more than we can harm them, namely, by declining to buy our wool, thus robbing us of the overseas income which is necessary to meet our overseas liabilities. lu this country we have a population of 6,500,000, which provides a market for a certain fixed quantity of manufactured goods. Unless we can maintain the prosperity of our primary industries, and encourage overseas competition for our wool, the purchasing power of the Australian people will be so diminished that it will be of no use manufacturing goods in Australia; the people will not be able to huy them. It is not by piling heavier duties on woollen goods that we can find employment for the 400,000 persons now out of work. It has been said that twice as many persons are now employed in Australian woollen mills as before the increased duties were imposed. I challenge that statement. During certain times of the year a heavy demand sets in for certain classes of goods, and while that demand is being satisfied, industry may be stimulated; but that increased activity is not maintained throughout the whole year. The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis) claimed that the output of the Australian woollen mills was steadily growing, but, according to. statistics published in the Australian Year-Booh, the amount of wool used in Australian mills in 1926-27 was 52,127,35.1 lb., while for 1928-29 the amount was only 47,148,649 lb. [Quorum formed.”) These facts make it clear that the Australian woollen manufacturing industry was already established prior ‘ to the imposition of these higher, duties, and has not responded to them by exhibiting any marked growth. This Parliament must so frame its fiscal policy as to preserve the balance between the claims of our primary and secondary industries. If we allow the scale to be tipped too much in the direction of assisting the secondary industries, we shall find that the effect will be merely to increase unemployment to a greater extent than prevails at the present time. If our tariff policy results in adversely affecting the overseas market for our wool, we shall injure a great primary industry which will tend still further to impair the credit of the nation, and militate against the prospect of our financial recovery. Every country that has established a definite organization in order to bring about internal and external independence has recognized, as a fundamental principle, the need for the sale of its primary products to other countries to the greatest possible advantage. When the leaders in Russia recently found that country hopelessly disorganized, they gave the closest attention to the reorganization, of its primary industries, in order to secure the greatest possible benefit from the exportation of - its surplus primary products. If we absolutely disregard the interests of those who are creating national wealth in the form of primary products, there will be little hope of meeting the extraordinary situation that confronts Australia. We should endeavour to do the greatest good to the greatest number. Although these increased duties may result in some increase in employment in secondary industries, we must be careful that we do not encourage inflated capital values in these industries at the expense of the great primary producers. The manufacturers who are anxious for the increased duties now under consideration, would maintain the present inflated values, instead of writing them down. The time has come when we must write down a good many of the over-capitalized industries in this country.
.- From one point of view, the question before the committee is a very simple one. It is contended that a substantial increase in the- rates of duty should be granted on the /-particular item under discussion. I regard myself, and I suppose that every honorable member considers* himself, as being in the position- of a j’udge. A case is put before him by the Government, a-nd the onus lies om
Ministers to prove to the satisfaction of the committee that the proposed increase is justified. The decision of such, a matter is about as important a responsibility as could be imposed on any member of Parliament, yet, since the tariff has been before us, the greatest difficulty has been experienced in keeping a quorum present. The Minister knows, when he brings an item before the committee, that his request will be granted, because he has the necessary number of members supporting him. They flock out of the chamber, and wait for the division bells to ring, and, on their return, they simply take their places behind the Minister, as though they had said to him before leaving the chamber, in the words of the old Scotch song, “Whistle and I will come to ye, my lad.” That is the position of the Minister in regard to the discussion of the tariff. He knows that the caucus is at his command. His supporters may go out, but they will return when they are sent for. On every question coming before the committee, I exercise my own judgment.
– I rise to a point, of order. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has not yet said one word concerning the item under discussion. Neither the attitude of the caucus, nor the power of the Government to pass duties without discussion, is before the committee.
– Will the honorable member for Fawkner connect his remarks with the item under discussion ?
– Yes. No matter what argument is used, or what reasons I, or others, may be able to adduce, to show why these increases should not be granted, it is absolutely useless to submit them, for the reasons that I have stated. Before exercising my own judgment, I think that it is perfectly fair for me to ask the Government, “ Why should I support these increases?” I have listened most carefully to every speech delivered this afternoon. I had not the advantage of hearing the remarks made on this item by the Minister, who, I understand, spoke last night ; but, usually, one can gather from subsequent speeches what has been said by those who have already addressed the committee. I have not heard one reason advanced why this increase should be granted. It is the duty of the Tariff Board to investigate these matters, and I have not beard it suggested that a recommendation in favour of the increase has come from the board. When I asked the Minister what justification there was for these duties, his answer simply amounted to a statement that adequate protection of Australian industries was the policy of the Government. Do honorable members opposite regard that as a good reason for an increase in specific duties?
– It is one of the reasons.
– Not when a proposed duty is substantially a wage-slashing stunt.
– I ask honorable members to consider whether a specific duty is justified by the Minister saying that adequate protection is the policy of the Government. If a demand is made by any industry for any increase in duty, the same answer is given, and, in the eyes of honorable members sitting behind the Government, that justifies the increase desired. In the matter under consideration, the increase proposed in the British preferential rate is from ls. to 2s. per yard. If the manufacturers had asked for an increase from ls. to 3s. per yard, honorable members supporting the Government would have said, “ Certainly.”
– That is pure assumption.
– Not at all. I am using the honorable member’s own argument against him.
– If a duty of 3s. per yard were necessary, it would be right to increase the rate accordingly.
– “ Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.” As a protectionist, it seems to me that the gods evidently desire to destroy the protectionists of Australia by first making them mad. I, for one, as a protectionist, desire to dissociate myself from the kind of madness being displayed by protectionists, particularly on the other side of the chamber.
It was rather instructive to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis), who described a most pleasant experience that he and the Minister had together in a delightful jaunt to Geelong. The Minister simply purred while the honorable member for Corio was delivering his speech, and he punctuated the remarks at every turn with “Hear, hear!”
– I can always appreciate & good speech.
– I can well imagine how the Minister beamed, when he thought of that delightful trip to Geelong, to see what was being done in the mills there. Does the Minister suggest for a moment that that visit enabled bini to say whether or not the increase in a duty of from ls. to 2s. per yard was justified ?
– .Lt showed me the capacity of the mills, and I instructed my investigation officers to find out whether the increase was reasonable.
– The Minister saw the capacity of the mills ! Was that any guide to him as to whether the increase was justified or not?
– The honorable member might add that he also instructed his officers to investigate the matter.
– I accept that correction, and add that, after this delightful trip, the Minister put his investigation officers on the job. I suppose that, when he refers to these officers, he has in mind those mysterious departmental experts about whom we have heard so much during the discussion on the tariff. But what constitutes a departmental expert we do not know.
– That is hard on the departmental officers.
– Order !
– It is all very well for the Minister to talk about these experts and their reports ; but the committee should be given more information.
– Why not say something about the item, in opposition to the duties?
– I ask the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lewis) riot to interject.
– It is not for me to make out a case against the duty. It is for the Government and the supporters of the duty to prove that the increase is accessary.
– That has been done.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I name the honorable member for Corio for disobeying the direction of the Chair by persistently interjecting.
Mr. Forde. - It is true that the honorable member for Corio was interjecting, but he was subjected to some provocation. I feel sure that he will apologize for his disobedience of the Chair.
– What is required of me? Did I defy the Chair?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member is well aware of what is required bf him. He has been persistently interjecting. It is necessary for him to apologize to the Chair, and to cease from interjecting.
– I apologize most humbly.
– It is not for nic to make a case against this duty; it is for those who have increased it to justify the “increase.
– Does the honorable member for Fawkner know whether the Tariff Board went to Geelong?
– I do not; nor do I know whether it reported on this item. It was most refreshing to hear the candid speech made by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) a few days ago on the item relating to cotton piece goods. He said frankly that he intended to vote for the item because there were 200 votes hanging to it. He was, at least, straight out. I venture to say that, in these days, increases in duty are not being dictated, or suggested, on the ground of economic necessity, but because of political pressure, which is often, the determining factor in these matters in this chamber.
– What about referring to the item ?
– The issue that we have to face is quite simple. It is : Have the honorable members who support this increased duty given substantial reasons why it should be allowed ? In my opinion they have not done so. I have listened attentively to the speeches. I think honorable members will admit that I always listen attentively, even if the speeches ara irrelevant. In fact, some of the irrelevant speeches are the most interesting and entertaining. Many irrelevant remarks have been made on this subject. During this discussion, and those which have preceded it on other items in the schedule, I have felt increasingly that the Government is not dealing fairly with honorable members : but from the general tenor of this debate, I believe that there is at last a prospect of the common sense of honorable members asserting itself. I hope that on this occasion, at least, they will say, “ We are not satisfied that a case has been made out by the Government for an increase in this duty, and we intend to vote against it “.
Motion (by Mr. Eldridge) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 6.13 to 8 p.m.
– I followed with interest the arguments adduced by those opposed to the duties in this sub-item, and listened to the views expressed by those who are supporting the Government’s proposals. Briefly stated, the position is that three years ago the Bruce-Page Government imposed duties on the commodities covered by this subitem, which it considered sufficient to afford adequate protection to the industry. Since those duties were imposed, manufacturers in Japan, who have an abundant supply of cheap labour, have installed the most up-to-date machinery, and, consequently, the conditions of manufacture in the two countries are not in any sense comparable. Under the duties imposed three years ago Australian manufacturers were able to compete successfully with those in other countries, but the position has now changed to such an extent that the Japanese manufacturers are sending material into this country which, in the circumstances I have mentioned, is entering into serious competition with Australian products. I have visited many of the factories in which these goods are made, and feel that those who have invested practically all their capital have as much right to be protected as have the men on the land.
– And no more.
– And no less.
– In what way has the primary producer been encouraged ?
– Surely the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) will admit that the protection afforded to the producers of potatoes, onions, rice, butter, wine, dried fruits, hops and sugar has been of great assistance to them.
– What protection it given to the wool-grower, who is- more important than any of the producers mentioned ?
– We are giving the wool-grower an improved local market. The encouragement of local manufacture stimulates competition. The woolgrowers do not send their representatives abroad to sell their wool overseas, as overseas manufacturers send their agents to Australia to purchase their requirements. In the absence of local competition the price realized for wool would not be so good as it has been.
– The local market does not make the slightest difference.
– A local market consisting of 6,500,000 persons is of great -advantage to the wool-producers. Those who support highly protective duties do not object to the wool-growers getting a fair price for their produce; but it cannot be denied that before secondary industries were established in Australia the price of wool was much lower than it has been since their establishment. When Australia commenced the manufacture of heavy tweeds, which was undertaken in the first place to provide military clothing, a wonderful stimulus was given to the manufacture of clothing in Australia. We are now producing tweeds of a finer quality.
– The difficulty is that those controlling secondary industries are allowed to fix their own conditions.
– Since the establishment of local industries, prices have decreased. The material in the suit of clothes I am wearing was manufactured in this country. I have a list showing the extent to which prices have been reduced since local manufacture commenced. The Minister, who submitted an unanswerable case, quoted the prices ruling before local manufacture was undertaken and those which have prevailed subsequently. He also gave the increase in the number of employees in the factories since, protective duties were imposed.
– Those figures can be successfully challenged.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).I ask honorable members to refrain from interjecting. If the direction of the Chair is disregarded I shall be compelled to take action.
– The Minister stated that the number of hands employed by George Bond and Company of Sydney has increased by 800.
– There is another side to that story.
– With a larger population, the burden of taxation per capita would, be reduced. If we produced only wheat, wool, and meat the population would not increase very rapidly. That can be seen by a reference to the statistics of those countries which engage principally in primary production.
– Why burden the prim ary producer unnecessarily?
– The United States of America would not have reached its present prosperous position industrially if it were not for the fact that she has been operating under a highly protective tariff. There are at least nine firms in Australia engaged in the production of light tweeds. The honorable member forFawkner (Mr. Maxwell) asked why the duty is to be increased from1s. to 2s.
– And the question has not yet been answered.
– I have already asked honorable members to refrain from interjecting. If the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. It. Green) persists in disregarding my direction I shall have to name him.
– The competition resulting from local manufacture has been the means of keeping down prices. Under the highly protective duties imposed upon boots, which are equivalent to an embargo, prices are lower to-day than they were twenty years ago.
– Why is this duty to be raised from1s. to 2s.?
– If the duty imposed by the Bruce-Page Government three years ago is found to be insufficient, the Government is justified in increasing it. Ready-made clothes are now manufactured in Australia at such a reasonable rate that importations have ceased.
– That is not so.
– It is.
– I have been abroad, and know that what the honorable member is saying is incorrect.
– Order !
– I congratulate the Government upon its action in insisting upon the imposition of protective duties. The members of the party to which I belong were returned to this Parliament to support a protective policy, and the Government is now only giving effect to the promises it made to the electors. I do not object to honorable members opposite advocating freetrade if that is the fiscal policy they enunciated on the hustings, but protectionists on this side of the chamber are justified in supporting the imposition of duties such as those now under consideration.
.- Notwithstanding what the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) has said, the woollen manufacturing industry should be the most prosperous industry in Australia, possessing as it does advantages which are not enjoyed by any other manufacturing country. Quite recently I saw a newspaper paragraph headed, “ Bradford the richest city in England - Rich through manufacturing Australia’s raw material.” Had Australia undertaken the manufacture of woollen goods in a proper manner, most of the manufacturing work now undertaken in Bradford could be done in this country. “We produce the raw material, but under the policy of the present Government, this country is prevented from exporting at a profit. The action of the Government in submitting this tariff schedule, and particularly the sub-item under consideration, is creating in Australia sloth and inefficiency in industry.
– That is a slander on our own people.
– This schedule is the greatest condemnation of the efficiency of the workers of this country that could possibly be produced. Honorable members opposite speak of such countries as Japan, Belgium and France, which spend millions of pounds in manufacturing what Australia needs, and yet all this Government can do is to impose customs duties which are highly offensive to such countries. It is because of schedules of this character that tariff reprisals have been taken against Australia by other countries. I ask the Minister and those who support him is it possible to bring one additional shilling into Australia by the operation of a tariff schedule such as this? Does this tariff make it possible to pay one shilling off our obligations. Is it not handicapping those industries which would enable money to be brought into the country?
– Order ! The honorable member must confine himself to the item.
– I am right on it, Mr. Chairman. The operation of duties such as these nullifies the efforts of industries which would otherwise create national credit and assist to pay our national debt.
These duties cannot provide more employment in Australia. It has been clearly shown that unemployment has. quadrupled since items such as these were brought down by this and previous governments. It is time that honorablemembers realized the position, and understood that it is this policy that has disrupted Australia and militated against its progress more than any other. Thi& is a policy of insanity.
.- As a good Australian, taking an Australian outlook, I intend to support these duties. The argument has been used that the duties under discussion will offend countries which are now our best customers. A similar argument was used in the United States of America years ago. That country was then sending cotton yarn to Europe to be manufactured into cloth. Some one had a brain-wave, and declared that the manufacturing process should take place in the United States of America. That was done, and to-day there are approximately 500,000 people in the United States of America employed in manufacturing cotton goods.
Australia possesses approximately onesixth of the total number of sheep in the world. It produces 26 per cent, of the world’s output of wool, and 50 per cent, of its fine quality wool. Ninety per cent, of the wool grown in Australia is exported, and such is the overseas competition for our wool that that 90 per cent, is sold locally before being exported.
The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Hunter) claimed that the imposition of these duties would limit the range of patterns and the quality of the cloth that could be manufactured in Australia. I have seen the patterns that have been exhibited by the Minister, and I am confident that they would excite the envy and admiration of the ladies of Australia; that they possess sufficient variety of colour and design to satisfy the most exacting. I have always maintained that we should manufacture any article that can be made in Australia. That attractive fabrics can be manufactured here is proved by the samples which have been submitted to the committee. I can remember the time when most of our wool was sent abroad, even for the making of blankets and rug3. The same argument then prevailed, that we could not manufacture blankets and rugs in competition with other countries. The raw material was sent abroad, processed there, and the finished article returned to Australia, to be sold at as high a price as the retailer cared to ask. We are now making our own blankets and rugs, and they oompar-3 favorably with similar articles made in any other part of the world.
– Does not the honorable member consider that our mills should pay proper wages ?
– When one of the honor.abe member’s colleagues was speaking, I asked him did not wage-slashing take place in other countries of the world, and the question was not answered. The honorable member stated that he and his group would vote against this item because of the wage cuts that have taken place in this industry in Australia.
– Order! The honorable member must address his remarks to the Chair.
– The wages paid in this industry in Australia compare favorably with similar wages obtaining in any other country, and the goods that we manufacture are equal to, if not better in quality than, the imported article. I am consistent. I believe that if we can produce a thing in Australia we should do so rather than send the raw material overseas to be processed.
– At any cost ?
– I am prepared to have the cost a little higher. In a previous speech I stated that Australia sent £14,000,000 overseas in one year for the purchase of motor cars and parts. Had those articles been manufactured in this country it would have been most beneficial to us. Even had the prices been rather -high that would probably have’ been a blessing in disguise to Australians, as many have bought cars who could not afford to do so, simply because they appeared to be cheap.
– Order! There is nothing in this item that concerns motor cars.
– I was merely replying to an interjection made by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) as to cost. There are some Australians who are not satisfied with a locally manufactured hat. They are so fastidious in taste that they must wear a “ Borsalino “ or a “ Stetson “.
– Order ! The honorable member must connect his remarks with the item before the committee.
– I shall do so. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Gibbons) quoted from the official Y ear-Booh of the Commonwealth. I shall also do so, to combat the statement that the value of the woollen goods manufactured in Australia has not increased in recent years, and that the number of those employed in the industry has not similarly increased. The following table shows the amount of greasy wool used in local woollen, tweed, and top mills : -
– A fallingoff.
– And for the year 1928-29 the total quantity was 47,148,649 lb.
– Yes, when an embargo existed. What else could be expected ?
– Those statistics prove that the amount of greasy wool locally used increased very considerably during those five years.
– If they prove anything, it is that the industry does not require additional assistance.
– Another point raised by the honorable member for Calare was that we cannot obtain as big a price locally for our wool as we can abroad. The more wool we use locally, the less there will be to go abroad and the greater will be the competition and the price paid for the amount available. If Australia never bought one pennyworth from abroad the competition for our product would continue simply because it is so much superior to that grown in other countries. People do not come here for our wool because they love us, but because they want our wool and cannot get the same quality elsewhere. The following paragraph is from the same Year-Booh, and makes a comparison of our wool with that produced in other countries: -
As regards the size of its flocks, and the quantity and quality of wool produced, Australia has long occupied the leading position amongst the sheep-raising countries of the world. The following comparison, taken mainly from the year-Book of the International Institute of Agriculture gives the latest figures relative to the number of sheep in the principal wool-producing countries. The leading position, so long held by Australia, is now occupied by the United Socialist Soviet Republics. This interchange of positions is due to the fact that figures regarding the number of sheep have been revised, and now include those depastured in Europe and Asia. Efforts are being made by the Soviet Government to improve the quality of the wool and the quantity shorn per fleece, and to this end Merino sheep were imported from America and Germany in 1027. In 1928-29 2,031 sheep, valued at £0,017, were exported from Australia to Russia for breeding purposes.
This Government, in its wisdom, prevented that practice by imposing an embargo on the exportation of stud sheep. That is something for which it can take credit.
– It cannot do so. That project was in. my name on the noticepaper long before this Government ever thought about it.
– Order! For the last time I warn the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) that he must cease interjecting.
– The honorable member is incorrect in his statement. That project was in my name on the noticepaper long before this Government ever thought of it.
– Order! I name the honorable member for Richmond for disobeying the order of the Chair.
– I feel sure that the honorable member for Richmond is prepared to withdraw his statement.
– I do not know what I am required, to withdraw.
– The honorable member is required not merely to withdraw his statement, but to apologize to the Chair for continually disobeying the request that he should cease interjecting.
– If I have unconsciously disobeyed you, sir, I am quite willing to withdraw my interjection I shall be pleased to learn on what grounds I am required to apologize.
– The Chair has repeatedly requested honorable members, and the honorable member for Richmond in particular, to cease interjecting. Immediately after that was last done, the honorable member for Richmond again interjected. For that the Chair requires an apology.
Mr. McNeill. - I appeal to the honorable member for Richmond to tender an apology to the Chair. Probably the honorable member did not hear the call to order, as there was a good deal of conversation going on at the time. I am sure that had he heard the call to order he would have ceased interjecting.
– I have already apologized to the Chair. If I have transgressed, I have done so unconsciously, for I have no wish at any time to flout the authority of the Chair.
– The embargo on the export of sheep-
– There is nothing in this item about an embargo on the export of sheep. I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the item before the committee.
– This item deals with wool. I believe in manufacturing in this country as much of our wool as possible. For that reason I object to sheep with wool on their backs being exported. At a -time when we have large commitments to meet overseas, it behoves us to do all in our power to increase our exports and reduce our imports. Why should we send our wool to other countries to be manufactured there, when we can manufacture it here? I admit that by manufacturing more of our wool here we should have less to export; but, as that would mean that the supply available to foreign buyers would be less, the demand would be greater, and consequently we should receive a better price for the wool we sold. I fail to see that any wool-grower can reasonably object to any action which will ensure a higher price being obtained for hia wool. I appeal to honorable members to view this matter from an Australian stand-point, and to stand by this Australian industry.
It has been said that the woolmanufacturing industry has made no progress in this country. I remind honorable members that woollen mills have been established at Wodonga as an extension of the mills at Albury, and that the woollen mills at Wangaratta have recently had to enlarge their premises. Would they have done so if the business had not increased? It may be that unemployment has increased throughout the country generally, but there has been no increase of unemployment in the industry which manufactures the articles referred to in this item. Indeed, the number of employees in that industry has increased recently.
– Rubbish !
– It is inconceivable that these mills would have extended their premises if their business had not increased. Since the present Government came into power, and gave protection to this industry, the business done by the firms manufacturing the goods covered, by this item has shown such an improvement that the manufacturers have been forced to enlarge their premises. We shall assist them still further by supporting this item.
.- The discussion on this item has been so general in its nature, that I have been reminded of the debate on the first item in the tariff schedule. As during the discussion on the first item., honorable members discussed, not so much that item as the schedule generally, so in the discusison of this item there has been some confusion on the part, of honorable members who have spoken. Without in any way reflecting on the Chair, I suggest that some of the discussion, on this item has been irrelevant. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Jones), for instance, had a good deal to say about cotton, and what had been done in the United States of America in connexion with the cotton industry. The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley), while allegedly discussing item 105 f, indulged in a lot of generalities. In so doing he followed the example set by the Minister. During the Minister’s speech I interjected that he was making a second-reading speech instead of discussing the item before the Chair.
– Will the honorable gentleman himself confine his remarks to the item before the Chair?
– I was referring to the remarks of honorable gentlemen who have already spoken.
– Even if other honorable members have been permitted to depart from the subject before the Chair, that is no excuse for the honorable member doing the same. Until the honorable member mentioned it, I was unaware that cotton was not included in the item now before the committee.
– Surely I am in order, Mr. Chairman, in referring to the remarks of the Minister, particularly his statement that if this item is agreed to, work will be found for a large number of workers. The Minister contended thai our primary industries are dependent on our secondary industries. I submit thai the position is just the reverse of that. By bolstering up secondary industries at the expense of our primary industries the Minister would do a great dis-service to Australia.
I listened with a great deal of interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron), because I realize that he knows a great deal about the wool industry. He and other honorable gentlemen who are keenly interested in the industry have taken the trouble to make some inquiries regarding this item. They have told us that the wool industry, which is .the principal industry of Australia, because on it our prosperity to a great extent depends, will be seriously handicapped if this item is agreed to. Several honorable members have stated to the committee cogent reasons for reducing these duties. We cannot afford to fool about with Australia’s biggest industry and ignore the opinions of those who have first-hand knowledge of it. The Minister, instead of stating valid reasons for the imposition of these duties, merely uttered a string, of platitudes, which might have been more or less appropriate to the general debate on the tariff schedule, but were absolutely no justification for the item. The tariff is supposed to be a non-party matter, and I appeal to the committee, on behalf of a great primary industry which Australia cannot afford to injure, and which is of much more value than an exotic enterprise which will never utilize more than a small proportion of Australia’s production of wool.
– As the representative of a constituency that produces the highest class wool in the world, I am surprised at the opposition to this item. The wool industry produces a large amount of wealth annually, but provides comparatively little employment. On most of the grazing areas the improvements have been already effected; the result is that the shearing cheque is the industry’s most valuable contribution to the general community. The pastoralists of to-day make as many thousands of pounds out of a given area of land as they made hundreds in the last generation.
– To-day ?
– Yes. “We must take into account, not only the price of wool, but the average yield from each sheep. When wool was worth only 8d. or 9d. per lb., four sheep would not produce more wool than does one to-day. In those days the graziers were not so affluent as to be able to ignore the local business man. Now they are so wealthy that they do all this business with the cities, and so accentuate the evil of decentralization. Because of this and the limited employment which it gives, the industry is not so beneficial to country districts as it was in years gone by. Therefore, we should encourage manufacturing, which will give employment to our people. We should not encourage the export of wool. The French, Japanese and other nations need our fine wools so badly that they cannot afford to be without them. A prohibition of the exportation of wool would be disastrous to them. If they pay 3s. per lb. for wool they produce from it a finished article worth Ss. or 9s. The circulation of the wages paid to shearers is the most beneficial part of the industry, and the recent reduction, of shearing rates was a great disservice to the community.
– On a point of order, I suggest that the honorable member’s remarks are not relevant to the item before the committee.
– I was about to ask the honorable member to connect his remarks more closely with item 105 f.
– Wages are so small an item in the costs of wool-growing that if shearing were done for nothing the price of a suit of clothes would not be reduced by 3d. [Quorum formed.’] It is obviously desirable to encourage the manufacturing industries, having regard to the fact that at least one-third of their total earnings are disbursed in wages as against less than 10 per cent, in woolgrowing. I cannot understand why any professed representative of labour should oppose this item or worry about the wages paid by the manufacturers. The Labour party stands for arbitration. Workers in all industries are entitled to the highest wages that those industries can pay. The higher the wages the better for the nation. But the policy of our party is that labour conditions shall be prescribed by a properly-constituted tribunal after thorough investigation. It is not the function of this Parliament to attempt to regulate wages. I shall be surprised if any members on this side of the House vote with the free traders against the adequate protection of the wool manufacturing industry. In the present circumstances of Australia, the creation of additional employment is of prime importance. Good wages should be paid, but it is not our responsibility to fix them. It is essential to establish industries and, once they are established, to see that the labour conditions of those employed in those industries are of a high standard. For honorable members to vote in directions that may have a tendency to shut down industries does not appear to me to be consistent with the principles for which Labour stands. Every student of political economy knows that a tariff wall is a means of protecting the workers of a country, and. that the wall must be sufficiently high to prevent the importation of goods manufactured in other parts of the world where insignificant wages are paid. Otherwise we cannot maintain a decent standard for the workers in our Australian industries. I am, therefore, at a loss to understand the inscrutable attitude of honorable members who pose as the concentrated essence of genuine labour representation, and assume to be 100 per cent, representative of the workers.
– The standard of the unemployed is pretty low.
– The importance of providing employment for our people transcends that of all other questions. We should give our votes on all possible occasions to afford more employment to our own people, and again, I am at a loss to understand why any so-called Labour members do not support the Government’s proposals. In my opinion, the Government is to be commended for what it is doing to relieve unemployment by means of this tariff. Certainly, on the face of it, the tariff does not appear to have relieved unemployment- very much, but if there were no tariff, would not the present position be many times worse? It is my intention to vote for the Government on this sub-item.
.- No honorable member speaking upon this sub-item has produced sufficient evidence to show that 3 oz. woollen fabrics have been made economically in Australia. Speaking previously on this sub-item I said that I had wired to one of the largest woollen mills in Geelong asking if it had been making materials down to 3 oz., and that I had been informed that it was making cloths from 3£ oz. and upwards, and that six other mills were in the same position.
– The honorable member was referring to comparatively small mills. I have made inquiries and found that larger mills are making cloths down to 3 oz. in weight.
– I have a joint letter, forwarded to the press by Messrs. Buckley and Nunn Limited, the Myer Emporium Limited, Craig Williamson’s Proprietary Limited, Ball and Welch Limited, and Hicks, Atkinson and Son Proprietary Limited, to the former Minis tei* for Trade and Customs (Mr. Fenton) relative to the new duties proposed on light-weight material. The letter says, inter alia -
The range between 3 oz. and 6 oz. weight includes numerous fabrics that are extremely popular and largely used by Australian clothing manufacturers. Australian manufacturers of materials are producing very few lines that will take the place of the imported fabrics in this range, and in the few instances in which they are producing such goods, the former rate of duty of 45 per cent, provided adequate protection.
Of these firms, Myers, in addition to being an immense buyer of overseas textiles, is one of the largest manufacturers of woollen goods in Australia. I supported the increased rate of duty, because, unlike the cotton industry, the woollen industry is properly established and is giving employment to a great number of Australian workers; but during the debate I have heard no reference to the very light-weight fabrics. The Minister tells us that he knows .that light-weight fabrics down to 3 oz. are being made in Australia, but are we to pass judgment on this when by so doing we may be not only retarding the industry, but, at the same time, hurting some of the big importing firms, who, in addition to affording much needed employment, are providing the Government with a great deal of customs revenue? If the Minister is not prepared to amend the sub-item by making the rates apply to goods 4 oz. in weight, I intend to move to amend the sub-item by substituting “4 oz.” for “ 3 oz.” I think it was the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Jones) who said that this sub-item was intended as an embargo.
– I did not mention the word “ embargo.”
– Probably it was the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) who did so. I do not stand for embargoes, and I could not support the sub-item on those grounds. Unless the Minister indicates that he will agree to my proposal, I shall vote on the amendment before the committee as I have already indicated, but will subsequently move the amendment I have foreshadowed.
.- I had no intention of speaking again in this debate - as a rule I do not speak a great deal in the chamber - but I cannot, allow to pass without comment the contention that has been raised on both sides, that any one who is disposed to vote for the amendment moved by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) is lacking in what is understood to be a good Australian spirit or has not a good Australian outlook. Furthermore, I entirely dissent from the view that we are to regard this impost as one which at the present time gives considerable employment, and therefore justifies the increases which the schedule specifies. I say this because I regard the whole item as one of the key items in the customs schedule, raising the whole question of Australia’s fiscal policy. As a general principle I support the conception that Australia should endeavour to become a self-contained country, and I feel that if this Parliament which is responsible to the people imposes duties, more or less considerable, upon every article that comes into Australia, and penalizes excessively the trade of other countries with us, we inevitably diminish our export trade. We cannot have an export trade, if we refuse to purchase goods manufactured in other countries of raw materials bought from us. This declaration does not render me open to the accusation of being neglectful of Australia’s secondary industries. What we have to do at this stage of our development, as I have previously said, is to give the industries that are of paramount national importance the best aid we -can.. On that ground, I justified a vote in support of the sugar agreement much against my own desire. But the sugar industry is well established,, and of very great importance.
– The honorable member slipped on biscuits.
-I may have done so, but it was a very small slip. I do not like to retaliate, but the honorable member invites it. His slips have been so numerous that I wonder whether he has now found a permanent lodging place.
– What are they?
– From one party to another, from one side to- another, and from one leader to another. He has had changes of leaders and changes of parties under various aliases.
– That statement is not worthy of the honorable member.
– It would never have been made but for the honorable member’s provocative interjection, and I am sorry if I have offended the honorable member’s susceptibilities.
It is true that Australia is producing 26 per cent., of the world’s supply of wool, but- that does not carry with it the implication of the honorable member for
Indi (Mr. Jones) that we may disregard the question of whether or not we can find a market for it.
– I contended that it meant that we could be sure of our market.
– The honorable member urged that because we produced a little more than a quarter of the world’s supply, we could cease to be consumers of the products of wool. That seems to me to be a perversion of an economic truth. If we do produce a quarter of the world’s total supply of wool, we have most certainly to consider whether it is more important to our national economy as a whole to secure a market for that tremendous output than to pay regard to the employment of 12,000 men in factories which for the most part are located in. two States.
– Ninety per cent, of our wool is sold locally before it is exported.
– Yes, it is sold locally to the agents of overseas buyers, whose recognition of our importance as a supplier of wool has made it imperative for them no longer to trust any one but their own accredited agents to do their buying for them.
– They have’ always done that.
– They havenot. As a matter of fact, for years Australian wool was sold overseas;, and it is only during the last decade- that the wool sales’ in this country have become of any great impoartamce.
– Competition is keen-.
– Competition is keen for a number of reasons, although it is true that within the last ten years Australian: manufacturers have setup a local demand for wool. That aspect has been well dealt with by the honorablemember for Calare (Mr. Gibbons), and it is unnecessary for me to refer further to it. It has been said that employment has increased as the result of the tariff changes. I should be disposed to accept without analysis that contention were it not made in support of every item in the schedule.. I am told,, whether it happens to be item 1, item 2, or item 150, that the increased duties have led to a considerable increase of employment in Australia, and I ask- myself if that be the case, why is it that the army of unem- ployed in Australia has doubled during the period that these duties have been in operation? Of course, we also have to take into consideration the financial crisis and the general depression. Other countries are suffering equally with ourselves from the catastrophic fall in world prices and from the world depression, but the upward trend of unemployment in those countries has not been so rapid as in Australia. Before the imposition of these extraordinary increases in duty, the woollen industry was growing at a rate proportionate to the growth of population in Australia. If it could be shown that prior to the introduction of this new schedule this industry had not grown at all, and that since the operation of these increased duties it has grown rapidly, then the case for the increased duties would be well founded; but, on the contrary, we know that, long before these duties were imposed, there existed in Australia large and important woollen manufacturing establishments providing considerable employment, and that at least an orderly progressive evolution marked the history of this industry.
– The Australian manufacturers are working overtime.
– That is due to the fact, that the particular kind of fabrics which are being protected has not previously been manufactured in Australia, and the manufacturers are now busily providing stocks without any certainty that there will be a demand for them. Every additional duty places . a burden upon the country, and the question is at what point should that burden be arrested. I do not believe that freetrade is a practical doctrine, even in connexion with this particular item. Surely in connexion with the examination, of each of these items we should be supplied with a statement showing the number of employees in the industry and the extent of imports before and after the imposition of the duty. That data is not now available and honorable members are expected to take a plunge into the dark relyingon the assumption that what is called adequate protection is good for the
Country. As a member of the Labour party, I support as a general principle the policy of protecting industry, the worker, and the employer, hut I do not accept the doctrine that we can regenerate . Australia economically by imposing taxes upon consumption. We have to recognize that the world is interdependent. If we become an isolated segment of the whole, having no relationship with any other Countries, we shall be forced into an enormous expenditure on our national defence.
– Yet the honorable member said that Australia should he self-contained.
– I said that it should ultimately be self-contained.
Mr. GREGORY (Swan) (9.21] . - The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Jones) seemed to be averse to people coming to Australia from other countries in order to purchaseour wool, and he considered that our duty should be to encourage the manufacturer of woollen goods in Australia. I shall deal with that phase later. Let me say first that the wool industry is our greatest primary industry, and we derive most of our revenue from its export trade. The price of Australian wool has, of course, fallen considerably, and that has been due to some extent to the desire of certain manufacturers overseas to purchase their raw materials in any country but Australia. That is borne out by an article which appeared in the Natal Mercury of South Africa, under the heading of “Economic Bedlam in Australia; manufacturers indictment of new tariff.” The writer says that there is a growing feeling of resentment against Australia in British manufacturing circles, and he discloses the fact that in retaliation his own firm has managed, with changed methods and machinery, to displace annually some £30,000 worth of Australian wool with Cape wools. He says further -
I have striven zealously . to find substitutes for anything Australian,; this may not be economic, but it certainly is human. My only excuse for bringing the attention of South Africans to these matters and my opinions thereon lies in the hope that they will eschew this kind of exercising national egoism, leading, as it inevitably does, to unreason and bad blood all round.
That article shows that under our protection policy we are doing a grave injury to a great basic industry of Australia, and the continuance of this policy will result in a still further loss of trade.
When Mr. Robb, of Canada, made his budget speech in 1929, he pointed out the economies that had been made in government expenditure, and he boasted that last year Canada exported secondary products of a value greater than that of the total exports in 1914. That country has increased its production despite the fact that wages there are higher than they are in Australia. I have told honorable members of what has taken place in New Zealand, and I have also pointed out certain lines in the tariff schedule which we should be able to manufacture not only for our own requirements, but also for export if we had the courage to repeal the laws which create antagonism between employer and employee. The economists who compiled the book, The Australian Tariff, in arriving at the estimates of cost of protected manufactures, showed that the salaries and wages paid in respect of the manufacture of blankets and flannel, amounted to £399,000, whereas the value of the duties imposed amounted to £468,000, or £70,000 in excess of the wages and salaries paid in the industry. Now, on top of that, we are nearly doubling the duties. No one can say that this policy is economic or justified. No evidence has been forthcoming to ..show these duties are necessary to enable the manufacturers to compete with other countries. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has moved an amendment that is utterly futile. He is anxious to obtain some small concession, such as substituting in- the item, 4 oz. in place of 3 oz., but otherwise he supports the increased duties proposed by the Government. In our tariff policy we have reached a point almost beyond madness, and I welcome the speech of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), who has pointed out the injury that we are likely to do under this tariff to this great basic industry which gave to Australia the wonderful prosperity of the past. In imposing these heavy duties we are doing our best to damn Australia.
– I find it difficult to understand the point of view of those honorable gentlemen who oppose this tariff, which is undoubtedly designed to protect and build up in this country a great primary indus try, in which millions of pounds have been invested.
– The honorable member evidently has no knowledge of the opinion of the wool-grower in respect of these duties.
– I believe that the wool-grower has sufficient intelligence to know that his best market is the local market.
– The local market represents 10 per cent, of the wool clip as against 90 per cent, overseas.
– The percentage of fine wools is much higher than 10 per cent. The honorable member for Fremantle has said that we produce 26 per cent, of the world’s supply of wool, but we produce nearer 50 per cent, pf the world’s supply of fine wools. If any honorable member thinks that wool-buyers come here from overseas for the good of Australia alone he is making a great mistake.
– The honorable member heard what the honorable member for Swan said.
– I have heard the honorable member for Swan make so many illogical speeches that it is difficult for me to follow his reasoning. I would point out to him, however, that were it not for the competition of the Australian buyer the price of wool in Australia would be much lower than it is to-day. The honorable member for Swan has said that no evidence has been produced in support of the increased duties, but he would be the first to object to the introduction of any legislation designed to give the Government power to examine the books of manufacturers and companies in order to ascertain the extent of their profits. He refuses to give the Government the power to compel the manufacturer to place all his cards on the table, so it is entirely illogical for him to complain that we cannot produce evidence in support of the tariff on these commodities produced in Australia. He himself is to blame and he is one of the strongest antagonists to legislation that would give the Government authority to inquire into the capitalization, profits, reserves and all the ramifications of the manufacturing industry. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) referred to the uneconomic aspect of these duties. I would point out to him that it is no more uneconomic a proposal than the bounty on gold production? As that will benefit his State he supports it; but he does not intend to support these protective duties, because, so he says, they will result in trade conflicts with other countries. By its high tariff policy the United States of America, more than any other country, has upset the trade equilibrium of the world. Every country which sets out to protect its own industries causes a certain amount of dislocation in trade relationships. Every other country is building up its industries by tariffs, and encouraging its manufacturers. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 9th May there appeared a report dealing with the conclusions of the British Trade Commission, which urged manufacturers and traders to co-operate, and to be more aggressive in order to improve their position in the world’s markets. I have a very intimate knowledge of the operations of wool-buyers in this country. Nearly everybody knows that the woolgrowers of Australia are robbed of millions of pounds every year through lotsplitting at our wool sales. If any honorable member doubts my word I am prepared to take him to our wool sales and explain to him the procedure adopted by these gentlemen in order to rob our woolgrowers. International trade and commerce is absolutely soulless and bowelless.. Wool-buyers from overseas come to Australia, not because they have any kindly feelings for our wool-growers or for Australia, but because they can get in Australia what is not obtainable elsewhere. As the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Jones) has so rightly said, they come to Australia because we have the goods which they want. Unfortunately, because of the short-sighted policy of the Bruce-Page Government and other previous administrations, South African buyers for many years were permitted to obtain some of the best fine wool stud rams and flock ewes in Australia - strains that have taken nearly 100 years to build up - with the result that South Africa has built up a respectable trade in fine wools to the detriment of our fine wools and .now is an active competitor of the Commonwealth in the world’s markets. This Go-
vernment cannot be blamed for that. One of its first acts was to place an embargo upon the exportation of flock rams and ewes. The only trouble is that we have been too late. In other ways also; it has done all that was possible to encourage the building up of the industry. I say, emphatically, that the manufacture of these fine wools into light-weight piece goods will be of immense advantage to the people of this country. Prior to the imposition of these duties every loyal Australian who wished to obtain a suit of Australian cloth was obliged to purchase heavy tweed or serge material. In a climate like ours the demand, especially during certain months of the year, is for a lighter-weight material, which can be made only from the fine wools, for the production of which Australia is justly famed. Suits made from these fine wools cost, in America, anything up to 25 guineas. These are now the only wools we export to America. We should have no fear of retaliation from the United States of America because that country does an enormous trade with Australia in motor cars and machinery of all descriptions. The Government of the United States of America, to protect American synthetic wool industries, did not hesitate, some time ago, to impose a prohibitive tariff on the importation of natural wool from Australia. If we do not give adequate protection to this Australian industry, it is practically certain that, before long, there will be little work available for employees in it. I disagree entirely with those honorable members on this side who contend that it is the function of this Parliament to regulate wages in industry through the instrumentality of the tariff. That properly is the business of the Arbitration Court, and it is the duty of trade union officials to fight the battles of employees with their employers through this recognized channel. In my experience in the industrial movement we have never expected the politicians to “ horn in “ on any industrial trouble. This Government, and the party which supports it, stands for arbitration and, as I have already said, it is the duty of trade union officials, when any dispute arises in industry, to see that it is brought before the duly constituted tribunal. The
Government’s duty is to so frame its fiscal policy as to encourage the development of industry. We should not be unduly alarmed at threats of reprisal. It is the first duty of a government that has the welfare of the people of this country at heart, to provide for the adequate protection of the manufacturing side of the wool industry, so as to ensure for our wool-growers a profitable home market and for the workers remunerative employment in the industry. Our home market comprises 6,000,000 of people. Surely it is illogical to grow wool in Australia, send it 13,000 miles overseas to be manufactured into woollen piece goods, and bring it back to Australia to be sold to a person who, perhaps, lives on the spot where it was grown. This policy is as illogical as was the action of previous governments in permitting huge imports of luxuries thereby creating adverse trade balances, and then raising huge loans overseas to pay for them. The interest bill piled up as a result of this policy is to-day impoverishing the people of this country. Those Governments “ sowed the wind “, and to-day we are “ reaping the whirlwind”. This Parliament should give adequate protection to this industry, so as to provide employment for our workers and encouragement to those who have invested their capital in this country.
.- My amendment is confined mainly to the very light-weight woollen materials. I believe in the fullest protection being given to our natural secondary industries, but I am convinced that these prohibitive duties will have the effect of seriously interfering with the sale overseas- of Australian wool and will in .no way assist the textile industry in Australia. During the debate many charges have been made against honorable members on this side. There has also been severe criticism of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin), and the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Gibbons) for the independent stand which they are taking with regard to this item. Following upon the Minister’s statement last night that light-weight piece woollen goods complying with this tariff item were being manufactured ill Australia, I caused inquiries to be made, and to-day I was informed that Australian mills are working to the fullest extent of their productive capacity upon a few fabrics which weigh more than 6 oz. per square yard. I was advised, further, that if these duties were reduced to the 1928 level, Australian mills would be adequately protected because exchange and other charges would make the landed cost of British and overseas fabrics above the competitive level. If both the duty and the weight - namely, 3 oz. to 6 oz. - were altered to the 1928 level, Australian mills would not suffer. I also received a telegram from Queensland, stating that the Brisbane Traders Association strenuously opposes these increased duties on lightweight woollen goods which, it states, are not being made in Australia. If these duties are allowed to stand, it fears reprisals from overseas wool-buyers. We have not had any report from the Tariff Board dealing with these duties, and the evidence that has been presented to the committee during this debate is hopelessly conflicting. We have had no clear statement from those who support the Government that these light-weight piece woollen goods are being made in Australia. If they are being manufactured in this country, production is on a very limited scale, and the range of fabrics is very restricted. In no circumstances are the manufacturers in a position to supply Australia’s requirements. If these lightweight woollen goods were procurable in Queensland, the keen buyers of that State certainly would have been apprised of the fact. This class of material is very badly wanted in the northern State, particularly during the summer season. If these prohibitive duties are allowed to stand it will be practically impossible to obtain these lighter-weight fabrics at a reasonable price, because, as I explained yesterday, the duty per square yard is 6s. 9d. on material in which there is only ls. 3d. worth of Australian fine wool. Surely no honorable member is prepared to support prohibitive duties of this nature. I believe in adequate protection being given to Australian industries, particularly the woollen industry. There are two mills within half a mile of my home in Queensland, the only woollen mills in that State, and I know that they are not manufacturing this class of material.
I much regret that the Minister has not, so far, fully informed honorable members of all the facts relating .to these duties on light-weight goods. I am sorry that no Tariff Board report has been presented in connexion with this item. If an. industry, particularly if the woollen industry, needs protection, it can look to me to assist it to obtain all the protection it requires, but I do not stand for prohibition. I am a protectionist, not a prohibitionist, and for that reason I cannot support this extraordinarily dangerous proposal by the Minister.
.- The duty provided by this item is admitted by the Minister, and by other honorable members opposite to be prohibitive, bu’t we have been told by the Minister that this prohibitive duty has not had the effect of increasing prices. In fact, the Minister assured us that the duty, because it has allowed the Australian manufacturers to supply the local market, has resulted in the reduction of prices. He has failed, however, to place before the committee any direct evidence bearing upon prices. He has made a general statement, but has not stated a single specific instance of prices having been reduced.
– I proceeded to give instances when the honorable member for Henty himself rose to a point of order, and objected to what I was saying.
– I have here a specific instance of a heavy increase in the price of a certain fabric of local manufacture since this new duty came into operation. It has to do with a type of woollen tweed of which I produce a sample. I commend this case to the consideration of honorable members opposite, who believe that in voting for this increased duty they are not doing anything which will lead to increased prices. I have here a letter from a reputable firm of merchants dealing with this case. The following is an extract :-
The enclosed sample of tweed represents a line I bought on behalf of this company in January last - 100 pieces at 2s. When we wanted to repeat another 40 pieces in March, the price was increased to 2s. 0¾d., and as we wanted the goods we paid the difference. Then as the season advanced, and there was a prospect of our wanting some more of the goods for June delivery, we again applied to the makers of this cloth, and were then quoted 2s. 6d. - a 25 per cent, advance, which, as you will at once see, is out of all reason. Of course, no further business resulted. This cloth is of the very simplest weave, and can be made on either a blanket or a flannel loom, and does not call for any special machinery or textile knowledge to manufacture.
– I rise to a point of order. Does the honorable member for Henty intend to state the name of the author of the letter? Last night the honorable member took a point of order while I was in the chair that an honorable member was not entitled to read a letter without naming the author of it.
– A private member can do that.
– When the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. McGrath), who is a private member, proposed to quote from a letter without disclosing the name of the writer, a point of order was taken against him on that account.
– With all respect to the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates), I think you will find, Mr. Chairman, that his contention in this matter is at fault. According to the Standing Orders, and the established practice of the House, a Minister who quotes from a letter must, if requested, name the author of that letter, but the same rule does not apply to a private member.
– On the point of order raised by the honorable member for Adelaide, I rule that it is not necessary for a private member to disclose the name of the author of any letter from which he may quote.
– I should have no objection to disclosing the name of the writer of this letter, except that it is a business communication from a merchant firm, making a complaint against a manufacturing firm. In the circumstances, I am sure that honorable members will not desire that the name be disclosed. This letter gives a clear case of exploitation as a result of the increased duties.
Motion (by Mr. Brennan) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Francis’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Mr. White) proposed -
That the item be further amended by adding to sub-item (F) (1) the following: - “And on and after the 29th May, 1931 -
, - I am not prepared to accept the honorable member’s amendment. The Australian mills are now making fabrics below 3 oz. in weight to the square yard. That information was received to-night. Three oz. is the weight specified in the tariff, and it has been decided to stand by that.
.- As I propose to ask for the postponement of sub-items 4 and 5, I suggest that we now dispose of sub-items f 1, 2 and 3.
Question - That sub-item (f) (1) (2) and (3) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move -
That sub-item (f) (4) and (5) be postponed.
I am having further investigations made in regard to felts, which will probably take a couple of days.
– I object to the deferment of any subitem except in accordance with the objections we have made throughout the consideration of the duties upon textiles. The wages and working conditions of those engaged in the industry should be the concern of every honorable member on this side of the chamber, and, unless the Minister will give me an. assurance that the postponement is for the purposes we have stated, I and my colleagues will vote against it.
.- What does the Minister want to know about felts that he does not already know? The Tariff Board is supposed to be an impartial tribunal, whose duty is to hold the scales of justice evenly between the industry and the general public. If the Minister requires further information, why does he not refer the matter to the Tariff Board?
– Earlier in the discussion, I was taken to task for not having more fully investigated some of the items, and I cannot understand the objection now to a postponement which will enable further inquiries to be made. The Tariff Board has submitted a report on the goods covered by sub-items i? 4 and f 5, and certain aspects of the report have been questioned. I never ignore any representations or protests in regard to proposed duties, and I have asked a competent officer to investigate the matters that are in dispute. When I receive his report I shall ask the committee to proceed with these sub-items.
.- Is the Minister prepared to tell the committee whether the postponement is in the interests of the workers, or of the employers exclusively? My colleagues and I received definite representations from the organized workers in this industry in Hew South Wales, from the executive of the Australian Labour Party in that State, and from the Sydney Trades and Labour Council. Those representations leave us no option but to press the objection we have previously taken. I cannot understand why the Government should be taking a course which is designed apparently not to protect the workers in the industry, but to subsidize employers who have definitely .declared their intention to endeavour to slash wages. If the object of the postponement is not in the interests of the workers-
– I assure the honorable member that it is.
.- As one of those who criticized the Minister for not sufficiently investigating some of the items in the schedule, I regard his request for a postponement of these sub-items as reasonable. The Tariff Board has submitted a report, in which it says that it is not in possession of sufficient information to make recommendations regarding certain goods under sub-items f 4 and f 5. That is a sufficient reason for the postponement of the sub-items pending further investigation.
– The Minister desires to make further inquiries, because, apparently, certain representations have been made to him. He set his face strongly against the postponement of the consideration of the whole sub-item, for which the group to which I belonged asked, pending a conference between the employers and employees in the industry, but he now wishes to postpone the consideration of - two sub-items on the ground that his action would be in the interests of the employees in the industry concerned. The Tariff Board has submitted a report, and it is objected to by the Minister, either because the manufacturers concerned want a higher duty, or because the importers desire a lower duty. So far as I know, the interests of the workers have not been considered by the board. I desire the Minister to be more frank with the committee than he has been heretofore. In what way does he propose to inquire whether the application of these duties will help the workers?- Many months have elapsed since the tariff schedules were tabled, and, surely, the Minister has had sufficient time in which to make all necessary inquiries. I am not satisfied with his explanation, and I shall vote against postponement of the consideration of these sub-items until better reasons are advanced for such action.
– Will the Minister inform the committee of his real object in deferring consideration of these sub-items? Is it because certain manufacturers have made representations to him ? When the members of the group with which I am associated asked that consideration of the whole item be deferred, the Minister refused to concede to our request; but he is now prepared to postpone consideration of these sub-items. The only inference we can draw is that this action is not consequent upon representations made on behalf of the workers in the industry, otherwise the Minister would have conceded to the requests made by us in the earlier stages of this debate. One can only assume that further investigation has been asked for by either the manufacturing or the importing interests concerned. I think that it is fair for me to make the deduction that the action is contemplated in the interests of the employers who desire to increase the hours of employment from 44 to 48 per week, and to reduce the wages of the employees in the industry to as low a figure as possible.
.- I am pleased that the Minister has expressed his intention to ask for the postponement of consideration of these sub-items, because I consider that such action would be in the best interests of the men and women employed in the industry. I submitted certain representations to the Minister, prior to the inclusion of these duties in. the previous schedules, and also since the duties have been reduced.
– On behalf of the manufacturers, or the employees ?
– The employees. I opposed the motions previously submitted by the members of the Lang group, and, in doing so, I considered that I was acting in the best interests of those employed in the industry. In supporting the Minister on this occasion, I believe that I am protecting the interests of the persons employed in this branch of the textile industry. The men and women engaged in the manufacture of carpet and slipper felt are members of a section of the textile workers’ ‘organization. I invite the members of the Lang group to inform the committee whether they have received any representations from the secretary of the Textile Workers Association, or from the men engaged in the manufacture of felt, and whether they have any authority for holding up a proposal which is in the interests of those workers. There are two felt factories in my electorate, and I have greater authority to speak on behalf of those engaged in the industry than have certain persons who take themselves far too seriously. As a member of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party, I will not take second place to anybody in this matter, no matter to what group he may belong. I am here to protect the interests of the workers, and not to respond to the call of any irresponsible person in Sydney.
I am in touch with the men and women engaged in this industry, and I am anxious that the consideration of these sub-items should be deferred, so that further inquiries may be instituted by the Minister and his officers, in order that the committee may be in a better position than now to determine whether the present duties are too high, or whether they are inadequate. The inquiry of the Tariff Board in regard to felt was commenced about fifteen months ago, and I venture to suggest that the conditions in this industry have entirely changed since that time. Do the members of the Lang group suggest that we should adopt the recommendation of the Tariff Board ?
– No, we are voting against it.
– They intend to vote for the immediate consideration of this » sub-item., and they will, probably, vote against the present rates qf duty. Not long ago the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) was perturbed because the Tariff Board had made certain recommendations in connexion with an industry in his electorate. I am not concerned so much with the board’s recommendations as with the interests of men and women who are looking to this Government to protect them against the importation of the manufactures of cheaplabour countries. Members of the Lang group have nothing to complain about. They will have further opportunities of ascertaining the conditions in this particular branch of the textile industry. No industrial trouble has occurred between these workers and their employers. We have everything to gain by postponement of the consideration of this sub-item.
-When this matter was referred to the Tariff Board about nine months ago it reported, as the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) said, that -
With regard to these lines no evidence was tendered, although wide publicity was given to the proposal to hold a public inquiry. The board is, therefore, not in a position to make any recommendation or to express any opinion as to the proposed duties.
It has been submitted to me that as the Tariff Board recommended that the duties on certain lines of felt should be cut almost in half, and that as the application of those duties will put out of work many men and women engaged in the industry, it is desirable that further consideration of the sub-item should he postponed until a full investigation has been made.
– The duties have been in operation for eighteen months.
– The duties that have been in operation for eighteen months are twice as high as those now proposed, but which will not come into force until ratified by Parliament. I am faced with the choice of making further inquiries into this subject on behalf of the workers in the industry, or of allowing Parliament to deal with the matter at once, and thereby making it inevitable that many persons engaged in the industry will be put out of work. So far the committee has been anxious that the fullest investigation should be made into all these matters. I hope, therefore, that it will maintain that attitude and allow inquiries to be made into this subject.
The honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) has been most active on behalf of the workers in this and other industries in his electorate, and I have taken a good deal of notice of his representations. I am. sure that honorable members can safely allow the consideration of the subitem to be postponed.
.- The committee should accede to the Minister’s request. It is scarcely more than courtesy to the Minister in charge of a big schedule of this kind to allow an item to be postponed if he desires that course to be taken. But it is remarkable that the Minister should desire any further delay, seeing that these duties have been in force since June of last year. In this circumstance the Minister certainly should be prepared to proceed with the discussion. It is amazing also, that the honorable member for Cook ‘(Mr. C. Riley), who has confessed to making his representations on behalf of the employees in this industry, should also he unready to deal with the item. We have seen an extraordinary spectacle to-night. Honorable members of various groups or parties have been squabbling oyer the question of who actually represents the workers in the textile industry. The honorable member for Cook assures us that he is the only one who has authority to represent their views, while honorable members who are connected with the Lang group make the same assertion.
– And the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) protests that he represents them.
– I made no such claim. I must protest again against the Minister allowing this debate to degenerate into a kind of arbitration court proceeding.
.- We are witnessing a most remarkable reversal of form on the part of the Minister and some other honorable members on this side of the chamber. It is rather surprising that these honorable gentlemen are prepared to agree to the postponement of this sub-item on the ground that they are interested in the welfare of the workers engaged in the industry, although when honorable members of the Lang group asked for the postponement of the consideration of the whole of these textile items in the interests of the workers, they were told that Parliament could only deal with the tariff and not with the conditions of the workers. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) has said that he speaks on behalf of the workers in the industry, and that other honorable members of the committee can only speak for some individual in Sydney. At least the members of this group quoted an authority - the President of the’ New South Wales Branch of the Textile Workers Union - when they said that they spoke for the workers. The honorable member for Cook has not quoted even one authority to support his statement that he represents the workers. I know that many workers in the industry support the attitude adopted by honorable members of this group. When this point was put to the honorable member for Cook in another connexion he said, “But New South Wales is not Australia.” But now he is considering the interests, not of the textile workers of Australia, nor even of New South Wales, but only of those who happen to reside in the Cook division. They are the only textile workers for whom he has any concern. My advice to the honorable member, and to the Minister, is that if they have at last seen the light they should agree to the postponement of the whole of the remaining textile items until such time as the workers have been consulted and their views ascertained.
The interests of the workers have suddenly become paramount in the discussion, but the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) was perfectly correct when he said, some little time ago, that certain honorable members on one side of the committee were representing the views of the financial capitalists, and those on the other side the views of the manufacturing capitalists, while the interests of the workers were being watched only by the members of the group with which I have the honour to be associated.
– It is not nonsense, it is the truth. The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Cunningham) said that wages and conditions were matters over which the employers and the employees could fight; but not matters with which this committee should be concerned. When the honorable member was seeking the votes of the people he was quite prepared to make many promises to them, and to accept all the offers of help made to him by industrial organizations. He also accepted donations from their funds. It appears to me that the sympathies of even some honorable members on this side of the chamber are not with the workers in industry, but with the capitalists. They are seeking to safeguard the millions of pounds invested in these industries. One honorable member opposite said that this Parliament had not the power to protect the interests of the consumers by fixing prices; and now we are told that we cannot fix wages. It appears to me that the sole function of this Parliament is to protect the interests ©f the capitalists. We have been twitted about our attitude towards the Arbitration Court. While we believe in arbitration for the workers, we do not believe in annihilation for them. They are suffering annihilation to-day at the hands of the Arbitration Court.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. McGrath).The honorable member is not in order in dealing with that aspect of the subject. He must confine his remarks to the question of the postponement of this sub-item.
– The Minister has asked for the postponement of the sub-item in the interests of the workers. I am urging him to be consistent, and agree to the postponement of other textile items for the same reason. A number of speakers have referred to the work of the Arbitration Court in regard to the fixation of wages and conditions. The members of this Government made many promises during the last election campaign in regard to arbitration. They even promised that the court would be reconstituted. The workers cannot expect to get justice from an arbitration court upon which biased judges sit. One of the judges now sitting on the bench was formerly a Nationalist senator. Do honorable members expect him to give justice to the workers in industry?
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is distinctly out of order in referring to an “ arbitration court upon which biased judges sit “.
– I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to bear in mind that it is not permissible for him to reflect upon the judiciary. He must withdraw the remark.
– Does the honorable member for Henty-
– I have already asked the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to withdraw his reference to “biased judges of the Arbitration Court.”
– I am not prepared to say that those judges are there in the interests of the workers-
– The honorable member must withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it, with mental reservations. I trust that the Minister will now be prepared-
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that, when an honorable member has been called upon to withdraw a statement, he must do so without reservation.
– I should like to ask the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) what standing order provides that, when an honorable member withdraws a statement to which exception is taken, he must do so without mental reservations.
– I understand that the honorable member for East Sydney lias withdrawn the remark. It is not the responsibility of the Chair to be concerned with mental reservations.
– I trust that, in the interests of the workers, the Minister will now be prepared to postpone all the other sub-items under the heading of textiles.
– The request of the Minister (Mr. Forde), that sub-items 4 and 5 be postponed, seems to be further evidence of the farce that is being perpetrated by the so-called consideration of this tariff schedule.
– Is the honorable member in order in using the word “ farce “ ?
– I submit that it is quite in order. I understand that the Minister has moved that sub-items 4 and 5 be postponed to enable further information to he obtained.
– Yes, to examine certain representations made to me in order to determine whether or not they should be acted upon.
– If that is- the case, the Minister is treating the committee with scant respect. Unless he gives a full explanation of his reasons for a postponement of these sub-items, his action does not appear to be justified. I understand that about nine months ago the Tariff
Board made certain recommendations with regard to these sub-items.
– The Tariff Board, which had not any evidence upon some points, made certain recommendations. An investigating officer is now conducting an inquiry.
– Investigating officers are cropping up at every point.
– lis the honorable member afraid of obtaining information ?
– We ought to have the fullest information. We do not know when those representations were made to the Minister, or their nature. The Minister, who is treating honorable members like a lot of school-children, has asked that these sub-items be postponed so that he may further inform his mind as to the merits of certain representations concerning an increase in the rates of duty. As already .pointed out, the members of the Lang group have on several occasions asked the Minister to postpone certain sub-items so that certain representations in the interests of the workers might be inquired into.
– In that connexion I had already received representations from the general secretary of the union which I had considered. I found it impracticable to remedy their grievances.
– Then, in that case, the Minister decided the matter himself. Although the duties proposed under these sub-items have been before the Minister for many months, a vague statement has now been made to the effect that certain representations affecting the interests of the workers should be further investigated. We should not consent to the postponement of these sub-items unless the Minister clearly states the nature of the representations made to him.
– And by whom they were made.
– Yes. Until that information is in the possession of the committee, I do not see why the request of the Minister should be acceded to.
.- I desire, Mr. Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Brennan) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That sub-item (f) (4) and (5) be postponed - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. McGrath.)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
SS. “ Nellore “ - Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited - Radio Regulations: Use of Wireless for Political Propaganda: Speech at Wesley Church by Mr. Maxwell - Manifesto of Churches in South Australia.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
In doing so, I desire to make a statement concerning the Eastern and Australian Steamship Company’s SS. Nellore, in respect of which an application was made for a single voyage permit to carry passengers from Hobart to Sydney. It appears that this vessel is scheduled to load zinc at Risdon on the 1st June. The agents were advised that provided there was no licensed vessel sailing on or about that date a permit would be issued. This advice was given by the deputy director under authority given by the Navigation Act, and passengers were booked. Huddart, Parker Steamship Company and Union Steamship Company advised that there was no likelihood of any of their passenger vessels sailing before the summer running. These companies advised also that there was no objection from their point of view to the granting of the permit.
Under the Navigation Act the vessel concerned would not be eligible to carry passengers between Australian ports without a permit. In special cases a permit has been granted in strict conformity with the terms of the act, which embodies the policy of the Government, in this regard. Permission having been given by the director under his delegated powers, it has been confirmed by the Minister in the special circumstances of this individual case.
This statement is to be read in line with the reply given by the Minister yesterday to a question raised by the honorable member for West Sydney prior to the Minister being put in possession, of all the facts of the case.
.- I wish briefly to bring a matter before the House. It concerns some questions which I asked a little while ago regarding the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. The first question was -
The answer was -
The Commonwealth Government is the majority shareholder in the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. Surely it should have some say in this matter. Why should I be told politely that the managing director of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited considers that this information - which is of public importance and concerns the people of Australia, who are the majority shareholders in the company - should not be made known to the community? Among the other questions I asked was the following : -
Does the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited pay any duty on oil it brings into Australia; if so, what amount?
To it I received the following reply : -
The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited is subject to exactly the same duties as all other oil importers. . . .
A clause in the agreement with the company provides -
To ensure the full success and development of the oil refining industry in Australia, the Commonwealth agrees that it will, so long as the prices charged by the refinery for products of refining are considered by the Commonwealth fair and reasonable, but not further or otherwise - (a)…
Refund to the refinery company any customs duty paid by the refinery company upon the importation into Australia of crude mineral oil purchased from the oil company, and refined in Australia by the refinery company.
Has that clause in the agreement been cancelled? If not, the answers supplied to me are incorrect. I bring this matter forward now because I regard the answers to my questions as altogether unsatisfactory. I am not willing to- accept from the Minister a statement to the effect that the manager of the company is the person to decide what information I, as a representative of the electors of this country, shall be given.
– Who supplied the answer to the honorable member’s questions ?
– They were supplied by the Prime Minister. There is ample scope for a full inquiry into the operations of this company. I believe that if an inquiry were to take place, there would be some astounding revelations. The price alleged by the company to be paid for its crude oil is four or five times the world market price. There . are four or five companies concerned, each of which takes its toll from the consumers. The Commonwealth Oil Refinery Company is supposed to be under the control of the Commonwealth Government, but it would appear that the agreement entered into has been put to one side, and that the company has merely made use of the Commonwealth Government to obtain public funds with which to exploit the people. I intend to verify the information supplied to me before taking further action. If that information is correct, the company should be selling its oil at a much lower rate than it now charges. I ask the Minister to bring this matter before the Prime Minister on his return from Melbourne, with a view to supplying me with the correct information. I repeat that I am not prepared to accept dictation in this matter by the manager of the company.
– I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini). Like him, I believe that there is ample justification for a thorough investigation into the operations of the Commonwealth Oil Refinery Company. I am informed that before the crude oil imported by the company is shipped to Australia, a first skimming is taken from it, and that skimming contains the best of the oil. I hope that the Minister will bring this matter before the Prime Minister with a view to having something done to protect the public.
– I wish to refer to the statement of the Minister in regard to the SS. Nellore. During the week I asked whether a permit had been granted to the owners of that vessel to trade on the Australian coast, in accordance with the provisions of the Navigation Act, and was informed by the Minister responsible for the issue of permits that no permit would be issued. The Minister spoke to me on the subject, apart from the question I asked, and I left him perfectly satisfied that there was no intention whatever to grant a permit in respect of that vessel. If the information supplied to me regarding this vessel is correct, the Government has reached a level of conduct which I never expected a Labour government would reach. It has been reported to me that the Nellore has a coloured crew, whose wages and conditions are far below our standards. It is astounding to think that the Government is prepared to grant a permit to a vessel employing cheap coloured labour when thousands of Australian seamen are walking the streets of our capital cities seeking employment, and thousands of tons of Australian shipping are lying idle in our ports. If the facts are as I have stated, I shall take steps to bring them under the notice of every trade and labour council in Australia, as well as every maritime workers’ organization, so that they may employ whatever pressure they are capable of exerting on any member of the Government who is prepared to support such a policy. Some members of the Government have been prominently associated with the trade union movement of Australia for many years, and it astounds me to think that they are prepared to support the policy mentioned in the statement which the Minister’ has placed before us to-night.
– Does the honorable member say that the Ministry knew that the Nellore had a coloured crew?
– Some Ministers knew about it, but I do not want to mention names, because they approached me in connexion with the matter. I do not desire to say any more at this stage, but will make full inquiries and deal with it in another way.
– When the honorable member was administering the department, permits were granted to vessels employing coloured crews.
– I was never in charge of the department.
– I apologize. But you were, at all events, a member of the Cabinet.
– I desire also to bring before the Minister a matter affecting “A” class broadcasting stations. Recently I asked the PostmasterGeneral a question relating to the use of “ A “ class broadcasting stations for political purposes. He informed me that the regulations were definite that political speeches and propaganda were to be permitted only when the leaders of the various political parties spoke at election time. He asked me to bring to his notice any instances of “A” class broadcasting stations having been used contrary to the regulations. I, therefore, wish to bring under his notice that a large number of complaints have been received from Melbourne of the use of 3LO, an “A” class broadcasting station, by prominent members of anti-Labour political parties for political purposes, through the medium of the pleasant Sunday afternoon addresses delivered in Wesley Church. The first prominent member of an anti-Labour organization to use that station was the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell).
– I did not say one word on party politics.
– I listened in to the honorable member’s speech, and I heard him pass reflections upon this Government and extol the virtues of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons).
– The honorable member for Fawkner said -
He had come to the House of God from another House, and he was ashamed of the disgraceful things that were happening in the House at Canberra. A man of courage, following his conscience, had left his party, and he was subjected, on his first appearance in the House in his new capacity, to most disgraceful abuse.
– That is simply a statement of fact, and is non-party.
– The rest of the honorable member’s remarks were equally political. In the course of them he denounced the policy of Mr. Lang. Although, under that policy, it is proposed that the poor shall be fed before anything else is done, it was not considered fitting -that it should be given en- couragement in the House of God. Of course the honorable member omitted to mention that at the last election he had been denounced by the leaders of the Nationalist party, Mr. Latham and Mr. Bruce, which proves that the basis of his speech was political.
The next speaker was no less a person than the ex-Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce). He also indulged in quite a lot of political propaganda, in the course of which he said that Australia would denounce the Lang plan of what he chose to describe as repudiation. He did not mention any names, hut he mentionedpolitics, and went on to talk about a dishonorable, disgraceful policy that was being enunciated in Australia, and asserted that it would drag Australia down into the gutter. He denounced the Theodore plan for the same reason, and declaimed, that there was only one remedy, an immediate appeal to the electors. He went on to say that there was talk of compromise and get-together movements, all of which was wrong, because the only remedy was an election, and the return of a sane government.
Next Sunday the speaker is to be Senator R. D. Elliott. It will thus be seen that all the politicians from the antiLabour organizations are rushing to the “Wesley Church and using this “ A “ class broadcasting station for the purpose of denouncing political policies that do not meet with their approval. I want to know what the Postmaster-General is doing in regard to the matter. I am perfectly satisfied that if an anti-Labour PostmasterGeneral had occupied the position, 3LO would have been called upon to explain the misuse of its station and probably would have had its licence cancelled had the same facilities been given to Labour supporters. It appears to me that the present Postmaster-General is allowing the practice to continue with impunity. When he finds that this church is being used for the purpose of violating the regulations governing the use of “ A “ class broadcasting stations, it is his duty and his responsibility to step in immediately and put a stop to the practice.
.- My name has been prominently mentioned by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). All that I have to say is that, if his representations with regard to other speakers from the Wesley Church platform are as misleading and inaccurate as his representations with regard to my appearance in that building, there is nothing in his contention. I readily accepted the invitation of Wesley Church to occupy the platform on the afternoon referred to, and I confined myself to dealing with broad, general principles. I challenge the honorable member who has brought forward this matter to point to one single word in the address which I delivered, from its beginning to its end, that savours of party politics.
– I listened in to the honorable member’s speech, and I thought that it had a distinct party political tinge. The honorable member reflected upon the Government at Canberra, and, furthermore, expressed great admiration for the self-sacrifice of Mr. Latham and the qualities of Mr. Lyons.
– I did; but I repeat that I was dealing with general principles.
Ministerial members interrupting,
– This is the kind of thing that one has to put up with in this place.
– You think that you can put it over us.
– It is not a question of “putting it over.” I dealt with certain moral principles, and then instanced the action of Mr. Latham and Mr. Lyons.
– And the inference was that the Government had departed from those principles.
– It does not matter what the inference was; you can draw whatever inference you please.
– Did you inform the public that Mr. Lyons was a Labour “rat”?
– I said that Mr. Lyons had had the courage to stand by what he considered was a great principle. I also said - and I think that I had a perfect right to say it without let or hindrance from that platform - that Mr. Lyons, having the courage to stand by that principle, had left the party with which he had been identified during the whole of his political life. I dealt, not with the principle, but simply with the fact. I further stated - and I repeat it here - that, when the man who took that stand because of a principle, made his first appearance in Parliament, he was greeted with hoots, and that it was the first time I had heard a man boohooed in Parliament.
– He should have been presented with a bag full of cheese - rat confetti.
– I should like to embrace this opportunity to emphasize the position that I took up on that Sunday afternoon. It was, that the very men sitting opposite who hooted Mr. Lyons for having the courage to take a stand on what he considered a fundamental principle, applauded me for doing exactly the same thing when I took a stand against the Government that I had been supporting consistently, upon what I regarded as a question of principle. I was then applauded to the echo by the Labour party.
– It was a manly thing that the honorable member did.
– Exactly; I was applauded for having done a manly thing. Yet Mr. Lyons, for having done exactly the same thing, was hooted by that party ! It is just as well that we should face these facts.
– You “ ratted,” and he “ ratted.”
– In my case, according to the Labour party, it was an action that should be applauded; but, in Mr. Lyons’s case, it was a thing to be reprobated.
– Does the honorable member submit that this was a non-party topic, and fit to be introduced into a Sunday afternoon radio talk?
– Order! I ask honorable members to cease interjecting. The honorable member for Fawkner, and any other honorable member, is entitled to be heard in silence.
– I have been speaking from the platform in that church for 40 years, and on no occasion have I used it for the purpose of advocating anything that was distinctly party political. I assert without fear of contradiction that the discussion of such principles as I have been indicating here, and as they are exemplified in the actions of Messrs. Lyons and Latham, is a matter which has no party significance, and that any man has a perfect right on a broad platform of that kind to discuss such moral principles. . I also applauded the action of Mr. Latham as being a gesture by a public man. I said that his action in taking a stand which he considered to be in the interests of the public, in stepping down from the position he had been occupying in order to make way for another man he thought would give better service to the community, raised him in the estimation of every man and woman throughout the Commonwealth, whose opinion was worth heeding.
– Does the honorable member say that Mr. Latham did it voluntarily ?
– I will not warn the honorable member for Grey again.
– I want to say that I have not been warned previously.
– I have warned honorable members collectively.
– I am glad to have the opportunity of repeating in this House what I said on that platform in regard to Mr. Latham. The whole burden of my address at Wesley Church on that Sunday afternoon was far from being in advocacy of party politics. On the contrary, I attempted to lay down the fundamental principle that all the ills from which we are suffering in Australia today are the result of the violation of an eternal law, and I said that it was our job to find out what God’s law was.
– The honorable member found all the virtues among his own party.
– The honorable member belongs to the godly party.
– No. I simply laid that down as a principle. It is one of the deepest convictions of my life that we are living in a reign of law, and that all troubles arise from a violation of a law which we cannot abrogate, amend or repeal, and which, in the long run, we must obey. What we are trying to do to-day in our perplexity is to ascertain what are the great fundamental laws in operation which must be obeyed. If prosperity is to return to Australia it must be along the lines of obedience to these eternal laws.
– And only the Nationalist party is following along those lines ?
– No. I have never suggested such a thing. On the contrary, I have over and over again quoted the statement made by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) when he was addressing the representatives of Labour in the House of Commons in 1923 - that the driving force behind the Labour movement in its origin was a spiritual force, and that those who fought under its banner in the early days were in the truest sense of the word ‘ religious. I believe that he was stating what was literally true. He also said that had the movement in its origin not been animated by that spirit it would have perished, and I make bold to say, what I have said from the Wesley Church platform and from other platforms, that in so far as the Labour movement has got away from its original position, it is failing.
– Was not that a political utterance?
– Of course it was not.
– The honorable member has made my case for me.
– What is taking place to-day is just in confirmation of the attitude I have always taken up.
– Thank God the Opposition is pure and the honorable member for Fawkner is with the Opposition !
– I have never suggested such a thing and no one who knows me would suggest that I would do so.
– The honorable member says that the Labour party has departed from the law of God.
– I say advisedly that the Labour party has gone far from the original position it occupied.
– And that the Nationalist party is alright.
– No, I have never suggested such a thing. I say that any party that departs from that position is acting wrongly and will never succeed. However, no good will come of my discussing the matter further.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- I have listened with the greatest satisfaction to the spirited protest of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) against the charge that he has used either a church or 3LO for party political purposes. Honorable members who have also listened to his protest must agree that the honorable member was merely affirming or, as he puts it, upholding great moral principles which belong to no political party. I trust that the Postmaster-General will not accede to the urging of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and in any wary refuse the broadcasting facilities over which the Government may have control to addresses of the kind delivered by the honorable member for Fawkner. If we are to condemn such an address as that which was delivered by the honorable member, the Government must really condemn all the clergy of all denominations in this country who are in the course of their sermons Sunday after Sunday giving expression to precisely similar sentiments.
– I am not objecting to the addresses; I am merely objecting to the use of the broadcasting facilities.
– I rejoice that I do not agree with the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) at this particular time in our national affairs. As an example of the attitude and, indeed, of the voice of the leaders of our churches to-day, I should like to quote from a manifesto signed on behalf of all denominations in South Australia, and actually read, I believe, in every church in that State on Sunday last.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member may make his speech later. That manifesto was signed on behalf of all the churches of South Australia, and the following are the names as they appear in alphabetical order : -
Cecil W. Johnston, President of the Baptist Union of South Australia.
E. Yelland, President of the Churches of Christ in South Australia.
Nutter Thomas, Bishop of Adelaide, Church of England.
McRitchie, Chairman of the Congregational Union of South Australia.
G. Jenkin, President of the Methodist Church in South Australia.
Martin, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in South Australia.
Also, with necessary emendations from the point of view of the Jewish religion, the manifesto was signed by M. J. Solomon, President of the Adelaide Hebrew Congregation. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Eldridge) may sneer at that, but I do not think that many other honorable members will join with him. To show what is taking place in the pulpits of this country to-day, I shall read extracts from this manifesto. Surely what can be said in a church with the approval of the congregation and of the people of Australia, by a minister of religion, may, with great credit to politics in. this country, be said by an honorable member of this House. The manifesto reads-
Wc, the undersigned, conscious of the Church’s divine mission to uphold before men eternal, moral and spiritual values, unite to call our fellow-citizens to the help of Australia in the greatest crisis of her history.
Economically, we are bordering on a state of chaos. Distress is increasing at an alarming rate; with all its bitter and tragic consequences. Unemployment grows apace, and the people are depressed and distrustful of the future. We notice with sorrow a disposition to break obligations and an inclination to disregard the divine moral order. The party spirit in our judgment is becoming an offence against the brotherhood inaugurated by Jesus Christ. It is not a time for cheap optimism. On the contrary, the concrete situation will test all the wisdom, courage and faith, that as a people we can bring to bear upon it.
We are concerned with the moral and spiritual issues as distinct from the political issues involved in the actions of some of our responsible governments at this time.
– The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) is quite in order in reading extracts from the manifesto.
– The manifesto continues -
The avowal of repudiation, the gross lowering of the moral standards of parliamentary and public life, and the recall of the Commonwealth Treasurer (whether he be innocent or guilty) in circumstances which affront the moral sense of the community, constrain us to appeal to our fellow-citizens for loyalty to those moral principles which are the only basis of true nationhood. If the Government is free to call black white, the citizens are directly encouraged by such leadership to do the same. This kind of lawlessness is the dethronement of reason and seals the fate of a people. Especially is this true in an age when the interdependence of nations is essential to the economic existence of each and every one. A nation is self-isolated the moment it ceases to inspire and retain the confidence of other nations. The recovery of Australia depends upon honest government .and sane policy; upon the readiness of every one to make sacrifices in a good cause; upon the placing of spiritual values before material. If our only thought is to recover material prosperity, we do not deserve success. If in our public and private life we seek to return to God and the standards of Christ, God will, undoubtedly, send us such prosperity as ie good for us. If we think there is any easy way to recovery, either by the creation of fictitious money or by the mere change of government, we shall be disappointed: we must be prepared to face yet greater sacrifice and self-discipline for the common good.
The principles of truth and justice, honesty and honour are involved, and we appeal to all clergy and ministers to emphasize on every suitable occasion these moral and spiritual issues, and to our fellow-citizens to take every opportunity to show their disapproval and detestation of unworthy methods proposed for Australia’s recovery, and to secure that stains upon our country’s honour be removed. Especially we ask that on Sunday, May 24, our clergy and ministers unite to place these issues in a Christian light before the people of this State.
Above all, there is a call to us as Christians to bring to bear upon the situation the inspiring and upholding power of a true and living religion. As a race we bear a character for integrity, fair play, sympathy, grit, and selfsacrifice, and we owe it all to the influence of Jesus Christ upon our forbears through a thousand years and more. If that character is to be preserved for us and our children, wemust definitely lay ourselves open to the same influence at first hand; for it is that influence that has made our Empire great, and that influence alone can keep it great.
We appeal then to all men of goodwill to unite for the good of their country at this critical time to seek the fellowship that isabove party and co-operate for the common welfare, fearlessly to condemn dishonesty and opportunism, and staunchly to support what is right and same and true: to uphold the moral standards of public life, and to reinstate the Lord Jesus Christ as the guide and ruler of all our life; the inspirer of our actions, and the sole source of all moral and spiritual power.
I make no excuse for reading in this chamber that remarkable statement, which is signed by the heads of the clergy of all churches in South Australia. Indeed, I rejoice in the opportunity to place in the official annals of this Parliament, so grand an appeal to the people in this time of depression.
.- I associate myself without reservation with the statement of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). He has, in connexion with broadcasting, voiced a protest which is long overdue. I have not the slightest wish to involve the present Postmaster-General (Mr. A. Green) in the situation to which attention has been drawn. I think that the honorable member for West Sydney stated that if a Nationalist member were today in control of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, the anti-Labour propaganda work which is now taking place at some of the broadcasting stations could not receive more effective supervision. The trouble is that permanent officials are running this country to a large extent, and although we have a Labour Postmaster-General, unfortunately, we have in charge of the department a Nationalist postal director, whose decisions and activities, calling for denunciation, have been brought under the notice of this chamber by me on more than one occasion. I still have a considerable amount of work to do in that direction.
– And the chamber takes no notice of the honorable member.
– That may he so, but it does not alter the fact. I am dealing with an administrative adventurer, and in the end I shall convince honorable members that he is neither more nor less than an administrative adventurer. At the present time there is no public scandal greater than the unsatisfactory services rendered to the public in connexion with certain branches of radio administration, for which the Postal Director is responsible. A good deal has been said in criticism of the honorable member for West Sydney for having directed attention to the address broadcast by the honorable member for
Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). I did not hear that address, hut I have heard sufficient about it to-night to satisfy me that the criticism of the honorable member for West Sydney, corroborated as it is by the honorable the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Forde), was amply justi- fied. This matter calls for the immediate attention of the Postmaster-General. One of the most lamentable things to-day concerning those professing Christianity is that, in the midst of revolting and base desertion of the creed of the lowly Nazarene, all manner of attempts are made to justify the actions of those who are His false disciples.
– I do not know much about party politics in the churches, but we are certainly listening to sermons to-night.
– The following lines of Shakespeare from the Merchant of Venice have, I think, some bearing on this matter: -
The world is still deceiv’d. with ornament,
In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
But, being season’d with a gracious voice,
Obscures the show of evil? In religion,
What damned error, but some sober brow
Will bless it and approve it with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?
That is what the honorable member for Fawkner and the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) have been trying to do to-night. The honorable member for Henty has just read a manifesto issued by the churches of South Australia. That document states that the churches deplore the party spirit that exists in politics to-day. This spirit, the representatives of the church say, has become offensive to the brotherhood inaugurated by Jesus Christ. The people who issued this document have so little sense of the propriety of the situation, so little regard for logic and consistency, so little sense of humour that the manifesto is signed by the representatives of some dozen different sects within the church of Christ. One of the signatories who attached his name to it, with certain reservations, is known as Solomon. He does not belong to the Christian church. He is the representative of the people who crucified the founder of Christianity. The manifesto read by the honorable member for Henty expressed the view of people representing different religious sects which hate, detest and revile each other. These cannot unite in the service of the lowly Nazarene, but can unite in the service of Mammon. And this, too, in an attack on the Labour party, which is the only organized political force in the world doing its best for those unfortunates who are most in need of sympathy and attention - the poor and the distressed among whom the founder of Christianity was born. Do not forget that the inn was full - the inn, where all the good things were : warmth, colour, food, raiment, company, security - and that the nativity had to take place in a stable. Do we forget the terrible significance of this? The holy family were driven to a stable, just as, to-day, the human family are being deprived of the good things of life and being put into stables, with this difference : human beings of to-day are being treated infinitely worse than cattle have ever been treated. I ask the honorable member for Fawkner - the honorable member for Henty, I notice, has left the chamber - if he forgets that the founder of Christianity was born in poverty; that His consecrated life was devoted to the cause of the poor and the oppressed whom He understood and loved, among whom the whole of His divine life was spent, and that, because of His services to them, He was crucified by the very interests which to-day are endeavouring to crucify humanity?
– I do not forget that.
– I also ask the honorable member has he ever seen an archbishop mixing with the unemployed? Has he ever seen a bishop down at the Trades Hall?
– Well, I have never seen one there.
– I have seen so-called -representatives of Labour drawing £1,000 a year mixing with the unemployed !
– Have you ever seen a red-headed Chinaman ?
– I am sorry for the levity of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Keane), because I am endeavouring to prove that we have really had to-night from honorable members opposite - I say it with all respect - an astounding exhibition of oily, unctuous humbug. I deplore very much the action of these members of the South Australian clergy who claim to be the disciples of the lowly Nazarene. Do they forget 7 that the founder of Christianity, the Prince of Peace as He has been called, when He came to deal with the dominant interests of His day - forces that were identical with those with which we have to deal at the present time - on one occasion found the situation so intolerable that it became necessary to use a whip of knotted cords? And with that whip He drove the moneychangers from the temple out into the streets. The mission we have is similar - to bring peace and salvation to the world will not be possible unless and until the money interests menacing the human race to-day are repudiated and destroyed. I feel that a thoroughly sound case has been established by the honorable member for West Sydney. Having listened to the statement read by the honorable member for Henty and remembering the distress and poverty which prevails everywhere throughout the country, we are entitled to say that the churches, unfortunately, have become nothing but the harlots of Mammon. I hope that the Postmaster-General will personally give attention to the representations of the honorable member for West Sydney, and that he will take steps appropriately to deal with the permanent head of his department, whom I consider to be incompetent, and unfitted for his position.
– I regret that the representatives of the communist group in this House should, under cover of criticizing the administration of the Postal Department, make an attack upon the churches.
– On a point of order. If the honorable member is referring to me, I regard his statement as personally offensive. It is a lie, and must be withdrawn.
– I object.
– I ask the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Eldridge) first to withdraw his statement that the statement of the honorable member for Balaclava was a lie.
– I ask that the honorable member’s statement be withdrawn, because it is personally offensive, and is untrue.
– The honorable member must withdraw the statement that it is untrue.
– In what other way am I to describe a lie? The honorable member’s statement was not in accordance with fact.
– The honorable member must withdraw his statement.
– Very well, I withdraw the statement, and say that the statement of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) was not in accordance with fact.
– The honorable member for Balaclava must now withdraw his statement.
– If the members of the party to which the honorable member for Martin belongs will get up individually and deny that they are communists, I shall apologize and withdraw my statement.
– The honorable member must withdraw it unconditionally.
– If you insist, Mr. Chairman, I withdraw the statement, seeing that the honorable member has denied that he is a communist.
– Am I to understand that the honorable member has withdrawn the statement?
– Yes, in so far as it applied to the honorable member for Martin.
– I rise to a point of order. If the honorable member is now referring to me, I ask that he be required to withdraw his statement. If the honorable member were elsewhere, I would “ pitch into “ him properly.
– I am quite prepared to meet the honorable member any time he likes.
– I ask the honorable member for Balaclava to withdraw the statement to which objection has been taken.
– The honorable member has denied that he is a communist, and therefore I withdraw the statement. I regret that the church should be attacked under the cloak of a protest against the programmes being broadcast by wireless. Honorable members opposite have indulged in an attack upon the church, and upon the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). Honorable members know that those in control of Wesley Church in Melbourne have invited representatives of all political parties to speak there, and the addresses have been broadcast.
– They would not even allow Jack Lang to speak in the Town Hall at Melbourne.
– The stadium was more in his line.
– It would be more in your line.
– That would suit me very well. I am quite ready to take on the honorable member and his friends one after the other. On one occasion the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), when a member of the Labour party and a member of the Labour Government, was invited to speak from a church pulpit in Melbourne, and his address was broadcast. Similar invitations were accepted by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Holloway). I have listened to these addresses that have been delivered from time to time by politicians, and they have always been in general terms, and have dealt with moral principles.
– The honorable member surely does not suggest that the address of the honorable member for Fawkner dealt with moral principles.
– Order !
– I do.
– It was a direct attack on the principles of the Labour party.
– Order !
– Docs the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) believe that he has a monopoly of moral principles ?
– I name the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Eldridge).
– I am at a loss to know why I have been named. I have made no disorderly remarks, so far as I know. Have I been named because I asked the honorable member for Balaclava whether he claimed that he had a monopoly of moral principles?
– I do not desire to hear any explanation from the honorable member. I named him because he interjected after I had repeatedly called for order.
– I regret that I offended, Mr. Chairman.
– Last week the Treasurer broadcast an address from the Trades Hall, in the course of which he made his usual attack on the banks, an attack of the same character as those in which the honorable member for Martin indulges, in his hatred of Mr. Brown, the Director of Postal Services.
– I rise to a point of order. I am not actuated by hatred of any government official. I have a duty to perform, and I try to do it. The statement of the honorable member is offensive to me.
– I am sorry if I have offended the tender susceptibilities of the honorable member for Martin. I based my statement on the numerous questions he has asked in this House, and on the remarks he has made regarding the Director of Postal Services. If my statement is offensive to him, I withdraw it. The honorable member asked whether any one had ever heard of a bishop going to a trades hall. The Anglican Bishop of Melbourne recently addressed a gathering at the Melbourne Trades Hall, and his address was appreciated. The sacrilegious interjections of honorable members opposite-
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I object to the honorable member’s use of the word “ sacrilegious “. The sacrilege is not on our part, but on the part of those whom we condemn. I ask that the honorable member’s statement be withdrawn.
– The statement of the honorable member for Balaclava was merely an expression of opinion, which the honorable member may rebut later if he desires.
– The statement was offensive to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– The honorable member for Martin referred to the churches as the “ harlots of Mammon.”
– I have already ruled that I will not require the honorable member to withdraw a statement “ of opinion unless the honorable member for Martin considers that the remark is offensive to him.
– I have said that it is offensive to me.
– Then I ask the honorable member for Balaclava to withdraw it.
– In Russia the Bible is banned, and no one is allowed to print it or sell it. Are we to have propaganda of that sort here?
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw the statement to which exception is taken.
– I withdraw it, as I have withdrawn many others during the last few minutes.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Martin said that the statement that he had made sacrilegious interjections was objectionable to him, and that the sacrilege was committed by honorable members on this side. I ask that he be required to withdraw that statement.
Motion (by Mr. Lacey) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 May 1931, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1931/19310528_reps_12_129/>.