14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. J. Bell) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister for Commerce aware that at present oranges are selling in New Zealand at prices ranging up to 68s. an export case? In view of the fact that a protest meeting has been called to consider these high prices, will the right honorable gentleman cable to the Government of New Zealand a statement setting out that an abundance of New . South Wales oranges, certified as being free from all disease, may be supplied to that dominion at a price in the vicinity of 12s. 6d. a bushel case?
– Consideration will be given to the honorable member’s request.
– In view of protests by the people of Seymour at the proposed alteration of the time-table of the Melbourne-Sydney express, will the Minister for the Interior say whether he made any overtures to the Railway Commissioners of Victoria to have the stop at Seymour cut out?
– I made no such representations.
– In view of the alarm that is being caused among . breeders of stud horses consequent upon the suggestion that the importation of racehorses from India be permitted, can the Minister for Health give the assurance that, in order to prevent the introduction of disease into Australia, effect will be given to the resolution carried at the Australian Veterinary Conference held in Sydney in August last, to the effect that such importations be not allowed?
– Apply the dictation test.
– This matter is now the subject of inquiry. I certainly give the assurance that every precaution necessary will be taken to safeguard Australia against the introduction of undesirable horses. Beyond that, I do not think that the honorable gentleman should expect any assurance from me at present. He may rest assured that the existing system will not be disturbed without good cause.
– I ask the Minister for Health if it is a fact that the embargo on the importation of horses direct from India is provided in a regulation which dates back over 30 years, that already horses are admitted into Australia from India if shipped via England, that Indian horses arc admitted direct into South Africa, and that the present inquiry for the lifting of the embargo relates to blood stock, or racehorses only, and is supported by eminent veterinary surgeons, both in Australia and England?
– I believe that it is a fact that the regulation to which the honorable member refers dates back about 30 years, that racehorses are admitted to England from India and may be imported into this country from England, and that the request of those who desire an alteration of this particular quarantine regulation was confined to the admission of blood stock.
– Is it not a fact that all of the veterinary opinion that has been offered to the Minister in support of a relaxation of the quarantine regulation in respect of the importation of horses from India has come from veterinary practitioners who have everything to gain and nothing to lose by the spread of disease among livestock in this country ?
– The question is not in order. It is laid down in the rules governing the asking of questions that they must not contain imputations.
– In view of the extreme importance to the livestock industry of the Commonwealth of the question as to whether or not horses should be imported from India to Australia under relaxed quarantine regulations, will the Minister undertake to give this House a full opportunity to discuss the Government’s decision in this matter before any relaxation of the regulations has been made?
– I know nothing about the first part of the honorable member’s question which was ruled out of order. As to the second part of his question I cannot give the assurance which he seeks. But I must say that it. is very difficult to meet the wishes of honorable members who, in one breath, desire that people should be let into this country, and in the next breath, want horses to be kept out.
– Is it not a fact that the deputation which waited upon the Minister asking for the relaxation of the embargo on the importation of Indian horses included eminent and reputable practising veterinary surgeons whose motives in this respect would not be regarded as unworthy as may have been suggested in a former question?
– Order ! Questions must not be founded on previous questions, much less one which has already been declared to be not in order.
– Seeing that there is at present a very large accumulation of unheard cases before the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal, will the Minister for Repatriation take steps, as he did previously, to set up another tribunal, so that the arrears may be overtaken?
– Steps are being taken to appoint a temporary tribunal.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been drawn to the advocacy by the Commonwealth Nutrition Advisory Council of an increased milk diet for expectant mothers, babies, and young children? If so, will the right honorable gentleman consider some form of assistance by the Commonwealth to ante-natal clinics, baby health centres, infant welfare centres, creches, kindergartens, and the like?
– My attention has been drawn to this matter on very many occasions, and it is being considered by the Government. As I have already had the honour to explain to this House, it has assumed formidable proportions because of the necessity to apply to the Whole of the Commonwealth whatever assistance might be given. The honorable gentleman may rest assured that - it will receive the most careful consideration of the Government.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that, because of distress due to unemployment, hospitals in the coal-fields districts of New South Wales are unable, owing to the lack of finance, to cope with claims for admission on account of malnutrition, sickness, and other causes? Will the right honorable gentleman make representations to the Cabinet on the subject of a special Commonwealth grant to these institutions?
– This matter falls wholly within the ambit of the authority of the States. I am not, however, unmindful of the obligation that rests on this national Parliament to concern itself with the welfare of all citizens, irrespective of the limitations imposed on it by the written Constitution. I shall make representations to the Minister for Health of New South Wales along the lines suggested by the honorable gentle man. Further, I shall direct the attention of the Director-General of Public Health to the conditions to which the honorablegentleman has referred, and suggest that they be brought to the notice of the Commonwealth Nutrition Advisory Council.
– As doubt has been expressed in many quarters regarding the adequacy of the militia strength of 35,000, is it the intention of the Minister for Defence to endeavour to increase that number? Further, is he satisfied that the physique and stamina of the members of the militia are equal to the best available in Australia?
– The peace-time strength of 35,000 was fixed by the defence authorities on the best advice available.
– And in accordance with the available funds.
– And, as the honorable member for Bendigo points out, in accordance with the funds available for the different arms of the service. It is considered that the number is sufficient at the present stage. The reply to the second part of the honorable member’s question is “ Yes “.
Invitation to Holders of the Victoria Cross.
– Is the Minister for Defence willing to invite holders of the Victoria Cross to visit London next year, accompanied by their wives, for the purpose of participating in the coronation celebrations ?
– As has already been intimated to the House, the number of the contingent to go overseas, which has been arrived at by conferences both here and abroad, is 150 men, and arrangements for the selection of those men would include consideration of the class referred to by the honorable member. I regret that it would not be practicable to invite, separately, Victoria Cross winners to go abroad accompanied by their wives.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Commonwealth Government has authority to make a recommendation in respect of the annual Nobel Peace Prize, and whether any Commonwealth Government has ever exercised such authority? Will the Government consider making such a recommendation this year?
– I shall look into the matter raised by the honorable member.
– If there is any truth in the newspaper reports that additional information has been received by the Government concerning Mrs. Freer, will the Minister for the Interior make that information available to this House?
– hy leave- I have seen a facsimile copy of a letter which was written from my department and has been published in a Sydney weekly paper. The short history of the letter is that I received a telegram from a resident of Neutral Bay endorsing the action of the department in regard to’ Mrs. Freer. I acknowledged that telegram in the terms of the letter published in the Sydney paper. In the acknowledgment I said that, although there was ample information in the possession of my department to justify the action taken by me, I was anxious to obtain as much corroboration as possible of that information. . I can only add that I have acted in this matter in strict accordance with the law and on definite information. That information is in no way adversely affected by any communications that I have received since the original action. I am still in communication with the Indian Government, and if further information comes to hand I will take any additional action I deem advisable.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether he has yet-received a copy of the full report of the Imperial Shipping Committee dealing with British shipping in the trans-Pacific services? If so, can he give any indication as to when the Government will deal with the report, and as to whether it will be able to deal with the problem of Australian shipping to the Far East at the same time as it considers the general matter of trans-Pacific shipping, or even prior to reaching that stage?
– I regret that the report of the Imperial Shipping Committee, which has been despatched to Australia by air mail, has not yet arrived. All we have received so far is a very condensed cabled summary, which does not permit the Government to indicate whether it will be possible to act along the lines suggested by the honorable member.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he did not at some time after the 22nd May ask honorable members of this House to maintain silence in respect of a certain trade dispute, and, if so, whether he approves of the action of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) in accusing honorable members of having kept silence on this matter for six months, and then, at this juncture, having come down on the side of Japan?
– I certainly made an appeal, not only to honorable members, but also to other citizens, and representatives of any industries concerned, so that the Government might be enabled to carry on its negotiations and bring them to a conclusion in the interests of Australia and the Empire. As to the latter part of the honorable member’s question, I have no knowledge of such an accusation having been made by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties, and am therefore unaware of the honorable member’s meaning.
– I ask the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties whether the Government has given consideration to the suggestion that the whole matter of motor car manufacture in Australia should be referred to the Tariff Board, t and whether he is prepared to give favorable consideration to that suggestion
– As I informed honorable members in committee last night, that subject has been referred to the Tariff Board.
– Can the Minister say whether the report of the Tariff Board will be made available to members of Parliament before the close of the tariff debate now in progress?
– The debate is now in progress, and the Tariff Board has not yet opened its inquiry.
– Does the reference to the Tariff Board cover the whole subject of motor chassis, or will the inquiry bc limited to accessories? Has the board merely been asked to state what duties, in its opinion, will be necessary to protect industries engaged in the manufacture of accessories not already being manufactured in Australia?
– The Government has asked the Tariff Board to advise it on the best means of carrying out the Government’s policy for the manufacture in Australia of engines and chassis.
– Will the Government table for the information of honorable members during the course of the tariff debate its reference to the Tariff Board regarding the manufacture of cars and parts in Australia ?
– Yes, that can be done.
– If it be true thai, the Government intends to buy a new aeroplane for Dr. Fenton with which to carry on his work in the Northern Territory, will the Minister for the Interior give an assurance that Dr. Fenton will be consulted regarding the kind of machine to be bought, and that the choice will not be left entirely to the Civil Aviation Board?
– The civil aviation authorities and Dr. Fenton have both been consulted. Fortunately, their opinions coincide regarding the kind of machine which is most desirable.
– As most of the original objections have now been overcome, is the Minister for Defence yet in a position to make a statement regarding the terms and conditions of the agreement between Australia and Great Britain for the inauguration of the new flying-boat service.
– A few matters still remain outstanding, and they must be settled before the agreement can be completed.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to a statement by Mr. McKerihan, president of the New South Wales Rural Bank, to the effect that discussion with authoritative bodies showed that the Commonwealth Bank Board had played rather more than an advisory role to the Government? He suggested that the board should be reconstructed along certain lines, and that it should act as an advisory council, with an obligation upon the Government to refer any disagreement to Parliament. Will the Minister tell the House whether he is in accord with the suggestion, and, if not, on what grounds he disagrees with it?
– I have seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred, but I do not think that he expects me to express an opinion on behalf of the Government on a matter of high policy such as that.
– What reply does the Treasurer propose to make to the statement of Dr. Walker that the Commonwealth Bank can and does influence government policy?
– I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable member, and from the extract that he has quoted I do not understand the reference.
– Is the Minister for Defence in a position to furnish any information regarding the proposal to establish an aircraft factory in thevicinity of Adelaide ?
-I have explained on many previous occasions that this matter is entirely the responsibility of the aircraft corporation which proposes to build aeroplanes in Australia. As far as my knowledge goes, the corporation has not yet fixed upon any definite site. Offers of sites have been made to it from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, but I do not think that a decision has yet been reached.
– Has the Minister for Commerce noticed the resolutions passed by branches of the Graziers Association opposing the continued export of Corriedale sheep from Australia? Seeing that, in order to be successful, any action to prevent export would have to be taken in co-operation with New Zealand, will he discuss the matter with the Government of New Zealand?
– The Government will consider the honorable member’s request.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Extradition Convention (Supplementary), between the United Kingdom and Denmark, signed at Copenhagen, 15th October, 1935.
Parliamentary Officers - List showing names, positions, salaries, and dates of appointment.
– I have to inform the House that I have received from Mrs. Riordan a letter thanking the House for its resolution of sympathy.
NEW AND OPPOSED BUSINESS AFTER 11 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) proposed -
That Standing Order No. 70 (Eleven o’clock rule) be suspended until the end of this year.
.- The Opposition has no objection to the suspension of this Standing Order at this stage of the session, but I point out that such action is necessary only because it is the custom, at the end of the session, unexpectedly to produce a large number of bills which must be dealt with. Such action hampers the deliberative competence of this chamber. At the present time, the notice-paper presents a perplexing problem to those who are anxious to give proper consideration to the various matters which are to come before Parliament. If Parliament had assembled earlier this motion might not have been necessary, but I suggest that the Prime Minister might consider the desirability of meeting in the forenoon next week instead of asking the House to sit until after midnight.
– The honorable member’s suggestion will be taken into consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 24th November(vide page 2220), on motion by Mr. White (vide page 2220, volume 150)-
That the schedule to the Customs Tariffs 1933, as proposed to be amended by tariff proposals, be further amended as hereunder set out. . . .
.- In discussing these tariff proposals one cannot avoid participating in the controversy which has surrounded their introduction and the method of their introduction, and, unavoidably, one must touch upon the subject of Australian interCommonwealth and international relations, but I think there falls on honorable members the obligation to deal with the matter entirely free from party political bias, and to refrain from discussing it in such a way as to inflame party political feelings. We should view the proposals with a long vision, and with an endeavour to visualize, not only the most controversial items in it, but also the events that led up to their introduction, also the whole set of economic circumstances which, in the opinion of the Government, have rendered it necessary to submit the proposals. We should realize, for instance, that the preservation of the economic stability of the British Empire as a whole is an essential prerequisite to its adequate defence; also that the schedule under consideration breaks entirely new ground in that it was introduced, not with a view to protecting Australian secondary industries, or for the purpose of raising revenues, but because it is the actual implementation of the much-talked of Empire trade reciprocity. We should realize that it does not stand alone as an act of policy, and that it is just one further step in a sequence of steps that have been taken by this Government and its predecessors over a considerable period of years.
– Hear, hear !
– It is a step that had logically to be taken as a consequence of the Ottawa agreement. Last year a tariff schedule was tabled which also could be regarded as a logical sequence of the Ottawa agreement and of the declared policy of this Government to complete bilateral trade treaties with other dominions and foreign countries. That schedule, which was ratified by this Parliament in March last, reduced the duties specified in many items from the general tariff level and introduced a new intermediate tariff level. While awaiting ratification of that tariff schedule, the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) toured Europe in an endeavour to complete treaties on the basis of the new intermediate tariff. His success was not notable, but that lack of success was an indication, not, I would say, of shortcomings on the part of the Minister, but of the economic state of affairs in Europe. It was an indication of the intensity of economic nationalism as practised in the continental countries of Europe. Now we have this further tariff schedule, which introduces a licensing system, not for the purpose of protecting secondary industries, but for the purpose of diverting trade from certain channels into other channels, which will be beneficial to the Australian nation as a whole. Before and since the Ottawa agreement, Australia has experienced the effects of a system of licensing against its exports to foreign countries. In that respect, therefore, the decision made by the Government in this case was not without a precedent. Australia has been forced by economic circumstances to adopt the practice of other countries.
In the financial year preceding the financial year in which this system was introduced in Australia, we had an adverse balance of payments of £7,500,000, and were obliged to take some action to stimulate the exports of the Commonwealth, and to preserve our own industries, particularly our export industries. In the face of this adverse balance of payments, we had to take some means of checking the drift. For instance, we reiterated our demands on the United Kingdom - our requests, I should, perhaps, say, but they have virtually been demands - that it should continue to give us an expanding share of its market. The response of the United Kingdom was very ready and satisfactory, and there accordingly falls upon us an obligation to do something in return - an obligation at least to do as much for British products in the Australian market as we have requested Great Britain to do for Australian products in the British market. The obligation we have incurred to preserve within reasonable limits a share of the Au&tralian market for British exports is virtually the essence of these tariff proposals. I have prepared two tables, one setting out the quantities of our exports to the United Kingdom market, and the progressive manner in which those quantities have increased in percentage from 1929J30 to the latest year for which I have complete figures, 1934-35, and the second showing the value in Australian, currency of our exports to the United Kingdom from 1929-30 to 1935-36. They are as follows : -
tion, we have, in three years, allowed our import trade in textiles to drift to foreign countries to such an extent that, of Great Britain’s total exports to us, now only 13 per cent, is represented by textiles. I have no doubt that had the position been allowed to drift, the day would shortly have arrived when Australian imports of textiles from the United Kingdom would have totally ceased. While this drift has been going on Great Britain has continued to preserve its market for the dominions, and particularly for Australia, in a most notable way. An examination of the figures showing Australia’s favorable balance of trade with Great Britain will demonstrate this beyond all question. I therefore direct attention to the following table: -
I have a further table to which I shall refer later, which deals with exports and imports. The first table shows the amazing extent to which we depend on the British market. It is almost the sole market for the major exports from Australia. Britain, for instance, takes 35 per cent, of our exports of wool, 61 per gent. of our wheat exports, 93 per cent, of our butter, 87 per cent, of bur beef and veal, 9B per cent, of our mutton and lamb, and so on through the whole regimen. Great Britain has been able to do so much for us only by penalizing, to a substantial extent, the consumers of the United Kingdom. I shall enlarge upon that point later. To what extent hare we reciprocated? In the year in which the Ottawa agreement was ratified, of Australia’s total imports from the- United Kingdom, 23 per cent, in value was represented by textiles; but notwithstanding the manner in which Great Britain has preserved a market in the United Kingdom for our surplus produc-
While this favorable situation has been developing, Australia has allowed her imports of textiles to drift from British to foreign sources, while in 1932 our imports of cottons and artificial silk goods from the United Kingdom totalled 175,000,000 square yards, by 1935 the figures had declined to 125,000,000 square yards. . Within the same period our imports of such goods from foreign countries, chiefly Japan, increased from 53,000,000 square yards in 1932, to 158,500,000 square yards in 1935, thus there was a falling off of 50,000,000 square yards in such imports from the United Kingdom, and an increase of 105,000,000 square yards from foreign countries in the . three-year period. In these circumstances it is necessary for us to consider whether it is practicable for Great Britain to continue to preserve for us the valuable markets which we now enjoy in the United Kingdom. If we allow our trade in our principal imports from the United Kingdom to drift into the hands of foreign countries, it becomes a question whether Great Britain should continue to place its consumers under a disadvantage in order that our exports may have entry into the United Kingdom.
It is also necessary that we contemplate the standards of living and the wage rates that obtain in foreign countries. The conditions in Japan, which is the country from which we were increasing our imports of textiles, are clearly described in a report on cotton cloths issued by the Tariff Commission of the United States of America on the 15th April, 1936. This report states that -
About 85 per cent, of the operatives in the entire industry arc females, and most of these are between fourteen and eighteen years nf agc
The report also points out that the operatives in the Japanese factories are lodged by the companies. In this connexion it states -
Such lodging is free. The cost to the mill above the wages paid, is estimated to average about 25 per cent, of the actual money wages. . . Most of the mills now operate two nine-hour shifts, with a half-hour rest period. At factories where only one shift is worked, a day’s working period may be ten hours or more, but females, also juvenile male workers under fifteen years of age, cannot be employed for more than eleven hours per day with one hour of rest; these workers are granted four full rest days per month.
The Government of Japan has itself published a statement dealing with the wages of the operatives, which shows that female weavers have suffered a very severe reduction of wages in the last four or five years. In 192S the average wage of female weavers was 1.01 yen a day. This has now fallen to .67 yen. The Australian equivalent of .67 yen is less than ls. To this must be added the estimated cost of boarding the operatives, which is 25 per cent, of the wages paid. It will be 3een, therefore, that 85 per cent, of the employees in the textile industries of Japan receive an average wage of only ls. 3d. a day, and that they may be called upon to work eleven hours each day, with four rest days each month. The wages of unskilled recruits in the Japanese factories begin at the Australian equivalent of 7£d. a day. How can it be expected that the British textile industry can compete with the Japanese industry in such circumstances, especially in view of the depreciation of the Japanese currency?
The Commonwealth Government has no right whatever to criticize the monetary or industrial policy of Japan, or offer advice as to the internal conditions that should rule in that country. I have directed attention to these figures because I think it necessary to do so, but I offer no criticism of them. I assert, however, that unless adequate tariff protection is provided, the conditions in Japan must necessarily dictate the conditions in the mills of the United Kingdom, the products of which compete with the products of the Japanese mills. It behoves us, therefore, while not criticizing the conditions in Japan, to determine whether we are prepared to permit exports from that country unrestricted entry into Australia to the serious detriment of the goods manufactured in the United Kingdom. I am not willing to countenance any procedure which will virtually impose such conditions upon the workers of the United Kingdom. I believe that the overwhelming majority of the people of Australia would support such an attitude. It is necessary for us, therefore, in considering this subject, to ask to what extent the conditions prevailing in Japan, for example, may dictate the conditions that must prevail in the textile factories of the British Empire. It is also necessary for us to attempt to visualize the possibility of the application of such conditions to other industries There is no reason .to expect that a foreign country which observed these conditions in the textile industry, would not be prepared to apply a similar industrial technique to other industries. Therefore, if we take no action in this connexion, that is tantamount to saying that we are not prepared to do anything to prevent the entire destruction of the industrial conditions that have been established, throughout the British Empire.
Opposition members interjecting,
– It is interesting to hear one who is defending the maintenance of fair labour conditions and just industrial awards so criticized and heckled by those who are the so-called representatives of labour. I wish to continue on the lines that I laid down when I rose to speak. I have ho intention of permitting my remarks to drift into a criticism of the policy of any other party in this chamber. I might point out, I think quite properly, that when the Government took this action to indicate its preparedness to arrest the flow of foreign textiles, it deferred the punitive duties for a period of six months in order to afford adequate time for negotiation. That fact, and subsequent events, proved that the Government was willing to regard these duties more as a basis for bargaining than as its final word. We understand that it hae offered to Japan some reduction of the rate of duty set out in the schedule. It has further offered a quota; and considering the volume of imports of Japanese textiles in the year in which the agreement with the United Kingdom was made at Ottawa, that quota would appear to be a very liberal one, representing as it does more than double the volume of our imports of textiles from all foreign, countries in that year. We have been rather dilatory in taking action to preserve this market, to at least a fair extent, for the principal export from Great Britain. Let us examine what the United Kingdom has done for the dominions under the Ottawa agreement, as well as before it was made. During the last decade, Great Britain has reversed a policy that had stood for a century, with a view to promoting the interests of the British dominions - the policy of a. free breakfast table. Free trade was not the policy of any particular government or party in the United Kingdom., but was definitely the policy of the nation. Not in its own interests, but at the request of and in the interests of the dominions, Great Britain imposed a list of duties and restrictive quotas against imports of foodstuffs from foreign countries, and these, while benefitting Australia tremendously, have necessarily prejudiced very considerably the British consumer. The following table shows the duties imposed by Great Britain against foreign foodstuffs : -
If the British Government, at our request, is prepared to prejudice the British consumer by imposing duties and restrictive quotas on foodstuffs from foreign sources, surely we should be prepared to reciprocate to at least a reasonable extent ! No more than that is involved in the tariff schedule that we are now considering. During the last twelve months, Japan has sent a shipment of butter to the United Kingdom for the purpose of testing out that market. This affects one of our most important industries. If Japan should apply to the dairying industry the industrial technique that I have shown is applied to the textile industry, it would have no difficulty in underselling us in that particular commodity. Should that transpire, I am quite sure that we would very promptly demand that Great Britain should do at least as much for our protection as we propose to do for .the protection of British textiles.
I should like to make a passing reference to the licensing system as it affects particularly the United States of America. Here we have a country which has been notoriously reluctant to afford any facilities for the entry of our principal exports to its markets, with the result that for many years we have had a very serious and persistent adverse trade balance with it. It has been suggested by the Opposition that we should not discriminate as between nations. I take that statement to mean that, rather than have introduced a licensing system, we should have so raised our general tariff as to block out imports from the United States of America of those goods which have caused our very serious adverse trade balance with that country. I would point out, however, that if that procedure were followed it would not be possible to prohibit imports ‘ from the United States of America without at the same time prohibiting imports of competitive commodities from countries which trade with us in a reasonable manner. For example, it would not be possible under the general tariff to prohibit imports of toys from the United States of America without at the same time raising a similar barrier against Japanese toys. E think it will be accepted as a reasonable policy that there should be discrimination as between nations according to whether they are good or bad customers and are prepared to reciprocate with us. I can see no other way than by the application of a licensing, .system in which our imports from bad customer countries may be controlled and the flow diverted to good customers. Consequently, while I realize the difficulties of- administering such a system-
– And the dangers.
– And, I agree, the dangers ; and while I emphasize the necessity for exercising extreme care in its administration, at the same time I can j see no alternative to it if we desire to control the source of our imports and favour those nations which are good customers as against those which are bad customers or are not customers at all.
This tariff schedule embodies an. entirely new principle in relation to the Australian tobacco industry, a principle which I believe to be entirely right - that if importers of foreign tobacco are to enjoy the benefits of a reasonable import duty, it shall be obligatory on them to blend with those imports a certain proportion of Australian leaf. That will react very favorably on the Australian tobacco industry. But I would point out to the Government that the percentages of Australian leaf which must be blended have been fixed at too low a figure. The percentage to be blended with imported cigarette tobacco if that tobacco is to escape the penalty rate of duty, is only 2£ per cent. The Government must consider at an early date the advisability of increasing the percentage in regard to both cigarette and pipe tobacco.
I take it that, in its application to the motor industry, the licensing system has a dual purpose. First, it is a step to help to correct our adverse trade balance ; and secondly it has a very definite relation to our defence needs. I’ think all honorable members will agree that it is right that consideration should be given to the manufacture of either the complete unit or the greater proportion of our needs in connexion with motor cars and internal combustion engines, provided that such production can be under- taken on an economic basis. Then, too, if it be demonstrated that our defence requirements demand the establishment of an industry for the manufacture of internal combustion engines, I believe that every right-thinking Australian would be prepared to place in a secondary position the question whether such manufacture is entirely economic or not. I think it ia right that the Government should refer this matter to the Tariff Board. But we are not sure whether certain aspects of the new duties have been referred to that tribunal. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties, in his speech and in reply to questions, has intimated that the board has had referred to it the question: “How best can the manufacture of internal combustion engines or motor cars be undertaken in Australia “ ? It has not been made clear that reference to the Tariff Board for a report has been made as to the merits of the change of method of levying import duties from ad valorem rates to specific rates. It ha3 been pointed out to me by certain importers that a change of duty from an ad valorem basis to a specific rate basis has had the effect of more than doubling the rates of duty on motor chassis which are our principal imports from Canada.
– I do not think so.
– I take it that the Minister indicates that if it should happen that the rate of duty has been virtually doubled such a change would not meet with his approval?
– I shall be pleased to show the honorable member the increases on particular cars.
– I shall be pleased to have that information. I trust that the Minister did not take this step without full investigation as to the manner in which this change of duty would operate, and I hope that if there is any doubt as to the incidence of this change that particular aspect also will be referred to the Tariff Board for report.
– Prices have risen considerably already.
– Yes, and I suggest that that is significant. I emphasize that this schedule . should be viewed by any Australian, not as representing an isolated policy but as one step further in a sequence of steps to encourage and assist the export of Australian primary products. Actually it implements the principle of Empire trade reciprocity. I submit that one cannot view the developments which have taken place in our relationship with Japan from the aspect as to whether or not we chose, by the steps we took, to become involved in the dispute which has resulted. The real matter for our consideration is that we were confronted with two unpleasant alternatives : first, that of losing the Ottawa Agreement, or prejudicing its renewal, and, secondly, the preservation of the Ottawa Agreement even at the cost of our becoming involved in a dispute with Japan. We have to consider, not whether the second alternative is displeasing, but rather whether it was not the less unpleasant of these two alternatives. In matters of Government planning it is unavoidable that somebody should be hurt. Every nation to-day is_ practising, in accordance with its views, a method of national planning, and the acid test as to whether that planning is right or wrong is not whether it involves penalizing some individuals, or sections, of the community, but whether it is in the interests of the nation as a whole. That is the test which I apply to this procedure. I weigh the advantages and disadvantages in the balance ; and in my opinion the principle involved is calculated to advance the interests of Australia as a whole. If this new principle may have prejudiced certain individuals, and certain interests, in our community, the obligation devolves upon the Government of compensating them for the disabilities which fall upon them as the result of national policy. That is only equity; and if the cost of such compensation proves to be unbearably heavy then that fact condemns the Government’s whole plan and shows that it cannot stand the acid test as to whether it will further the well-being of the nation as a whole.
I conclude by urging that this new policy should not be pursued in the future without careful scrutiny being kept as to its reaction upon important industries and sections of the community involved. The Government should make it quite clear, before this debate is concluded, that should the pursuance of this policy very seriously prejudice, for instance, the wool industry, it will compensate that industry, or alternatively, reverse its policy.
In respect of- the dispute with Japan I reiterate my belief that the basis of duties in the relevant schedule is a basis fixed for purposes of negotiation.
– Hear, hear!
– Those negotiations have so far been inconclusive. I suggest that should it be proved impossible to reach finality with negotiations before the House rises, the Government should then alter the tariff rates set out in this schedule from a basis for negotiation to a basis of actuality, perhaps adopting a combination of duty and quota control, which will enable us to regulate the importation of Japanese textiles in the manner we desire. In . the event of such a development as I have indicated we should” not have upon our statute-book a rate of duty against a foreign country which does not indicate the actual wishes of the Government. It should be a stated rate of duty which actually represents the wishes and desires of the Government, and gives the Government power to control the imports from that or any other country in such a manner as will meet the interests of the Australian nation as a whole.
– I have listened with interest to the statement made by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett), to his remarks on the Government’s trade diversion policy, when he touched lightly on our relationship with Japan and directed the attention of the House to the fact that, arising out of this trade diversion policy, it is proposed to produce in Australia a complete motor car, and to the case he made in justification for the action taken by the Government in this direction. Like the Minister, I am a protectionist, and I am in complete accord with the general principle embodied in the Government’s trade diversion policy, which aims at the diversion of trade to Australia from bad to good-customer countries, and also, if we can afford to pay the price, to Australian industries themselves.
First of all let me say that I have no intention of touching unduly upon the dispute with Japan, because I recognize that the Minister is placed in a very delicate position at the moment. All I shall say in that respect at this juncture is that I wish him the best of luck in those negotiations, and that I should like him to continue to preserve just as strong a face in that matter as he has presented so far, because I feel we may buy trade with Japan too dearly so far as the prestige of Australia generally is concerned. On that point, I warn the Government with regard to its general trade relationships. It seems to me that at the moment we have adopted the attitude of the Irishman at the Donegal fair, who, wherever he saw a head, wanted to hit it.We have not only cut across our trade relations with the Empire and our sister dominions, but we may, if we are not careful, also cut right across the British market of which we are so jealous, and which we value so highly. I have lively recollections of a debate which took place in this House regarding the Government’s action concerning New Zealand in respect of the citrus embargo, and also the effect of steps taken by the Government in respect of Canada, another of our sister dominions. I have already expressed my opinion in respect of the trade dispute with Japan, but it is significant that at this juncture another head has appeared in the- Government’s trading sphere, and we have cracked that; we have acted similarly in respect of another country which is regarded as one of the powers in the Pacific, a country to which we would look for aid in time of national danger. I mean that we have cut completely across the United States of America in this matter. Furthermore, if we ‘continue our policy for the manufacture of complete motor cars in Australia we can cut right across the market of the United Kingdom.
– ‘We have done that in respect of all Australian industries in their period of establishment.
– The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) said that the Government’s trade diversion policy was directed towards fostering Empire trade and reciprocity, and he gave very informative figures to the committee in that respect. He pointed out the value of the Empire market to Australia. I agree entirely with his remarks in that direction. The United Kingdom market is of definite value to Australia. The honorable member also touched upon Ottawa. I have no intention to invoke Ottawa in this matter. I feel sure that if the proposed Empire defence scheme is related to the Government’s present trade policy, the Ottawa agreement will not be dragged into this debate. It is incumbent on me, however, on behalf of the people of Australia, to point out to the Government that it is embarking on an experiment that may have far-reaching results. I shall quote figures in support of my contention in that respect. I would say that we have invoked Ottawa against Japan. We have pointed out that our effort in respect of Japan is to safeguard the Australian market for the British cotton goods manufacturing industry, and yet we have not taken similar action with regard to Canada and the United States of America in respect of motor cars. We do not intend to reserve the Australian market for British motor cars. The step has been taken to preserve it for our own manufactured article, thus giving the British manufacturers of motor cars a solid kick. In effect, we are excluding Japan in the interests of Manchester manufacturers and also excluding manufacturers of motor cars in the United States of America and Canada, not in the interests of the British motor car manufacturer, but because we wish to establish the motor car manufacturing industry in Australia. But we have not given sufficient thought to the economies of such a proposal. We do not possess an effective engineering background to enable us to apply our energies successfully in this direction. Iu support of my contention I point out that last night the Minister said that we must have markets for our primary products, and that this action has been taken against the United States of America because that country cannot give us markets for such products. I quote his own words to him, and point out that we have a ready market in the United Kingdom, and that if we wish to preserve it we should take such measures as are necessary to give to the United Kingdom a fair share of the Australian market as provided for in the Ottawa agreement. The Minister, said that he could not conceive how an honorable member could support the Government’s trade diversion policy, and not support a proposal for the manufacture of complete cars in Australia. I supported a trade diversion policy, believing that it would benefit the primary producers, and through them the manufacturers and the community generally, but I certainly did not understand by trade diversion that action might be taken to cut across one of our best markets, and even to close altogether such a valuable market as that mentioned by the honorable member for Echuca.
Let us examine this proposal to manufacture cars in Australia, and try to get it in its proper perspective. We should understand, to begin with, that the development of Australia depends very largely upon the provision and maintenance of cheap transport, and it goes without saying that motor transport is cheaper than any other available in the world to-day.
– Not in Australia, under present conditions.
– In New South Wales, at the present time, motor transport is able to freight general cargo to the wharfs and dockyards for 68d., .as against an average of .88d. charged by the railways for farm products such as wheat. Even then the railways are able to get down to that figure only by charging- as much as 3d. on other commodities to make up the leeway. When we remember the reliance placed by primary producers on motor transport for carrying their produce from the farms along the subsidiary roads to the railway stations, or to the main highways, we are forced to the conclusion that motor transport is destined to play an increasingly important part in the development of Australia; that we must build arterial roads instead of railways, and that if we impose irksome restrictions upon motor transport, or make it impossible for the primary producers to buy motor vehicles except at prohibitive prices, we shall so retard development that Australia will be thrown back, in effect, to the pre-motor era.
– It is not proposed to do anything of the kind.
– I hope not, but I propose to show that it is impossible to manufacture motor cars in Australia, and sell them at a reasonable price. That is the whole point of my argument, and I stand or fall by it. The honorable member for Echuca related this proposal to the question of defence, as also did the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr.’ Street). I maintain that if we embark upon a national policy which has the effect of retarding development, or of confining it to those areas at present served by railways, there will not be much need to worry about defence because Australia will hardly beworth defending. As I have pointed out, it is essential that we should have cheap motor transport and low freight rates, but Australia, with its population of approximately 7,000,000, has a limited consumptive capacity. “We have practically reached saturation point now in regard to the purchase of motor vehicles, and if the price were considerably increased the number of motor vehicles in use would decline. Another point is that Australia has no engineering background against which to build up a motor manufacturing industry.
– Then the sooner we start the better.
– I agree with the honorable member up to a point, but remind him ofthe old proverb that one must crawl before one walks. In this matter of the manufacture of. motor cars, it is desirable that we should first learn to crawl. Even in European countries, where the engineering trade is much more advanced and widely diffused than in Australia, experience has shown that the manufacture of motor vehicles in small lots is not economic, and has led to increased costs and loss of profits.
– What about Italy and Prance?
– I shall give some illustrations, and the Minister may investigate them. It should be remembered that Italy has a population of over 40,000,000, while just over its borders are other thickly-populated countries, all of which furnish a potential market for its products. Australia, on the other hand, must sell all it produces within its own borders. Those European countries, including Italy, which have made a feature of the manufacture of motor vehicles, enjoyed at the outset the advantage of having in operation subsidiary engineering industries which could be called upon for the manufacture of all those necessary accessories which go to the making of the complete oar. Those specialized indus tries were already in existence, and were able to go into production on a big scale as soon as the demand arose. For the most part, such industries do not exist in Australia, so that we should still have to import many of the accessories essential to the equipment of the complete car. [Quorum formed.] In these matters, we must be guided by the experience of other countries. Recently, Germany embarked upon a policy of manufacturing all its own motor cars, and among other firms engaged in the production of cars is the Ford Motor Car Company, which has erected a factory at a cost of 8,000,000 dollars, designed to produce 16,000 units a year. One would expect that, in a country like Germany, and in a factory operated by theFord Motor Company, all accessories and requisites for the equipment of motor cars would be manufactured on the premises, but that is not so. The fact is that this company purchases from outside a great many car accessories. All the chassis frames and wheels, and all the castings and forgings are bought outside the factory. Let us examine the effect which this has had on the price of the completed vehicles. [Quorum formed.] It is a great pity when a discussion which has relation to the establishment of the motor industry in Australia, which may employ many thousands of the people whom members of the Labour party claim to represent, that those honorable members deliberately leave the House and refuse to take part in the discussion leaving only one of their number present to waste the time of the committee by constantly calling for quorums.
We find that under the conditions which obtain in Australia, we should have to purchase all the accessories which go to make up the complete motor car - electrical equipment, steering columns, clutches, stampings, castings, &c. - as they do in the United States of America and Canada, from independent manufacturers. The same conditions would operate in Australia, as to-day operate in Germany. The Ford V8 sedan which costs approximately £355 in Australia, costs in Germany £594 in Australian currency or 5,800 marks. It seems to me that that is a fair comparison to draw if we lay down a plant in a similar manner to the plant which was laid down in Germany for the manufacture and assembly of Ford cars. We should look with horror if, because of the establishment of the motor industry in Australia, we were forced to pay a price comparable to the price charged in Germany as the result of the establishment in that country of the motor car industry. Moreover, in Germany, there is a definite choice of varieties and designs, and there is greater competition than there could ever be in Australia with, as shown by the Minister, the industry in the hands of two or three firms. To place an industry like this in the hands of two or three manufacturers would cut out all competition and create a monopoly. I wonder what the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) would be able to say to those whom he represents, if all the tractors and transport vehicles which convey wheat and the like to the railway sidings cost ever so much more than they do now. Perhaps he would say that it was fair game to expect the taxpayer in the cities to contribute an increased bounty on production to offset the increased costs of production. At any rate, he would have something to answer for if the institution of the motor car industry in this country led, as it undoubtedly would lead, to increased production costs for the man on the land.
– That is ridiculous.
– The Minister no doubt will reply later. I hope he does.
– The honorable member knows that I shall have no opportunity to reply.
– The Ford Company is engaged in the production of motor vehicles in Canada. . I take the Ford Company as an example because, I look on it as one of the most progressive companies engaged in the manufacture of motor vehicles and in engineering generally in the world,. It is not a pocket industry, it has access to finance to a remarkable extent and it engages in production on lines of the greatest efficiency. The Ford Company in Canada is producing 400 units a clay under a protective duty of 17£ per
cent., against foreign countries, even against the American manufacturers across the river, who are producing 8,000 units a day. Yet, the Canadian company has shown no profits over the last six years. I have already cited the cost to the motor users in consequence of the establishment of the Ford factory in Germany. The Canadian activities of this company also prove my contention that the Minister must give this matter greater thought before he does something that may react to the detriment of the Australian nation generally.
If this question is wrapped up in the matter of defence, I have little to say, but even so, the Minister should be made aware of other opinions than those which he has received, possibly from his department.
– What is the source of the honorable member’s opinion?
– It is an official source.
– Why not tell the committee the exact nature of the source ?
– AH I need say, is that my source of information is official. I am pointing out to the Minister that the fact that even an industry of such immense capacity as the Ford Company cannot, or does not, find it economic to manufacture its own chassis frames, should give him cause for thought. It purchases its requirements from specialists, so that it will get the advantage of mass production. I put it to the committee that the many millions of frames produced by the manufacturers overseas are able to find a market, and that the quantity of the output is so great that costs of production are less than they would be if the output were smaller. In Australia, however, the cost of manufacturing chassis frame11 would be exorbitant. Even if orders for the frames were placed overseas they would amount to a few thousand only, compared with the millions of frames that are produced and sold in the United States of America, and accordingly, the price would again be high. That is another fact the Minister should take into consideration. It is because of these facts that I am led to believe the statement contained in the circular issued .by the Chamber of Automotive Industries.
– Oh; do not quote that!
– I certainly shall, because the whole of my contention rests upon that fact that if the Minister will refer this matter to the Tariff Board-
– It has already gone to the Tariff Board.
– That is the unfortunate part of it. The Tariff Board has been asked to report on the best means of establishing the industry in Australia, but not as to whether it will be economic to establish it here. If the Tariff Board is asked to report on the latter aspect, the figures which I am about to quote will be made available to it. The Minister has made use of figures, and has not given information as to their source. My figures are just as authoritative as are those given by the Minister. In any case, I suggest that a ready means of verifying the accuracy of them would be for the Tariff Board to conduct an inquiry into the economic aspects of the establishment of the motor industry in this country. The following is the extract which I mentioned a moment ago :-
An oversea manufacturer who, in 1935, produced 40.000 cars (their capital is over £2,500,000 Australian currency) lost 010,000 dollars in 1935, and 1,625,000 dollars in 1934, and its product is of high repute, and with a 100,000.000 local population and the world as a potential market. Its weakness ia that it has a limited world market due to price.
The small quantity of production would so increase prices as to cripple the market for that industry.
– Has the honorable member taken into consideration the protection which is to be afforded to the supposed Australian motor industry?
– We can manufacture anything if we have sufficient protection, and the public is prepared to put up with the increased prices that result from protection. Time prevents me from further investigating the overseas conditions, but this evidence, in the light of the limited capacity of Australia in respect of the use of motor vehicles, shows to what heights motor car prices may rise in this country if their manufacture is undertaken here by what will virtually amount to a monopoly. As I have said, Australia can manufacture anything at a price, but I suggest that that price may sometimes be found to be too exorbitant to be allowed to continue. The point I have endeavoured to make is that ali the overseas evidence I have produced could be supported by further evidence if we were to have a dean and open inquiry into this matter by the Tariff Board.
– Clean? The honorable member’s choice of words is not the best.
– Perhaps so, but by the use of the word “ clean “ I meant an inquiry which would bring out the whole of the economic facts associated with the establishment of an Australian motor industry - not merely an inquiry, as directed by the Government, into the best means of establishing the industry. I suggest that the Minister should give serious consideration to the advisability of directing the Tariff Board to furnish a report on the economics of the whole proposal. Let us face the facts. If it is a defence matter, we can say that we are taking these steps because defence is involved and that, even if the cost to the public would be heavy, it should be borne by taxation for the welfare of the nation. The establishment of the motor industry would then amount to a tax for defence purposes. But if defence is not involved, it is necessary for us to know whether we can produce cars at a price reasonably cheap compared with the prices of the cars which we are using at the moment. My opinion is that we cannot. First of all, I direct the attention of the committee to the body-building industry which is the most analogous industry on which we can focus our attention. The Minister says that if the complete manufacture of motor vehicles were established, we should have to relegate their manufacture to two or three firms, which could employ mass production. He went on to say that with regard to bodies we could save £20 on each body which would be used to offset some of the additional costs of manufacture incidental to and inseparable from manufacture for a comparatively small group of purchasers. Let us analyse that. To me, the motor body industry is a fair example of uneconomic production.
– We are spending £100 for a body manufactured in Australia, when the price overseas is only £30 or £40. The Minister’s answer to- that point would be the answer he gave last night when he- anticipated an objection on the lines I have taken - that the. high cost is brought about because of the small orders which are placed from time to time. But the same thing applies to big orders of, say, 500 bodies.
– That is not a big order for motor bodies.
– I suggest that an order for 500 bodies is a reasonable one, and that an order for 30 or 40 bodies is a small one.
– An order for 500 bodies is a small one, and is not economic.
– From time to time I have drawn the attention of this Parliament to the fact that the motor body industry in Australia, because of the monopoly it enjoys, has reached the stage where the big firms engaged in it pick and choose their orders, and sometimes refuse to make deliveries, notwithstanding the fact that they have signed agreements to do so. On a former occasion I have shown that deliveries have been six or seven months overdue. When an industry reaches such a stage as that, it presents a fair example of what tariff enactments can do to produce monopolies in industries which are not economic. I support my statement by saying that one firm, namely, Richards, in the year ended the 30th June, 1936, showed a net profit of approximately 74 per cent, over the total paid-up capital. That is a fair example of a monopoly exploiting the public. I draw attention also to the position at General Motors-Holdens Limited. The directors’ report published in the Melbourne Argus on the 22nd March, 1935, stated that the profit made by the body-manufacturing department of General Motors-Holdens Limited at Woodville, during 1934, amounted to £1S,000 on a net investment of £832,105 Later, in the same report, the number of hands employed by General Motors Limited, in Australia, was stated to be 5,450, of whom 3,900 were engaged in passenger-car body manufacture. The company’s total salary and wage bill in 1934 was declared to be almost £900,000, and of that amount over £600,000 was paid to employees in their body-building plant. The company’s purchases of Australian material in the same year were declared to be valued at £1,400,000, of which amount £750,000 was for the requirements of the body-building branch. One is inclined to wonder just how the company’s figures were manipulated to produce a total net profit of only £18,000 in the body-building department when the total net profit of the whole concern was £402,332. Apparently only a little more than 4 per cent, of the total net profit was credited to the largest section of the business, namely, body building, and approximately £384,000 of the net profit was made from sources other than body building. It would be interesting to know what other activities were responsible for 95 per cent, of the company’s total net profit. The information would undoubtedly afford honorable members some light upon the economic and uneconomic branches of the industry.
Undoubtedly, if the manufacture of a complete motor car in Australia were entered upon, the existing body-building works would be absorbed or forced to close down. At present, the companies operating are able to select their orders and deliver when they choose, and so they can show an extraordinarily high profit. Seeing that we have not the technical knowledge or the huge plants necessary for production, and cannot call on the services of the highly technical and skilled artisans needed to engage in the many delicate operations in the manufacture of motor cars, I fail to see how we can avoid high costs.
– The honorable member condemns the present system as rotten. Is it not possible for us to make an attempt to do something better?
– At present a certain amount of competition exists in the motor-body building industry, for two or three large firms are engaged in the work, but if, in consequence of the trade diversion policy enunciated by the Government, steps are taken which will interfere with the operations of these companies, they will undoubtedly be forced to make a trade agreement, and we shall find ourselves standardized on two cars.
– And it would be enough !
– I have no doubt that if the companies at present operating are forced into a trade agreement, the general public will be exploited, for the Minister would, of course, take steps to prohibit any competition from overseas. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) evidently agrees that this will be the outcome of the Government’s policy.
– I do not agree with the honorable member.
– In any case, prohibition is not contemplated.
– It may not be contemplated, but there is no doubt that the danger will exist.
As one who has some knowledge of the . principles of manufacturing, E earnestly suggest to the Minister that this whole subject should be looked at in a common-sense .way. Excluding all theories and subverting ideals to common sense, we surely must agree that we have not a sufficiently extensive market in Australia to justify the establishment of the motor car manufacturing industry on the basis suggested by the Minister. Before we can embark on this huge project we must seek ways and means to bring the whole of the component parts of manufacture into juxtaposition and relate the cost of them to the ultimate selling price. The Minister has acknowledged that everything cannot be produced in Australia. If it is necessary for us to go overseas for any important proportion of the parts we need to manufacture motor cars in Australia, we shall be called upon to pay an exorbitant price for them.
– Surely the Minister must realize that it is a very different proposition to manufacture, say, 74.000 articles as against 2,000,000 articles. We have to consider whether the proposition is worth while. We have not the engineering background requisite for this work, nor have Ave the skilled artisans necessary for it. We shall have to go through a period of trial and error with regard to both workmen and plant before Ave can expect to produce satisfactory motor chassis, engines, and accessories. We cannot expect to be able to embark upon this huge enterprise almost overnight. We must face the prospect of a period of trial and error over a number of years. Until Ave get through this initial period, the purchasers will be required to pay heavily for all they buy. The Minister says that, as we can now produce 80 per cent, of the finished motor vehicle, Ave should be able to produce the full 100 per cent., but I suggest to him that to establish a factory in Australia to produce even 10,000 units would require a capital expenditure of more than £4,000,000 on plant. Even if such a plant were established I seriously question whether we should be able to produce a car at the cost suggested by the Minister. If such huge manufacturing concerns as the Ford Motor Company still find it necessary to purchase substantial supplies of accessories from outside sources, it is hardly feasible for us to consider producing the complete motor car in Australia at a price which our people will be able to pay for it. In my opinion any method that we can adopt to manufacture motor cars in Australia
Will involve such heavy costs for subsidiary requirements, the re-assembling parts obtained from various sources, and freights and other charges, that the ultimate cost to the purchaser of the finished article must inevitably be exorbitant. Does the Minister realize that, in the United States of America and Canada, only three motor manufacturing concerns make their own clutches and wheels,
– The honorable member’s time has expired. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports. (Quorum formed.]
Motion (by Mr. John Lawson) proposed -
That the honorable member for Wentworth be given leave to continue his speech.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Has the honorable member for Melbourne
Ports any objection to the honorable member for “Wentworth being given leave to continue his speech?
– I offer no objection.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) having been given the call must now proceed to make his speech.
– After the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) moved his motion, I inquired from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports whether he offered any objection to leave to continue being given to the honorable member for Wentworth, and he offered no objection.
Motion agreed to. [ Leave to continue given.]
– In view of the fact that even if we established the motor car manufacturing industry in Australia, we should still be required to purchase certain parts abroad, and, further, that it would not be possible for us to produce required accessories on a commercial basis, I submit that the whole proposition requires review. The motor car manufacturers of the United States of America regard the sale of replacements as an important element in their business. Australia could not possibly contemplate the manufacture of replacements and spare parts on a commercial basis. This is a further difficulty which, undoubtedly, must be faced frankly.
The Minister has stated that, because 4,780 complete internal combustion engines, 80 per cent, of which are petrol engines of small horse-power, are being manufactured in Australia, it would be possible for us to undertake the manufacture of 74,000. units of high power. The honorable gentleman must realize, however, that the manufacture of diesel engines and small pumping engines is on an entirely different footing from that of motor car engines. The diesel engines of the type being made in Australia are not extensively used throughout the world, and so are not made by mass-production methods. This is an important consideration.
Some interesting information was published in the United States of America in May, 1936, on the problem of manufacturing costs. President Roosevelt de sired information regarding massproduction facilities. He has revealed that, in his discussions with Mr. Walter P. Chrysler, he asked how much more it would cost that producer to build a car selling at 600 dollars in a local wellequipped machine shop instead of in a mass-production plant. Mr. Chrysler estimated that the price would be about six times that of a car produced by mass production. Let us look at the possible effect on the purchaser. Will he be treated fairly? Is he regarded as of any account when prices are being determined? These are factors that must be taken into consideration. To say that we can produce as cheaply as we can purchase overseas, is nonsense. Prior to the latest alterations of duties, a car selling at £125 overseas was sold in Australia for £350. Let us consider the price which the purchaser is paying for the privilege of having bodies built in Australia. On the basis of 74,000 units - the figures for 1935 - the difference, comparing local production with importation duty free, is £16,000,000. I am not advocating duty free imports, and am merely emphasizing the need for calling a halt to the imposition of added costs which, in the case of the motor body-building industry, represent the figure I have given. Those who have investigated the matter estimate that cars produced in Australia would cost approximately £100 more than the present selling price.
– Where are these people manufacturing now?
– In Europe, Canada, and many other countries. If this £100 be added to the selling price of cars in Australia, on the basis of 74.000 units the additional cost to the Australian people would be approximately £23,000,000. The Minister quoted the figure £75 in the case of Canada and £93 in the case of the United States of America. What authority had he?
– I gave plain facts. We know the duty and the bounty.
– The honorable gentleman said that the price of bodies would be reduced by £20. He made that statement without authority.
– I had every authority.
– Then the honorable gentleman should take steps to see that the price is reduced immediately. Those who possess practical knowledge hold an entirely different opinion. Some estimates place the additional cost at about £200. I have shown that in the case of a German car the figure is approximately £200.
– That German car is the cheapest in the world.
– Let us deal with the matter on the basis of an additional cost of £100. With an output of 74,000 units, the difference would be approximately £7,400,000. Can the market stand that extra cost? The general experience in all industries is that increases of prices kill the market value. In this regard, I shall quote from an authoritative circular a copy of which has been sent to all honorable members. It proves that sales of cars in Australia have decreased as the result of the recent increase of duty, and gives a fair indication of what is likely to happen in the future. It says -
A serious recession in trade started at the end of the second quarter of 1936, and the third quarter of 1930 ended with a drop in sales of 2,613.
I wonder if honorable members realize the effect upon the industry generally, particularly in connexion with the supply of accessories such as bumper bars, batteries, tyres, leather, and glass? One of the big manufacturers has supplied the Minister with information which shows that nearly 1,000 hands have lost their employment. The honorable gentleman cannot “ laugh off “ a fact of that sort. Such figures speak volumes in regard to the effect of high prices on the consumptive capacity of the Australian market. The Minister also referred to the fact that 20 per cent, of a car represents imports. That is a loose statement which challenges contradiction. Really, SO per cent, of the selling price of a car is retained in Australia - an entirely different matter. That includes customs duties and profits.
I have supported the trade diversion policy of the Government because I believed that trade would be diverted to better customer countries, thereby preserving markets that we are most desirous of retaining for the benefit of our export industries; but in this venture I can only see the forging of a weapon in the sacrificial fires of the Australian people, to be used against us by Empire countries when we seek the renewal of our trade agreements with them. I qualify that by saying that, if the Minister will assure us that the action of the Government is dictated by considerations of Empire defence, and that there will be no reaction in the nature of the withdrawal of concessions at the next Imperial conference, much of the criticism that has been levelled against it will be withdrawn.
– The honorable member has exhausted his extended time.
– I wish to deal with certain fundamental considerations, before being required to consider the individual items of this tariff schedule. I desire to approach the matter without hostility to the Government’s proposals, because I believe that it goes right to the roots of tariff-making. I cannot help regretting, however, the adoption of an antiAustralian attitude by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison).
– I disagree with the honorable gentleman.
– I had always thought that the honorable member was more or less a protectionist.
– My remarks were made in the interests of the purchasing public of Australia.
– I propose to state the Australian point of view. I am 100 per cent. Australian in regard to all questions that affect the Australian people.
– The honorable member is also 100 per cent. British.
– I hope that I am, but I want to make it quite clear that I am an Australian before I am an imperialist. I differ from, some honorable members opposite, in that I place the Australian outlook in the foreground. This discussion, which has been very helpful, has delved deeply into industrial history and economics, and has raised considerations which it would pay us to investigate a little further.
Many statements that were not quite correct have been made in regard to the diversion of trade from Japan to Great Britain, and if possible, they ought to be put right, so that we may be on a sound economic basis in coming to conclusions in the future. Prior to the war, the difficulty which now confronts Great Britain and Australia by reason of the serious Japanese competition confronted the British people, the cause then being the serious competition from Germany. In those days, as an industrial officer, I sought information dealing with social and industrial activities all over the world. When Germany led the world in industrial competition, and flooded the world with its goods, the social conditions of its people were in every way the highest in the world. Mr. Tate, the Director of Education in Victoria, was sent abroad to investigate the, education systems of every country. I was a member of the Victorian Council of Education, and thus had complete knowledge of what was being done. Other members with whom I was associated went abroad to examine the industrial conditions of Germany - wages, hours, social services, insurance against accident, welfare schemes, and such like. I do not think that any one will contradict me when I say that the wages, housing, health, dental, medical, and educational services of the German people ranked in the first place among the nations of the world at that time. Yet Germany was able to lead the world in industrial competition. It will be remembered that every country was being easily beaten in competition by German industrialists. It could not be said then, and it cannot be said now, that those goods were produced by cheap labour. Because I know this, and because it has been part of my life’s work to study such matters, I am not prepared to believe that the success which has attended Japan’s economic competition is based upon cheap labour. I am sure that that is an absolute fallacy. The matter goes much deeper than that. In fact, the social and industrial conditions of the city workers of Japan, both male and female, have improved during the last twenty years at a more rapid rate than have those of any other country.
– But they have a long way to go.
– I know that. I shall qualify my statements as I proceed, but we need not go back many decades to find evidence of worse conditions in Great Britain. I know of conditions operating in Australia to-day which are very little worse than the honorable member for Echuca suggests are operating at . the present time in. Japan.
– In the dairying industry.
– No, in some of our boot factories, clothing factories, and Tope and cordage factories, &c. It has been my duty to be associated with secondary industry in all countries of the world. I regularly correspond with trade unions in Japan, and I know something about the conditions under which employees work there. Cheap labour is not the trouble. I am desirous of seeing that the workers of Australia are in a position to compete with Japanese goods, while safeguarding their conditions against the onslaughts of the keenest industrial conditions in any country. I am not putting these views before honorable members because I am pro-Japanese or anti-Australian; I do not think that any honorable member would suggest that; but I assert that it is not right to say that Japanese textiles can be imported into Australia so cheaply compared with the price of British textiles, because of the cheap labour available in Japan. Indeed, I suggest that, if the wages portion of the cost of production of textiles in both Japan and Great Britain were carefully investigated, it would be found that it plays a very little part in the total cost of production. Bigger items than the cost of labour influence the selling price of the goods of either country. The honorable member for Wentworth said that Australia had no engineering background: A thing is not necessarily good because it is old. If that were so, Great Britain, which was regarded as the workshop of the world some 50 years ago, and had a monopoly of ship-building and all engineering operations, would still retain its former position in those trades.
– The honorable member surely will agree that the manufacture of motor cars in Australia can only be perfected by skilled workmen, who derive their skill from long experience in the trade.
– That is elementary, and I shall not waste my time by dealing with it. Only a few years ago Great Britain feared no one in competition. It was truly the workshop of the world; but, since then, it has drifted. Other countries have arisen to compete with it in secondary industry. The truth is that persons, nations or groups who are the last to enter an industry are the most efficient, because they should have at their disposal the experience of the past, the latest machines, and the most efficient modern and scientific methods. They have been able to disregard outofdate methods, and therefore they should be the best equipped to meet competition. It is for this reason that younger countries oan now beat older countries in industry, and that Japan is fully equipped to meet the competition of Britain, the United States of America, or any other country. In Japan one will not find a machine ten years old, or a factory built 50 years ago, or manufacturers remodelling factories in a vain endeavour to make them up to date with a view to avoiding the cost of modern equipment; One will not find in Japan a conglomeration of wheels and pulleys re-erected in an endeavour to make plants up to date so that the scrapping of old plant and the purchase of modern machinery may be avoided. The real reason why Great Britain cannot compete with Japan to-day is because Great Britain is still carrying on with plant With which it beat its competitors throughout the world 50 years ago, but which, being obsolete, no longer enables it to do so.
– That is not altogether correct.
– I do not suggest that my statement is 100 per cent, correct, but, generally speaking, Great Britain has not progressed as rapidly as countries which have entered the manufacturing field in recent years. It is always difficult to get a manufacturer to scrap his existing plant with a view to putting in a modern plant. Sometimes he cannot do so because of the amount of capital sunk in the old plant. A newer nation is not confronted with that difficulty. It starts off scratch, and thus secures an immense start on manufacturers in other countries who have been engaged in an industry for the last 50 or 100 years. That is the main reason why Japan can more than hold its own against Great Britain to-day.
In making these statements, I am not anti-British. The fact is that the British manufacturer has been so accustomed to handling a big turnover with his almost obsolete plant,. that he expects to be able to continue doing so.
– The honorable member does not want to be considered un-British, but when he makes statements of that kind he runs such a risk.
– I desire to get down to the root of the matter; the honorable member touched only the branches. There are reasons other than cheap labour for the low cost of production in secondary industries in a new country like Japan. It would pay the Government and the people of Australia, if a delegation of men and women were sent to Japan or any other modern industrialized country, to see how production is carried on in advanced countries. It would pay the Tariff Board and the Minister to facilitate such a visit by honorable members. We could then see conditions as they actually exist in those countries and could then map out a progressive plan for our own benefit. It may be said ‘that an Australian delegation has already visited Japan, but that delegation did not investigate factory operations or engineering workshops.
Reverting to the contention of the honorable member for Wentworth, that we have no engineering background, I recall that I have been through many engineering workshops in European countries, I have watched Frenchmen tearing submarines to pieces; I have seen transport workers on their job in Marseilles and other ports; I have observed factory workers in Great Britain and dairyfarmers in Switzerland. In all cases, I endeavoured to find out in what respect the raw material- the labour employed - exceeded the raw material we have in Australia. I do not believe in boasting about my country, but I am as certain as I am standing here that Australian workmen, given suitable opportunity, are just as efficient as, or at any rate can make themselves equal to, artisans in any other country. I have no doubt about that. I discussed this matter with Mr. Innes, who supervised the building of the Sydney harbour bridge, and when I asked him if he were satisfied with the pace, technique and efficiency of the men who carried out that work, he replied that he had never had men under him on a responsible work who so quickly fitted themselves for jobs which they had never done ‘before, as did the men who built that bridge. In view of these facts, no honorable member is justified in saying that we have no engineering background, nor are we justified in holding premature post mortems on proposals of this kind. I contend that we should build motor car engines in Australia. I remember when it was contended that we could not build aeroplanes in this country, and that we would therefore have to depend upon those produced in the United States of America. I recall one occasion, on which I approached the Minister for Defence and persuaded him to engage Australian workmen in the construction of planes, now old-fashioned, ‘but still in use at Essendon. There is no doubt that Australian workmen can build motor and aeroplane engines and ships. I also recall an occasion when a firm in Melbourne was persuaded to build sets of cogs for racing motor cars. These parts had to be perfect, and had to pass severe speed tests by the Studebaker people. They were made by Australian workmen and proved most efficient. Furthermore, they were sold, at a price 10 per cent, below the cost of the same articles from America. Forthwith, the American manufacturers cut their prices by another 10 per cent., and put this firm off “the market. The late Mr. Pratten was the Minister for Trade and Customs at that time, and I remember discussing this matter with him as a member of a deputation. We oan do these things if we get a chance. My only difference with the Minister directing negotiations for* trade treaties, is that he has chopped off the imports from America too suddenly. This action should have been taken according to a long-range plan. The important point - and I think all honorable members are agreed on it - is that Australia should stand on its feet as a producer in the great iron and metal industries. Years ago, in the course of a debate on the Government’s defence policy, I contended that this was a basic principle of any effective defence scheme for Australia. I cannot understand how any honorable member could oppose this policy; it is a real Australian policy. I .believe that the honorable member for Wentworth will agree with me in that respect. I do not hold the view that the Government would take up an obstinate, ironclad attitude on this subject. Should there continue in the immediate’ future to be a demand for American cars. - British cars, generally speaking, are unsuitable for Australian roads - heed should be paid to it, for no doubt when we commence the production of motor cars in Australia, we shall still be behind. American manufacturers, but the point I want to make is that we should immediately commence building our own engines and chassis as we have already commenced building motor bodies. The honorable member for Wentworth contended that we could not construct moto)1 engines economically in Australia. We may not be able to do so for the first year or two, but if we are going to do it at all, we must make a start at some time. In endeavouring to prove his point in this respect, the honorable member showed how manufacturers of motor bodies in Australia have been successful in this industry, but were fleecing Australian purchasers by making two or three times a legitimate profit. In some of our largest showrooms, experts have examined motor bodies made by Buskins which were not nearly so good as the bodies turned out by this firm and others to-day, and those experts have said that those bodies, keeping in mind the price ranges, were equal to comparable bodies manufactured in the United States of America.
– But what about the cost ?
– Of course, Australianbuilt bodies cost a little more, but the real reason for that fact was given this afternoon by the honorable member forWentworth, when he pointed out that exorbitant profits were being made by the monopolistic motor body-building firms in this country. If the only fault we can find with these bodies is that they cost a little extra, surely the honorable member has sufficient confidence in members of his own party or in the statesmanship of all honorable members combined, to find ways and means to protect the public against exploitation of that kind. Surely we are not going to abandon the idea of manufacturing motor cars in Australia because we fear the possibility of such exploitation. That argument is lop-sided. The Government surely can meet that difficulty if it wishes to do so. The important thing at the moment is to lay down the necessary plants and to commence making cars in Australia.
The most delicate aspect of this debate is our association with Japan. I hope, and I am certain, that the Minister will eventually arrive at an arrangement with that country mutually beneficial to the Japanese and ourselves. I believe that everybody wishes to see these negotiations succeed. I have met many Japanese people. I have had the pleasure of interviewing Japanese experts who were sent along to the Melbourne Trades Hall by the Chamber of Manufactures to secure from myself and other trade union officials particulars as to industrial agreements, rules or organization in industry, welfare schemes and the like, with the object of initiating those schemes in factories in Tokyo, Osaka and other big cities of Japan. I know that some of those schemes have been introduced there. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) said that wages were low in Japan. The figure is low, certainly, but all prices are low there.
– The standard of living is low also.
– Surely we should not dictate to the people of Japan whether they should eat rump steak or fish. The fact is that if one went through a big, modern plant in Japan, and picked at random 100 or 1,000 male or female operatives, and compared them with a. similar number from a factory in any other part of the world, they would be found, mentally and physically, to be superior.
– Would they beat the Australians?
– They would be equal to them, at any rate. It is true that Japanese workers receive a very small wage, but they get all the food they require, and all the air and floor space in the factories which the experts determine. In addition, hot and cold water is laid on, and they receive free medical and dental attention.
– Does not the honorable member know that these amenities are provided in many of the big factories in Australia?
– That may be so in some factories, but before this session closes I propose to bring before the House facts which will show that, in Victoria, girls and boys are working in factories for ten hours a day, under conditions which violate the requirements of the Shops and Factories Act in regard to ventilation, space and protection against fire. Moreover, in some of those factories, three or four times as many juveniles are employed in proportion to adults as is permitted by the regulations. Even- this Commonwealth Government has recently let out work to firms without making any conditions as to wages or hours of labour. So that the work may be done cheaply, it has been let out to the proprietors of business colleges, and will actually be done by students who will receive no wages at all. Most of it will be done at night when, under ordinary conditions, penalty rates would have to be paid.
– Does the honorable member say that that kind of thing is general ?
– No; I do not say that.
– Will the honorable member say that it obtains in regard to 5 per cent, of Australian workers ?
– Yes, I would put it as high as that. It is a fact that, in Victoria, girls and boys in textile factories, and in rope and cordage factories, are working from nine to ten hours a day. This cannot be denied; I wish it could. In the largest textile factory in Victoria, the plant is stopped on Saturday to enable the machinery to be cleaned, so that the 45 hours for the week are crowded into five days. All through the year these hours are worked by the employees, when they are not working broken time.
– How do the employers evade the State regulations?
– It isdone by jamming six days’ work into five, and in trades where 48 hours a week are worked, each day is necessarily too long.
Japan is able to compete successfully against Britain for other reasons than that of cheap labour; that is an unimportant factor. Labour conditions in Japan are nearly as good as in similar kinds of workshops in Britain and Australia. The real reason behind the success of Japanese manufacturers is that they do not draw such large profits as do the manufacturers of Britain and Australia, and they do not have to meet the same crushing interest burdens. Moreover, they are dominated to a greater degree by a national ideal, by a realization of the part they are playing in the industrial policy of their country. Their factories and plant are modern and efficient to the last degree, which those of Great Britain and Australia, frequently are not.
– This antiBritish spirit runs right through the speeches of members of the Opposition.
– That is not true of me. Because of these conditions which prevail in Great Britain, and which tend to increase the price of British products, Australian manufacturers who use those products in their own factories must, in turn, put up the price of their own products. Another point is that some British firms import goods from Japan, and then sell them to Australia as their own manufacture, thus getting the benefit of the British preferential duty. This sort of thing was done extensively before the war, only at that time the British firms obtained supplies from Germany. Goods manufactured in Essen, and elsewhere in Germany, were brought to Birmingham, repacked and sold to Australia as British goods. When the war broke out, and we could no longer get goods of that kind from Great Britain, we learned that they had, all along, been made in Germany. At the present time, laces, velveteens, &c, are being imported from Japan into Great Britain, and reshipped to Australia as British goods so as to get the benefit of the preferential tariff rates. That is not right. My first concern is to protect Australian industry, and after that to give preference to British manufacturers, but I want to explode some fallacies to which we have clung for too long. There are manufacturers both in Australia and Great Britain who are not patriots before everything else; who will take advantage of any method to defeat, their competitors. Surely it is not unpatriotic to say that, when we know it to be true. We know that, immediately the Government’s diversion policy was published, British exporters notified Australian firms that all previous contracts were void, and that, from that day forward, 15 per cent, would be added to all prices.
– That had nothing to do with the Government’s trade diversion policy, but was due to an increase of the price of raw cotton.
– It was a very strange coincidence. It is a fact that Japanese goods, which can no longer be imported from Japan, are still coining to Australia from Great Britain.
– This is a great Japanese speech.
– It is not my intention to make it so. As I have said, I desire, first, protection for Australian industry, and then preference to British industry, but I am not in favour of- making our people pay from 10 per cent, to 15 per cent, more for the goods which we must import, merely in order to provide greater profits for the British exporters. Let us manufacture the commodities in our own land and thus avoid the necessity for granting preferences to other countries.
– When the Government introduced this schedule in May last, it came as a bombshell to me, and to many other honorable members also. It was not forecast in the policy speech of the Government, and was inconsistent with the stated intention of the Government to submit such proposals to the Tariff Board, for inquiry and report. The Government did not submit any of these proposals to the Tariff Board, nor did it discuss them with its own supporters in this House. I have been, in the past, and am still, favorable to the principle of reciprocal trade, and the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) has also expressed himself very definitely on the same question. . A few years ago, he made a declaration of policy which is diametrically opposed to the policy for which he is now accepting responsibility. At that time I agreed with him ; I disagree with him now. That cannot be charged against me as an offence. I cannot be expected to change my mind every time the Minister changes’ his. He said -
Our tariff policy lias been such as to invite retaliation from, those countries which buy our wool. We have received a plain, and, I think, a proper ultimatum from Belgium.
When this statement was quoted against him the other day, he said that times had changed, but a principle of this kind neither time nor circumstances can change. In another statement he said -
There is a danger nf carrying tn extreme lengths this action against the United States of America or any other country. There is only one attitude to adopt, and that is to consider the balance of trade with all countries.
– Hear, hear ! If it were possible T. should subscribe to that to-day.
– When the Minister made that statement, I was able to say, “Hear, hear!”, but I cannot applaud his present policy. If the Government felt that, as part of our national policy, it should embark upon a scheme of trade diversion, it should have submitted its proposals to this Parliament. The Minister should realize that the individual members of this Parliament also have responsibilities to the people, and that they should have been taken into the Government’s confidence before this sweeping change was made.
– This matter was discussed in this chamber on a motion for the adjournment which was moved by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn).
– The Minister should look up what he said on that occasion. I have already done so.
– I said then that wc were going to take this step, and we have taken it.
– Order! The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) has the call.
– Since the Government has taken the bit in its teeth, and has taken this step without having taken honorable members into its confidence, one is justified in expressing, regardless of consequences, the opinion that at least the Minister has been inconsistent. In all the months that have passed since the policy was introduced, I have held my tongue, notwithstanding the fact that the policy cuts right across my political principles. This Government is jan Australian Government, and, consequently, a British Government, and I felt that, even if it had made a blunder, I had to stand behind it and keep silent; but I do hope that, even yet, the mistake which it has made will be capable of rectification. As a matter of fact, I feel that it can be rectified, and I should have had more to say if the negotiations with Japan had been completed. The Government can thank its lucky star that the price of wool not only has been maintained but also has improved.
– That was foreseen.
– With all due respect, I declare that the Minister can take no credit whatever for the maintenance of the price of wool. When this policy was embarked upon, there was no surplus <* wool in the world. The demand for wool to-day is due not only to that fact, but. also to the fact that the League of Nations has completely failed in its efforts to achieve world disarmament, and the nations of the world have indiscriminately started to re-arm. Many of them have been compelled to re-uniform their armed forces, and wool is an essential ingredient of military uniforms. Germany, for instance, is seeking by every means possible, to obtain supplies of wool.
I hope that our trade relations with Japan and with every other country that is prepared to buy our raw materials will be replaced upon a friendly basis, and that we shall not seek to offend countries that have been prepared to trade with us. It must be remembered that a huge proportion of the wool formerly bought by Japan from Australia was used in Japan, and that only a small proportion of it came back to Australia or the “world’s markets in the shape of manufactured articles to be sold in competition with Australian or British manufacturers. The Government must have realized, when it embarked on this policy, that it was highly desirable in the interests of the greatest of all Australian industries - I refer of course to the wool industry - that Japan should continue to purchase its requirements of wool from this country, and not be forced into the use of artificial fibres or other materials in the manufacture of clothing. I had hoped that this aspect of the matter would have been settled by now.
– The honorable member is certainly not helping the position very much by making such observations as he has made at the present stage of the negotiations.
– With all possible respect, I state that the Minister should hold his tongue on that question.
– I have held my tongue. There are many things which T could say, but which I shall not say in view of the negotiations which aTe at present proceeding.
– The Minister knows ray views as to his change of attitude.
– The Minister has done well.
– I hope that he has. 1 do not wish my conscience, political or otherwise, to be in the charge of any Minister, no matter how exalted he may be. I should not object to a trade diversion policy on the lines formerly expressed by the Minister. A reference to Hansard will show that I have not changed, but that the Minister has.
– The honorable member has not changed, I may say, in 50 years.
– I was glad indeed to hear it announced by the Minister that the proposed construction of motor vehicles - chassis and engines - in Aus tralia would be submitted to the Tariff Board. I think that that matter should have been submitted to the Tariff Board in May last. Before the people are encouraged to hope that the motor industry can be established in this country, they should first be advised by the Tariff Board as to whether it is possible economically to do so.
– Is the honorable member opposed to the Australian manufacture’ of motor cars !
– I am not opposed to manufacturing anything in Australia if its manufacture will be of benefit to the community and if its cost will be within the ability of the community to pay. Honorable members should look dispassionately at certain facts. For instance, they should realize that the price of a Ford motor car is £104 in the United States of America, £225. in England, and £355 in Australia. Therefore, the Australian price of a Ford car is more than three times the American price. Moreover, the price of petrol in this country is three times as great as in the United ‘States of America. The bodies of these cars are built in this country; yet the Australian public is called upon to pay three times as much for them as the American public is called upon to pay. With that fact in view I ask honorable members to estimate what additional cost will be entailed if the complete cars are made in Australia. Honorable members must realize that it will ‘be impossible at least for a generation, to engage in the economic production of motor vehicles in this country, where transport is an important factor in production. ‘
– The honorable member says the same things about all new Australian enterprises.
– Whether I have said it about everything or not, to my mind what I am about to show is what will happen; and I ask honorable members to cut a nick in the post and to mark my words so that they will know whether or not my contentions are borne out. The same thing will happen as happened when the Scullin Government imposed embargoes on the importation of certain goods and was criticised severely by the honorable the Minister for having done so. The Government will lose tariff revenue on every car that is built in Australia. In addition it will have to provide a bounty of £30 on each engine. It has been estimated, however, that a bounty of £90 a unit will be necessary and, therefore, the public will have to supply the deficiency and will have to pay more for their motor cars than they are at present paying. There is no other conclusion that can be reached. Even if the Australian people are given a choice of only two types of cars - one high-powered and the other low-powered - there cannot be the same amount of mass production as in countries which have a much greater market. Therefore, before committing ourselves to the inevitable trouble which accompanies the setting up of new vested interests in a country, we should give deep consideration to every aspect of the situation through the Tariff Board. The Government has had the example of what happened when the Scullin Government introduced its policy of embargoes. I do not intend to reflect upon what that Government did, but the Minister opposed its policy which, the Government claimed, would increase employment.
– I did not vote against it.
– The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), on every occasion when he tabled a tariff schedule, promised Parliament that as the result of his action employment figures would rise - by 1,500 in one industry, by 500 in another, and so on. Far from increasing employment, however, the Scullin Government’s policy resulted in increased unemployment. It resulted in other nations closing their doors to our products by means of retaliatory tariffs. A further result was that the Scullin Government lost £20,000,000 a year of customs revenue, and to make up the deficit it had to impose the obnoxious sales tax and primage duties and to increase the income tax by 20 per cent. At this juncture when the population of Australia is small in comparison with that of other countries in which the commercial manufacture of motor vehicles is thriving, to embark upon the establishment of an Australian motor vehicle industry must be disadvantageous to Australia - and to Australian workmen. ‘ The Minister is repeating the prophecies of the honorable member for Capricornia when he was Minister for Trade and Customs. He declares that employment in Australia will be increased by the establishment of the motor industry, but I think that his forecasts willhave the same fate as those of the honorable member for Capricornia. Every increase of tariff has resulted in a decrease of employment in this country, and the action that has been taken up to the present by this Government is surprising, in view of its laudable action in reducing the duties imposed by the Scullin Government and so putting it in a position to make a substantial reduction of the sales tax, to take 30 per cent, off the income tax, and to obtain greater revenues from reduced customs duties. Its policy also reduced unemployment. The public has undoubtedly benefited by reason of the administration of this Government. As I supported the Ministry at that time, I should not now be denied the right to criticize it seeing that it has reversed its policy.
– How has it reversed its policy?
– The new tariff policy of the Government will undoubtedly dislocate our state of normality, and allow the profiteers a free hand.
– If the Scullin Government had not done what it did at the time it did it, Australia would have defaulted. Does the honorable member think that imports would have continued to flood into Australia during the depression irrespective of the duties?
– The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties and also the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) will recollect that at the time the right honorable gentleman introduced the policy of prohibitions and embargoes with the object of stabilizing the financial position of Australia, he observed that it might be said that the financial exigencies of the situation would regulate the position. If he had allowed the financial exigencies to regulate the position, the record of his Government would have been better than it is.
– The country would have defaulted before the financial exigencies could have regulated the position.
– I invite the right honorable gentleman to examine the Hansard report of the debate on that occasion. If he does so, he will see that he contemplated regulation by the financial exigencies of the situation as well as by the tariff policy which his Government adopted. Unfortunately, the right honorable gentleman took the wrong turning.
– When I made that statement, I was combating the argument that the financial exigencies would meet the circumstances of the case. My contention was that before they could do so the country would default.
– We have to recognize that a government with an exclusive and high protectionist policy was succeeded by a government with a different tariff policy. I do not suppose that the right honorable member for Yarra would deny that Australia at the time to which I am referring had the highest protective duties in the world. The Scullin Government determined to operate a policy of exclusion. In effect, it said, “We will make for ourselves everything that we need, and this will result in additional employment for our people “. That idea was clearly enunciated in the speeches delivered by the honorable member for Capricornia, who was then Minister for Trade and Customs. There certainly was a depression at the time, but it was caused by reason of the decreased value of our export commodities. Had the values of our export commodities been maintained, Australia would have experienced no depression. Actually the depression was caused by a fall of about £100,000,000 a year in our national income clue to the heavy decline in the price of primary products. Consequently, there was that much less money available for expenditure by the people on the products of our secondary industries. The farmers were unable to continue buying our manufactured goods because they and other producers were receiving an aggregate income of £100,000,000 less than formerly. As they could not continue to buy our manufactured goods, the indus trial workers were put out of employment with the result that during the period the Scullin Government was in office the highest percentage of unemployment known in Australia was reached.
– There was a depression in every part of the world.
– The Lyons Government reversed the tariff policy of the Scullin Government, and immediately better conditions began to return. Confidence was to some extent restored. The improvement was not caused by the increased price of our export commodities, although that helped to some extent. The main cause of the improvement was the reversal of the tariff policy of the Government. In consequence of the improved conditions generally, the Government was able to reduce taxation. The secondary industries were required by force of circumstances to scratch gravel a little, and the prices of manufactured goods fell. The primary producers then found themselves able to buy a little more freely than formerly. Imports also began to come into Australia, and the customs revenue lifted with the result that the Government had money to spend on works of one kind and another. It was also able to reduce the sales tax, the primage duty, and certain direct taxes. The partial restoration of salary reductions also had a good effect. This was all due to the variation of the tariff policy.
– There were 50 reasons for it.
– -The Government deserved great credit for what was done during that period. I stood by it and helped to make the new policy effective. Now, however, the Government has blundered. I request that the new policy, especially in regard to the manufacture of motor cars, be referred to the Tariff Board for investigation and report.
– Is Australia never -to inaugurate another new industry ?
– The Minister was a member of Parliament at the time the “big four” came to Australia to advise the Government on its economic policy. The right honorable member for Yarra invited Sir Otto Niemeyer to come to Australia to give additional advice on that subject. Both the “ big four “ and
Sir Otto Niemeyer reported to the Parliament that Australia was attempting too much, and they were undeniably more competent to advise us as to our position than either the Minister or the right honorable member for Yarra. The report that Australia was attempting too much meant, of course, that our efforts to become self-contained were unwise. Such a condition has never existed, and never will exist, in any country. We were informed by our visiting experts that we were too exclusive and insular in nv.v trade outlook. Yet the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties is now pleading guilty to a further attempt to increase the burden on our primary producers by the establishment of another uneconomic secondary industry in this country.
– Has the honorable member for Forrest ever supported the establishment of a secondary industry in Australia?
– The secondary industries of Australia have never needed my assistance. About twelve years ago the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties made a statement on the hustings during an election campaign to the effect that if the Parliament of Australia had given half the attention to the development of our primary industries that it had given to the establishment of secondary industries, the wealth of the country would have been double, if not treble, what it was at that time. I still believe that that statement is true, but the Minister, apparently, now disbelieves it.
– I do not.
– The honorable gentleman has changed his view, but I have not changed mine.
– I have given my best work in this Parliament to the encouragement of primary industries.
– If the dictum of the Minister at that time was correct, as I believe it was, it is still correct. Although the Minister has changed his mind I do not see that he has any right to expect that I shall change mine. If he wishes now to devote his energies to the establishment of additional secondary industries to the detriment of our primary in dustries he cannot expect that I also will change my attitude.
At one time Australia had a very substantial export trade in boots and shoes. We used to sell boots and shoes to tha value of from £800,000 to £1,000,000 per annum in New Zealand, but we have increased the protection of this industry to such an extent that costs have risen to a point which has made impossible tho maintenance of any export trade in boots and shoes. The primary industries of Australia have not been given the attention they deserve. We are, in fact, in a most unbalanced position because of our excessive tariffs.
Now an attempt is being made to institute a 40-hour working week in our factories, and if this is introduced, it will undoubtedly increase our difficulties from, the view-point of trade competition. I listened with great interest to the references made this afternoon by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) to a subject thai has often occurred to me: but has all too infrequently occurred to other honorable members. When discussing the rate of wages in a country the honorable member said that it was necessary also that we should ask ourselves what food and clothing those wages will buy in that country for the people to whom they are paid. Only by so doing can we determine comparative values. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports recognized that what seems to us to be a mere pittance is sufficient to provide the people of the country to which he referred with sufficient food and clothing, and also i>:> permit them to be clean, healthy and happy.
I was sorry to hear the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties say that the Government does not intend to adopt the recommendation of the Tariff Board on timber.
– It has never been expected that it would do so.
– Douglas fir timber costs 5s. 6d. per 100 superficial feet in Canada. We place a duty of 10s. 6d. upon it, and it sells here for 25s. per 100 superficial feet. The Tariff Board regards this as an excessive price. It is well known that this timber is necessary in building construction in Australia. It. is used, of course, on most government jobs. In the circumstances, the price of it should be kept at the lowest possible figure. I regret that in consequence of the change of government policy this timber is now brought into Australia sawn, whereas formerly it was brought here in logs. I hope that further consideration will be given to the Tariff Board’s report on this subject. I represent probably the most important hardwood timber constituency in the Commonwealth, and I have no hesitation in saying that the adoption of the board’s report would not be disadvantageous to eur hardwood industry. Softwood is grown in commercial quantities in Australia only in Queensland, and a royalty is demanded in that State on all sales. Therefore, Australia wants soft woods and other countries want hardwoods. Why can we not exhibit a natural reciprocal spirit in this matter, such as was recommended in other days by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties? Reciprocation would be of distinct advantage to both countries. I hope that the Government will not adhere to the idea of disregarding the report of the Tariff Board.
.- Listening last night to the speech of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett), one experienced difficulty in reconciling the different attitudes of the Government. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) has directed attention to variations of the attitude of the Minister over a certain period. Last night the honorable gentleman adopted two different attitudes on this one issue ; while he spoke of trade diversion, he religiously refrained from dealing with the Japanese position.
– For a very good reason.
– The honorable gentleman endeavoured to sustain his argument by pointing to the effect which our trade position with the United States of America has on our balance of trade generally. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has shown, the Government has been rather carefree in its handling of this matter ever since it has been in power. Persistent reductions of duties have accentuated the unfavorable condition of our trade balance. In 1932,-33 the total value of our imports was £44,000,000. The value increased to £56,000,000 in 1933-34, and then rose to the phenomenal figure of £83,000,000 in 1935-36. The Leader of the Opposition also pointed out that, after allowing this drift, although the Government is not prepared to protect the Australian cement industry against British competition, it is now endeavouring to provide a market for the Manchester textile interests, to the detriment of the Australian industry. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties said -
The Government was subscribing to the absolute necessity of maintaining a sufficient margin in the value of our exports over the value of our imports to place the meeting of our overseas obligations beyond question.
Whatever justification there was for such action in the case of the United States of America, there was none for the action taken against Japan. During the last five years Australia imported from the United States of America goods to the value of £48,000,000, and exported to that country goods to the value of £11,000,000, a difference of £37,000,000. During the same period, the imports of goods from Japan were valued at £19,000,000, and the value of our exports to Japan was £57,700,000, a difference of £38,700,000. Therefore, the favorable balance with Japan counteracted the unfavorable balance with the United States of America. The Government must also be aware that this year there has been an improvement of the trade position between Australia and the United States of America. For the year 1934-35, the value of our imports from that country was £11,000,000, and the value of our exports to that country was £2,200,000, an unfavorable balance of £8,SOO,000 For the year 1935-36 the figures were respectively £13,900,000 and £7,465,000, leaving an unfavorable balance of £6,400,000. It will thus be seen that the United States of America has become a better customer of Australia to the extent of about £2,400,000. Comparing 1936 with 1935, the imports increased by 27 per cent, whereas the exports to America increased by 236 per cent. This fact should have been noted by the
Government. America has placed Australia on exactly the same footing as is occupied by Germany, one of the few nations that have attempted to make bilateral trade agreements - an exchange of goods for goods. If Australia were to make .a similar arrangement it would have no surplus funds with which to meet its overseas commitments. The Government has .adopted a most foolish policy. It has driven away one of our best customers - Japan - and has offended another customer whose purchases from us were increasing. Although the United States of America may not purchase direct from Australia a great deal of its requirements of wool, it obtains a substantial quantity of our product from Great Britain in both the raw and the manufactured state. Last year, its imports of this commodity were 198,000,000 lb., and I understand that they are likely to be even larger this year. Even if that were not Australian wool, the purchase of it must have had the effect of increasing the price paid for what we produced. No person in business would offend his second best customer; yet the Government has done so. It has been stated that the object was to increase our sales of primary products to Great Britain; but the Government has produced no figures to show that our exports to that market have since materially increased. For the years 1934 to 1936, the United Kingdom had an adverse trade balance with the United States of America of £190,000,000, and has taken no action to deal with it. The Government has made an arrangement with Belgium in regard to barley, and claims that this will be of considerable advantage to Australia. I point out, however, that compared with other nations Belgium is a small buyer of Australian products. In 1935-36, the imports of barley into the United Kingdom from the United States of America totalled 3,000,000 cwt., which represented 17.3 per cent, of its total imports of that commodity, while only 723,000 cwt., or 3.7 per cent, of the total, Avas imported from Australia. If Great Britain expects from Australia further favours by way of trade concessions, it should be prepared to buy more from Australia and less from America, particularly in view of its adverse balance of £190,000,000 with the
United States tof America. Australia having prohibited certain imports from the United States of America, Great Britain should be prepared to act similarly. The imports of apples into the United Kingdom from the United States of America in 1935-36 represented 33 per cent, of the total, whereas only 22.3 per cent, was imported from Australia. The same thing applies to pears and other fruits; 39.7 per cent, of Great Britain’s total imports of pears was procured from the United States of America, and only 17.6 per cent, from Australia. The dried fruits industry is of vital concern to Australia because it provides a good deal of employment and is expanding to an appreciable extent. It cannot be said that raisins are a seasonable commodity; they can be exported and imported at any period of the year. Great Britain imports from the United States of America 28.3 per cent, of its total requirements, while from Australia it imports only 25.8 per cent. I quote these figures to prove that there is room for substantial improvement of the trading position between Australia and Great Britain.
On the 11th March last, the Leader of the Opposition moved a motion of censure on the Government for its failure to take action to safeguard the overseas trade balance. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and other Government speakers, after treating the House to a long dissertation on the actual figures, argued that the position did not call for any sudden or drastic action by either the Government or the Parliament. Two months later the Government took action which not only seriously affected our trade balance generally, but also resulted in the loss of one of our best customers. I suggest that this action was not taken with the object of improving our trade balance, because we now find ourselves in a worse position than previously. Last night the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties said1 -
We have therefore excluded from the diversion policy in the first place, all good customer countries, and in the second place those countries which presented little or no opportunity for the diversion of trade we had in view.
I find it difficult to understand what the Minister meant by “ excluding all good customer countries “. His remarks were intended to apply to the United
States of America, as well as to Japan, and while the United States of America is one of our fast improving customer countries we have a favorable balance with Japan. The Government’s attitude in this respect, I submit, is contradictory. The Minister also said -
If we wish to increase our exports to those countries . . . we must … be prepared to give them a reasonable measure of our custom in return.
There can be no doubt that, prior to the present dispute, our trade balance with Japan was favorable, and that Japan was one of our best customers. The Government, therefore, should not have offended that country.
The Government’s policy has seriously affected the wool industry. As I have pointed out in previous speeches in this House, I know, as the result of inquiries I have made in the electorate I represent, that those engaged in this industry very much resent this policy. As late as lastweek, the graziers at Coonamble, one of the big wool-growing centres in New South “Wales, held a meeting at which the secretary of the “Woolgrowers Association, Mr. J. W. Allen, said -
There is every reason to believe that considerably higher prices would have been secured if there hod been competition from Japan, so that wool-growers believe that they have been called upon to bear considerable loss on account of the policy which has been put forward by the Government.
I have no doubt that normally Mr. Allen would be a supporter of this Government and, I suppose, he still is. Yet he has stated that the wool-growers, as a whole, are very dissatisfied with the Government’s policy. The meeting at Coonamble carried the following resolution: -
That this meeting deplores the present dislocation of trade with Japan, consequent loss to wool-growers and the position of uncertainty, and urges the Federal Government to do all in its power without loss of prestige, to it-.Utc- r.:”:rr.’.)le trade relations with the Japanese Government.
Six months have elapsed since the Government first began to exclude Japanese goods from our market, yet nothing definite has resulted from the negotiations which have been carried on throughout that period. This session of Parliament is nearing its close, and the probability is that nothing effective will be done to bring about a settlement for a considerable time to come, with the result that further serious losses will be inflicted on the wool-growers of this country. The wool industry has already sustained serious losses, and I venture to say that, not only the producers, but also all those engaged, directly and indirectly, in the industry, have suffered to the extent of hundreds ‘ of thousands of pounds. No matter what the Government may do in the future, it cannot make good the loss which these people have already sustained.
Another important factor to be considered in our dispute with Japan, is the progress of the staple fibre industry in that country. Production of staple fibre in Japan was increasing so slowly prior to this dispute that in the early months of this year it was estimated at only 35 tons a day, with no prospect of production being increased at an abnormal rate. But the action taken by this Government, has given such an impetus to the development of that industry, that within ten days of the Commonweallth’s announcement of its policy, Japanese plants were extended, and it is now estimated that, by the end of 1936, they will be producing 177 tons of staple fibre a day. Early in July, General Terauchi, the Japanese Minister for War, informed the Japanese Cabinet Council that the army would commence the manufacture of synthetic woollen cloth for uniforms. He also advocated that, besides soldiers’ uniforms, uniforms for railwaymen and students, and clothing for women and children, should be made from mixed staple fibre cloth. He is reported to have said that by an extensive use of substitute goods, Japan could teach Australia a lasting ‘lesson. He advised the Cabinet to compel, by legislation, the use of the new fabric, as has been done in Germany, where the material used in Nazi uniforms must be two-thirds staple fibre, in women’s clothes 20 per cent., in men’s suits 10 per cent., and in children’s clothes 5 ner cent. The staple fibre industry in Japan now threatens to become a serious menace to the Australian wool industry, and if that position should develop, this Government will be largely to blame. In the past, the Japanese people were large users of cotton goods in preference to woollen goods, and it is only in recent years that they have become users of wool in great quantities. In view of that fact, it will be quite easy for them to revert to the use of cotton and staple fibre cloth.For the reasons which I have given there can be no doubt that the Commonwealth Government has adopted an unwise policy towards Japan. I trust that before the House rises for the Christmas recess a satisfactory agreement will be concluded, and that Japan will again become a big purchaser of Australian wool.
Sitting suspended from6.13 to8 p.m.
– During the early months of this year, the Labour party launched an attack upon the Government, alleging that it had not taken adequate measures to safeguard the credit balances of the Commonwealth abroad, and one of the points of the attack was the trade balance between the Commonwealth and the United States of America. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) at that time strongly supported the attitude of the Opposition, yet to-day he condemned the Government for taking precisely those measures which, seven or eight months ago, he and other members of his party so strongly advocated. In a similar way, with an ingenuousness quite refreshing, though with a complete lack of logic, the honorable member, who claims to represent the workers of Australia, condemned the Government for diverting from a country where coolie conditions prevail in industry, some part of its trade, with the object of benefiting Great Britain, which is the greatest and best buyer of Australian goods that we are ever likely to have, and whose purchases from Australia make possible, when all is said and done, the standard of living which we enjoy in this country. I can understand certain parties criticizing in some measure what the Government has done, but I should like those critics to give an indication of what, in their opinion, the Government should have done. I do not suppose any honorable member will deny that, in May last, a condition of affairs had been reached that demanded correction. Australia was being flooded with goods from Japan, and the trade balance between the Commonwealth and the United . States of America was heavily and increasingly favouring the latter country; yet the attitude of the Government’s critics, so far as I was able to interpret what they have said is, with the single exception of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), that the Government should have left things precisely as they were. I challenge any one to point out in the speeches of the members of the Opposition, or for that matter in the speeches of Government supporters who have criticized the Government’s trade diversion policy, anything to suggest what other action the Government could have taken with respect to our trade position with Japan and the United States of America.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) did go as far as to state to the House his fiscal credo by saying that the Government should first of all take every necessary measure adequately to protect Australian industries; secondly, that it should give preference to British goods; and, thirdly, that all foreign nations should be treated on a basis of absolute equality. I did not detect in his speech any suggestion that the action taken by the Government has been a violation of the first principle he enunciated, namely, that Australian industry should be adequately protected. No critic of the Government will suggest that its trade diversion policy can do other than strengthen and increase the protection already afforded to Australian industry.
Then we come to the question of the preference that should be given to British goods imported into Australia. Apparently, the Leader of the Opposition takes the stand that we are seeking to give to Great Britain a measure of wholly unmerited and unearned protection by diverting, in an unjustifiable manner, trade from Japan to Britain. I suggest that such preference as was being afforded to ‘Great Britain prior to May last could hardly be regarded as effective when Japan was able to capture 90 per cent, of the trade with Australia in rayons and would undoubtedly have completely eliminated British textiles from the Australian market had the Com- monwealth Government failed to act. Any preference by way of customs duties or otherwise is no more than a hollow sham unless it be, in fact, effective, and it is solely because the preference offered to Great Britain prior to the 22nd May had become ineffective that the Government took what action it thought necessary to render effective a policy which the Government has always adopted, and which, I believe, the Opposition itself has always embraced.
We now come to the third part of the credo of the Leader of the Opposition, namely, that in trade and fiscal matters all foreign nations shall be treated on a basis of absolute equality by the Commonwealth. [Quorum formed.] To that 1 reply that one of the tests of the adequacy of any policy to-day, whether it be in regard to trade, finance, defence or anything else, is that it should be readily adaptable to continually changing conditions in a world where those conditions never remain the same for two consecutive days. If events of recent years have taught us anything it is that there can be no cut-and-dried formula to govern the attitude of any government towards another government ; that it is impossible to formulate a policy that can remain constant in respect of trade, of commerce or of defence. The international picture to-day can only be likened to a jig-saw puzzle in which, not only the picture itself is continually altering in character, but also the parts that make up the puzzle are continually changing their shape. That being so, it is futile for any one to suggest that it is possible, even if it were desirable, for us to treat all nations on an exactly equal basis, or in an exactly similar way. It is essential that we should be prepared at all times to adjust our policy in accordance with the contingencies of the moment. Therefore, I must disagree with the Leader of the Opposition on the point he took.
– Has the honorable member considered the consequences of this policy of continuous discrimination between various foreign countries ?
– Whether we discriminate or not must be determined entirely by conditions as they arise.
There are occasions when, admittedly, we should not discriminate, but we can lay down no hard-and-fast rule. To say that there shall be no discrimination at all is to assume that we shall always be treated in exactly the same way by all nations, and it is not possible to assume that to-day. We cannot undertake not to discriminate unless we feel certain that all nations will adopt towards us a uniformly fair and reasonable attitude. For instance, a nation which imposes 17½d. per lb. duty on Australian wool as does the United States of America, can hardly expect to receive the same treatment from Australia as do countries like France or Germany, in which the duty on Australian wool is negligible or nonexistent.
On this question as to whether or not it is desirable to divert a certain part of our trade with Japan to Great. Britain, I should like to place before honorable members for their consideration my view as to how we should approach the. matter. We have always assumed - whether rightly or not may be open to argument - that Britain should make some provision, not only for its own defence, but also for the defence of Australia and the other dominions, and Great Britain has always done as we expected. In addition, we have always demanded that Australian goods should be allowed to enter Great Britain without let or hindrance, and without the imposition of any restrictions, quotas or duties of any kind whatsoever, and Great Britain has, so far, always conceded that claim. We have always enjoyed an absolutely open market in Great Britain for any goods that we choose to send there, but we have never conceded a similar privilege to it. We have made further demands; we have demanded that, not only shall Great Britain allow us to export goods without let or hindrance, but also that it shall restrict the importation of foreign goods, and impose, duties, restrictions and quotas upon such of them as are competitive with dominion goods, in order to provide for the products of the dominions a continuously expanding market. Great Britain has always done this, although I admit, not always without argument. In addition, it supplies the safest and most secure market for its primary products that this country can ever hope to have, at any rate as far ahead as any one can see. I understand that our exports to Great Britain last year were worth about £63,000,000. We demand that Great Britain shall provide for a continuous expansion of our trade with it. We have demanded that notwithstanding the inroads that might be made as the result of it on British primary industries, and notwithstanding the inroads we undoubtedly have made on the beef industry in Great Britain, which have necessitated the payment by the British Government of bounties totalling many millions of pounds. We have demanded restriction of foreign imports of meat, and Britain has complied with our demand. We have also made similar demands in respect of butter and for this commodity we enjoy an entirely free market in Britain while all foreign butters, including the Danish, are subjected to a substantial duty. We have received similar consideration in respect of eggs, fruit and several other commodities. I suggest that, in view of the fact that we have always enjoyed this free market and that we can look upon it in the future as a safe, secure, and expanding market for dominion goods, the Commonwealth Government and the governments of all Empire countries who benefit in that way have cast upon them certain obligations to Britain. One has to consider those obligations in the light of other facts as well. In the first place, the price of butter on the British market in the last two or three years has increased by 30s. or 40s. per cwt.; the prices of meat and other commodities which we are sending to Great Britain in steadily increasing quantities have also substantially improved in that time. That improvement is due in no small measure to tariffs and other restrictions which Britain has imposed on commodities from foreign sources which are in competition with primary products from Australia and the other dominions. I suggest also that the increased price that is being paid is being paid by the English workmen who are employed in the textile industries, or in the great steel industries, and I venture further the opinion that they will be totally unable to pay enhanced prices for dominion products unless we are able to maintain at a reasonably high level purchases from Great Britain’s industries, particularly its key industries, such as the textile industry. I say that because I believe that the level of prices existing in Great Britain for the commodities which we export to that country is one of the strongest factors enabling us to maintain a standard of living which would never be possible if Britain relaxed the tariffs and other restrictions it has imposed on foreign imports. If it did relax those restrictions, the prices of butter, meat, fruit, eggs, and all other dominion products would slump heavily. The men in Australia who would feel that contraction of prices, at least as much, and probably more than any other section of the community, would be theworkers. Therefore, I say emphatically that any concessions in trade at the expense of Great Britain to countries where coolie standards of living are the general order of the day, constitute a potential menace to the living standards of the people of Australia. Any man in this House or elsewhere who supports the granting of such concessions to coolie nations is attacking the Australian living standard, and abandons the defence of Australian workmen in order to promote the well-being of Japanese and Chinese coolies.
– Is that why Great Britain trades with Turkey, the nation, which shot down our troops at Gallipoli?
– No one has the right to say Britain shall not trade with any countries other than the dominions. The important thing is that Britain is giving substantial preferences- to Empire goods, that it provides a permanent market for them, and that if” those preferences were not enjoyed a. serious fall of the value of primary products of Australia and the otherdominions would occur. Britain is making an effective contribution to the standards which we enjoy, and any concessions to eastern or coolie countries at the expense of Britain would be a blow at the standards enjoyed in this countrytoday.
I am sorry that the Government was not able to deal with a further aspect of the matter when it took up the ques- tion of diverting trade from the East to Great Britain; that aspect is shipping in the Pacific. In the last two or three years the position of British shipping in the Pacific has been so endangered and undermined that to-day it is faced with complete collapse. In fact, one important line of vessels has been completely withdrawn from the trade. Britain has always used, as one of its most effective arguments for the maintenance of its Fleet, the argument that it is necessary to maintain and protect the trade routes from Great Britain to its overseas interests. If the Commonwealth Government and the other governments of the dominions bordering on the Pacific do not very speedily adopt some policy which will adequately protect British shipping instead of allowing it to be eliminated, the foreign countries will be using the same argument in respect to their Pacific interests as Britain has always used, and those countries will be establishing naval bases in the Pacific, which will make the position of Australia invidious.
– -Order . The honorable member is getting far wide of the scope of this discussion.
– I entirely support the policy which the Government has adopted. I think the trade-diversion policy has been fully justified by its results, and that the calamity-howlers who suggested at the outset that it would bring about stagnation and collapse of wool prices, have been shown tobe wholly incorrect.
I regret very much the attitude adopted, first by the honorable mem ber for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), and then by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), when they criticized the Government’s endeavours to establish the motor car industry in this country. I do not profess to be an engineer, nor do I claim to have any specialized technical knowledge of this subject, but I do say that I am prepared on the record of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties to accept his word that he has been properly advised, as to the practicability and desirability of establishing this industry in this country. The atti- tude of the honorable member for Went worth disclosed that he obviously held a brief.
– I think I can recall the . honorable member himself criticizing the policy of trade diversion.
– Unlike the honorable member, I do not tie myself to any given opinion. I am one of those who believe sincerely that consistency might easily be the bugbear of small minds. Because I had a given opinion about a subject when I was five years of age, or yesterday for that matter, is no reason why I should hold the same opinion on the same subject to-day. I consider myself fortunate, that unlike the honorable member for Wentworth, I am capable of changing my opinions. I say concerning the speeches made by the honorable members for Wentworth and Forrest that, as far as I am aware, no importing interests have ever favoured the establishment of a manufacturing industry for the goods with which they deal. For that reason there must of necessity be an immense amount of opposition, inspired opposition, an opposition that is very powerful no doubt because of its being originated by strong financial bodies overseas whose business is that of exporting motor cars to Australia. I remind the honorable member for Wentworth when he speaks about an engineering background that twenty years ago there was no such thing as a textile background in Japan, whereas to-day Japan is the largest exporter of textiles in the world. Of the world’s export of textiles 40 per cent, comes from Japan. I put that forward in answer to any suggestion that we have not in this country the engineering background necessary for the establishment of the motor car industry. To hear some people like the honorable member for Wentworth and the honorable member for Forrest speaking on this question of manufactures, one would be led to think that it was not possible to manufacture even a wheel-barrow in this country. I have no doubt that if those honorable members had been in charge of the destinies of Australia during the last twenty years, there would be absolutely no manufacturing industries in this country to-day. For that reason, I am prepared to support the Government in what might be a most ambitions scheme, but which is justified by the position in which we find ourselves to-day. It is justified by the fact that we have in this country natural resources that we should exploit. From the defence view-point alone, this venture is justified. I should like to see the programme widened so that not only would the motor industry be established in the Commonwealth, but also an industry which would provide the fuel needed to drive the cars produced. However, that subject is not at present before the committee.
I again congratulate the Government upon this policy which it has so boldly conceived and, so far, so ably pursued.
.- As 1 listened to the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) speaking on the proposals now before us, I found myself wondering with increasing amazement how the honorable gentleman could reconcile his first argument that the Government’s new trade diversion policy was intended to offset our adverse trade balance with America -with his second argument that it was also to meet the situation created by our favorable trade balance with Japan. Undoubtedly the honorable gentleman based his support of this policy on the contention that it would enable Australia to meet effectively the unfavourable trading position in which it finds itself in relation ‘to the United States of America. The honorable gentleman also said something about the changed economic conditions of the world. It was, however, quite impossible to reconcile his statements with the conflicting trade conditions that face us in respect of the United States of America and Japan. My view is that the Government’s trade diversion policy is the direct result of the good salesmanship of certain gentlemen who came to Australia as the representatives of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. The Commonwealth Government would have had logical grounds for submitting these proposals had the ‘Government of the United Kingdom requested action along these lines; but that is not the situation. The Minister recently travelled extensively abroad and came back empty-handed from both Europe and Great Britain. The trade agreements with Czechoslovakia and Belgium, submitted to us last week, are not worth the paper they are written on for they will confer no advantages on our people. It is extraordinary to me that expert salesmen from Manchester should be able to influence this Government to discontinue buying textiles from Japan, although Great Britain continues to purchase large quantities of Japanese textiles. Actually, the ambassadors from Manchester said to the Government, “You adopt this trade diversion policy and then we shall be able to buy all the textiles we want from Japan”. Immediately they realized that their representations had been accepted by the Government, the Australian price of British textiles was increased by 15 per cent. Had a Labour’ government been in office at the time this occurred honorable gentlemen opposite would have made themselves hoarse crying “Corruption, corruption, corruption! Who got the money?” I do not criticize the emissaries from Manchester. From their point of view they undoubtedly did a good job. But it is deplorable that the Austraiian purchasers pf textiles should be obliged to pay 15 per cent, more for British textiles than they were required to pay before the adoption of this policy. The Minister cannot deny that the price of British textiles in Australia increased 15 per cent, immediately this policy was announced.
– That is not so.
– The Minister is not denying it.
– He is taking the statement as a joke.
– He will not take it as a joke when the people have an opportunity to express their opinion upon the result of the representations of these business go-getters from Manchester. Great Britain has actually increased its textile trade with Japan since 1932. Yet because honorable gentlemen on this side of the committee have dared to criticize the Government’s conduct of the trade negotiations with Japan, it is said that we are unpatriotic. Dr. Johnson’s oftquoted remark “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel “ has been proved to be true again and again in this chamber. Honorable gentlemen opposite always hide behind the flag, and often the Union Jack that they use for the purpose is made in Japan.
I direct the attention of honorable members to the following letter which the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) wrote quite recently to the Government of Japan : -
To our neighbours across the Pacific I send greetings from the people of Australia, and express the hope that the goodwill at present existing between our two nations may long continue along avenues of mutual benefit and mutual friendship. The Pacific Ocean which divides via also links us with a common bond, for oceans are vehicles of commerce and without commerce nations cannot survive.
Yet the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties is now decrying Japan and talking disparagingly about its cheap labour conditions. The letter proceeds -
The very name of the Pacific is an omen of goodwill, for “ pacific “ means peaceful. Australia has watched with admiration the rise of Japan to the front rank of world powers, and wc hail with hope the possibilities for extension of our trade to your ports. The world-wide depression has emphasized the need for the development of greater international trade and it is geographically natural that Japan and Australia should look to one another for the exchange of their products.
Obviously the Minister for Commerce did not submit this letter to the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties before it was dispatched to Japan. The right honorable gentleman went on to say -
During the World War our two nations were brought together in an atmosphere of intense friendliness, both determined to protect the trade routes of the southern seas and safeguard that free flow of trade which spells progress and prosperity.
If the former trade policy of the Government spelt progress and prosperity, the reversal of that policy, upon the introduction of these- trade diversion proposals, cannot alao mean progress and prosperity. The letter proceeds -
Our Australian soldiers still remember with feelings of gratitude the protection granted thom on their long journey to the battle-fields of Europe by the Japanese ‘ Navy . Our mercantile marine has reason to congratulate itself upon the effective work done by your ships in warning off enemy raiders, and escorting our raw materials to assist the allied forces in their struggle. It is significant that the badge of our soldiers was the rising sun - that symbolic emblem which so well represents the progress of Japan. Since the war our relations have been further strengthened by an interchange of personal visits which can bring nothing but great advantage to both our peoples. I well remember the visit of the Japanese Navy in 1926, and my pleasure was great at being able, this year, to renew my acquaintance with some whom I met on that previous occasion. In 1934, Australia sent to Japan a goodwill mission headed by Sir John Latham, to give tangible expression to pur appreciation of Japanese friendship and Japanese trade. Last year the visit was returned by Katsuji Debuchi, ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary, and we assured him of our desire to co-operate in keeping peace in the Pacific and developing commerce across its waters.
If the Government’s present trade policy implies development, I must confess that I cannot understand English. The letter goes on to say -
We are hopeful that by this ‘means Australia and Japan may be brought even closer together. Our permanent representatives in Japan will be able to explore avenues which will lead to increased opportunity for exchange of goods. We recognize that there are products of Japan which we, in Aus’tralia, do not produce and cannot produce with the same efficiency. There are. on the other hand, products produced in Australia more economically than in Japan. We hope, by a careful scrutiny of the individual items of production in both countries, to arrive at some means whereby Pacific trading can be rationalized and placed on a basis of permanent progress through mutual co-operation.
The ink was hardly dry on that letter before the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties surrendered to the appeals of the business “ go-getters “ from Manchester and introduced to Parliament the trade diversion policy now before us. Apparently the Government said to the gentlemen from Manchester, “ We are willing to give you whatever you want.” Immediately the visitors succeeded in their mission the price of British textiles in Australia was increased by 15 per cent.
A good deal has been said in the course of this debate about the Australian wool growing industry. It is true that the price of wool has increased.
– No doubt the honorable member is sorry for that.
– I am sorry because I fear that our wool will be used to make uniforms for soldiers. I do not believe in war. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties believes in it, of course. I hate the thought that thousands upon thousands of the best men in Australia were killed during the last war. I hate the thought, too, that every nation in Europe is to-day re-arming. For the reason that Australian wool will be required to make uniforms for soldiers, the market price of it has advanced. No doubt the Minister is jubilant on this account, because some extra profit will accrue to him.
Mr.Ward. - He made thousands of pounds writing the history of the last war. Perhaps he wants an opportunity to repeat the effort.
– Perhaps so. I regret that Australian wool will be manufactured into textiles to provide uniforms for men of various nations who will eventually be killing one another on some battlefield. “War preparations saved the wool market. But for those preparations in Germany, Italy, Great Britain and Prance, the outlook for the wool producers of this country would have been a sorry one. Yet ministerial members take full credit for the prices that have been received. Had Japan come into the wool market in Australia, the prices would have been still higher. No one can gainsay that. When rayon was first placed on the market, every one ridiculed it and said that no one would purchase it; that it was suitable only for neck ties. To-day, the majority of women’s dress materials . are made of it. In Japan, the mill machinery has been altered to enable a fibre material to be produced, so that the people of that country will not have to depend on the wool that comes off the sheep’s back in Australia. Those who applaud the trade diversion policy of the Government should realize the influence which that policy has had on this latest development. To meet the exigencies of the economic situation, Japan was compelled to produce another material to take the place of wool, and the competition of that material is vitally affecting and will affect to a still greater extent the wool industry of this country. When the full effects are felt, members of the Country party will be the first to squeal, and will claim that the wool industry has been ruined by this competition. A law has been passed in Japan compelling the production of ma terials from fibre. Those who are supposed to look after the wool interests of this country do the greatest possible disservice to the wool-growers when they applaud the diversion of Japanese trade by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties. Up, to a decade ago, wool was a necessary commodity in nearly every cold country of the world. Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Scotland, England, Ireland - all had to buy wool. Had the previous rate of progression been maintained, the sales of wool in the last decade would have soared to an abnormal height. But other products came on to the market and to some extent displaced wool for clothing purposes. When I was a boy in Scotland, everybody wore wool in the winter months. A complete change of clothing was made from that which was worn during the summer period. On my last visit to Scotland I could not believe my eyes when I. saw the transformation that had taken place in the short time that had elapsed ; and I was informed that still greater changes were occurring. Japanese goods are being bought by the workers of Great Britain. There has been a change even in Australia. At one time it was the habit of every person to wear woollen underclothing. I do not suppose that to-day 5 per cent, of the people of this country wear it. Yet members of the Country party argue that everything is as it was in our fathers’ day, and that there will be no change. They applaud the wilful disservice which the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties has done to this country by the diversion of Japanese trade. Were it a question of benefiting Australian manufacturers, I should close the door to Japan or any other country.
I am in agreement with the proposal of the Minister for the manufacture of motor cars in Australia. That is a step in the right direction, and it is a long one. Whether the purpose be the correction of an adverse trade balance, or the promotion of the defence of this country, it is to be commended. I have read very carefully two or three times the speech of the honorable gentleman on this particular matter, and cannot find a flaw in it. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) believes. that nothing good can be produced by the people of Australia. I agree with the analysis of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson). The manufacturing industries of Japan have been developed within a decade. No one can convince me that the Japanese had any background in this matter ; they had been merely tillers of the soil, and had never seen a machine. They were taken straight into industry, shown machines of the latest type, and taught how to work them. My friend, the honorable member for Wentworth, argues that Australians have more intelligence than the Japanese, yet at the same time says that they are more backward.
– The honorable member will admit that wages have had a big influence on the success achieved by Japan industrially?
– I admit that the wages paid in Japan have an effect on its trade. But I am referring now to the manufacture of motor cars. Wages do not influence the capacity of the people of Japan to learn the technique of an industry. They have shown themselves capable of going into an industry without any knowledge of its technique, and of becoming competent operators within three months. Within a period of three or four years they have become highly skilled specialists in the manufacture of machine tools, which is the most difficult of all engineering operations. We have craftsmen who possess the necessary qualifications. We can produce the machines required,, and we have the raw material that we need for the manufacture of motor cars. Some persons may say that the output will be limited to two styles, and that to-day there are 87 different makes in Australia. Those who wish to purchase outside the two makes that are manufactured locally, must pay for the privilege. If a man wants a Rolls Royce and can afford to purchase it, he can send to England for it.
– There will be far more than two makes manufactured in Australia.
– If a cheap car and a. moderately priced car were produced, those who were not satisfied would have to be prepared to pay extra for what they required. A second-grade truck would be good enough for this country. The Bedford and Chevrolet trucks, which now have the largest sales, are not first grade products. It is strange that so many persons should cry stinking fish in regard to Australian manufactures. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has referred to Mr. Innes. During the period of my association with the bridge workers of Sydney, Mr. Innes made the statement, which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Sydney Telegraph, and all other capitalist newspapers, that the most competent workmen whom he had ever had under his control were those whom he had employed in Australia. When he secured a contract for the construction of a bridge in South America, he invited Australian skilled artisans to accept employment on it, and seven or eight men left Australia with him. When I first came from Scotland it took me two or three years to adapt myself to Australian conditions. The Australian workman has natural ability and initiative, and these qualities enable him to adapt himself readily to the conditions in any industry. He is also more virile, and follows instructions more intelligently than do the workers of other countries. I am pleased, therefore, that the opportunity is to be afforded to the workers of Australia to show their aptitude for the manufacture of motor cars. If the Minister needed criticizing, I should not hesitate to adopt the role of a critic.
– He has been talking about the manufacture of motor cars in Australia for twelve months.
– My 20 years’ experience at the Trades Hall has shown me that it takes five or six years to start even a small industry. If the Minister accomplishes that objective within the space of two years in an industry of this magnitude, he will have the congratulations of the workers of this country. I do not criticize this aspect of the Government’s policy, but I repeat that its action in diverting trade from Japan at the present time is detrimental to the real interests of the people of this country.
.- The Government’s trade diversion policy has been divided into three main phases; it seeks t:o achieve three different objectives by three different means. By restricting imports from America, it is intended to rectify, to some extent, our unfavorable trade balance with that country. The imposition of duties against Japan is intended to protect British textile and rayon products on the Australian market, and also, to some extent, to protect Australian industries. The third phase of this policy - the manufacture of motor chassis in this country - is purely a protective venture, the object of which is to establish a local industry which may become of great value in connexion with our defence policy.
I wholeheartedly support the Government . in restricting ‘ imports from America. For the ten-year period preceding the depression, American goods entered Australia at a prodigious rate and our adverse trade balance with that country, over that period, exceeded £250,000,000. In the period since federation, Australia’s adverse trade balance with the United States of America approximates the total amount of our over-seas debt. For two generations, the United States of America has been in the forefront of protection nations; its policy has been to exclude foreign goods as much as possible, and to sell all the goods it possibly can wherever it can. The Great War enabled the United States of America to increase European indebtedness to it. Australia has been borrowing from England and selling its goods on the British market, using a portion of the credit thereby created for the purchase of American goods. There has been, therefore, a constant drain of moneys, or credits, from England to the United States via Australia. A policy to rectify this position has long been overdue, and if something had riot been done in this direction sooner or later, and Australia’s purchases from the United States of America had continued at anything like the rate prevailing in the past, this country would have become bankrupt, and the position of the British Empire financially would have been rendered very difficult. It is all very well fc-t an erudite gentleman like Professor Giblin to advocate the ideal of free trade, but we have to look facts in the face. Free trade, as such, does not exist in the world to-day. Nations with whom we arcforced to trade have adopted a policy of protection, and if we are to live and prosper, we must accept the policy dictated.
Dy the times. It is useless, therefore, totalk of spheres of freedom of trade.
– This, however, israther a novel method of meeting that position.
– The method we haveadopted may call for criticism to some extent, but it is impossible to imagine that we can live in a country where tradeis free to all outsiders. Professor Giblin is inclined to blame Great Britain in this respect. He says that Britain is a bad customer because, apparently, it requires payment of interest on moneys we have borrowed from. it. That is rather the logic of the defaulter who does not wish to, or cannot, pay back loans, and ultimately adopts a malicious attitude towards the lender. There are other means by which we can further curtail American trade with Australia. It has been pointed out that the United States of America is not being given full credit for all of the Australian goods it buys, that a good deal of Australian wool, for instance, is purchased by that country in England. On the other hand, that omission is probably compensated for by the large quantity of petrol which is now being sent into Australia by American companies. That petrol is produced, not in the United States of America, but in Borneo and Sumatra, and that trade is not credited directly to the United Statesof America in its balance with Australia,, but the fact remains that the proceeds of it go to Americans and help to swell the disparity which exists against us in our trade with that country. I do not believe that the United States of America has any grievance against Australia in this matter. The policy of that country is simply to look after itself; it is not concerned about our policy. Americans do not complain if we choose to adopt protective measures so long as we do not do anything unfair as a competitor. It is clear that they are not prepared tonegotiate with us at the present time. In any case, under the Government’s proposal the estimated margin of £7,500,000 in favour of the United States of America will remain. Thus it has no reason to complain, and, I suggest, there is very little likelihood that it will adopt reprisals against us.
Our relationship with Japan is totally different. We have decided to divert certain of our trade hitherto of great value to that country. I propose to follow the example of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) by bearing in mind that these negotiations are still continuing and, therefore, it would not be wise for me, as a private member, to express any opinion in respect of the merits of the dispute. I commend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) and other honorable members opposite for resisting the temptation, which must have been great, to jump into this controversy during its early stages. I feel that their decision in that respect was dictated by the interests of the country; they deserve full commendation for it. Now that the matter has come before this House at last, however, and they have been forced into the controversy, I am astonished to hear the reasons put forward by honorable members opposite in opposition to the Government’s policy. The burden of their plea is that, by excluding Japanese goods, we are treating Japan unfairly. Honorable members opposite, from the leader down, have condemned the prohibition on Japanese goods. One of the points made by the Leader of the Opposition was that this policy would tend to increase the cost of living in this country through bringing about a rise of prices of clothing. I always understood that the importation of goods produced in cheaplabour countries was anathema to members of the Labour party. The present Labour party, however, is apparently only a shadow of that party as we formerly knew it. [Quorum formed.] Last year many honorable members on this side of the chamber repeatedly urged the Government to take certain steps to rectify our trade balance with America and, as a counterblast to those efforts, honorable members opposite frequently asked what steps the Government had taken to stop the flow of cheap Japanese goods into Australia. To-day the position is changed entirely; honorable members opposite advocate the importation of cheap Japanese goods.. I wonder whether the representatives of the Labour party in this House realize what is likely to be the position in Australia in the future if Japan is permitted to continue its policy of penetration into not only the textile industry, but also all our other industries, depressing costs, wages, values, and general conditions under which our people work. That prospect has been visualized by the Government, and its present policy is not merely an effort to protect British products on the Australian market, but is rather - and I think this is the more important aspect - a policy to stop this Japanese penetration. It has realized that that development must be stopped at some time or other. As a nation the Japanese are a very fine people, and they have been good friends with Australia. We have no right to dictate to them as to how they should carry on their business, but, unfortunately, their standards are totally different from ours. It has been pointed out that wages paid to girls in the textile industry in that country amount to from ls. to ls. 3d. a day. Surely goods produced by labour of this kind cannot be permitted to compete unrestricted on our markets ; that is, if we have any desire at all to maintain our present standards.
I should like to support the Government in respect of the third phase of its trade diversion policy, but I am in doubt on that point. The manufacture of internal combustion engines in Australia has been recommended as an important clement in relation to our ‘defence policy, but, until it can be shown that such engines can be manufactured economically in this country, I do not think that we should enter upon such a venture merely because it offers some prospective benefit in relation to defence.
– How could that ever be demonstrated if we do not try it?
– The honorable member says that we should try it regardless, apparently, of whether or not such a scheme is likely to fail. I say that we should fully investigate such a venture before we enter upon it. That is my complaint in respect of this phase of the Government’s trade diversion policy. We have, wisely, I think, laid it down as a principle that we shall not embark upon any new industry without a thorough investigation. There is in the Ottawa agreement an article to the effect that no new duties of a protective nature shall he imposed, or existing protective duties increased, without inquiry by the Tariff Board. I have not heard from the Minister how he is going to square his proposal with this principle.
– This proposal is not objected to by the British Government.
– Well, that is something new. The Minister only vouchsafes such information as can be extracted from him. No one, with the possible exception of the Minister, has any information upon which to judge the prospects of success of this venture. It would have been much more satisfactory if an inquiry had been made in the ordinary way by the Tariff Board, if evidence had been given in public, and the report of the board obtained. There is nothing urgent or secret about the matter, and there is no reason why this, the largest new venture in production that has been attempted in Australia for a long time, should be undertaken without any preliminary investigation. When the Minister gives an assurance that the industry can be carried on successfully, and that cars can be produced to sell at no increased cost, I say that the assurance would be much more convincing if backed by a report of the Tariff Board. It is evident that the Minister himself entered upon this scheme while under a misconception as to costs and prices. He represented, for instance, that 80 per cent, of the content of cars sold in Australia was represented by Australian workmanship.
– They are SO per cent. Australian in cost.
– This is what the Minister said when introducing his trade diversion policy -
Four-fifths of almost every car on Australian roads to-day is already the product of Australian material and Australian labour.
– That is true, if we include the labour of salesmanship.
– Here is another extract to show that the Minister was labouring under n misconception. During the Minister’s speech, the honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride) asked “What will be the position in regard to price?” to which the Minister replied -
The only increase of price that can take place is limited to the 20 per cent, of the finished car not now being made in the Commonwealth.
– That is absolutely true, and I stand by it now. . I restated the position last night, and the honorable member is not being fair.
– The 80 per cent, referred to by the Minister is 80 per cent, of the price charged to the Australian public, but the price of the chassis which we purchase in America represents 60 per cent, of the cost of the car itself. I have here some figures which the Minister may himself confirm. They refer to the cost of what is described as a “ knockdown “ chassis, that is, the chassis less tyres, batteries and springs, and the figures show that what we buy from America represents 60 per cent, of the cost of the car in America. The price of the complete car in America is quoted at 564.60 dollars, while the price of the “knock-down” chassis is 387.5 dollars. The true position is that we buy from abroad 60 per cent, of the value of the car, but that represents only 20 per cent, of the price at which the car is sold to the Australian public. The remaining 80 per cent, is made up of freight and insurance, duty, sales tax, selling charges and cost of body. The cost to the American public of one good-grade American car is £140, but the selling price of the same car in Australia is £345.
– That includes exorbitant commissions for selling.
– That is not limited to the private dealers; huge profits are also, being made by such firms as General Motors-Holdens Limited, which is the largest body manufacturer in Australia. I have been supplied with reliable figures by persons in the trade which show that the f.o.b. price of a Chevrolet chassis, upon which to mount a sedan body, is £45, and the c.i.f. price in Australia is £57. To that must be added £43 duty, making a total of £100 for the landed price of the American chassis. General MotorsHoldens Limited adds the body, and the finished car is sold to the Australian public for £340, although the chassis was landed in Australia, duty paid, for £100.
– Yes, but only 20 per cent, of the sale price goes to the United States of America.
– If cars are to be manufactured in Australia, the only firms likely to undertake the task are General Motors and the Ford Company. Unfortunately, the Minister has not told us with what firms he has been negotiating.
– I am not able to do that at this stage.
– It would be more satisfactory if we had some information as to when manufacture was going to begin, and what prices were likely to be charged. For my part, I confidently expected that manufacture would be well on its way by now.
– The honorable member must understand that no offer of a bounty’ can be made to anyone until Parliament passes this item of the schedule.
– I imagine that the Minister has not embarked upon this policy merely as a frolic of his own. He must have been in touch with some one whom he’ considers as a possible manufacturer of motor cars. As far as I can see, only the two firms I have mentioned are likely to undertake the work.
– Any firm which got the right to use overseas patents could undertake the work. A great deal of manufacturing in Australia to-day is done on that basis.
– Our experience in regard to the manufacture of motor car bodies is that only three firms have been able to make a success of it in Australia. Many other firms began making bodies, but nearly all of them failed, although I should say that it is a much simpler thing to manufacture bodies than it is to manufacture engines.
– The manufacture of bodies is the more difficult undertaking, because the fashions are constantly changing.
– I always understood that the engine was the really vital part of the car. It is certainly the one part which no firm in Australia has yet felt itself capable of making. If it were as simple as the Minister suggests, surely some one would, before now, have begun the manu facture of motor car engines in Australia. I do not think that I am mistaken in saying that the manufacture of motor car bodies is an easier and simpler thing than the manufacture of engines. At any rate, it cannot be denied that the task of making the whole car is something greater than that of making only the body. As I have said, the only two firms which have really made a success of body making in Australia are General MotorsHoldens Limited and the Ford Company, and they, with the possible addition of the Chrysler Company, will probably be the only firms which will undertake the manufacture of engines. Thus, two firms, or at most three, will enjoy a monopoly of the trade. We know something of the methods of these companies. They are run by business men, whoseobject is to get all they can. I do not blame them for that, but Australia should think carefully before placing itself in the hands of a firm such as General Motors, which will make the public pay as the Standard Oil Company and the Vacuum Oil Company have made them pay. It is quite clear to me, in view of what we now pay for motor car bodies, that we shall have to pay through the nose for the complete Australian car.
By the time we have established this American monopoly in Australia, wo shall have done a great deal to injure, if not destroy, several successful- Australian industries already in operation, industries which are performing a useful function, and employing a good deal of labour. There is need for manufacturing to be concentrated before it can hope to achieve success, but I argue that before it will be possible to do that, a great loss of capital will be caused to those concerns which are to-day interested in the Australian motor business. They will be supplanted by American firms running on American capital.
– With Australian workmen doing the job.
– That may be so; but they will be led by Americans. It would be an excellent thing if it could be demonstrated that an Australian motor manufacturing industry could be carried on economically. I do not offer any opinion as to whether it could or could not be carried on as a commercial proposition, as it requires some one who knows a great deal more about the subject than any member of this Parliament can hope to know to offer a useful opinion on this matter. I declare, therefore, that there should be some investigation of this proposal. It was a mistake to rush headlong into this policy, which is the biggest attempt to protect a new industry in Australia that has been made in many years. It is still not too late for the Government at least to retrace its steps to the extent of having the Tariff Board make a full inquiry. I assume from the remarks of the Minister himself that the Government has no commitments in this respect to any company. The Minister said that the policy has been referred to the Tariff Board, but the inquiry will be on only a limited scale, as the board has been invited to assist the Minister only in the carrying out of a policy on which he has already decided. It would have been saner to have made the inquiry before embarking on this plan. I agree, however, with the efforts of the Government to improve the trade of Australia with other countries.
.- I propose, as the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) did, to divide my remarks on this matter into two parts, but I do not propose to follow him by discussing first, trade diversion, and, secondly, the proposal to establish an Australian motor manufacturing industry. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn), who has just resumed his seat, spoke at length about the proposed establishment of this industry in this country, and I propose to continue on the same lines by quoting some of the Minister’s own words in relation to the building of motor chassis and engines in Australia when he said that this proposal should be kept separate from and independent of the general scheme of trade diversion. The Minister said -
I therefore cannot conceive of any honorable member who favours or who advocates the diversion policy in principle not subscribing wholeheartedly to the Government’s proposal to bring about as soon as possible the local manufacture of motor car engines and chassis.
I emphasize that, after appealing for separate consideration of the two aspects of the new protection policy, the Minister made the weird statement that if honorable members favored the general policy of trade diversion he could not understand how they could fail to subscribe wholeheartedly to a proposal for the manufacture of motor cars. The Minister continued -
This proposed new industry is one which I submit every member of this House may vote for with confidence and with pride.
I can assure the Minister that I am not one who intends to vote for it. On the contrary, I intend to vote wholeheartedly against it with even more pride and more confidence than that with which the honorable gentleman could possibly advocate it. The Minister continued -
Established here on a basis sufficiently strong to prove economic, it will correct the trade balance to the extent of ‘some millions sterling annually.
These are broad . general statements. I listened carefully to what the Minister said, and I have a copy of his speech, and I suggest to the committee that he did not prove any of the grandiose statements he made about the millions of pounds that are to be saved. I propose to show how much it will cost Australia.
-Would the honorable gentleman not support the economic establishment of this industry?
– There are such things as false economy. As a matter of fact, we have to pay for certain things as defence measures and do not quibble, but if we agree to the proposal brought forward by the Minister we shall arise an octopus in this country; we shall develop an old man of the sea who will bestride our backs without our having hope ever to rid ourselves of him. It is to prevent this absurdity happening that I raise my voice in this committee to-night. The Minister further went on to say -
It will add substantially to the stature of Australia as an industrial nation. Indeed, with truth it might be said that a country has not reached its industrial manhood which is not a fabricator on a sound scale of that incalculable force in national affairs - the internal combustion engine.
One of the nations against which this trade diversion policy was directed is Japan. Japan itself does not manufacture motor-car engines or motor cars.
It did at one time make a “ tinny “ sort of thing which was a rank failure.
– Japan has now inaugurated a policy which is word for word with the policy enunciated by the Minister.
Mr.R. GREEN. - Japan is a highly industrialized nation, and has a potential market for an output far greater than Australia could hope to achieve, and in other industries, such as textiles, pottery, and weaving generally, in which the costs of manufacture are considerably below the corresponding costs in Australia, it has been proved that Japan has made a success. But it has not made a success of the motor industry, and if the Minister really means it when he says that a country has not reached industrial manhood until it has established a motor industry, his remark must apply to Japan.
To say the least of it, the Minister’s remarks are indeed contradictory; in fact, I could, within reason, use a much stronger term than that. He has set out nine reasons which have actuated the Government in deciding on this policy. I propose to deal with only two of. them. One was the declaration that -
The more difficult part of the car is already being manufactured in Australia.
That statement was replied to by the honorable member for Perth when he said, that neither the more important nor the most expensive part of the motor car is at present being made in this country. The most expensive part of a motor vehicle is the engine. Furthermore, without the engine there is no motor car. It is the thing that takes you there and brings you back again. Without it a car is absolutely of no use. I have been informed that in the internal combustion engines of motor vehicles to-day there are 3,600 parts. It must, therefore, be a most complicated piece of machinery, and it is ridiculous to assert that the engine forms part of the 20 per cent, of the motor car which the Minister claims at present has to be imported. That, 20 per cent., furthermore, covers many things other than the engine itself. The Minister gave honorable members some figures in regard to motor engines and asserted that the average cost was about £30 in the United State of America. I do not know where he got his figures. I know that many other honorable members beside myself have attempted to get some figures with a reasonable degree of accuracy, and have gone to sources where they would have reasonable expectation of being able to get them, but it was not possible to obtain authentic information which could be used in this chamber. The Minister, however, said that the cost was about £30. In addition to engines, we should also have to undertake the manufacture of other accessories which are not at present manufactured in this country. The only two firms that could undertake the development of this industry in Australia are General Motors Limited and the Ford Company. To mention just one essential part of motor cars, the manufacture of which is entrusted to specialists in America, only three motor manufacturers in Canada and the United States of America make their own clutches. The clutch specialists have, therefore, a market of millions, and the cost is low due to repetition; furthermore, specialists are available to the British chassis builders. The comparative cost of a chassis made complete in Australia would be influenced to the detriment of local buyers by the mass production of millions of cars available overseas using standardized items such as wheels, selfstarters, generators, carburettors, speedometers, fuel pumps, brakes, and universal joints. I am informed that in respect of universal joints, only two manufacturers in the United States of America and Canada make, their own ; yet we are going to start out coolly and freely to make these things at a cost which, according to the Minister, will not make the price of the complete car higher than it is at present.
– I did not say that from the outset all the parts of the chassis would be manufactured in Australia.
– As a matter of fact, the Minister did leave it open for the interpretation that any essential accessories that could not be manufactured in Australia at the outset would be allowed entry under licence. I do not want to do the honorable member an injustice, as I can condemn him out of his own mouth without misinterpreting or misconstruing what he said.
– I did not say last night that from the beginning we should be able to do the whole of the manufacturing in this country.
– What the Minister did say was that the Australian manufacture of motor vehicles could be embarked upon without any additional cost to the Australian users.
– Hear, hear!
– The actual words of the Minister were “ If local manufacture takes place upon a progressive basis “.
The second statement of the honorable gentleman to which I object was “ The policy will not cause an increased price to car users “. I do not think a more foolish statement has ever been made by a responsible Minister in this chamber. We have had an experience of the cost of making motor bodies in Australia. General Motor3-Holdens Limited makes large numbers of motor bodies, but at a price far in excess of similar imported bodies, and of an inferior quality. The name of T. J. Richards and Sons Limited has been mentioned in this discussion.I had a Richards body on my car and I do not think I could find words to say how unsatisfactory it was. Since I described this body in this House some time ago I have inspected other bodies made by the same firm, and all I can say is that their quality cannot possibly be compared to the quality of imported bodies. Motor car distributors who are able to offer for sale cars with imported bodies, make a great point of it in the advertisements they put in the daily press, This speaks for itself.
The Minister also said that 80 per cent, of the Australian selling price of cars consists of costs and charges incurred in Australia. That may be true, but a good deal of the SO per cent, consists of taxes and charges of one kind and another imposed by the Government. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) gave, as a more accurate figure, 46 per cent, or 4*7 per cent. In any case the remaining 20 per cent. - accepting the Minister’s 80 per cent, for the moment - represents the most important part of the motor car, the chassis and the engine. The Minister would have us believe that these can be obtained for the extra 20 per cent., but if our experience of the cost of motor body building is any criterion we maY assume quite definitely that the cost of making engines and chassis in Australia is likely to be more than double the 20 per cent, mentioned by the Minister. In any case to suggest that the price of motor cars to local purchasers will not increase if the complete unit is manufactured in Australia is absurd. The Minister has told us that as the engine would cost about £30 and a bounty of £30 is being provided, increased prices are not likely. The exact words of the Minister on this point were as follows -
I have indicated that before the price to Australian purchasers of cars containing Australianmade engine and chassis could be increased, in comparison with the present price of cars carrying engine and chassis of Canadian origin, the additional local cost must be increased by £72 8s., and in comparison with those manufactured in the United States of America, by £93 8s.
Yet elsewhere in his speech the honorable gentleman stated quite definitely that there would be no increase of prices. Our experience, of course, has always been that the Australian manufacturers, without exception, chase the tariff and keep just within the margin.
– As in the butter equalization scheme.
– The honorable gentleman has introduced quite another subject but his statement is totally inaccurate.
We were told by the Minister that 4,700 internal combustion engines were made in Australia last year of which 827 were petrol engines. He added that the engines varied from 1£ to 80 horse-power. We were given no detailed information as to. the kind of engine that was manufactured here. Probably the Minister was referring to engines required on farms to drive sheep-shearing machinery, and to saw-milling machinery and pumping plants. I have no doubt that the revolutions of these engines would be quite low. At any rate, the engines would be totally different from the high compression units required for motor cars or aeroplanes. I have never heard of one motor car or aeroplane engine having been made in Australia.
– When does the honorable gentleman think that we should begin manufacturing motor car engines?
– Not at present, for many reasons which. I could give, and certainly not under the plan sponsored by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties. If this whole subject had been exhaustively inquired into by the Tariff Board and that body had made a favorable recommendation, the situation would be different. Such a report might cause me to revise my views slightly, but I am definitely not prepared to approve of the harebrained scheme placed before us by the Minister and supported only by his ex parte statement. The internal combustion engines so far manufactured in Australia have been entirely different from those required for motor transport units.
The Minister said that 85 per cent, of the cars selling on the Australian market represented only seventeen types of engines. That may be true, but if a monopoly is given to two trading organizations to manufacture motor cars in this country, we shall have only four types of engines, for representatives of the two companies concerned - General Motor s-Holdens Limited and the Ford Motor Company - have intimated publicly that they would manufacture only two types of engine, a higher priced unit and a lower-priced one. Therefore, instead of seventeen types as at present, we should have only four types available for selection. We know what happens in Australia when commercial enterprises are given monopolies. I instance our experience with the Australian Glass Manufacturers Company Limited. I admit that I agreed to the policy that pave that company a monopoly, but we should learn from our past mistakes. The fi shares in that company are now valued at 9Ss. I have been informed - and, so far as I know, the information was not confidential - that, in order to manufacture motor engines in this country the Ford Motor Company would need to instal plant at a minimum cost of £4,000,000. We may assume that if General Motors Limited became interested in the proposal, it also would have to instal plant requiring at least that capital outlay. The Australian motor car users would, therefore, be called upon to include in the price of their motor cars the interest, depreciation, and dividend requirements for a capital expenditure of at least £8,000,000. In my opinion, locally-manufactured motor cars would cost the Australian purchasers from £90 to £100 more than they are at present paying for motor vehicles. Such an increased price would, undoubtedly, curtail the expenditure on motor vehicles. In view of the figures that I have given, I cannot understand how the Minister can possibly suggest that the establishment of this industry in Australia could be effected without increasing costs.
Modern conditions require modern methods of transport. Our railway systems make no pretence to provide all the transport needs of the community. The railways must be supplemented by other means of transport, and of those available motor vehicles are the most efficient and the least costly. If we increase the cost of motor vehicles we shall undoubtedly add to the difficulties of those who require transport services, and increase to an unbearable degree the burden on some sections of the community. All sections of the community will have to pay toll to the companies which begin manufacturing operations. Because this is a pet scheme of the Minister’s, I am rather suspicious of it. I have been a colleague of the honorable gentleman sufficiently long to realize that many of the proposals which he has eloquently advocated in the past, have turned out to be duds. I fear that this nation-stirring scheme will be just as great a dud as have been some others.
– As great a dud as the Ottawa agreement?
– That is a rather unfortunate remark.
– The agreement is all right for the butter producers who are represented by the honorable member.
– As my time is drawing to a close I shall conclude by summarizing my reasons for objecting to and opposing this proposal by the Minister for the manufacture of motor cars at the moment in Australia, particularly under the scheme propounded. First, there will be a heavy loss of customs revenue. Secondly, there will be a heavy bounty payment, and a tax on the public to establish and nurse an uneconomic industry. Thirdly, it involves the destruction of distributors’ assembling plants. The Ford and General MotorsHoldens organizations have already been hit very hard by this policy which the Minister initiated on the 22nd May last. Engines have to be imported to keep their works going. The employees of one of those firms have been reduced in number from 2,900 in March last, to 1,800. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde), when Minister for Trade and Customs always claimed that his tariff proposals would have the effect of increasing employment, but invariably the effect was in the opposite direction. I suggest that that experience will be repeated in this case. Australia cannot afford to decrease the volume of available employment either now or in the future. My fourth objection is that there will be a reduction of the output of bodies, tyres and other parts that are already produced in Australia, because the higher prices will restrict sales of cars. Fifthly the prices of cars and trucks will be much higher than they are now. Sixthly, in the aggregate there will be less employment and general stagnation. I think that I can now safely leave that matter and deal with the principle of trade diversion.
Whether it is wise at any time to take bi-lateral action against any particular nation, instead of envisaging our trade as a whole and balancing it as far as we are able, with an excess of exports over imports, I take leave to doubt. We have many good customer countries, and there are others with which we have an adverse trade balance. This action of the Government is aimed at two nations, and peculiarly enough, one is a good customer country with a trade balance in favour of Australia, while the other has a trade balance that is definitely in its own favour and against us. The taking of this bilateral action has made Australia so unpopular overseas that the Minister felt impelled to refer to the matter when introducing the bills to ratify the trade agreements he had made with Czechoslovakia and Belgium. Discussing the general aspects of the negotiation of trade treaties, the honorable gentleman pointed out how unpopular he had found Aus- tralia to be. I suggest that this action will make Australia even more unpopular than it has been. We have to study the psychology of those against whom we take action. Australia is not particularly well known to the bulk of the people of the United States of America. Those who have met citizens of that country abroad, realize that their general knowledge of Australia is very limited. But in Japan we are well known, and in dealing with that country we have to be particularly careful, because its ideas have an oriental flavour. What they may consider ordinary we may regard with aversion, or at all events, in a totally different light. I have been to Japan on five occasions. A Japanese will look you in the face and tell you a lie knowing that it is a lie, and that you know he knows it. I mention this not by way of criticism of Japan, but iii order to stress the necessity for taking it into consideration in our dealings with that country.
– It would be as well not to say such things just now.
– What I have said is perfectly true. The Japanese see nothing wrong with such a mental outlook from an ethical, moral, or any other view-point. Perhaps however it is not advisable to pursue the subject while negotiations are proceeding which we hope will reach fruition. I agree with the oft-repeated statement that Japan for ils own sake must buy Australian wool. On my last visit to that country about two years ago, I inspected a cotton and a woollen factory. No secret was made of the fact that they were mainly equipped to deal with Australian wool of a certain type. I was informed that experiments had been conducted with South African wool, and that it had been found to be not the best for the machinery that had been installed. This is not unknown either to the Minister or to honorable members. We underrate the intelligence of the Japanese business man, if we believe that he will allow a profitable export trade in woollen textiles to vanish, and thus lose the results of years of work and the expenditure of many millions of pounds. I am of the opinion that an arrangement of mutual advantage to Australia and Japan will shortly be made.
– That is what the Government has been saying for six months.
– I know that. But with the people of the East time is not as important as it is to us. They do not rush things as we do. Their patience is far greater than ours. It must not be forgotten that one of their principal characteristics is a keen desire for bargaining or haggling. That being ingrained in them, they give it full play. We of the Occident become so impatient as to feel inclined to discontinue the negotiations. The United States of America is in a somewhat different, category. I have not the same admiration for the citizens of that country as have some other honorable members. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has said, the two countries against whom we have taken action border on the Pacific, as Australia does. If we make a. war of any description, even a trade war, and reprisals or retaliations result, as has been the case in this instance, we forget the significance of the name of that ocean whose waters lave the shores of each of these countries. Let us be really pacific. I suggest that any action, bi-lateral instead of multi-lateral in character, is not conducive to the maintenance of the spirit of goodwill among the nations, the need for which is even more urgent to-day than it has ever been.
– In considering matters of this kind it is necessary to pay some regard to what constitutes international trade. There seems to be quite a lot of loose thinking on subjects of this description. Honorable members talk about what we import and export, whereas, actually, the fact is that the Commonwealth of Australia, or any other nation for that matter, does not export, or import, as a business concern or as an individual, but that the trade of the world is made up of hundreds of millions of individual transactions. We talk very loosely about Australia’s markets being flooded by goods from Japan or some other country, whereas I do not suppose that any proportion of the goods entering this country from Japan, or from Great Britain, comes into Australia until it has been bought by some local Australian importer. Manufacturers, or merchants, in other countries do not charter ships or load them with goods and send such goods to our ports on the offchance of being able to pick up a purchaser for them. All of these transactions are finalized beforehand. Thus when we come to talk about our trade balance, it is just as well for us to get down to the real facts. Let us ask ourselves why we trade. Is it not for the reason that we desire to quit at a profit those products which we produce in excess of our requirements? And for what reason? If we send those goods overseas, it stands to reason that we must be paid for them in other goods. We cannot expect to be paid in cash. The currency of the United .States of America, Japan, or Germany, is of no value in this country unless the holder of it can exchange it for our currency. It would be well for the committee, in dealing with matters of this kind, to have a clear understanding of the terms we use.
We have to consider the Government’s policy from several aspects. I make no secret of the fact that I am opposed to the policy inaugurated by the Government on the 22nd May. I oppose it because I think it is wrong from Australia’s viewpoint, and is not in the true interests of Australian industry, because I think it is wrong from the viewpoint of Imperial relations, and because I think it is wrong for the much more important reason that it is a menace to the peace and security of this country, and therefore should not be proceeded with. When we come to consider the antecedents to the introduction of this policy we must bear in mind two or three remarkable facts. When we met here in March last we were immediately faced with a motion of no confidence by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), the burden of whose charges was that the Government had not taken steps sufficiently drastic to deal with the lessening of our trade balance and the lessening of our funds in London, which he contended was taking place. On that occasion the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons)., delivered one of the few orations he’ has delivered in this House, at least since I have been a member of this chamber, and went to great pains to prove to the House that there was no foundation whatever for the charges of the Leader of the Opposition. He endeavoured to prove that our trade balance overseas, instead of declining, was actually improving, and improving at an alarming rate, whilst there was every prospect that that tendency would continue. His remarks on this subject are reported on page 23, volume 149, Mansard. Dealing with imports, he said -
An analysis of the imports clearly indicates that they are employment-giving. They consist, in the main, of raw materials, capital goods and foodstuffs of a .kind not produced in Australia, the principal items being . . .
He enumerated a list of such articles including machinery, metals, motor chassis and parts, cable and electric appliances, oils, minerals, books, and paper. Probably a lot of that paper has been used by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) in circulating his arguments among honorable members, and that fact may have helped to increase the imports of that item. On that occasion, the Prime Minister announced that, out of imports of a total value of £16,000,000, imports valued at £14,000,000 were of an employmentcreating character.
That want of confidence motion was followed by a motion for the adjournment of the House by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) with a view to discussing our trade balance with the United States of America. A very interesting debate took place on that occasion. The honorable member for Flinders asked that certain action be taken in respect of our adverse trade balance with the United States of America, and put up a very good case in support of Iiia request. There is hardly an honorable member who docs not feel that the traditional policy of the United States of America in international trade has been one-eyed and of the doginthemanger kind, and that the United States of America has not played that part in smoothing the pathways of trade in the world which its resources and position entitled us to expect. During that debate, however, the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties delivered himself of an oration in which he made some rather remarkable statements. One of them was as follows : -
Happily, Australia has so far been able to continue down the old road; we have continued up to date to count our trade, apart from preferential arrangements within the Empire, not as balanced with this or that country, but as balanced in the aggregate.
I submit that, when the final solution of this dispute is found, and we are enabled to reckon the costs of the policy we are discussing this evening, every honorable member will recognize that the honorable gentleman on that occasion was right on the target so far as the truth of his contentions was concerned.
– I clearly indicated then that a change was coming.
– I shall deal with that point. On that occasion, the honorable member continued -
I desire to emphasize that the redressing of an unfavorable trade balance of this nature is not quite so easy, nor is it so completely’ desirable, as was suggested by the honorable member for Flinders.
Those are the honorable gentleman’s own words, but the ink was not very dry on this print when he enunciated an entirely different policy.
– I clearly indicated that the Government was going to take action.
– Yes ; the honorable gentleman said -
It is a simple matter to speak of taking steps to redress an adverse balance but I remind honorable members that, if other countries with which Australia has an extremely unfavorable balance of trade, apply to us the same medicine as the honorable member for Flinders has prescribed, it would be a most unhappy occurrence for us.
I do not think that one could find a more effective condemnation of the Government’s own policy than this condemnation by its very author.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).Order ! The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), I think, is quoting from a speech made during this session, and in that case he is not in order.
– If that standing order is to be applied to me Mr. Chairman, I respectfully ask why it has not been applied to other honorable members who have repeatedly quoted from Hansard, and broken another standing order in reading their speeches.
– The standing order does not apply to all quotations from Hansard. Thephrase used by the honorable member that “ the ink was not very long dry” reveals exactly the reason why he is unable, under the standing order, to make that particular quotation.
– The honorable member has given himself away.
– I have no intention whatever to lie about the matter. I make no apology in this respect. I point out respectfully, Mr. Chairman, that my case is not the first, during the last few days, in which quotations have been read in this House from this particular volume of Hansard. In view of your ruling, however, I shall trust to memory. We have, in that speech which was made by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties in this chamber this year, just prior to the introduction of this very questionable policy, the strongest condemnation of it which has ever been uttered in this country; and the honorable gentleman uttered his condemnation in advance. When it comes to considering the policy which the Minister has actually pursued let us see how that policy compares with that which he advocated in 1930. At that time, he was not burdened with the cares of office, but was able to indulge in writing one or two articles for the Harold, Melbourne, on Australia’s overseas trade.
– When was that ?
– On the 12th March, 1930.
– We are living in another world now.
– The honorable gentleman might wish that he was. His policy on that occasion, however, must have been a deliberate one, and it was aimed at Great Britain. This is what the honorable gentleman said about British trade -
The truth is that this prohibitive duty campaign brings an end of appreciable preference to British manufactured goods within measurable distance . . .
Australia is definitely going over the top as a prohibitionist in protection for local industry and that protection is aimed definitely at British goods as at foreign goods.
– Hear! hear!
– The honorable gentleman says “ Hear ! hear ! “ ; but so far as. I can discover, and I have paid the honorable gentleman the compliment of having looked up some of his past orations on this subject, there is no attitude which one can adopt in ‘respect of our tariff policy that cannot be justified by a statement made, at some time or other, by the honorable gentleman. The Koran can be used to justify polygamy, slavery, and many other things; and on trade matters one can justify any theory, or any policy, by quoting the honorable gentleman.
– The reason for that is that the honorable gentleman wants to be a Minister in any government.
– That suggestion is well worthy of the party which the honorable member leads.
– I am not prepared to comment on that statement. That is a matter which can be thrashed out between the Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, but I suggest that it is not in the interests of the trade and commerce of this country that we should have in charge of so important a department an honorable gentleman, no matter how distinguished he may be, who has faced so many points of the compass on trade matters, and now finds himself in difficulties for that reason in trying to justify his latest policy.
– Does the honorable member condemn me because I am in disagreement with him?
– No, because the honorable gentleman is in disagreement himself. I am able to make up my mind without reference to what the Minister thinks or believes.
– The honorable member seems to have referred to me quite a lot. Why not deal with the matter before the committee?
– I have been stating a few facts for his information. There is an essay in the English language on a man writing memoirs of himself. It took Gibbons 30 years to write The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, but I suggest that, in less time than that, the Minister might be able to write a book on the decline and fall of Australian trade, in which he is playing so notable a part. This new policy was introduced on the authority of the Government, which must accept responsibility for what comes out of it. That the Government has been extremely fortunate in one respect every one will admit because, if the price of wool had gone down instead of up, it would have had to face a very serious reckoning.
Honorable members have had a good deal to say about the proposal of the Government to establish in Australia an industry for the manufacture of motor cars. I do not propose to go over the same ground, but merely point out that the Government took a very serious step when, by the introduction of this schedule on the 22nd May, it deliberately broke the law of the country. T,hat law provides that customs duties shall not be increased or varied except upon the report of the Tariff Board. When that provision was enacted, it was the intention of Parliament, I am sure, that the Government should be bound by it. There is no other authority in Australia except the Government which can refer questions of that kind to the Tariff Board. The provision was intended to limit the power of the Government to vary the tariff. In regard to the proposal for the manufacture of motor cars, Parliament would be wise to exercise a great deal of caution before it commits itself to the Government’s policy. I have visions of deputations to the Government from industries already established asking for increases of tariff duties, and for the continuation or increase of bounties now being paid. Tlie country must prepare itself to shoulder a heavy responsibility if it accepts the policy of the Government in regard to the motor industry. I say that as one who believes it would be an extremely good thing from the point of view of defence as well as of local transport generally, if we could establish in this country on economic lines an industry for the manufacture of complete motor vehicles. I am convinced that every year transport will shift more and more from, the railways to the roads, and therefore, it would be in the interests of the country as a whole to establish, on a sound basis, a motor car manufacturing industry within our own borders. It is largely, however, a matter of cost. Ever since the inauguration of federation, the policy of successive governments has resulted in continuously increasing costs of production and transport, and there is a limit to what the country can stand in this way. The committee would be neglecting its duty if it did not insist on tlie tabling of the report of the Tariff Board on this subject before any money is voted for the carrying out of the Government’s proposal. The terms of reference to the Tariff Board in regard to -the inquiry are the key to the situation. No restriction should be placed upon the power of the board to initiate and conduct the inquiry if it is to yield anything of value. Only to-day, in answer to the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) admitted that, in 1926, the Tariff Board was instructed to inquire into the feasibility of manufacturing motor car engines and chassis in Australia. The board began its inquiry, and a certain amount of progress was made, but for some reason best known to the Government it was not deemed wise to continue. I make the uncharitable suggestion that the Government had a very strong suspicion that the report of the board would take a lot of explaining, and it had no desire to erect a hurdle that might, at a later date, be difficult to cross.
The subject of Imperial trade relations is of great importance at the present time, because the term of the Ottawa agreement will shortly expire, and the whole matter will have to be reviewed next year. There seems to be an idea in some quarters that Australia will be able to command an ever-expanding share of the market in the United Kingdom, but there could be no greater illusion. Not only is there a definite limit to the amount which the United Kingdom can purchase from all sources, but there is also a limit to the share of the market which is open to Australia.
– The United Kingdom at present buys each year £10,000,000 worth of goods from South Australia, as against £1,000,000 worth from Japan.
– The Minister, for lack of other arguments, has split the Commonwealth up into States, and quoted statistics regarding the value of the exports of each State to the United Kingdom. I am not going to be caught in that way. The trade of the Commonwealth must be taken as a whole, and the fact that South Australia happens to send so largo a proportion of its exports to Great Britain is not going to influence my judgment in regard to this matter. Great Britain has entered into trade commitments which must definitely limit the market available in Britain for Australian produce. During the life of the present Australian Government, Britain lias made trade agreements with the following countries : - Brazil, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Roumania, Saudi Arabia, Soviet Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey.
The policy of the British Government is to whittle away, as far as it can, the trade barriers which have been erected in various parts of the world, and it cannot be expected to alter its policy simply because the Commonwealth Government happens to take a plunge into the unknown in the way of trade diversion. I believe that the British Government is anxious to come to a reasonable arrangement with the Commonwealth, but I also suggest that the experience of the British Government and of British exporters regarding the manner in which the Commonwealth has interpreted the present Ottawa agreement will not help us when the terms of the next agreement are being discussed. I have no doubt that there are sound reasons why the Commonwealth Government at this time is particularly desirous of conciliating British opinion. I admit that the Ottawa agreement has been of great benefit to the Commonwealth, and to its exporting industries, and I should like to see it renewed on the best terms possible. We cannot, however, overlook the fact that, so far as trade is concerned, we are in the Pacific zone, and our future lies within the Asiatic, and not the European, sphere of influence. Having regard to our population, the area of our country, and its vulnerability, we should be foolish to embark light-heartedly, as this Government has done, upon a trade diversion policy which, if not handled properly, may have most serious consequences. I have no wish at this stage to go into the rights or wrongs of the present dispute with Japan, further than to say that I think the Government chose the wrong time to act. I am convinced that the Government’s policy will have some awkward internal repercussions. The party to which I belong has always stood for the right of private enterprise to conduct its own affairs, but no more severe blow was ever dealt at the principle of private enterprise than the introduction of the Government’s present trade licensing system. We are being asked to support a system under which the Minister, nominally, but in fact some official in a government department, will have power to determine which merchant may import certain goods and which may not. With all due respect to the members of our Civil Service, I say that, by inaugurating such a system, the Government is leaving the door wide open to the possibility of graft and corruption, or even something more serious. It is a rotten principle to introduce into administration. Every employer, exporter, or trader ought to be on a fair and equal footing before the law. There should not be in this country, legislation or regulations or a system which allows one man to be preferred over another by somebody who may or may not have the whole of the facts at his disposal. We have to look at this policy also from the viewpoint of how it is going to affect primary industries. The Government has committed us in this connexion up to the time at which the committee votes, and I have no doubt that the majority which it commands will be sufficient to carry these proposals. It is interesting to note, in conjunction with this, that we have witnessed the same government without consulting Parliament, committing the country to’ another system in regard to the 40-hour week. Taking these two points together, I should say that we have every reason to be concerned as to future policy, if the Government does not have a serious stocktaking of the possible consequences of the course it is pursuing. I do not wish to debate this at length at present. There is a lot more that could be said on it, but l simply state that right from the start, X disagreed with and distrusted this policy. It is not one which will assist the internal economic conditions of the country. 0T» the contrary it will increase the cost of production, the cost of living, and the cost of transport, and I am not able to see yet any glimmer of light which would indicate that we are going to get any advantages for any secondary or primary industry. With regard to imperial relationships also, this policy is not going to assist us, and from the viewpoint of external relations or foreign affairs, taking a brief look at the gloomy outlook in Europe and in what we call the Far East, I say that possibly a policy of this description at this time is likely very quickly to turn into a menace to the peace and security of this country. In my humble opinion, therefore, the committee should be extremely careful in dealing with it; I feel that it should be rejected.
The only other point that comes to my mind is the attitude that has been adopted on this matter by some honorable supporters of the Government. I realize that if this country became embroiled in some foreign entanglement, we should all like to stand, behind the Government, and it would be only after serious consideration and consultation on basic principles, upon which we should all act, that we could come out and speak against the Government of the country. But if the Government, as a matter of usage, is going to ask honorable members to maintain the same silence in regard to trade disputes as we should do in regard to international disputes, I warn it that, although I have been extremely silent for the last six months on this question, which I claim will react to the detriment of the public life of this country, I shall not be one to remain silent in the future, lest it become accepted as a principle of parliamentary government in this Commonwealth that the Government, when it makes some shocking blunder in regard to trade matters, has only to state that it is a matter of high policy and a selfimposed censorship will silence honorable members. I challenge the wisdom of such a state of affairs as that. I believe that matters such as this should be discussed in the open. I also believe that there are other ways in which the Government could have effected its policy, but I do not propose to refer to them, because it is easy to be wise after the event. What we want in connexion with trade treaties is a man who is wise before the event, and in the present instance, I am certainly of the opinion that we have not got that man.
– I find it impossible to join in this debate with any enthusiasm, especially since I am fully aware of the great difficulties which the Minister in charge of this legislation (Sir Henry Gullett) has encountered. I am most disinclined to put pinches of salt in the claymore wounds inflicted by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) by following him with further expressions of disappointment. After listening to the spirited attack of the honorable member, I am reminded of Sir Alan Newton’s description of one of the early surgical operations, in which he said that the surgeon with one sweep of the knife amputated a leg and two fingers of the patient and the coat-tails of an onlooker. I do not intend unduly to criticize the Minister or the Government, but because of my action in April when I moved the adjournment of the House to propose a certain measure of trade diversion, I feel it essential that I should to-night make clear what was then in my mind, express why I think the Government has departed from the principles I then enunciated and state where I think criticism is justified and improvement could be made. My motion on that occasion was for the purpose of discussing -
The alarming growth of imports from the United States of America, which, in view of Australia’s general trade balance position, is a grave menace to trade with the United Kingdom and good-customer nations, and, consequently, to our export industries.
I did not notice until the 22nd May last that I moved that motion on the 1st April. What was in my mind then was that the purchasing power of Australia was definitely limited. Attention has been drawn to this by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), and by statements by members of the Government all suggesting that we should carefully have to watch our general .trade position. My desire at that time was that any restriction of trade should be confined to unsatisfactory customers, and that. instead of indulging in an allround restriction of imports, with consequent dislocation to our trade, we should reduce our imports from a country which refused, or, to a certain extent, was unable, to buy to any extent from us. The other reason I gave for the motion was the growing demand by goodcustomer countries of Australia for an increasing share of our purchases. Even if we were prepared to continue to trade with the United States of America, those countries were not prepared to continue a similar type of trade with us. Some were not prepared to do it on grounds of fairness, but other countries definitely, owing to dislocation of the normal needs of exchange of goods between one country and another, found themselves totally unable to purchase from us the raw materials they urgently needed because of their inability to sell to us sufficient goods to enable them to pay for their purchases from us. My main reasons in moving the adjournment of the House to discuss this matter were, therefore, first, that we should prevent an all-round stoppage of imports, and, secondly, that Ave should be able to meet the just demands of other countries for a greater share of our purchases. I now add, apart from those personal or local considerations that made some action of the sort taken by the Government necessary, the statement that the great tension that exists in the world - the great danger of war - makes it all the more essential that countries which have big supplies of raw materials, and are potentially able greatly to increase the production of those materials, should do everything in their power to put themselves in the position of trading more freely with industrial nations which do not possess supplies of raw materials. At the present time, not only Australia, but also the whole of the world is appalled at the prospect of war. One reason for the belief of the people that war is imminent is the intensive rearmament which is taking place throughout the nations. On my recent travels through Europe and Asia I was impressed by the fact that one witnessed more tension and saw more men in uniform than one saw behind the lines in France during the great war. Many people have the opinion that war will come about through friction between Fascist and Communist nations. I concede that there is a risk in that direction, but I do not think that that friction is so likely to be an immediate cause of war as is the friction between countries which are satisfied with the status quo and countries that want a revision of the Treaty of Versailles. The latter countries outnumber the former by two to one. It is true that the situation that exists in that respect to-day may lead to war.
The greatest danger of war to-day is in the inability of certain efficient and industrious people to obtain the rawmaterials essential to the maintenance of a reasonable standard of living. In Europe this applies particularly to the people of Italy and Germany, who are among the most efficient and industrious of the world and who, consequently, are entitled to a high standard of living. The only thing that stands between them and the reasonably high standard of living at which they aim is their inability to obtain the raw material from which to manufacture their requirements. It is, therefore, most desirable that countries like Australia, which produce large quantities of raw materials and have the capacity to pro- due? very much larger quantities, should do everything possible to exchange goods with industrialized countries. If this is not done, v.*ar seems to me to be inevitable. This was illustrated for us recently by the Italian adventure in Abyssinia. Italy went in search of very small potential sources of raw material in the face of the disapproval and opposition of over 50 nations. If a nation is prepared to take such a great risk for such a small prize, it must be inevitable that the risk of war is very great when the prize is great, as it is in respect of certain countries capable of producing large quantities of raw materials. It was because I foresaw this danger that I moved the adjournment of the House six or seven months ago to discuss the subject. I had at that time no desire to penalize the people of the United States of America or even to disapprove of their actions for, after all, they are the producers of large quantities of raw materials and have a very limited demand for goods of the kind we have to sell. The only disapproval I express of the Government’s trade diversion policy is the meagre nature of the proposed deflection of trade from the United States of America. I hoped that steps would be taken to deflect a considerable proportion of trade towards Japan which was, at that time, next to the United Kingdom, our bestcustomer country. I fully realize the difficulties which the Government has encountered in this connexion, and do not wish to minimize them in any way; but it was a disastrous circumstance that the Government had to take action against Japan just at the time when that country might have reasonably expected to- hold out its hand for a larger share of our trade. Instead of obtaining more trade, it received a punch on the nose. That the Government had to take some action of this kind, I do not dispute. The peculiar nature and ruthlessness of Japan’s competition called for some restrictive measures^ not only on the part of the British Empire but also on the part of other countries. I complain, however, of the extraordinary extent of the setback administered to Japanese trade in Australia. Our curtailment of trade with the United States of America was almost negligible. It amounted practically to a limitation to the figures of the peak years. Tn the case of Japan we did not merely say “ “We cannot continue to take an everincreasing volume of imports from Japan “. We went further, and prohibited 40 per cent, of the trade that existed. This was an excessively drastic action. I wish to make lt clear that although this is my view of the situation, I shall stand behind the Government in its negotiations. The opinions that I express on the general circumstances of the situation will not cause me to oppose the Government. I believe that all the people of Australia will, in fact, stand behind the Minister in his negotiations. We must realize that difficulties of the kind we are now facing will increase in the years ahead of us.
The Leader of the Opposition suggested, with what accuracy I am unable to say, that the Government had restricted Australian trade with Japan much more drastically than the Government of the United Kingdom had restricted its trade with Japan, although the menace to the United Kingdom was very much greater than that to Australia.
I believe that we, in ‘Australia, should in the future confer very closely with the Government of the United Kingdom in regard to the restriction of Japanese imports into British countries. The occasion of the Coronation, when members of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition will be in England,, seems to me to offer an excellent opportunity for the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), and the Leader of the Opposition to confer with members of the British Government and the Leader of the Opposition in the Imperial Parliament, with the object of deciding upon a common method of facing the grave difficulty which confronts us.
Although I congratulate the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties on the enterprise and optimism of the proposal to establish the motor car manufacturing business in Australia, I view the enterprise with considerable misgiving and am unable to join in his optimism. Unless we are prepared to say to the people of Australia “ You will, in the future, be restricted to a selection of two or three types of motor cars,” I feel that we cannot possibly expect to establish this industry on an economic basis. I have no doubt that the Minister has very carefully prepared the figures which have been submitted to us; but I have invariably discovered, in investigating business propositions submitted to me, that the reality is never so rosy as the theory. The Minister has no doubt convinced himself that the motor car manufacturing industry could be established in Australia, with, at the worst, a very slight increase of the cost of motor cars and, more importantly, motor trucks; but I fear that a very substantially increased price would bc necessary to put the industry on a fair footing. When we consider the possibility of an increase, however small, we should remember that in Australia we are probably already paying more for motor trucks and motor cars than is paid by the users of these vehicles in any other part of the world.
– Yes, under the present wretched system.
– I cannot recall any country I have visited in which the prices of motor vehicles are even nearly so high as they are in Australia. The best that the greatest optimist can hope for under this proposal is a slight increase of the price of motor vehicles plus a very great restriction in the choice of vehicles. If restrictions imposed in respect of luxurious cars gave us the benefit of cheaper cars for general use, such a restriction would be justified. It would be disastrous to the economic life of Australia to restrict the choice of motor vehicles used by producers and contractors in this country, and at the same time increase the already high prices of motor vehicles. I regret having criticized the action of the Government in this respect, because I fully realize the great difficulties confronting it in every direction; but I feel that if there is to be a diversion of trade, that diversion should have been greater from our most unsatisfactory customer, instead of what I consider the unnecessary curtailment of trade with Japan, a good-customer country, which has been harshly and abruptly treated. Further, I consider it my duty to express great concern at increasing the already high prices charged for motor vehicles in Australia.
. When the Government introduced its trade diversion policy in May last, it stated that it intended to divert trade from Japan and the United States of America to other, and presumably, bettercustomer countries. It is now said that another equally important objective is desired, and that it proposes to protect Australian industries against Japanese and American competition but more particularly against Japanese competition. If I remember aright, very little, if anything, was mentioned in May last about the latter objective. That has been developed as an afterthought in justification of the Government’s policy announced in May to the effect that an attempt was to be made, as far as possible, to confine Australia’s trade to the United Kingdom-we were to export mainly to the United Kingdom, and to import largely from that country. That is a. policy of exclusion, and as such is undesirable; but it is also somewhat uncertain, because I do not think that we can count for many years, or, in fact, for many months, upon the continuance of the policy laid down in the Ottawa Agreement. It seems that the real interest of the British people is to become a food- producing community, . and in that respect a self-contained community, not dependent on other countries for the food it requires. Great Britain is so menaced by war and its sea communications are so precarious that everything is impelling the British people towards the adoption of a policy of producing food for the British people in Great Britain. In every British political party there is a desire to develop agriculture and primary-producing industries in Britain. These have been developed and are being developed at the expense of the countries now supplying Britain with food. A real struggle is taking place in Britain to-day between the great financial interests on the one hand, and the real interests of the people of Britain on the other. The great financial interests are concerned in the perpetuation of what is known as the Ottawa policy, because it is that policy which secures to them the payment of their interest and possibly the repayment of their capital in respect of loans. Mr. H. M. Brailsford said that before 1930 one of every five ships sailing from Australia to Great Britain carried cargo belonging to the City of London; but he now says that one out of every three is employed for that purpose. I believe that sooner or later, probably sooner, the real interests of the British people will assert themselves and Britain will endeavour to produce all its foodstuffs.
– In that case the British people will starve.
– Men who know a great deal more about the subject than the Minister does consider that Britain can produce the whole, or at any rate, most of its foodstuffs. Not only British Ministers, but also agricultural experts, consider that it is possible for Britain to produce all its own food, or, at any rate, produce food in much larger quantities than is being produced at present. The policy embodied in- the Ottawa Agreement does not give complete satisfaction to Australia or to Great Britain. One of our complaints is that Australian industries are sacrificed to the interests of Argentina; but that is the crucial test of the correctness of my view. The City of London will not sacrifice Argentine trade to Australia because Argentina, as well as Australia, is a. debtor nation, and can only pay its debts with exports. It seems to mc that it is very dangerous to rely upon the people of Great Britain to consume our produce. The practice of thinking that we have in Great Britain a certain market that we can exploit to the fullest extent blinds us to the possibility of developing markets at our own doors. We do not worry about these closer markets, because into them we must enter as competitors with other nations. We prefer to concentrate upon a market in which we ave given preference, instead of doing our best to develop markets in what is to us the Near East. We regard them as practically unimportant, and believe that we can offend other nations bordering on the Pacific. It seems to me that our first consideration should be, that we are a people of the Pacific Ocean, far removed from Great Britain, and in the dangerous position of being surrounded by those who are potential friends or potential enemies and may be converted into actual friends or foes by any action of ours. I consider that the policy announced by the Government last May is one that may antagonize potential friends and make of them actual foes. I hope that a settlement will be reached of the present differences between Australia and Japan which will be honorable and satisfactory to both countries. I trust that if Australia has any economic advantage it will realize that to push that economic advantage to its fullest extent will result in the making of an enemy which will retaliate when it is able to do so. It is probable that to-day Japan’? war needs may make it dependent on Australian wool. But that may not always be the case. Now is the time for the Commonwealth to make friends with Japan. The friendship of Japan can be won only by Australia doing nothing that might humilitate or permanently incense and alienate that country.
The same thing applies to the United States of America. The American people speak our language, and are almost as closely akin to us as are the people of Great Britain. We need to be on the best terms of friendship with them. The Commonwealth Government ‘ affronted and attacked the Government of the United States of America at a time when it was faring an election. The United
States of America was then, and fortunately is still, ruled by a party which in trade matters is much more liberal than the Republican party. The Democratic party has been more favorably disposed towards freer trade relations with other countries.
– With Australia ?
– Even with Australia. The Minister himself agreed, when he spoke on a motion moved by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn), that it was a very difficult matter to approach the United States of America in a presidential election year for an alteration of its trade policy.
– I did not refer to a presidential election year.
– The honorable gentleman did not; but when I raised the point he assented to it. One who has any sense - and I give the Minister credit for having some - must realize that it would not be of much use for a small country like Australia to demand that the policy of the United States of America should be changed by a government that was proceeding to a presidential election. We are all aware of the tremendous influence of the farmers’ vote in the United States of America. We know that the farmers of that country are organized politically upon a non-partisan basis, that there is in the House of Representatives a farmei’3’ bloc which comprises men of all parties - republicans, democrats, and representatives of the farmer labour group. That body is intent upon the protection of the American farmer against overseas competitors. Taking all these things into account, it seems to me that, it was very unwise for this Government to antagonize the Government of the United States of America. It is a happy circumstance for us that the Democratic party has been returned to power. I believe that if the Commonwealth i3 more conciliatory - as it will have to be - it may obtain some concessions from the United States of America. At all events, it ought to remember that . the friendship of the American people is of tremendous importance to the people of this country. We are not likely to convert that nation into an enemy by anything that we may do, but we are likely to detach its friendship from us. We need to cultivate the friendship of both the United States of America and Japan. We should use our tariff for the protection of our own industries; but having done that, we should not attempt to give greater concessions to one customer than to another. I disbelieve entirely in the closed-Empire policy expressed by the Ottawa agreement. We should be prepared to give preferences to Great Britain without demanding a return. I am in favour of the old policy of preferences which Canada initiated in the 90’s. I am opposed to the policy of bargaining between Australia and Great Britain, believing that that is the best way to arouse ill-feeling between the two countries. There has been more ill-feeling and friction since the Ottawa agreement was made than there was prior to that event. Australia should protect, maintain, and develop its own industries by means of the tariff, and should not use the tariff as a weapon of offence or aggression against any nation.
– I believe that it would be a mild statement of the case to say that when the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) introduced his new trade policy - which, I think, is unique in the history of the Commonwealth - it came as a shock, not only to honorable members, but also, and to an even greater extent, to the community generally. I suppose that those who expected to benefit from it were in agreement with it ; but obviously, those adversely affected by it were opposed to it. The great mass of the Australian people were simply bewildered, and eagerly awaited some pronouncement by the Government as to the reason for the adoption of this new principle in tariff-making. I believe it was suggested that the action of the Government was taken at the instigation, or, at least, with the approval, of the Government of the United Kingdom; but although we waited expectantly for some expression of approbation from that Government, the only reference to it by a responsible British Minister that I have been able to find was made by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Dominions, the Marquis of Hartington. Speaking at a dinner of conservatives at Retford, that honorable gentleman expressed regret that the recent Australian tariff measures had not met with greater gratitude. He is reported as having said -
The Australians knew that the British textile trade was experiencing anxiety and that Lancashire was still despondent. Australia, of her own accord and without solicitation, imposed almost prohibitive duties on American and Japanese goods in order to help Lancashire.
Mr.Brennan. - That bears out what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) said.
– The speaker continued -
It was a generous and free gift. At least £1,500,000 worth of goods will be imported in the first year from Lancashire in excess of previous years. It is wonderful that a government 13,000 miles away should ask its people to undergo considerable risks and losses to help a distressed section of the Old Country.
That is the only expression of approbation from responsible people in Britain that I have come across. On the other hand, some time after this action was taken there was a pronouncement by the president of the Board of Trade, Mr. Walter Runciman, when speaking on Britain’s trade policy - .
Speaking on the Board of Trade vote in the House of Commons this evening, the president of the board (Mr. Walter Runciman) declared that Britain’s commercial policy remained unchanged. It was founded on equality of opportunity for all nations, qualified only by the duty of others to play their part in the same general scheme. Only by the removal of the artificial restrictions which hampered multilateral international trade could there be any hope of restoring the turnover of overseas trade which Britain enjoyed before the crisis of 1931. The policy of developing overseas markets by trade agreements was being steadily pursued. But it seemed probable that for some time to come the hopes of British exporters would have to be concentrated mainly on the continued expansion of trade within the Empire and with other countries of the sterling area. Nevertheless, looking at the whole world, there were certain encouraging features. Statistics suggested that, in spite of the growth of economic nationalism, the levels of prosperity in individual countries tended to rise and fall together, although it was true special factors continued to retard progress in the gold bloc countries.
In support of that statement the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) mentioned a number of trade treaties which Great Britain had entered into with other countries. It would be idle for us to imagine that Britain would jeopardize its foreign trade in order to give benefits to Australia merely because Australia did something that Britain did not ask for, and, indeed, was not particularly keen should be done.
– After the trade diversion policy was put into operation, we were told that it would help Australia in its negotiations in respect of meat. A great feature was made of that point.
– It was not mentioned. in the speech in this chamber.
– Little reference has been made to that subject since the agreement with the British authorities was consummated. In any event, I suggest that if, in fact, we do get some advantage in . respect of meat - and we have not yet had full particulars of the agreement - such benefits as are enjoyed under it are common to all the dominions. I desire to know what the other dominions did to deserve the benefits that they obtained, or is it a fact that Australia had to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for. all of the dominions’? [Quorum formed.] I shall quote now an extract from the London Economist of the 30th May. 1936-
The general purpose of the import licence system is to enable Australia to refuse to buy from countries which do not buy to a corresponding extent from her - to take another step, that is to say, on the road towards bi-lateral trade. No attempt is made to disguise the fact that Japan and the United States of America will be severely affected by these increases and there are already signs of retaliation from Japan. British manufacturers may expect some immediate benefit: and the president of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce has stated that “Australia’s action will he very warmly appreciated in Lancashire “. From a wider point of view, however, Australia’s new fiscal venture can only be regretted. It is calculated to reduce the volume of international trade and to hasten the lamentable tendency towards bilateralism. It is. indeed, precisely the kind of exclusive protectionism’ that gives some substance to the economic grievances of the so-called “ dissatisfied powers “.
It is clear that this policy has not met with great approbation, even in the country which it was intended should benefit most from it. In respect of the danger of abi-lateral trade policy I shall quote an extract from a speech by Professor
Lionel Bobbins, as reported in the Lloyd Bank Limited Monthly Review, of May, 1936. He said-
But the politicalization of trade is not the only, or, indeed, the chief, political danger of economic nationalism. The main danger is the worsening of relations between States of unequal natural resources and populations - the so-called “ haves “ and “ have-nots “ of popular discussion - which it almost certainly involves, it is a commonplace of elementary economics, that so long as trade and investment are free, territorial possession is a matter of secondary importance.
I suggest that, as Australia is a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and, in the past, has been dependent very largely for its protection upon the might, of Great Britain, and will most probably continue to be so dependent, it is unwise for us to embark upon a policy which may have the effect of causing international trouble at the present time. That possibility has been suggested by many. I recall that Professor Giblin, who cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as a freetrader, has strongly criticized this action of the Government, and has pointed out the dangers that may result from it. Ho sa id -
More broadly, looking at the gloomy international situation, one would have expected a conciliatory foreign . policy for the next few years, until international relations are improved, or we have at least done something adequate for defence. Two leading features of sucha policy would be to enhance in every way our friendly relations with the United States of America, and to avoid with particular care any action calculated to provoke Japan. Boththese important considerations appear to have been deliberately flouted.
I agree with that view. From a domestic point of view this action transgresses the policy which was enunciated, on behalf of this Government, in the policy speeches delivered by the Prime Minister in 1931, and 1934. I admit that the Prime Minister made certain qualifications when enunciating that policy. If there was one plank of the Government’s policy, however, which appealed more than another to the people of Australia, particularly those engaged in the exporting industries, it was that the Government intended - and, indeed, up to date it has carried out this intention - to reduce tariff duties as much as possible. Along with that promise the Government undertook that any proposed alterations of the tariff would be referred to the Tariff Board. As has been pointed out in this debate, that course simply conforms to the law of the land. This particular action, however, has been taken regardless of that undertaking. I am not quite clear as to whether it is the Government’s intention to refer only reductions of tariff duties to the Tariff Board, whilst it will, itself, increase tariff duties willy nilly without reference to that tribunal. That point a rises most prominently in connexion with the Government’s action on this occasion. I do not hesitate to say that, unless the Government is prepared to give the fullest protection to our exporting industries and the consumers of this country by providing for investigation by the Tariff Board in respect of both reductions and increases of duties, I cannot possibly support its policy.
Dealing with this matter as it affects cur trade with the United States of America, some honorable members have applauded the diversion of Australian trade from that country because it is a bad customer from our view-point.
– That policy has been adopted in the interests of our own security.
Mr.McBRIDE.- That was not stated by the Minister. If this action is claimed to be laudable, we are giving a lead to many countries, who buy more from us than we take from them, to follow a similar course.
– Other countries gave that lead to us long ago.
– We shall, nevertheless, be encouraging them to take further action along those lines. The main point which I desire to discuss concerning the effect of this policy on the importation of American goods is the unequal treatment meted out in respect of different products of American origin. We find that, in respect of motor cars, the Government, in its wisdom - and I am not questioning its decision on this matter - accepted last year’s importations as a quota for future imports of motor cars from that country, while supplies of other articles from the United States of America have been cut off completely, and distributors of these latter goods will not be able to import even one of those particular articles. I contend that that discrimination is most unjust, and will cause serious dislocation of the trade in Australia.
– Can the honorable member suggest any discrimination as between items, or importers?
– I do not suggest that any discrimination has been made as between importers of articles of the same class; but, whereas a distributor of motor cars will be allowed to import his last year’s quota, a distributor of typewriters, or printing machines, will not ‘be allowed to import even one of those articles.
– That is not the case in respect of typewriters.
– If I am in error in that respect, I withdraw my statement, but I repeat that discrimination of the kind which I have just mentioned will occur in respect of many articles of American origin”. Instead of disorganizing the trade and commerce of this country in this way the Government should have given consideration to those who have been handling goods from the United States of America. If the Government desired to reduce imports from that country, it should have adopted an equitable method.
Another feature of the trade diversion policy against which I protest is the licensing system, under which this Parliament has no control over imports. The kinds of goods and the quantities that may be admitted are left to the discretion of the Minister or his department. This is a most improper form of tariffmaking. At the present time we have no knowledge of the way in which the licensing system operates. For a number of years certain by-law admissions have been permitted, and these involve a similar practice. Only recently the Government reduced, to a large extent, the number of items to be admitted under bylaw, but, shortly afterwards, it brought down another list of over 40 items to which this system has been applied. I emphatically protest against the practice.
Although Australia has been unable to effect a. trade agreement with the United States of America, certain goods were exported to that country before the trade diversion policy was put into effect. The
Literary Digest of the 11th July, 1936, stated -
The plight of Australian wine-growers under the President’s black list illustrates the operation of the most-favoured-nation principle. By signing a reciprocal trade agreement with France, the United States of America had granted 40 per cent, duty reductions on certain French wines imported into this country. The duty of $1.25 a gallon on Burgundies and Ports, for instance, toppled to 75 cents.
Automatically, as a most favoured nation, Australia bad gained a 40 per cent, reduction in the price of her wine landed in America, while offering no concessions in return. To importers of Australian wines, the President’s black list meant the return of the $1.25 duty. Unless they can pay 50 cents additional per gallon, American consumers of Australian wines will turn to Spanish, French, and Italian vintages.
Following on the trade diversion policy an extra duty was placed on tallow. It was then suggested that this would mean a considerable loss to exporters of tallow. Although restrictions were placed on imports from the United States of America, because of its refusal to increase its purchases from us, that country has had no hesitation in increasing the duties on the comparatively small quantity of goods which it previously bought from us. This has had the effect of further reducing our exports to that country.
We are now endeavouring to negotiate a- treaty with Japan, and I hope that the efforts of the Government in that direction will be successful; but, in my opinion, we gave Japan a very raw deal.
The wool position should not be allowed to cloud the real issue. Ministers will not claim that the wool prices are due to any action of theirs. The woolgrowers and the people of Australia are particularly fortunate in that payable prices are being realized for wool. The object of the trade diversion policy is to divert trade to good-customer countries, but another reason had to be given in this case. When the subject of restricting purchases from Japan was under discussion, it was said that the new policy would assist the textile industry of Great Britain. As far as my information enables me to judge the situation, one of the industries which the Government is endeavouring to protect is not in any great need of assistance from Australia or any other country. According to the report of an investiga- tion of the textile industries of Great Britain in 1934 by a body similar to the Tariff Board, the artificial silk piecegoods trade of Great Britain was in an exceptionally healthy condition, because from 1933 to 1934 the production of those goods increased by about 40 per cent. An industry which is expanding at that rate needs no assistance from Australia. It must be admitted that the cotton goods industry is still in a distressed condition. I recall that the Government was not always so solicitous in respect of the cotton goods trade with Great Britain, because last year it imposed duties as high as 200 per cent, on some lines of British cotton goods. I remember the protests that were received from Lancashire on that occasion. It would be of great assistance to British industries generally if the primage duty were removed. I know that reductions have been made from time to time, but substantial sums are still being collected from this impost. I am opposed to the Government’s trade diversion policy. I recognize that it had difficulties to face, but I cannot overlook the fact that while its policy has not had the disastrous effect prophesied for it-
– I am sure the Minister does not mean that. I cannot imagine that anyone would have been pleased if wool prices had fallen. It is still possible, however, that the Government’s policy may have more far-reaching effects than we can see at the present time. I hope, therefore, that the Government will endeavour to settle the dispute on satisfactory lines.
– The possibility of settlement is about 10 per cent, of what it was yesterday. I say that deliberately, because of the efforts of our alleged friends in this House.
– The Government cannot accuse honorable members on this side of the House of saying anything which might destroy the Government’s chance of reaching a favorable settlement of the dispute.
Motion (by Sir Archdale Parkhill) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.This morning, I asked the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) whether he would take steps to set up a committee of inquiry before which Mrs. Freer might state her case. The Minister replied that notice had been given of a similar question, but I now see that the question - Number 6 on the notice-paper - has been deferred. This is a definite dodging of the issue, and is characteristic of the bungling methods which the Minister has adopted throughout the whole course of this unfortunate woman’s case. This matter is one of urgency, and questions without notice are justified. We are seeking justice for a white British subject, and a woman at that. Nevertheless, we are told to place our questions on the noticepaper, and when we do so the answers are deferred. Such behaviour will convince a majority of the public that the Minister for the Interior is a “fourflusher “, and that-
– That expression is offensive to me, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it. When this matter was first raised, the Minister for the Interior stated that he had received information of an astounding nature regarding this adventuress, but that he could not, in decency, divulge it in the House for fear of besmirching the lilywhite purity of honorable members. He added, however, that he would supply the information privately to honorable members if they so desired. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall), who would probably be offended if anyone regarded him as a paragon of purity, interviewed the Minister, who supplied him with certain information, but the honorable member has stated that he is not satisfied, and he has returned to the attack again and again. At, first I was under the impression that the Minister might have signed a document in connexion with this case without being fully conversant with its contents. However, he has denied that, and he must, therefore, take all that is coming to him. The
Minister, on the 20th October, refused Mrs. Freer permission to land in Australia, and on the 14th November, after many references had been made to the case, he stated that he was in possession of information justifying his act. Why, then, did he, after receiving a telegram from a certain person in Neutral Bay, send to this person the following letter -
I desire to thank you for your telegram of the 11th November in regard to Mrs. Freer.
Although there is adequate information in the possession of my department to justify the action taken by me in this case, I am anxious to obtain as much corroboration as possible, particularly from people in Australia who know Mrs. Freer.
In your telegram you refer to “ Vera Freer “. I presume that she is identical with Mrs. Mabel Magdalene Freer, which is the name of the person restricted from landing.
I should be greatly obliged if you would kindly let me have any information which you possess regarding this woman. If the information is used, your name of course, would not be mentioned.
An early reply would be greatly appreciated.
Again thanking you for your telegram.
This letter and the Minister’s continued negotiations with the Indian Government seeking further information indicate that he is doubtful of Mrs. Freer’s identity. Apart from this, the Minister, according to press reports, has been in touch with this person by telephone. On Monday, the 16th November, he telephoned thanking him for the information he had supplied, and asking if he thought that Mrs. Vera Freer and Mrs. Mabel Magdalene Freer were one and the same person. He also expressed surprise at the terms of section 498 of the Indian penal code, which provides that any man who entices a wife away, or causes her to be taken away from the protection of her husband, even if she is not living with him, is liable to a penalty of two years’ imprisonment. This shows how anxious the Minister was to build up a case against this woman. His case should have been complete before he debarred her from entering Australia. So great was his anxiety to strengthen his position that he not only communicated with this man by telephone, but also wrote him a letter and then sent a trusted servant by car from Canberra to interview him. Fearing that the presence of a Government car outside his residence would cause comment, it was left in Martin-place, and the messenger proceeded to Neutral Bay by taxi. It is alleged that before he left for Sydney, the departmental officer was given a letter which the Government had received from India in connexion with this case. This letter has been denied to honorable members, but extracts from it were read to the informer at Neutral Bay. I understand that it says that Mrs. Freer is supposed to be divorced from her husband, and that she is a “ good-looker “. Asked by the Minister’s “G” man would that description apply to Mrs. Vera Freer, the man replied “ Definitely yes “. The Minister’s servant then said, “ I feel sure that the two women are one and the same.” After thanking the man for the information tendered he asked whether he could identify Mrs. Freer, and received the reply “Yes, if she were in Australia.” The interview then closed, the officer being given a letter to take back to the Minister in which the Neutral Bay man asked for work in return for information which he considered might be of great value both to the Minister and the Government. To that letter, the Minister replied as follows: -
I am in receipt of your letter of the 10th November, and desire to thank you for the information which you have been good enough to furnish.
With regard to the other matter you mention, I regret that I am not in a position to assist you, but you may rest assured that immediately I hear of something that would suit you, I shall use my best endeavours on your behalf.
That shows to what depths the Minister is prepared to stoop in order to damn a woman. Yet, he has stated in the House quite frequently that before he took action he had adequate information which justified him in debarring Mrs. Freer from landing in Australia. If that, were so, it seems strange indeed that he should write such a letter on the 13th November, action to prevent Mrs. Freer from landing in Australia having been taken by him on the 20th October. I think every person will admit that the two entirely different women have been confused by the Minister and his informants. One Mrs. Freer is dark, is not divorced, and is the mother of. one child, while the other is a blonde - the type that gentlemen are said to prefer - is divorced, and has two children. ‘Had the Minister “stood pat” on his first statement, that he had abundant information which justified the exclusion of Mrs. Freer from this country, and that he was desirous only of protecting the home life of an Australian, he might have saved himself a good deal of criticism; but, even so, I contend that the Government has no right to interfere in domestic matters. The divorce court is more competent than the Minister or the Government to deal with these matters. It must be admitted that, as the case has developed, Mrs. Freer has gained a good deal of sympathy. The Minister has definitely displayed bad judgment in not being sure of the facts before he imposed a ban against this woman, and described her as an adventuress. After proclaiming publicly to the world at large that this woman was an adventuress, he has tried to bolster up his case in a very unfair and underhand way by seeking evidence from a person whom he did not know, and promising him a job for the information he imparted.
– That is totally untrue.
– The published letter written by the Minister says so. ‘ If the Minister was satisfied with his information before he refused Mrs. Freer permission to land in Australia, why should he, 21 days later, seek information from a person whom he did not know? Even at this late hour, in the name of British justice and fair play, ‘ I plead for the hearing of this case before a competent tribunal in the presence of this very much defamed woman.
.- The honorable member has endeavoured to make a mountain out of molehill. I have received many scores of. letters and telegrams congratulating me upon the action
I had taken, and amongst them was a telegram from a resident of Neutral Bay, Sydney.
– “What is his name?
– There have been sufficient names bandied about in connexion with this case, without adding to them. This man stated that he knew this woman in India. I acknowledge all letters which I ‘receive in connexion with this matter, and among others I acknowledged the telegram in the terms quoted by the honorable member. I said to him that I had ample information already in the possession of my department to justify the action taken, but I was anxious to receive as much corroboration as possible. I received from him a long letter, which contained some very strong accusations, indeed, with reference to a Mrs. Freer. The whole of that letter, of course, has not been published in the newspaper - only very small extracts from it have appeared, but the main part of the letter has certainly not been disclosed. It was only natural that, when I received information of that kind, I should endeavour to ascertain whether the informant was a credible informant. I could not take for granted anything that was told to me by a person unknown; I had to test it. Accordingly, as a first step, I sent a responsible officer of my department to interview this man, and form an impression as to his reliability. I have made further inquiries in India concerning these charges, but I shall dismiss them as wholly unworthy of consideration unless they can be proved. The information that I have already in my possession, and upon which I originally acted has not been affected in any way by the information that has since come to hand, but it is only right that when additional information is proffered an endeavour should be made to find out its value. I have nothing further to add. Apparently the honorable member did not grasp the significance of the statement I made earlier to-day before he had the opportunity to read the newspaper article to which he has now referred. It has been said that I offered this man a job. I received a letter from him, as
X receive letters from hundreds of other men out of work. I repliedto it as any other honorable member would have done in the circumstances. I told the man that I did not have a job to offer him, but if anything came along that I thought would suit him, I would endeavour to help him. That has been done hundreds of times by honorable members of this House, and will be done by them again. My action in that connexion had nothing whatever to do with the information that was proffered to me.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.22 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Would it not be in the public interest to permit the prohibited immigrant, Mrs. Freer, to land in Australia, without prejudice, so that she might ( if that course was thought necessary) be proceeded against in open court; if not, why not?
– It is not considered to be in the public interest to adopt the course suggested.
s asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the Government has decided that in future Cabinet is to decide whether the dictation test shall be applied to a white British subject desiring to enter Australia, rather than leave the question to the discretion of a Minister, will the Minister say whether, in the event of Mrs. Freer arriving at an Australian port, her case will be treated as a now one for decision by Cabinet?
– As this case has already been considered by Cabinet, it would not, in the circumstances referred to, be regarded as a new case.
en asked the Minister for
Commerce, upon notice -
What is the value of the imports into Western Australia of Victorian products by
What is the value of imports of Western Australian products into New South Wales by
– The information is being obtained, and will be forwarded to the honorable member later.
Postal Department : Non-official Post Offices.
en asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
How many non-official post offices are there ineach State of the Commonwealth, whose revenue is £800 per annum or more?
– Inquiries will be made, and a reply furnished to the honorable member as soon as possible.
y asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished as early as possible.
l asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of his statement that the monetary position in Great Britain cannot be relied upon to provide advice or guidance in relation to the monetary position in this country - 1.Is it a fact that prices of Australian produce in Great Britain, upon which London funds largely depend, are closely affected by English monetary policy?
Is it a fact that a large volume of ordinary bank deposits, part of the credit base of the Australian trading banks and the maintenance of the London-Australian exchange rate, all depend upon London funds, and also that over a long period exchange rates can only be kept stable by the pursuit of similar monetary policies?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
It is a fact that prices of Australian produce in Great Britain are affected to some extent by British monetary policy - although the connexion is tenuous, and by no means close. 2.(a) There is a relation between certain deposits in Australian banks and London funds, but it would be misleading to make a bald statement that bank deposits depend on London funds.
My original statement that “ the monetary position in Great Britain cannot be relied upon to provide advice or guidance in relation to the monetary policy in this country “ is unaffected by the considerations raised by the honorable member.
n. - On the 13th November, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
Will he state the total amounts of money granted to the following mines in the Northern Territory: -(a)R. Schmidt (Central Gold Milling Company) ; (b) Mammoth East; (c) Mammoth Gold Mine (No Liability) ; (d) Eldorado (Central Australia)’ Gold Mine Limited: (e) W. Weaber; (f) Alluvial Gold Limited;(g) Pine Creek Enterprise Gold (No Liability) ; (h) Golden Dyke Gold Mine (No Liability) ; (i) North Australia Mines Limited; (j) Spring Hill Gold mining Company; (k) Yemelba Holdings Limited;
The information desired by the honorable member is as follows : -
(a)R. Schmidt (Central Gold Milling Company), £2,142 9s. 7d.; (b) Mammoth East (company not known), nil; (c) MammothGold Mine (No Liability), £3,500, Mammoth Gold Mine Water Supply, £4,440 13s.11d.; (d) Eldorado (Central Australia) Gold Mine Limited, £5,000, Eldorado (Central Australia Water Supply, £2,500; (e) W. Weaber, £2,500; (f) Alluvia) Gold Limited, £299 2s. l0d.; (g) Fine Creek. Enterprise Gold (No Liability), £5;000; (h) Golden Dyke Gold Mine (No Liability), £12,450; (i) North Australia Mines Limited, £966 4s. 3d.; (j) Spring Hill Gold Mining Company, £5,000; (k) Yemelba . Holdings Limited, £700; (l) Mineral Investments Limited, £150. 2. (a) Central Gold Milling Company is a registered firm of two members, namely, Carl Henry John Schmidt and Rudolph Schmidt. 3. (c) Mammoth, . protected lease application No. 197; registered holders, Thomas Leahey, Loftus Moran, and James C. Gates.
Owen Weaber, one-twelfth; CosmoGregg, onetwelfth; and Central Gold Milling Company, three-twelfths.
Employment of Youths.
s. - On the 24th November, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) asked me what replies had been received from the State governments to. the proposal which had been made by the Commonwealth Government that a conference of Commonwealth and State representatives be held to consider the subject of youth employment. I desire to inform the honorable member that replies have to date been received from the Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria. Both have indicated their concurrence in the proposal.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 November 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19361125_reps_14_152/>.