14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 2:30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Having regard to the importance of the Suez Canal to the channel of communications between Great Britain and Australia, will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs indicate the terms of the treaty recently executed between Great Britain and Egypt? All that appears to be known is that the treaty satisfies Egypt’s aspirations, while protecting the interests of Great Britain. Is the Minister satisfied that it ensures for the Australian mercantile marine the continued free flow of communications through the Suez Canal?
– I shall ascertain if the text of the treaty has yet been published, and, if possible, supply the honorable gentleman with the information that he requires.
– Has the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties been correctly reported in the press, to the effect that four companies have laid down plans for the establishment of factories in Australia for the complete manufacture of motor cars?
– No. I fear that there has been some misunderstanding. I advised the press, in reply to questions put to me, that four companies had made application to me for the fullest particulars of the Commonwealth’s offer with respect to the building of motor cars in Australia.
– As it is now nearly three weeks since the Anglo-Argentine meat agreement expired, can the Minister for Commerce inform the House as to whether a new Anglo-Argentine meat agreement has yet been signed? If so, does he expect that he will be able to announce shortly to the House and the country generally the terms of the AngloAus tra Han agreement?
– As the negotiations between Great Britain and Argentina were not concluded on the 7th November, when the agreement between those two parties lapsed, the agreement was continued for two or three weeks in order that finality might he reached. I understand that the negotiations are now approaching completion. I take it that, when that occurs, the Government will have information in regard to the actual terms of the new agreement, and will be able to furnish particulars of the AngloAustralian agreement.
– “Will the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties indicate whether there is any foundation for the statement purporting to have emanated from Japan, that the prospects of a settlement, of the dispute between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Japan, in regard to trade matters, is remote or distant? Is the honorable gentleman also able to say whether that statement, if -justified, is the result of the Government of Japan having knowledge of the statement- which the Minister himself made last night, namely, that the prospects of a settlement were 10 per cent, less hopeful than they had been?
– I have had no official advice from the Government of Japan, and consequently no endorsement of the statement of its official spokesman. As to my remark last night, that the prospect of a settlement was in my view 10 per cent, of what it had been on the previous day, I should say that that is highly probable, following upon the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members opposite.
– Order !
Air. Owns. - I rise to order. I submit that the remark of the Minister is offensive, in that it implies that remarks made by me in this Parliament have been of service ro people other than Australians. I ask that that statement be withdrawn.
– To the extent that . the Minister, when answering the ques- tion, referred to a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition, he was not in order; likewise the Leader of the Opposition himself, in the remark that led to the Minister’s reply, to which exception is taken. The Minister’s reference was in no way a personal one, nor could it be regarded as unparliamentary.
– Will the Minister for Defence amplify the statement that he made yesterday, that an army peace establishment of 35,000 men is sufficient, and also reply to the recent criticism regarding payments to rifle club reserves?
– by leave - The present peace strength of the militia of 35,000 is regarded as the minimum number required to enable the existing army organization to be maintained, so that commanders, staffs, leaders, and a nucleus of specialists may be trained. Should a definite threat of aggression against this country ever become a serious possibility, it would.be necessary, immediately, to increase the’ peace strength of the militia to a figure that would be a very much higher proportion of the mobilization requirements. Trained leaders and men alone do not produce an efficient army. War materials, equipment and ammunition in large quantities are essential, and the production of these material requirements is a more lengthy and costly proceeding than the training of personnel. It is, therefore, necessary to strike a balance between the requirements of trained personnel and war material, having in view the financial . and international situation. The Government, in pursuing its. present policy, considers that it is achieving the best solution of the problem. The Government and the Military Board are taking measures which it is anticipated will considerably increase the effective length of service of individual militiamen.
The suggestion that the physical development of youths of this country should be undertaken is very commendable, but this would entail considerable expenditure on a training staff and facilities, and unless it were carried out
Tinder some form of universal and compulsory training, would probably be very limited in scope. Then, too, the question arises as to priority of expenditure between personnel and war material.
In regard to the rifle club reserves, it is considered that the allowance of ls. 6d. for each efficient member of militia rifle clubs is adequate for the purpose. Should it be possible to allocate extra money for rifle club purposes in the future, consideration will be given to the increase of efficiency allowances, in common with other items of expenditure under the vote which have similarly been curtailed.
With the £18,000 provided by the Government to increase the scale of free ammunition, an additional 50 rounds of Mark VII have been provided for each efficient member’ of rifle clubs. This brings the total free issues up to 150 rounds for each efficient from the 1st July, 1936. No part of the £18,000 is being absorbed by free issues of Mark VI ammunition. In fact, the free issue of Mark VI was reduced from 100 rounds to 50 rounds for each efficient when the issue of the extra 50 rounds of Mark VII w.as authorized. The Mark VI ammunition on issue to clubs is not of pre-war make; it was actually manufactured in 1917. Results of periodical tests carried out by qualified officers of the department show that this ammunition is still fully serviceable ; that is, it is very safe to fire, and .accurate. Only fully serviceable ammunition is issued to clubs.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Commerce been drawn to the press statement that New Zealand is suffering an orange famine, and that as the result small oranges are being sold in the Dominion at 4d. each? In view of these facts, will the right honorable gentleman make further strenuous efforts to have the New Zealand market reopened to Australian citrus fruits?
– The honorable gentleman will remember that I informed the honorable member for Macquarie, in answer to a similar question yesterday that the Government would give consideration to the matter. The Government to-day communicated with the Govern ment of New Zealand to see if anything can be done along the lines suggested by the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether, when he communicates with the Prime Minister of New Zealand on the subject of the lifting or relaxing of the New Zealand embargo against the admission of Australian citrus fruits to New Zealand, to allay the citrus famine in that dominion, he will indicate the approximate quantity of oranges available for export, and also the approximate price at which they could be exported? Further, will the right honorable gentleman also give an assurance to the Prime Minister of New Zealand that all the fruit will be certified as free from disease?
– The honorable member’s suggestions will receive consideration.
Saxes of Oil to Japanese Pearlers
– In view of the amazing situation in Darwin where oil is sold by the naval authorities to the railways department and then retailed by that department to Japanese pearlers who compete with our own pearlers, will the Minister for the Interior take immediate action to prevent any further transactions of that nature ?
– I shall make inquiries into the matter.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether any C.O.R. oil has been sold to Japanese pearlers and, if not, will it be supplied to them at any port should they ask for it?
– The Colonial Oil Refineries has no depot at Darwin.
– Will the Minister for Defence immediately instruct the Naval Board not to sell crude oil to the Railway Department at Darwin for retailing to Japanese pearlers?
Sir ARCHDALE PARKHILL.The Naval Board which controls the supply of oil at Darwin, sells limited quantities of oil to the Railway Department there, but cannot control the oil after it is delivered to the Railwaiy Department, for it has no control over that department.
– Mr. Speaker, in view of the several complaints with regard to allotment of time for speeches when the guillotine has been applied to pa£t debates, is any action being taken *I** have the Standing Orders revised?
– The Standing Orders Committee has met and will meet again in connexion with what is thought te be a necessary revision of the Standing Orders. The matter to which the honorable member has referred is receiving consideration.
– Has the Minister for Health considered that an almost certain sequel to any relaxation of the quarantine regulations in respect of the importation of horses from India would be an extension of the New Zealand embargo operating against Australian fruit and vegetables, not merely to Australian horses, but to all Australian livestock and animal products? Will the Minister state unequivocally whether or not he is prepared thus to curtail or in any way imperil Australia’s trade with New Zealand in order to achieve the doubtful advantage of making it easier for Indian horses to compete on Australian race tracks?
– The question of the honorable member is, in part hypothetical; it relates, in part, to policy, and in part to the unfathomable abyss of my mental processes. I must ask him to put it on the notice-paper
– I ask the Minister for Health whether as it is competent for English horses to race on the turf ir> India in company with Indian horses and for Indian blood horses to travel to England and race on the English turf in company with English horses, and then to be exported to Australia, he can see any logical reason why facilities should not be provided for the direct exportation of blood horses from India to Australia?
– When the honorable gentleman intrudes into a question the factor of logic, I am afraid that I must also ask him to put it on the notice paper.
– The Minister for Health is reported to have promised a deputation from New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland that he would recommend a grant of £5,000 to assist dental research in those States. I ask him if the poorer States ask will they also receive ?
– That is also a hypothetical question.
– I have received a number of telegrams from the towns of Bowen and Townsville, in Queensland, dealing with the question of flying boat bases in connexion with the EnglandAustralia air mail service, which claim that a report has been submitted to the Minister for Defence recommending that bases be provided at those towns. I ask the Minister has the Minister received any report of that nature and has any decision been arrived at as to whether Townsville and Bowen, or either of them, will be selected for this purpose ?
– Telegrams were sent to me which I could not understand and expecting a question iri relation to the air mail service I mad, inquiries on the subject from the Civil Aviation Board. Their answer was -
The board is unaware of any decision that Bowen should be included as a calling place on the route of the Empire flying boat service to Sydney
The question of the location of flying boat bases in Australia for the purposes of the Empire service has not received final consideration and no recommendation thereon can be submitted until after receipt and examination of the proposals of the Imperial Airways which, presumably, will be based on the report submitted by Major Brackley on completion of the recent survey of the ‘ Singapore-Sydney route.
The claims of Bowen and Townsville will, of course, receive full consideration before the stopping places between Darwin and Sydney are ‘finally determined.
I add that the report from Major Brackley has not yet come to hand and a request has been made that its despatch and delivery in Australia be expedited.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inform me whether his department is keeping in touch with the develop- men is in television, and also whether television is likely to be established in Australia at an early date?
– The Postmaster-General’s Department is keeping in touch with all developments of television, but it is unlikely that the invention will be available in Australia as a commercial proposition for some time to come.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation whether he will issue instructions to the officers of the Repatriation Department to bring their administrative procedure into conformity with the spirit of the promises which he himself made when Prime Minister of Australia to the men who enlisted?
– I do not know what the honorable member has particularly in his mind or whether the officers of the department arc blameworthy in any respect, but I shall inquire into the subject.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the press reports of a statement attributed to Chief Judge Dethridge regarding the proposed reduction of the hours of labour? Is that gentleman the person the Government intended to appoint as a chairman of a body to investigate this subject? Will the Prime Minister, for the future guidance of the Government, ascertain whether the Chief Judge’s remarks were correctly reported?
– My attention has notbeen drawn to the report and, quite frankly, I am not concerned about any statements that the Chief Judge may make on the subject. He must take the responsibility for what he says. As there is now no intention to hold an investigation into this subject, in consequence of the unwillingness of the representatives of the unions to participate, Chief Judge Dethridge will not be appointed chairman of such a body, so no action need be taken concerning the last part of the honorable member’s question.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the requests published in newspapers in every State of the Commonwealth, that the Minister for the Interior should be called upon to resign his portfolio? Will the Prime Minister, before acceding to these requests, lay upon the table of the House or of the Library, all reports and files containing information of importance in regard to the Freer case ?
– The Minister for the Interior does not intend to resign and the Government does not intend to ask him to do so. The reply to the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question is “ No “.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the Parliament of Victoria has recently passed legislation providing that the Federal Taxation Board of Review may be appointed to act as a State tribunal for the same purpose? Will the honorable gentleman make a statement before Parliament rises concerning the future of the Federal Taxation Board of Review?
– I am aware that the Parliament of Victoria has legislated as the honorable gentleman has stated. The future of the Federal. Taxation Board of Review and also the possibility of appointing an appellate tribunal are still under the consideration of the Government. The matter is in the hands of my colleague the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), but no final decision has been reached, the Attorney-General being engaged on public business elsewhere.
Proof of Aoe
– Will the Treasurer inform me whether in the event of an applicant for an old-age pension who is well over 65 years of age being unable to furnish proof of age, any other method of establishing his age is available, or is an applicant in that position permanently , excluded from the enjoyment of a pension?
– I have never heard of a case in which proof of age was not possible by some means. In the last resort some form of personal evidence or of medical testimony can be obtained.
– Is the Minister for Commerce in a position to announce that as the result of the recent conference of the Australian Overseas Transport Association a reduction of freights on primary produce will be made?
– A conference on that subject has been held, but the subject is still being discussed.
Precautions Against Dumping
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that much concern is being expressed by cement manufacturers regarding the possibility of the dumping of cement in Australia? What steps does the honorable gentleman intend to take to prevent this from happening during the currency of the Tariff Board’s inquiry into the cement industry ?
– I gave an undertaking in the House some two weeks ago, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), that the Australian Industries Preservation Act would be overhauled, and last week my colleague, the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) on my behalf brought down a bill to amend it. That bill will be discussed next week. The proposed amendments are intended to prevent the adoption of any unfair practices in regard to cement or other commodities.
– Some weeks ago, I brought under the notice of the Minister for the Interior certain statements that contractors operating under the Public Works Department in the Northern Territory were not paying the wages of their employees regularly. The Minister promised to make inquiries into the subject. Has he yet obtained a report upon it?
– I hope to furnish the honorable member with a reply at an early date.
– I have received from Mrs. Jensen a letter thanking the House for its resolution of sympathy on the occasion of the death of her husband, the Honorable J. A. Jensen.
Formal Motion fob ADJOURNMENT
– I have received from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House this afternoon for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The unwarranted reflections made upon members of this House by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties “.
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
.- In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I assure the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and his ministerial colleagues that I have taken this course as the result of a decision which I arrived at only during the last ten minutes, and I have had no opportunity, therefore, to inform him or his colleagues, of my intention. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) has systematically resented in this House, and in other places, every form of criticism of his tariff policy as prejudicial to the best interests of Australia and, furthermore, has in the most definite way held the Opposition entirely responsible for the fact that, even at this late hour, it would appear there is no immediate prospect of the settlement of the dispute between Australia and Japan in regard to trade matters. I submit that, in this House and elsewhere, the effect of the honorable gentleman’s statements, which may be parliamentary, is to create in the minds of the general public the belief that honorable gentlemen on both sides of this House who do not subscribe entirely to either the manner, or the method, which the Government has employed in carrying out these negotiations have less regard for the welfare and safety of Australia than the Minister himself, and, furthermore, that, as between Great Britain and Japan, these honorable gentlemen come down, as has been said repeatedly, upon the side of Japan. That is a gross reflection upon this Parliament as a parliament. The Minister ought to be thankful to this Parliament, and its members, for the consideration and the fairness with which they have dealt with this subject as a subject. Last night the honorable gentleman referred to a debate which took place in this House yesterday and the day before, and to-day he referred to a speech which I delivered the night before last. I have merely this to say, that, when the Government went to the uttermost limit of the six months’ period which the law allowed before the schedule had to be considered by this Parliament, it then endeavoured, with the consent of the Opposition, to defer a parliamentary discussion, and I, as Leader of the Opposition, recommended to my party that we should give to the Government such consideration as it thought proper in order to avoid embarrassment of any description that might hinder it in carrying through the negotiations which it was conducting with representatives of another country. The Government asked for a validating bill for a fortnight, and we agreed to that period; and in my speech in this House, when dealing with that measure, I intimated my hope that the Government would be successful in its negotiations. It was not my fault that this Parliament, in pursuance of its obligations as representatives of the people, had to deal with the tariff schedule the day before yesterday. If the Government was so satisfied that anything said in this Parliament would frustrate the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties in his negotiations with the Government of Japan, then it was the Minister’s business to ask for a further validating measure; but he made no such suggestion. As a matter of fact, I know that, before I came into this House to deliver my speech, the honorable gentleman had himself circulated in the press gallery, a prepared statement which he proposed to read to the Parliament.
– Not for use.
– The honorable gentleman had done the same thing.
– I had not. I say frankly that last Wednesday the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties came into this Parliament, not only ready, but also eager, for a parliamentary discussion upon this very tariff. If he says, as he has said, that any criticism of his policy is a service to Japan, then he came into this Parliament in a most unfair attitude of mind, claiming for himself the right to say everything ho liked in justification of his own policy and, at the same time, holding in reserve the nasty gibe that anything said against his schedule was calculated to be of service to Japan. I submit that that whole attitude renders parliamentary control of government policy impossible; its effect is to stifle the representatives of the people in their fair and unfettered consideration of problems as these are submitted to them. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties went even further; he even said that what we had said was a disservice to Australia and of service to Japan. But then he went on to say that for six months we had been silent. He made that an accusation against us ! So, if we did not speak we were spineless, and when we did speak, he affirmed that we were more interested in the welfare of Japan than in the welfare of Australia.
– The honorable member’s speech indicated that.
– It did nothing of the kind. With the greatest respect to the honorable gentleman, I say that in the course of years to come, when those two speeches, his and mine, are read side by side, there will, I believe, be a realization that what I said was, not only in the best interests of Australia, but also a necessary thing to say for the welfare of Australia. The honorable gentleman says that speeches delivered yesterday in this Parliament reduce his prospects of making a successful settlement with the Japanese Government. Well, those particular speeches were delivered by honorable gentlemen sitting on both sides of the House and, unquestionably, the statement which appears in the newspapers to-day, as a communication from Tokyo, would suggest that at some time yesterday, without any knowledge at all of what could have been going on in this Parliament, the spokesman, who has appeared conspicuous in press reports as the agency for the dissemination of the policy of the Japanese Government, had formed the opinion that the prospect of a settlement was a long way off. Does that not appear to be a reasonable conclusion?
– After the honorable gentleman’s speech, yes.
– The honorable gentleman says that the negotiations will not. succeed because of my speech. My speech was delivered less than 48 hours ago, yet for five long months, without any speech by myself, the honorable gentleman could not bring these negotiations to a successful issue. I venture the opinion that the unhappy manner in which he has treated this Parliament has been one of the main reasons for the failure so far of our negotiations with the Japanese Government. I say frankly and without heat that if this debate has come on at an inopportune time for the Government, it is the Government’s own fault. It should have arranged for the passing of a further validating act, but it did not do so. Whatever the Government suggested as desirable in the interests of Australia, the Opposition has consented to, and I make this declaration to the people of this country, and: to the representatives of all nations: however much we may be opposed to the Government, we are not opposed to the country which the Government governs.We accept the representatives of this Government as the representatives of the Australian people. At no time have we staged a discussion in criticism of the Government’s policy. However, when the Government itself brings the subject before us as an item of Government business, and we are called upon to discuss it, what are we to do? Are we to remain silent, and allow an improper government action to pass unchallenged? Are we to abandon our representative character, to cease to be an opposition, and become mere “ yes men “ to the Government, merely because the Minister says that we may hamper his negotiations? If criticism delivered within the last 48 hours has militated against the success of the Minister’s negotiations, how does the Minister explain the fact that no success has been achieved during the last five months ? It is wrong, unfair and unjustifiable for him to try to throw on the members of the Opposition, and on some honorable members on his own side, the responsibility for his own incompetence, and for the unsatisfactory way in which the tariff schedule was first conceived, and then applied.
– I am frankly amazed at the amount of passion and feeling which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has brought into a discussion to which his own question gave rise. The question of the Leader of the Opposition, which led to all this debate, and which drew from the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) the reply to which the Leader of the Opposition now objects, was as follows : -
Will the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties indicate whether there is any foundation for the statement purporting to have emanated from Japan, that the prospects of a settlement of the dispute between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Japan in regard to trade matters is remote or distant? Is the honorable gentleman also able to say whether that statement, if justified, is the result of the Government of Japan having knowledge of the statement which the Minister himself made last night, that the prospects of a settlement were 10 per cent, less hopeful than they have been.
The suggestion contained in the question is that what the Minister said last night at midnight influenced the attitude of Japan.
Mr.Curtin. -Not at all.
– If that is not the suggestion, what was the purpose of the question? It was an offensive question, containing an innuendo that the man who has carried on these negotiations with the object of serving first and best the interests of Australia and of the Empire, and who has given all this time and ability to achieving this purpose, said something last night - at midnight - which influenced the attitude of Japan regarding a decision which it must have come to hours before the statement was made. That was undoubtedly an offensive innuendo, and if it roused the Minister to make a spirited reply, surely it is not surprising. In order to show how unfair the question was, it is only necessary to point out that the Leader of the Opposition, in the course of his remarks on this motion, stated that discussion which has taken place here within the last couple of days could not have influenced the present attitude of Japan. If that be so, what possible justification could there be for the innuendo in the honorable gentleman’s own question? Since the Leader of the Opposition hak raised the. matter, let me say that no amount of protest can get over the fact that Japan may well be encouraged now to aim at something more than it would otherwise have hoped for. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that the Government, in seeking to prevent criticism of its policy at this stage, is taking away the rights of the elected representatives of the people. I disagree with that. As far as I am concerned, honorable members are entirely free to express themselves, and I hope that, in doing so, they will always remember the interests of their country, and place those interests first.
– That is more than the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties has done.
– I am not much concerned with what the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) thinks, or says, or does. The Leader of the Opposition has criticized the Minister in charge of these negotiations for the length of time that has been devoted tq them, but he knows perfectly well that negotiations of this kind are frequently protracted, when one party must wait upon the other for a reply. Delays are not unusual when trade treaties are being negotiated. Surely the Government was justified in asking that there should not be any apparent division of opinion in Australia. If honorable members need an example, they should turn to Japan itself, where no discordant opinion has been expressed, and where all are, apparently, united behind their government.
– There are too many traitors here.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).The honorable member is out of order.
– The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties has given so much of his time to this matter, has striven so hard in the interests of his country, and has had so difficult a task to perform, that it is no wonder he hotly resented the suggestion contained in the question of the Leader of the Opposition. When the honorable gentleman asked a question which contained an unfair suggestion, he surely cannot complain when the Minister replied in something of the same spirit.
– Personally, I regret that this incident has occurred, but it was only to be expected that something of the kind would take place if the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) persisted in the line of conduct which he adopted towards honorable members from the beginning of these negotiations. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) must recall that only yesterday I asked him specifically whether he did or did not request honorable members to maintain silence on this subject, and whether he approved of the attitude that the Minister in charge of the negotiations had adopted towards honorable members who had given expression to some of their opinions. The Prime Minister replied, without equivocation, that he had requested honorable members to maintain silence. I think that it should be held to the credit of the overwhelming majority of the members of this Parliament that they assisted the Government to the extent of maintaining silence. What was their reward? Ever since the matter of trade treaties has been brought up - the first mention of it was made in the budget speech not many weeks ago - any member who dared to differ from the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) has been accused of not having been game to speak his mind previously, and of having come down on the side of Japan, or of having “ sold out “ to Japan.
– Those statements were not made by me.
– They were made in respect of honorable members who sit on this side of the House. I remember particularly the case of the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory). I had occasion to refer to it when I spoke later in the debate. Ou several occasions yesterday, during the course of the debate, the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties made such suggestions in regard to even those honorable members who sit on this side of the House.
– He was quite justified.
– The Minister can find a record of that in the pages of Hansard. It was because of this knowledge that I desired yesterday to give to the Prime Minister the opportunity to state where the head of the Government stood in the matter. The negotiation of trade treaties transcends party politics and personal considerations. If the stage has been reached that honorable members are to be absolutely muzzled in the debate on this matter, then we are approaching the time when the electorate will question the wisdom of conducting a parliamentary institution in which its representatives are not able to speak their minds on important questions. I can only express the hope that during the remainder of the debate there will be a complete cessation of these rather nasty suggestions concerning the motives of honorable members who, I believe in all seriousness, conscientiously and honestly differ from the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties with respect to the wisdom of the policy that he is endeavouring to carry out.
– A few weeks ago, during the debate on the budget, a particularly active attack - to put it mildly - was made upon the Government’s trade diversion policy and upon me personally by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde). I replied to that attack as a member of, and on behalf of, . the Government in circumstances which, I recall, have seldom been witnessed in this House, a concerted attempt being made by Opposition members to prevent me from speaking. That, Mr. Speaker, is the only occasion on which I have raised or discussed the Japanese issue in this House since the beginning of the dispute with that country. Following the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) a couple of days ago, when the debate on the tariff was resumed, I used one or two sentences in relation to Japan, but said nothing -that was in any way controversial.
I shall relate the circumstances that led up to what occurred last night. During the last six months, I have not at any time voiced particular optimism as to the probability of a settlement being reached in the dispute with J apan. I have always believed, and I still believe, that that dispute will be settled satisfactorily to both countries. As the result of the negotiations that had taken place last week and in the preceding week, I ventured to form the definite opinion that a settlement was very close at hand, my justification being that for the first time during the progress of the negotiations both partiesto the disputes were actively moving towards a point where settlement might rest. That was generally known in this House. I make no apology for the terms of the protest that I voiced last, night. Yesterday afternoon, there was placed in my hand a message from. Japan which gave me a report of the statement that had been made by the official spokesman for the Government of Japan. That statement was published in the press this morning. I had had it for a few hours, when last night speeches along certain lines were made by the honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride) and other honor able members. Believing, as I did, that this long drawn-out trouble was closely approaching a satisfactory conclusion, I could not do other than protest against indiscreet speeches that were calculated to destroy the hopes of a settlement.
– That is absurd.
.- I rise to make a special appeal to the members of all parties in this House tofacilitate the rapid passage of the Government’s tariff proposals in relation to this matter. An exhibition of personal feeling may be natural, but is certain to be interpreted outside Australia as evidence of the readiness of the people of this country to place personal and political sectional interests before the interests of Australia, and can only prolong the dispute and make it more difficult for whoever is responsible for the conduct of thenegotiations to bring them to a successful conclusion. In making this appeal, I do not overlook the restraint exercised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), and the majority of his colleagues over a very lengthy period. I realize that . when differences of opinion exist as to the right fiscal policy to adopt, it is natural that those who have withheld expression of their views for a long time should voice them with exceptional vigour when they eventually have the opportunity to discuss tariff proposals. But that does not tend in the slightest degree to rectify the existing situation. The interests of Australia can he best served only by the subordination of individual considerations or opinions. The Leader of the Opposition, has expressed his preparedness to do this, and I believe that he has invariably adopted that policy. I am sure that the most valuable contribution that we can make to the settlement of this dispute, and the restoration of good commercial relations with J apan, is to show that we are capable of unity and to pass the Government’s tariff proposals with the provision that they may be so varied as to conform to any agreement that may be reached.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member not to debate that matter. It is one for discussion in the Committee of Ways and Means.
– I suggest that the honorable member read the speech that he made on Tuesday.
– I then made it quite definite that I would not participate in any attempt to place obstacles in the way of the Government in the measures it was adopting in the face of the punitive action taken by the Government of Japan. I did not contend that I liked all the details of the Government’s policy, but I made it quite plain that the question being one between this country and another country, I should be guided by national considerations and support the proposals of this Government. Since then, acrimony has been imported into the debate. That is damaging to Australia, and the best antidote to the ill feeling that has been aroused is to pass the tariff proposals in toto.
.- This debate seems to have developed into a series of recriminations between members on the ministerial benches. I also have a little interest in it as a member not only of the Opposition, but also of the rank and file of this Parliament. I have teen a little bewildered by some of the observations of the honorable member for Wakefield( Mr. Hawker) as to the attitude which should be adopted when the interests of this country come into conflict with, or are in some way challenged by, the interests of another country. This assumes in my mind the form of a new phase of secret diplomacy. I have no objection to the Government choosing its own time for bringing business before this House; it has the right and the responsibility to choose the time and the manner in which business shall be brought forward. I venture to point out, however, that when business is brought forward, every honorable member has an individual responsibility to his constituents and his country and must discharge it according to the dictates of his conscience. The honorable member for Wakefield has spoken somewhat mysteriously to-day, after his very able and critical speech in animadversion of the conduct of the Government on another occasion. He has spoken almost in bated breadth of what he expects from honorable members when it is a question of this country and some other country being in a certain sense antagonistic each towards the other. Precisely the same set of circumstances occurs more or less in connexion with every consideration that is brought up in this chamber. It is our responsibility to address ourselves to every question with due regard to the claims of our own nation and our own personal rights. I desire to say that when a matter does come before this House, subject to direction from the Chair regarding observance of the Standing Orders, I decline absolutely to accept dictation either from the Government or even from members of the Opposition itself as to how I am going to discharge my duty. The people whose interests guide me in these matters are those in the district I represent. When a matter is being debated, we debate it with a free hand and it does not follow that the views I have in regard to my obligations to Australia concur precisely with these which the honorable the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties has in regard to my duty to Australia, or, indeed, his duty. I take an entirely different attitude from that taken by him in regard to these matters. I claim the right to say things in this chamber which I think serve the best interests of the country, but which he does not think serve the best interests of the country. This is a matter for the constituents who sent us here, and for my own conscience, and is not a matter for the Minister. I take this opportunity to repudiate absolutely the right of any Minister of the Crown to approach the table in a grand manner and attempt to dictate to honorable members of this chamber as to the tone and manner in which they shall address themselves to any public question whatever. I lay that down as fundamental to the rights of honorable members. It is not the first time that Ministers have been pleased to say, “ You must not say this or that at this particular time, lest you create complications in a matter which you do not understand.” It is this characteristic of secret diplomacy, this hole in the corner method of dealing withpublic questions, which is accountable for half of the bloodshed that has disgraced the world! I shall not be a party to it. I have sufficient respect for the intelligence of the friendly nation of Japan, with which we are negotiating, to believe that it is not going to be seriously influenced by the views expressed today or to-morrow by individual honorable members of this Parliament on a public question of this kind and of this importance. My own view is that in Japan, as in Australia, there are a number of strong-minded statesmen who appreciate the fact that parliaments are not secret chambers in which the Opposition accepts direction from the Government as to what it will say so that it may not embarrass the Government in some way or another. The people of Japan understand these matters, just as the people of Britain understand that it is customary for parliaments to discuss matters, not in a kid-glove style, but as man to man, and with intelligence, and the courage of their convictions. That being the case, I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on his timely motion and on the well-deserved rebuke which he administered to the Minister for comments and innuendos which the circumstances did not call for and which have come too often and with too little justification from the Minister in times past.
Question resolved in the negative.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Casey) read a first time.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Nationality Bill 1936.
Referendum (Coustition Alteration) Bill 1936.
Federal Aid Roads Bill 1936.
Trade Commissioners Bill 1936.
Northern Territory Representation Bill 1936.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Ordinance of 1936 - No. 16 - Income Tax. Income Tax Ordinance - Regulations.
Public Service Ordinance - Regulations amended.
– by leave - I move -
That government business shall take precedence over general business to-day.
In my recent absence the Acting Leader of the House, the right honorable Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) definitely undertook that to-day would be set aside for private members’ business. The Government was prepared to honour that undertaking, but I think there is a general feeling among honorable members that we should dispose of Government business so that as many bills as possible may be sent to the Senate. If honorable members are prepared to agree to this motion, next Thursday will be definitely set aside for private business.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
SUPPLY (“ Grievance Day “).
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - resolved in the negative.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 6)
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Debate resumed from the 25th November (vide page 2330), 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 . . .
.- Since its advent to office, this Government has been responsible for many acts which have been detrimental to the interests of the people, but it is doubtful whether previously in its discreditable history it over committed such a colossal blunder as it has committed in its adoption of its present policy of trade diversion. The object of the Government, so it is alleged by its supporters is the diversion of trade into channels which it considers are more beneficial to Australian exporters than the channels from which that, trade is being diverted. For that reason it hopes that, as the result of its present policy there will be better opportunities for primary producers to dispose of their surplus production in the British market. This policy had its birth at Ottawa in 1932. Despite what those honorable members who in this matter are supporting the Government have said, the agreement arrived at at Ottawa has not come up to the expectations of those who supported it, so far as Australia is concerned. An impartial examination of the figures will disclose the proof of my contention. According to honorable gentlemen oppositethe Ottawa Agreement has given material benefits to the Australian producers of meat, and this is not denied, but I find that instead of giving the Australian meat producers what they were promised - an expanding share of the British market - it has resulted in a restriction of their opportunity to trade in Britain. On the 30th June, 1934, this restriction came into operation. It is true that Australian exports of meat to Britain have increased, but they have not increased to the extent that was promised at the time of the signing of the Ottawa Agreement, and not to the extent anticipated by the Australian meat producers. I remind honor able gentlemen who are congratulating the Government with regard to the expiry of the Anglo-Argentine agreement, that Argentina has been able, despite the Ottawa Agreement, to maintain its position in the British market. Official figures show that since 1932 imports of meat into Britain have increased as follows: - Australia, 4.8 per cent.; New Zealand, 4.3 per cent.; other Empire countries, 4.6 per cent. ; Argentina, . 4 per cent. A decrease of 14.1 per cent, occurred in respect of imports from other foreign countries, but this was chiefly due to the restriction of the importation of bacon from Denmark. Despite what has been said to the contrary, the Australian meat producer is not receiving the consideration he was told he would receive when the Ottawa Agreement was signed. Instead of talking about percentage increases, however, honorable members opposite should confine their attention to exactly how much of the British market is made available to Empire producers about whom they so glibly talk from time to time. According to the latest information relating to beef and veal, frozen and chilled, only 2,5.3 per cent of Great Britain’s requirements of these commodities is obtained from Empire producers. The bulk comes from producers outside the Empire.
– We cannot send to Great Britain at present any more chilled meat than we are sending.
– All right. With regard to mutton and lamb- the honorable gentleman would not suggest that we could not send ample supplies of this product - we find that the dominion producers supply only 20 per cent, of the requirements of the British market. Yet honorable members opposite claim that the Ottawa Agreement has been materially successful and has improved the lot of the primary producer. Altered world conditions have made possible the better prices that the primary producers are now obtaining for their commodities. The price of wool and wheat would never have advanced simply because of the terms of the Ottawa Agreement. Even if Great Britain purchased all its requirements of wool and wheat from Australia our producers would still have had a considerable surplus to sell elsewhere. It is only in regard to meat that Australia has received some advantage from the Ottawa Agreement.
The British manufacturers, however, were not satisfied with the efforts of the Australian Government to implement the Ottawa Agreement, and for that reason a deputation was sent to Australia to seek an increase of the importation of British manufactured good3 to this country. When that delegation was leaving Australia on its return to England, the chairman of it said that its deliberations with the Commonwealth Government had been very successful, hut at that time no one dreamed that they had been as successful from the viewpoint of British imperialists as has since been indicated.
Some Government supporters have argued that the trade diversion policy which we are now considering was necessary because it was essential to take some action in regard to bad customer countries. I agree with those honorable gentlemen who have argued, in the course of thi3 discussion, that the antiquated method of bi-lateral agreements is not progressive, for the reason that, although we may have an adverse trade balance with one country, that country may in turn have an unfavorable trade balance with another country which is a good customer of Australia. It is only in the aggregate of international payments that light can be thrown on this subject. It is not possible for countries to deal effectively with one another separately. Buteven accepting for the moment the suggestion that the Government was obliged to take some action in regard to bad customer countries, I ask why its actions have been discriminatory? Look at the position of India. In 1933-34 India exported to Australia goods to the value of £3,000,000, but imported from Australia goods to the value of only £500,000. India, therefore, is a bad customer country. The Dutch East Indies supplied Australia with goods to the value of £4,000,000 in 1933-34, hut purchased Australian goods to the value of only £1,000,000. Why has the Government not taken action against those countries? It is probably because their imports to Australia consist principally of wool packs, tea, coffee, rubber, crude oil, and items of merchandise in which the
British manufacturers are not particularly interested. The United States of America is also a bad customer country. It exports to Australia motor cars, machinery, and films which enter into active competition with similar products of Great Britain, and this supplies the only reason for the Government’s action against this country. The Government’s policy, therefore, is discriminatory against the United States of America. Yet a close examination of the figures reveals that the people of the United States of America purchase more from Empire countries than the people of Empire countries purchase from the United States of America. Examined on the broad basis of Empire trade, the United States of America has an adverse trade balance with the British Empire. According to figures which I have obtained, British imports into Australia were lower in value last year by £18,000,000 than Australian exports to Great Britain. But the extra £18,000,000 remains in Great Britain in order to meet our interest payments on debts to Great Britain, incurred principally from 1914 te- 1918 in equipping an armed force to send overseas to fight the battles of Great. Britain.
– The Minister cannot get. away with an assertion of that kind. As he adopts that attitude, I have simply to bring under his notice other aspects of the case which reveal the true facts. Does the honorable gentleman deny that Australian revenues aggregating hundreds of millions of pounds have been expended in the course of the years to maintain soldiers and their dependants who have suffered in consequence of the war ? Is not that a legitimate war charge? It cannot be denied that Australian revenues have been heavily taxed to meet expenditure due to the war. While our revenues were being used thus, the country was compelled to borrow huge sums of money to construct necessary public works and carry on national services. Therefore, it cannot be logically denied that a great proportion of our public debt is due to the fact that we equipped’ armies to send overseas to fight in the world war.
It has been said on behalf of the Government that it has adopted its trade diversion policy, in respect of Japan, a good customer country of Australia, for the reason that it has to protect our Australian standards of living. It is said in effect by the Government, “ We had to protect the Australian workers against the low wages and poor conditions of Japan”. But I ask honorable gentlemen opposite what they have ever done to maintain or improve the Australian standards of living of which they boast? Will the Government table a list of the conventions of the International Labour Office which it has ratified with the object of improving the conditions of the people of this country ? We know very well that at this very moment the Ministry is strongly resisting all efforts to influence it to ratify the convention for the 40- hour working week. Although I have never been to Japan, it is beyond my imagination to believe for a moment that the workers of Japan are living on a lower standard than that of many of the unemployed citizens of this country. I do not believe that human life could exist anywhere on a lower standard than that forced upon our unemployed fellow citizens. The Government, as a matter of solid fact, has’ done nothing either to preserve or to improve the conditions of the workers of this country. On the contrary, it has used every endeavour to bring about further reductions of their standards.
We were recently called upon to discuss a trade agreement with Belgium, but was anything said in the course of that discussion by any honorable gentlemen opposite about the danger of exposing Australian industries to the competition of the industries of Belgium, where working conditions are inferior to our own? Specific provisions were included in the trade treaty with Belgium to enable the glass manufacturers of that country to export glass to Australia. Yet skilled workersin the glass manufacturing industry of Belgium receive only the equivalent of lOd. an hour, and unskilled workers only 6d. ari hour calculated in Australian currency, whereas English workers in the glass industry receive from ls. to ls. 4rd. an hour, and Australian workers from ls. 8§d. to 2s. 2V”d. an hour. In spite of this, the Government was quite prepared to expose the workers in the Australian glass industry to severe competition from Belgium. In these circumstances we cannot be expected to believe that the Government has any interest in the maintenance of Australian standards. I ask honorable gentlemen opposite to name any government of the same political complexion as itself in either the dominions or Great Britain which has ever sought to improve the conditions of the workers. We have only to consider for a few moments the conditions that have been allowed to continue in India during the many years in which that country has been under British rule. Even to-day less than 10 per cent, of the people of India are able to read and write. I challenge any member of the Government to obtain from the Parliamentary Library any information regarding the wage conditions in India which will indicate that improvements are being made.
– Does Australia trade with India?
– Of course it does. We have an adverse trade balance of a considerable amount with India. When honorable gentlemen opposite begin talking about their interest in the welfare of the workers, I feel compelled to invite them to consider the actions of British capitalists who are representative of their own class. I offer no criticism of either the British or Japanese workers, for their problems are similar to those which the workers of Australia have to face. At the termination of the war the British capitalists decided that a plentiful supply of cheap labour could be exploited in India, and they, therefore, established the textile manufacturing industry in that country, and its products were allowed tr compete with the products of the textile industry of the United Kingdom, although ex-soldiers of the demobilized British armies were walking the streets of British cities looking for employment. The British capitalists could employ their money to find work for Indians to make textiles to compete against the textiles made in Great Britain itself, but they could not devise ways and means to provide work for their own fellow-citizens. It cannot truly be argued that capitalist governments ever have any real interest in the welfare of the workers, and this Government cannot expect us to believe that the policy which it is now pursuing is intended to benefit the workers in industry.
It is also claimed by some honorable gentlemen opposite that any additional prosperity that may come to British industries will be reflected in this country if the Government’s policy is endorsed. I very much doubt whether that will be so. The British market for our primary produce is not unlimited. In fact, its power to absorb certain Australian primary products has already almost reached saturation point. Great Britain is not even prepared to declare that the AngloArgentine meat agreement will not be renewed in some form or another. It is quite possible, of course, that the policy which this Government is now adopting is designed to bribe the British authorities into giving more consideration to particular interests in this country, and particularly the meat-producing interests. But, obviously, Great Britain would be foolish to disregard its own interests by declining to renew the Anglo-Argentine meat agreement. Since that agreement has been in operation the quantity of Yorkshire worsteds sold in Argentina has trebled. If the existing meat agreement between the United Kingdom and Argentina were terminated, serious consequences would inevitably follow for the Yorkshire worsted manufacturing industry. This would, in turn, mean that Yorkshire would purchase smaller quantities of Australian wool. Certain honorable gentlemen of the Country party have argued that the Government is departing from the tariff policy which it has followed for a number of years, and I agree with them on that point. Those same honorable gentlemen, however, neglect and ridicule the most important market that is available to our primary producers. The bulk of our primary production is consumed within this country, and, unquestionably, the home market is the best market for us to develop. Only 20 per cent, of our beef, 25 per cent, of our mutton and lamb, and 6 per cent, of our pig products are exported. The greater proportion of these products is consumed within this country.
I am sure no one would suggest that our production has reached its greatest limits of development.
– If Australia were properly populated its production could be increased by ten times.
– I do not disagree with the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) on that point-, hut I distinctly say that increased production is very unlikely if the Government continues to pursue its present policy. On the contrary, further restrictions will occur. Our imports of meat to the United Kingdom, as honorable members are well aware, have been regulated since the 30th June, 1934. The honorable member knows that that is so. Some honorable members seem to imagine that there would be a dire tragedy if, in some way, our export trade were interfered with, hut what would really happen to Australia if such an unlikely development took place? It might prove very serious for those directly interested in Australia’s export and import trade, and for those British interests who are concerned in our annual payments of interest on our loans; hut from the point of view of the Australian people generally I fail to see how it would be half as serious as some honorable gentlemen contemplate. What would happen if Australia were blockaded, and could not import, or export, goods? It would simply mean that much of the produce which we now ship overseas would remain in this country, and we should be deprived of goods from other countries. That would be inconvenient in certain directions, but I fail to see how, because of the stoppage of our import, or export, trade, it would he necessary for any man, woman or child in ..this country to go in want of the necessities of life as many of them are compelled to do to-day. Another aspect of the question to which we should give consideration is that of the adoption of retaliatory measures bv the nations affected by the Government’s policy. We should ask ourselves in what way Japan can retaliate as the result of this Government’s policy. This is an important aspect of this problem, because honorable gentlemen who support this policy have said that the absence of Japanese buyers on our wool market is only temporary, and that eventually Japan will be compelled to re-enter that market because it must buy Australian wool. I do not agree that Japan is compelled to buy Australian wool. It is no more compelled to do so than Germany is, and that country to-day has developed a staple fibre industry. It is demanding that Germans should be patriotic enough to assist their country in its economic difficulties. It has decreed that two-thirds of materials used in the manufacture of Nazi uniforms must be staple fibre, and that the proportion used generally must be in women’s clothes 20 per cent., in men’s suits 10 per cent,, and in children’s clothes 5 per cent. This shows conclusively that Germany is effectively resisting the use of wool. Japan can follow a similar course, and I have not the slightest doubt that the Japanese people, as the result of policies of the kind now adopted by this Government, will be called upon in the same way to resist attacks on their interests by another nation. Already the Japanese authorities have decreed that uniforms for their military forces shall be manufactured, to a large extent, out of staple fibre.
In order to show members of the Country party how foolish they have been in pursuing their present policy, we have only to study the range of goods imported by Australia from Japan in the past. To
– What kind of exports is Japanese calico used for packing?
– Flour and meat.
– Not for meat.
– My information has been supplied from a reliable source. At any rate, the honorable member cannot deny that, at the present time, Argentine producers, because they are closer to the British market and have better facilitiesat their disposal, are able to sell their meat at Id. per lb. cheaper on that market than the Australian producer. Any action which will result in increasing the costs of the Australian producer must, therefore, prove of advantage to his competitors. That is why he buys such materials as packing materials in thecheapest possible market.
The policy of economic self sufficiency which has been adopted by almost every country in the world to-day is very dangerous, and more than any other point in this debate this aspect interests me, because I fear that if this Government continues its present policy it will endanger world peace. All nations in the world to-day are not able to be economically selfcontained. Japan is one of those nations that cannot be. In the past, Australians have been warned of the danger of our unfilled spaces and of the fact that Japan has a teeming population. Japan has not a sufficient area to provide for the maintenance of its people, other than by employing them in secondary industriesand by congregating them in urban communities. Thus if we deny to Japan opportunities to provide for its peoplewe must earn the resentment of that nation. How can Japan, if it is frustrated in this way, provide those opportunities? As a nation, it has been a great imitator of western methods ; it has followed them throughout its whole economic structure. If it is denied the necessary raw materials for its secondary industries or markets for the sale of its products, it will be placed in a desperate position. It will not be prepared to see the economic life of its people destroyed. It will not endeavour to safeguard the interests of its people merely by making mild protests to other nations. It will follow the example set by western nations in similar circumstances and break down by force the doors which prevent its obtaining raw materials or its access to the markets of the world. Further, from Australia’s viewpoint, taking into consideration the necessity to find an outlet for the production of the expanding primary industries, it is imperative that we should foster the Japanese market. Up to the present time that market was expanding and probably, but for the action now taken by this Government, would have absorbed at some time in the future, had we allowed that trade to develop along natural lines, all of the surplus products we could produce. I point out further that Japan is a potential enemy of Great Britain, a fact which cannot be disguised. Germany had been friendly with Great Britain over a number of years, and had been one of Britain’s allies in many wars, but the trade interests of both countries clashed, and from that moment war between the two countries was inevitable, and that war took place. What happened whilst Britain was engaged in destroying German competition in the last war? Other nations, particularly the United States of America and Japan, took full advantage of that fact to develop their own industries and prepare for the capture of markets which had previously been held by Great Britain. For similar reasons the interests of Great Britain and Japan are to-day in conflict, and under conditions where it is impossible to reach agreement by peaceful methods, countries eventually resort-to war. What consequences will such a war have as far as Australia is concerned? Britain has considerable interests in China and is anxious to protect those interests. It has also interests in other parts of the Far East and in the South Pacific, and, therefore, it cannot, whilst maintaining those interests, avoid coming into conflict with Japanese imperialism. According to present intentions, the United States of America proposes to vacate the Philippine Islands. If the Americans depart from those islands, no one will imagine that those islands will be able to maintain their independence by their own efforts. The logical consequence of the withdrawal of the United
States of America from the Philippines will mean that Japan will extend its influence in those islands, as it is already doing to a large extent, and they will become a base for Japan, providing the Japanese with the means to attack British interests, not only in Australia, but also in the Malay States and India. Because of these factors, there is a real danger of war between Britain and Japan, if not now, at some time in the future, and the Australian Parliament should watch the interests of the Australian people by keeping these facts in mind. It should also in particular endeavour to maintain friendly relations with the United States of America, and should not follow willynilly the dictates of British imperial interests. We have been told that during the last war the Japanese were an honorable people, and despite what the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green) said last night could be relied upon to keep their word. They protected British allies and convoyed Australian transports in the last war. Australia has since been asked to reciprocate because of those services, and- with that intention we send delegations to the Far East to improve our trade relations with Japan. Despite those developments, however, we now find that the Government is about to reverse that policy. I want to know the reason for this change. Honorable members opposite have chided honorable members on this side of the chamber with being pro-Japanese. I would point out to them that there is a difference between national and sectional interests. It is not necessary for one to be proBritish in order to he pro-Australian. As a member of this Parliament, I place the interests of the people of this country above all other considerations.
– Except Japan.
– If that interjection had been made by any other honorable member but “the Minister for trade tragedies “, I should reply to it, but I have not the slightest doubt that long after the honorable gentleman has passed from the Australian political stage our successors will be paying for his blunders. He is the most incompetent Minister who has ever graced the Treasury bench in the Commonwealth
Parliament. I shall, however, disregard the inane interjection of the honorable member; the fact that he says a thing does not necessarily prove it to be true. I take second place to no one in safeguarding the interests of the Australian workers. I shall probably be challenged with being unpatriotic because I do not support a policy which is concerned only with certain interests - the interests of capitalists of Britain and Australia. The Australian worker, in a material sense, has not got a great deal to lose, or to gain, wherever those interests are concerned, because whichever country wins in a dispute of this nature the capitalists will continue to exploit him. Thus the outcome of such conflicts does not really mean much to the worker. The real danger to the worker in this country in this dispute is the threat that Australia may become involved in something more serious than negotiations between Ministers and talks between members of Parliament; this country may, as the result of disputes of this kind, become involved in armed conflict. When that day comes, the big monopolistic meat producers, trade interests and the manufacturers in Britain, or any other country, will not do the actual fighting; that will be done by the toilers upon whose sweat and blood those interests live. Despite the jibes of the Minister, if any word or action of mine can prevent this country from being embroiled in war, I will regard it as completely justified. I am prepared to endure the criticism of those who accuse me of being pro-Japanese. In my opinion, Australian interests are being sacrificed on the altar of imperialism. For too long has Australia been made a pawn in the game of British Imperialism. We have no quarrel with the British workers. We are willing that they should improve their conditions if possible, and we are prepared to help them in as far as we can, but we complain that this Parliament has ceased to be an instrument for the expression of Australian sentiment; it has become an instrument for the carrying out of Britain’s imperial policy. We desire this Australian Parliament to be Australian in more than name, and we place the interests of our own people before those of any other people in the world. I do not deny the Government’s assertion that its policy will confer benefit in certain directions to sections of Australian and British capitalists - but that policy is, nevertheless, fraught with danger to the Australian workers. Therefore, in common with many other honorable members, I entertain the hope that the Minister and the Government will be unsuccessful in their attempt to foist this policy on the country.
.- I had not intended to take any part in this debate, not because I had no definite opinions on the situation, but because I felt that no useful purpose could be served by expressing those opinions in this Parliament at the present time. I thoroughly agree with the statement of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) this afternoon that the less said about the matter, the better will be our chance of bringing the negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion. Therefore, I should not have risen but for the fact that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) quoted certain figures, possibly taken from a report with which I had something to do, regarding the export of meat from Australia, and by means of those figures, endeavoured to prove that Australia had received no benefit from the Ottawa Agreement, arid from what we are pleased to think is reciprocal imperial trade. The figures he quoted correspond to certain figures published in the first report of the Australian Meat Board, but unfortunately he did not quote all the figures. He said that although Australian exports of meat had increased by a small percentage, so also had those of Argentina. I rise merely to put before Parliament and the country what I know to be the true figures. Since the commencement of the Ottawa Agreement, progressive restrictions have been placed on foreign frozen and chilled beef, and foreign mutton and lamb until, at the present time, British imports of foreign frozen beef, mutton and lamb are 65 per cent, less than the pre-Ottawa total, while imports of foreign chilled beef have been reduced by 10 per cent. Furthermore, no restrictions were placed upon the importation into Great Britain of dominion meat until 1934. It was competent for Britain to impose restrictions after that date, and certain figures were named beyond which dominion exports must not go. Those figures were arrived at after consultation with the dominions, and they allowed each and every dominion to send every carcass of meat it had available. Therefore, though there was a nominal restriction, actually there was no restriction whatsoever. The honorable member was. correct when he said that Australia’s exports of meat, proportionately to the total imports into Great Britain, had increased by only 4.<84 per cent., while exports from Argentina had increased by 4 per cent. However, in order to get a proper view of the matter, it is necessary to understand the percentage change in total imports into the United Kingdom from those countries over the same period. These show that Australia’s exports, instead of having increased by only 4.84 per cent., actually increased by the amazing amount of 39 per cent., whereas, in the case of New Zealand, the increase, though substantial, was only 12 per cent. On the other hand, total importations from Argentina were reduced by 12 per cent., and, when we understand the enormous quantity which Argentina exports to Great Britain, we realize just what is meant by this reduction of 12 per cent. British imports from other foreign countries were reduced during the same period by 41 per cent.
Those are the percentage fluctuations. I shall now give the actual quantities. In the year before the signing of the Ottawa Agreement, Australia exported to Great Britain 74,000 tons of beef and veal, whereas, for 1934-35 - the last year for which figures are available - it exported 94,000 tons. I wish the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) were here, because the figures in regard to mutton and lamb exports are of interest to him as a representative of Western Australia. In 1931, Western Australia exported to Great Britain 1,000 tons of mutton and lamb, whereas last year it exported 2,270 tons, and this year the quantity has increased to 2,500 tons. If any one can prove that this does not give some benefit to Australia, I have much to learn. Before the Ottawa Agreement, Australia’s exports of mutton and lamb amounted to 73,000 tons, whereas last year they reached the total of 87,000 tons, an increase of 14,000 tons.
I am a producer of mutton and lamb myself, and can claim to have an intimate knowledge of prices. I have a vivid recollection of receiving, in the year before the signing of the Ottawa Agreement, from 8s. to 9s. a head for lambs at public auction. Last year, and this year, lambs of the same quality are being sold for 22s. and 23s. a head. Had it not been for the regulation of imports into Great Britain, and the reduction of foreign imports by 65 per cent., I have no doubt that we should still be receiving only 8s. or 9s. a head, or even less, for our lambs. The increased price has made a difference of not less than £,000,000 to the mutton and lamb producers of Australia.
The honorable member for East Sydney made some play on the fact that a very large proportion of Australian meat is consumed in Australia. I accept the figures he quoted; hut I do not agree with his suggestion that the export market is not of vital consequence to the producers.
– I said it was not the largest market.
– I accept the correction; but I think the honorable member implied that it was the Australian demand which regulated the price. It is generally pointed out by those who hold that view that wage levels are high in Australia, and that the producers get the benefit of this in higher prices. That is an absolute fallacy. It is the export parity that governs the price of Australian primary produce. If there were a surplus, which could not be absorbed by the export trade, the price in Australia of Australian produce would fall almost to nothing. It is the export parity which governs the Australian price, not only of meat, but also of every other uncontrolled commodity, including wool and wheat. Therefore, it is of vital importance to this country that our right to export to the British market be preserved, because that is the only market which can absorb our surplus produce.
The honorable member for East Sydney said that he could not understand why we were so afraid that dire tragedy would follow if our export market were interfered with. I can give the reason. Our exports were interfered with at the beginning of the depression, when prices were reduced by at least 50 per cent. The immediate effect throughout the whole of Australia’s economy was the advent of the depression. Was there any other possible reason for the depression? Did Ave lose the sources of our raw materials, or did some earthquake destroy our workshops? Did somebody suddenly paralyse the hands of Australian artisans that this dire tragedy suddenly came upon us ? The only reason for the depression was that the price received for Australia’s surplus primary products suddenly fell to almost nothing, with the result that, not only the primary producers, but also those engaged in secondary industry, and every business and professional person in the community, came face to face with the threat of unemployment and poverty.
.- In the tariff schedule that is now before the committee, we have the outline of a changed government policy - the policy of the diversion of trade. It deals to an extent with tobacco, ensuring the use of a greater percentage of local leaf. But the whole sum and substance of it in relation to textiles, oil, timber, and motor chassis is in the direction of directing trade to Australia and to our better customers.
In the matter of tobacco, the Government is acting generously towards the producers. Some years ago the Scullin Government imposed a duty of 5s. 2d. per lb. on imported tobacco. At that time the growers were jubilant at the wonderful prospect it gave to their industry. The Tariff Board, however, investigated the matter and reported that this duty was excessive, and was likely to promote uneconomic production. The Government of the day accepted that advice and reduced the duty to 3s. per lb. Since then, however, continuous concessions have been given, and both the customs and excise tariffs have been altered. To-day the duty on imported leaf used in conjunction with Australian leaf is 3s. 6d. per lb., which, with the excise margin of 8d. per lb., makes the protection 4s. 2d. per lb., while in the case of tobacco made wholly from imported leaf, the customs duty is 5s. per lb., and this, with the excise margin of 8d. per lb., makes the protection 5s. Sd. per lb. In these circumstances, the tobacco-growers of Australia have a big opportunity to expand their industry, and should appreciate what the Government has done for them.
The advice of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) in regard to the tariff on textiles, was sound. The least said, the soonest mended. We have to recognize that the Government was compelled to take this action. We must maintain our reciprocal Empire agreements; but we also know that it behaved very leniently towards Japan at the outset, deferring the application of the excessive tariff to the 1st December next. We are all anxious for harmonious relations with our good customers, and hope that the present dispute will quickly be settled. But I should like the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) to explain what will happen if a settlement is reached after the tariff has been ratified and the Parliament has gone into recess. Some provision should be made to meet such a position.
In the case of oil, I notice that there has been an alteration of the preferences in favour of Great Britain. This is wise. For some years the United States of America has adopted a. most uncompromising attitude towards every approach by Australia with the object of securing a trade treaty. Although that big nation produces most of its requirements, I believe that it could take from Australia lamb, butter, tallow, hides, and a larger quantity of wool. We have now, find have had for many years, a very considerable adverse trade balance with the United States of America, and it was this, in conjunction with the uncompromising attitude adopted by that country, which compelled the Common wealth Government to take action for Australia’s protection. Now that the presidential election is over, the Government of the United States of America may be induced to negotiate and probably make a trade treaty with us.
I consider however that the Government has acted unwisely in having withheld for nearly three years the report of the Tariff Board on undressed timber, as well as in its refusal to accept the advice of that body. It is well known that hardwoods are not a substitute for Oregon and softwoods in the construction of houses. Therefore, the Government will merely collect more revenue, and those who build houses will have to pay a higher price for them. Both hardwood and softwood are used in house construction, and there is a relative staple ratio between the two. The alteration of the tariff will not mean the substitution of Australian timber for Oregon, but will merely add to the cost of houses in which Oregon is used. Such a policy is wrong.
The Government, also acted unwisely in altering the tariff in relation to the motor industry without first submitting the matter to the Tariff Board. I was very pleased to receive the assurance of the Minister that the matter has now been referred to the board, and hope that if its recommendations should conflict with what the Government has done the duties will be reviewed. The Minister’s statement of the case did not represent it exactly. The honorable gentleman told us, of course, that the tariff would not be paid on the locally-manufactured chassis, and that there would be a bounty of £30 on the engine. This does not alter the fact that the industry will be subsidized by our taxpayers to the extent of the duty which the Government would lose, in addition to the bounty of £30 on the engine. For example, in the case of a Canadian product on which the duty is £22 6s., the subsidy that the taxpayers of Australia will have to find will be £52 6s. ; and in the case of an American car on which the duty is £43 8s., the total will be £73 Ss. It is futile to suggest that the Australian community will not have to provide that amount for the subsidizing of local production. If revenue be lost in one direction, the taxpayers of Australia must make good the deficiency in some other direction whether the price of a car is raised or not. Matters of this kind have to be borne in mind when we are considering whether or not this industry Can he economically established in Australia. The output and the demand will largely determine whether it is economic or uneconomic. Not for many years will local production be able to absorb SO per cent, or 90 per cent, of our requirements. An extremely heavy tariff is imposed on motor bodies. In the case of British cars, it starts at £30 and rises to £85, while on foreign cars it starts at £40 and rises to as high as £95. It is this extreme tariff ‘that has made possible the charging of such high prices that an American visitor to Australia wonders how we can afford to run motor cars. During the last two years the biggest motor-body building company in Australia has made a profit of nearly £1,000,000, and a large proportion of the profits goes to the United States of America. For the exploitation of the public, the protection that has been granted is responsible. The obligation rests on the Government to protect the users of cars. The matter is of such importance as to warrant review by the Tariff Board. We all wish to see industries established in Australia, and desire them to expand; but they must be on an economic basis. If the Tariff Board should recommend protection that is reasonable and economic, and the Government should adopt its advice, then the Australian people as well as the manufacturers would be protected. Up to the present, I have not been provided with sufficient information to justify support of the Government’s tariff proposals in connexion with either Oregon timber or motor chassis.
– In his speech on Tuesday, the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) said that, on the whole, the trade diversion policy of the Government had been, successful, and had led to a considerable increase of Australian manufactures, particularly in the all-important engineering and electrical industries. The honorable gentleman also claimed that the policy had been successful in diverting trade from poor to good customer countries, such as Great Britain, Belgium, and Germany, with a minimum of international business friction. In the course of his remarks, he informed us that during the last five years Australia had purchased £84,000,000 worth of goods from the United States of America, and that that country had purchased from Aus- tralia only £11,000,000 worth. He pointed out, by way of comparison, that European countries, from whom we have bought only £36,000,000 worth of goods have bought £80,000,000 worth of our produce. I realize that the drift which has occurred in Australia’s trade relations with the United States of America is serious, and admit the wisdom of taking steps to check it. I expressed my view on this matter on two occasions prior to the introduction of this trade diversion policy of the Government, the first being on the 1st April last, when the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) moved for the adjournment of the House, and the second on the 12th May, when I spoke on a Supply Bill. I maintain without hesitation that it will he disastrous to out future business and diplomatic relations with the United States of America if the present policy is regarded as final and irrevocable. I urge most strongly that, having checked the drift, as the Government hopes that it will, every effort should be made to arrive at some formula upon which trade between these two great countries might be resumed on a basis satisfactory to both, and equitable as to the flow of goods in each direction. Last May, shortly before the Government made the rather sudden announcement of its trade diversion policy, I spoke on this self-same matter and, through the medium of statistics, reviewed the trade that had existed between this country and the United States of America, tracing its movements over a number of years. One of my reasons for rising on this occasion is to express again the very definite view that I have held for a considerable time, that it is absolutely essential for us to endeavour to maintain the friendliest relations with this great country across the Pacific, us well as with all the other countries of the Pacific. I believe most definitely that at no time during the last 100 years has the feeling pf the people of the United States of America towards the British race been more cordial than it is to-day. What has perhaps appealed to me most, is the fact that, on the occasion of the death of His late Majesty King George V., both branches of the legislature of the United States of America passed resolutions of sympathy with the British people throughout the Empire. Probably that was the first occasion on which such action had been taken by the Congress of the United States of America. I urge now, as I did then, that it is vital to Australia that it should preserve friendly relations with the great country across the Pacific. Friendly relations are always necessary; the day may come sooner than we like to think when it shall be absolutely essential that we should be on friendly terms with the United States of America. I have never hesitated to express the view that in the final analysis the peace of the world, can well depend on the co-operation of English speaking people. Therefore, whilst supporting the Government now, I urge it to regard the diversion of trade as only a temporary means of safeguarding Australian industries and rectifying adverse balances pending the perfection of some formula whereby our industries and interests can be protected, but under which wc can engage in equitable trade with the United States of America. In the past I have recommended that the Commonwealth Government should appoint a High Commissioner to the United States of America, and that he should be stationed at Washington ; Washington, and not, I think, New York, would be the right place for him. I believe that the creation of such an office would enable Australia to keep its finger on the pulse of the United States of America in all matters affecting trade and, vice versa, that it would enable American interests to keep abreast of the Australian viewpoint.
The Minister said that four of the five important needs of Australia were the restoration of normal employment, followed by a sound immigration policy, the ensuring of our overseas financial position, the widening of the home market for primary and secondary industries and, l nally, defence. I suggest that a fifth important need is the need for consolidating our position in those important overseas markets which we already have and for continued attempts to establish new markets. It must be obvious to all that we cannot hope greatly to increase the use of our primary products within
Australia till we get a greater population. Improved methods of primary and agricultural production will probably make it increasingly difficult for us to use the same fraction of the total as we do today. In any case, the fraction used here when wool is taken into account, is relatively small. If Australia were populated with another 10,000,000 inhabitants, we should still have to dispose overseas of a large surplus of wool, unusable by the Australian population. Because of this necessity, which will persist for many decades yet, I am going to touch on the troubled question of Japan. I am not in favour of flooding Australia with goods produced by cheap foreign labour, but at the same time I cannot ignore the fact that Japan, during the last six or seven years, has consistently bought very much more from us than we have bought from it. Speaking from memory, I believe that for every £1 Australia has spent in Japan, Japan has spent £3 in Australia.
– Japan has a much greater population.
– Absolutely. It is a country I have visited on more than one occasion; it is densely crowded with people, and I have often wondered how they exist. It seems that there is hardly an acre of land that is not occupied. Moreover, the population of Japan increases by more than 1,000,000 a year, and in five years its population increases to an extent which is almost equal to the total population of Australia.
The position of wool to-day, hard though it may be for us to face up to the fact, is not what it was 30 years ago, or even ten years ago. It has competitors, and in connexion with this I would remind honorable members of the history of rayon. Half a century ago, rayon was a mere laboratory experiment. Forty years ago, a few tens of thousands of pounds were produced and offered on the world’s market. To-day, world production runs into millions of pounds, and rayon has become a major tradebargaining weapon, and has not yet reached the peak of its development.
To-day, scientists are experimenting with artificial wool. Scientific wool is poor, shoddy stuff, certainly, but who shall say that it is not destined to develop to the same extent as artificial silk? In Germany, where money to buy wool from other countries is short, scientists are experimenting with woolstra, vistra and staple fibre, all of which, at present, contain a certain amount .of wool, and in Italy experiments have been made with by-products of milk. If the big woolproducing countries of the world wave the big stick too long and too hard, in their belief that their former markets must always continue to buy wool, and will, therefore, ultimately listen to reason, I say, without hesitation, that there is a danger that there may come a day when they will find that those former markets have been largely supplanted for ever by the products of science. I do not say that this is an immediate possibility, but I donot, with rash optimism, discard as wild and unbelievable, the thought that oneday it may mature into fact.
I do not propose to speak at greaterlength, but I was driven by remarkswhich I made on two or three occasions prior to the introduction of this policy to make my position quite clear; I wasforced again to recapitulate my attituderegarding the necessity for us to maintain friendly relations with other countries. Anything I have to say with regard tothe proposal to establish the motor carmanufacturing industry in this country and with regard to the individual items 1 shall leave until those subjects arebefore the committee.
.- In recent years, no governmental policy in this country has caused greater controversy, or caused greater dislocation of our trade than the action that has been taken in recent months by this Government in developing what it describes as its policy of trade diversion. I do not desire to say anything that will hinder the restoration of friendly relations between Australia and its customers, whether the countries concerned be good or indifferent customers. It is regrettable that a dispute has arisen with Japan, because, for years, that country has been a good customer for Australia, and as the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) has already pointed out, it has spent £3 in this country for every £1 Australia has spent in Japan. Japan has not only been a big purchaser of Aus- tralian wool; it has also bought freely other commodities produced in this country. The position regarding the United States of America is somewhat different because an unfavorable balance has existed for many years in our trade with that country. I think, however, that it was regrettable that this Government should have taken the steps it did take in May last on the eve of the presidential election in the United States of America when the atmosphere was disturbed, and there was no possibility for any one in the United States of America to negotiate with this country. I hope that now the presidential election is over, and the democratic party has again been returned, it will be possible to negotiate with the United States of America, and to bring about a satisfactory trade relationship between that country and Australia, based on greater equity than has prevailed in the past.
The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) raised the question of Australian hardwoods and the lifting of the duty on Oregon. The attitude of some honorable members of this chamber astounds me; they want to obtain the best possible prices for everything they produce, and, at the same time, want to bring into this country, either free of duty or at the lowest possible rate, everything that they want to buy from overseas. It is an amazing outlook, and, if their wishes were translated into facts, they could bring about nothing but disaster. In order to pay the interest on its overseas debt, this country must sell overseas at least £25,000,000 worth of goods annually in excess of its imports. The honorable member for Riverina, if I understood his remarks correctly, desires the importation of Oregon which will be sold in competition with our own hardwoods, and claims that those hardwoods are not suitable. I concede that in a few instances hardwood is not as suitable as Oregon for certain purposes, but the fact remains that a growing market exists overseas for what we call stringybark, and other hardwoods. These first class timbers are being used in other parts of the world and are proving satisfactory.
– Tasmanian oak, for instance.
– I did not desire to introduce the Tasmanian aspect, but as a good Tasmanian, 1 maintain that Tasmanian hardwood has no superior among the timbers of the world. Quite recently I had some connexion with the building of a home, the contractor for which decided to use Tasmanian oak throughout in preference to soft woods because it was more durable and satisfactory.
– That would not apply to Queensland hardwoods.
– Queensland hardwoods are used extensively and with satisfaction. We should foster the use of Australian timbers and enter upon a vigorous policy of reafforestation so that when our population is much larger than it is to-day Australian timbers will be available for the use of our people. I much regret the outlook of certain honorable gentlemen of this Parliament who seek every opportunity to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest.
The prohibition of certain importations from the United States of America has been the subject of very much complaint. I have personally had correspondence on this- subject with certain importers who have adversely criticized the attitude of the Department of Trade and Customs in certain respects. I shall deal with this subject at a later stage when the Minister for Trade and Customs is present.
I agree with the view of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) that every endeavour should be made to manufacture complete motor ears in Australia. His proposal has been severely criticized and I am not personally able to say whether it is likely to prove economically sound or not; but I strongly protest against the inferiority complex of certain pessismists in the committee who, on this occasion, as on former occasions when it has been proposed to establish a new industry in Australia, have said, “ It cannot be done “. Motor bodies are already being manufactured satisfactorily in Australia, but when that industry was in its infancy it was alleged that success would never be achieved. The honorable member for Riverina said that profits amounting to £1,000,000 had been made in this industry by one firm; but I point out to him that in order to make its profit the company paid wages aggregating £1,500,000 to its employees and spent £1,000,000 in the purchase of raw materials. Moreover, the beneficial results of the expenditure of that money were undoubtedly reflected in the primary industries of the country.
It is essential to the development of Australia that secondary and primary industries shall be developed simultaneously. We should do our utmost to establish carefully-planned manufacturing processes here. Only by this means shall we be able to provide work for an increased population. To support an increased population both primary and secondary industries are needed.. We should manufacture here all that we can manufacture at a reasonable price. Had the Government continued the policy initiated by the Scullin Government some years ago, many of the difficulties which it has encountered within the last few months would have been avoided. Praise of the Scullin Government’s policy has come from unexpected quarters. I direct particular attention to a statement made by Mr. Bruce, while he was resident Minister in London.
– Why does not the honorable member quote the remarks of his friends?
– It is a good thing on occasions to hear what an opponent has to say. I shall never have the slightest hesitation in directing attention to any remarks of the Minister for Defence which may be favorable to the point of view that I wish to enunciate.
– I do not think the honorable member will get many opportunities to do that.
– If the Minister continues his present defence policy I shall certainly be able to quote with approval, as I have already done, certain statements that he has made. Mr. Bruce, in addressing a meeting of the Chamber of Commerce in London said -
Australia has converted an adverse trade balance of over £30,000,000 into a favorable trade balance of £32,000,000.
He went on to say that this had been done by means of tariff action, prohibitions and high duties, and he added that by no other means could it have been done. Although Mr. Bruce praised Australia’s achievements at that time in glowing terms, he did not tell his hearers that the Scullin Government was responsible for what had been done. On that point I think the right honorable gentleman was not quite fair. Had the present Go- “vernment followed the policy laid down by the Scullin Government it would have avoided the trade war which has occurred with certain nations in the Pacific. The Scullin Labour Government rectified our adverse trade balance by tariff action, but at the same time it preserved friendly relations with the other nations which were being adversely affected by its policy. It was recognized .at that time that the rehabilitation of Australia was essential to its progress. I regret that the Lyons Government, in varying the Scullin Government’s policy, has caused so much ill will and unfriendliness among certain nations.
I shall reserve other remarks that I have to make until the items to -which I wish to refer are specifically before the committee.
.- The tariff schedule now before the committee is the means of implementing a new policy of trade diversion. The principle of trade diversion is not new to Australian politics. For many years, governments of various political colours have granted preferences to the United Kingdom on the Australian market, and that is decidedly a policy of trade diversion. Apart from that, Australia has also, with a few exceptions, granted preferences to certain other nations which have become known as “most favoured nations “. The principle of trade diversion in Australian tariff history is, therefore, an old one, and, consequently, any criticism of the Government’s policy must be directed towards the method employed in initiating this policy. I am bound to say that I find several grounds for such criticism. Until quite recently the world has been tariff mad; nations have resorted to all kinds of impediments to foreign trade; prohibitions, quotas and embargoes have been levied indiscriminately, with the result that international trade has suffered to a very great degree. The people of the nations concerned have also suffered. In the midst of such conditions, however, Australia adopted an entirely different attitude. We could have said that we would go tariff-mad like the rest of the world; but since its inception this Government has adopted a policy of removing restrictions on international trade. It has removed embargoes and surcharges, and has also minimized the effect of exchange. It has preferred a most liberal tariff policy which has stood as a beacon light in a tariff-mad world. A feature of that policy, to my mind the most important development in the history of the tariff in this country, was the elevation of the Tariff Board to a position of prominence in our fiscal policy. Previously it was the practice for the Minister for Trade and Customs to introduce tariff proposals into this chamber, and to support them merely by his own knowledge and the knowledge of the department, whilst honorable members opposed to his proposals relied solely on briefs handed to one or two of them on behalf of interests directly affected. In such circumstances, it was the unhappy lot of the majority of honorable members to have to listen to a debate based on this limited material, and then on that meagre information, determine how to vote. Honorable members are drawn from all walks of life; each has a. knowledge of certain industries, but that knowledge does not equip him sufficiently to deal with a tariff schedule which contains up to 2,000 items and sub-items. It is, therefore, impossible for honorable members to cast an intelligent vote in respect of each item. The necessity for better guidance thus became apparent, and that want was fulfilled by the elevation of the Tariff Board to its present position of importance. Following the previous period of uncertainty has come another period which has enabled this Government to give to this country the soundest tariff policy it has ever enjoyed. Its success is undoubted. Any audience could easily be convinced of its soundness. It can withstand any criticism. It has resulted in greater efficiency in industry by reducing the burden of production costs, and it has given increased employment.
To-day, however, we seem to be departing from that policy; the importance of the Tariff Board is being minimized; we appear to be reverting to prohibitions and restrictions. In effect, we are backpedalling and abandoning that policy, which, as I have said, was a beacon light in a tariff-mad world. To me this change seems strange, particularly in the light of certain world events. Only a month or two ago the press reported an event of the utmost importance to world trade, namely, the signing of an agreement between Britain and the United States of America and France for the stabilization of the currencies of those countries, and, by that means, the removal of some of the greatest obstacles to the flow of international trade. On the 2nd October, the Premier of France, M. Blum, made the welcome announcement that to some extent, at any rate, France intended to abandon its old doctrine of selfsufficiency. He announced reductions of from 25 per cent, to 30 per cent, in the French tariff; the suppression of more than 100 import quotas; and - of interest to Australia - reduced duties by some 15 per cent, on many Australian exports. Then, again, the Australian High Commissioner in London, Mr. Bruce, has entered the lists and is speaking sound sense. He has said, in effect, “ Let us remove existing obstacles to the flow of international trade; let us build up prosperity among the nations of the world which will, undoubtedly, mitigate the possibilities of a world war.” In the light of these events, and Australia’s tariff reforms, it seems strange to me, and to many people, that we should now decide to depart in this instance from the sound principles which we have applied in the recent past. It would almost appear that Australia has simply looked out to its immediate neighbours whose shores, as has been said, by one honorable member, are laved by the same waters, and has smitten, with might and main, a head wherever it has popped up. Criticism of that sort is, to a certain extent, justified, but I do not agree with it insofar as our dispute with Japan is concerned. If it could be shown that the Minister in his dealings with Japan had not exhausted every pos sible avenue of reaching an agreement with that country before he took the action he has taken, it would be justified. I should like to hear from the Minister that he did, in fact, endeavour in every possible way, prior to last May, to come to an amicable settlement with Japan regarding our trade with that country in rayon . and cotton goods. Nevertheless, without that assurance, I feel convinced that he did so, and that it was only after he exhausted all avenues for a settlement that he decided to take the action which has led to reprisals on the part of Japan. Australia desires, as it has always desired, to live on the most friendly terms with Japan, both from a personal and from a trade point of view. Australia is prepared to give Japan a share of the Australian market and to expand that share as this country prospers. But it cannot allow Japan to threaten its trade with its other good customer countries, or allow Japan to menace, as is apparent in no uncertain form at present, its trade with the United Kingdom. We must remember that other countries besides Japan have an unfavorable trade balance with Australia; and we cannot allow Japan to menace their purchases from us. That is a point, in respect of the United Kingdom, which is most important. Apart from sentimental ties, we owe much to the United Kingdom. To-day, it provides the only market which offers any hope of expansion from our point of view, and remembering the paucity of our population, and our urgent need for migrants, that market is of paramount importance. Great Britain is a purchaser of the great bulk of our exports ; it is our best customer for wool and wheat, and, in respect of wine, fruit, butter, mutton, and lamb, it can be considered to be our only customer. The British market, therefore, must be safeguarded at all costs. It is important to note the difference between the attitude of the United Kingdom and that of Japan concerning purchases of Australian wool. It is a fact that when we negotiate trade- treaties with the United Kingdom, that country does not take into account the enormous quantity of wool it buys from Australia; it admits frankly that the wool it purchases from us is of very much more value to it than to the Aus- tralian producer. This observation applies also to Japanese purchases of Australian wool, although no such admission on the part of that country has been made. Japan, however, is discovering the truth of that fact to-day, at very great cost to itself.
It has been stated by some that the reason why Great Britain has been threatened with the loss of the Australian market for its rayon and cotton goods has been because of the inefficiency of factory plants in Lancashire. It is true that some of those plants have become obsolete, but not all of them are out of date. When one studies production figures, it will be seen that Japan’s total production is definitely lower than that of any other country in this respect.. To contend that the United Kingdom was threatened with the loss of the Australian market for rayon and cotton goods because of the inefficiency of its mills, is, therefore, to contend that the mills of the rest of the world are out of date. The costs of production of cotton piece goods and artificial silk a square yard, in various countries to-day, are as follows: - United Kingdom, 14d. ; Belgium, 14i£d. ; Prance, 38-£d. ; Germany, 2Sid. ; United States of America, 19id.; and Japan, 4^d. From these figures it is obvious that more is involved than the efficiency of plants. Wages costs undoubtedly play an important part in determining the selling price of Japanese goods of this kind. In textile mills in Japan, employees, mostly girls, after their first year of employment, during which they work for nothing, are paid lid. a day. Surely no western nation has a chance of competing against conditions of that kind. in Lancashire last year, I saw evidence of great poverty which had been caused mainly through Japanese competition in this trade. In one particular factory I found that the average wage paid was not more than 30s. a week. This was due to the competition of Japanese goods. Britain’s position is bad enough in respect of effective wage costs, but Japan enjoys further advantages because of its depreciated currency. This had the effect, under the old system of ad valorem rates, of reducing imposts on Japanese cotton piece goods and rayon goods by roughly half of the nominal rates. An inquiry at the Trade and Customs Department will show that the effective duty paid ‘by Japan on rayon goods was less than the British preferential rate in many cases. I contend that we could not possibly allow such conditions to continue The Government, in taking this action, merely brought Australia into line with the rest of the world. Actually, the duties imposed were slightly less than those imposed by other countries in similar circumstances. Indeed, they are not out of line with the policy of Japan itself. If ever a country put into effect a policy of economic nationalism, that country is Japan. So much is this the case, that it is almost impossible for any country to sell goods to Japan other than raw materials, or materials indispensible to it for competitive purposes. The Government has had to face criticism over this matter, but I can say without hesitation that the great majority of the members of this Parliament are solidly behind the Government, and hope that, before long, a settlement satisfactory to both parties will be reached.
The Government’s trade diversion policy will give Canada a rather severe knock. I am not seriously perturbed about that, because Canada is a country with which we can negotiate and reach a settlement. I do think, however, that a mistake has been made in imposing a quota on Canadian cars in the same way as has been done in the case of the United States of America.
– If that had not been done the supply of cars would merely have been transferred to Canada, in which country the manufacturing interests of the United ‘States of America are very strong, although not generally
– Nevertheless, I believe that a British dominion should receive more consideration from us than should a foreign country. There is a tendency with some persons to regard the Empire as consisting of Australia and the United Kingdom, and to disregard the effects of our policy on other parts of the Empire. It is important that we should remain in close touch with the other dominions. Although I know the reason that actuated the Government, I still believe that a mistake was made in placing Canada and the United States of America on the same basis. I regret also that, in regard to the United States of America itself, we have departed from the policy of checking competition by means of duty, and have, instead, imposed embargoes. I do not oppose the diversion of trade from the United States of America to Great Britain, but I do detest the words “ embargo “ and “ prohibition “. The same object could have been, achieved by means of the tariff.
Embargoes are provocative, and we have no desire to offend the United States of America, a country that has always been well disposed towards us. Moreover, embargoes threaten the efficiency of Australian industry. The tariff schedule contains a list of prohibited items, including pasteurising plant, typewriters, cranes and hoists, electrical motors, sewing machines, and printing presses. An Australian manufacturer may decide upon a machine of American make as the most suitable for his business, but he will not be allowed to import it. Moreover, many machines of American manufacture are already in operation in Australia, but manufacturers will be (prevented from importing necessary parts and replacements, and will be compelled to scrap the plant.
– We are not doing harsh or foolish things. All replacements for original machines will be admitted, if they are not manufactured in this country.
– Then the Government will not be adhering to the letter of its policy, because the list in the tariff schedule includes both goods and parts. The Minister’s reply is an admis-. sion that the Government’s- policy has already proved ineffective, and will be departed from.
I also object to the provision that the Minister for Trade and Customs is to be the sole arbiter as to the best kind of machine to be installed in any factory or home, because that is what the scheme of the Government amounts to. I am glad to have the Minister’s assurance that parts for replacement will be admitted, but I do not like the idea that power to licence importations should be in the hands of the Minister.
Wrapped up with the Government’s trade diversion policy, is the proposal that complete motor cars should be built in Australia. Of all industries in the world, I doubt whether there is one more highly specialized or efficient than the motor manufacturing industry, yet Cabinet has decided to commit this country to the manufacture of motor cars without referring the matter to anybody, or asking the opinion of any one who knows anything about it.
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– -I am fairly well acquainted with this subject, and know what I am talking about. . We have been told that a bounty of £30 will be paid on each car manufactured during the first year, and that this bounty will be reduced almost to vanishing point within a few years. As one possessing some knowledge of business principles, I ask the Minister whether he thinks that any responsible firm will undertake the manufacture in Australia of chassis without receiving a guarantee that the bounty will be paid over a definite period of years.
– I stated in, my original speech, that the matter would be sent to the Tariff Board for inquiry.
– This is ‘what the Minister said -
The Tariff Board has been asked to report on the best means of giving effect to the Government’s policy.
That can only mean that the Government had decided on a policy, and afterwards proposed to ask the Tariff Board to advise it as to the best means of implementing it. The Government has made no inquiries as to the probable cost of Australianmade cars to the public. The Minister merely made a bald statement that the price of cars would not increase when the Government’s policy was put into effect.
– I expressed that as a personal opinion.
– It was an extraordinary statement, and was tantamount to saying that the Ford plant in Canada should be able to manufacture cars as cheaply as the parent plant in Detroit. The fact is that the cost of motor cars is intimately related to the volume of production, and the price at which Australian motor cars could be sold in Australia would be closely related to the absorptive capacity of the Australian market.
– I have never said that it will not cost more to make chassis in Australia than in America. What I did say was that the completed car in Australia would not cost more than what cars are now being sold for in Australia. The Australian manufacturer would not have to pay duty on the chassis
– The Ford plant in Canada has a capacity of 125,000 units a year. The Ford plant in Detroit turns out from 6,000 to 8,000 units a day, and the finished car costs 175 dollars more to produce in Canada than in Detroit, due almost entirely to the difference in the volume of production. Last year 57,000 car and truck chassis were sold in Australia. If the manufacture of cars here is to be divided between three companies operating under mass production conditions, each company, according to last year’s sales, m,ay expect to produce about 20,000 units, certainly not more than 25,000. On that basis, I cannot see how extra cost to the consumers can be avoided.
– That is only the honorable member’s statement.
– I admit that no one can say definitely what the cost of manufacture will be, but neither is the Minister justified in saying that cars will not be dearer. Let us avoid all assumption, therefore, and have a proper inquiry by the Tariff Board into the economics of the industry. I assume that the cost of cars will be increased Something else will happen if the existing position continues. The English manufacturer will be enabled to undercut in Australia the manufacturer who has already embarked on production in this country. What will follow? The local manufacturer would then have the right to demand from the Minister for Trade and Customs an inquiry by the Tariff Board. Judging by what has occurred in connexion with the building of bodies in Australia, such an inquiry would result, in an increased tariff. In fact, from what the Minister has said, it would appear that steps would be taken to safeguard the two or three companies that were manufacturing for the requirements of ‘ Australia.
SirHenry Gullett. - The protection is not intended to bo prohibitive; there will be room for a certain number of imported cars, as there is now room for imported bodies. [ Quorum formed.]
– At the present rime, according to the registration figures, the British motor car manufacturer holds about 20 per cent, of the Australian market. Owing to the alteration of the basis of duties from the ad valorem to the weight basis, I think it can be assumed that prices of English cars will be reduced to some extent in this country with the result that there will be an increase of sales; that is providing there is no alteration of the present position.
– Oh, no! This market will be protected against British imports when local manufacture begins. That is the case with every Australian industry.
– That is an interesting point, and one which I endeavoured to explain at an earlier stage of my remarks. When local manufacture begins, then will come the demand for protection. What will that mean?
– What does it mean in the case of every protected industry in this country?
– The Government is adopting the policy of the entire exclusion of the British manufacturer from this market.
– That has been done in the case of hundreds of industries.
– Yet we are discussing the diversion of trade from the United States of America to Great Britain !
– The British Government offers no objection to this development.
– We are giving with one hand, and threatening to ex clude with the other, an export that is of tremendous advantage to Great Britain.
– Compensation will be given ; in fact, it is being given.
– If imports from the United Kingdom are seriously threatened, what chance will Australia have of maintaining agreements with that country which have been of advantage to us in the past, and will be of advantage to. us in the future? In taking this step, we must definitely jeopardize ourchance of making successful trade agreements in the near future. Considerable difference of opinion exists in connexion with this item. We have been given nothing definite that would enable us to cast an intelligent vote. I contend that the inquiry by the Tariff Board should -not have been circumscribed. The whole matter should be inquired into from the economic viewpoint. It is absolutely ridiculous to say, as the Minister has said, that there will be no excess cost. There must be excess cost-
– On the complete car? The body or fashion end is the most expensive in Australia to-day.
– Let us consider the position in regard to motor bodies. Has it been proved that we can manufacture motor bodies as cheaply as they can be manufactured on the other side of the world?
– Does the honorable member wish to wipe out that industry ?
– I make no such suggestion. But I do not want to establish anything that will impose a terrific extra cost, and in later years have the Tariff Board say, “ To the motor body-building industry must be added another uneconomic industry “. The cost of building a motor body in this country is, roughly, three times the cost overseas. If we are entitled to assume that similar circumstances will apply to the manufacture of the complete car, then it stands to reason that some extra cost must be imposed on the user. I have no wish to oppose the manufacture of motor cars in this country if it can be done on an economic basis.I look forward, as do most honorable members, to the day when motor cars will be manufactured in Australia. But I do not feel justified in supporting the establishment of an industry before the appropriate time, or in imposing on transport a burden that may prove very damaging. Let us have a full inquiry by the Tariff Board. In other words, let us adhere to the principle that has been followed. for the last three or four years and has proved satisfactory, so that we may be able to cast an intelligent vote on this all-important matter. I hope that before the debate concludes the Minister will give the assurance that there will be an enlargement of the terms of reference to the Tariff Board, and that that body will inquire as to whether the manufacture of motor cars would be economic and of benefit to Australia.
– When we deal with tariff items and the trade policy of the Government we consider matters that are of vital interest to the future prosperity of Australia. In diverting trade from unfavorable countries the Government has done a service to this country. For many years I have wondered why the United States of America was permitted to export large numbers of cars to Australia while prohibiting the importation of any Australian primary products or other commodities, with the exception of a few small lines, thus placing us in the position of having to bridge the difference annually with exports of gold. I am pleased that when the Government found it impossible to induce the United States of America to enter into negotiations for a trade agreement with Australia, it decided to check the importation of cars and other commodities from that country, with a view to an expansion of trade with good-customer countries and the production of certain items in Australia. I believe that while in the main the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) supports the tariff proposals of the Government, he has endeavoured to find some ground for a criticism of its attempt to make possible the manufacture of motor cars in this country. His argument that the prices of cars may be raised is one that could be advanced against the manufacture of any commodity in Australia. Had such a policy been adopted in the past, the thousands of persons who, today, are employed in the great manufacturing industries of Australia at a reasonable wage and under good living conditions would have been in an unfortunate position. As far as I- am aware, the honorable member is not a freetrader. Yet he appeared to exert himself to prove that cars cannot be manufactured in Australia. I can find no reason for assuming that that is so. It has been stated that there is no engineering background in this country. That theory was exploded when it was shown that a few years ago there was no weaving background in Japan, and yet that country is to-day one of the foremost in the export of fabrics. We have engineering workshops that are capable of doing all that is necessary in connexion with the manufacture of both internal combustion and other engines. The difficulties which they have surmounted are no greater than will be encountered in the complete production of motor cars. It must not be forgotten that about 80 per cent, of some of the makes of cars which are being used in Australia to-day is manufactured locally. No honorable member should fail to appreciate the value of the work done by the Minister in formulating this policy, and I am 100 per cent, behind the Government in its desire to institute an Australian motor industry. I fail to understand why any honorable member should admit reticence to agree to the establishment of this industry, either now or in the future.
– Who did that?
– The honorable member, in his speech, complained about the institution of this policy. He forgets that, if an Australian motor industry is established, a large percentage of the £4,000.000 which we send abroad every year for the purchase of motor vehicles will be retained in this country, and that, in consequence, thousands of Australian workers who are the consumers of the products of the land will be employed, with resulting advantage to the whole of Australia. If we can conserve to this country even £2,000,000 a year of the outlay on imported motor vehicles, the majority of which come from a country, which, as the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) has shown, owes Australia millions of pounds by reason of the unfavorable balance which has existed in our trade with it, we shall be doing a super work, and shall create a national asset in industry and defence. Some years ago the manufacture of farm machinery in this country was opposed ; but, after its estabishment, it was found that the industry was able to devise implements and equipment suited to local conditions which had never previously been manufactured. I am convinced that we have men in Australia who, with the assistance that the Government is offering, will in a very short space of time be able to undertake the manufacture in this country of the complete motor vehicle.
The Government has been criticized for having diverted certain future trade in fabrics from Japan to Great Britain ; but, in giving consideration to this matter, honorable members should look at the position in the same way as the responsible Minister had to look at it. Before this policy was instituted, the Commonwealth Government attempted to reach a trade agreement with the Government of Japan; but, unfortunately, that Government could not, or would not, take advantage of the opportunities that were offered to it. Certain honorable members have cited the quantity of wool that Japan has previously bought from Australia; but I believe that every consideration, was given by the Government to that aspect; that it realized that Japan in the past has been a big purchaser of wool, but that the interests of other Australian industries had to receive consideration. I contend that, although the product of the wool industry represents the greatest monetary value in our whole range of exports, it is not the industry of the most economic value to Australia. The grazing industry is spread over huge tracts of land, and has been extended and developed by railways which have cost the Australian people millions of pounds. The dairying and fruit industries are developed under the closer settlement plan, and both employ more men than are employed by the wool industry. Those industries, therefore, deserve some consideration in the formulation of govern ment policy, and this Government did take them into consideration. Another aspect of this matter is that Great Britain to-day is the only purchaser of a great quantity of our exports. Party considerations should be swept aside and replaced with loyalty to the national aspirations of the Government in developing a policy aimed at serving the general interests of the community. Honorable members who are opposed to this policy should take a leaf out of Japan’s book. The Japanese are super-loyal to their Government in such matters as this, and it behoves every honorable member to assist this Government and to strengthen it in its determination that it shall not back down, no matter what sacrifices we make. I trust that this Government will not back down to Japan in the same manner as other countries have allowed themselves to be used at the will °f that country. The Commonwealth had just reasons for giving to Great Britain a greater share of the Australian market, and for protecting British products against the inroads of Japanese manufacture. The action taken by this Government is similar to action taken by every important country throughout the world. The United Kingdom takes £65,500,000 worth of Australian goods annually, and 56^ per cent, of Australia’s total exports. Japan takes £12,000,000 instead of £65,500,000, and 10f per cent, instead of 56£ per cent. No doubt that is a valuable trade; but, when it came to choosing between the two countries, there could be no alternative to choosing Britain. At the time this policy was introduced, Commonwealth Ministers were engaged in negotiations with Great Britain for an increase of the imports by that country from Australia, but how could we expect to increase our exports to Britain when our trade balance with that country was already £20,000,000 in our favour? Surely, then, it was fair to show to Britain that its market in Australia was not to be lost to it, as it would have been if the Government had not taken action to prevent further inroads by Japanese goods, which are produced under conditions and at wage rates with which no white race can compete.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m. [Quorum formed.]
– Realizing that Japan was a valuable purchaser of Australian wool., the Government had to investigate the position from all points of view, lt was essential, of course, that everything possible should be done to preserve the interests of all our primary industries. Obviously, the imposition of tariff duties was not sufficient to meet the situation’. In fact an increase of duties would have put Japan in a better position than it already occupied. The Government consequently adopted the licensing policy which we are now considering and I commend it for so doing. Its decision to peg the imports. at a certain figure was undoubtedly wise. Only in that way could the Government prevent further Australian trade drifting from the United Kingdom to Japan. Naturally, Japan expressed resentment at the action of the Commonwealth and, as fi retaliatory measure, placed restrictions upon the imports of Australian commodities. The difficulty of the Commonwealth Government was to fix a fair basis of trade for subsequent negotiations. That having been done, attempts were made by the governments of both countries to make a trade agreement. The Common-wealth Government has made every effort to meet the requirements of the government of Japan, and the latter lias also faced the problem squarely. At the moment we do not know the exact stage of the negotiations. Some honorable members have criticized the Ministry for its failure to reach an agreement, forgetting that a compromise by the two parties is necessary to achieve that desired end, unless one party forgoes all its claims. I sincerely hope that the Commonwealth will not give way to Japan on the vital issues that have to be decided. After all, though the wool industry is of great importance to the Commonwealth, the interests of other primary producing industries also must be considered. If the Government had not taken a firm stand I fear that the position of all our producing industries would have been chaotic. Practically every government in the world, excepting that of New Zealand, has taken action along the lines adopted by this Government. If our economic affairs had been allowed to drift the resultant debacle would have been unprecedented in our history and the unemployment of our people overwhelming in its hopelessness. Every Australian industry must have gone to the wall. If the Government had remained idle the whole of the Australian textile trade would have gone to Japan and this would have greatly strengthened the position of Japan as a textile exporting country in other parts of the world. It was unthinkable to my mind for the Government to remain indifferent to the welfare of our various industries. If no regard had been paid to the claim of the United Kingdom to an important place in Australia’s markets, the time would have come when we should have regretted it.
The honorable member for Indi argued that the Government’s new trade policy should have been referred to the Tariff Board before its adoption, but I do not agree that the Tariff Board should be allowed to usurp the place of this Parliament. We have been elected to Parliament to represent the interests of the people and we should not hesitate to do so.
– No one has suggested that the Tariff Board should take the place of Parliament.
– I said that it should investigate the position for the guidance of Parliament.
– I have no doubt that if the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) could find a means to close down certain Australian industries by removing from them the degree of protection which they now enjoy he would adopt it.
– ‘Hear, hear !
– The honorable member admits that he would do so, but the responsibility to maintain our various industries and develop them whenever possible rests upon the Government. Quite properly, due regard was paid by Ministers to the far greater value of Great Britain’s trade with Australia than that of Japan’s trade with us. The Government, in short, made the right choice. The following table gives the value of the purchases of various commodities from Australia by Great Britain and Japan in 1934-35, and the figures speak for themselves: -
Lt will he observed that Japan purchased no dried fruits, sugar, apples, pears, eggs, canned fruit or wine from Australia, whereas the purchases of these commodities by Great Britain were valued at millions of pounds. Had the Government delayed action much longer the desire of Great Britain to purchase our commodities would probably have disappeared, for there would undoubtedly have developed a feeling that Australia had dealt unfairly with the people of the United Kingdom in allowing Japan to obtain complete control of our textile market. I feel proud that the Government faced these big issues as it did. I believe that its action was right in principle and detail.
So far the Australian wool industry has suffered no loss in consequence of this new trade policy. The world requires so much wool and if it is not purchased by one nation in one country it will be purchased by it in another. In my opinion the quality of Australia’s wool is so superior that the manufacturers of Japan will be obliged to be reasonable and agree to trading conditions as between the two countries which will be equitable to all concerned. After all, the licensing system which the Government has introduced in relation to Japan need have meant a loss of only £300,000 of the total of £6,000,000 in the first year. What incensed the Japanese, of course, was the realization that the Government was looking farther ahead. The- Japanese people had in mind that they could not under the new conditions expect their trade with us to expand in the future at the rapid rate at which it has expanded in the last year or two. Wc find also that the delay which has been occasioned almost resulted in a satisfactory settlement. Speeches made by some honorable members in this debate, however, seem to have strengthened opinion in Japan, with the result that the Japanese Government does not seem to be quite as favorably disposed as it has been in recent weeks.
Regarded from any point of view, Great Britain’s trad.e with Australia is most important. In the last ten years, Great Britain has imported Australian primary products valued at no less than £600,000,000. We are hopeful that the market will still further expand, and by its present action this Government has given a practical illustration of the desire of the Australian nation to safeguard the Australian market for British textiles by enabling British manufacturers of those products to withstand unequal competition from low-wage countries such as Japan. I regret to find that honorable members opposite oppose this policy of excluding Japanese goods of this kind. If we are prepared to take any action which would result in driving British products off our markets, we might just as well declare that we wish to employ Japanese in our mills in Australia. If we followed such a course, we should also do injury to Australia’s textile industry. Undoubtedly that would be in jeopardy as long as we allowed the importation of Japanese textiles to continue. It is an industry we value. Although it is still in its infancy, it is growing rapidly and is giving considerable employment. Its progress is encouraged by this Government through its tariff policy, and in time it should prove one of our most .valuable industries. Furthermore, the Australian and British textile manufacturing industries absorb the cotton produced in Queensland, thus affording employment to large n numbers of growers and pickers.
I feel sure that any one who carefully reviews the Government’s policy will come to the conclusion that its action has been taken opportunely, if not too late. It was essential that such action should be taken and, I contend, Australia as a whole will benefit as the result of it. Other countries, almost without exception, have been obliged to take similar action in order to safeguard their own industrial interests. If anything, Australia has been slow to move. Its action can operate adversely against Japan only to a very small degree, and I feel that the resentment evidenced on the part of the Japanese Government during the current negotiations is not justified. When this Government brought down its policy of trade diversion in order to safeguard the interests of British and Australian manufacturers on the Australian market, Ministers of this Government were in Great Britain urging that country to increase its imports from Australia. Our representatives on that occasion secured an improved meat agreement and a continuance of preference to Australian butter. This last concession was achieved at the cost of Denmark, which previously had supplied butter unrestrictedly to Britain. As the result of Australia’s representations in respect of this product, the British Government, while renewing its- agreement with Denmark, has reserved the right to review that agreement at any time. Previously, Denmark invariably secured a hard and fast agreement for a period of three years. In addition, our negotiations with Great Britain have resulted in an increase of exports of our primary products generally to the British market. We must remember that quite recently Britain’s adverse trade balance with Australia amounted to over £20,000,000, and that in such circumstances it was natural for Britain to be anxious to rectify that balance as far as possible. Rather than allow British trade to be given to foreign countries, this Government acted wisely in doing its best to meet Britain’s request. Although some honorable members have stated that our exports to the United Kingdom have not been increased as the result of the Ottawa Agreement, within the last five years Britain has increased its purchases of our primary products by the following: Wheat 92 per cent., wool 43 per cent., beef 141 per cent., lamb 123 per cent., mutton 106 per cent., fruits 22 per rent., and wines 58 per cent. Yet some honorable mem’bers cavil at the action taken by this Government to protect Australian markets for British goods. These increased purchases have been in respect of products which no country but Great Britain will buy from Australia. Japan, for instance, does not buy any of our products in any considerable quantity except wool and wheat, and in view of the establishment by the Japanese of the wheat industry in Manchuria, we can expect that Japan’s purchases of Australian wheat will rapidly decline in the future. In that case it will be a buyer mainly of our wool. Compared with our other smaller primary industries wool-growing does not give very much employment. I do not deny that revenue from sales of wool is essential to our financial security. In other respects, however, it cannot compare with the smaller primary industries in the matter of affording employment. The amount of plant required in the wool industry cannot be compared to that which is required in the dairying industry. Furthermore, the dairying industry is a means to closer settlement, which factor plays an important part in our economic life. Naturally, however, we value the wool industry very highly, and it is pleasing to note that the majority of growers support the Government’s present policy. Some growers, however, who are selfish in their outlook,’ refuse to regard this matter from the point of view of the welfare of the nation as a whole; they are concerned solely with its effect on their own individual pockets. The Government has endeavoured by every means at its disposal to do a fair thing, not only for the wool industry, but also for all our smaller primary industries, including fruit-growing, dairy-farming and wheat-growing. A large number of those engaged in the grazing industry are beef -growers, and the Government’s policy will tend to increase our exports of frozen and chilled beef to Great Britain. This policy will also, ultimately, benefit the lamb-raiser. Indeed, it will benefit every class of primary producer in Australia. The greater the concessions we make to Britain, the greater will be our prospects of selling more of our primary products on the British market. I contend that, in trade matters, Australians should be as loyal to their own interests as other nationals are to the interests of their respective countries. [Quorum formed.]
It is apparent that members of the Labour party are somewhat ashamed of the stand they have taken in this matter, because they repeatedly leave the chamber leaving one of their number to call for quorums. Apparently, honorable members opposite are not prepared to stand up to criticism of their action in this matter.
To-day the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) claimed that honorable members should have the right, and he demanded the right for himself, to express their views in regard to any trade negotiations being carried on by the Government. He claimed, in effect, that as a member of this Parliament he had a right to say what he wanted to say, irrespective of any damage his expressions might do should negotiations on the particular subject be proceeding at the time. The honorable gentleman is aware that in his own profession as a lawyer he is forbidden to make any public comment on a case outside the court while that case is sub judice. He knows that that provision exists for a good purpose. A similar provision may be applied with equal value in respect of negotiations being carried on by the Government of this country with a government of another country, as, for instance, in our present dispute with Japan. The honorable member contends that he should be allowed to expose in debates in this House the points in favour of this Government in such negotiations, and advocate a case on behalf of the foreign government, irrespective of whether or not the claims of that government are opposed to the interests of Australian workmen. I feel sure that this Government will never, in any negotiations with a foreign government, agree to anything that would prove detrimental to the interests of Australian workmen or our nation as a whole.
– Did this Government investigate working conditions in Belgium, when it negotiated a treaty to allow Belgian glass to compete with Australian glass ?
– Evidently it did, because this Governmentwas able to put up a proposal in that particular treaty which did not do injury to the Australian glass industry. The best proof of that fact is that not one honorable member opposite voted against the ratification of that treaty. I applaud the Government for the care which it has exercised in negotiating the treaties it has concluded within recent months, and, particularly, in respect of its negotiations with Japan. The honorable member for East Sydney also said that he placed the interests of Australian workers before those of any other country. However, he does not act up to that profession, because, if he did, he would support the Government’s present policy.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am prompted to take part in this debate because I believe that the Government has inaugurated a national policy as important as any that has been instituted since the beginning of federation. While I believe that the ideal state of affairs would be one permitting the free flow of trade between all nations, we are forced, in this practical world, to consider realities rather than economic theories. I am somewhat disappointed at the opinions expressed by some honorable members in this committee, and by some persons elsewhere, regarding Australia’s secondary industries. Every time our secondary industries are mentioned some one is ready to create an atmosphere of gloom, and decry our efforts as manufacturers.
Indeed, this has not been confined wholly to Australia, because, when the United States of America first embarked on its policy of industrialization during last century, there were plenty to prophesy disaster, and when Victoria, during the ‘eighties and ‘nineties, began to establish its secondary industries, there was no lack of prophets of gloom. Nevertheless, since federation, despite opposition from various sections, Australia’s secondary industries have attained a value in property, plant, and capital of £500,000,000. No fewer than 500,000 persons are directly employed, and 150,000 indirectly employed, in our secondary industries. These industries were Australia’s mainstay during the economic crisis, and enabled us to race the rest of the world out of the depression.
Much has been said during this debate on the subject ‘of manufacturing motor cars in Australia, and the same kind of criticism that has been directed against this proposal was also directed, against the proposal to establish the iron and steel industry in Australia before the war. Yet that industry has been so soundly established that it can now carry on with only a nominal duty of 5 per cent, on all main lines, with which protection it can compete successfully against the products of the United Kingdom. All that is needed now for expansion is that it shall embark upon the manufacture of alloy steel for the construction of motor cars. The development of secondary industries in Australia has had the effect, in many instances, of bringing down prices. For instance, motor-car batteries manufactured in Australia are 30 per cent, cheaper than the batteries which were previously imported. Although I represent a city constituency, I am interested in primary production. Before the war, the countries of central Europe obtained a large proportion of their food supplies from outside their own borders. During the war, those supplies were cut off, and their peoples endured so much hardship, that they determined never to be caught in that way again. They now produce nearly all their own wheat and other foodstuffs, production having been encouraged ‘by the system of economic nationalism which was then inaugurated. Nations in various ways followed suit with the imposition of trade restrictions, quotas, and embargoes and even Great Britain, the leading exponent of freetrade, adopted a protectionist policy. Among highprotection countries are the United States of America and Japan, which have imposed protective tariffs even higher than that of Australia. Japan, for instance, has placed a duty of 100 per cent, on artificial silk which, having regard to the general level of prices in producing countries, is higher than the duty now imposed by Australia against Japan. This policy of economic nationalism, to a large extent, forced Australian produce off the markets of the world, and we therefore became a party to the Ottawa agreement so that we might, by the development of intraEmpire trade, develop new markets. I admire the manner in which the people of Japan have overcome their natural disadvantages. Unlike most other countries, Japan has a comparatively small area of land suitable for agriculture, and, in an endeavour to maintain its people, it has embarked upon a policy of intensive industrial development. Its standard of living and low rates of wages would not be acceptable to the people of Australia. Japan, with its abundance of cheap labour, and exceedingly low production costs, has, industrially, given great concern to western countries, because it is able to produce goods at prices which defy competition. It has succeeded in practically driving the manufacturers of the United Kingdom out of the Indian market. Up to the time the Govern ment of Australia imposed restrictions on its imports, it had captured 90 per cent, of the artificial silk trade of Australia, and a large proportion of the cotton trade, which we now propose to reserve to Great Britain as a partial offset to the huge exports of primary produce which we sell to Great Britain, and cannot sell elsewhere. There has been much comment upon our prohibition of Japanese imports, but let us consider for a moment what is happening in the United States of America. The following extract is from the Journal of Commerce and Commercial New York, of the 30th June, 1936:-
Mute evidence of tlie factors which governed the action of the State department recently in breaking off negotiations with Japan for an agreement whereby imports of textiles from that country would be curtailed was disclosed to-day by the Department of Commerce in the publication of import figures for the first five months of this year.
According to the statistics of the department, imports of textiles from Japan up until shortly before the President ordered sharp boosts in the tariff duties, were in a fair way of exceeding the records of all prior years. During the first five months, January to May, imports for consumption were only 3,223.000 square yards short of the entire amount of imported in 1935, while compared with the first five months of last year they represented an increase of 14,125,000 square yards.
Total imports for consumption of Japanese cloth was estimated by the department at (3,252,000 square yards from January to May compared with 10,127,000 square yards for thu comparable period last year, and 30,475,000 square yards for the entire year of 1.035. General imports of Japanese cloth amounted to 20:843,000 square yards this year, compared with 2 (‘,’. 189,000 square yards during the first five months of 1 935. and 48,970,000 square yards for the twelve months of 1035. increased i in ports of textiles from Japan Iii st became noticeable almost two years ago, and as the amounts brought in each month became larger efforts were made by the State department in response to the demands of the domestic manufacturers to seek an arrangement which at least would hold the imports to a specified quota. These negotiations collapsed, however, and the President immediately ordered increases of almost 50 pur cent, in the present tariff rates. Because the rates were not effective until the 20th June, the effect upon the imports were not reflected in the figures of the department released today.
It is evident, therefore, that to-day the United States of America is in exactly iiic same position as Australia. One nation after another has been compelled to impose restrictions against Japanese goods. Japan, by setting up monopolies in lower and still lower prices, is seriously affecting the secondary industries in the various manufacturing countries of the world. As a matter of fact, Australia was one of the last countries to take action in defence of its own industries; no less than 80 countries had already been obliged to take this action. Despite what has been said, labour conditions and currency deflations give Japan an enormous competitive advantage over the United Kingdom. Whereas £1 sent to Great Britain will bring back to Australia approximately 15s. worth of goods, £1 sent to Japan will bring back approximately 30s. worth of goods, apart from which manufacturing costs in Japan are only about one-third ns high as in Great Britain. Although there has been a general recovery in world prices, Japan has reduced the price of artificial silk goods by 50 per cent., and the price of cotton goods by 15 per cent. During the last three years, Japanese exports of artificial silk to Australia have increased from 8,000,000 square yards to 65,000,000 square yards, and its exports of cotton goods have increased from 36,000,000 square yards to S6,000,000 square yards. During the same period it has reduced the price of artificial silk goods from 3d. to 4d., and the price of cotton goods from 3d. to 2d.. The Government urges that competition from Japan, unless arrested, must menace every Australian industry which it affects. The action taken by the Government is for the protection not only of our secondary industries but also of our primary industries. For the production of what we should need in a time of war, we are absolutely dependent upon soundly established manufacturing industries. We will largely depend on wireless and aviation as a means of quick communication with other parts of the world. Armaments and ammunition are other necessaries, and unless our factories, particularly in technical industries, are firmly established and have a home-consumption trade, the essential equipment cannot be produced. The duties imposed against Japanese goods are in no sense discriminatory; they have equal incidence against all foreign countries and conform with the international principle of equality of treatment. Australia gives more trading concessions than are given by foreign countries. We do not impose a surtax on currency. Japan is not so fortunate in Argentina, where there is a 20 per cent, surtax on currency, or in South Africa, where dumping duties are imposed. Japan does not extend to Australia the mostfavorednation treatment. The primary producers of this country have to rely on the British market. Great Britain takes from us annually £6,600,000 worth of meat. Of our total exports we send to the United Kingdom SO per cent, of our beef, 92 per cent, of our butter, and 99 per cent, of our lamb. In the last three years the exports of our principal commodities have trebled. At the present time the value of our butter exported to Great. Britain amounts to £9,000,000 per annum out of a total export of £9,500,000. The total quantity exported is 100,000 tons. Great Britain also takes 50 per cent, of our wheat, 36 per cent, of our wool, £3,000,000 worth of our fruits, and large quantities of our wine and other primary products. Our surplus production cannot be sent to any other country. The export price becomes practically the local price. This is reflected in the value of all stock and of every acre used in production. To ensure the continuance of this market we must give Great Britain something in return. There are exceptional circumstances in the case of textiles. It is simply a matter of protecting our best customer, the United Kingdom, and the valuable export market which it provides against impossible competition from another country. While we recognize that Japan is our second-best customer, we must not lose sight of the fact that cotton piece-goods represent the principal item of our trade with Great Britain. In 1932, Great Britain’s total exports to Australia amounting to £20,020,108, of which cotton goods represented £4,152,421. In 1935, the total exports reached a value of £29,38S,142, of which cotton goods represented only £3,142,707. It will thus be seen that, although there has been’ a substantial increase of the total exports, the exports of cotton goods have declined by approximately 25 per cent. I feel quite sure that if the positions of Great Britain and Australia in respect of an important export commodity were reversed, we should ask for protection against a foreign country. It became clear that the drift of trade could not be allowed to continue, and our dependence on the British market precluded the consideration of any course other than that followed if anything more than the specialty lines were to be preserved for Great Britain. Unless we retained the Australian market for British cotton piece-goods, the exports of our primary products to the United Kingdom would show a considerable falling off. We could not ask for an expansion of our trading opportunities in the United Kingdom if we were not prepared to give Great Britain something in return. Under the trade diversion policy the preference for Great Britain becomes secure. Cotton piece-goods represent our greatest single import which we have always reserved for Great Britain as a partial set-off to our great exports to that country. Many endeavours to reach a friendly limitation arrangement with Japan have failed. Japan has been asked to reduce its exports to Australia by some 50 per cent., but if it finds the duties too restrictive, the Commonwealth Govern- ment will be prepared to review the position. Let us compare the trade of the two countries with Australia. Great Britain takes 9,609,000 cwt. of our butter while Japan takes only 199 cwt. Great Britain takes 2,700,000 cwt. of our cheese, but Japan takes none. The same thing applies to most other Australian primary products. Australia wishes to trade with Japan and is prepared to give it a substantial share of the textile market. Australia’s decision to send a goodwill mission to Japan was not the act of an unfriendly nation. Australia produces 80 per cent, of the world’s best wool. Therefore, purchases by Japan in other countries cannot very greatly affect the position. If we were to give way to the present demands of Japan, that country could continue to develop the manufacture of woollen goods until eventually the stage would be reached when the price of wool in Australia could be fixed by Japan. This would be disastrous to the graziers, and would seriously affect our economic position. Although the opinions held in Australia in regard to the action of the Government are dictated by whatever interests are involved, I believe that it is generally approved by the people as a whole. It is based largely on the wish to develop an Empire policy and the desire to foster trade within the Empire. In my opinion the community generally wishes to lessen Australia’s dependence on foreign countries and to divert trade to the Empire. Some countries which formerly were large importers of Australian primary products are to-day supplying their own needs. As these markets are now closed to Australia, it must develop trade within the Empire. Four years ago the area under wheat was about 16,000,000 acres. The last return showed that the acreage had fallen to 12,000,000, proving that many, youths who formerly were employed in primary industries must be in employment elsewhere, and that can only be in our secondary industries.
I support the policy of the Government because it is founded on national security.
– In my opinion the trade dispute with Japan should not he discussed in a party political spirit. I propose to deal as briefly as I can with the three divisions of the controversy which has developed since the 22nd May last, when the Government introduced its proposals for the diversion of trade into British and Australian channels. Those three divisions are : the diversion of trade from Japan to Australia and Great Britain; the diversion of trade from the United States of America to Australia only; and the attempt by the Government to establish an Australian motor car manufacturing industry. We know that during the last six months the attention of the public has been focussed principally upon one division of this controversy - the trade difficulties that have arisen with Japan. The very fact that the great bulk of the public’s interest has been centred on Japan proves that that is the dangerous feature of the Government’s policy. I am satisfied that the community takes a tremendous interest in the efforts that are being made to settle this dispute. I have moved a good deal around the country since the 22nd May last, and have no doubt whatever that this is the dominant political consideration in the minds of the . country people, particularly those who are associated with the wool industry. I am satisfied that, unless the Government succeeds in reaching an agreement with Japan, even if it is not favorable to Australia, there will be keen disappointment amongst the rural population of Australia, more especially among the people who are dependent for their living upon the wool industry. I take no notice whatever of the fact that the price of wool to-day is so high as actually to cut the ground from under those people who have been arguing that we should never have entered into a trade dispute with Japan. The abnormal conditions which exist in the world to-day probably account for the extraordinary demand for Australian wool which has ruled in the present selling season, but we know from experience that this happy state of affairs is not likely to continue indefinitely. [Quorum formed.] We should be foolish indeed if we were carried away by what may be a false position of the wool market. We have to consider what has happened in the past and what may happen in the :future
In the district of New England which I represent, a district which grows the best wool in the world, the great majority of the persons engaged in the wool industry understand that we cannot afford by any policy, unless it be a policy of great national emergency, to jeopardize the trade that we have developed with Japan as a purchaser of our wool; and I think that that opinion is shared fairly generally by the whole Australian community. That is why there is anxiety among the people engaged in the wool industry, and among those dependent upon it in the cities and towns for a settlement of the difficulties, and I feel sure that the day when it is announced that a treaty has been reached with Japan will be regarded throughout the rural areas as a day which will almost justify a thanksgiving. Insufficient attention has been paid to the fact that it is not a sound policy for any government to allow any other government to dictate to it in connexion with either tariff measures or any other matter which is associated with the economic position of the country. Therefore, if it can be shown that there has been an attempt by Japan to dictate to Australia, there will be a 100 per cent, response, not only in this Parliament, but also throughout Australia in support of the Commonwealth Government. We must, however, also recognize that it is unsound economics to destroy a favorable trade balance with any country except for material reasons. Moral reasons alone are insufficient. It is not sufficient for the Government to say that it is acting to strengthen Imperial ties; I do not think that the people would accept that as a satisfactory reason, because it is too general and does not get us anywhere; it is not tangible or substantial. It would have to be shown that, unless action were taken, something to the detriment of Australian trade would occur in the future and that the general economic position of tip country might bo jeopardized. That bring? us to the crux of the argument. That the people have no objection to buying Japanese goods is proved by the steady increase of imports from Japan in the last five or six years. We know very well that these goods are ordered by wholesalers and retailers. They are not forced on the people, but are displayed in the shops and warehouses, and the people are tempted to buy them, not only by the prices, but also because of their quality. Throughout the country I have been led to the conclusion that the main objection taken by the commercial community to Japanese goods is on account of their cheapness. It is also said that generally their quality is inferior and I know that to be the truth because I have seen a lot of rubbish. The storekeepers generally are supporting the Government’s attempt to restrict the flow of imports from Japan, because they say that although there is a big turnover, there is no profit on Japanese goods. They are forced to sell Japanese silk at 4d. a yard, and there is no profit on sales at that price, whereas there would be a substantial profit on the sale of British or Japanese silks at ls. 6d. a yard. It is, therefore, not economical for the storekeepers to trade in these lines, although they have to do so because of the public demand. That is the point of view adopted by the commercial interests, and accordingly that large influential section of the community is favorable to the Government’s policy. But we, as members of Parliament, cannot be influenced by sectional and, to a certain extent, selfish interests. It has to be said for the Japanese that they have been very good customers of ours. For some years we have had the better of the bargain with Japan, and have had a bigger favorable trade balance in our trading with that country than we have had with any other foreign country. It is phenomenal that we should have had in the past such a marvellous trade balance with a foreign country. However, no country will continue to buy our raw materials unless we buy from it something in return. That was one of the kindergarten axioms of the depression, and we heard it from thousands of platforms. Yet, to-day, we are attempting to ration trade with a country which for years has been giving us much more than a fair deal. As I said earlier, if there existed some exceptional national emergency which would, justify this action, the majority of the people, if not the whole, would be solidly behind the Government. But we have not been given any definite reason of that kind. Wo have merely been told that the Government’s policy is in the interests of Australia, and we have to accept that assurance, because the Government represents the people of Australia, and takes the full responsibility. All that the Government says in this matter is, “ We know that we have taken a serious step, but we have definite and important reasons, which we cannot disclose, for having done so. “ It is a tribute to the prestige of the Government that the people in the last six months have trusted it in this respect, and it should be a source of satisfaction to Ministers that the great majority of their supporters have not insisted upon being told any more than they have so far been vouchsafed. Soon after the introduction of this policy the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties conferred with supporters of the Government, and conveyed to them a statement containing very little more information than has been conveyed during the course of this debate to the general public. The Minister said that it was a difficult matter to handle, and that he did not wish to be embarrassed by controversial public discussion. Therefore, he was helped and not hindered by honorable members on this side of the House. Later on, all honorable members received a request by telegram from the Prime Minister asking them to refrain from making statements which might embarrass the Government in the conduct of its negotiations with Japan. That request was honoured by honorable members on all sides of the House, and there was a complete cessation of controversy over the dispute. The Government, therefore, cannot say that it has not had the help of all honorable members in its efforts to put matters right. It cannot contend now that honorable members have been unduly insistent or querulous in demanding greater information or clearer reasons than they have been given. Although I consider the position to be unsatisfactory, I do not consider honorable members are blameworthy in any way in demanding to know a little more about this matter and in asking why greater progress has not been made in the time that has been at the disposal of the Government. I do not blame the Minister himself. He has had a most difficult job, and I am surprised that almost the whole weight of it has been thrown on his shoulders. It would have been more satisfactory to the country if other Ministers had come into the matter at an earlier date, and if it had been made a Cabinet responsibility, rather than a burden for one individual member of the Cabinet to bear. We must all realize that in this matter the Minister has had a task which is almost beyond the capacity of one individual. I do not take up the attitude which has been adopted by certain other honorable members, that the Minister has been a failure. He has already produced valuable trade treaties, and only to-day has given notice of another treaty, on this occasion, with France Those are indeed achievements. But the position with Japan overshadows those efforts, and the fact that the dispute is yet unsettled no doubt must have some effect on his prestige. As soon as that dispute has been settled, I think he will have earned the title of “ Minister for Trade Treaties “ with great honour and distinction. The value of our former trade with Japan outshines the value of the trade with the foreign nations with whom trade treaties have been negotiated, but at present that trade is at least temporarily destroyed. It is of no use taking notice of what appears in the cables published in the newspapers. On one day honorable members may read that a government spokesman in Tokyo, of whom they have never previously heard, has expressed the opinion that there is no prospect of a settlement of the dispute. As a matter of fact, a cable on those lines appeared in the press this morning. Yet we are told that there are good prospects of settlement, provided that the Government is not unduly embarrassed by injudicious speeches in Parliament. That is a very fair attitude for the Government to adopt, even though six months have passed without definite prospects of settlement. However, as I represent one of the most important woolgrowing centres of Australia in which the best wool is grown, and for which the top prices are obtained, I am entitled to ask myself whether everything possible has been done to reach a settlement of this dispute. I have been asked on several occasions to address the woolgrowers organizations in my electorate on this subject, but as I did not wish to be embroiled in the controversy, or to break faith with the Prime Minister, I have simply furnished these organizations with the printed information supplied by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties. The consequence was that those organizations have passed many motions on the subject - hostile and otherwise. I have definitely not attempted to make political capital out of the situation. But I must now ask why nothing more effective has been done to settle the dispute. I do not blame the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties nor the ministers of the Japanese Government for the failure; but undoubtedly mystery shrouds the whole subject. Our only source of information is the press, and newspaper articles have informed us that the issue now is whether Japan shall be allowed to export to Australia annually 100,000,000 square yards or 130,000,000 square yards or 150,000,000 square yards of textiles of various kinds. Is that the situation? Have all the big issues involved in these negotiations been settled, and is it now simply a matter of haggling over yardage ? If so, I must confess that for my part, I should settle the matter very quickly. Japan’s wool trade with Australia was worth £12,000,000 to us. We have not yet ascertained what will be the effect of the withdrawal of that trade. We shall probably know more about it next year. If, however, by increasing the yardage of artificial silks and cotton textiles which Japan may export to Australia, we can retain even a large proportion of that trade, we ought to do so. I do not think that Great Britain would offer any objection to a settlement of this dispute on that basis.
Some honorable gentlemen, in the course of this discussion, have criticized the living standards of the Japanese people. The time has long gone by when arguments on that basis can be justified. We should have determined that issue years ago. If Ave were not satisfied with the living standards of the Japanese people, we should have declined to sell our wool to them. If, as it is alleged, the wage standards of Japan are very much lower than our own, and if Japanese factory employees nave to work from ten to sixteen hours a day, and we object to such conditions, we should have refused to accept Japan’s wool cheques. Yet some honorable members, who have been glad to participate in the wool trade of Japan for many years past, now have the audacity to criticize the economic standards of that country. In doing so, they either insult our intelligence or place an undue strain upon our sense of humour. If we are prepared to sell Japan our wool, we should also be prepared to regard without criticism the industrial standards of Japan. Honorable gentlemen who have criticized Japanese standards have not been consistent, for they have approved of the trade treaties that have been made with Czechoslovakia, Belgium and even France without even considering the economic standards in those countries.
– What about India, where we buy large quantities of sacks for our wheat?
– The living standards of millions of people in India are so low that we have come to the conclusion that the market of that country is of little use to us, for the people have insufficient money to buy the goods that we produce. The living standards of Japan are solely the concern of the Japanese people. I therefore submit that if, by giving Japan some additional share of our textile trade, we can retain a substantial proportion of our wool trade with that country, we should do it.
I shall go so far, however, as to say that if the Government considered it necessary to licence our textile trade with Japan in order to prevent our shops and warehouses from being flooded with Japanese textiles to the serious detriment of Great Britain, it has acted wisely. If mischief of that kind must he stopped, now is the time to stop it. We cannot afford to allow oriental countries to gain absolute control of our markets for manufactured goods to the detriment of Great Britain or our own Australian industries. Even if the adoption of such a policy means the sacrifice of our wool trade to the extent of £6,000,000 or £8,000,000 a year, the sacrifice should be made. But the burden of it should not be allowed to fall on one section of the community. In such circumstances, the Government should, by means of bounties or additional taxation, call upon other sections of the community to bear their share of any such loss.
– No loss has yet been shown.
– I said earlier in my speech that it would be unwise for us to base our calculations upon the present price of wool. Prices may fall, and if that happens we shall find ourselves in difficulties. For this reason I contend that any permanent loss likely to be sustained through the restriction of Japan’s textile trade with Australia should, be borne by all sections of the community, and not by the wool-growers alone. On the other hand, if, by allowing Japan a somewhat larger share of our textile trade, we can retain our wool trade with that country we should make the concession, for Japan has been our most valuable foreign customer for wool. I do not think that such a concession would seriously impair our Imperial relations or antagonize Great Britain, and it would certainly settle what may develop into a very dangerous issue. Japan is a nation with which we should be on friendly terms. It has been stated in the press, in the last few days, that a movement is on foot to develop closer relations between Japan and Great Britain, and even to go so far as to bring about a renewal of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, which proved so valuable to Australia years ago. Great Britain, has always sought to maintain the most friendly relations with Japan,, and Australia should also pursue thispolicy, not abjectly, but for sound’ national considerations. It has never been the policy of Great Britain to favour any movements by dominion governments which would be likely to create hostility in Japan, and Great Britain would not favour such a policy to-day. Provided Australian interests would not unduly suffer, and that Great Britain would still be assured of a reasonable footing in our textile market, I repeat that it would be wise for us to make some concession to Japan, in order that the former friendly relations between the two nations might be continued. We should do everything in our power to ensure that friendly relations will continue between this powerful neighbour and ourselves. In the past Japan has done a great deal to protect the interests of the British Empire. The most casual acquaintance with the relations between Australia and Japan during the Great Wai- is a sufficient justification for such a statement.
I come now to a consideration of the effect of the Government’s trade diversion policy upon the United States of America, and in this connexion I am dissatisfied with what has been done. While the Government laid a very heavy hand on Japan, it brushed a feather duster across the United States of America. We have, for many years, laboured under the disadvantage of a heavy unfavorable trade balance with the United States of America, principally because we have made ourselves dependent upon the manufactured goods produced in that country. Motor vehicles are, of course, the main item we import; but we also have relied upon the United States of America to a large extent for moving pictures, petrol and tobacco. I regret that the Government has not so far formulated a policy which will ultimately lead to our independence of American supplies of these commodities. More attention should have been given to this subject in the last few years. Our people have not been encouraged sufficiently to produce their own moving pictures. In fact, many obstacles have been placed in the way of the development of the moving picture industry of Australia. We have not done very much, either, to make ourselves independent of American petrol supplies, for it can be truly said that we have scarcely started to develop our own shale oil resources. Before the war highclass shale oil, produced in my own electorate, was being used in the oldfashioned motor cars with very satisfactory results, but when the war broke out that enterprise was discontinued, and nothing has since been done to ire-open it.
The Australian tobacco industry has been discussed now for many years in this Parliament. But what has been done for that industry? Tobacco is one of our principal imports from the United States of America. Although the Government, in this schedule, has made some small friendly gesture towards this industry, our imports of tobacco from the United States of America last year were greater than they were for the previous year. It cannot be said, therefore, that our trade-diversion policy is injuring the American negro grower of tobacco. On the contrary, it is certainly injuring the white Australian grower. It is proposed in this schedule to increase the duty on American tobacco by 2s. per lb. We get 75 per cent, of our tobacco from the United States of America. It is also proposed that the Australian manufacturer should increase the percentages of Australiangrown tobacco to imported tobacco in manufactured pipe and cigarette brands, but although that may appear to be a. concession, I point out that Australian manufacturers are already using higher percentages of Australian-grown leaf, namely, 25 per cent, in the case of pipe tobacco, and up to 3 per cent, in the case of cigarettes. Thus, to this concession the growers are compelled to say to the Government, “ Thank you for nothing”. As president of the Tobacco Growers Association of Australia I should not “look a gift horse in the mouth “, but I contend that this concession will not be useful, because, prior to the .introduction of this schedule, Australian manufacturers were voluntarily using higher percentages of Australiangrown leaf in their manufactured brands than are provided here. In its tradediversion policy, therefore, the Government has done nothing whatever to divert any of our present trade in tobacco with the United States of America from the negro growers in that country to white growers in Australia. I suggest that this is one industry in which that policy could be applied with very great benefit to Australia. Most of our tobacco requirements to-day is produced by negroes in the United States of America, and bought by the British Australian Tobacco Company, which is one of the most heavily protected concerns in Australia. Although we think that we are capable of manufacturing motor cars, we do not, apparently, think that we can make a success of tobacco, although, for the last 50 years, we have been growing leaf equal to the best in the world. The Government has not shown a willingness to make a good job of trade diversion so far as that particular industry is concerned by dealing more effectively with imports of tobacco from the United States of America. If the Government wishes to do something in the interests of the 4,500 growers now engaged in the industry in Australia it would double the percentages provided in this schedule. Instead of giving the growers something which they already possess, it should insist on increasing the percentage of Australiangrown leaf for pipe tobacco to at least one-third in respect of manufactured pipe brands, and from % per cent, to .10 per cent, in respect of manufactured cigarette brands. If we do not. think that we should have at least one-third of Australian-grown leaf used in manufactured pipe tobacco, and at least 10 per cent, in manufactured cigarette tobacco, we have not much faith in this industry, and, apparently, do not think it is worth while encouraging. I believe that the real reason why the Government made this small gesture, which will be of no benefit to the industry, is that a very powerful combine is not prepared to see the existing protection for the Australian industry increased any further. Those engaged in the industry have thrashed out that matter repeatedly. Honorable members are aware of my views on this matter, but I repeat that the trade-diversion policy of the Government, so far as tobacco imports from the United States of America are concerned, is worthless. I suggest that the percentages of Australian leaf should be increased from 13 per cent, to 33 per cent, in manufactured pipe tobacco, and from 2-J per cent, to 10 per cent, in cigarette tobacco. Such a concession would definitely place the Australian tobacco industry firmly on its feet. It would not be a mushroom growth; the industry would steadily prosper, and the growers, instead of believing, as they do to-day, that they have been tricked and betrayed, would set to work so to develop the industry that within a very short time it would employ 10,000 growers.
– I object to the honorable member referring to white growers of tobacco in the electorate which 1 represent as Chinese.
So far as the manufacture of motor cars in Australia is concerned, every one admits that this is the biggest question that has come before this Parliament for many years. I have no objection to the importation of American motor cars, and in view of our present dependence upon cars of American origin I believe that the Government has made a mistake in going as far as it has done in this matter. 1 am not in favour of the system of licensing imports because I understand it has caused chaos in an industry which is dominated by American interests. We have allowed a great motor-body building industry which to-day employs tens of thousands of hands to develop around American cars. Instead of adopting its complicated system of licensing of imports the Government would have done better if it had raised the duty on American cars and thereby given greater encouragement to the manufacturers of British cars. If we wish to encourage the greater use of motor cars in Australia we must deal with the causes of the high cost of cars at the present time. Although we have made this gesture to the British motor car manufacturer, British cars are as dear in Australia to-day as they ever were, and apparently no serious attempt has been made on the part of the British manufacturer to avail himself of the encouragement we have given to him. As to the making of cars in Australia I point out that cars have already been made here. I recall that a few years ago I saw the late Sir Charles Kingford Smith and his brothers touring around Australia in a car which was almost completely built in Australia. Only 5 per cent, of the parts of that car was imported. The Smith brothers made a good job of that car and they asked me if I could draw attention in Parliament to its manufacture. They informed me that cars of the same type could be made in Australia at a cost of £250, without a bonus to the manufacturers as has been lately provided by this Government. However, I believe that the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties is proceeding along the right lines as far as the manu- facture of cars in this country is concerned, and if he fails to help the tobacco industry or to settle the present dispute with Japan, and yet succeeds in establishing the motor car manufacturing industry in this country, he will have accomplished very much in the interests of this nation. I suggest, therefore, that he should stick to his guns in this respect. He has every prospect of achieving something very useful in this direction and he might even be able to free Australian motor car users from the tentacles of overseas octopus concerns.
.- I have been very interested in the manner in which honorable members opposite have participated in this debate. Most honorable members will recall that when the Lyons Government came into power in i 932, the attitude of the then Opposition was anti-British in every respect. Members of that Opposition proclaimed from the house-tops that the Ottawa agreement would be a complete failure and would not assist in increasing Australian trade with the United Kingdom, or be of any value whatever to Australia. Despite those forecasts the Lyons Government has been proved in the meantime to be right. Furthermore, overseas markets have been restored to the Australian primary producer to a wonderful degree. Honorable members opposite to-day would seem to have almost forgotten that they belong to British stock. There is a very great desire on their part to discount the value of our imperial relationships in respect of trade and commerce. “With the exception of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) and one or two others, they have attacked British interests and challenged the right of Australia to give a trade preference to Great Britain. In these circumstances I believe that the people of Australia generally should know the attitude of the Labour party within the last four or five years.
The Lyons Government has accomplished, for this country, something which no other Government in any other part of the world has accomplished for its particular country. I am aware that honorable members opposite never miss an opportunity to blame this Government for any of the minor mistakes which it has made during its term of office, but the people of Australia will never forget the great services it has rendered to this country, particularly when they recall the unfavorable economic conditions existing here when it took over the reins of government. In overcoming the great difficulties confronting them during the last four or five years, governments without exception within the British Commonwealth of Nations have proved conclusively that their forms of government are conducive to peaceful conditions generally and to profitable trade and commerce. It is simply because of the fact that a government like the Lyons Government has been in office in Australia during the last five years that honorable members opposite have been kept in the background in this political sphere with the result that the country has been governed well. I regret that honorable members opposite feel impelled to attack the Imperial connexion every time a proposal to give a measure of preference to Great Britain is put forward. Evidently, some honorable members opposite cannot help being anti-British and antiImperial. They persistently refuse to join hands with the Imperial Government in improving trade relations, and building up the Empire. A little while ago, when the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) returned after a trip to Russia, he told us all about the wonderful things being done in that country, and urged this Government to follow in its footsteps. Before the recent fusion in the Labour party, there were eight honorable members opposite who placed Communist tenets in the forefront of their platform, thereby causing much embarrassment to the official Labour party. But now that those eight are once more united with official Labour, they have not lost their antipathy to Great Britain, and are even prepared to favour the interests of Japan as against those of Britain. They have declared that, in the event of war, they would never leave Australia to fight, and it seems to me that they are trying to make themselves good fellows with Japan so that, should the Japanese ever invade Australia, they themselves will be treated mercifully. There can be no doubt that the Labour party, as at present constituted, is anti-British and proJapanese.
Those honorable members who desire to inform themselves on this subject will find in the Library . a copy of the Japanese Advertiser for 1935, an annual review of finance, trade and commerce in Japan.
– That happens to be an American publication.
– Last night, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) made a scurrilous attack on the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) who has clone, and is doing, a wonderful work for Australia. I say, deliberately, that those who attack him are not fit to tie his bootlace, and they will not get away with it so long as I am a member of this House. The following is an extract from the publication I have mentioned : -
In 1934, according to the Economic Research Department, Mitsui Gomci Kaisha, the 1,250 leading corporations of the country made a net profit averaging 10.1 per cent., while for 1935 it va,3 11.2 per cent. Unlike the two previous years, 1935 did not show a general advance along the entire front. Banking made less money. Spinning and weaving reported a sharp reduction - -ascribable to the restrictions abroad on Japanese products - and to slashes that were accordingly made in prices of exports despite the fact that raw cotton prices averaged practically the same in 1935 as in 1934. Rayon makers have built up a terrific surplus of capacity, and are continuing plant extensions at an even greater rate of speed than in the past. This brought about price cuts, restrictions on production, and falling profits.
Japan must be given the credit of being a progressive country, whose manufacturers have installed the latest and most up-to-date machinery. That, however, is no reason why Australia should buy all the goods which Japan likes to send at the price Japan likes to fix. Australia has a right to establish and maintain its own economic standards. We are not much concerned with what Japan does within its own borders, but we insist upon our right to exclude its manufactures when they come into competition with British goods. Honorable members opposite need not be afraid that Japan will send its warships to enforce its demands upon Australia. The people of Japan have as much business acumen as those of any other country, and they understand just how far they can go in this dispute. We have, of course, no desire to dictate to the Japanese regarding their industrial conditions, but we have the right to say whether goods produced under the conditions which prevail there shall compete on the Australian market with Australian or British goods.
Some honorable members have roundly criticized the Government because the negotiations with Japan have not, so far, been successful. I remind them, however, that though this is our first brush with Japan, that country is by now quite used to disputes of this land, as is shown by this further extract from the / apanese Advertiser -
Egypt’s abrogation of its trade treaty with Japan proved a shock, and a commission was sent to Cairo to negotiate a new agreement, but has been unable to accomplish anything. This year, as it was starting for home, Egypt raised rates against Japanese goods once more.
Again, before we ever came into the picture, Japan had- had a dispute with Canada. The incident is referred to in the following passage: -
Negotiation with Canada in the spring of 1935 gained nothing, and Japan accordingly applied its Trade Protection Act in retaliation, raising duties on imports from the dominion by 50 per cent. At the close of the year with the induction of the McKen/.ie King Government a new agreement was reached, and the punitive measure was rescinded.
We desire to come to an agreement with Japan, but we insist, as did the Canadian Government, upon our rights. The Minister has stood up for the rights of Australia in a courteous but manful way, and I am convinced, notwithstanding the squeal we heard this morning from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), that had it not been for the interference of members of his party, the treaty with Japan might have been concluded before now.
The task of the Minister has not been made easier by the attitude of some representatives of the wool producers. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen), the other night, while not actually condemning the Government, reminded it that the present satisfactory price of wool was in no way due to its efforts, and he went on to express the hope that, when the grazing districts were stricken with drought, the Govern- ment would help the wool producers with the usual bounty.
– There has never been a bounty on wool.
– I know, and it is an industry of which we have always been proud, but we have not had much reason lately to be proud of some of the representatives of the industry, who have done much to hamper the Government’s trade negotiations. Listening to the honorable member for Grey (Mr. McBride), and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker), one might be pardoned for imagining that the Government had set out with the deliberate intention to ruin the wool producers. The Government is not preventing Japan from buying our wool. It asked the Japanese Government to accept certain restrictions upon exports of cotton and rayon, and met with a refusal. Then, when the restrictions were imposed, the Japanese woollen manufacturers refused to buy our wool. As for our wool producers, I have always held the belief that they make so much money in a good season, that they can afford not to squeal when things are not going so well. In order to illustrate the nature of the competition that can be expected from Japan, I produce for the inspection of honorable members a pair of Japanese blankets, which were imported into Australia for 2s. 9d.
– By the supporters of the Government, who furnish its election funds.
– It was competition of this kind which dictated the policy of the Government. The Australian manufacturer must be protected against it. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) would buy whatever was cheapest, irrespective of the source of origin. I remind him that there is a woollen factory in Hobart. He ought to be the last to squeal about the proposals of the Government. I have invariably found that men of the type of the honorable member, who proclaim in a loud voice that they are the champions of the poor, are the very men who shut their eyes to facts of this kind. The competition of these cheap goods must interfere with the economic conditions of those whom they are supposed to represent.
– The honorable member will be using those blankets himself before morning dawns.
– I would use them, if I could, to smother the honorable member. That is the best use to which they could be put. I realize, of course, that it would be more difficult to smother a gander than a gosling. I shall deal adequately with the gosling at the next elections.
I wish to refer to the attitude adopted by some honorable members towards the Government’s attempt to have motor cars manufactured in Australia. I regret that the Labour party is not “ standing pat “ on the provision of work for Australian workmen in this direction. I cannot understand that. I have lived in an industrial centre all my life, and have always advocated that everything possible should be made in Australia by Australian workmen. Evidently the motor car distributors of Sydney, Melbourne and the other principal cities have succeeded in distributing some very effective propaganda. In every change-over from importation to local manufacture the Chamber of Commerce represents the importers of goods, while the Chamber of Manufactures unswervingly advocates production within Australia. Between those two interests, this Parliament has to take an independent stand and come to an unbiased decision as to what are the industrial requirements of this country. If my honorable friends opposite genuinely feared Japanese competition and regarded apprehensively the possibility of having to defend their country on its own shores, they would be wholeheartedly behind the Government in its proposal in relation to the manufacture of motor cars. Having lived in one of the largest industrial suburbs of New South Wales for 39 years, I know that the Australian workmen are the finest in the world. I cannot understand why honorable members should advance the argument of additional cost. Every business man realizes that difficulties and losses are inseparable from any change-over of this nature.. But whatever sacrifices might be entailed, we ought to be prepared to face up to them. No time could be more opportune than the present for the establishment of this industry. One of our great problems to-day is the placing of our youth in employment. That applies, not only to lads who are leaving school, hut also to those who lose their positions in both private and governmental enterprises when they reach the age of 21 years. I say to the masters of industry and to the governments of Australia that our youths must not be allowed to continue in idleness, without any ambition or any purpose in life. Every country in the world is faced with this problem and is using every endeavour to solve it. The position of the youth of Australia is most precarious. It is well known that a good deal of unemployment is due to the mechanization of industry. In the large manufacturing centres, youths who obtain employment between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years are dismissed when they reach the age of 21 years.
– The more mechanization there is, the greater will be the volume of employment.
– If the constituents of the honorable member who have to employ labour would. j>ay boys a decent wage, much good would result. The other day I had in my office a young man who had reached the age of 21 years. I said to him, “What about having a go on the land?”, and his reply was, “I have had a go, but I was given only 10s. a week and my keep “. If the conditions in primary industries could be effectively controlled, those lads who could not be absorbed in the cities and towns could he given employment on the land at a wage of £2 a week and their keep. The great countries of Europe have marshalled their unemployed in camps. T am not in favour of that ; but I do think that industry should be so controlled that, instead of 21 years “being regarded as an unfortunate age, it would be the beginning of better circumstances for the youth of this country. I meet many unemployed youths in my office. One whom I have in mind was dismissed from a woollen mill in New South “Wales. As a matter of fact 125 young men, some of whom were married, were dismissed from one woollen mill because two extra frames had been installed. Systemization of industry is needed to prevent the need for dismissal of young men when they reach 21 years of age. The thing that is necessary in industry is that it shall produce profits. It is when industry fails to produce profits that a country becomes financially weak. That is what happened in the depression.
I listened with interest to the advocacy of tha honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) of an increased duty on tobacco as part of this new policy. Queensland and parts of New South Wales grow the best tobacco in Australia, but when Mr. Hugh Main, the then Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales, sent an expert to New England to inquire into what was alleged to be unjust treatment of the New England tobacco-growers by the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company, that expert discovered that leaf the company had refused to buy was not suitable. Also on ono occasion the people in North Queensland themselves admitted that the principal difficulty of the growers was that they were not growing the right type of leaf, and I myself discovered on a visit to the tobacco area of North Queensland that much of the leaf was diseased.
I trust that as the result of the discussion which has taken place, the Minister will persevere with his negotiations with Japan. I am confident that when an agreement is finally reached it will he found that the Minister has lived up to the reputation he has earned of being a capable Minister in the business of treaty, making.
– I have listened with a good deal of attention to the honorable member for’ Barton (Mr. Lane), who entertained the House in his peculiarly inimitable manner, and strangely enough I agree with much of what he has said. I did not intend to take part in this debate and had it not been for the fact that the Minister has been subjected to a great deal of criticism I should not have done so. I feel, however, that a certain amount of praise for the Government’s policy from one who himself is .a primary producer will not be amiss. I do not intend to cover the general question of trade relations between Australia and Great Britain; nor do I intend to discuss the Ottawa Agreement, which has been discussed by certain other honorable mem- bora. The schedule before the committee can be divided roughly into three divisions: first, the trade dispute with Japan; secondly, the proposal to divert trade from bad customer countries to good customer countries; and, thirdly, the manufacture of motor vehicles in Australia.
With regard to the trade dispute with Japan, the electorate which I represent shares with that of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) the distinction of being one of the largest wool-growing districts in Australia, and it also grows some of the finest wool. The men engaged in the industry have loyally obeyed the request of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to refrain from taking part in the dispute, and perhaps prejudicing the negotiations which, are in progress. Naturally, the Japanese market is one of great importance to the Australian wool-grower, and I regret certain of the speeches that have been made on this subject, because they can only have the effect of prolonging the negotiations and of making a final settlement more difficult. Japan of course is a good customer country, and I hope that a settlement will be reached quickly. I also hope that the negotiations have not been prejudiced by the unnecessary criticism that has taken place, and that when the dispute is finally settled no bitterness will linger between the two countries. There must be a certain amount of give and take between the two countries. I deprecate anything that has been said that may prejudice these negotiations and for that reason I do not intend to say more. The price of wool to-day is buoyant and the growers are indeed satisfied. Furthermore, the statistical position of the wool industry is sound. But we cannot afford to forget that Japan has been a good buyer of Australian wool, and it is essential that we should see to it that it remains so in the future. I look forward, I hope with justifiable optimism, to a re-entry of Japan in the near future into the Australian wool market.
With regard to the trade diversion policy, as the honorable member fo, Wakefield (Mr.Hawker) pointed out, the United States of America has been a poor customer country not only for Australia, but also for the world generally for more than twenty years. A recent re-alignment of its policy has made it possible for it to change, but that re-alignment is of such recent conception that its effect haS yet to become apparent. I unreservedly support the Government in the principles of its new policy, but I doubt whether it is yet possible to realize what its outworking; may be. I feel, however, that it must bring about two things of great benefit to the country : first, it must be advantageous to the primary industries inasmuch as it is intended to assist good customer countries which in the main buy primary products, and secondly, it will be of great help to the secondary industries and consequently will ease unemployment.
With regard to the manufacture of motor cars, again in general principle I support the Government, although I do not share the optimism, of the Minister regarding what will be the outcome of it. Whether a bounty of £30 a unit is sufficient to enable this industry to heestablished in Australia, I am not technically qualified to say. It may be that a larger amount will he necessary, but the Minister has had access to the best available information and we must accept the amount that has been fixed, after consultation with experts. With the reference of the whole matter to the Tariff Board, I entirely agree, and I should like the Minister to inform the House as to the precise terms of reference. I also hope that the Tariff Board will be informed that the matter is to be treated as urgent in order that we may get its report as soon as possible. From the view-point of defence the estabment of a motor industry in this country is of primary importance. We also know the advances of mechanization of armies that, have taken place throughout the world. The Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) has elaborated many aspects’ of that on several occasions, and on more than one occasion I have recommended that steps be taken to improve the mechanization of Australia’s defences. It would be advantageous to this country if there existed an industry which could undertake the manufacture of a unit for mechanized arms of defence such as transport vehicles, armoured cars, and light tanks. The establishment of the motor car industry in this country would be justifiable on the grounds of defence needs alone, bat the ramifications of the whole of this matter have been covered by various other honorable members and I do not propose to repeat what they have said. I support the Government in what it has done, and I look forward to an early settlement of the dispute with Japan. I also feel that the establishment of the motor industry in this country would be beneficial and I hope that we shall receive at an early date the Tariff Board’s report on the project.
The general debate being concluded,
Division 2. - Tobacco and Manufactures Thereof
Items18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 agreed to.
Division 5. - Textiles, Felts and Furs and Manufactures Thereof and Attire
Item 105 (Cotton piece goods, &c).
– I move -
That item 105 be postponed until after the consideration of item 330.
My reason for moving for the postponement of the consideration of the item is that it will allow a little longer time for negotiations between the representatives of the Government of Japan and the Government of Australia. I am sure that honorable members do not wish at this stage to coveragain the ground that has already been covered. I cannot hold out any definite inducement that the position will have changed by the time item 359 has been considered, but there is at least a possibility of a change occurring. I propose, when the item dealing with textiles is . being considered, to move a certain amendment, which will not definitely fix the duties at the proposed new rates for the relatively long period of the coming parliamentary recess, but will allow the matter to remain open to facilitate the possibility of a settlement being reached with the Government of Japan.
I shall move a similar motion in regard to items 120 and 130 for the same reason.
.- The Opposition will offer no objection to this course. We sincerely hope that the Government will be able to bring the negotiations with the representatives of the Government of Japan to a satisfactory solution. In every way we wish the Minister success in his efforts. I express the hope that, whatever has been said in the last few days in this chamber, and whatever may have been said previously elsewhere by the representatives of any section of the people of Australia, will no longer be remembered.
.- On behalf of the Government I appreciate the generous spirit of the remarks just made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin).
Motion agreed to.
Items 120d and130b consequentially postponed.
Division 7. - Oils, Paints, and Varnishes.
Item 229e agreed to.
Division 10. - Wood, Wicker, and Cane. Item 291 -
By omitting the whole of paragraph (2), of sub-item (c) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: -
Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga Douglasii) , per 100 super, feet (Biereton measurement) - British, 4 s.6d. ; intermediate, 4 s.6d.; general, 5s. 3d. (b)N. E.I. , ad valorem - British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
By omitting the whole of sub-item (d) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - “(d) Spars in the rough -
Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga Douglasii), per 100 super, feet (Brereton measurement)- - -British, 4s.6d.; intermediate. 4s.6d.: general, 5s. 3d.
Other, ad valorem - British, 10 per cent.: intermediate. 30 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”
Item proposed to be amended -
Logs not sawn, viz.: -
British. 7½ per cent. (net) ;
.- This, I understand, is the item under which sawn timber is now being admitted into Australia. I appeal to the Government, in the interests of the Australian timber industry, to review its policy in this connexion. The Australian timber industry provides employment for a very large number of men and we should not allow their work to be jeopardized by permitting the entry into Australia, under the existing conditions, of sawn timber from foreign countries where low wages prevail, as it constitutes unfair competition with the local industry. The representatives of the timber millers of Tasmania have requested me to urge the Government to review its attitude on this item. Otherwise, the existing unemployment in the timber industry is likely to be accentuated. This item affects the timber known as Douglas fir, a softwood much used in building construction work. This timber is not so durable as our local hardwoods but it is lighter to handle and softer to work, and many carpenters and builders prefer it on this account. But we are surely under an obligation to protect the interests of the Australian hardwood industry. Moreover, we should take care not to jeopardize the working conditions of the people engaged in the Australian timber industry. It should be our endeavour to encourage the use of Australian timbers and also to develop our forest resources. By the adoption of a comprehensive forestry policy we should be able to provide considerably more work for our own people, including many young men who, in these days, find it extremely difficult to obtain satisfactory jobs. Many protests have been made against the re: vision of the duties on timber which have had the effect of permitting sawn timber to enter Australia. Under the conditions that prevailed before the tabling of this schedule, softwoods were admitted in logs and sawn here, thus providing considerable work for our own people. As the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) stated earlier to-day, Tas.manian oak is equal to the finest timbers obtainable in other parts of the world, and may be used for many purposes, including the making of furniture, the building of interior cupboards, the making of doors and seats, and many other purposes. Blackwood, as honorable members are probably aware, is becoming scarce, and so the attention of builders and cabinet-makers has been turned to the great value of Tasmanian oak as a most durable and beautiful timber. I urge the Government, therefore, to consider the interests of the Australian timber workers as well as those of people engaged in other industries.
– On Tuesday, when the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) tabled the report and recommendations of the Tariff Board on Douglas fir, and moved that the report be printed, he promised that when this item of the schedule was reached, he would announce the reasons why the Government found itself unable to accept the recommendations of the board. The honorable gentleman pointed out that the report was four years old. We all regret that ill health has prevented his attendance at the House this evening, but I suggest that the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett), who is acting in his stead, should explain why the Government is unable to adopt the recommendations of the board. I am deeply interested in this subject as, of course, are many other honorable members. As numerous representations have been made to me on this subject, I urge that the Government’s policy be clearly enunciated. I note that the Minister has just circulated an amendment of the item now under consideration. This surely would be an appropriate time for him to explain its purport. I should like some information in respect of the variation which will be effected by the proposed amendment. Until I have the Minister’s explanation, I am of the opinion that the proposal embodied in it departs still further from the recommendations of the Tariff Board. Does the Minister propose to move this amendment?
– Like the remainder of the items covered by this schedule, the amendments of the duties on Oregon logs were made for trade diversion purposes. The avenue to which the trade would be diverted would, in this case, be the
Australian saw-milling industry. Representations had been made by Australian hardwood millers with regard to the competition which was being experienced from the large importations of Oregon logs. The protection afforded Australian timber interests by Parliament in the form of duties on sawn Oregon was being avoided by merchants who installed log breaking-down plants and imported the logs which were dutiable at a nominal figure. The extent to which this has occurred is exemplified by the importation figures, which show that in the financial year 1931-32 over 86 per cent, of Oregon imports were represented by sawn timber whilst during the year 1935-36 only 12 per cent, was represented by sawn oregon and 8S per cent, was imported in the log.
– But the duties on sawn timber had been increased very considerably.
– Yes, we did that for the protection of Australian hardwood, but at that time the way was left open by the nominal duties on
Oregon logs for the great increase of imports of unsawn logs and, in that way, the protection previously provided for Australian hardwood had not been tried. In 1931-32 imports of Oregon log were 3,800,000 super, feet, whilst in 1935-36 they had increased to 137,000,000 super, feet. “Well over 90 per cent, of Oregon is imported from Canada, and in consequence my remarks may be taken as affecting, principally, Canadian logs. Ignoring primage duty, which has not been altered, the old duty on Canadian logs was 20 per cent., or lOd. per 100 super, feet of sawn timber. The present duty is 4s. 6d. per 100 super, feet (Brereton measurement), which is equivalent to 5s. 9d. per 100 super, feet of sawn timber. The increase of the duty amounts to about 4s. lid. per 100 super, feet.
The duty on oregon junk 12-in. x 10-in. timber, that is, the sawn oregon, is 10s. 6d. per 100 super, feet, and the duties now operating on logs leave a margin of 4s. 9d. per 100 super, feet protection for the cutting of the log. With primage duty taken into consideration, the margin is 5s”. The labour cost of cutting the’ log to the junk size is approximately ls. 6d. per 100 super, feet. Therefore, even under the increased duties, a protection of 4s. 9d.. is being given to cover additional labour costs of ls. 6d. incurred in cutting up 12-in. x 10-in. junk oregon. The difference in the cost of logs and sawn, timber in Canada is small. The freight’ rate on logs is Considerably in excess of that on junk timber, and the waste which occurs in cutting logs reaches a high figure. The protection given is in excess of the f.o.b. price of Canadian sawn junk.
Australian governments have in the past expressed their determination to preserve the use of Australian timbers as against Oregon. It has given practical effect to this determination by imposing high duties on sawn oregon timber. When the protective duties on sawn Oregon timber were placed at their highest, logs were omitted from the schedule.
– The duty was 7i per cent, on unsawn logs.
– But when the duties on sawn timber were placed at their highest, logs were omitted from the schedule.
– That was done purposely.
– No, it was really an omission. Certain timber merchants then installed the necessary machinery to break down logs. Although oregon log-cutting is quite uneconomic in Australia, it has been established by taking advantage of the protection accorded to the hardwood saw-miller. It can be cut and sold, at a lower price than that at which sawn timber could be imported after payment of the protective duty. As I mentioned earlier, the change from sawn oregon to logs has been amazing, and it has also resulted in a. lower selling price for oregon than would be the case if it had been imported as junk, cut and sold in Australia. Importation of oregon logs was defeating the protective duties approved by Parliament. The. new duties are designed to place the cost of oregon on approximately the level which was intended by Parliament when the duties on sawn oregon were imposed. The duty change was initially strenuously opposed by importing interests which had invested in log-cutting plants. The main points of attack were -
Subsequently the attitude of the importing interests changed considerably.
– That is in respect of the sawmiller’s hardwood?
-No, of the imported log.
Mr.R. Green. - Which, the Minister says, is not in competition with. Australian timber, whilst, actually, it is.
– I say that it is actually in competition with Australian timber. The importing interests now, in effect, admit that the basis of the Government’s proposals is sound. In letters, they have stated that there is a case for an increase to 3s. per 100 feet, Brereton measurement, equivalent to 3s. 10d. per 100 super, feet Hoppus - an increase of 3s. over the old ad valorem rate of10d. Their agreement to such a great increase is remarkable, their point of difference now being one of degree.
As to the importers’ claim that they were encouraged to install log-cutting plant, the fact is that these were established in order to defeat the protective duties provided by Parliament in 1930 on the recommendation of the Tariff Board. At that time no imports of oregon. log occurred or were in contemplation. The timber industry, in framing a schedule of revised duties, did not, therefore, include logs in the list. Subsequently, as a result of the increased duties recommended and imposed on sawn oregon, cutting of oregon logs took place in Australia. A loop-hole in the tariff is now being claimed as constituting definite government encouragement to the installation of plant “by these importers. Representatives of the industry did not consult either the Minister or the department before committing themselves to the expenditure.
– When was that?
– In 1930.
– But there was an amendment in 1933.
– The log was not made dutiable when the duties were placed on sawn oregon.
– The duty on the log was 7½ per. cent, ad valorem, in the 1933 tariff.
– I shall have that point cleared up for the honorable member. The claim that increased employment has been given by log-cutting in Australia is true to a limited extent. The larger proportion of the employment prior to the introduction of oregon log treatment in Australia would have been carried, out in timber yards in city, suburb and country, in cutting up imported sawn oregon, 12in. by 10in. size. I feel sure that honorable members appreciate that point. Since the log has displaced the sawn oregon, sawmilling operationshave largely diminished in the suburban and country timber yards, and have been transferred to the waterfront, where the cutting up of the logs, that is the unsawn logs, has since taken place because such logs were not dutiable. The concentration of logcutting into waterfront timber yards has given the appearance only of a large increase of employment. Proof is obtainable from a comparison of costs. The cost for labour in sawing up into small sizes of 100 super, feet from the log is approximately 3s. 6d. ; the labour cost in sawing up the same quantity from 12 by 10 imported sawn oregon is approximately 2s.
The contention that oregon is complementary to, and not competitive with, Australian hardwood has been advanced on every occasion that the timber duty has been before Parliament. It is generally accepted by importing interests ; it is rejected by Australian hardwood millers. The argument is irrelevant at this stage; Parliament has rejected it on every occasion, it has been advanced. If accepted in regard to oregon log duties, it must be accepted in regard to oregon sawn timber. Parliament has, on several occasions, insisted upon. higher duties on oregon than the Government of the day was prepared initially to recommend. Whilst high duties are imposed on sawn oregon it would be illogical to have practically no duty on the logs.
The claim of the importing interests that the present duty will prejudice their capital investment and injure Australian employment, can only be proved or disproved by ascertaining the margin which exists between the cost of importing logs and sawn junk, and having these sawn into small sizes. The department has obtained the costs of all the major companies possessing log-cutting plants. It has been ascertained that a margin of 1s. 2d. per 100 super, feet exists in favour of the timber cut from the imported log, as against oregon cut from sawn 12 in. by 10 in. oregon. The total duty, including primage, paid on 12 in. by 30 in. junk oregon is11s.1d. per 100 super, feet of sawn timber, whilst, on the same quantity of sawn timber cut from the log, the total duty paid is 6s.1d. This leaves a total margin of 5s. in favour of the log.
In the rates recommended by the Tariff Board in 1933, and included in the report just released in Parliament, provision was made for a margin of 5s. 6d. per 100 super, feet between sawn oregon and log. The board indicated that, in making provision for this margin, it was being exceedingly generous to the log-cutters. The board stated that a 5s. margin should afford adequate protection. That the board made a generous recommendation is borne out by the fact that, with a duty margin of 5s. in log-importers’ favour, they still have1s. 2d. per 100 super, feet in hand.
The existing margin between oregon log and sawn junk oregon is not quite the same as that provided by the Tariff Board. It falls short to the extent of 6d. per 100 super, feet. The Government considers that the Tariff Board margin is exceedingly generous to the log-millers. In view, however, of the representations which have been made to the Government, it is now prepared to provide the same margin between the log duties and the sawn junk oregon as that recommended by the Tariff Board in its report. The advantages which the log-millers already enjoy will, as the result of this decision, be further increased. I must make it clear, however, that the Government is not in any substantial measure sacrificing the principle upon which it has based its case for increased duties on oregon logs, namely, adequate protection to the Australian hardwood saw-milling industry.
The amendment which I wish to move will provide for a reduction of 6d. per 100 super, feet, Brereton measurement, in the case of Canadian logs, and 9d. in the case of logs from the United States of America.
The duty increase was confined to
Oregon logs. The importing trade, as well as representatives of the Australian industry, have expressed the opinion that, unless action is taken, serious competition will be experienced from importations of hemlock, larch, white fir and spruce in log form. These timbers would, it is claimed, on account of the lower landed price, be substituted for Oregon for building purposes. This aspect has also had the attention of the Government, and it has proposed to impose the same duty on these log timbers as in the case of oregon logs. The timber trade appears to be unanimous that this action should be taken. The amendment in regard to Canadian timbers will be made when the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) is being discussed. I, therefore, move -
That sub-item (d) be amended by adding the following : -
– When will the new duties become operative?
– On the 27th November, 1936.
.- I find myself in agreement with the policy of the Government in regard to this item. The imposition of the tariff on oregon in 1930 gave a wonderful fillip to the timber industry in Tasmania, which exports large quantities of timber to the mainland States. The introduction of this amendment, which will have .the effect of limiting the importation of oregon in log form, will he very welcome. I have received from organizations of millers in Tasmania a mass of figures showing the development in the milling industry there during recent years. To-day, it is passing through a period of prosperity such as it has never before experienced. I join with the honorable member for Denison (Mr. ‘ Mahoney) in congratulating the Government on introducing this amendment, and I hope that it will be agreed to.
– I understand that representations have been made to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) by the manufacturers pf plywood and veneers in Queensland, pointing out that they are under a severe handicap by reason of the fact that Oregon logs used for the manufacture of plywood and veneers are admitted at a lower duty than unsawn oregon logs, which are the subject of this item. The firms represented by this organization manufacture plywood and veneers from Australian timbers, and they are faced with severe competition from products manufactured out of imported oregon logs. They would like to know whether it would be possible to in clude oregon logs for the manufacture of plywood in item 291 c 2 , so that they would have to pay the higher duty. If that is not possible immediately, would the Minister consider submitting this particular matter to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report?
– I can claim to have had personal experience of the timber trade, and I know what effect this amendment will have on the industry. My judgment is not going to ‘be influenced by any timber combine which might make representations to me, on behalf of either the hardwood sawmiller, or the milling interests generally. “What I am concerned about is the provision of employment for the men among whom I worked at one time. The Minister in charge of the schedule (Sir Henry Gullett) has said that these duties are in conformity with the trade diversion, policy of the Government. . The honorable gentleman hopes that the implementing of his y schedule will have the effect of diverting to Australian millers, trade that previously was enjoyed by overseas millers. In the building trade not one iota of trade will be diverted to the Australian millers. I challenge the Minister or any officer of the Customs Department to prove that oregon is a competitor of hardwood. It is complementary to hardwood. There are certain branches of the building trade in which oregon will never take the place of hardwood, just as there are other branches in which hardwood will never displace oregon. The Government’s proposal will not improve the position of country sawmillers, nor will it provide employment for timber workers; but it must inevitably cause a rise to take place in the cost of building materials, and contribute towards a state of stagnation in the building trade. It is all very well for the Minister to say that expensive plants were installed because, by some oversight, a duty was not imposed on logs in a previous schedule. One of the principal contributing factors to the growth of the log-cutting industry in Australia was an overseas sawn timber combine, which was exporting’ to Australia fifth and sixth grade oregon for which the Australian merchants were compelled to pay the first grade price. One of the greatest agitations in Australia against the position that existed prior to the installation of log-cutting plants had its origin in the complaint by builders and architects against the quality of the American timber that was being used. The Australian timber merchant found that if he wanted to buy sawn oregon overseas, whether from the United States of America or from Canada, he had bo do so through a member of the combine. If he were dissatisfied with the quality of the timber that he was receiving from a Canadian concern with which he was in the habit of dealing, and endeavoured to divert his custom to the United States of America, he was boycotted; no firm wanted his business, and he was forced back to his original supplier, from whom he had to accept whatever was sent to him. That was one factor. Another factor was the desire of the Australian sawmiller to escape from the control of the overseas sawn timber combine. The result has been that the Australian builder or architect now has an equal opportunity with the American and Canadian users of timber to obtain the best cuts.
Motion (by Sir Archdale Parkhill) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– The day before yesterday, I asked a question in connexion with the work of addressing wrappers for the literature that is to be distributed in connexion with the forthcoming referen dum. The answer that I received appeared to be satisfactory, but information that I have since had supplied to me would make it appear that it was not. I do not know whether the Government is aware of the facts. Some millions of wrappers have to be addressed, and this involves a good deal of clerical work, which has been contracted out to business colleges. In response to my request to be supplied with particulars of what was being done, I have received the following communication from the secretary of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia: -
Mr. Katz and myself interviewed the Principal of Hassett’s College, concerning his students being employed on this work for the Commonwealth Government and he informed us that he was in receipt of payment from the Common wealth Government for addressing the wrappers for pamphlets and was under no obligation to pay the students for performing the work. He stated that he intended to give them a “ Christmas Bo?: “ as pocket money when the work had been finished. He subsequently communicated with me by telephone and asked how he could get over the difficulty and I informed him that in the first place he would have to pay these girls the commercial clerks’ wages board rates, namely, 21s. 6d. per week of 43 hours. Even if that was agreed to, he would not be complying with the determination as he would not have sufficient seniors to employ a large number of juniors. As this matter affects members of the federation, the general president (Mr. A. E. Monk) and general secretary (Mr. Katz) have taken it up and we trust that you will pursue same further, as these students are still paying for their lessons and are employed without legal rates being paid.
The Commonwealth has contracted to have this work done, and has paid these business colleges a certain sum for doing it. It made no inquiries, and imposed no conditions, probably believing that legal formalities would be observed. These colleges are very large establishments, and are finely run. My daughter * and the daughters of others who are sent to them to be taught shorthand and typing are doing this work at night and receiving no payment for it. I am certain that the Minister will realize the seriousness of the matter, and that the Government does not wish to be accused of “sweating”, as it would be if what I have alleged is permitted to be done. I shall say no more until the Government has had an opportunity to make inquiries.
. -I assure the honorable member that the fullest investigation -will be made into the matter that he has raised, and that a further statement will be made upon it later.
Question, resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at11.29 p.m.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has a requestyet been received for on impartial tribunal to investigate the Freer case; if so, will he indicate what attitude the Government intends to adopt?
– A letter has been received from Mrs. Freer’s solicitor, and . is at present under consideration,
l. asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
Has he or his department received a letter from Mrs. Freer’s counsel requesting an independent inquiry into her case; ifso, has the Cabinet considered the request, and what is its decision?
– A letter has been received from Mrs. Freer’s solicitor, and is at. present under consideration.
s asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished to the honorable member at the earliest possible date.
r asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers- to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Importation of Cement.
d asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon- notice -
What was the total amount of cement imported into Australia during the year ended the 30th June, 1936?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : - 14,467 tons 1 cwt. (including white, coloured, and special types of cement).
n. - On the 25th November, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked the following questions, upon notice : -
The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
2 and 3. New South Wales, £2,626,601; Victoria, £2,626,601; South Australia, £2,620,601 ; Commonwealth, £2,626,601.
Note. - The . above-mentioned particulars refer to the construction of works and do not include amounts expended on the maintenance, operation and. control of completed works and gauging stations, or administrative expenses.
Coal-mining : Payment of . Miners.
– On the 18th November, the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) asked me a question, upon notice, regarding costs of production in coal mines in New South Wales. Inquiries have been made of the Under-Secretary, Mines Department, Sydney, who has supplied the following information : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 November 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19361126_reps_14_152/>.