3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Supply Bill (No. 4).
– I have to inform the Senate that, in compliance with the provisions of the Disputed Elections and Qualifications Act, the Acting Clerk forwarded to the principal registry of the High Court of Australia the petition of Joseph Vardon against the choice by the Houses of Parliament of the State of South Australia of the Honorable James Vincent O’Loghlin as a senator for that State; that the Acting Clerk has, in accordance with such Act, received from the District Registrar of the High Court of Australia at Sydney a copy of the order of the Court, declaring that the choice of the said James Vincent O’Loghlin to hold a place as a senator for the said State is absolutely void; and that in accordance with section 21 of the Constitution I notified the Governor of South Australia that a vacancy had happened in the representation of that State. The Acting Clerk will read the order of the Court.
Order read by the Acting Clerk, as follows -
In the High Court of Australia.
Court of Disputed Returns.
Between Joseph Vardon, Petitioner,
And James Vincent O’Loghlin, Respondent.
Before their Honors the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Barton, Mr. Justice Isaacs, and Mr. Justice Higgins.
Friday, the twentieth day of December, One thousand nine hundred and seven.
The Petition of the above-named Joseph Vardon dated the twenty-second day of August, One thousand nine hundred and seven, being a petition disputing the validity of the choice by the Houses of Parliament of the State of South Australia of a person to hold the place of senator under section 15 of the Constitution pending before the Senate on the twenty-second day of November, One thousand nine hundred and seven, coming on to be heard on the seventeenth and eighteenth days of December instant, whereupon and upon reading the said petition and upon hearing Mr. A. W. Piper of counsel for the above-named respondent, it was ordered that the said petition should stand for judgment and the said petition standing for judgment this day, this Court doth declare that the choice of the said respondent James Vincent O’Loghlin by the Houses of Parliament of the State of South Australia to hold a place as a senator for the said State of South Australia mentioned in the said petition is absolutely void.
By the Court,
Arthur G. Saddington,
– I have to inform the Senate that leave of absence for a further period of six months on full pay has, on my recommendation, been granted to Mr. E. G. Blackmore, C.M.G., Clerk of the Parliaments, on account of ill-health, and that Mr. C. B. Boydell, Clerk Assistant of the Senate, will act as Clerk of the Parliaments during Mr. Blackmore’s absence.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, the following questions -
– I am not prepared to answer the whole of these questions, but I can inform the honorable senator that since the Government received an intimation of the assent of the South Australian Parliament to the survey of a route, the Prime Minister, at my request, has asked the Premiers of the several States to consent to their engineers-in-chief for railways attending a conference in Melbourne for the purpose of considering and advising -
Until the conference has been held the Government will not decide on any particular course of action with regard to details. I may add that since the invitation was sent out a reply has been received from Western Australia and South Australia, and that yesterday the Premiers of the other States were asked for an immediate reply.
– I have to inform my honorable friend that -
A writ has been issued by the Commonwealth against Barclay and Co. Ltd. for the sum of £25,000 under an agreement dated 13th December, 1906, whereby the defendants guaranteed to the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia the due performance by Sir James Laing & Sons. Ltd. of a contract dated 7th July, 1906, and undertook to pay the said sum upon default in such performance by Sir James Laing & Sons Ltd. The writ has been served on the defendants, who have appeared thereto.
The issue of another writ arising out of the failure of the contractors to carry out the contract is in contemplation.
– I think Iam justified in giving to my honorable friend the assurance that the statement is without foundation.
– I beg to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, the following questions : -
In reference to the intention of the PostmasterGeneral to stipulate wages conditions in contracts for the supply of postal uniforms, as reported in the . Melbourne Argus of 22nd January, 1908 -
Is it a fact that the Minister proposes to stipulate for the South Australian rates of wages and conditions in Western Australia?
Is the Minister aware that the wages and conditions in Western Australia have recently been the subject of an award of the Arbitration Court of that State?
Has the Minister received any local objections to the award rates, and, if so, from whom ?
– I am not in a position to furnish the honorable senator with definite replies to his questions, but I think that wherever the award of an Arbitration Court or any industrial authority obtains in a State that scale will be adopted. It will only be in cases where there is no Arbitration Court or industrial authority in existence that the award of a contiguous or adjoining State will be adopted. That is what I understand to be the intention, but if the honorable senator will ask his questions upon notice, I shall endeavour to procure for him the most complete and correct information.
– I shall have very much pleasure in furnishing the fullest information on the subject this afternoon, if I am permitted to move the second reading of the Customs Tariff Bill.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he will cause a statement to be prepared setting forth the duty payable on each article of import under the old Tariff, the duty suggested by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, and by the free-trade section of that Commission, and also the duties as agreed to by the House of Representatives, together with a statement of the revenue derived from each article for the year ending 30th June, 1907, and the estimated revenue from each article under the Tariff as agreed to by the House of Representatives.
– In reply to the honorable senator, I would remind him that particulars as to the duties under the old Tariff, and the duties recommended by both sections of the Tariff Commission, have already been prepared and circulated. I may also inform the honorable senator that I shall deem it my duty in moving the second reading of the Customs Tariff Bill to give the fullest information on the question of Customs revenue.
– But the honorable senator will deal only with the revenue in the aggregate.
– That is so, I admit. To bring the detailed information up to date in the way suggested by Senator Stewart for the information of the Senate would, I think, ‘be a prodigious task and would occupy a very considerable time. I shall consult the officers of the Customs Department and see whether what the honorable senator has asked can be done. Perhaps after he has heard the remarks I have to make on the second reading of the Customs Tariff Bill, the honorable senator will see his way to modify the request he has made.
Senator PEARCE. I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs what stage has been reached in relation to the promised inquiry as to the use of voting machines at elections for the Commonwealth Parliament?
– Before we adjourned last November I informed the Senate that through the courtesy of the . Consul for the United States. Mr.’ Bray, we were endeavouring to communicate with the Governors of States in the United States of America where voting machines had been used in connexion with State Parliamentary elections, and also with the mayors of cities in that country which had adopted them. We have not yet re’ceived any direct reply, but during the present week -there have come to hand from firms in the United_ States intimations that they have received our circular through the Department of Commerce and Labour of that country, and are awaiting further particular’s, more especially in regard to our electoral laws, the number of candidates who might offer themselves at any one election, and as to whether an independent candidate could be elected apart from the ticket system. I think it unlikely that we shall have before us within at any rate the next six months all the information avail able, and I do not propose to submit the details to the committee which is being appointed to inquire into the matter without giving those interested good and sufficient notice that information will not be received after ‘ a certain date. It would appear that in the United States of America a great deal of interest is now being taken in our investigation, and the next mail or two should bring to hand a large quantity of data of great assistance and value to the Committee in determining what its recommendations should be.
– Following upon the question’ just asked by Senator Pearce, I should like to know whether applications from Australian patentees of voting machines have been received by the Department of Home Affairs, and, if so, whether consideration is ‘being given to them by the Government?
– A number of applications have been received from persons in several of the States of the Commonwealth and all are under consideration.
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether, in the event of the High Court declaring the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act unconstitutional, it is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill to provide for an amendment of the Constitution enabling the Commonwealth to legislate for the regulation of wages and conditions of labour ?
– I would suggest to my honorable friend that his question is a little premature. We are by no means satisfied that the High Court will adopt the view he suggests, and it will be time enough to discuss the matter when the Court has given its decision.
– I can supply my honorable friend and the Senate with some information on the subject.
Various negotiations have been conducted between Captain Collins, on behalf of the Commonwealth, and the London County Council, in regard to the Strand site for proposed Commonwealth offices. On the10th October, 1907, Captain Collins was authorized to make an offer to the County Council for the whole of the frontage from the corner of Victoria’s allotment to the eastern end of the block by depth of 60 feet, at 12s. 6d. per square foot, for ninety-nine years. Captain Collins telegraphed on the 16th December, 1907, as follows : - “ Referring to Strand site, Committee refuse following offer : Frontage extending 49 ft. 6 in. from Victoria, 12s. 2d. per foot super. ; next frontage, 46 ft. 6 in., at the rate of 13s. 2d., remainder extending to eastern corner, 15s., averaging near 13s. 6d., depth 60 feet, and subject to Government confirmation to adjust as regards Aldwych frontage, and also western thoroughfare, in a suitable manner as to disposal of remainder of Council land. Total area, 10,552, at cost of £7,214 rental. After several interviews with officials, Committee give lowest terms as follows : - For depth not less than 70 feet, and meet Aldwych frontage at right angles, also to take frontage western thoroughfare to extent of 20 feet; total area, 12,800; portion in lot 2 at 12s. 2d., portion lot 1 at 16s. 2d., and in lot 3, 8s. 8d. ; total,£9,600, average 15s.”
It will, therefore, be seen that our offer was in respect of 10,552 feet, at an annual rental of£7,214, or an average of 13s. 6d. per foot, while the offer of the London County Council is to lease 12,800 feet at an average of 15s. per foot, or a total annual rental of £9,600. “ Committee state unless Government prepared to accept terms proposed will negotiate with others. Jersey suggests negotiate smaller site, say 75 feet, to Strand from eastern end. Doubtful whether Council has chance better prices elsewhere.”
A further cable was received from Captain Collins, dated 20thJanuary, suggesting County Council be informed Government not prepared to make any advance on last offer. This is now raiting consideration by Government.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Audit Acts 1901-1906 -
High Court Procedure Act 1903 -
Rules of Court. - Statutory Rules, 1907, No. 125.
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Darling Island, New South Wales ; Defence Purposes. - Notification of the acquisition of Land.
Kiama, New South Wales : Defence Purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Public Service Act 1902 -
Amendment of Regulation 104. - Statutory. Rules 1907, No. 118.
Repeal of Regulation 66, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu thereof - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 119.
Documents in connexion with the promotion of Mr. William Henry Sharwood to the position of Chief Clerk of the Crown Solicitor’s Office.
Census and Statistics Act 1905 -
Trade, Shipping, Oversea Migration, and Finance of the Commonwealth of Australia for the month of September, 1907. - Bulletin No. 9.
Post and Telegraph Act 1901 -
Telegraphic and Telephone Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 2.
Telephone, Postal, General Postal, and Telegraphic Regulations. - Statutory Rules 1908, No. 6.
Postal Regulations. - Statutory Rules1908, No. 7.
The Acting Clerk laid upon the table the following paper -
Return to Order of the Senate of 7th November, 1907 - Tobacco Leaf for Cigars : Registered Growers.
– I will take an opportunity, perhaps to-morrow, to refer to the matter.
– Why not today ?
The PRESIDENT, pursuant to Statute, laid on the table the Sixth Annual Report of the Auditor-General, together with the Treasurer’s statement of receipts and expenditure during the year ended 30th June, 1907.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives, and (on motion by Senator Best) read a first time.
Bill returned from House of Representa tives without amendment.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Best) read a first time.
Defence Policy - Post and Telegraph Administration - Federal Capital Site - Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act : New Protection. - Mildura Fruit Industry.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.29]. - The Senate has not sat for some length of time, and this perhaps will be one of but a few opportunities which will be afforded during the remainder of the session to direct attention to certain matters of consequence to the Commonwealth. I therefore take advantage of the occasion to make a few remarks with reference to a proposal which has been made by the Government, and which is now before the country in a somewhat novel form, in connexion with Commonwealth defence. My remarks will not be lengthy, but I think that I am more than justified in drawing attention at the present juncture to certain phases of this question. We cannot overlook the fact that the present Prime Minister has been a very prominent member of the Ministries which have existed since the Commonwealth was established, and that the Treasurer has been an almost equally prominent member of them. There has been, therefore, a kind of continuity in Government operations in connexion with defence matters. In view of the very serious proposals now sub mitted to Parliament - proposals in respect of which every officer, non-commissioned officer, private, and drummer-boy in the Commonwealth Forces have been invited to express their opinions - I desire to draw attention to this phase of the matter. In the first instance, the Commonwealth Government up-ended every feature of the States defence forces, altered everything that previously obtained in them, from the buttons upon the uniforms to the pay of the men, the drill, the hours of their attendance, and the conditions of service. Everything was altered, but nothing was brought to finality. Instead, everything was left, and still remains, in a condition of absolute chaos. This initial muddle was followed by a furious interest in rifle clubs. Let me show how the Government, who profess such a splendid interest in rifle clubs, are treating members of those organizations. There has just been closed in Sydney a school of instruction for infantry officers. In the old days of the New South Wales defence forces, officers attending these schools were allowed 5s. per day to cover the cost of meals and general expenses. Recently the Government, who profess such a great interest in defence matters’, cut down the allowance of 5s. to 2s. per day; and will it be believed that two officers of a country rifle club who attended the school of instruction at Victoria Barracks last week and the week before, were absolutely refused the poor, miserable pittance of 8d. per meal - 2s. per day - which was granted to militia and volunteer officers? That incident illustrates the encouragement afforded to rifle clubs. As a matter of fact, these organizations have not been encouraged at all. Certain things which have been done have been done unsatisfactorily and incompletely. The interest exhibited by the Government in defence matters next took the form of a sudden furore in favour of school cadets, but long before any useful result has been arrived at in connexion with the training of cadets, we find that the existing system is to be abolished, and a youthful army - consisting of persons who have no votes, by the way - is to be established. Under this new defence scheme, the moment a young man attains his majority, and comes into possession of the franchise, he will pass into some reserve, which is, apparently, not the result of any well-digested proposal. First of all, our Defence Forces were upended, and left in a muddle; then we had a great enthusiasm . for rifle clubs. This was followed by an equally strong enthusiasm for school cadets; and now a desire is exhibited to place the youth of the country under compulsory or conscription service from the eighteenth to the end of their twentieth years. We are told that this last proposal is to be put into force because of the failure of all the other efforts which have been made. Yet, there has been no valid or rational attempt to bring any’ one of those efforts to a successful issue. Not one of them has been brought to that climax. Regarding the invitation issued by the Prime Minister to every member of the Defence Forces to communicate his opinions of the Government proposals-
– - To save time, my remarks will be few. I have only one grievance, and that arises out of a reply given by the VicePresident of the Executive Council to my namesake, Senator E. J. Russell, with reference to the new protection. I refer to that matter, because, while I am pledged to support protection, I am also pledged not to support it unless the workmen will share the advantages it confers. I want to know from the Minister how far he ‘ thinks we can go in trifling with this matter without burning our hands. Although I should like to see the Tariff passed, I, for one”, will not make much of an effort in that direction until we are sure of the ground upon which we stand so far as the new protection is concerned. In the event of the High Court deciding that the new protection is unconstitutional, then I go over to the other side.
– No, the honorable senator should stay on this side.
– I am sitting on this side as a matter of convenience. It is well to let the Government know my attitude on this question at the earliest possible moment. Before we recommend or approve’ of certain things, I wish to know what the result will be in the event of something happening in the High Court. It was all very well for the leader of the Senate to make what he conceived to be a :mar reply in order to show his acuteness, but at the same time if he expects the support of those who, like myself, are pledged to the principle of the new protection, he will have to tell us straight out the intentions of the Government, and show us that they are in earnest. In support of what Senator Neild said regarding the Postal Department, I wish to state that the Unley Post Office is terribly undermanned. Several of the letter carriers there are really letter sorters, but as there is no room in the office for them to do the work they have to go outside, and some of them are on their feet travelling through the hot weather for as much as twelve hours per day. I make every allowance for the extra work at the Christmas season, but at the same time that is too much to expect those men to accomplish, and something should be done to insure that justice is done to them as regards both office accommodation and hours of labour.
– I also should like to call attention to the wretched condition of the Postal Department. Complaints are pouring in to rae from every quarter of Australia with regard to the undermanning of post-offices. The attention of the Government has been called to this question time after time, but apparently they have never found it convenient to do anything. I can. see no necessity for the officials, of the Commonwealth being sweated. That is really what is happening t0 them at present.
– The Department is deriving more revenue, and the business is increasing rapidly, and therefore they can afford to give the men better treatment.
– The business of the Department has increased largely, and the revenue has also increased. We .have paid back to the States about £6,000,000, since the inception of Federation, more than they were entitled to, and in these circumstances there seems no valid excuse for the state of affairs which exists, I believe, throughout the Commonwealth.
– There can be no excuse for sweating.
– No excuse whatever. If the Department were under the control of a private company, we should have had the Arbitration Court down upon them long ago. I hope the Government will ‘ now do something. ‘ I have been urged to ask for a Royal Commission to inquire into the management of the Postal Department throughout the Commonwealth. I have no particular desire to put the country to the expense of a Royal Commission if it can be avoided. But if the Government do not wake up and do something, I am afraid that I, along with others, will be compelled to ask for an inquiry of that character.
– When the Government do wake up, we want to keep them awake in regard to sweating.
– Certainly, if we can do so; but, unfortunately, Governments, like individuals, have a habit of falling asleep every now and then. I have some confidence, however, that the . Government will shortly do something in connexion with this matter. In regard to the Tariff, and’ the new protection, I sympathize very much with Senator W. Russell in the remarks he has made. I am just as anxious as any senator can be, to see that the workers get some share of whatever protection may be imposed. But I realize that unless we have effective protection, it will be impossible to give the workers any share of protection - if we have not a thing, we cannot share it with anybody.
– Numbers of manufacturers have had protection for a quarter of a century, and of that protection the workers have -had no share.
– That may be quite true, but what I am immediately interested in now, is that the policy of protection, which has been approved by the people of the Commonwealth, shall be given a fair chance; if we have not protection for our industries, protection cannot be extended to the workers. We first have: to see that we establish industries here by means of a high Tariff, or, at any rate,, give an opportunity for the establishmentof industries.
– And give them freetrade in labour?
– Am I or Senator Findley making this speech?
– The honorable senator is making a manufacturer’s protectionistspeech !
- Senator Findley must not try to stuff his opinions down my throat. If the honorable senator had1 any sense or decency, he would wait until he knew what I have to say, and not endeavour to entrap me into saying something which he may twist or contort toserve his own purposes. I am not’ goingto lend myself to discreditable tactics of that character. I desire to have protection, and to see industries established inAustralia. That is my first desire; and” my second desire is to see the workers get a share of the protection.
– The honorable senator puts the workers second !
– We cannot extend to the workers that which Ave havenot. If the honorable senator cannot seethat fact, all I can do is to lament his blindness. So far as I can judge, Senator Findley desires some assurance from the Government that the benefits of a protective policy shall be extended to the workmen.
– Is that unreasonable?”
– Is that unreasonable ? Hear the honorable senator ! Weknow what Senator Millen’s purpose is.
– It is to elicit a littleinformation.
– Senator Findley desires to have an assurance from the Government before he will vote for such duties as will enable the Government to extend’ the desired protection. To my mind, thar is an attitude entirely unbusinesslike. Letus first have protection, and then we can set about extending its advantages to theworkers. Of course, it would admirably suit Senator Millen, and those who think with him, if Senator Findley persisted in the attitude he has taken up, because the result would be revenue duties. Is Senator Findley a revenue Taxiffist?
– Not quite.
– Can theGovernment give Senator Findley or any other person an unqualified assurance that the benefits of protection will be extended to the workers ? All that this, or any other Government, can do is to say that they will do their level best to give the workers the benefits of protection ; and if that be found impossible, then the Government, and those of us who support the Government, will have to try some other method. But until that method has been proved to be a failure, it would be the rankest stupidity on the part of any Labour man, who is a protectionist, and who, at the same time, desires protection to be extended to the workmen, to play into the hands of the free-trade party by voting low duties on the ground that the Government are not prepared to so extend the benefits of protection.
– I need not enter into fiscal questions just now, seeing that there will be every opportunity to do so in the near future. This, however, is a convenient opportunity to submit grievances, and I desire to refer to a case in the Post and Telegraph Department brought under my notice in the town of Geraldton, in Western Australia. This, in my opinion, represents absolutely one of the worst cases of sweating, of which I am aware in the Western State. In the town of Geraldton there is a letter-carrier engaged at the miserable wage of 5s. a day. This man, who is a temporary hand, is apparently between thirty and forty years of age; and, having had opportunities of seeing and conversing with him on two occasions, I should judge that he isquite capable of satisfactorily performing his duties. When we passed the Public Service Act we thought we had fixed a minimum living wage, and so removed all possibility of sweating. We provided that no person over twenty-one years of age should be paid less than£110 per annum.
– That provision is broken every week.
– If that be so, it is time we had the Commission of Inquiry to which Senator Stewart has ref erred.
– Is the honorable senator aware that in the case of contract post offices the total emolument is only£78 a year, and that the appointments are made, not by the PostmasterGeneral or the Public Service Commissioner, but by the Deputy PostmastersGeneral ?
– I think it is fairly well known that those engaged in contract post offices are not paid as much as they ought to be paid in accordance with the provision of the Public Service Act to which I have referred. It has been laid down that temporary hands shall be paid the same rate of wages as are permanent hands, and in the case in Western Australia we have this provision flouted.
– What is the pay of a permanent letter-carrier atGeraldton ?
– I am not aware of the rate of pay of letter-carriers ; but a minimum rate of wage is fixed in the Public Service Act. Under the circumstances there can be no possible excuse for this man being kept constantly at work for 30s. per week of over six and a half days. I also found that the Geraldton Postmaster, who is a well-paid officer, had, without consulting any one, taken it upon himself to put a notice up outside the office inviting persons to offer to do the work at 5s. a day.
– Did he mention 5s. a day?
– He mentioned that amount.
– In the public notice ?
– Yes. I found out, on investigating the case when I returned to Perth from Geraldton, that, the Public Service Inspector was quite ignorant of the whole affair, and that he had not been informed of an appointment having been made. I think that a case of this kind should not be allowed to pass without censure upon those who are responsible for it. Here is a postmaster in Geraldton, receiving something like , £300 a year for himself, who has the audacity to ask another man, in a climate like ours, to carry round large bags of letters and other postal matter for delivery at 5s. a day. Bear in mind that this man is not employed for only a few hours a day, but for the full day.
– Is he merely a boy ?
– No; he is a man nearly forty years of age. Had he been a juvenile doing a boy’s work, I could have understood the case, but here was a full-grown man actually engaged at 30s. a week and doing something like six and a half days’ work for that pay ; so that in reality he does not actually receive 5s. a day. In Western Australia we have prided ourselves- on the fact that our industrial laws prevent sweating. Our trade unions are careful to prevent the occurrence of anything of that nature in private employment. And, although under our Commonwealth Public Service Act we thought we had effectually prevented sweating, we find this glaring case in the town of Geraldton.
– Has the honorable senator seen the Minister about it? Why trouble the Senate when we want to get to the Tariff?
– Apparently, sweating has become so familiar to Senator St. Ledger that he has no consideration for the poor unfortunate fellow to whom I have referred, or for those who may ‘ be forced into a similar position in other States. I am sure that Senator St. Ledger i~< not more anxious to get on with the Tariff than is any other senator. But apparently he wants to burke the discussion of cases of this kind. This is a convenient time for mentioning such a glaring case, and for showing that the administration of the Post and Telegraph’ Department is open to criticism on such grounds. I hope that the Minister will look into the matter and see whether he cannot do something to prevent what is little short of a public scandal.
– I should not have risen except for the fact that Senator Stewart appeared to be somewhat angry on account of an interjection which I made in respect to the protectionist policy of this country. I will admit that Senator Stewart is extremely anxious to make that policy as complete as possible. But he had said that consideration number one should be the establishment of manufactures, while consideration number two should be . that in connexion with established industries the workers should receive a measure of the protection afforded. I interjected that for a period of twentyfive years we have had in Australia the policy of “ numberoneism “ - that is, protection for the manufacturer - without taking into serious consideration until recently the claims of those who are most entitled to consideration, namely, theworkers. If there is one thing : that makes me feel warm in respect to thenew protection, it is the fact . that during the last few months we have had evidence of the “ one-eyedness “ of a number of men in the various” States respecting the fiscal policy of this country. Their’ industries have been built up mainly by the efforts and the votes of the working classes; but when those working classes ask in a legitimate constitutional manner for justice, in what way are their claimstreated by these manufacturers? In respectto one industry - that of the agricultural implement and stripper-harvester manufacturers - so strong was the agitation that Parliament was moved to single out that industry by means of a measure which was dealt with in another place, and finally came up to the Senate. The manufacturers received the protection for which they asked, conditionally on their paying fair and reasonable wages, and observing reasonable working hours. After a short space of time, when their case came beforethe Court, they endeavoured to back up the statements which they had made that they were paying reasonable wages and were observing the eight hours system ; but when evidence was tendered by them it was found that they were sweating their men in a way in which probably few free-traders would treat their employes.
– That is a doubtful compliment to free-traders.
– They actually had the brazen-faced audacity to say that they could differentiate as to the capacity of men whom they employed to the. extent of TC per day, or 6d. per week. After Mr. Justice Higgins made his award, what did these folks do? No doubt there are very many influences at work in their behalf ; and they set to work to test the constitutionality of the award given by Mr. Justice- Higgins.
– To test the law.
– They also set to work to test the validity of the law. If it lae proved to be unconstitutional, these men will . resort to their old practices. Leaving aside for a moment the action of those engaged in the manufacture of stripperharvesters and agricultural implements, I may mention that recently Senator McGregor and myself paid a visit to Mildura. Now, if there is one industry in Australia whichowes its success to the protectionist policy of this country, it is the dried fruit indus- try of Milclura . For a number of years the growers there paid what they liked, and worked their employes as . long as they liked. Last year, because there was a good crop and a scarcity of labour, there was a rise in wages, as compared with former years. Because the men received a slight increase on previous wages paid; the growers have this year formed a federation, and have decided that they shall not pay more than 9d. per hour, that they shall be permitted to employ women and children, as they have done in former years, and that the wages which they shall pay to these women and children shall be left to the employers to determine. In. former years, I have been reliably informed, they moved the School Board of Advice so that the children, instead of enjoying their usual Christmas holidays, would for labour purposes be at the disposal of the growers of fruit at Mil dura.
– And they have fixed their selling prices.
– I shall deal with that matter. This year the Board of Advice, evidently because of an agitation against its previous decision, was not so ready to meet the growers in respect to the employment of children under conditions which robbed them of their Christmas holidays. The workers . of Mildura have formed a union, and demand 7s. as payment for an eight hours day, with additional payment for overtime and for Sunday labour. To this demand the growers have replied that they have decided what rates of wages they will pay, and are bound to observe the agreement into which they have entered with each other. The workers having made three or four efforts by correspondence to secure compliance with their demand, the growers eventually told them that they would pay 9d. an hour and no more, and the men then went on strike. That is the present position of affairs in Mildura. As Senator Millen has remarked, the growers have fixed the prices of their commodities. Until they formed themselves into an association, each was competing against the others, but now that they are banded together, all must sell at the same prices, any one breaking away from the bond being liable to certain penalties. The fruit-growing industry is one in which those who are engaged can afford to pay a living wage, the protection given to the production of currants and raisins being equivalent to £28 per ton. The House of Representatives recently increased the duty on currants by1d. per lb., so that now the duty on both currants and raisins is 3d. per lb. But, although the growers have enjoyed a large amount of protection for a long period, they decline topay their workmen more than 6s. a day. The wage of 7s. per day for which the workers ask is equivalent to about£1 3s. 4d. per ton, while the protection given to the growers is, as I have said, equivalent to£28 a ton.
– At what rates are the children and women employed in the industry paid?
– It is difficult to ascertain that. Children have been employed at a time when they should have been enjoying holidays, and if what I have been told is true, their’ services have been utilized also before and after school hours. This highly-protected industry is one which can be said to be established, and if the present trouble has not then ended, I hope that Senator Stewart will, when the opportunity comes, see that the growers are not protected indefinitely without the workers being given a share in the benefits of protection.
– If we took off the duties, what would happen?
– There would then be no new protection.
– If industries are to be established under sweating conditions, so that protection merely assists the employers to grow rich at the expense of the toilers, I shall be almost inclined to become a free-trader, and to vote for direct taxation.
– That is a perfectly logical position to take up.
– But when direct taxation is proposed, it will be pronounced by the honorable senator to be quite illogical.
– We must obtain revenue from some source. I have no sympathy with a revenue Tariff.
– This is the biggest revenue Tariff that we have ever had.
– The Tariff has not been finally dealt with yet. If the Government can help in settling the difficulty which has arisen at Mildura, it will do much to allay the ill-feeling which exists there. The payment of 7s. a day to the workers will give them what they are entitled to under protection, and will strengthen the hands of those who, like myself, are protectionists, not for the sake of the manufacturers only, but for the sake of the manufacturers, the workers, and the consumers. I believe in complete protection, and if we are not to get such protection, but are to have only such protection as Australia has known in the past, I shall weaken very considerably in the support which I shall accord to the protectionist policy.
– I hope that honorable senators will not regard me as in any way discourteous if my reply to the speeches which have been made is very brief. As the Senate is aware, I desire to obtain permission, as soon as possible, to make my explanatory speech concerning the Customs Tariff Bill. As to the defence policy of the Government. I assure Senator Colonel Neild that he will have the fullest opportunity to discuss its every detail. I hope to lay on the table, if not this week, at all events early next week, a detailed statement or memorandum setting forth that policy, and, as he must know, effect cannot be given to it without the introduction of legislation, which will provide an occasion for the most ample discussion. With regard to the allegations of sweating in the Postal Department, which are of a very serious nature, I remind honorable senators that the present PostmasterGeneral is one of the most pronounced anti-sweaters in the Commonwealth. It is recognised that he has no sympathy with sweating, having in thepast made many attacks upon this evil, and, so far as he could, brought about relief to those who were oppressed. I am sure, therefore, that if the opportunity is afforded, the cases which have been referred to will receive his close attention, while the subject generally necessarily demands investigation. Senator W. Russell has expressed dissatisfaction because the Government has not stated what action it will take in the event of an adverse decision by the High Court regarding the new protection legislation. But I ask him and other senators to consider whether it would be wise for Parliament to express a doubt as to the constitutionality of its acts.
– I did not express any doubt, but I wish to be on safe ground.
– If we said that, in the event of a certain decision we should take certain action, we should be expressing a doubt as to the constitutionality of our legislation. But, the honorable senator having had the assurance that the most advanced proposals will be put forward
– We have always had to whip the Government into the collar.
– That is not a generous remark. If the honorable senator reviews the history of the Commonwealth, he will find that never before have there been put forward such advanced proposals as those made and promulgated by this Government.
– Some of them have been passed into law.
– With the assistance of the Labour Party.
– I acknowledge the help of the Labour Party, but the Government had a right to expect its aid in this matter. The legislation which we have introduced shows that we are in earnest, and this will be shown, if possible, even more conclusively by our further proposals in regard to the new protection. If, by any chance, an adverse decision is given by the High Court, we shall not sit down under it ; we shall show that we are not to be thwarted in our efforts to do what we think to be right. But unless the old protection given to the community be substantial, there cannotbe any new protection. It is quite impossible for the Government to say what industries will be brought under the new protection proposals until they know what duties are to be imposed, because it is only particular industries that they can venture to regulate.
– Are there to be no fair and reasonable wages without thumping protection, then?
– So far as the policy of the Government is concerned, we claim thatwe are going to give our industries the benefit of substantial protection, that we can do it on our own terms, and that the corollary of that is regulation, so as to insure the payment of reasonable and fair wages. These, I think, were the chief matters mentioned by my honorable friends. As regards the question of the Federal Capital, Senator Neild must know that, in writing, and by promises to Parliament, the Prime Minister and other Ministers have informed him that it is our full intention this session, if possible and practicable,to finally settle that question. We cannot give any further promise to the honorable senator. He is aware that a Bill’ on the subject has already been circulated. He is also cognisant of the strong pressure of public business since the last general election. I do not think that there has been any reason for complaint. With the promise to bring individual cases of grievance under the attention of the Postmaster-General, I ask that the first reading of this measure may be passed at once, so as to enable me, with the consent of the Senate, to move its second reading.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the second reading of the Customs Tariff Bill to be proceeded with forthwith.
– I desire to express my approval of the action which has been taken by the Government in this matter. Some statements have been made to the effect that certain senators have been trying to prevail with the Government to postpone the business which we have been called together to transact. But I have no knowledge of any movement of that kind. In supporting the motion, sir, I may say that a majority of those who sit on your left are extremely anxious to do everything possible to help the Government in securing the early completion of the Tariff.
– As it is necessary that a majority of the members of the Senate shall be present to pass this motion, I shall cause the bells to be rung.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I thank honorable senators for the permission which they have just given to me to move this afternoon -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is the second occasion on which it has been my duty to undertake a responsibility of this kind. As Commissioner of Customs for Victoria, it became my duty, in 1896, to introduce a very comprehensive protectionist Tariff, and if the measure before the Senate is productive of as much good to the Commonwealth as that particular Tariff was to Victoria, there will be no cause for regret. On this occasion I shallbe assisted very substantially by my honorable colleague. The advantage that the Parliament enjoys in dealing with this Bill is that there has been a most decisive verdict by the people of the Commonwealth as to what its fiscal policy shall be.
– No, by the people of Victoria.
– The people of the Commonwealth have decided by overwhelming numbers upon the national policy of protection.
– Not in Tasmania.
– Or in New South Wales.
– I am talking about the people of the Commonwealth. They have decided by overwhelming numbers that the national policy of the Commonwealth shall be protection., realizing that the path of progress lies in that direction, and that, according to the experience of great nations, that is the true policy for any young community such as is our own. I submit that it would be quite idle, in fact, irrelevant, for us to attempt to discuss the merits of free-trade or protection.
– The honorable senator has just been doing that.
– No; I have simply stated what I consider the people of the Commonwealth decided, and that is, that its policy shall be protection. I submit with very great respect that that decision will preclude us from discussing the merits of free-trade or protection. The sole question we have to consider is, what is a fair, reasonable, and I submit, effective protection to various industries.
– The fiscal question was never raised in the various States.
– May I quote to my honorable friend the position as it has been accepted by the leader of the Free-trade Party ?
– Who is that?
– The Right Honorable
I admit that the result of the election, in the light of my appeal to the people for fiscal peace, was a distinct adoption of the protectionist principle throughout Australia. I confess that a considerable majority of the members of this House were returned owing to the pledges which they gave to their constituents that they would make the present Tariff more effectively protective. To what extent they will go in that direction is of course a matter entirely for themselves, but I frankly recognise the fact to which I refer….. We candidly admit that there was one feature in the Government policy which stood out unmis takably, although in their actions perhaps it was not so fully adhered to as it might have been. There is no doubt that that issue was put clearly before the electors, and that upon it we were defeated. So that in any adjustment of the Tariff which may be attempted, we labour under no sense of treachery, no feeling that the people have not authorized such changes.
The position is as it was stated frankly by the leader of the Free-trade Party. And the problem submitted to the Parliament is to so frame the Tariff as to fit in with the organization of our industrial conditions. I ask honorable senators, in pursuance of the mandate of the country, to keep in view two important objects. The first is to make effective the protection to existing industries, and the second is to make the most ample provision for the calling into existence of new industries. I admit that we can lay down no uniform duty and sa.y that it will be effective protection, but I hold that that does involve the consideration of the merits of each case. In one case a 10 per cent.- duty may effectively protect, while in other cases it is possible that even so much, as a 40 per cent, duty may be necessary. But our purpose should be to make our protection effective, and that, as I have said, involves the consideration of the immediate merits of each case. Perhaps, sir, I may attempt to lay down a broad general standard by saying that, first of all, the object of protection is to so equalize local with outside conditions as to give our own people encouragement and opportunity for the starting of further industries ; and that, having achieved such equalization of conditions a shade above that, I venture to say, would mean effective protection.
– Is this the new. or the old protection ?
– That is the new protection.
– Presently I will give my honorable friend an opportunity of hearing some remarks about the new protection. But I trust he will forgive me for making n remark or two on the old protection when introducing this Tariff.
– Let us know which one it is.
– The point I am seeking to make, is that the duty of the Senate is to make our protection effective, because that I claim is the mandate of the country. If, for instance, it costs ^50 to import and land a vehicle, and if under Australian conditions - the payment of fair wages - it costs £60 to construct a similar vehicle, then, in order to equalize conditions, we should impose a duty of ^10, representing the difference, and, in addition, a shade of protection beyond that sum. By that means I submit we should discourage rings, either external or internal, while we might rely upon legitimate competition, external as well as internal, to insure the efficient protection of the consumer. At the same time, I claim that there may be individual cases in which we are called upon to go much further - cases where industries have achieved such magnitude, where the internal competition is’ so complete, that we are justified in practically reserving the home market for our own people. The present Tariff, I submit, is a fair, reasonable, and, on the whole, moderate Tariff, and one which I think should certainly commend itself to honorable senators, no matter on which side they may sit. In 1901 we were beset with greater difficulties than now exist in framing a Tariff, since at that very early period in the history of the Commonwealth there were six different Tariffs obtaining throughout Australia. We had, on the one hand, the extreme protectionist Tariff of Victoria, .and on the other the extreme free-trade Tariff of New South Wales, the Tariffs of the other States intervening more or less between the two. The Commonwealth Tariff, as then proposed by the Government, was on protectionist lines, but was modified so substantially that it finally bore only the mildest appearance of protection. It was at once seen that it was not in accordance with public feeling, and that it would be necessary sooner .or later to pass a Tariff that would provide for a more pronounced form of protection. In other words, it was recognised that the first Federal Tariff was a tentative measure, and as the result of the feeling of dissatisfaction to which it gave rise, and its failure to grant complete protection, it became necessary to appoint a Tariff Commission. That Commission, which was appointed in December, 1904, worked assiduously, and rendered splendid services to this community in the searching investigations which it conducted and bv the valuable reports which it furnished. I venture to say that its investigations and reports have enlightened honorable senators, and will enable them to come to a just decision in regard to the proposals now before them. The Government largely founded its original propositions on the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, and I am free to admit that they were in a more pronounced protectionist direction than are the duties in the measure that I am now submitting to the Senate. Our proposals were modified in another place, but I intend to put before the Senate some figures that should satisfy my honorable friends that the schedule is still to a large extent founded on the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission. The Tariff as forwarded from the House of Representatives to the Senate imposes no fewer than 989 rates of duty under the general Tariff and the Tariff on goods the produce of the United Kingdom. These may be divided as follows : - Number of cases in which the Tariff rates are (a) in excess of the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, under the general Tariff, 207, under the Tariff in respect of the United Kingdom, 33; (b) below the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, 114 under the generalTariff, and 123 under the Tariff in respect of the United Kingdom; (c) the same as the Tariff Commission’s recommendations, 354 under the general Tariff, and 127 under the Tariff in respect of the United Kingdom); (d) not provided for by the Tariff Commission, 29 under the general Tariff, and 2 under the Tariff in respect of the United Kingdom. In other words, in the case of 718 out of a total of 989 items, the rates of duty are either below the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, or the same as recommended by them.
– What is the money value of the imports to which they relate?
– I shall tell my honorable friend later on. As I have already pointed out, the original proposals of the Government have in many cases been modified ; but at the same time, I am prepared to contend that the Tariff as now presented to the Senate is, from the stand-point of protection, a very substantial advance upon that of 1902. As it now stands, the average duty on the total schedule, excluding specie and bullion, stimulants and narcotics, is12 per cent.
– That is inclusive of the free list.
– Quite so. The average rate in respect of dutiable goods, ex cluding stimulants and narcotics, is 19¾ per cent., or, including stimulants and narcotics, 29 per cent. Comparing the average rate on dutiable goods - exclusive of stimulants and narcotics - viz., 19¾ per cent., with the average rate under the Tariffs of other countries, as well as with the old Victorian Tariff and the Federal Tariff of 1902, on the same basis, we find that the average in the case of Canada is 23.9, New Zealand 22 per cent.-
– Canada has a high Tariff, an intermediate Tariff, and a Tariff granting a preference to British goods. With which of those Tariffs is the honorable senator making his comparison ?
– I think the calculation has been made on the same basis as that relating to our own Tariff - that it has been arrived at by taking every item, and the rate of duty against it, in the schedule ; but I shall give the honorable senator later on some further information on that point.
– Are the percentages quoted by the honorable senator worked out on the general or on the preference Tariff?
– On every item in the Tariff as it stands.
– There are, in many cases, two rates of duty.
– Exactly; but an item in respect to which there are two rates of duty is treated as comprising two separate items.
– Then the average duty under the general Tariff is more than 19¾ per cent. ?
– No. Speaking generally, I think that, assuming that the value of our imports was£40,000,000, and that the duty on those imports under the proposals amounted, to£8,000,000, the average would be arrived at by dividing the value of the imports by the amount of the duty, that is to say, one-fifth, namely 20 per cent., would be the average. When interrupted, I was pointing out that the average rate of dutiable goods, excluding stimulants and narcotics, is 19¾ per cent. I have given two averages, the one including free goods, and the other relating only to dutiable goods, excluding stimulants and narcotics. In the latter case the average is 19¾ per cent., as compared with an average of 23.9 per cent.. in the case of the Canadian Tariff ;
New Zealand, 22 per cent. ; “United States of America, 39.75 per cent. ; Victoria, 25 per cent., and 16.9 per cent, under the Commonwealth Tariff of 1902. Comparing the average of the schedule, excluding stimulants and narcotics, specie and bullion, the schedule now before the Senate shows, as I have mentioned, an average of 12 J per cent., whereas the average in the case of Canada is 14J per cent., New Zealand 12 per cent., United States of America 22 per cent., Victoria 8 J per cent., and the Commonwealth Tariff of 1902 10.6 per cent. The reason for the low average in the case of the old Victorian Tariff is- that whilst under it high rates prevailed in respect of about onethird of the imports of the State the remainder were on the free list.
– The inclusion of goods on the free list destroys the value of these figures for purposes of ‘comparison-
– That is not so, inasmuch as I have set before honorable sena- tors two calculations, the jone including goods on the. free list, and the other excluding them. Later on I shall give full details regarding the percentages and values of goods on. the free list. The free importations which have been mentioned practically represent something like 34 per cent, of our total imports. Calculated on the basis of importations into the Commonwealth in 1906, the value of goods free of duty under the Tariff is .£14,932,000, or, in round figures, £15,000,000. In arriving at that total, we exclude imports of specie and bullion. The total imports into the Commonwealth during 1906, exclusive of specie and bullion, . amounted to £42,398,000. -It will thus be seen that of our total importations more than onethird are at present exempt from duty. The value of free goods imported in 1906 under the 1902 Tariff was £15,144,500; so that in this respect there is very little difference between the first Federal Tariff and the present one. It would be well to note, in connexion with this matter, that if the House of Representatives had not placed cotton piece goods on the free list, the proportion of free goods would have been much less, the cotton piece goods so freed from duty representing a value of £3,000,000. In dealing with a matter of this kind, it is important that we should consider not only its protectionist, but its revenue, aspect. In framing a Tariff, neither free-traders nor protectionists are entitled to ignore our revenue requirements.
It is true that, as it now stands, the Tariff may at first bring in something over £11,000,000 per annum. At my request, there has been prepared a statement of the revenue for the first six months of the financial year 1907-8, and beginning with the month of July, we find that the Customs revenue for that period was £1,005,827, while the Excise collected was £239,807, making a total revenue for the month of £1,245,634, or nearly £400,000 in excess of the revenue for the corresponding month of 1906. The totals for the half-year July to December, 1907, including, of course, both months, are - from Customs, £4,812,466; from Excise, £1,224,164; or a total for the half-year of £6,036,630. This revenue for the six months is, of course, as honorable senators will realize, largely in excess of the revenue for the corresponding period of the previous year.
– Largely in excess of the anticipations of the Government also.
– I shall deal with that in due time if my honorable friend will allow me.
– The figures are for the six months ending 31st December.
– That is so.
– When that revenue was received, there were some very high duties imposed which were afterwards reduced.
– I promise my honorable friends that I. will deal very fully with these questions, as I proceed. During the corresponding period of six months, from July to December, 1906, the Customs revenue received amounted to £3,891,663, and the Excise revenue to £977.428, or a total of £4,869,091. That is to say, the difference between the revenue received during the first six months of the current financial year and that received during the corresponding period of last year represents a sum of £1,167,539. I wish my honorable friends, when considering the figures for this year, to specially realize that we are dealing with an abnormal period, and that, therefore, they will not be justified in regarding them as reliable estimates for the future. I have endeavoured, so far as I could, to discover the chief causes for the excess revenue which we may expect to derive during the current financial year. It is brought about by a combination of causes, the chief amongst which are, first of all, the fact that, as honorable senators will remember, the new Tariff was introduced on the 8th August last, at the time when our merchants were heavily importing their spring, summer, and Christmas goods. These goods were necessary to supply immediate demands, and the introduction of the Tariff resulted in the higher duties being paid not only to goods on the water, but on those likewise which had to be ordered in advance to supply current demands. It is quite impossible for us to say definitely what is the amount of excess revenue attributable to this source, but I am advised by the Department that it is very considerable, The second source of excess revenue we have to consider is found in the fact that during the first six weeks of the present financial year the commercial community were expecting a new Tariff to be launched, and in consequence merchants made large clearances from bond in anticipation of increased duties. To give an example of this, the revenue from Customs in July, 1907, showed an increase over the revenue for July, 1906, of nearly £400,000, or, to be perfectly accurate, of £397,000. This excess payment of duties was made in anticipation of the launching of the Tariff, and of the sums referred to, the duties paid on tobacco represented a very special item, amounting to something like £200,000.
– Some duty would have had to be paid in any case.
– Undoubtedly, but I am accounting for the excess of revenue derived in that particular month as compared with the corresponding month of the previous year, and considerably over £400,000 is accounted for in the way I have referred to. The third reason to which I wish specially to draw the attention of honorable senators lies in the fact that sections n and 12 of the Spirits Act of 1906 came into operation on the 1st January, 1908. Section it of the Act dealing with imported spirits reads -
After the ist day of January, one thousand nine hundred and eight, no imported spirits (other than gin, Geneva, Hollands, schnapps, or liqueurs) shall be delivered from the control of the Customs for human consumption unless the Collector of Customs for the State is satisfied that the spirits have been matured by storage in wood for a period of not less than two years.
Section 12 of the same Act is in similar terms,- and deals with spirits subject to Excise duty. This law caused abnormal clearances of spirits to be made in order to escape, as far as possible, the effects of the sections referred to. The excess revenue received by reason of the Spirits Act was from Customs £103,000, and from Excise £107,000, or a total of £210,000. Honorable senators will therefore see that there is readily traceable to the second and third causes for excess, approximately £650,000 of revenue. I have already mentioned that, according to the best calculations we can make on the subject, the revenue for the current year from Customs and Excise is likely to be something in excess of £11,000,000. It is anticipated that after the current year, and when matters have reached what we might term normal conditions, and the average of good and bad seasons is taken into consideration, the revenue under the present Tariff proposals will be something like £10,250,000. Of course, reductions will gradually take place as protective duties become more and more effective, and as our local productions supplant the importations. That process will, of course, as I have said, be of a gradual character. Before departing from the revenue aspect of the question, it is perhaps desirable that I should point out that reductions made by the House of Representatives on some -of the original proposals of the Government resulted in a considerable loss .of revenue. The principal reductions upon the Government ‘ proposals were in connexion with item 80, matches and vestas, representing £30,000; item 132E, cotton piece goods, £150,000; item 140, galvanized iron, £90,000; item 186, wire netting. £45. 000; item 303, timber, £35,000, and Excise items, tobacco and cigars, £90,000, representing a total of something like £440,000. The next feature to which I desire to direct attention is what I may term the novel and important departure that has been made in a discrimination of duties chargeable under the general Tariff and those chargeable against goods the production of the United Kingdom.
– Does the honorable senator think the departure a wise one?
– I not only think that the departure was justified, but I say that it was demanded by the people in pursuance of the proposals put before them.
– What are . we getting for the preference we give?
– The departure has been made in obedience to the mandate of the country, and as a part of the declared policy of the Government.
– Is the Mother Country giving us anything in return for the preference we give?
– The position was very fairly recognised by my right honorable friend Mr. Reid when he said -
The situation in regard to preferential trade lias been cleared considerably by the decision of -the people at the last general election.
– Which people - the people of England or our own people?
– The people of the whole of Australia.
– If the honorable senator relies so much upon Mr. Reid, I shall begin to think that he -must be in a very bad way
- Mr. Reid went on to say -
Given a protective Tariff the free-trade objections, wherever they exist, to a system of preferential trade, pretty well disappear so far as we in Australia are concerned. We can have no possible objection to relaxation of fiscal bonds in favour of the Mother Country. As to trade beyond the Commonwealth, while I wish to see the Mother Country helped in every way I do not wish it to be understood that I have in any sense a desire to discourage trade -with other countries.. We have a vast range of natural products that are sought for in all the great markets of the world, and we must endeavour to reconcile our desire to help the Mother .Country with our wish that the volume of our trade over the whole surface of the globe shall not be contracted.
In the formulation of our policy, we have been moved- by Empire, ‘as well as by sound business, considerations. “The Government have at all times borne in mind two important factors : First, that it is our- duty, not only to preserve, but to encourage, our own industries, and make ample provision for their expansion, and for the calling into life of new industries, and, secondly, that we should have full regard for our revenue requirements. I hope to prove conclusively that, after giving due weight to these two important considerations, there is ample margin to provide for a real and very substantial preference to the Mother Country. We claim that to have attempted to reduce our own protective duties below the point at which thev would be effective as protective, duties, or to make revenue sacrifices, would have resulted iri a most serious dislocation and disturbance of our industrial conditions. That is not the policy of the Government. The policy of the Government is to increase duties as against the foreigner, or. if my honorable friends will have it, to surtax foreign goods, following the examples of New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa. So far as we can do so by Tariff proposals, we desire to makeBritish importations, where possible, supplant foreign importations. That. has been: the design and object of -the discriminations embraced in the Tariff proposals of the Government now before the Senate.
– If we try to keepboth out, how can the preference operate?
– We do not attempt tokeep both out as my honorable friend must necessarily see from the figures which I have already quoted. We are hopeful that, by this system of preference, we shall beable to stimulate and enormously increasetrade as between the Mother Country and ourselves.
– Have not Canada and New Zealand refused us reciprocity ?
– I am dealing . withpreference as between the Commonwealth and the United Kingdom. I hope that our trade relations with Canada and New Zealand will, in the, near future, justify themaking of treaties which will place us upon a preferential basis.
– But so far, havenot Canada and New Zealand refused preference ?
– I do not know what isthe object of my honorable friend’s indignation, but I can assure him that I am making no proposals in connexion with”preference to Canada and New Zealand at the present time. But I do hope that the time is not far distant when proposals of” a mutually satisfactory character will be brought forward. This step is largely justified by a consideration of the figuresrelating to the imports from countries other than the United Kingdom, and from theUnited Kingdom itself. In this connexion, I desire to point out that in 1887 the goods imported from countries other thanthe United Kingdom were valued at- £8,203,000, and that in 1906 these importations had increased to ,£18,153,000. In 1887,’ the goods, imported from theUnited Kingdom were valued at £2.1,369.000; and in 1906 they had only increased to £26,575,000. Approximately, the proportion of foreign goods imported’ into the States comprising the Commonwealth in 1887 was 28 per cent. ; but in 1906 it had increased to 4o per cent. AIT’ this goes to demonstrate that British- trade with oversea Dependencies has been, and’ is being, largely undermined by the foreigner. It is quite true that my honorable chief, the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government, attempted to enter into a reciprocal arrangement with the Mother Country, and that he was not wholly successful! But the fact remains that in the proposals now before the Senate we are endeavouring to show an earnest of our anxiety to improve our trade relations with the Mother Country, and that we are askingfor nothing in return for the concessions which we make. In other words, the Bill contains no stipulation for a reciprocal preference. But I firmly believe that the time is not far distant when a reciprocal arrangement upon a preferential basis as between the Mother Country and the Commonwealth will be brought about. I wish, on behalf or the Government - and I may mention that I expressed the same view when addressing the Chamber of Commerce in London upon this subject over two years ago - to repudiate the suggestion that we are asking the Mother Country to make sacrifices to benefit ourselves. We have never asked her to do anything of the kind. We are merely seeking to establish on a reciprocal preferential basis a trading relationship which will be of mutual advantage to both countries. We desire that it shall be a thorough business arrangement, and that we shall be moved to it by business considerations alone. We are. aware that the Canadian preference has at least resulted in the arrest of the decline of British importations into the Dominion. In this connexion, I would point out that Mr. Chamberlain’s Tariff Commission, in dealing with the advantages which Great Britain has derived from the Canadian preference, presented its conclusions as follow -
States and German competition in the Canadian market, the exports of British manufactures to Canada declined rapidly and steadily till about 1897, when the preference was first adopted, and that since 1897is decline has been turned into a substantial and continuous increase.
The experience of Canada shows that the preference which has been granted by the Dominion to the Mother Country has effectually checked what was an alarming decline in British imports. In considering this matter of preference, it is worthy of note that the House of Representatives has not only indorsed the principle of preference, but has substantially increased the preferencesoriginally proposed bythe Government. In some instances it has extended preferences to the Mother Country upon goods in respect of which the Government did not propose to grant them, and in other cases it has substantially increased the amount of the preferences proposed by the Ministry. It has been stated from time to time that these preferences to the United Kingdom are not of any real practical benefit. But the British manufacturers themselves, and the press of the United Kingdom, have most emphatically repudiated that suggestion, and have indicated that the preferences proposed are indeed very real ones. If honorable senators desire me to do so, I can read to them numerous letters from leading British manufacturers, dealing with the immense benefit that they are securing by reason of the preference proposals now submitted to this Chamber.
– “Immense” is a. very large word.
– It is a large word, but, so far as my recollection goes, it is that which is used by some of those who have written upon the subject. It will be seen, from the figures which I am about to quote, that the concession is indeed an immense one. I hold in my hand a return showing the extent to which the British manufacturer will benefit under the new Tariff. But first of all I desire to submita comparison of the preferences extended to the United Kingdom under the Tariff as originally proposed, on 8th August, 1907, and under the Tariff in the form in which it passed the House of Representatives. The number of items and sub-items upon which the preference originally proposed was less than 5 per cent. was four, whereas the number under the Tariff in its present form is nil. The number of items upon which the preference proposed by the Government was5 per cent. or over, but under10 per cent., was thirty, whereas the number of such items under’ the Tariff in its present form is nine. The number of items in respect of which the Government proposed to grant a preference of 10 per cent, or over, but less than 15 per cent., was thirty, whereas the number of such items in the Tariff as it left the House of Representatives is twenty-eight. I would specially direct the attention of honorable senators to the following figures as verifying the statement which I made just now regarding the substantial manner in which the other Chamber has indorsed the principle of preference. The number of items upon which a preference of 1 5 per cent, or over, but less than 20 per cent., was proposed by the Government was twenty-four, whereas the number of such items in the Tariff in its present form is forty-two. The items upon which a preference of 20 per cent, or over, but under 25 per cent., was originally proposed was twenty-nine, whereas the number of such items now in the schedule is fortyone. The Government proposed to grant a preference of 25 per cent, or over, but under 30 per cent, upon thirty-four items, and the House of Representatives increased the number of such items to forty-five. A preference of 30 per cent, or over, but under 35 per cent., was originally proposed upon seventeen items, but the House of Representatives increased the number of such items Vo twenty-seven. The number of items upon which a preference of 35 per cent, or over, but under 40 per cent., was originally proposed was nil; the Tariff in its present form contains one such item. A preference of 40 per cent, was originally proposed upon four items in the schedule, and the number of these has not been decreased. The Government proposed a preference of 50 per cent, upon three items, and this number has been increased to seven. The number of items upon which a preference of 100 per cent, was originally proposed was seventy-six, and the number of such items in the present Tariff is seventyseven. It will thus be seen that the number of smaller preferences has been diminished, and that the number of more substantial preferences has been increased. The items upon which the United Kingdom saves less than 15 per cent, of the total duty has been decreased in number from 64 to 37, whilst those upon which the saving is over 15 per cent”, have increased from 187 to 244. Preference items of 25 per cent, and over have increased from 134 to 161. Instances of 33^ per cent, saving and over show an advance from 100 to 116 items. The average preference in both instances is somewhat inflated by items which are free to the United Kingdom, but dutiable at 5 per cent, or 10 per cent, ad valorem to other countries. These, of course, show a saving of 100 per cent, of the total duty in the case of the United Kingdom.
– These figures are regardless of quantities and values?
– The average preference, making a reasonable though arbitrary allowance for the 100 per cent, items (counting them as 33J per cent.) was 23^ per cent, under the Tariff as originally proposed, and is 25! per cent, under the Tariff in the form in which it is now presented to the Senate.
– Is that result based upon lines similar to those upon which the Vice-President of the Executive Council based his former comparison?
– Regardless of values ?
– I explained very fully to my honorable friend how ‘ I arrived at the average.
– In the former instance the Vice-President of the Executive Council did so, but not in the present case.
– I shall’ be very glad to. hear my honorable friend upon that point at a later stage. I hold in my hand a statement showing the actual saving in duty which the United Kingdom makes by reason of the preferences proposed. This isa. matter upon which Senator Symon desired full information. The duty which would be payable upon imports from the United Kingdom if the General Tariff were in force against them would be approximately .£2,975,000. Under the preference rates, the amount would be £2,235,000 approximately, showing anactual saving in duty per annum to the United Kingdom of ,£740,000 approximately.
– In what period?
– That would be calculated on the basis of the 1906 importations. It represents a saving of practically three-quarters of a million of money per annum to the United’ Kingdom, or a saving of 25 per cent, on the duty payable on United Kingdom imports if the general Tariff applied. Inthe return which I have already quoted, theaverage preference is shown at 25
– That is if she sends to us this year as much as she did last vear.
– We must take the latest figures as a basis. Senator Sir Josiah Symon. - Does the honorable senator make any allowance for the fact that on some of the items where preference is given the Tariff has been increased, even after allowing for the preference ?
– Taking the importations for 1 906, we show that if the general Tariff were enforced against the United Kingdom she would have to pay threequarters of a million pounds more than she has to pay now.
– But on some items of imports, the duties have been increased even against the United Kingdom.
– There may be some instances of the kind.
– Has the honorable senator made any allowance in his calculations in respect of them?
– That I cannot definite! v say. I can only say that, taking the Tariff as it now stands, and calculating on the basis of the importations of 1906. the United Kingdom will have to pay threequarters of a million pounds less than she would have to pay if the general Tariff were in operation against her as well as against other countries.
– That saving depends on whether our importations are the same.
– No doubt it would depend upon what the importations were. The value of Commonwealth importations, the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom, taking the 1906 figures, is £22,904,344. The proportion of such imports upon which preference -is granted to the United Kingdom is £14,620,520, equal to 64 per cent. Thus preference is extended to the United Kingdom on 64 ner cent, of our imports therefrom. The value of imports from other countries on the same items is £7,419,610. Thus the
United Kingdom already holds twothirdsof the trade on those items, and it is expected that this proportion will be, as theresult of the preference Tariff, much increased in favour of the United Kingdom. The va.lue of Commonwealth imports theproduce or manufacture of the United Kingdom, on the 1906 figures, is £22,904,344; the value of Commonwealthimports the produce or manufacture of other countries, on the 1906 figures, is- £21,729,867, so that the total imports for 1906 were £44,634,211. This total excludes £95,295, the value of Australian’ goods reimported. Therefore the suggestion that was made at the earlier stages of the introduction of the Tariff that this preference is merely fictitious is completely refuted by the figures which I have quoted, and by what I have already mentioned asio the attitude of the British manufacturers and the British press on the subject. We have made a real and substantial concession to the United Kingdom of something like three-quarters of a million of money, which we .readily sacrifice in her favour, in order to improve our trade relations with her. The next branch of the Tariff to which I desire to draw attention is that of division 6a, referring to metals and machinery, and dealing with iron and steel in the early stages of their manufacture. The headnote of that division is as follows -
To come into operation (and any- then existing bonus to cease) on dates to be fixed by proclamation and exempt ‘from duty in the meantime. Proclamation to issue so soon as it is certified to Parliament by the Minister that the manufacture to which the proclamation refers has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth, but no proclamation to issue except in pursuance of a Joint Address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of Parliament stating that such manufacture is sufficiently established.
These goods are to be exempt from duty until their manufacture has been assured within the Commonwealth”. The Government propose to encourage the industry by the payment of a bounty. We divide these goods into three classes. As regards pig iron made from Australian ores, puddled bar iron made from Australian pig iron, and steel made from Australian pig iron, we propose to give a bounty at the rate of 12s. per ton ; the total amount which may be authorized is set down at £250,1000, and the date of expiry of the bounty at 1st January, 1913. Class 2 deals with galvanized iron, wire netting and wire, and iron and steel tubes or pipes (except riveted or cast), not more than 4 inches internal diameter. In regard to these it is proposed to give a bounty of 10 per cent, on value, the total amount of bounty to be proposed will be £50,000, and the date of the expiry of the bounty is. to be the 1st January, 1911. The third class includes reapers and binders. It is proposed to give a bounty at the rate of £8 each for the first 500 ; the total amount which may be authorized in this connexion is £4,000, and the date of expiry of the bounty is to be the 1st July, 1909. When the industry is established, as we hope it will be by the substantial aid and assistance of the Government proposals, the bounties will cease, arid the duties will come into operation by proclamation. TI-e last feature of the Tariff to which I desire to refer is in regard to the new protection. A memorandum has already been circulated on this subject. Honorable senators are familiar with the procedure which .the Government have adopted in order to secure the payment of a fair and reasonable wage to the employes. As a matter of fact, we have endeavoured to exercise our taxing power by the imposition of an Excise in order to bring about that result. It is proposed by the Government that fresh machinery shall be established. This will consist of a Board of Trade, which shall have ‘ judicial independence, and be more or less of a peripatetic character. From the terms of the measure when introduced, it will be discovered that the procedure .of the Board will be very simple. It will be its duty to establish industrial districts, within which there shall obtain a reasonable degree of uniform economic conditions. It will be competent for factories established within those districts to secure exemption from Excise bv registration, and as a further security that the standard of wages shall be maintained, it is proposed that the goods shall bear an exempt stamp or the Commonwealth trade mark. Authority will also be given to the Board to delegate certain of its powers, say in remote districts, to local tribunals, but what is done bv *hem will be under the immediate supervision of the Board. The protection of the consumer will. also be attempted.
– Is any provision made for the differing rates of wages in the different States?
– I have already said that necessarily different rates of wages must obtain in different parts. For that. reason it is proposed that the Board shall have power to divide . the whole Commonwealth into industrial districts, which shall be characterized, as far as possible, “by uniformity of economic conditions. It is stated in the memorandum -
So far, reference has been made only to that aspect of the proposals which is concerned with the protection of the manufacturer on the one hand, and the employes on the other. An essential part of the completed scheme, however, is the protection of the consumer by the establishment of machinery to prevent the undue inflation of prices. It is enough to say here that the Board will be charged with the duty of investigating the prices charged by protected manufacturers, and, if these are found to be unreasonable, of reporting that fact to the Minister. The Minister will then be- empowered, with the assent of Parliament, to -take appropriate action.
– It will be a long while before the consumer gets much benefit.
– I admit that we are undertaking a difficult policy, but we feel justified in making an effort to bring it about. I am aware that the constitutionality of what we are doing has been challenged. That is to be the subject of decision by the High Court, but at the same time this Parliament has already exercised its constitutional powers, and our fresh proposals go no further than the existing legislation, so far as principle is concerned.
– Where have the Government exercised those powers? How much Excise duty have they collected? Not a farthing.!
– My honorable friend amazes me. We have discussed the whole matter hour after hour. We have pointed out that this particular exercise of the taxing power is only brought into being for the purpose of securing a certain end - the payment of fair and reasonable wages. If defects should be discovered, they- must be remedied. We think that we have the constitutional power, when we impose protective duties, to regulate the terms on which the protection shall be enjoyed, and to enforce the sharing of the benefits of the duties with those employed in the particular industries.
– And there is also the power to refrain from collecting the Excise ?
– I think we have conclusively justified our action in that connexion, and have carried out the spirit and the intention of the Parliament. Is any honorable senator prepared to say that these Excise duties were imposed as a means of revenue? No; they were imposed for the purpose of securing an ‘ end ; and the Government are engaged in fighting towards that end. We have met with many obstacles and difficulties, and we are prepared to meet with many more obstacles and difficulties. But the object in view is a sound and good one. which- must commend itself to the majority of honorable senators. The difficulties that are mentioned are only difficulties created for the purpose of being overcome.
– By the “village blacksmith.”
– The “ village black- smith “ has not paid any duty yet.
– Honorable senators are aware that I have confined myself practically to a severe business statement in the remarks I have made in introducing this measure. I may say that I have done so with design, because I am going to ask honorable senators to make their remarks as brief as the circumstances will permit. I, perhaps, might not be justified in suggesting that the discussion on the second reading of the measure should be confined to the three, leaders in the Chamber. That might impose too severe a strain on certain honorable senators, who have a keen sense of the responsibility resting upon them. I. throw out the hint with the greatest respect. If honorable senators think I am asking too much, then I urge that, as we are all desirous of dealing with the- items at once, we shall not be justified in discussing the general question of free-trade and protection, seeing that it has already been decided for us by the people of the Commonwealth. The sole question that we shall have before us when we get into Committee is what is a fair and reasonable duty in connexion with each particular item, and not any abstract principle. The Tariff, as now presented, has already gone through a severe ordeal. It has passed through the crucible, during the last four months, not only of another place, but also of the press and the public; and. I submit that it is now presented in such a form as will, I trust-, largely relieve us from an amount of work which fell on members elsewhere. While it is perfectly true that we, as a Senate, have the right to make requests in regard to every individual item. I think I am not unreasonable in asking that what we do in this connexion shall be done with prudence and circumspection, having regard to the important fact that any requests we make will have the result of further dislocating trade. No requests can- be dealt with until after nth MarchHonorable senators are aware that in another place, when an alteration in a duty is made on a particular date, that alteration takes effect immediately, whereas if the Senate make a request, that request has to be considered by another place, and only comes into operation when the consent of another place has been given. Honorable senators, I am sure, are in close touch with the commercial and trading community, and know the disturbing influences of every change in the Tariff. They know that consumers have most seriously suffered, as they must always do in connexion with the introduction of a Tariff ; and, under all the circumstances, it is, I think, our duty, while conscientiously discharging the responsible duty cast upon us, to minimize, so far as we can, any further dislocation of trade. I am quite certain that .honorable senators are in sympathy with the suggestion that the second-reading speeches should be reduced to a minimum. The items of the Tariff have been dealt with in public and discussed’ at great length; and our duty, therefore, is, I think, to vote rather than to talk. In these circumstances, I, with great confidence, submit this as a fair and moderate Tariff, which complies, to some extent at least, with the mandate of the country in regard to effective protection, while, at the same time, not neglecting our revenue requirements. I suggest that, as was done in 190 r, and also as was done last year in reference to other Bills. ii> dealing with the second reading of the measure now before us, full reference may be permitted to the Excise Bill.
- With the concurrence of honorable senators, that will he the practice adopted.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Senator DOBSON (Tasmania) [5.40I. - It would meet the convenience of honorable senators who are absent if we could come to some kind of an arrangement that the general debate will finish this week, so that it may be known that the consideration of the items will commence on Tuesday next. I do not know whether it is possible to arrive at such an arrangement, but it would be a great convenience.
– I suggest to the Vice-President of the Executive Council that it would greatly assist honorable members if Hansard proofs of his speech in introducing the Tariff were distributed to honorable members as early as possible.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). [5.42]. - The request of Senator Dobson is rather extraordinary, especially as it is made in the interests of honorable senators who are absent. I do not see how certain honorable senators now in Queensland could arrange to be here, even if an intimation were given that the debate would be concluded on Friday. I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will not acquiesce in the suggestion made; because, as a matter of fact, any arrangement of the kind could not be carried out. I desire expedition as much as does any honorable senator, but, at the same time, in the circumstances, I hope that the Minister in charge of the measure will not make any intimation that at is intended to close the debate this week.
– I agree with what Senator Dobson and also, to a certain extent, withwhat Senator Symon has said. Time is certainly a very important element, but it is not the essence of the matter. I hope the Government supporters will not seek to burke debate on some of the great principles with which the VicerPresident of the Executive Council has dealt this afternoon. While I shall do what I can to curtail debate, I hope there is not the slightest intention to deprive honorable senators of the opportunity to fully, fairly, and moderately discuss the great question submitted.
– In reply to Senator St. Ledger, I should like to say that there is no desire to burke discussion. As a matter of fact, it would be quite impossible to do so; but it must be remembered that the question before us is very important to every citizen from the point of view of its speedy settlement ; and, therefore, we ought to confine our remarks entirely to essentials. As has already been pointed out, the great question of whether free-trade or protection is the better policy ought not to come under discussion.
– I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will not be, I was going to say, so foolish as to make an announcement of the kind suggested by Senator Dobson. The Vice-President of the Executive Council knows very well that he has no control over honorable senators in regard to the debate of any question; but I think that the honorable gentleman has given us good advice. We have been asked to curtail our remarks; and I hope that, the request will be complied with as far as possible, always allowing, of course, sufficient latitude for the due expression of opinion. But to say that any honorable senator shall sit still and say nothing, or rise and say something, is outside the power of the leader of the Senate, although I hope sincerely that the main debate will be finished this week. At the same time, there are no senators so much under control that they may be asked to remain quiet .
– Honorable senators are aware that in introducing this measure I have endeavoured to set a good example, confining my remarks to a severe business statement, without making any attempt whatever at rhetorical embellishment. I simply ask honorable senators, in view of the necessity for an expeditious settlement of the Tariff, to co-operate with me by curtailing their remarks as much as possible. I do not for one moment harbor the idea of attempting, even if it were within my power, to coerce honorable senators, who are as alive to their public duty as I am myself. I am sure every one will realize that this is a case in which we should exercise every reasonable expedition, and from that’ standpoint alone I ask the co-operation of honorable senators. As to fixing any particular date, except with the complete concurrence of the Senate, for the closing of the debate, that is at the present stage out of the question. In reference to the request of Senator Chataway, I shall see that the Hansard proofs of my remarks this afternoon are circulated as soon as possible.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 January 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080122_senate_3_43/>.