3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator W. RUSSELL presented a petition, signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the Manufacturers’ Protectionist Association of Adelaide, praying the Senate to fix the duty on harvesters at£25 each, on strippers at£15 each, and on metal parts at 2½d. per lb.
Petition received and read.
– My honorable friend is opening up a question which has been receiving considerable attention for some time past. His statement is calculated, no doubt unintentionally, to mislead honorable senators, the position of the matter being as follows : - Prior to Federation, the Government of each State printed its own stamps, but since the postage stamps used in Western Australia, Tasmania, and Victoria have been printed for the Commonwealth by the Government Printer of Victoria.
– And the stamps used by the other States?
– They have been printed in those States. The PostmasterGeneral, seeking guidance as to the best and most economical way of producing postage stamps, appointed what was really a committee of experts to investigate the matter. That committee reported in favour of an alteration of the process or method of production, recommending the adoption of the steel in place of the electro process which has hitherto been used, for the reason, amongst others, that it offers additional safeguards against forgery, although involving more expense. A report on the subject was obtained from a very capable man and an expert stamp printer - Mr. Cook, of Adelaide - who stated that the Commonwealth is paying far too much for the printing of its stamps, and he was a . member of the Committee which made the recommendation to which I have referred. The Committee’s report was sent to the Government Printers of the various States and has been commented upon by the Government Printer of New South Wales, who does not agree with the recommendations contained in it. A reply has not yet been received from the Government Printer of Victoria, and I am afraid that any communication that we may get from Queensland will not help us. The Cabinet therefore is not yet in a position to come to a determination on the subject, and the printing of stamps is going on as hitherto. When the proper opportunity has arrived for the Cabinet to come to a decision, that decision will be announced in the usual way.
– I wish to know if the Government is taking steps to regulate the size of the wheat bags to be used within the Commonwealth, and, if so, what is being done?
-I have received the following memorandum on the subject from the Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs : -
The position regarding the standard for grain bags is as follows : -
The Minister, after careful investigation, has expressed an opinion in favour of a cornsack of the following dimensions : - 41 inches by 23½ inches, quality 8 porter, 9 shot, average weight 2¼ lbs.
A sack of the dimensions shown above will contain about 205 lbs. of wheat of fair average quality, is of handy shape, and very suitable for stacking or for stowing in railway trucks or on shipboard.
However, the Minister will not finally deal with the question until the close of the present month, so that those who desire to do so may criticise the proposed dimensions and quality.
The course the Department intends to take in the matter, after the standard has been finally settled’, is to prohibit by proclamation, after’ a date to be fixed, the importation of wheat bags not conforming to the dimensions and quality decided upon.
– When a decision is arrived at will it apply only to wheat bags, or also to similar sacks, used in the sugar industry? And if it applies to every sort of sack, will an opportunity be given to the people connected with the sugar industry to indicate what weight in their opinion would be most convenient?
– What is the usual weight ?
– It is 224 lbs.
– If my honorable friend desires the question of the weight of sugar bags to be brought under the attention of the Minister of Trade and’ Customs, I shall be very happy todo so, with, a view to, if possible, adopting a similar carrying capacity.
– That is not an answer to my question,as to whether the decision is to apply generally or specially.
– I will bring my honorable friend’s remarks under the attention of my honorable colleague.
– Prior to the Christmas adjournment, the Vice-President of the Executive Council informed the Senate that as the result of inquiries made from several quarters a large number of officers and lawyers were engaged in busily prosecuting inquiries into the alleged actions of certain combines and trusts, and the matter was also said to be under the consideration of the Attorney-General’s Department. I desire to ask my honorable friend whether those inquiries have led to anything, or whether he is yet in a position to make an announcement to the Senate ?
– I shall be very glad if my honorable friend will give notice of the question. I am aware that the matter has engaged the close attention of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, but may I remind my honorable friend that unfortunately the Anti-Trust Bill which we passed through the Senate has not yet become law.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether the schedule of wages and conditions fixed by the Minister of Trade and Customs for distillery employes, as directed by the amendment made in the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill at my instance, is being observed by distillers ?
– I am fortunate in having largely anticipated what was likely to be asked in this connexion. I have made inquiries, and the position is disclosed in the following communication -
Overtimeto be reckoned separately for each day from the usual time for ceasing work, and without regard to any time off on other days.
The time expended by carters before or after the usual time for beginning and ending work in feeding and attending to their horses is not to be regarded as overtime.
Proportion of Boys to Men Engaged.
The proportion of boys shall not be more than one to each ten men engaged, excepting in the case of distilleries where less than ten men are engaged. In such cases one boy may be employed in each distillery where not less than four men are engaged.
In arriving at this proportion the proprietor, manager, and clerks shall not be taken into consideration.
Overtime at similar rates to that of other employes.
Minister for Trade and Customs. 14th November, 1907.
All these have furnished the necessary undertakings that the rates of wages and conditions determined will be observed by them.
– I learn from the press that some action has been taken by the Postmaster-General with respect to the correspondence of Messrs. Freeman and Wallace, and I shall be glad if the VicePresident of the Executive Council will lay upon the table any correspondence with respect to the matter, or supply the Senate with any information which may be in his possession.
– I shall be very happy to place upon the table of the Senate the correspondence referred to by my honorable friend.
In view of the facts (1) that the Privy Council has refused to grant leave to appeal against the judgment of the High Court, affirming that Commonwealth Public Servants are not liable for State Income Tax, and (2) that the State of New South Wales has abolished the tax on. personal exertion incomes, including Commonwealth official salaries, is it the intention of the Government to propose the repeal of the Commonwealth Salaries Act, seeing that it now applies to but a moiety of the Common wealth officials?
– It is not the intention of the Government to seek the repeal of the Act.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, what action has been taken by the Government to secure the enforcement of Mr. Justice Higgins’ award in the case of the agricultural implementmaking industry ?
– I had better explain the position by reading the following memorandum -
– Arising out of the reply, I beg to ask the Minister if he will lay on the table of the Senate a report on this question by the Chief Inspector of Excise in South Australia.
– I see no objection,, but it will be necessary for me to consult my honorable colleague on the subject. Of course honorable senators will realize that whilst matters are sub judice we must be somewhat restrained in our actions here.
– But this report is in regard to South Australia.
– That may be so. I will consult my honorable colleague on the subject.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, whether Tasmanians are correct in assuming, as some of them do, that the weather forecasts for their State are in future to be incorporated with those issued in respect of Victoria by the Government Meteorologist, and if so, whether Tasmania will be disadvantaged hereby ?
– The honorable senator mentioned this matter to me yesterday, when I told him that citizens of Tasmania interested in the weather forecasts would not be prejudiced in the slightest degree under the present system. Since then, I have communicated with the Government Meteorologist, who has furnished me with the following report on the subject -
The atmospheric disturbances governing the weather of both Tasmania and Victoria are mostly identical, and these States are, therefore, more or less similarly affected by passing storms; hence, in the majority of cases, the anticipated weather for both States would be met by the same words. When the indications point to distinctive phases being experienced in these States, the custom has been, and it is intended to adhere to it in the future, to specially mention both States, or parts of both States, to be similarly affected. To systematically make distinctive forecasts for Tasmania and Victoria would invariably entail a repetition of verbiage, and was avoided in the first place to prevent loss of time in despatching the forecasts from the Central Bureau ; and in the second place, so as not to unnecessarily overload the telegraph lines and cable. The forecast form attached, copies of which have recently been despatched to all the divisional officers for posting, provides, it will be noticed, a special space for Tasmania and Victoria which will, on receipt of the forecast in the various cities, be filled up separately by the divisional officers.
– One of the reasons given in the report for the adoption of the present system is, that it avoids unnecessarily overloading the telegraph lines and cable. I would call the attention of the Minister to the fact that, so far as the despatch of weather forecasts from Tasmania is concerned, the line is not being overloaded at present, because to-day, at all events, no report whatever has been issued in respect of the probable weather conditions in that State.
– In referring to the overloading of the line, Mr. Hunt probably had in mind the fact that there is only one cable between Tasmania and the mainland States, and, indeed, the outside world, whereas the States on the mainland are connected by several telegraph lines. The whole of Tasmania’s telegraphic communication with the outside world has to pass along the one wire, and the possibilities of a. block occurring are consequently greater than they. are in connexion with the telegraph lines between the mainland States. It is with a view to avoiding duplication, as far as possible, consistent with the supply of proper weather forecasts to Tasmania, that the present course, has been adopted.
-Will the Minister of Home Affairs inquire into the alleged blocking of the line to-day, seeing that no report has been received?
– I shall make inquiries in regard to the statement that’ no report has been received, and furnish the honorable senator with the result. I know that, owing to bush fires, many lines are down in Tasmania, and have myself received telegrams delayed for twenty-four hours, because of such interruptions to the service.
Actions by Dismissed Public Servants.
– On 21st November last, I asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
An interim reply was then given, arid I should like to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he is now in a position to furnish a full reply ?
– The replies now furnished to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
In three of the successful cases the costs paid by the Postmaster-General’s Department were ^’1,625 5s. lod., £1,63$ 13s. ;d., and ;£i7 16s., respectively; and in the fourth of those cases the costs to date amount to £&i its. 6d.
– I was unable yesterday to definitely answer the question which Senator Neild put to me, because I did not know whether or not Mr. Hume Cook had been actually sworn in as an honorary Minister. The absence of the GovernorGeneral from Melbourne, 1 thought, might possibly have occasioned some delay. The position is that the Prime Minister has invited the Honorable Mr. Hume Cook to accept an honorary position in the Cabinet, and that upon the return of the GovernorGeneral Mr. -Cook will be sworn in. It will then be my duty, in the ordinary course of events, to mention the matter to the Senate.
– Some time ago I asked the Minister of Home Affairs, as representing the Postmaster-General, a question with regard to the non-sale of postage stamps at Gawler railway station. The Minister then promised to obtain a report on the subject. Is he yet in a position to supply the Senate with the information sought ?
– A report has been obtained in the following terms from the
Deputy Postmaster-General of South Australia -
The Gawler Railway Post Office, which is, I understand, the office referred to, is not open to the public until 8.30 a.m., but the Postmaster has to attend at 8 a.m. to make up mails for, and receive mails by, both the North and Adelaide, trains, which cross at that station.
The staff is very fully employed, during the seven minutes the train waits, in attending to the mails, and the sale of stamps- could not be undertaken at the same time without much inconvenience and risk of error.
If stamps were available at the Gawler Railway Post Office in the early morning, the public would naturally ‘ look for the same facilities at other offices on the line, and the objection above-mentioned applies in each case.
– On 1:4th November last I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Government would cause inquiries to be made as to the truth of statements appearing in the Adelaide Evening Journal to the effect that following on the proposed new Tariff of £5 on every bicycle imported into the Commonwealth the biggest manufacturers of cycle parts in the world, the B.S.A. and Eadie companies, England, had intimated that they proposed to raise the price of their cycle sets to an amount equal to 16 per cent, more than was previously charged. I also inquired whether in the event of the statement being true the Government would take steps, if they had the power, under the Australian Industries Preservation Act, to protect the interests of the smaller manufacturers of cycles. The Minister then promised to bring the matter under the notice of the Minister of Trade and Customs. I should like to know whether the matter has been’ investigated. *
– A full investigation has been made through the Department of Trade and Customs, and in view of inquiries made in South Australia and the Crown Solicitor’s opinion that the papers disclose no offence against the Australian Industries Preservation Act the Minister has approved of no further action being taken.
– Were inquiries made only in Adelaide, or were they also made in Melbourne and Sydney ?
– My information is that inquiries were made in South Australia. I cannot say that they were made only in that State.
Preparation of Statistics
– Can the VicePresident of the Executive Council give a definite reply to the question that I put to him yesterday regarding the preparation of certain information relating to the Tariff?
– I promised my honorable friend that I would consult with the Department of Trade and Customs as to the supply of information for the guidance of honorable senators during the consideration of the Tariff. The honorable senator suggested that it should be on the basis of the returns for 1907. I shall not say that it would be impossible to adopt that basis, but it would involve a great deal of labour and would not be so reliable as would be a return as to the Customs revenue for the year 9o6. I am therefore in a position to give the honorable senator an assurance that nearly, if not quite, all the information he has sought for will be supplied on the basis of 1906. Portion of it has already been printed, and the balance is at present in the bands of the Government Printer, and will, I hope, be available for honorable senators on Wednesday next. I have had the information prepared for the assistance of my colleague and myself in dealing with’ the Tariff in the Senate, and its character will perhaps be best illustrated if I select the information proposed to be given in respect of one item. There will first of all appear the Tariff item - and I take for instance “Biscuits.” In the first column will appear the words “ Biscuits - per lb.” In the next, under the heading of “General Tariff..” “i£d.” Then, under the heading of “ Goods the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom,” “ id. on and after 17th October, 1907.” In “the next column ‘information will be given as to the rate of duty under the Tariff of 1902, and under the heading “Tariff of 1902 “ there will appear “ id.” Then information will be given as to the recommendations of the Tariff Commission under two sections A and B, and in the column headed “ Section A “ there will appear “id.”; and in that headed “ Section B “ “ id.” In the next column, under the heading “Value or Quantity of Imports for 1906.” there will appear *” £,219,T98. “ Then under the heading “Duty paid for 1906” will appear “.£1,122.” I think that practically covers all the information in respect of each item which my. honorable friend has sought. A little difficulty may arise which” it might be well that I should explain at this stage. Honorable senators will find1 that the various items have in the new Tariff been to some extent differently grouped. For instance, if we take an» item like machinery, covering a largenumber of sub-items, it will be found that’ the grouping adopted in the Tariff of 1902 has been considerably altered, and someof the sub-items appearing under machinery in one group under the Tariff of 1902 will appear under some other item of machinery in the new Tariff. There may also be some alterations as regards thegrouping of the recommendations of the Tariff Commission, but they will not benearly so many, and less difficulty will arise in that connexion. After every effort has been made to overcome these difficulties, I think the information which will be supplied to honorable senators may be regarded as fairly if not completely reliable.
– Arising out of thesame question I wish to ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council whether in the tabulated information to be supplied he could not include another columngiving the imports in 1902, in 1903 or in- 1904, in order that we may compare them with the importations in 1906. That is a?, matter of great importance.
– The reason I am ableto give the very full information to whichI have already referred is that it ispractically all in print and requires only to be conveniently arranged. The information for which Senator Dobson asks can bereadily obtained from the statistical registers which will be on the table and available to honorable senators! To load up the proposed volume of information in theway which the honorable senator suggests would involve a serious amount of work, as I believe over 8,000 items would; have to be dealt with in the way suggested. I might add that in addition to the information to which I have already referredthe officers of the Department have with, very great industry prepared an index of the Customs Tariff of 1907 for the assistance of honorable senators. I have a proof” copy of it in my hand, and I am sure it will prove very useful. If honorable senators wish for information in respect to a particular item, by referring to it in theIndex they will learn where it is grouped!! in the Tariff.
– Is the Index alphabetically arranged?
– When shall we be supplied with the Index?
– On Wednesday next.
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if he is aware that a statement recently appeared in the Pastoralists’ Review reflecting upon the financial position and. management of our States railways? If he is also aware that the statement was given prominence in the London press apparently with the express purpose of throwing discredit upon Australia? I should like to know if it is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill this session for the appointment of a High Commissioner in London as an authoritative mouthpiece of the Commonwealth prepared to remove any wrong impressions sought to be made upon the minds of the people of the Mother Country by alleged Australians at Home and abroad?
– I have not had the advantage of reading the paragraph to which the honorable senator refers, but from the statement which he has made I hardly think that the matter referred to is within the cognizance of the Federal authorities. It appears to me that it is essentially a matter for the authorities of the State concerned.
– Surely the credit of Australia should be as much the care of this Parliament as of the States Parliaments ?
– Yes, but I understood Senator Lynch to refer to some reflection upon a particular State.
– No, upon the railway systems of the whole of the six States !
– Can we follow every adverse criticism that appears?
– Of course, that is not possible. So far as the appointment of a High Commissioner is concerned I may say that it is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill this session to provide for the appointment of such an officer, and no doubt it will be the duty of the High Commissioner, when appointed, to uphold in every respect the honour of Australia, and to vigorously repudiate any slanders upon its fair name.
Senator BEST laid upon the table the following papers -
Papers on the subject of the prohibition of the transmission through the Post of letters, &c, addressed to Freeman and Wallace.
Excise Act 1901 and Excise Tariff Act 1906! - Statutory Rules 1907, No. 122.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905 - Statutory Rules 1907,No. 124.
Federal Capital - Further correspondence between the Prime Minister and the Premier of New South Wales. Dated 31st October, 1907; 6th January, 1908.
Senator Colonel NE1LD (New South Wales) [3.8]. - If the Vice-President of the Executive Council does not move that the correspondence with reference to the Federal Capital be printed I am prepared to do so.
That the correspondence with reference to the Federal Capital be printed.
Question resolved in the negative.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
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 ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow - 1 & 2. The furlough provision in the Act was designed in the nature of a reward for longcontinued meritorious service, and to allow officers after long years of continuous work an opportunity of recuperating and continuing their services with sustained efficiency. The granting of furlough is, however, dependent as to whether public funds are available tosupply a substitute.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon n otic e -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
Circulars were sent on the 19th November, 1907, to every Rifle Club in Western Australia, asking for replies to the following questions-
Is there any friction between the District Commandant and your Club? (b) If so, the direct cause of the friction. This should be set forth in detail.
Does theClub consider that the Commandant has neglected them or their requirements in any way; if so, please state when and how.
Has, or has not, every demand from you been promptly dealt with by the Commandant?
Replies have been received from sixty-seven Clubs, from which it appears that only five Clubs have any complaints to make. These complaints are reported upon by the Commandant.
The whole of thepapers will be placed on the Library Table for the perusal of members.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That a return be prepared and laid upon the table of the Senate, showing : -
The number of telegraphists employed by the Postal Department in each State for the years 1902 and 1907 respectively.
The number of assistants acting as telegraphists for each State in 1902 and 1907 respectively.
– I move -
That, during the remainder of the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the days of meeting of the Senate be Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of each week, and that, unless otherwise ordered, the hour of meeting on Tuesday be 3 o’clock in the afternoon, on Wednesday and Thursday half-past 2 in the afternoon, and on Friday, half -past10 o’clock in the forenoon, and that on such days Government business take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper except questions and formal motions.
Honorable senators will observe that, with an anxiety to dispose of the Tariff as rapidly as possible, I am proposing that we shall sit an additional day in each week, namely, on Tuesdays, and that there shall be a slight alteration in our hours of meeting. In this connexion, I may say that for the present, at all events, I have mentioned 3 o’clock as the hour of meeting on Tuesdays, and half-past 2 o’clock as the hour of meeting on Wednesdays and Thursdays, in order that we may see what progress we make in the consideration of the Tariff. Subject to the goodwill of honorable senators, I should like to dispose of the schedule, before the11th March, and, to achieve that object, it may be necessary a little later to invite them to meet, at11 o’clock on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. In the meantime, however, I have contented myself with requesting them to meet in the afternoons. I am also asking them to make a little additional sacrifice in the matter of private members’ business. We can scarcely regard the private members’ business which appears upon the notice-paper, or which is likely to claim attention in the immediate future as approaching in urgency the Government business which is now before the Senate. Whilst I seek to make the terms of my motion apply to the remainder of the session, I wish to say that in the event of honorable senators acceding to my wishes I shall be prepared when the consideration of the Tariff has been completed to consider the advisability of affording honorable senators time for the transaction of private members’ business if that course is deemed desirable. Of course we shall then be guided completely by the nature of the legislation proposed and by its urgency or otherwise. But the promise that I wish to give to honorable senators is that I shall be quite prepared to .reconsider the position when the Tariff discussion has been concluded. My main object, I would again remind them, is that every possible expedition shall be exhibited in disposing of the Tariff schedule. Under these circumstances I ask honorable senators to grant the Government the necessary time for its consideration in accordance with the terms of this motion.
– I have every sympathy with the desire of the Government to dispose of the Tariff as rapidly as possibly. But it may happen that some honorable senators have not come prepared to fall in with the Government proposal immediately. That is to say they may have made arrangements, so far us next week is concerned, which it will be very inconvenient for them to set aside. Under these circumstances, I would ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to amend his motion so as to make it take effect after the 4th February. We should then meet at 3 o’clock on Wednesday of next week, and in subsequent weeks we should meet at that hour on Tuesdays. If the motion be amended to that extent it will convenience those honorable senators who have made arrangements covering next Monday or Tuesday.
– I think the Senate generally will cordially approve of the motion, but on one matter connected with it I should like an assurance from the Vice-President of the Executive Council. The special purpose for which it is brought forward is to enable the Senate to proceed as expeditiously as possible with the Tariff. It should be understood that the time which the Senate is now asked to give up will be devoted solely to Tariff matters, and that no other legislation, except perhaps a Supply Bill, will be allowed to take the time which we are now surrendering for the purpose of dealing with the Tariff only. I commend Senator McGregor’s suggestion to the Minister’s consideration. There are two or three senators who have been travelling, and who have arranged to be here on the usual understanding that the Senate would meet on Wednesday next. Whilst it may reasonably 1be said that that is a matter of personal import to them only, still, as I do not think that much delay will be caused if we do not meet on Tuesday next, I submit to the Minister that it is a matter entitled to some consideration.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.21]. - Senator McGregor and Senator Millen have anticipated me in making the suggestion that the Tuesday sitting should apply to the week after next rather than to next week. There is a great deal of travelling going on in the trains at present, and certain of us have made arrangements for train accommodation so as to be here next Wednesday, whereas we have not secured that accommodation for next Tuesday, and it is exceedingly doubtful whether we could now get it. On the other hand, the Vice-President of the Executive Council might reasonably amend’ the motion, and take another half-hour on Tuesdays. There is no occasion now for the Senate to meet at 3 o’clock on. the first day of sitting in the week for the convenience of honorable senators who come by the Sydney express, seeing that that train arrives now at ten minutes to r instead of seventeen minutes past t.-or twentyseven minutes earlier than it did when the 3 o’clock arrangement was agreed to. I think it was Senator Millen who moved that the hour of meeting be 3 o’clock on the first day of sitting in the week to. . accommodate senators coming from Queensland and New South Wales by the Sydney express : but there is now no reason for the meeting to foe delayed any later than half-past 2 on that day. I think every honorable senator will agree to the hour of sitting being made half»-past 2 instead of 3 as suggested. That would be a fair set off against the slight delay caused by our not sitting on Tuesday next.
– It has been represented to me - and I quite concede - that a number of honorable senators have made public engagements for Tuesday next, and that this motion comes upon them somewhat unexpectedly. I would suggest that the motion be carried in its present form, and I will undertake tomorrow to move that the Senate at its rising, adjourn until Wednesday next. It is desirable, for obvious reasons, that the motion should be carried as it stands. The leader of the Opposition asked that it should be distinctly understood that the carrying of this motion should be for the purposes of the Tariff only. I sought to assure the Senate that that was the object I had in view. But, while I shall endeavour, in every possible way, to adhere to that arrangement, it is possible that matters of great urgency may crop up in the meantime. I must be permitted to be the judge of that, and, subject to that stipulation, I quite agree with the view which the honorable senator has suggested.
– Will the honorable senator take the extra half-hour on Tuesdays ? He might just as well, because we have nothing else to do here.
– I am delighted to agree to the suggestion, for which I thank the honorable senator. The hour of meeting on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, will then be half-past 2.
Question amended accordingly, and resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 22nd January (vide page 7563), on motion by Senator Best -
That this Bill be now read a second lime.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in concluding his admirable address yesterday, appealed to the Senate generally to assist him in making the discussion of the Tariff as brief and expeditious as possible, having regard to the interests at stake. I venture to say that all sections of the Senate will cordially co-operate with the Minister in his laudable desire to secure the expeditious treatment of the measure, but very much will depend upon the action of the Minister himself. It is quite in accordance with Parliamentary practice for a Government, when they have the numbers right, to appeal to the House to come to a prompt division,but to manoeuvre for delay when it appears that the numbers are wrong. I am not finding fault with the practice, but if the Government intend to adopt that course, they can hardly expect a very ready response to their appeals that their opponents should refrain from following their lead. Personally, I can give the Government the assurance that I shall do all I can to assist in keeping the debate within reasonable limits. Although it is well known that senators who sit on your left, Mr. President, have an entirely free hand with regard to Tariff matters, still it is hoped amongst us that we may save a great deal of time by a little previous consultation in order to ascertain those items on which we are in agreement. If we can do that, we may be able to assist the Government in getting the measure through in a shorter time than it would otherwise be found necessary to occupy. I shall endeavour to-day to imitate, so far as I can, the admirable brevity of the Minister. If, in seeking to be brief, I merely make passing allusions to certain aspects of this very big question, I trust that honorable senators will understand that I do not for a moment pretend that I am completing any single argument, and that I am merely trying to give some slight indication of the attitude which I shall adopt when we get into Committee. One matter that calls for some little attention is a remark by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that the country had arrived at a decisive conclusion on this question. I may candidly say that I wish I could think it had. It would make one’s course very much easier than it appears to be to-day. I cannot recall any occasion on which the fiscal question may be said to have been before the country when the verdict was so inconclusive as it appeared to be in this instance. . In no two States of the Union was the appeal to the electors the same. In only one State - the State in which we are now sitting - can it be said that there was a crucial test of the fiscal question. In Queensland, and I believe in the majority of the States, the question was entirely absent. It was certainly not what may be regarded as the major issue before the electors. That being so, and there being considerable difficulty in determining what the country really did decide, I, in common with every other honorable senator, am forced to the position in which I have to ask myself what was the compact we individually made with the electors when we sought and obtained their support. I put that question to myself, and I remind honorable members that in New South Wales the party to which I belong made an appeal alike to protectionists and free-traders - we appealed to them with a pledge and a promise. We gave them a pledge that we would not at- tempt to lay hostile hands on the then existing Tariff, and a promise that if, after the inquiry then proceeding had been completed, any anomalies were shown to exist, we would remedy them. One has to ask what was intended by the promise to amend any anomalies. To my own mind, after thinking the matter over, the promise could have meant only one thing, namely, a levelling up of the duties. It certainly could not have meant a levelling down, because we had given a pledge not to attack the Tariff in a hostile spirit. Further, let me point out that this promise to amend anomalies was given on an assurance that there were industries insufficiently protected. That being so, I am forced to the conclusion that I am quite right, in assuming that when before the electors I intended by the promiseI have mentioned to level up the Tariff rather than to attempt to level it down. But having admitted that much, one has always to ask to what extent the levelling up process is to go. That seems to form the crux of the question we are now called upon to debate.
– How does the levelling up process fit in with free-trade ideas ?
– Does the honorable senator desire to invite a discussion of the question of free-trade and protection?
– I know that the question I have asked is rather awkward for Senator Millen just now.
– I do not find any awkwardness, except, perhaps, in resisting the temptation to enter upon, a general fiscal controversy. I have said that I desire to be brief, and, therefore, Ihope I shall not be thought discourteous if I refrain from entering upon a discussion of an abstract question, and proceed with the business before us. I was saying that what we have to consider is the extent to which the levelling up process is to be carried. I deny altogether that there was anything that can be construed as a mandate from the electors for prohibitive protection. I deny that there is anything to warrant our reading in the result of the election a mandate . to give additional protection to already sufficiently protected industries - that, in other words, we were to “ grease the fat sow.” The Vice-President of the Executive Council yesterday gave us what I think is a very fair and reasonable interpretation of what protection is. The honorable gentleman said that effective pro tection requires such a duty as will equalize the conditions and the cost of production outside and in Australia, with a trifle over. I venture to say that if this Tariff had been framed solely in accordance with that standard, it would have met with much less opposition.
– I went a little further. Senator MILLEN.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council, like a wise protectionist, left himself a wide opening, and went on to say that where industries were big we could go further and give them higher duties.
– I also mentioned internal competition.
– The honorable senator also said that higher duties might be given where internal competition was likely to prevent monopoly. Even if the Tariff had stopped there, I should have found it difficult to oppose it; but I think I shall show honorable senators, when we are in Committee, that both the standards set up are violated in this Tariff. Personally, in view of the circumstances at the last election and the position in which we find ourselves to-day, strong as I still am as a free-trader, I am not going to waste either my own time or the time of this Chamber in endeavouring to give effect to my free-trade views. But I think I am not only entitled, but called upon, to cure, as far as possible, anomalies which still remain in the Tariff. As the VicePresident of the Executive Council suggested, some of the more pronounced evils have been cured during the passage of the Tariff through another place, and, therefore, our task is to some extent lightened. I still say, however, that there are some anomalies to which another place did not give sufficient attention, and some which appear to have been overlooked altogether; andI shall regard it as my duty to bring these under the notice of honorable senators.I should like to indicate the particular classes of anomalies which more particularly attracted my attention ; and I place them under three heads. The first consists of those anomalies where certain industries have been singled out for peculiarly favorable treatment, out of all proportion to their needs or importance, or to the measure of protection accorded to other and similar industries. The next class of anomalies is shown in cases where the measure of protection proposed is quite out of proportion to the difference in the cost of production in Australia and outside; and the third class consists of those cases where the benefit to one industry is greatly overbalanced by the injurious effects on other and more important industries, particularly where the imposts fall with some severity on our great primary industries. These are the three classes of anomalies to which I shall ‘direct attention when we are in Committee. There is one other matter which arises in connexion with the Bill. Honorable senators know that one of the allegations of free-traders is that, under an unduly high Tariff, trusts and combinations are sooner or later likely to come into existence, with the purpose, avowed or otherwise, of exploiting the general consumer. I shall be able to show honorable senators that, as a result of the generosity which Parliament has meted out to certain industries, combinations have already taken place ; that in one or two industries complete control has been obtained - and I make no complaint on this score - of the local market, local production having met local requirements; and that, as a result, by an arrangement amongst the producers and manufacturers, prices are being kept up far beyond any necessity, while the surplus is being exported and sold elsewhere at much less than in Australia. In a. esse of that kind both free-traders and protectionists are entitled to say to people so acting, “ We have extended a very considerable measure of generous protection to you. but we never intended you to abuse it to the extent of .unfairly treating the general consumer.” In such cases I shall” invite honorable senators to reduce the duties to just the standard indicated bv the VicePresident of the Executive Council, and give those people protection equal to the difference in the cost of production elsewhere and in Australia, and it may be a shade over.
– To what items is the honorable senator ‘referring ?
– I could give several, but I think that it is, perhaps, sufficient for me to indicate the general class at present, seeing that it is my desire to be brief. I mav say, however, that one item was mentioned yesterday, namely, currants. There is not the slightest doubt that a combination of growers have fixed prices for Australia, and are selling the surplus, abroad at much less, and the price they have fixed is just the price of the imported article, plus the full measure of the duty, which is about 130 per cent, on the market value.
– Is this not a case in which we should supply every currant we eat?
– Does the VicePresident of the Executive Council mean to say that he considers it fair to allow producers or manufacturers, by means of combinations, rings, or trusts, to unduly fleece the public?
– Certainly not ; that is another matter.
– I do not desire now to mention instances, but to lay down a general proposition, because I believe we are all determined that, no matter what protection we give, it is not intended to place any industry in such a position as to be able to unfairly exploit the general public. If I fail to make my case out when we come to the details, honorable senators can, of course, vote against me ; but I lay it clown as a general proposition that where it can be shown that combinations or trusts are commencing to work in this way. it is only reasonable that we, as the representatives of the people, should stand between those people and the manufacturers or producers.
– By an amended AntiTrust Bill.
– That has been so much waste paper ever since it has been in the hands of my honorable friend and his colleagues.
– There is one other aspect of this ‘ matter about which I wish to say a few words. That is the revenue aspect. I can quite understand that to the representatives of the smaller States that aspect is a very much more important one than it is to those who, like myself, represent a State which, from various reasons, is in command of a considerable income. But whilst I say that, I believe, as I am sure every other honorable senator believes, that the mere fact that my own State is financially in a good position does not relieve me of the obligation of considering the position of the people of the other States ; and I can understand the anxiety which may have existed in the minds of the representatives of the smaller States as to what would be the revenue results from this Tariff. The Government have certainly endeavoured to make out that the revenue yielded by the Tariff is likely to be much less than anybody else -anticipates. When the Tariff was introduced the Government estimate was -£10,500,000. The House of Representatives reduced the anticipated revenue to the extent of £440,000 by transferring to the free list many lines from which revenue duties would have been obtained. So that if the Government estimate had been correct this Tariff would have meant a revenue of a shade under £11,000,000. The Vice-President of the Executive Council tells us now that he anticipates a revenue of £11,000,000, and later on something less than that.
– For the current year.
– The honorable senator anticipates more than £11,000,000 for the current year.
– If the honorable senator anticipates only £11,000,000 for the current year, he further places himself out of court as one competent to advise the Senate. It appears to me on the figures of the revenue already obtained during six months of the current financial year that it is clear that we must receive more than £c 1,000, 000 this year.
– Not at all. Quantities of goods were taken out of bond in anticipation of higher duties.
– Even if we were to accept the estimates of the Government - written down, as I believe them to have been, with the utmost severity - there is still a prospect of more revenue than we had under the old Tariff. Consequently the smaller States will be in receipt of a bigger refund from the Federal Treasury than they hitherto had.
– Queensland will ;get less.
– The reduction to which Senator St. Ledger refers arises from another cause
– But Queensland will receive more under this Tariff than she received under the old one.
– Possibly that is so.
– While I have every consideration for the smaller or less affluent States, I nevertheless wish to point out to them that under this Tariff - whether it be good, bad or indifferent in its character - they will receive a larger revenue from the Commonwealth Treasury than they received before. I mention that because some disappointment has been expressed and still exists in the smaller States at the removal of certain revenue duties by the other House. I will candidly admit that I should have preferred that some of the duties which have been removed had remained in place of some that are still on the Tariff. But those duties having been removed from the present Tariff, being unnecessary, in my opinion, for revenue purposes, it does seem to me to be undesirable to impose additional taxation upon the people of this country in order to raise surplus revenue. That that additional revenue is unnecessary may be shown from this fact: that in the last financial year the several States Treasuries between them had surpluses to the extent of something like £3,000,000. With £3,000,000. of surplus in the hands of the States Treasurers, and this Tariff raising on the lowest estimate an additional sum of from £1,000,000 to £2,000,000 more than was formerly raised, it is clear that there is no justification fo’r any additional taxation upon the people of Australia. There is ample revenue coming in under this Tariff without additional revenue duties. There is ample money for carrying on all the Governments, State and Commonwealth, and to enable them to meet all their commitments. For that reason I atn certainly not in favour - and I trust that no effort will be made, and (hat if it be made it will not be successful - of adding to the list of articles already taxable under this Tariff. The VicePresident of the Executive Council yesterday anticipated that there would be a diminution of the revenue, and he gave some most extraordinary reasons, one of which was. that this year was quite an exceptional one. I am bound to admit the force of his argument when he referred to the natural but pronounced rush which importers made to clear goods from the Customs during the few weeks prior to the introduction of the new Tariff. That was an abnormal demand. But outside that, it is impossible to show that the removal of a great deal of summer goods was abnormal. I do not know- what is the state of the case in Victoria, but certainly there is a spring and a summer in every other State in the Union, and certainly the same pressure upon importers to remove spring and summer goods as existed in 1907, because thev were required for the season’s trade, will exist every year.
– Not at all ; certainly not - not in regard to importations.
– I can quite understand that Victoria thinks she has had two summers during the last week or two, and can. dispense with one next year.
– What I say is that in regard to importations the clearances were exceptional, and that our own manufactures will grow. For instance, take attire. We hope through the operation of additional duties to make our own attire. .
– The honorable senator really ‘ does not ; because if he looks down the Tariff schedule he will see that the great bulk of goods which came .in at that time are not likely to be made here. The consumption of those goods was not unusual. Summer stocks had to be replenished. The honorable senator has. also to remember that even if, as he anticipates, a smaller volume of goods comes in next year, they will pay a higher duty than they did .last year. The result is that our revenue is not likely to diminish, to anything, like the extent projected by the VicePresident of the Executive Council and his colleagues in the Ministry.
– Much depends on the season.
– It may, as Senator St. Ledger interjects, depend to a large extent upon what the season may affect as to whether the revenue will go up or down. But apart from that, looking at the experience which we have had, we may anticipate that we are going to derive a much larger revenue than that hitherto received from the Tariff. That being so, I can see no justification for super-imposing upon the public purely revenue duties. The revenue from the Tariff will be ample both for the States and for the Commonwealth, and I can -see no justification for levying additional taxation upon the people of Australia. I pass from that point to what is always an interesting subject in connexion with a matter of this kind; that is, the subject of the preferences proposed to be granted to Great Britain. Listening to my honorable friend yesterday, when he spoke of the immense concessions proposed to be given to Great Britain as an earnest of our good feeling, I almost came to believe for the moment that the preference proposed was something real and substantial. I almost warmed to my honorable friend when thinking that he and his friends had come at last to agree to give some little consideration to this Empire trade of which we hear so much. But when I contrasted his remarks under that heading with his firm and dis tinct and strong assurances as to effectiveprotection, I had to admit at once that my logical capacity was not sufficiently developed to enable me to reconcile the twopositions. My honorable friend may beable to do so; but to my mind the wholething can be determined by a very simpleexplanation. Let me ask my honorable friend and his protectionist allies: do they intend that British goods shall come intoAustralia to the detriment of our own manufacturers and producers? There is- the whole issue in that question. If they do not intend British goods to come in, itis idle to talk of giving them a preference. If my honorable friends do intend Britishgoods to come in, it is idle to talk of what my honorable friend means by effectiveprotection.
– We may intend” them to come in, but not to the detriment of our own manufacturers.
– I turn to the Tariffitself to see what substantial concessionsare being offered. I run over a few items. I find this amongst the “concessions” which are offered as an earnest of our good feeling. As to one item: whereasthe protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended £d. per lb. against Great Britain, the Government, in their earnest desire to grant a preference, haveimposed a duty of 2d. on goods that come from that country ;’ ‘ a duty four times greater than the amount recommended by the protectionist sectionof the Tariff Commission. And they call1 this a preferential duty on British goods, because on goods coming from other countries the rate is 2jd. Der lb. In connexionwith item 119, the straight-out protectionists who composed the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, recommended a duty of 10 per cent. ; but the Government proposed a duty of 20 per cent, against Britishgoods, with, of course, a higher rate against foreign goods. On item 124, the protectionist section of the Tariff Commissionrecommended’ a duty of 5 per cent., and’ the Government proposed a duty of 20 percent, against Great Britain, calling it a preferential duty because the rate on goodscoming from foreign countries has been fixed at 25 per cent. On- item 125, a duty of 5 per cent, was recommended, and the Government proposed a duty of 15 per cent., while, on item 144, a duty of 15 per centwas recommended, and the Government -proposed a duty of 30 per cent. Theseare some of the extraordinary ways in? which the Government has shown its keen desire to encourage trade with the Mother Country. The Vice-President of the Executive Council suggested yesterday that the people of Great Britain are in raptures over this preference, that the press, the public, and the merchants of that country are entranced by it. If he really thinks that that is the position of affairs there, his sources of information, or his reading of the newspapers, have been different from mine. He gave us figures to show to what an alarming extent, from his point of view, the trade of foreign countries with Australia has increased compared with that of Great Britain; but he cannot be ignorant of the real cause of this apparent increase. The trade of foreign countries with Australia has not really expanded to the extent which he would have us believe, the fact being that foreign exports which a generation ago came to Australia via Great Britain now come direct.
– Twenty years ago, Germany had nothing to export, and little to keep at home.
– My honorable friend will probably not be so horrified at the extent of our foreign imports, when he learns the extent of our exports to foreign countries. Although he may regard it as a horrible thing for a German vessel to come here loaded with cargo, does he think it equally bad for such a vessel to take cargo from Australia? However, I do not wish now to enter upon a discussion of the benefits and disadvantages of foreign trade, although I shall be prepared to do so at the proper time. My object at present is to show that the figures which have been used to prove that the trade of foreign countries with Australia is expanding at a much more rapid rate than that of Great Britain, are misleading, because, although years ago we were buying from and selling to foreign countries, much of the trade went through British ports, whereas it is now done direct. One has only to refer to the Government Statistician to obtain confirmation of that statement, though I do not intend to weary the Senate by reading figures in support of it.
– I gave figures that came from the Government Statistician.
– The honorable senator gave figures showing that the imports from foreign countries now amount to a certain volume, and that a few years ago they were much smaller. The figures which I have obtained show that formerly much of our foreign trade was done via British ports, . whereas now it is done direct.
– There is not much in that.
– There is a great deal in it, especially in connexion with our export of wool. Not many years ago hardly any foreign wool buyers came here, the bulk of our wool being shipped to Great Britain for distribution.
– We had few foreign buyers here then, because there was hardly a foreign seller. Ships come here to bring one class of goods and take back another.
– What has happened in connexion with the wool export has happened in other industries, the real expansion of our foreign trade not having been so great as the naked figures presented by Senator Best make it appear.
– Has not the percentage of increase of foreign exports to Australia largely exceeded that of the United Kingdom during the past twenty-one years?
– The honorable senator has asserted that twenty-one years ago we did somany millions of trade with Great Britain, and so many with foreign countries, and he has compared the figures of that period with the figures for the present day ; but I contend that all the trade shown as British trade twenty-one years ago was not really British trade, much of it being foreign trade going through British ports.
– Did Germany twenty-one years ago use British ports for export to Australia?
– To a large extent. My honorable friend has only to look at the shipping figures to see that. German shipping has greatly increased within the last twenty-one years; but when Germany had not sufficient ships of her own she had to distribute through British ports. No one, whatever his fiscal faith, has any desire other than to see the trade of Australia expand. Let me give a few figures to show the new trade which has been developed during the past twenty-one years. In 1891 the tonnage of the vessels trading between Japan and Australia was 13,000 tons, while in 1903 it had increased to 310,000 tons. The trade with Java in the same period increased from 58,000 to 104,000 tons; that with the Philippines from 106,000 to 135,000 tons; that with the Pacific Islands from 430 - a mere schooner load - to 122,000 tons; that with Peru from 21,000 to 34,000 tons ; and that with Chili from 146,000 to 551,000 tons. Our trade with the countries which I have mentioned forms part of the foreign trade whose expansion Senator Best seems to deplore, and the figures which I have given enable us to discount his assertion that Great Britain is losing in the commercial race.
– I presume that the figures which the honorable senator has given cover registered tonnage?
– I cannot say, but I assume that the comparison is a fair one, the same basis being taken in each year.
– The Pacific trade is carried chiefly in Australian bottoms.
– That is not material to my argument. The figures which I have given cover the tonnage entering and clearing the ports of the Commonwealth.
– Many vessels which merely coal and water here bulk in that tonnage.
– The figures which I have given cover imports and exports. A vessel coming here to take away exports naturally brings an inward cargo. I merely wish to call attention to the development of a foreign trade which, to my mind, is full of promise, though the VicePresident of the Executive Council seems to regard it as something to be feared. Before passing from the subject let me draw attention to a very erroneous conclusion expressed by him. He affirmed that the saving to Great Britain on the figures for 1906 would be nearly three quarters of a million ; but I do not think he will say that the saving to Great Britain next year under the new Tariff will amount to so much.
– I hope that it will amount to more. I say that with the support of a better authority than either the honorable senator or myself.
– I am glad to hear it ; but in proportion as the hope is founded on good authority, the chances of effective protection disappear. If Great Britain saves three quarters of a million under a milder Tariff than this, and is to save a similar amount under heavier duties, what is to become of effective protection?
– The honorable senator forgets that Great Britain has over seven and a half millions to operate upon in the same class of goods.
– But some of the rates of duty have been increased from 5 to 20 per cent. Yet we are told that Great Britain will save a larger sum than threequarters of a million.
– The honorable senator is wrong in assuming that every item in the Tariff is necessarily protective.
– I do not assume that. Every item in the previous Tariff was not protective. I shall be pleased if the anticipation of the Vice-President of the Executive Council is borne out; but it passes my comprehension that Great Britain can save more than three-quarters of a million under a much higher Tariff than the former Tariff, and that at the same time this new Tariffwill give greater protection to the industries of this country. I shall support every preferential rate in the Tariff, though I regret that the preference which has been given is not more substantial. My position has been, happily, summed up by the Times, or another of the leading newspapers of Great Britain, indie statement that the choice is between a high Tariff with preference and a high Tariff without preference. I prefer the former, and, consequently, shall be only too glad to support preferential items. In the fugitive remarks which I have made concerning what appear to me to be the more important items of the Tariff, I have not done my subject anything like justice. I cannot share the belief of my protectionist friends that the Tariff is the best for Australian industries and interests, and therefore, I can only express the hope that, when settled, it will remain so for a number of years. If it does, trade will sooner or later adjust itself to the altered conditions. I fervently express the hope that trade, having so adjusted itself, will grow and expand in the security of fixed and known conditions.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [4.5]. - Usually, the debate on the second reading of a Bill is confined to its principles; but I cannot confine my remarks to the principles of this Bill, because I regard the measure as about the most unprincipled that has ever been laid before a Legislature. In Committee I shall move a few amendments, and shall support many more which will doubtless be moved by other honorable senators. The Bill reflects no credit on any one connected with it. It has come here, the most lamentable muddled-headed document that was ever placed on the table of any House of
Legislature in Christendom. In the schedule one can find a large number of items bearing one marginal number and also a large number of marginal numbers devoted to practically the very same article. I can show one item - and it is not a commonplace item - which is charged, say, 25 per cent, in the preference Tariff and 30 per cent, in the general Tariff, while three numbers lower. down on the same page the article is granted free admission.
– Will my honorable friend do himself the justice of reading the schedule a little more particularly?
– If my honorable friend will do himself the justice of correcting some of these absurd blunders and putting a Bill before us in a manner which is consonant with the dignity of the other Chamber and of the Ministry, that will be much more pertinent. There are some items the duties on which must inevitably be to any one outside the authoritative circle that imposed them a matter of positive conjecture. During the Christmas adjournment, I spent a good deal of time over the schedule, and I suppose, sir, that I am not a greater fool than everybody else in this Parliament.
– Did the honorable Senator hold any caucus meetings?
– If the honorable senator had been there, I am sure that we should have caucused together, and should have been entirely of the opinion which I am now expressing, because I affirm that it is impossible for anybody to have his attention drawn to the glaring blunders to which I have referred and not to entertain, even if he does not express precisely, the sentiments that I am giving utterance to. They might be expressed in more beautiful language, or with more satire. I only profess to denounce bungling muddled-headed work, which is absolutely discreditable to those who were responsible for it. There is one thing, however, which I intend to do. Originally, the Ministry professed a magnificent appreciation of British- preference. I was born in the Old Country, and to that extent I am a British Britisher; my honorable friend who is in charge of this Bill is an Australian Britisher, though I suppose I have lived in Australia as long as he has done. If .preference is a living truth, why should it be with the United Kingdom only? Why should it. not exist wherever ‘ the Union Jack flies? That is my idea of preference. Let it not be between one portion of the Empire and another, but with the whole Empire, and then it will be a living thing. At the present time, it is merely a sneaking kind of method, either to try to curry favour, or to encourage a bit of trade. I am sure that there is no member of the Government who will claim me as a personal or political enemy, even if an opponent. My honorable friends, the Ministers, profess a great regard for United Kingdom preference. But a little band of men in another place, with fugitive support here and there, dragged the Ministry along at their chariot wheels, and forced upon them a multitude of preferences of which the honorable gentlemen had never dreamed. Before this Chamber has done with the Tariff, if I understand the feelings of honorable senators on this side at all, we will give the Government another drag along, and put a.’ few more preferential spokes into the Ministerial wheel. As regards the general Tariff, I think that it wants a few amendments in the direction of abolishing the very things which it was supposed to be brought in to abolish, namely, anomalies. While it, no doubt, does propose the abolition of a number of anomalies, it is impossible for any one who is not already qualified for summer quarters in the Yarra Bend, not to be compelled to acknowledge that the Tariff as it now stands presents infinitely more anomalies than did the old one. Why, sir, it bristles with them. Ugh ! it stinks with them. It is horrible with them.
– It stinks and also bristles with them?
– It is offensive f tom every stand-point ; it is offensive to every sense of the human body. I will take one example, which I will put before the Senate in detail. * In the case of some piece goods, the duties, are charged on a certain weight per yard. Now, to impose the duties it is necessary to open every package which comes to the Commonwealth, take out the goods, cut off a square yard, and weigh it. What tommy nonsense that is !’ It is intolerable rubbish. The heavier goods, as I will be able to show when we get to the items, are shoddy goods, Bearing a high duty. But the better class of goods which” are under 5 ozs. to the yard being worsteds such, for instance, as I am wearing, come in at 15’ per cent, when foreign, and 10 per cent. when British. The poor man who buys the cheap article is burdened with a 35 per cent duty.
– The honorable senator wants to encourage the use of shoddy?
– Why does not the honorable senator wear good Marrickville tweed, which is made in his own State ?
– Marrickville tweeds are no doubt the best tweeds made in Australia. But I am not here to play the role of advocate of any manufacturer or importer. I am simply here to do my duty, so far as I can, to the larger number of the people.
– The honorable senator talks about the poor man .having to wear shoddy.
– I am not attempting to determine from what class of cloth a man shall have his garments made. But it is notorious that there are thousands of persons, particularly amongst the workers, who, not being keen judges of a texture, buy something which appeals to them as having the necessary thickness or thinness, and to the average mind thickness represents stoutness. That stuff bears a heavy duty, while the thinner and lighter and much more valuable article comes in at duties of 10 and 15 per cent, respectively. That is an anomaly which I think wants correcting.
– I think that after that appeal the Government will be moved to do something.
– They will be moved right enough. I shall move them if nobody else does. I do not suggest that my brevity should be a guide to any one else, because on a Bill of this character members of Parliament, as a rule, are in the habit of making long speeches. During my political career I have had a hand in the discussion of a good many Tariffs, and I do not know that I ever thought it necessary to put a hard bearing rein upon my tongue ; but in those cases the Bill originated in the Chamber of which I was a member. This Bill has come to us as a second chamber. I must bear my small testimony for whatever it is worth to the excellent work which a. small body of men did in connexion with the Tariff in another place. Undoubtedly they increased the merits of British preference. They cut down a large number of duties which were not only a scandal, but an outrage upon the pockets of the great majority of the people. We read of the Minister in charge of the Tariff in another, place having been taken in a cab to a factory. There he saw men engaged inmaking a pair of bellows, and forthwith hetook the express train to Melbourne and; rushed into another place where he bellowed, about a duty on bellows. He actually went in a cab- to a place, and seeing something going on there he proceeded to another place and clamoured” for a duty of 35 per cent, on thearticle. He is described as a statesman. I, without challenging his positionas a statesman, do not apply the term. “ statesmanship” to that kind of thoughtless, goodnatured enthusiasm, which, whenit sees something going on, is inspired towrong every one else in the community for the benefit df - the gentleman who is making; a pair of bellows. I do not suggest foc one instant that there should be any curtailment of the debate on what is undoubtedly a very large subject. In the few minutes I have occupied I have said, all that appears to me to be necessary to* say from my stand-point, and I hope toenjoy myself thoroughly in Committee:. The question of free-trade or protection and of what happened at the last elections does not happen to affect me because & was not a candidate then.
– The honorable senator was announced. as a candidate at that meeting in. Sydney.
– The honorable senator is for once discounting the reputation that he possesses for a splendid? intelligence.
– It was so stated in the columns of the daily press.
– The honorable gentleman is now referring to something which I believe has relation to thepantomime of 1906. I do not know that the dignity of the proceedings of the Senateis likely to be enhanced by pantomimic references. However, I hope that when weresume next week we shall be somewhere near the threshold of the schedule, and that we shall then find the Government prepared” to deal with the anomalies and the excrescences that undoubtedly exist, and also togrant a very much larger measure of theadmirable principle of British preferencethan has already been extracted from them bv the incessant activity of a little knot of: enthusiastic politicians in another place.
– I have very much pleasure in congratulating the Vice-President of the Executive Council on the able and admirably explicit manner in which he placed this Bill before the Senate. I think I might also fairly congratulate the leader of the Opposition oh the conciseness with which, having regard to the importance of the debate, he has placed his views before the Chamber. He gave expression to his views in a manner that must do him credit, and exhibited a temperate reasonableness which, I am sure, will commend itself to freetnders and protectionists alike. I do not think that, save in so far as our fiscal policy is affected, the party element enters “into a discussion of this character. We find among the members of the Labour Party a very great diversity of opinion, whilst the position is the same so far as the Opposition is concerned. The leader of the Opposition took up a very wise attitude when he said that it would be his intention, having regard to the verdict of the people of Australia, not to level down, but to level up, the Tariff; it remains for the future to reveal .what form that .levelling-up process will take. I was rather amused to find our worthy friend Senator Neild so eager to jump into the breach; I hope that he will display the same eagerness should the enemies of Australia ever make their appearance on our coast - an event which, I trust, will never happen. If the honorable senator indulged in the same gesticulations and exhibited the same degree of stentorian lung power that he has shown to-day, no doubt he would prove very efficient in the drilling of the Commonwealth troops. Rightly or wrongly, I understood that some little consideration would be given to leaders of the different parties in the Senate. I had no intention at any time to jump the claim of Senator Millen as leader of the Opposition, and when Senator Neild rose I asked myself what party he was leading, and with whom he went into caucus to formulate the 140,000 amendments which he is about to move.
– A party of one.
– He never was a party of more. Apart from jesting, I nm pleased to think that almost every honorable senator recognises both the seriousness and the importance of the position occupied at the present time by the Senate. “We have it in our power, so far as the Tariff is concerned, to set the public mind at rest in the very near future, and I am glad to observe indications that it is the intention of honorable senators to do so. I intend that my remarks shall be as brief as were those of the Vice-President of the Executive Council or the leader of the Op>position, but wish to explain why I have thought it necessary at this stage to address the Senate. I was a member of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission, from which very valuable recommendations came, and am sure that any one who gives even a moment’s consideration to the recommendations of either the protectionist or the free-trade section of that body must be forced to the conclusion that the members of it endeavoured to do their level best to submit propositions which, from their point of view, would be in the best interests of the Commonwealth. I am pleased that the Government were guided to a very considerable extent by the recommendations of the Commission. Although, for one reason or another, some may question the assertion that they were, I challenge any honorable senator to point to a Commission whose recommendations have received greater consideration at the hands of the Government of the day or more consideration from the House of Representatives itself. Holding these views, I may tell the Senate that our proposals were formulated after we had taken evidence all over Australia. Many have referred in terms of ridicule to the cry of “ Strangled industries,” which has been raised, but I do not’ hesitate to say ‘ that the demeanour and appearance of many of those who gave evidence before the Commission fully bore out the contention that there were such industries in the Commonwealth. I do not intend to enumerate Them, but I can assure honorable senators that as a1 member of the Commission I was often moved by appeals made by men who had invested their all in various industries, and who emphatically declared that unless more protection were granted to them they would be ruined, and their industries in Australia crushed out of existence. In many cases those men spoke the truth. No doubt there was a good deal of exaggeration on the part of some witnesses, but I think that the members of the Tariff Commission were sufficiently judicial to be able to sift the wheat from the chaff, and to take all the evidence for what it was really worth. Something has been said in regard to effective protection. Can any one define the term?
– Hear, hear !
– I mean any one save Colonel Neild who, I believe, could give a definition of almost anything, from a “ nocent water -spout to a kookaburra. Let me place before honorable senators what from my point of view “ effective protection ‘ ‘ really means. Both the VicePresident of the Executive Council and the leader of the Opposition made a fair statement of the case when they said that effective protection meant that which would equalize Australian conditions with those obtaining in other countries, and leave us with a little to spare. It. has been amply proved that for the purpose of swamping industries, sought to be established in new countries, unfair trade has been resorted to, and it is to combat such efforts that, I think, we should have not merely a “ little to spare,” but a substantial degree of protection in excess of what is really necessary to equalize Australian conditions with those obtaining elsewhere. But how is this protection to be applied to different commodities? One man might correctly say that in certain circumstances a protective duty of 10 per cent, would be ample, whilst I might contend, with equal justification, that, given a different set of circumstances, a duty of 100 per cent, would be scarcely sufficient. In dealing with a question of this kind, we must take all the circumstances into consideration. I wish to give a few illustrations of the way in which I think the protection of certain industries should be regulated. Without going into details, let me say that the measure of protection granted to an industry in which the labour involved is a very small item as compared with the value of the material employed should be very different from that granted to an industry in which the labour cost represents by far the greater proportion of the value of the manufactured article. We have to compare, not only the cost of the labour with the cost of the raw material, but the conditions prevailing here with those of other countries. We have likewise to consider the value of the material employed in the different industries. For instance, in the case of an industry in which the labour employed represented 90 per cent, of the cost of the manufactured article, .we should have to impose a measure of protection altogether out of proportion to that granted an industry where the labour cost represented only 10 per cent., and the value of the material 90 per cent, of the value of the completed article. The difference in the cost of production in Australia as compared with other parts of the world depends very greatly upon, thecost of labour and the conditions under which it is applied to an industry. I believe that there is scarcely an honorable senator present who realizes these things,, and desires to establish industries in Australia under” conditions favorable to the Australian people, who would not be prepared to give effective protection, though it should involve very high duties in the case of one industry, and very low duties in the case of another. From this point of view, many of the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission were formulated. There is another consideration which influenced members, probably of both sections of the Commission. Certain industries may be said to be really native to Australia, since we have all the raw material required to carry them on, and every facility for production. We. possess all the requirements calculated to establish these as successful and flourishing industries in this country, and if weshould not have the labour required to carry them on at the present time, -it is easily procurable from other parts of the world. Some persons may say that in view of such favorable conditions theamount of protection required in the case of those industries should be small. But I and others of the same way of thinking, believe that these are the very industries which ought to be encouraged in Australia, since we can assume that there will be sufficient competition in them to regulate local prices. It would do no injury to workers or consumers in this community if the duties on articles the product of such industries were almost prohibitive. Then there are other industries of a different character, a great deal of the material for which must be brought from other countries, and in connexion with which highly-skilled labour and technical knowledge are required. In the case of such industries, in connexion with the raw materials required to carry them on-, every consideration should be extended in a Tariff, although the amount of protection might not be so high as that deemed necessary or advisable in connexion with industries specially adapted to Australia. Many of these considerations were taken into account by the members of the Tariff Commission, and I know that many of them were seriously taken into account in another place. I hope and believe that when we come to deal with the details of the Tariff, members of the Senate will be guided by sound common-sense, and that when the Bill leaves this Chamber, it will be no less efficient an instrument for the protection and encouragement of industries in Australia than it is as it appears before us. I also hope and believe with Senator Millen that when this Tariff is finally passed it will settle the fiscal question in Australia for many years to come. I think I should follow the example of the VicePresident of the Executive Council and the leader of the Opposition by confining my remarks to one or two heads, and refraining as much as possible from the discussion of details. For this reason I pass on to the preferential aspect of the Tariff, about which we have already heard a good deal. I am not a very serious preferentialist, though I should be if Great Britain had shown any inclination to reciprocate. She has not shown any great inclination in that direction, and I shall not say whether that is due. to prejudice, want of knowledge, self-interest, or anything else. It is sufficient to say that Great Britain has not held out the olive branch to Australia in this matter, has not been generous, and has not extended the right hand of fellowship to us in an industrial or commercial sense. But that is no reason why we should not, if we possibly can, set Great Britain a good example in this connexion, and. despite what Senator Millen has said, I believe that in the Tariff we are about to deal with we shall really be able to do that. I read in the Argus this morning that the preference we propose to grant to Great Britain is like putting two bricks on a wall and taking one off again. But if five bricks are put on somebody else’s wall, and only two are put on yours, and one is taken off again, will it not be more easy for you to get over the wall? That is how I regard the preferential features of the present Tariff.
– It depends on whether you can jump the wall or not.
– That is a point with which I wish to deal. No Tariff short of actual prohibition will prevent the goods of other countries being imported to Australia or to any other protective country. We know that from the experience of the United States of America. Although they have there the highest protective Tariff in the world, a very large quantity of goods of various kinds are imported from the Continent of Europe and from Great Britain. Why is this? I shall endeavour to explain. We could not to-day, by putting a duty of 100 or 500 per cent, on any particular article which is not extensively manufactured in Australia, prevent its importation. Unless the duty were so high as to make the price of the article in Australia prohibitive, or unless we passed an Act absolutely prohibiting its importation, the article would still be imported. We could not prevent its importation so long as there was a necessity for it because there would be no means of immediately establishing the industry for its manufacture in Australia. We cannot expect to have the plant and trained operatives required to start an industry as. soon as a Tariff is imposed, and I point out to Senator Millen that it will be many years before a great proportion of the goods produced even .by highly protected industries will be manufactured here. They must be imported, and if we give a small preference or, as I believe we propose to give in some instances, a substantial preference to Great Britain under this Tariff, it must be of benefit to that country for many years to come. There are some things in connexion with which we propose to give a preference, if not for all time, at least for the lifetime of any member of this Senate, Take the cotton goods industry for instance. As honorable senators are aware, the recommendation of the Tariff Commission was that the duty on all cotton and linen piece goods should be 5 per cent.
– And they should have adhered to that.
– We were prepared to do so, and are prepared to do so still ; but what does the preference mean in this case? It means that all cotton and linen piece goods imported from other parts of the world will bear a duty of 5 per cent., and in some instances a higher duty, whilst similar goods imported from Great Britain will be free or will be admitted at a very low average rate of duty. On these items alone, we propose to give a very substantial advantage to Great Britain. There is another item in connexion with which Great Britain might have reaped a much greater advantage than she is likely to do from a preferential Tariff with Australia. Any one who has studied the history of the glass industry in Great Britain will- know that it has been gradually but surely destroyed by the operations of manufacturers in continental countries. The only way in which it can be re-established is by protection in Great Britain itself, or by a1 substantial preference given to British manufactures in the industry by the people of Canada, Australia], South Africa, and other British Possessions. I could indicate many industries which are not likely to be established in Australia for many years to come in connexion with which Great Britain will receive considerable advantage from the preference granted in the Tariff now proposed. In common with the leader of the Opposition, 1 wish to refer to the revenue aspect of the question. I agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council that while a great amount of revenue will continue to be received under this Tariff even where it is sufficiently protective, for the reason I have already stated, that it takes years to establish some industries, yet the revenue derived from protective duties must gradually decrease. Although the increase of population may to some extent counterbalance that tendency, the decrease of revenue under those duties is even more certain than the increase of population. Though a great deal has been made out of the revenueproducing qualities of the new as compared with the old Tariff, very few people have taken into consideration the prosperity that has existed in some of the States during the last two or three years. In two of the States there has been a partial failure of crops this year, and that may have some effect in reducing the next half-year’s revenue from Customs in Australia. In considering the Tariff from a revenue-producing point of view, we must take all these features into consideration. I for one have no desire that any revenue should be derived under a Tariff except from duties on spirits and narcotics, and goods of that description. I am not of the fiscal faith of those who believe that every man, woman, and child in the country should be burdened by taxation for the benefit of only a few, who do not pay their fair share of taxation. I am not, however, going to argue that phase of the question at the present time. I wish to say a word or two in conclusion about the new protection which has been referred to by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Every member of the party to which I belong, and I believe almost every member of every other party, is prepared to give the employes in every protected industry some interest in and benefit from the protection afforded to that industry under the Tariff. I have heard even free-traders say that they would not entertain so much objection to protective duties if they could rest assured that the workers would secure a fair measure of the protection granted to manufacturers. I have heard anti-Socialists express themselves in the same manner, and I believe that they will be prepared to assist the Government and the Labour Party, or indeed any other party, in insuring that the protection accorded to manufacturers and producers shall, to some extent, be distributed amongst the workers without -seriously injuring the consumer. Some of our friends may urge that we have no right to grant protection to any industry until that result has been assured. But I would point out that we cannot confer any benefit upon the workers until we have extended protection to the manufacturers, because until industries have been established there will be no workmen to protect. I believe that the duties which have been imposed under this Tariff would have been much more in favour of the manufacturers had it not been for the action of some pf their own number. I know manufacturers who appeared’ before the Tariff Commission and who, when asked their opinion of Australian workmen, stated upon oath that the latter compared favorably with the workmen of any other part of the world. Yet, immediately they had secured the advantage of protective duties, these very manufacturers induced their employes, by various methods, to sign themselves as “slow” and “under average capacity.” Tactics of that description have so disgusted some protectionists and. many freetraders that they are prepared - if not to remit duties altogether - at least to seriously reduce them. It would be a very serious matter if undue consideration were given to that aspect of the question, because if we do not first grant protection to the manufacturers with a view subsequently to insuring- that their employés shall participate in that protection, the result will be that neither the manufacturers nor the workers will be benefited. I make these remarks for the purpose of warning those who may be almost induced to abandon their protectionist principles-
– Abandon their hustings pledges?
– I do not think that any honorable senator will abandon his hustings pledges, but I know of industries which are highly protected, and in which the manufacturers are not prepared to share that protection with their employes. lt will be the duty of this Parliament - if -substantial protection, be ac-. corded to Australian industries - to see that legislation is enacted which will compel these employers to extend some little consideration to their operatives. I do not wish to occupy the time of the Senate any further. Of course, a great deal more might be said upon this Bill. I hope that we shall very soon get into Committee upon it, and that the details of the measure will be fairly and deliberately considered in the very best interests of all sections of the community. I am glad that honorable senators upon both sides of the chamber have declared that they are prepared to assist the Government in completing the consideration of the Tariff by the nth March, upon which date the. House of Representatives will re-assemble.
.- I have listened with very great pleasure indeed to the informative speeches delivered by the leaders of the three parties in this Chamber. Those deliverances were full of good matter, moderate in tone, and certainly contained sound common sense. They will reflect very great credit upon this Chamber, and I am sure that the country will think well of them. The speech of the Vice-President of the Executive Council was both politic and appropriate. He did the very best that it was possible to do under the circumstances, and he did it in a very short time. Of course, it is a great relief to all honorable senators to know that the question of free-trade versus protection has been virtually settled, at any rate for the present. Whether or not it will be revived will depend to a very large extent upon what action this Chamber may take. If a fairly protective Tariff be passed, I think that the fiscal question will lie dormant for a good many years, and that we shall be able to apply our energy and time to other matters which urgently require our attention if this great continent is to be developed. I must differ from the leader of the Opposition when he says that the fiscal question was not settled at’ the last election. Certainly more prominence was given to it in Victoria than was given to it in some of the other States, but it must be admitted that the Government placed the question in the very, forefront of its manifesto. However, it is idle to argue whether or not Australia has declared itself in favour of protection. We have only to look at one fact which absolutely answers that question, and which places it beyond the region of- dispute. I refer to the character of the representatives whom the electors have, returned to this Parliament. That is the only way in which we can gauge their opinion upon any particular subject. We can only ask ourselves what sort of men have they returned to represent their views upon any particular question. Now, it is undeniable that in both branches of the Legislature there is a majority of protectionists who are pledged to support a fair and reasonable Tariff. Of course, the Tariff in its present form is much more reasonable than it was in the form in which it was originally introduced. The VicePresident of the Executive Council took unto the Government considerable credit, because the Tariff a’s ‘it is now presented is a fair and reasonable one. Had higher duties been imposed in respect of the various items no doubt he would have claimed credit for the Government, because, the Tariff was of a thoroughly protective character. However, the schedule as it has reached this~ Chamber is not in the form in which it was introduced to the House of Representatives. It is very different In many respects, and I think that much of the credit for the change - if any credit at all is to be distributed - is probably due to the Opposition corner in another place. Though the Chairman of the Tariff Commission was absent, owing “to illness, during a considerable portion of the period that the schedule was under consideration in the House of Representatives, there is no doubt that the work of the Commission was well set out - as has been remarked by Senator McGregor to-day - and that it practically dominated the situation. Where honorable members were in doubt as to what was a fair thing to do, they almost invariably turned to the reports of the Tariff Commission, and, as a general rule, accepted its recommendations. Of course, we have been told that the Tariff was “ bullocked “ through the other House. No doubt there was a certain amount of “ bullocking “ done. Probably it had to be done. A Tariff is a difficult measure to get through, and so many conflicting interests are involved that it is impossible for the Minister in charge of it to be uniformly “nice.” A Tariff is a scientific, economic instrument which requires to be very carefully framed. It deals with very great interests, involving the future prosperity of the country, and probably in the rough and tumble of debate in the House of Representatives a considerable number of anomalies has crept into it. Some of these have been pointed out by Senator Millen and by other honorable senators, and I think it is the duty of this Chamber, as a Chamber of review, to endeavour to correct those anomalies. The Minister who had .charge of the Tariff in the House ot Representatives at first endeavoured to secure the imposition of the highest duties possible, but, in the end, he was quite prepared to accept as high duties as he could get. Of course, the members of the other Chamber had not the benefit of the clear and definite statements concerning the various items in the schedule which were placed before them by Sir George Turner and the Right Honorable C”. C. Kingston when the Tariff of 1902 was under consideration. No two finer men have ever occupied seats in the Commonwealth Legislature, and they placed before honorable members the various details connected with the different items with amazing accuracy and force. Personally, I am opposed to any large readjustment of the Tariff in the form in which it has been presented to us. The country wants this matter settled, and I think that the Senate has now the opportunity to take up a dignified, fair, and impartial position. I am glad that the leaders of the three parties in this Chamber have recognised that fact. The speech of Senator Millen, who is a freetrader, reflects the greatest possible credit upon him.
– Not as a freetrader.
– It reflects the greatest credit upon him as a politician and as an Australian, and I do not think it is fair for any one to carp at the attitude which he has taken up merely because he is a free-trader. Of course, freetraders all round now recognise the position that Australia has assumed upon this question. They have to recognise the teachings of history in this connexion - not only the history of the past, but of the present. They see that there is only one country in the world that is now practically adhering to free-trade, and they recognise that that country is in the throes of fiscal regeneration. That fact is evidenced in bye-elections and in the statements of leading politicians, and I do not think it will be very long before we shall- find a great fiscal change in the Old Land. Of course, I admire the free-trader who will not change his views - the man who stands by his opinions. But such free-traders are very few in number to-day. They are something like the young lady who first loathed, then suffered, and then embraced. There is hardly a free-trader in the other Chamber who did not “slip “ upon one or two items in which his constituents were interested.
– We can match that by the number of protectionists who voted for low duties upon commodities which their constituents had to buy.
– The question which we have to consider is not that of freetrade versus protection, but of what duties we shall impose. I quite agree with the dictum laid down by the Vice-President of the Executive Council that we cannot fix any arbitrary rate of duty which must not be exceeded. We must take each item separately, consider it as it stands from the point of view of the raw material, and of the facilities afforded for its local manufacture, and in the light of these facts we must impose such duties as seem to be necessary for the prosperity of our various industries. In some cases 10 per cent, mav be a sufficient protection, whilst in others 40 per cent, or 50 per cent, may not be enough. There is just one fact that 1 would like to point out in connexion with high duties. Our free-trade friends profess abhorrence of a duty of 50 per cent, or 60 per cent., or -more, because it is a high one. They ask, “ Cannot we reduce these high duties?” What we have to consider is not the amount of any duty, but the effect that its operation . will have. That was very clearly pointed out bv Senator McGregor this afternoon. It is a well-known fact that in the old Victorian Tariff, which was a fairly scientific Tariff - I suppose the most scientific ever introduced in Australia - the articles of ordinary use on which the highest duties were placed became the cheapest in the market before very long. I refer to woollens, boots and shoes, and hats. Very heavy duties were put on those articles, which, for ordinary wear - I do not mean the high-class goods that rich people want - are now practically as cheap as anywhere in the world. However, it is not enough to put on . a duty. . We must see that the general conditions surrounding this attempt to get industries established are such as will entice of induce manufac- turers to embark in them. It is. of no use to put on duties unless we cam get capital to invest. A duty is of no use if no one is making the article. It is only penalizing the consumer who has to use the article. From that point of view, Division VIa. is extremely useful, and is capable of expansion with very good results. In the case of articles included in that division there is a doubt as to whether any one will advance the capital and enter into the enterprise of making them here. The Government meet the difficulty by saying, “ We will induce you to enter into this industry by giving you a bounty which will safeguard you from loss in the earlier . stages of the enterprise, and then, when you have established it, we will give you :a duty which will protect you against outside competition.” So the consumer does not suffer, because the manufacturer is helped by the bounty, and he, in his turn, -does not suffer, because when the industry is established he is able to meet’ outside competition.
– The people are’ taxed to pay the bounty.
– But surely it is worth the small taxation that will come upon the people at large to have a great industry,’ such as the iron industry, the benefits of which are absolutely illimitable, established in Australia? While generally supporting the Tariff, I do not bind myself to support all the items. A protectionist Tariff is spoken of and looked upon by a great many people as a taxing machine. That is a very faulty view to take of it. No doubt, to a certain extent, it is a taxing machine. How far it is such is very difficult to ascertain. No one. can say with any certainty that the duties levied under a protective Tariff are paid entirely by the people of the country into which the goods come. A much larger proportion than many would imagine is paid by the foreigner. To that extent the burden of taxation on the people is lightened, and they have the money to use in the development <of their own country. In view of the cry in England t6-day for social reform, the demand for the alleviation of suffering and the raising up of those who are in what we call the lowest strata of society to better social and economic conditions, I think the policy that will succeed there will be the taxation of- imports, and the application of the money towards the betterment of the people. I am glad the Minister has recognised the work of the Tariff Commission. In the early stages of the debate in another place, that work was not recognised, and in the formulation of the Tariff in the first instance, the Commission’s recommendations were, to a large extent, ignored. But its work is generously and fairly recognised now. The Tariff we have before u.s is, I think, ample proof of that. I agree with the dictum of the Minister that the first consideration should be to secure our existing industries, and the next to call new industries into being. The averages of Tariffs given are very apt to be misleading. We are told that the averages of this Tariff are 12^, io§, and 29 j, but we do not know how, for the purposes of comparison with other Tariffs, the calculations have been made.
– The honorable senator may rely on the averages I gave. They are not misleading. I have made full inquiry.
– I think, with the leader of the Opposition, that the revenue has been understated. The Minister takes too modest a view of what he will get both this year and in the years to come. Under trie Victorian Tariff, although two-thirds of our imports came in absolutely free, we yet raised £3,500,000 from duties on an import of some £9,000,000 or £10,000,000. That shows that under a highly protective Tariff–
– Three and a half millions ?
– From £3,000,000 to £3.500,000. on everything dutiable, including spirits and narcotics. I am speaking from memory. I think we shall find that under this Tariff we shall get a very large revenue indeed - much larger than the Minister anticipates and because of one fact that stands out. In the older countries of the world, where industries are thoroughly well established on a large scale, they have to be kept going. The consequence is that at the close of every season they find themselves with a large amount of manufactured goods, that they cannot dispose of in the ordinary channels of their trade in their own countries. They cannot afford to knock their hands off, but must ‘ keep their establishments going. Otherwise their hands would be scattered, and when they wanted them again they would not . get them. So they keep their mills working, and at the end of the year they have a large amount of stuff which they must get rid of in some way. Hence we have what is called dumping. That will still go on, and, as the leader of the Labour Party has told us, no matter how high the duties we impose, a very large quantity of goods will come into this country, and we shall derive’ revenue from them. The leader of the Opposition said, “ If that is the case, you will not get effective protection.” He applied that more with regard to the preference argument, but it comes in here. Of course, there is a large amount of stuff coming in here that we are not making, and that we will not make for a considerable time. But” I am sure it will be agreed that a large amount of goods will come to us, even though the duties are high. I believe that the estimate of a normal revenue, when things have settled down, pf ^10,250,000 will be very much less than that actually realized.
– We shall want it all.
– That is quite true. While the revenue will suffer to a certain extent by some articles not being imported in consequence of our making them here, at the same time as our population grows our demands will grow also, and that will make up any loss. I accept the preference proposals of the Government with great heartiness as an indication of the national feeling of this country, and as a token of its loyalty to the Old Land from which many of us have come, and to which we all look with loyalty and affection. I take them as a token of a desire on the part of this country for closer ties with the Old Land, and as a recognition qf the goodness that has always been shown to us by that Old Land and its rulers since we have had a Government of our own. They have left us free and untrammelled. They have left us free from the necessity for taxation for the maintenance of large naval and military forces by protecting us with their ships and men, while we have paid comparatively little for that privilege. I do not think that the preferences disclosed in the Tariff now before us are thoroughly understood in the Old Country yet. When they are thoroughly understood they will have the very best effect. Even as a commercial concession they are not to be despised. But they will be valued not so much because of their commercial worth to the Old Land as because of the spirit that prompts this country to make them, after the Prime Minister has been in the Old Land, has offered preference, and it has been rejected there.
– Preference, plusreciprocity, is what he went Home toobtain.
– To a certain extent, he went Home for that, but although hefailed to get it, the preference which weoffer will be accepted in the best possiblespirit when it is seen that we have riser* above merely sordid and selfish considerations in this great question, and have decided to give it without seeking for any special concession in return. I would say with all due deference, and, I hope, with* becoming modesty, to my fellow senators : - “ Do not spoil this preference by carping at it. Do not put into the mouths of the enemies of preference and those whodo not desire to see closer commercial ties between us and the Old Land, argumentsas coming from a Chamber such as this, by carping at and berating the Government for the preference that is now offered.” In view of the figures read’ out by the Minister yesterday, amounting as they did to a very largepercentage on the duties in many cases, I think that very effective preferences, evenin the commercial sense, are being offered, and that they will be very well received inthe Old Land when they are properly understood. Of course, protection is simply a fora* of preference. It is, first of all, preferenceto ourselves. The next preference should be to the Old Land from which we comeand by which we are ruled. The next should be to the sister dependencies, and’ then, if there is- any possibility of preference after that without hurting ourselves, it should be .given to various peoples, such as; those of the United ‘States, who speak our language, who are of our own blood, and’ who, perhaps before many years are over, will be found side by side with us fightingagainst some new combination that maypossibly arise. If we were English politicians, guiding the destinies of GreatBritain, we should probably look at thematter differently from the way we look at it here. There is no doubt that, aftersixtyseven years of a policy of free- trade,, it is a very difficult and hazardous matter for the rulers of a country like England, with its immense carrying business and. itsenormous ramifications of trade with other countries, to change the policy without having very good warrant for doing so. I do* not wonder at the hesitation and backwardness displayed, but I believe that the feel- ing for preference- the desire for a closer
Commercial intercourse with her dependencies - is growing in the Old Country. I paid a good deal of attention to this question a couple of years ago, when I was in England; and after discussing it with all sorts of people, I came to the conclusion that if we could only assure the people of Great Britain that there would be no increase in the price of food, preference would be adopted in six months. It is only the fear of an increase in the price of the necessaries of life to those who are struggling and barely earning an existence now, that is delaying the realization of preference.
– Mr. Chamberlain ‘.s trying to make that clear.
– That is so; and a great political party is taking the question up, and in view of the present state of public opinion it is probable that at the next election there will be a great step in the direction of preference. The people of the Old Land are learning that the volume of trade, although it may be great, does not always mean prosperity to the nation as a whole; they are learning that while the increase in trade is enormous, it does not always mean the welfare of all the people. We are doing our part today, and may leave the rest to the people of the Old Land. As I said before, I believe that the moral effect of what we do will.be greater than the commercial effect, and that our desires may before long be met. It has been fairly said that the preference proposed to-day is due as much to the members of another place as to the Government. The people, as represented by their members in the other Chamber, were sounder and “truer on the question of preference than were the members of the Government themselves. I now desire to refer to the proposed new protection, which I regard as a serious question, requiring “very careful consideration indeed. This is the first time in history, so fair as I am aware, that the expedient of raising wages “by the exercise of a taxing power has been attempted. I do not condemn anything because it is new, but, it being new, and hitherto untried, we must be very cautious as to how we set about the business. I have great sympathy with the object of the new protection, but, at the same time, I have very great misgivings. My heart goes with the proposals, but my head goes against them, because I cannot see how the proposal is to work out to the benefit of the very class whom it is supposed to help. There are a great many philanthropic ideas about at the present time, which we cannot very well oppose, seeing that the underlying intentions are so good. At the same time common sense does not lead me to accept the new protection. We do not yet know whether the proposals may not prove a failure, or affect harmfully those who are intended to be benefited. I do not intend to touch on the constitutional aspect of the question, because that has to be settled elsewhere. But I wish to consider the matter fairly and squarely on, its merits; and I only say that it seems to me almost incredible that we can be allowed to do something in an indirect way which the Constitution does not enable us to do in a direct way. Every man, who is a man at jil, will support fair wages to all classes; but I question whether it is wise to mix up a Tariff with such proposals. As has been truly said by the leader of the Labour Party, we must first .provide work - we must first make labour in demand. Many people are much more concerned as to the conditions under which men shall work ‘ than they are concerned about providing work; and it seems to me that to those people might be given the advice of Mrs. Glass on making hare soup - “ First catch your hare.” Our first object should be to establish manufactures, and afterwards settle the question of remuneration. Many of the fine proposals before us to-day re- . mind us of the French physician who was always talking about the wonderful operations he had performed, and who, when he was asked about the patients, replied - “ Oh, the patients died, but the operations were magnificent. “ ‘ We do not desire “ magnificent “ proposals, unless they will really do good. We do not desire to have brought into operation proposals which, however philanthropic and commendable to our hearts, will end in the nonestablishment of factories and the unemployment of people. We are all glad, I am sure, to observe the growing feeling that fairer conditions of labour should prevail. “Sweater” is a term of reproach than which none can be more ignoble or obnoxious ; and there is a general feeling that the workman should have something to say in regard to a fair share of the profits of his labour. Nevertheless, I view the new protection proposals with misgivings, because it seems to me that, even with the duties we impose, our manufacturers will have, in some cases, to encounter keen competition from, outside Australia.
– Then the Tariff is not high enough ?
– We will leave that question on one side for a moment. Exporters in other countries will not give up their market in Australia without a severe struggle. If we were providing in our proposals for a certain rate of wages to be paid, investors or intending manufacturers would know exactly what they had to face, but the uncertainty in this respect makes them hesitate to put their capital into industries here. How many men are investing money in manufacturing industries to-day ? We have, unfortunately, a Government not at all concerned in such industries ; I do not suppose that one member of the Government has a sovereign invested in manufactures. In fact, when one member of the Government a little while ago was taxed with being interested in an industry he threatened to take legal action for defamation, instead of being proud, as he would have been, did he believe in protective principles. I look on the new protection proposals with misgivings, because, if I remember rightly, they were first introduced, and have been largely supported, by enemies of protection. I have heard it said many a time that freetraders support those proposals in the hope and with the intention that the new protection will kill the old. We are cautious when the Greeks offer gifts ; and I receive with suspicion the protestations of freetraders, who regard a free-trade policy as the best, and hope that the new protection will form a short cut to its realization. We are told that if there is no new protection there shall be no duties. The impolicy and unfairness of such an attitude has been shown by the leader of the Labour Party to-day, and I do not need to add to his words. Of course, this question has been played with for the last twelve months, and has been used very cleverly by the Government. The law was allowed to remain a dead letter for months until the Government were stirred up on the point. Then what did the Government do? They allowed the trade unions to fight the battle - to impoverish themselves in an endeavour to show the validity of the law the Government themselves had introduced. I do not agree with outsiders, who know very little of an industry, fixing the rates of wages. In my opinion, the result of the new protection will be that only the best workers, and as few as possible, will be employed.
– That has been said about every industrial reform.
– It has been said sometimes with truth, and may be true in the present instance. We know that since the judgment of the High Court in regard to the agricultural implement makers, from half to two-thirds of the men previously employed have been walking about idle.
– And we know that there has been an absolute failure of the wheat crop over considerable areas.
– The manufacturers were making harvesters in anticipation of something happening.
– That may be, but the men were not discharged until after the decision of the High Court. I am not saying anything against the principle, but only that my common sense does not enable me to see that the proposals are wise or proper at the present time.
– The discharge of the men was a very remarkable coincidence, anyhow.
– The dismissals were designed in order to bring pressure on Parliament.
– The Government have distributed to the members of the Commonwealth Parliament a memorandum on this question, and I may say that I have never read a more specious specimen of hyperbole. There are a lot of highsounding phrases in it, calculated to influence those who do not look far ahead. The proposals impose on the manufacturers, bookkeeping and other conditions which will leave them precious little time to carry on their legitimate business. Then a tribunal or board is proposed to take the whole of this legislation under its charge To me it seems ridiculous to place the regulation of the whole of the complex industrial trade of Australia under the control of any board.
– It is no worse than handing the control of schools to a board.
– It is a very different matter. For such a board three or four angels and not men would be required ; they would have to be omniscient, omnipotent, ubiquitous, and immaculate. Another feature of this precious memorandum is that, while the manufacturers are coddled, and; the workers are supposed to be protected, very little consideration is given to the con sumers. The latter are dismissed in very few sentences, and yet they will have to pay the whole of the cost.
– In respect of the consumers, does the honorable senator mean that section of the community who never work at all ?
– No, sir; but the men who will be benefited, if there is any benefit to be derived from this legislation at all, will be a very small portion of the workers of this country. Apart from them, however, there are the consumers to be considered. We have only 228,713 ‘ persons employed in manufactories in this country. Of that number, probably one-half will not be affected by this Tariff and the policy of new protection. So that it will be seen that the proportion of those who will be benefited by these new protection proposals is an infinitesimal part of the whole of the workers of this country, who will have to pay for it.
– No matter how small the number may be, that is no argument for not doing justice.
– The whole of this new protection scheme is, in my opinion, hazy, injurious, delusive, and unworkable.
– Then we cannot hope for any support from the honorable senator for the benefit of the workers.
– The honorable senator has no right to say that. If I can be convinced that this scheme is workable, I shall be delighted. But it seems to me that the proposals, if carried but, will demoralize industrial conditions in Australia, and will give us a little labour aristocracy, consisting, as I have said, of a very few people. I believe that those engaged in an industry - the employers and the employes - should settle questions’ affecting wages and conditions amongst themselves.
– The thickest skin holds longest out; it is a good old argument.
– I do not think thai the honorable senator’s remark applies. I have given a considerable amount of attention to systems of collective bargaining between employers and employes. I have seen such systems in operation in America, and constantly receive papers connected with them from that country, where they have been a wonderful success. But when we bring the people connected with an industry before a High Court Judge, who mav have his own predilections, and who, perhaps, does not understand the industrial conditions, we are likely to produce a. totally unworkable result. I believe that provisions similar to our Wages Board system in Victoria are the proper ones toadopt. In any case, we must have the manufactures in existence before provisionswith regard to the labour employed therein can be brought into operation. No one will be more pleased than I to see our workersproperly remunerated for their labour. It cannot be charged against me that I have ever attempted to do anything which would prevent labour from being properly remunerated.
– The honorable senator always resisted the application of the Factories Acts to country industries.
– I have always been against their application to the farmers, because I could not see how they would fit in with the conditions attaching to farm labour. There have been friends of the Government who have said to me, “Do not worry about this new protection business. The Act is going to be declared unconstitutional by the High Court, and the Government themselves expect that to happen.”
– Oh !
– That,’ I believe, is absolutely correct - that the Government expect to get out of their trouble in connexion with this matter through the ‘deci- sion of the High Court.
– That is a most unwarranted statement.
– It is most unfair to make such a charge against the Government.
– I do not profess to be both a labour man and a farmer, like the honorable senator who interrupts me.
– The honorable senator is not a farmer at all.
– I know that the question of the difficulty being solved by the decision of the High Court has been raised, despite the interjection.
– It is a most improper charge to make against the Government, and it is without any warrant whatever.
– I can only say that the conduct of the Government since legislation on the subject was placed on the statute-book has been of such’ a character as not to assure me that they are genuine and heart-whole with regard to it. J have raised the question because I think it is one that should be fairly, discussed. The issues involved’ should be clearly put before the country. If this new protection can be made a success, and I can be convinced of it, no one will support it- more heartily than I. But I have stated the case as it strikes me; and, after all, honorable senators are sent here to say what they honestly believe, not what one section of the Senate would like to hear. I shall be very pleased to find that my view is wrong, but I am afraid that the new protection system will break down of its own weight. As to the Tariff itself, I trust that under it the development of industries in Australia will proceed. I hope that nothing will occur which will prevent the investment of capital in this country, and the consequent employment of labour, but that we shall impose fair and reasonable conditions, and that we shall have such a number of men putting their money into industries as will greatly stimulate employment. I hope that the Tariff, will conduce largely to the development of industries, and that in time we shall have such an output of manufactures and increase of production as will place Australia in the position which she ought to occupy in* the world.
– Before the honorable senator sits down, I wish to point out to him that he ‘ said that the revenue from Customs and Excise under the Victorian Tariff was three and a half millions.
– From three to three and a half millions.
– It was two and a half millions.
– I have only a few remarks to make, and they are largely provoked by what Senator McColl has been saying. If there is one thing more than another for which the present Government is famous, it is for keeping up the appearance of courage They must know perfectly well the dangerous ground which they occupy when introducing legislation which has the effect of straining the Constitution. It is all very well for them to saly that they think that they will succeed, but in doing so they are merely keeping up the appearance of courage.
– It is a kind of Dutch courage, the honorable senator supposes?
– Another remark which I should like to make is that it is said that the country has declared for high protection.
– Hear, hear !
– I question that statement. When I look around this
Senate and consider those who were returned at the last election, I find that, except in the case of Victoria, no senators were returned exclusively on the question of high protection. In framing a Tariff, I think that we ought to be particularly careful to see to it that the manufacturers and producers are not allowed to victimize the public. I maintain that the conditions which permit a” manufacturer to victimize the public by means of prohibitive duties are wrong and immoral.
– Does the honorable senator think that protectionists ‘ are the only people who victimize the public?
– I do not say that for a moment ; but I concur in the statement made by Carlyle that those who use the means provided by the State for their own private interests are guilty of a crime. Further, if we frame the Tariff in such a way that certain manufactures are only produced in one or two States to the injury of other States, we are certainly not exercising our powers as a Senate in a proper fashion. The smaller States are urgently in need of revenue, but they are in danger of losing revenue, because many of the protected manufactories are confined to Victoria and .New- South Wales, and because importations and the consequent collection of duties are prevented by high rates under this Tariff. It must be so necessarily. I urge that some consideration should be given to the revenue point of view for the sake of the smaller States. - There is another matter which I desire to bring under the notice of the Senate, although it has been touched upon by Senator Millen. I should like to see some principle adopted upon which we are to give preference to Great Britain. I have before me the Bill which was brought in by the present Government something like eighteen months ago. Under that measure, the preference to Great Britain was put down at something like 10 per cent, all round. But, under this Tariff, a preference of only 5 per cent, is given to Great Britain in respect of items upon which the duties are 35 per cent. Such a preference cannot be considered substantial. My honorable friend, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, says that -the intention of the Government is to give substantial preference to Great Britain. He talks about the enormous benefits conferred upon her by this Tariff. I commend to his observation a cartoon which appeared in London Punch not long ago. It represented a Tariff wall 20 feet high and an old lady who was trying to climb up it with the help of a one-foot “ substantial “ stool. She was’ represented as saying * ‘ substantial ‘ is of no use to me in climbing a 20-foot wall.” That is exactly the case when we give a 5 per cent, preference under a 35 per cent, duty. I should like the Government to return to their proposal of eighteen months ago, and make a substantial offer of preference to Great Britain of at least 10 per cent. That would be modest enough, but it would, at any rate, show some stability and indicate the earnestness of our endeavour to grant a preference. At present, the preference is in many cases not effective at all ; it is merely fictitious. It seems folly to call it’ a policy of preference.
– It was not my intention to speak, and I should not have done so except for the extraordinary remarks made by Senator McColl. I consider that he either fell into an error or was guilty of misrepresentation in his remarks upon the policy of new protection, especially as it affects the farmers.
– I did not mention the farmers.
– The honorable senator referred to the Act upon the statute-book relating to the new protection.
– I never said a word as to its affecting the farmers.
– I do not think that the honorable senator knows exactly what he did say. I undoubtedly understood him to say that it affected the farmers, and that was the drift of his argument. At any rate, it is what he wished the readers of the Hansard debates to conclude that he said. I maintain that, so far as the new protection is concerned, the benefits to the farmer are clear all along the line. For instance, the price of harvesters has been reduced under this policy. When I was visiting my constituents during the short recess, some of them said to me - “ You have done a lot of harm to the farming community by your protective and Excise duties.” But it simply neded a few moments’ explanation to convince these men that they had been misled by the press. Let me give some particulars to honorable senators relating to the price of stripper-harvesters. At one time, the duty on them was £16 each. Under the present Tariff, it is only £12. The price of stripper-harvesters in Australia is now lower than ever it was before. It was provided that on and after the 1st February, 1907, the price of 5 feet stripper harvesters should be £70, while the price of stripper harvesters of a size between 5 ft. 6 in. ana 6 feet was fixed at £75, and the price of stripper harvesters over 6 feet . at £80. Furthermore, on and after the 1st February, 1908, stripper harvesters of a size of 5 feet and under are to cost only £65.
– That is about. £15 too much.
– It is £15 less than they were ‘being sold for under virtually free-trade conditions.
– Other implements used by farmers and primary producers have been similarly reduced in price. Therefore, how can it be said that if “effect were given to the new protection ‘ now on the statute-book, as it ought to be, it would not be a success ? I take it’ that if anything has happened to so increase the price of material that manufacturers cannot make ends meet, we should take such steps as are advocated in the petition I presented to-day, to break up outside competition. I have been told by manufacturers in South Australia that some of the American makers are so determined to get the trade of Australia that they are selling their machines at very low prices, in some cases giving four or’ five years’ credit to the purchaser, and charging practically nothing for the first year. It is the policy of the Commonwealth that our markets shall be maintained for our own people, and we ought to give effect .to that policy. I cannot see that harm can be done to the primary producers when the prices to be charged to them are fixed by Parliament. I shall support the Government so far as I can in regard to the Tariff ; but after the jeering remarks made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council yesterday I felt compelled to state my position. ‘ I am pleased that the effect of the little bit of sharpshooting done by Senator Findley and myself yesterday afternoon was to make him change his countenance. My leader, Senator McGregor, has .repeatedly pointed out that the fiscal question is entirely an open one. so far as the members of the Labour Party are concerned. Personally, I am a protectionist, in the interest of manufacturers, workers, and consumers alike.
– What were the jeering remarks to which the honorable senator has referred?
– The remarks of Senator Best about Senator E. J. Russell.
– I did not hear any jeering remarks.
– If is not the honorable senator’s place to do so. Whatever the Government says he must support. I am not in that position.
– Nor am I. I never have been, and never will be.
– The position of the honorable senator is peculiar. I cannot understand how such an acute, sensible, reasonable and far-seeing man can stand behind the Government as he has done for the past six months, championing them even when they were breaking the law, instead of seeing that it is carried out. However, I do not wish to quarrel with him, or with any one else. I have combated the statements of Senator McColl by showing that if effect is given to the new protection the price of ploughs and other agricultural implements will be lower than it has been hitherto. To glory in the fact that up to the present the law relating to the new protection has seemed a -failure, and, at the same time, to express regret because of it, appears to me inconsistent, ‘and to evidence a lack of straightforwardness. However, I feel satisfied that the Government will do their duty, although we may have to apply the whip, and I shall support the new protection throughout.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) £5.58]. - I hope that the honorable senators who have spoken will not take the remark in bad part if I say that on an important -question like this we should have heard the views of leading members whose knowledge of political life would have enabled them to throw great light on the subject.
– We have just had a speech from a protectionist.
– The speeches delivered by the party leaders have been most informing, and their tone and character will ‘ afford great satisfaction to the press of Australia and to the commercial community. Whatever may ‘have been the verdict of the last election, I feel strongly that Australia desires fiscal peace. Indeed, it is not long since the Prime Minister brought about a coalition ‘ with the object of securing fiscal peace, which, at that time, was the keystone’ of his policy. There are honorable senators who, if they could, would make the proposed’ duties higher, while others wish to reduce the pro posed rates. The opinions expressed in this Chamber are a reflection of the various views held by the people of Australia in regard to the Tariff, and, therefore, with all respect to more experienced politicians, I say that we cannot secure fiscal peace unless we arrive at a sound financial compromise. Therefore, I think that it would be wise for us to sink our individual views as much as possible, in the endeavour . to secure a Tariff which will bring about the fiscal peace which the community desires. If very high rates are imposed, fiscal peace will be impossible. It has been asserted by Ministers, and stated by their supporters, that the verdict of the electors was in favour of protection. That has been disputed and denied by those on this side. In any case-, it is an ambiguous statement, because protection is only a relative term. A revenue tariffist may be termed a protectionist, and so, too, may be one who would be satisfied with duties of 10 per cent. It was of such duties that the first American protective Tariff, framed after the civil war, consisted. The Americans’ thought that duties of 10 per cent, would protect their infant industries, and provide for the expenses of the war. Could it be said that those who would vote a 10 per cent. Tariff are not protectionists ?
– Yes. The American Tariff referred to was introduced, not for protection, but for Avar purposes, though incidentally it proved slightly protective.
– The American Tariff rates have grown slowly. It was not until recent years that the American Tariff became the highest in the world, as we know it now. But protection is a word which requires close definition, and to say that Australia is prepared for protection means very little. In considering the proposed Tariff we must bear in mind that it has imposed an immense burden upon the community generally. I agree with my leader, Senator Millen, that it’ will return a sum- nearer to £12, 000,000 than to ;£i 1,000,000 per annum. Even the leader qf the Socialist Party in the Senate has admitted that this burden will have to be borne for. some years to come. When we consider the enormous sum which” is raised from a comparatively small .population, it must be admitted. - however, the other side may feel in regard to the present or future benefits of protection - that it is a pretty heavy impost. I venture to say that if I put that computation on a per capita basis, there is not in all this world such a heavy Tariff as that which the Government of the Commonwealth are submitting to the Senate.
– That is, heavy as an instrument of taxation.
– It is heavy as an instrument of taxation, measured per capita. That is a pretty strong statement, but it is one which, I think, should go forward to the people of Australia. Of course, my honorable friends on the other side may be able to- explain it away. They may be able to show that I have not taken into consideration all the benefits which are to be derived from the imposition of Customs duties to the amount of £12,000,000 per annum. That may be so, but I feel it my duty to let it go forth to the world that that in itself is a remarkably heavy burden of taxation, and that, comparatively speaking, it is one of the heaviest Tariffs in the world.
– I suppose that in order to prove his statement, the honorable senator will quote percentages for other countries.
– Yes. I took the trouble to ascertain the total receipts from Customs and. Excise duties in the United States. At page 450 of the Statemen’s Year-Book for 1907, I learned that in 1902 the total revenue from those sources in that country was $262,000,000; in 1904, $261,000,000; and in 1906, $300.000,000 - or, in English money, about £60,000,000. As the population numbers 80,000,000 persons, that means that 15s. per capita is contributed to the Customs and Excise revenue. It is .x simple question of proportion to ascertain what would be the revenue for Australia if raised on that basis. The particular factor we have all to consider is not merely the burden of taxation, not merely the effect which the imposition of duties may have upon industries,’ but the requirements of the various States. It is only fair to the ‘Government that I should admit that they have to bring down ‘ a fairly strong Tariff in order that the State Treasurers may be able to fulfil their obligations to bondholders, and also to carry out public works. But none the less are the figures significant. I do not think that the people of Australia as a whole wish to lay violent or hostile hands on the Tariff of 1902.
– Has anybody inthis debate said that they did?
– I wish to guard myself ; I do not want an inference to be drawn from that admission - that I am going to attack the whole of the Tariff without viewing it very carefully and minutely. Why is it so often said that the verdict of Australia has ‘been in favour of protection ? Prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth, each State had its ownTariff for its own particular purposes, and five States had a fairly heavy protective Tariff. Only one State had a Tariff which approached what might be called freedom of trade. When the Commonwealth was established, it became the. bounden duty of its Parliament to see, so far as it could, that the sources of revenue to which the States had been accustomed were “not seriously depreciated. That is why it had to impose a more or less protective Tariff. It came as part of the heritage to the* Commonwealth, except in the case of New South Wales.
– It had a partially protective Tariff.
– Of course, there is no such thing in the world as freetrade, and never has been, and I do not think there will ever be such a thing as protection in the sense of prohibition. The terms are so absolutely relative and at times so absolutely misleading that I can compliment Senator Best upon his wisdom when he deprecated any abstract or other discussion on the relative merits of protection and free-trade. When the Commonwealth was established, Queensland had one of the highest protective Tariffs in Australia, while Victoria claimed that her Tariff was the most scientific of the lot. The two Tariffs were pretty heavy. Unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth had been prepared to alter the whole course and incidence of taxation, it had as its natural heritage to collect a large sum by means of Customs duties, which it had to make more or less protective. So that when we say that the Commonwealth has gone in for a protective policy, I do not think that it conveys with it the irresistible conclusion, not even the unchallengeable conclusion, that the verdict of the people at the last election was in. favour of any Tariff which the Government and their supporters could get, right up to the limit of either the American Tariff or of prohibition. From a revenue stand-point, the new Tariff is considerably higher than is that of Canada. Of course, the question is largely relative to the matter of population. I am one of those who believe that neither protection, however high it may be, nor free-trade, however low it may be, has after all very much to do with the social or the commercial or the manufacturing advancement of a people. That being so, I confess that from neither point of view - as a free-trader or as a high tariffist- have I very strong convictions in the sense that I cannot listen to what can be reasonably advanced by honorable senators on the other side. But my suspicion, and to some extent my regret, would be very much qualified if side by side with this increased Tariff the Government would follow the policy of other countries. The history of the United States, and the still more recent history of Canada, go to show beyond the shadow of a doubt that when those countries increased their Customs duties they adopted a vigorous policy of immigration. The result of their action was that as the proportion of .taxation upon the people was increased, it was accompanied by a strong flow of immigrants ready to take full advantage of the effects of the Tariff, and thereby to lesson the burden of taxation upon the old residents. I should view with a great deal Jess reluctance and a great deal less alarm what I think to be a rather sudden advance in the Customs duties if I saw a policy of that kind being vigorously pursued by the Government. The two questions are very closely related. . It has always apeared to me to be, if not a suicidal policy, a remarkably short-sighted policy, to speak in one breath of increasing very largely the taxation of the people, and in the next breath of keeping out persons. The very purpose for which the Government has ‘instituted this protective Tariff has been to find employment for the people, and the more people of our own race that we allow to come in- the better it will be for them if the benefits of protection are such as they are alleged to be. I know of no newly-developed’ country such as ours is where a policy of effective protection- has not been accompanied by avigorous immigration policy to attract workers from other countries. Neither Canada nor the United States was content with mere pious professions. They actively went into the markets of the world and said, “ We intend to build up industries in our new country, in which there is room for you all.” That, I believe, is the secret of the great success of their Tariffs.. I do not think it can be disputed, except by a bigot, that some good was not done by the Tariffs to their workers. If I could see some evidence of that enlightened spirit being followed by the Government of the Commonwealth, then I should view this Tariff with a great deal less alarm than I do. I hope that it is the forerunner of what the Prime Minister meant when he spoke so often about the subject of immigration. If we intend to have this very high Tariff, and desire to benefit the workers, what harm can there be in introducing immigrants? With the right kind of immigration our population would increase, and wages would advance as industries flourished. Therefore, it could not disadvantage an existing worker to permit a co-worker to enter the Commonwealth, and share with him in that prosperity under normal circumstances. But I view the Tariff with some suspicion, when I recollect other acts of the Government, and when I hear their supporters saying that they will not allow them to bring in immigrants. That, in effect, is what the Socialist wing in each House of the Parliament has said.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake. There are more restrictive immigration laws in America and Canada than in Australia, and they have had a beneficial effect. It is a pity that the honorable senator does not know these things.
– I do not possess the honorable senator’s genius for finding out and understanding things. The history of the restrictive legislation of Australia and Canada may to me be a cryptic book, and my honorable friend may know all about it. His gigantic intelligence may enable him to grasp exactly what it means. Within the limitations of my intelligence I am inclined to think that our laws, as I understand them, are far more restrictive than are those of the United States of America.
– The honorable senator is labouring under a multiplicity of the most horribly deranged ideas.
– I do not know that personalities serve any effective purpose. I would not willingly mislead the Senate, and if I unwittingly did so I am sure that honorable senators on the’ other side would have corrected me. We cannot disguise from ourselves the fact that this high Tariff would not have received the undivided support of Socialists both inside and outside Parliament had it not been accompanied by a promise of the new protection.
– Quite right.
– I am glad to learn that I have at last struck an undisputedfact.
– That is rather a novelty.
– It is satisfactory to know that now I am on sound ground. I repeat that this Tariff would not have been introduced, and could not have been carried, but for the promise of the new protection. It is a matter of political history - and I speak now subject to correction - that the Socialist Party, or as. they called themselves, the Labour Party, have sunk the fiscal issue, and that a pledged member of that party is free to exercise his judgment in favour of a high or a low Tariff. Not one of them has changed his fiscal opinions by reason of any proof of their fallacy; but there has suddenly come about a coalition the ranks of the Socialists, at a time when it was “thought they were likely to split upon this question, have been solidified, and it was not until their ranks were known to have been solidified that this Tariff was proposed. I recognise that like every other great political party they are bound to accept the full responsibility for their actions, and I am sure that they will not shirk it’; they have to take the whole responsibility for this very high Tariff, or else to share it almost entirely with the Government. The late leader of the Socialist Party, Mr. Watson, went before the people of Australia, with a clear and distinct manifesto upon this important point. I desire to compliment him upon the fairness, ability, and straightforwardnesswith which he put the issue before the people. I believe that whilst he would not support such a high Tariff as that of Victoria, in preFederation days, his fiscal faith was in the direction of protection; but that, knowing the historyof the party, he recognised that he could not make it responsible for such a policy. Neither the party nor its leader could go straight before the people of Australia on the fiscal issue. They spoke about the protection of industries - the framing of a Tariff which would not only promote and develop Australian industries, but at the same time satisfy the workers.
– Did the honorable senator’s party go straight on the fiscal issue?
– The tu quoque argument does not apply. I think I am giving the Senate something to consider.
– The honorable senator’s remarks are very interesting, because they are so relevant.
– I consider them to be wholly relevant. Mr. Watson further proposed that the responsibility for new protection should be accepted, not by the Parliament itself, nor even by his own party, but that after the Tariff had been drawn up, and the interests of the workers in every direction attended to, the whole scheme should be submitted to a referendum of the people.
– The honorable senator is wrong in saying that the leader of the Labour Party would not take any responsibility for the new protection.
– I speak subject to correction, but I repeat that . that is the position which Mr. Watson took up; He said, in effect, “ I, as leader of the Labour Party, will not take the responsibility for the new protection, neither wilt my party do so.
– Nothing of the kind.
– That, in effect, was the position he took up.
– That is only the honorable senator’s interpretation of his attitude.
– I shall, if necessary, read the manifesto. There seems to be a desire on the part of honorable senators to pass over in silence some of the. principles thatwe are attacking; but I beg to ask, Since when has it become constitutional, in the opinion of the Socialist Party, or its leader, to’ bring into existence a scheme of this kind without the consent of the people? When they were before the electors in 1906 they proposed that a referendum should be taken. How came that proposal to. be. dropped ?
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– An honorable senator opposite has said in answer to some of my observations that the immigration restriction laws of Australia are not more severe than are those of Canada.
– Or of the United States.
– Textually the honorable senator ist I believe, correct; ; but we know tho old saying that the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth, and my criticism in. this connexion was that the party which Senator McGregor _has the honour to lead in the Senate, and the members of which strongly support the Government in advocating a fairly high Tariff should imitate the intelligence and activity displayed in Canada and in the United States by bringing about in Australia what has been brought about in the countries referred to. I was referring to the attitude of the leader of the Socialist Party when he went before all Australia asserting that he intended before the new protection should be introduced-
– Is the honorable senator referring to Tom Mann?
– The honorable senator knows very well to whom I am referring, but as he has called for the name, let me say that I refer to Mr. Watson, who ns leader of the Labour Party said that the matter was not to be decided except by a. referendum of the people after this Parliament had done with it. Whether the verdict of Victoria was in favour of high protection or not, I can speak with authority about Queensland when I say that both parties in seeking the suffrages of the electors at the last Federal election in that State agreed ‘ to absolutely sink the fiscal question. Those connected with the Labour Party in Queensland were absolute in their loyalty and fidelity to the demands of the leader of the Federal Labour Party that they’ should sink the fiscal issue with a view to coupling it later on with some kind of new protection policy and referring it to the people. Their opponents, of whom I was one, joined -heartily in sinking the fiscal issue, and to meet the bait held out of the new protection we (pointed out that it was probable that it would be found unconstitutional. In any case, . we agreed that the fiscal Question should be sunk, and should not constitute a disturbing factor in Federal politics in the State, and that other and larger questions should be discussed. Further .than that T may point out that a fairly high revenue Tariff, which would satisfy a great many protectionists, was an absolute necessity for Queensland if the .finances of the State were to continue in a sound condition. Before we could say that the old Tariff should be materially interfered with in any direction, we naturally felt that we should await the verdict of the Tariff Commission which had been appointed with the full approbation and sanction of the present Prime Minister, and with the approbation of every party in the Federal Parliament. If it be contended now that the verdict of Australia was in favour of protection, using the word in the sense of a high Tariff, it is a damaging admission from the Government and their supporters, inasmuch as it. is tantamount to asserting that they had come to a conclusion upon the question before they heard the evidence to be supplied by the impartial tribunal appointed with the sanction of all parties in the Federal Parliament for the special purpose of advising Parliament as the result of special inquiry and knowledge iri connexion with the particular questions at issue.
– Does the honorable senator think that there would have been no opinion on the subject in Parliament if there had been no Tariff Commission?
– Certainly not. I do not go so far as that, because’ after all we are the arbiters. But what sort of an arbiter is he who prejudges a case, and comes to a .decision before he has heard the evidence upon the point at issue? If honorable senators opposite are disposed to make much of the point: as to the verdict of the constituencies, I turn it against them by asking them why the Tariff Commission was appointed, and whether it was not in order that the question whether Australia should have further protection for local industries under a higher Tariff should be decided only after full consideration of the evidence procured by it? I know that very man.v of us were determined that, before makins a final - decision on that question, we should await the verdict of the Commission. But it seems to me now that the members of the present Government, and some of their supporters, were prepared to advocate higher protection, no matter what might be the verdict of the Commission.
– What was the verdict of the Tariff Commission, after all ?
– That is not the question.. I am pointing out our relation to a tribunal appointed by this Parliament. I say that in the assertion made from the other side that the verdict of Australia was in favour of a higher Tariff, with a view to further assisting Australian industries, the Government were anticipating the verdict of the tribunal appointed to determine the question.
– Not at all. They expressed only the opinion that was expressed by the country.
– I think as I have said, and honorable senators opposite will require to make use of a good deal of sophistry to escape from that position. Speaking for myself on the question ot the fiscal issue in Queensland-
– Where is Queens-, land?
– The interjection is a pertinent one coming from the honorable senator, because, judging by some of the legislation in which” he has taken an active part, the honorable senator has treated that State as if he were ignorant of its existence, or as if he did not care whether it existed or not. During the discussion of the present Tariff he is likely to learn a little more about Queensland. When Federation was established, there was a high protective Tariff in force in Queensland, and, as representatives of that State, we could not at any time lay very violent hands upon the Tariff as fixed in 1902, because between that time and 1906, on three occasions I believe, and certainly on two, the Queensland Treasurer received from the Federal Treasurer con’siderably less than Queensland’s three.fourths share of the Customs and Excise revenue collected in that State.
– That could not be. He was bound to receive three-fourths at least.
– I am referring to the relation of the individual Stare to the Commonwealth. Of course, I know very well that for financial purposes the States are regarded as one, and the Customs and Excise revenue is pooled. All that the Federal Treasurer is bound to do 5s to return to the States three-fourths of the revenue so pooled, and if, in the distribution, any particular State gets less than three-fourths of the revenue actually collected within its ‘borders, it cannot complain, because that is done under the Constitution.
– The- honorable senator is making a mistake.
– I do not think so. but perhaps I have not explained myself very clearly.
– The honorable senator is correct, but what he refers to was due to the fact that a good deal of money was being spent in Queensland.
– I dare say that is so, but I have stated a fact which may be explained away or even apologized for. The point is that, so far as Queensland is concerned, no one trying to do his best fox the State and the State Treasury could have asked the people to give a verdict in the direction of free-trade principles, and, as matters stand, we are bound to deal with the question from the same point of view in this Parliament. What has happened in Queensland - and this is to a greater or less extent applicable to all of the smaller States - is that the Commonwealth Tariff resulted in the concentrationin the two great cities of Sydney and Melbourne, and especially in Melbourne, of the great manufacturing industries. Many of our manufacturers in Queensland went down as a result of Inter-State free-trade and the competition with the olderestablished industries of the largest States.
– We lost £1,000,000 a year for the first four years.
– I do not know what the exact figures were, but I know that our loss was considerable. As our manufacturing industries were going down in tlie competition with the older-established industries of the two larger States, we were . bound to give special consideration to the primary industries in connexion with which we were strong, and we had to point out that manufacturers in Queensland could hope to gain nothing by an increased Tariff, since they could not expect, for a long time to come, any better results from it than those which had followed the imposition of the first Commonwealth Tariff. That that view prevailed generally is shown bv the fact that the people, as well as both political parties at the election, were satisfied to sink the fiscal issue. The members of our party said that while we were prepared to give fair consideration to the industries which had sprung up under the operation of the Tariff of 1902, and would lay no violent hand upon them, we could not in the interests of the great primary . producers of our State allow the Tariff to fix upon them undue burdens. It is in that sense that the fiscal issue was sunk, and it seems to me that the Government and their followers are trying to force upon Queensland and the smaller States a position which their representatives of both parties were prepared to resist to the utmost of. their power. I wish’ to lay particular emphasis on that point, because
I think Queensland has nothing to gain under the Tariff now before the Senate. We must look in the future for our financial strength, and the strength of the State Treasury, to the development of our great primary industries. What is the prospect under the Tariff now proposed? The Federal Treasurer has estimated the increased revenue to be derived from the higher Tariff at over £880,000, but he has let itbe known in his statement that, notwithstanding the fact that Queensland will probably receive more revenue from Customs and Excise than she received last year, she will again, if his anticipations are realized have to be satisfied with £70,000 less than the three-fourths share which she might naturally look to receive. I think that I voice the feeling of all of the smaller States when I say that there is in them no particular hankering after a high Tariff for the purpose of promoting manufacturing industries, because under the operation of the previous Tariff their manufacturers went down, and capital invested in their industries was transferred to Melbourne, and they suffered accordingly. Fortunately, they had compensation’ in very good seasons.
– What industries does the honorable senator refer to? Can he name any of them?
– In Queensland many of the boot manufacturing industries, the jam manufacturing industries, and the soap industries went down, and we were developing also a wine industry, which went down under the operation of the Tariff.
– And the. tobacco industry.
– The tobacco industry is, I believe, beginning to revive in Queensland.
– It is not in Western Australia.
– It may be going down in Western Australia, but it is, I think, going ahead in Queensland.
– It is inevitable that the smaller States should lose some of their manufacturing industries.
– It may be, but it follows rather as a corollary from that that when a high Tariff is submitted, which would but accentuate that position, we are bound in the interests of our respective States to see that the primary industries shall be properly considered in relation to that Tariff. Another assertion which has been made with regard to this so-called verdict of the electors is not merely that that verdict was in favour of high protection, but that it affirmed that a higher protection was needed because the industries of Australia were being “ strangled.” I think that I am using the expression which the Prime Minister used at Ballarat upon one occasion prior to the last general election. At any rate, the phrase that “ our industries were being strangled “ was used by many prominent Victorian protectionists if not by the Prime Minister himself. That was the assertion which was made before the last general election by some of the Victorian protectionists. Now, I have taken the trouble to examine the official figures relating to the manufacturing industries of Victoria especially, and I find that they constitute one long record of advancement and prosperity. I do not think that I am exaggerating the position when I say that in the whole history of Victoria its manufacturing industries were never stronger from the stand-point of the number of factories opened, the number of hands employed in them, and the general advance in the rates of wages paid, than they were during the period from 1903 to 1906.
– The same remark is applicable to New South Wales.
– If that be so, surely the assertion that “ industries were being strangled “ by the operation of the Tariff of 1902 falls to the ground a fortiori. Yet that was the statement which was made in every protectionist newspaper prior to the appointment of the Tariff Commission. Indeed, it is more or less persisted in even to this hour, and one of the reasons which is being urged for the imposition of higher duties is that they are necessary to save the industries of Victoria and other States. But if we can judge the operation of a Tariff by its results - and what better test can we apply - the Tariff of 1902 was an eminently good one. It lies with the opponents of those who desire a fair and reasonable Tariff to make good their assertion that under the Tariff of 1902 “ industries were being strangled.”
– Does not the honorable senator think he has conclusively proved that the operation of a high Tariff was responsible for placing Victoria in such an advanced position?
– No. But I think that I have given the honorable senator a fairly hard nut to crack in attempting to explain why a high Tariff is necessary to save our “strangled” industries, seeing that under the Tariff of 1902 the manufacturing industries of Victoria and New South Wales were never more flourishing and prosperous.
– Victorian industries were built up under the operation of a high Tariff.
– The statement may be apologized for, but the fact which I have mentioned is made apparent by statistics. I make these remarks in reference to Victorian industries in no disparaging or carping spirit. All honour to the enterprise of the Victorian people who seized the advantages presented to them by the Commonwealth Tariff and used them so well to the prosperity of their own State. But we are bound to regard this matter from the stand-point of the relation of Victorian industries to the primary production of the rest of the States. In order to show the enormous importance of our primary industries, I propose to quote some statistics relating to the progress of Victoria, which are very significant. I have condensed them into a per capita result. I find that the value of the manufactures of Victoria increased per capita from£7 12s.1½d. in 1904 to £7 19s. 4d. in 1905, and to £8 18s. in 1906.
– Have those figures reference toMelbourne manufactures only ?
– They relate to the total manufactures of Victoria.
– Per capita of the Victorian population ?
– But Victoria has a population of 1,250,000.
– My figures are taken from those compiled by the Victorian Statistician’. Mr. Drake gives the value of the primary production of Victoria at £18 12s. per capita in 1904, and at £21 7s. 8d. per capita in 1906, thus showing that in this State, as in all the others, the great source of our financial strength is our primary industries. They are the basis of our future financial prosperity. We are bound, therefore, to consider the interests of those persons who are building up Australia - our primary producers. Whilst we may be anxious to assist the manufacturers in the different States, we must bear in mind that the prosperity of our primary producers is the keystone to our future financial and social progress. It is from that point of view that I intend to closely scrutinize this Tariff with a view to seeing that no undue burden is placed upon their shoulders. The export trade of Australia amounts to well over £70,000,000. We export a very small proportion of our manufactured products, because we are doing very little more than supplying our own wants in this connexion. But in the matter of our primary productions, we are not only supplying ourown requirements in many respects, but we have developed an export trade. I maintain that inasmuch as the financial soundness of Australia is based upon our. primary industries - and I do not think that even the most rabid protectionist will dispute that statement - we are bound to’ carefully scrutinize this Tariff and to see thatit does not weigh unduly upon those who are contributing so much to our national development. There is just one other matter that I desire to mention. In referring to the causes which have led up to the framing of this comparatively high Tariff, I stated that such a Tariff could not have been passed through the House of Representatives had it not been that the Labour Party gave the Government their undivided allegiance upon it.
– That is not correct.
– I hope that I am not misrepresenting the position. Probably I do not understand all the phases of this question, but so far as I am wrong there are honorable senators upon the opposite side of the chamber who will put me right.
-It does not matter very much if the honorable senator is wrong.
– I think that it does matter, seeing that my conscience and opinions are not bound to a mere caucus. I am bound in conscience and opinion to my own State, whose electors have sent me here not to be a mere dumb- voting machine.
– The honorable senator is maintaining his reputation. He is never dumb.
– I thought that some honorable senators would “ squeal “ a little when I turned the point in that way. Although it may be quite true upon this occasion - as upon others - that no matter how convincing a speech may be it .will not have the effect of changing ‘ a single vote - and I anticipate that that will be -the result of my speech - I have a duty to perform, namely, to show to my constituents that to the best of my ability I am carrying out the promises’ which I made to them before T was elected to this Chamber. I am carrying out the whole spirit of our parliamentary institutions by preserving a proper relationship with my constituents when, knowing that I cannot influence a single vote, I advance reasons for the faith that is in me, and have the courage to try and enforce my opinions.
– Only a few can understand the honorable senator. I am not one of them.
– Another reason that has been assigned for the passing of this high Tariff is that an honorable senator who is theoretically inclined to the principles of free-trade, but believes still more in the justice, wisdom, and efficiency of direct as against indirect taxation, has, I believe, agreed to sink his fiscal faith, and to support a high Tariff, with a view to ultimately destroying revenue, and thus compelling the imposition of direct taxation, which I believe is one of the great aims of the party to which he belongs. He has adopted that course of action because he thinks that direct taxation is’ the best form of taxation. I am one of those who differ from him. The great question of the equity and wisdom of direct as against indirect taxation was discussed by no less a financial authority than the late Mr. Gladstone, in his celebrated budget of 1861,. when he was pressed for his views upon it, and when he was endeavouring, to a’ large extent, to reform the fiscal policy of the United Kingdom. I mention this circumstance because I believe that, apart from the question of whether or not the new protection will be a sufficient compensation to the worker for the burden which he will admittedly bear under this Tariff, I am not quite sure whether the very same reason does not animate the whole of the party to which I have referred, notwithstanding the different fiscal faiths that its members hold. I hope, however, that they will ponder over the words used by the late Mr. Gladstone, when addressing himself to this question, inasmuch as I believe the whole of the members of the Labour Party wish to see direct taxation imposed as soon as possible. Upon the occasion to which I have referred, the late Mr. Gladstone said -
I have always thought it idle for a person holding the position of Finance Minister totrouble himself with what to him is necessarily, an abstract question, viz., the question betweendirect and indirect taxation, each considered on its own merits. To many people both, as is natural, appear sufficiently repulsive. As for myself, I confess that owing to the accident of my official position rather than to any more profound cause of discrepancy, I entertain quitea different opinion. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, I have always thought it not only allowable but even an act of duty to pay my addresses to them both. I am, therefore, as- between direct and indirect taxation, perfectly impartial.
One of the objectives of the party opposite, apart from the new protection, is to- bring in direct taxation under the idea that it will relieve the worker to some extent of the burden of taxation of the higher Tariff. So far as direct or indirect taxation is concerned, it is doubtful if the worker is benefited by one mote thanby the other, just as it is doubtful whether he benefits by either free-trade or protection. It will depend upon of ^conditionsof the country whether the worker, qua worker, is to receive any benefits at all. One merit of indirect taxation is that it is the one form of taxation which the worker especially can legitimately avoid if . he chooses to do so.
– How? By eating grass ?
– No, that fsone of those ad captandum arguments which frequently come from the other side when they are hard pressed. There is nocountry in the world which will willingly tax food and other necessaries of life. The. taxation through Customs and Excise duties is mainly on narcotics and stimulants, and luxuries. If the ordinary working man. chooses, he can be almost exempt from. that form of taxation by thrift and abstemious habits. He can determine for himself to a very large extent his burdenof that taxation. By being a temperate man, he can contribute little or nothing tothe revenue. So also if he does not smoke, and is not- fond of fine clothes. Direct taxation, however, he cannot so easily transfer the burden of. I mention this inorder to emphasize to the party opposite and the workers of Australia the fact’ that thev are not going to get a great deal, either from the proposed .increased taxation through the Customs, or by the objective of the party to substitute direct taxation for it.
– The honorable senator first said that the Tariff was a burden to the worker, and now says that the worker can get out of it. Which is correct ?
– I said that indirect taxation, especially to the worker, has the great merit that he can very often regulate the incidence of it himself, if he is perfectly temperate and thrifty, and does not go in for luxuries.
– Is the honorable -senator talking about indirect taxation in a free-trade country ?
– Every country, whether free-trade or protectionist, derives most of its revenue from the taxation of luxuries, stimulants, and narcotics. The great revenue returns in free-trade England are from those sources. The great source of revenue in protectionist Canada and the United States is the taxation of the same articles. That seems to be the reason why the workers in those countries have strongly Supported . “ indirect taxation as the chief source of revenue to the Government. In. Canada, and more markedly so in the United States, the whole of the revenues which the Federal Government possess are almost entirely drawn from indirect taxation. So far the workers have ‘ supported that policy, and, to a certain extent, wisely so. I wish to emphasize the fact that there is no particular merit in direct taxation from the point of view of the benefit of the worker.
– Is there any merit in any kind of taxation from the point of view of the worker?
– As I have said, I do not base my hopes of the future advancement of the workingman, which we all trust will be accomplished, very much upon any fiscal system or fiscal faith.
– I suppose that Socialism is the only remedy.
– The honorable senator says so. We have quite different ideas on the subject. A strongly marked feature of the Tariff is the proposed preference. I suppose that will have to be considered in great detail when we get into Committee. I am not very much enamoured of this preferential scheme. I think it is a sort of Greek horse that we are offering to the Old Country. We might as well relieve our souls of all cant about the matter. The Prime Minister went Home with two proposals - preference and red- procity. At the Imperial Conference, he was met by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, who told him in clear, courteous, and dignified language that so far as the Australian Tariff and any preference offered by Australia in that Tariff was concerned, the Australians were the best and sole judges, but when the Prime Minister of Australia accompanied his offer df preference at the Conference with a request for reciprocity he was met by the English Prime Minister with an absolute nott possumus. He was told, “You have no mandate to make these arrangements, and if you do make them they will be subject to ratification by your own people.” Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman pointed out that the political party which he led, and which was responsible for the Government of Great Britain at the time, were absolutely committed against the policy of reciprocity. It was frankly stated, “ Make what Tariff you like in Australia ; give what preference you choose; whatever preference you give, we shall receive, whether it ls large or small. That is your business, not ours, but do not talk to us about reciprocity.” The report of the Conference is before the Senate, and every senator can read it. However we may agree or disagree with the attitude of that great political party and its leaders, it can be said about it that the manner in which the Australian Prime Minister’s proposals were met was dignified and courteous, and had the great saving virtue of being perfectly straightforward and honest to our representatives. It is the fashion of high tariffists here, through their newspaper organs, to point out that the people of Great Britain are stolid, slow, stupid Britishers who cannot see the magnificent virtues of reciprocity. Does it ever occur to those critics - Britishers themselves - who write an’d speak in that fashion, that they are reflecting upon .the intelligence and to some extent upon the honesty of their own forefathers ? Preference with reciprocity, so long as the present political party has the majority of the electors of Great Britain behind it, will not be accepted. That position was known to our Prime Minister when he went Home, and was still further emphasized at -the time the Conference was opened. It was pointed out to him at once that when Mr. Gladstone was in power a system of reciprocity with Europe and someother countries was tried, and that Mr. Gladstone himself left it on record that every attempt at reciprocity had only intensified the very difficulties which it was intended to alleviate. Never after that has there been a party in Great Britain which has gone in for preference with reciprocity. That being so, it will not matter very much how high or how low we make the preference. What we have done, and we cannot get away from it, has been well illustrated by a cartoon in the great London journal Punch, which often in a striking line, sometimes by a striking poem, and oftener by a still more striking cartoon, happily illustrates the spirit of the nation. It caught the spirit of the nation on this question of preference, and expressed it in a cartoon published in London as soon as the uS= tails of our Tariff were known. It pointed out pictorially that, fid matter now ‘ magnificent were - the professions of a. desire to assist the trade and industries of the Old Country, the Australian Treasurer, and with him the Australian Prime Minister, who, after all, is the person primarily responsible, had built up a wall against English industries, with the avowed intention of keeping out all English manufactures if possible. ‘ England is represented as grumbling about this high wall. Australia, behind the wall, says, “ What are you English people troubled about? Have we not knocked a brick out ?” And England replies, “ What is the use of knocking a few bricks out at the top of the wall, when you have made the wall too high for me to climb over, even with the bricks out of it ?” I appeal to the Government to be candid about this matter of preferential trade. The Prime. Minister himself, at that Conference, made no bones about the fact - in fact, he was put in a position where he could make no bones about it - that his first and last interest was to protect effectively Australian industries. Therefore, if that attitude is to be accompanied by suggestions that the Government of Australia are honestly desirous of assisting the manufacturers of the Old Country, that assertion, with all. respect to the Prime Minister and those who support that portion of the Tariff, is cant from beginning to end. That being so, whether we give 10 or 15 per cent’., or even 100 per cent., preference, it cannot assist the English manufacturers much, as the avowed object ot this Tariff is to diminish the flow of English manufactures into Australia. Its justification is that ultimately it will succeed in doing so, and., therefore, to pose as being animated by lofty Imperial ideals* and by an intention to benefit the working: people of England, is so much cant and delusion. I speak strongly, because, to some extent, the glamour of the alleged! benefit of this preferential claim has been; used as a sort of lever in order to raise’ the Tariff, by arguing : - “ We are looking; after the Australian manufacturers; give us a high Tariff to do so. But we are not narrow-minded tariffists; look at our magnanimity ! We are looking after the interests of Great Britain also.” I am) afraid that the attention to the interests off Great Britain does not amount to much.. I take this opportunity to compliment the; Vice-President pf the Executive Council 6ri the mariner in which he has placed the Tariff proposals before us - for his clear and temperate presentment of the case;. And I hope it will not be thought undueflattery if I say that the leader of theOpposition is also to be congratulated on’ the temperate way in which he has- dealt, with the question. During the second-reading debate it has been shown that there is no desire to lay violent- h’ands; on any Australian industries, or- to disturbunduly the established order- of” things.-. But we have succeeded, on- will’ succeed, in showing that there aire greater intereststo be considered than the- sole interests of.” manufacturers.- One point in regard tothe new protection has just occurred to me, and I should like to place it before honorable senators. Early in 1901 a resolution on the question was passed,” I” think almost unanimously, in this chamber, tothe effect that the Commonwealth should ; accept from the States the power to regulate wages and conditions of labourthroughout Australia. That motion came to us from another place, wh’ere> during: the discussion, two very eminent lawyers, in dealing with it, assumed that we had not power under the Constitution to regulate wages and conditions. That viewwas laid down as clearly as language could1 convey it by some of the most eminentlawyers in the Commonwealth. I have animpression, though I may be wrong, thatthis Tariff cannot pass unless there is a-‘ strong hope on the part of the Socialiststhat there will be power to regulate conditions of labour ; but I point out that” the Socialist Party, and even the Government, are playing with a weapon which1may prove to be two-edged.’ One of thetwo eminent lawyers to whom I have referred, pointed out that the Constitution is–. sacred, and that we arc bound by its terms, and in the same breath he submitted that under the Constitution we have no power to regulate wages within the States. That opinion, which was accepted by all parties in the House, was expressed by those gentlemen, speaking with all the responsibility attaching to them in their position as legislators, and with their exact legal knowledge. Therefore, if we have any ground for anticipating -that the proposed new protection is likely to be unconstitutional
– The people of Australia will give us the power to make it constitutional.
– I thank the honorable senator for his interjection, because it enables me to say that, in my opinion, the leader of the Labour Party was right when he took up practically the attitude of eminent lawyers in another place, namely, that the question rests with the people of Australia, and it should be settled by referendum. We have no right to gamble on a’ verdict of the High Court, and pass a Tariff in the hope that the gamble will turn out favorably to those who support the new protection, and tell the workmen that thev are to take all that risk.
– I propose to follow the excellent example set by several honorable senators, and confine my remarks within very few minutes. I probably should not have spoken at all had it not been for the fact that Senator St. Ledger pointed out that, . during the last election, the fiscal question was entirely sunk in Queensland. I addressed some sixty-eight meetings, and I think I am correct in saying that on only one -occasion during the campaign was any question put to me as to my views on the fiscal issue. As honorable senators are well aware, when questions are put to a candidate near the end of a meeting, there is usually not time to explain at length his- views ; and very often, ‘ as in this case, when an issue has been sunk”, the shortest and least convincing answer is given.
– Sometimes the most convincing.
– When the question was put to me I simply replied that, so far as I was concerned, I should be no party to strangling the primary industries of Queensland in order to assist
Victorian manufacturers. That was what I should call the least convincing answer; and I feel it my duty, not only to those who sit with me on this side, but also to the Senate generally, and to the State of Queensland, to explain at some greater length my views on the fiscal question before we come to deal with the schedule. Queensland is essentially a primary producing State.. As Senator St. Ledger pointed out, one of the results, and probably an inevitable result, of Federation is that Queensland has lost a number of her smaller manufactures, which have drifted into other States. The fact remains that Queensland is a big primary producing State, and one might have supposed that, therefore, I should naturally be a strong free-trader, and oppose any proposals which I thought might in any way hamper the primary industries. But we must approach these questions entirely from the point of view of what is best for the States we represent ; and in the case of Queensland, the conditions are entirely different from those which prevail in other parts of Australia. Whether we like it or not, we have in Queensland big primary industries which must be protected; and, while asking for protection for those- industries, I am not so foolish as to refuse to give a reasonable modicum of protection to other industries in other parts of Australia. I need hardly point out that when I speak of big primary industries that need protection, I refer to such as are represented by sugar, tobacco, coffee, and other tropical products, which must occupy a very important place in the economic future of Queensland. According to the verdict of Australia, those industries must be carried on entirely with white labour; and it is obvious that we cannot compete with similar industries in other parts of the world which are carried on with coloured labour, unless the former are strongly protected in the markets of Australia. ‘ That being the case, while claiming protection for those industries, which form so great a part of the business of Queensland - and will form a still greater part - I cannot reasonably refuse to give a fair amount of protection to other industries elsewhere. But it is not only a question of asking for protection to enable those industries to exist; it is asking for protection to enable Australia to defend her tropical coastline - to fill up the country with white people, so as to defend it against the danger which a great number believe to be inevitable before the next quarter of a century is past. Therefore, when asking for protection for those industries, I am not doing so as a mere matter of business on behalf .of the people themselves, but as a matter of national policy for the defence of the Commonwealth. Another point that Queensland has always regarded in this matter is that, whatever Tariff we may have, there must be an ample supply of revenue. The’ State Tariff of Queensland, at the -time of Federation1, produced a great deal more revenue than did the Commonwealth Tariff of 1902. Sir George Turner, the late Treasurer, estimated that Queensland, in the first five years of Federation, owing to the removal of certain duties which had hitherto been imposed under a State law, lost no less than £1,250,000. Consequently, when the present Tariff is introduced, and I hear what the Vice-President of the Executive Council has to say as to the amount of revenue it will probably produce, I regard it with a somewhat friendly eye, because I see in it an opportunity for Queensland to recover in some degree the financial position she lost owing to the lessened duties of the 1902 Tariff. But the increased revenue that is now promised under the Tariff before us appears so high that I, at any rate, shall not be afraid to support certain decreases in the duties, if it appears to me that by doing so we shall render the Tariff more uniform and wipe out some of the anomalies which undoubtedly still exist. As I have said; I am perfectly prepared to recognise the .reasonable requirements of the rest of Australia in the matter of protection ; and in’ saying that, I appeal to honorable senators from other States, when they come to deal with the duties, to extend to Queensland the same consideration that Queenslanders are prepared to extend to the rest of Australia. If that be done, I believe that we may, and shall, establish further industries, which will have the effect of attracting people to the country - of filling up this great, empty country of ours, which, at the present time, is’ a bait to all those foreign nations who are looking for new lands for their spreading populations. Whatever defence policies may be .suggested, I feel satisfied that the true underlying principle of all defence is to fill the country. I must admit that I am a little puzzled in regard to, and, indeed, -cannot reconcile, the three principles which, according to the ‘
Vice-President of the Executive Council, underlie the schedule. The honorable gentleman has told us that the Tariff is to give effective protection ; also, that it is to be a protection, which will not- be effective because it will give preference to Great Britain; and further, that the protection afforded to local industries is to be such as will enable the system of new protection to be introduced later on. I agree with Senator Millen when he draws attention to the difficulty of reconciling the idea of effective protection with preference to Great Britain, and I am with him in being perfectly agreeable to give preference. I hare yet to learn, however, whether it is the intention of the Government, if the new protection scheme is proved to be unconstitutional on reference to the High Court, to bring down another Tariff, so as to reduce the duties, or whether, if the new protection is proved to be constitutional and effective, they will introduce a Tariff so as to increase the duties. In connexion with harvesters, the duties were recently increased to a certain figure, and it was then discovered that the workers’ conditions were not satisfactory. What was done in another place? The duty on harvesters was reduced. I should like to know - though I am sure I am asking for information which. I shall not receive - whether this Tariff was framed with the idea that the new protection is going to be successful, or whether, -in the case of the scheme being proved constitutional, we .are to have another Tariff increasing the duties? So far as I am concerned, I shall join with my honorable friends on this side of the chamber in assisting the Government as far as possible to make the Tariff uniform, and to wipe out such anomalies as have been shown to exist. I have also to express the hope that’ this Tariff, when we have elegit with it, will be final for at least some years to come. It is to be hoped that it will not be interfered with again for a’ considerable time. If I thought that dealing with the Tariff now was only to be a prelude to further tinkering in two or three years’ time, I should take up a different attitude towards it, and one less friendly than that which I am inclined to assume at present. The Melbourne Age the other day, in the course of a leading article, held out the hope, which I sincerely trust will be realized, that if this Tariff is finished off on lines somewhat similar to those upon which it left the House of Representatives, the fiscal question might be considered to be settled for a number of years. But if my information be correct, the Secretary of the Protectionist Association of New South Wales has also made a public statement to the effect that when this Tariff is passed it is only going to.be a starting point for a fresh agitation for still higher duties. I trust, however, that when the Tariff leaves the Senate it will be final for the next decade at least. If that be so we shall achieve a certain degree of fiscal peace in Australia. Our manufacturers will be able to ‘ know exactly where they stand, commercial people will know what they are doing and what they have to do, and they will not have this sword of Damocles hanging over their heads from one Parliament to another. I do not propose to detain honorable senators any longer, but I will conclude by emphasizing two of the points which I have made, namely, first, that the Queensland representatives hold out the olive branch, so to speak, to the industries of the southern parts of Australia, and ask only fair treatment to industries which are even more important, both from a protective and defence point of view, in the northern State ; and, secondly, that we hope that this Tariff when it goes through will represent finality for at least some years to come.
– I congratulate the Senate upon .realizing that the Tariff now before us involves work which requires to be done in a businesslike way, and in the briefest possible space of time. The speakers who have addressed themselves to the question up to the present have set us an example, which we should strive to follow, in the brevity and conciseness of .their remarks, and in leaving the various details of the Tariff to be discussed at the proper time when we are concerned with the schedule. I should not have troubled the Senate at all except that f feel a certain amount of responsibility, inasmuch as this is the first opportunity I have had of dealing with the fiscal question since I have been a member of this Chamber. I should like to observe that when I was elected I announced myself, as I have always done, as a moderate, or to use the term I then used, a common-sense, protectionist. By that I meant one who believes in trying to encourage the industries of Australia, in increasing our manufactures and developing our natural resources by turning the raw material into the manufactured article, in trying to give employment to our own people and offering inducements to ethers to come and live amongst us. But, as a protectionist, as in other respects, I do not. believe in extremes, and I shall be found opposing some rather unnecessarily high duties contained in the schedule before us. My hope is that I shall be able to justify the attitude I shall take up towards those duties by showing that the industries concerned are already sufficiently protected, and that the encouragement given to them has induced a large development in manufactures. There is one matter upon which we must congratulate ourselves, and that is that we are not to have anything in the shape of abstract argument upon the fiscal issue. All parties have practically agreed to accept the position that the voice of Australia, so far as the majority of .the electors is concerned, has proclaimed’ this to be a protectionist country. We have all agreed to accept that position; and that acceptance on the part of the free-trade leader in another place is responsible for my being on the Opposition side of the chamber at the present time. .The agreement that the fiscal issue shall be no longer an issue as between two parties in this country, and that it shall be recognised that Australia, by the majority of its people, has declared itself in favour of a protectionist policy, has brought me into association with honorable senators from whose views fiscally I differ strongly, but with whom on other matters I can very largely co-operate. At another and more fitting time I shall explain more fully my reasons for coming over to this side of the chamber. At present I merely mention’ the fact that the quotation read by. the Vice-President of the Executive. Council from Mr. George Reid paved the way for me to associate in the future with men with whom I think I can act in common. With regard to the Tariff itself, the principle having been accepted, we should on all sides endeavour to make it consistent with itself, harmonious n its parts, and free from some inequalities which- have ‘been left in it by another Chamber. We should make reductions where reductions can be made for good and solid reasons; and, on the other hand, we shall possibly be able to make it more consistent arid harmonious if we endeavour to raise some duties. There is another improvement which I should like to see made in the Tariff, although it may be more difficult to bring it about at the present stage. That is that we should try to make it more simple and more easily workable. Only business men actually engaged in working under a Tariff of this kind can understand the difficulties that arise in passing entries, which are made unnecessarily complex under it. Cases constantly occur, too, in which new goods have to be brought in under some line of the Tariff when the officials are called upon to interpret it; and necessarily different persons may interpret it in different ways. It is, I say, only business men who can realize how great the difficulties are, and how much more advantageous if would be if we could carry a greater amount of simplicity into the construction of the Tariff. I am of opinion that it would not be difficult to equalize a great many duties that are unnecessarily differential, and to put into one line n great many that might advantageously be brought under one heading. If this could be done, whether the duties themselves were raised or lowered would not matter very much._ If you go to a business man of the highest reputation in Flinders-lane or any other commercial centre of Australia, he will say, “Give us a simple Tariff, and we will soon adapt ourselves to it; we are not, as business men, particular whether a duty is 15 per cent, or 20 per cent., but. we do not want to have one article taxed at 15 per cent., whilst another article of precisely the same kind is taxed at 20 per Cent. Either make them both 15 per cent, or 20 per cent., as the case may be.” There are a great many unnecessary inequalities in the Tariff that can be removed in that way. In. connexion with the protectionist aspect of the question, a debate on a Tariff like this generally assumes a great many things that do not exist. We are dealing with this Tariff as if the whole and sole object of it were to insure a. protectionist policy for Australia. But, of course, that is not so. A large number of items in the Tariff are devised for revenue purposes much more than for protective purposes. A great number of items in the Tariff are not designed for the purpose of protection at all, though there are others which, whilst intended to protect, will inevitably also be of the nature of revenue Tariff duties. Senator McGregor made a very sensible remark this afternoon in connexion with that point. He seemed to grasp the fact very clearly. Let me gave an illustration. Take woollen piece goods. We have duties of 30 and -2; per cent, on those goods. But there is an immense variety of such goods. Every man who wears a tweed suit, or a cloth or serge suit, or a suit of any one of the infinite variety of woollen textiles brought into Australia to clothe men, uses an article thatis imported under the heading of woollen piece goods. And while a high rate of duty is imposed, particularly for protective purposes, we must not shut our eyes to the evident fact that even supposing we imposed duties of 200 per cent., a very large quantity of these fabrics would still necessarily be imported, partly because, at any rate, for a great many years to come we shall not be able to make a good many articles of this kind, and also because there is a great variety of stuffs which we shall never manufacture in Australia at all. The reason for that is that there is an infinite variety of textiles - infinite in design, colour, and weight - affected by the demands of fashion, the necessities of climate, and the taste of the various wearers.
– English tweeds are imported into America to-day.
– Yes, and many thousands of pounds worth of dress stuffs are imported into the United States, notwithstanding that that country is the most highly-protected hi the world. Why so? Because the fashions originate in Paris, in London, and other European capitals, and the manufacturers of those countries have to supply the world’s markets. First of all, a fashionable material originating in one of those countries takes the taste of the public, and then it is exported to America and Australia. For that reason we shall, probably, never manufacture certain woollen piece goods here. We shall continue to draw our supplies from places whence we draw our fashions, and we shall do that practically for all. time. Of course, by-and-by, when Australia is populated with a larger number of people, and is more capable of supplying its own wants, we shall be able to provide for ourselves to a far greater degree than we do at present. Our manufactures Will increase. But no matter what duties we impose, a large quantity of woollen piece goods will be imported for the reasons which I have already given. Our fashionable supplies will necessarily come from the countries from which our fashions come. Further than that, we cannot hope for many years to provide ourselves with that variety of machinery, skill, and workmanship which can only be developed in the large manufacturing centres of Europe, whence the world’s markets are supplied with these particular articles. It thus happens that duties imposed intentionally for protective purposes become revenue earning, and constitute a tax on the people. If we follow that argument a little further, and carry it into the arena of dress fabrics worn by ladies, it will be found, however bigoted we may be on the question of protection, that we are placing upon a wide variety of materials that must be imported, and which we are not likely to manufacture in Australia for many years to come, a very heavy tax indeed if we ‘mpose a stiff protective duty upon them. In this particular Tariff it will fall upon those least able to bear it. Even duties which are strongly protective in regard to the comparatively limited range of materials which we can make in Australia are “revenue producing. We should try to protect the manufacture of such goods as can be economically made here, because, of course, it is a physical possibility to make or produce within the Commonwealth almos’t anything. One of the questions we must ask ourselves is whether the local market is sufficiently large to justify us in trying to establish all the factories necessary to produce the variety of articles which fashion demands. The imposition of high rates upon certain dress materials is, therefore, I think, unwise. I was surprised to read, when it was first proposed to impose duties of 40 and 45 per cent, on dress fabrics, a letter written by one of the managers of Messrs. Foy and Gibson, stating that Australia should supply herself with all her dress material. Such a statement from a man who should know seemed to me absurd. Let honorable senators think of the immense variety of fabrics, colours, textures, and designs needed to produce the dress materials of a continent which” extends far into the tropics in one direction and to snowy Tasmania in another, and they will be able to realize that this is not likely to become a big item in Australian manufactures for the reasons I have stated. The chances are that several parts of Europe have been levied upon to supply the women of any small town in Australia with dress “fabrics. Tweeds have been successfully made in Australia, but thev are only occasionally in fashion as a dress material, and when out of fashion are not in demand. Fashions change quickly, and our mills are not adapted to meeting these changes. Thus duties on dress fabrics, though intended to protect, become a heavy tax, and fall largely on those least able to bear taxation. I listened with interest to. Senator Millen ‘s remarks on the subject of preference. I am with him in desiring that preference shall be given to Great Britain in regard to articles which we can import from that country, but I wish that preference to be solid and honest. To my mind, the preferential scheme embodied in the Tariff is a somewhat mixed one. I should like to see a broad and general principle applied, allowing the remission of a certain proportion of every duty in favour qf British goods.
– We propose a very definite preference in connexion with specific items.
– It is definite, but haphazard.
– It means what we say.
– I admit that we are giving Great Britain a certain amount of preference.
– Which .Great Britain thinks very little of.
– Great Britain is very solid on the question of free-trade, her public men being absolutely mad about it, and we have asked them to forsake their fiscal policy because of the small preference which we offer them.
– No suggestion of the kind is made either directly or indirectly.
– Was not the suggestion made that Great Britain should tax her food supplies?
– No such suggestion is contained in the proposals before us.
– I am aware that a recent statement made by the Prime Minister has somewhat altered the position. I am glad that we are to give Great Britain preference in regard to such articles as we are obliged to import. No matter what rates of duties may be imposed, we must still import large quantities of European manufactures and products, and it would be absurd to say that it is difficult to give a preference to Great Britain in. respect to those importations. We might well try to divert trade to Great Britain. But one of the main obstacles to the giving of preference to British goods has not been mentioned, and that is the difficulty of identifying such goods, distinguishing them from goods which merely come through British firms and are the manufacture of foreign countries. The British Merchandise Marks Act prohibits the sale of goods manufactured abroad unless they are labelled to show that they are of foreign manufacture. But in respect to importations to this country, there could easily be evasions of the law, where foreign goods were cheaper, of better appearance, or in some other way an improvement upon British goods.
– The honorable senator casts a great reflection on the commercial morality of the British.
– Not at all. One swallow does not make a summer, and one dishonest merchant does not make a nation dishonest. But honest traders suffer when dishonest traders go unpunished, and the sort of thing to which I am referring may. if carried on extensively, seriously affect our policy.
– Great Britain has a margin of , £7,500,000 to work on.
– And the margin is increasing.
– Althoughsome honorable members regard our finances as being now in a satisfactory position, I should have preferred to see the duties on cotton goods left as they were.
– Or10 per cent. against foreigners and 5 per cent. against British manufactures.
Senator MULCAHY. Yes. The rate against foreigners has been reduced to 5 per cent., while British goods are admitted free. The preference to Great Britain is not as substantial as it seems, because, in any case, a great part of these importations will come from that country. But there are in our warehouses a large quantity of American prints and of Dutch and German cotton goods, and the preference may prevent similar importations in the future. I should have liked the rates on cotton goods to beleft as they were, because I regard such goods as a legitimate subject for revenue taxation, so far as the incidence of the duties is concerned.
– Cotton goods are worn most generally by the poor.
– That is the general idea, but it is a very great mistake. Cotton goods are worn by all classes of persons, and an ad valorem duty falls much more heavily upon the higher varieties than it does upon the cheaper and commoner varieties. Cotton goods are not worn; in the sense that the honorable senator means, more largely by the poor than by the wealthy.
SenatorBest. - Who are the more numerous - the poor or the wealthy ?
– Surely the honorable senator does not expect me to answer such an absurd question ! May I ask him what his policy is in regard to cotton goods? Does he intend to stand by the action of his colleagues?
– The honorable senator was arguing about the poor not being made to chiefly suffer in this regard.
– I hold that a duty on cotton goods is more equable in its incidence than is any other duty collected through the Customs House that I know of. That has been my experience as a business man, and the idea that these goods are worn exclusively by poor persons is quite a mistake.
– But the greatest proportion of the revenue will be obtained from the poor.
– I do not think so.
– I am certain that it will be so, because there are more poor persons than wealthy.
– The highest varieties of cotton goods - the half-crown muslins, the very fine Indian cloths, and all those things - pay a substantial rate, whereas on the lower varieties a duty, of 5 per cent. is not perceptible. Although the duty on British imports has been repealed, I defy almost any one to be able to point out a single variety of cotton goods where the working man has obtained any benefit. As a matter of fact, the rate of duty was too small even when taken off to be considered, although in an economic sense some persons will get a benefit from its repeal. I have no doubt that the shopkeeper will look after his own interests first : that is natural. I intend to say only a very few words about the new protection, because I believe that my views on the question are pretty well known to honorable senators.
– Yes, we heard about the village blacksmith from the honorable senator.
– The honorable senator will hear more about him.
– The same blacksmith ?
– No; becauseI do not propose to go into matter which is not relevant to this Bill. So far as the theory is concerned, I am just as anxious as is any honorable senator to see the benefits of protection shared by the employer and the worker. But I believe that it is unconstitutional. I do not care what the verdict of the High Court may be. I hold a very strong opinion that this kind of legislation is absolutely against the spirit of the Constitution and the spirit of the deed of partnership, which ought to be a sacred bond between the States, and which wein the Senate ought to try to protect without raising too much the question of State rights.
– That is a serious reflection upon the High Court.
– Whatever its determination of the legal aspect of the question may be, I hold that the new protection is absolutely contrary to the spirit of the deed of partnership into which we entered. But, apart from that altogether, I have a very strong opinion that it will be absolutely impracticable, that it will break clown by reason of its own weight.
– Now the honorable senator is giving ushis opinion.
– That is my opinion.
– The honorable senator is not in favour of the new protection?
– I am not in favour of what I regard as an absurd and impracticable proposal, and I never was. I do not care what the honorable senator’s theories may be. If I believe that a measure will be unworkable and impracticable, I am not going to be a party to placing it upon the statute-book, and so make myself look ridiculous. My firm opinion is that this legislation will be absolutely impracticable - in fact, events have proved that already. The Government have not collected, have not dared to collect, the Excise duty on agricultural machinery.
– The honorable senator hopes that it will not be collected.
SenatorMULCAHY. - I do not want to be drawn into the use of any heated expressions.I hold very strong views on this subject, butI am not going to be led into trying to make men believe that we can do certain things for them by Act of Parliament which I know we cannot do. We cannot regulate these matters by Act of Parliament.
– The honorable senator does not want to do that.
– I do. I do not allow any monopoly of good-will towards the working man to be heldby the Labour Party, and I resent that claim very strongly. I want to do good to my fellowman just as much as does the honorable senator, and my history as a politician, before ever his voice was heard in politics, shows that very clearly.
– That will not go down here.
– I believe that the new protection is an improper interference with the sovereign rights of government which were left) to the States. I believe that it is absolutely against the spirit, if not the letter, of the Constitution, and above all things, I hold that we ought not to fool a number of working men into believing that we can do something which economic law tellsus is impossible, however good it may be in theory. I hope that when we get into Committee on the Tariff we shall be prepared to meet each other, however strong our views may be, in the spirit of give and take. I shall be very glad to assist, so far as I can, with any business knowledge I may happen to possess. I hope that honorable senators will, at any rate, give me credit for a desire to make the Tariff as consistent as possible, and, although I sit on what is known as the free-trade side of the chamber, I intend to deal with the Tariff as a protectionist and for the good of Australia.
– I do not think I made an unwise suggestion, as Senator McGregor seemed to think, when I suggested that the leader of the Senate should ask us to close this debate during the week, and now I shall do all I can to enable him to close it to-night. I have risen to speak for two reasons. One is that the friends with whom I act are hardly prepared to deal with the schedule to-night, so that we have another hour to spare.
– Oh, the honorable senator is stone-walling a bit.
– According to the honorable senator’s confession, he is.
– I said that we have an hour to spare to-night. I am taking it upin expressing my views, but I am not stone-walling.
– Could we not adjourn ?
– If my honorable friend had asked for an adjournmentI should not have risen to speak. My second reason for speaking to-night is a more important one, and that is because I understand from Senator Pearce that, as
Chairman of Committees, he would deem it to be his duty to restrict the discussion on the general question of preference to one item, and not to allow, as was done in another place, the principle to be discussed on any item. I think that honorable senators ought to uphold Senator Pearce in that regard, and it is because I wish to be loyal to his view that I desire to say a few words now on that question, which, in my opinion, is most vital to the maintenance and consolidation of the Empire. But before I do that, may I express my astonishment, though I do not know that I am very astonished, at the way in which some honorable -senators can deceive themselves, and, therefore, attempt to deceive . others. Nothing startled me more in the very admirable and terse speech delivered by my honorable friend who leads the Senate so well, than the fact that he has persuaded himself into the view that the great arid one issue at ‘the last election was protection versus free-trade, and that protection came out on top and justifies this enormous Tariff which has been before the public for some months.
– I quoted as my authority the leader of the Free-trade Party.
– My honorablefriend has forgotten the terse interjection of the leader on this side that Ministers must be very hard up for arguments if all they can do is to quote the leader of an Opposition. I repeat my leader’s aphorism and say that I would like to hear Senator Best show that that great issue was before the electors on that occasion. We all know - and I think that the phrase originated with Mr. Fairbairn - that the Victorian manufacturer is highly intoxicated with protection. It is quite likely that a man who is intoxicated with protection cannot walk straight or see straight. Some honorable senators may be affected in that way, and we can quite forgive our honorable friend opposite for imagining that protection was’ the great issue at the late election.
– No; the Government put it as a distinct issue.
– What has my honorable friend to say in reply to the statement of Senator Chataway that at sixty-eight meetings he did not hear the word mentioned except on one occasion ? Does he not know, as a matter of fact and history, that the question of free-trade or protection had nothing whatever to do with the elections in Queensland, and, I think, in Western Australia? His friend and supporter, Senator de Largie, will correct me if I am wrong. The question fought iri those States was that of Socialism versus anti-Socialism. I can assure my honorable friend that ihe issue in Tasmania was also one not of free-trade against protection, but of Socialism versus antiSocialism - Labour versus anti-Labour.
– I doubt if a candidate in Tasmania held a meeting at which the fiscal question was not raised.
– That is no argument. I spoke of a dozen different questions at my meetings, but the broad issue in Tasmania was more, one of Socialism against anti- Socialism - the advanced legislation, as my honorable friend calls it, of the Deakin Administration against that sound and progressive legislation which some of us consider to be far better than the new protection and other advanced legislative proposals of the Government - than of free-trade and protection.
– If the question at issue in Tasmania was that of free-trade versus protection what answer did she give, having regard to the representatives she returned ?
– She returned two protectionists to the Senate.
– In. 1902 we framed a Tariff on Mr. - now Sir Edmund - Barton’s famous aphorism of “ revenue without destruction.” That Tariff engaged the attention of another place for six months, and of the. Senate for three months. Upon the conclusion of our labours we congratulated ourselves that we had arranged a very fair compromise^ - I shall not say between freetrade and protection, because I regard freetrade in Australia as a thing of the past - but between’ the moderate protectionists and the Victorian ultra-protectionists. We congratulated ourselves that we had done very good work, and in that view I think we- were supported by the press. So well was the work performed that as the years 1902-3-4 rolled by the number of our factories and of bur workers increased, and their output was enlarged. It is true that our imports in some respects also increased, but our factories in almost every way were holding their own. So impressed were the people with these facts that the press - the Age not excepted - with one unanimous voice declared in favour of fiscal peace. What next happened? A clever member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Isaacs - now a respected member of the High Court Bench- thought that he would have a party go-in and worried Mr. Reid to . appoint a Tariff Commission :simply to rectify a few anomalies and to lead to the granting of a little more protection to what were spoken of as starving factories and strangled industries. The most was made of them, and the question of protection was cleverly dragged in to Mr. < Deakin’s Ballarat speech as ‘ against the anti-Socialism preached by Mr. Reid. The result was that the Reid-McLean Administration fell. The clever party dodge of Mr. Isaacs served its purpose. But it is absolutely incorrect to say, as the Vice-President of the Executive Council did, that the question at issue at the last general- election was that of protection versus free-trade. My honorable friend makes such a statement only because he (has misled himself into the belief that it is true, and therefore cannot help endeavouring to mislead others into the same belief.
– No. I quoted a statement made by Mr. Reid.
– If Australia were polled to-morrow on the question of whether we should have a protective as against a revenue Tariff, I arn satisfied that a considerable majority would declare in favour of protection, but no honorable senator could say that because of such a declaration he had a mandate from the people to support duties of 10, 15 and 20 per cent., or of 25, 30 and 40 per cent. Some of the duties in the schedule are altogether too high. I venture to say that they are contrary to the desire of the people, and would not be supported if a referendum could be taken on the one clear cut issue. It must be. apparent to any man- of common-sense, other than a Victorian manufacturer, intoxicated with protection, that the Tariff has upon it several large blots. It handicaps our primary industries, upon which the prosperity of Australia depends, and must mar to a considerable extent the progress of the Commonwealth. Senator Best will find that the great political economists agree that the first essential to the development of a new country is to look to the soil - to encourage agriculture - and that it is only when that country has been well peopled, when a home market has been secured and primary industries have been established, that heavy protective duties can be imposed with any prospect of success. That is the teaching of the history of the world, and it is folly and madness to attempt by the imposition of prohibitive duties, or by effective protection, to build up factories until the very greatest attention has been paid to the development of primary industries, and the “peopling of the country by means of immigration.
– Is there any room for land settlement in Tasmania?
– My honorable friend is always irrelevant.
– The honorable senator spoke of settling the land; he is always irrelevant.
– The primary industries should be encouraged. Senator Stewart. - What are they?
– The mining, agricultural, fruit-growing, and wool-raising industries, in connexion with all of which skilled and efficient labour, as well as manufactures, are required. Would any man of common-sense think of stifling such industries by -the imposition of duties of 25 per cent, and 30 per cent, on the tools of trade used by the men employed in them ? No items in the first Commonwealth Tariff occupied more of our time or involved more thought, discussion and brain fag, than did those relating to the mining and agricultural industries. After weeks of debate we arrived at a fair compromise by fixing the duties at 12^ per cent. In bringing down the Tariff now before us the Deakin Government propose enormous duties on the tools of trade of those engaged in the mining, agricultural, fruit and wool-growing industries, showing that they have no proper appreciation of the assets of the country whose affairs they are called upon to administer. A more reasonable compromise than the imposition of the duties of t2j per cent, could not have been devised. It was a recognition that manufacturers of ploughs, harvesters and similar implements and machinery who had established their industries under a protective policy were entitled to consideration, but it also took into account the man on the soil who enables us to say that having regard to the products that we raise, representing a value of £28 per head of the population, we are the greatest producing power on the face of the earth. The adoption of that compromise was an effort to relieve those engaged in these industries of the high protective duties imposed under the Victorian Tariff upon their tools of trade ; but it has now been departed from. A very unfair Tariff has been framed, under which manufactories have been exalted, although as compared with our primary industries they occupy only a very secondary position. Are there no honest men employed throughout Australia, and engaged in rearing and educating their families, save those working in factories? Are there not men working for farmers and fruit-growers, and working in our mines, who require consideration? By imposing enormous duties on mining machinery we shall prevent the working of low-grade propositions. Where the ores worked are not rich, if by the imposition of high duties on mining machinery we make it uncertain that capital can ‘be secured for the working of the mines, or persons possessing capital are led to fear the result of investing in mining, many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miners may be deprived of their employment? Vet some honorable senators would have us believe that protection for the workers in manufacturing industries is the only thing we need think about in the Senate. I repeat that the manufacturing industries are a bad second to the primary industries of the Commonwealth, and in looking through this Tariff nothing astonished me more than to note the enormous duties imposed on the very tools of trade required in our primary industries. I was talking only the other day to a mining man, who said that this year the company with which he is connected ordered some three or four’ very large and complicated machines, costing about £3,000 each, ‘ and on the £12,000 order for these machines they had to pay down £3,000 as duty under the. new Tariff. Is that the way to encourage our industries, or to enable our people to become wealthy ? Certainly it is not. I should like to say a word or two on the question of preference. I believe that the most important problem before British people at the present moment is the consolidation of the Empire, and I cannot understand any one attempting to compile a Tariff without considering that problem. I congratulate my honorable friends opposite upon trying to give effect to the principle of preference to Great Britain. I believe that the first measure introduced with that object was about as big a sham as was ever introduced by Ministers to give effect to a theory in which they believed.I was one of those who walked out of this chamber in the effort to damn that Bill,, because I was ashamed to think of what its effect would be if it were passed. I wasvery glad that it was destroyed. I think my honorable friends opposite can now be congratulated upon bringing in something moreTike a preferential Tariff. I am verygrateful indeed to the Opposition in another place for their efforts to increasethe preference proposed in favour of theMotherland. I shall esteem it a pleasure, as well as a duty, to see whether I cannot here further increase that preference. ThePrime Minister made some splendid’ speeches in England, but as they were soinconsistent with his first idea of preference, it appeared to me that the honorablegentleman was absolutely insincere. Ashe has now made an effort to give a preference to the Mother Country that, insome instances, is substantial, I can acquit’ him of insincerity in the matter: I only wish that statesmen at Home had not: slammed the door in his face as they did. There., is a great awakening upon this question in the Mother Country. I believed from the first that Mr. Chamberlain would win. If, unfortunately, it: should happen that he is taken from thearena of politics in Great Britain, I believethat the scheme for which he laid down his political life, and which he launched with, so much vigour and skill, will yet win the day, and a very great step will have been taken in the consolidation of the-. British Empire. I shall be very glad to> lend a hand in our Australian Parliament’ to bring about that consolidation. I - havehere a very admirable article entitled! “ Preference or McKinleyism : The Truth 1 about the Australian Tariff,” by- Mr. J.. L. Garvin, which appeared in the National Review for October. The writer says -
It is a duty of life and death urgency, in theeyes of Mr. Chamberlain’s adherents at least,, to point out that there is an Imperial interest common to our Dominions as a whole greater than the interest of any one of its parts which cannot be disregarded, in’ our view, even by the younger nations, without the gravest peril’ to their own ultimate safely.
He says again -
Australia is attempting a bolder policy under far less favorable conditions. Her Tariff” seems more extreme than the policy under which Canada has prospered. Unless she can secure an equally rapid increase of population the Tariff alone will not enable her to emulate Canada’s success.
And here is the point which I mentioned! just now in referring to the primary
Industries asbeing the foundation of our progress and those which should be attended to first -
FriedlichList would have maintained that a nation ought to begin with low Tariffs for developing agriculture, and ought to raise to high Tariffs for developing manufacturing power only when the home market had become sufficiently large. He would have argued that Australia was probably taking the second step before taking the first; that the new Tariff, though exerting a forcing effect on Victorian manufacture, must impose severe burthens upon the agricultural and mining interests in the Commonwealth ; that Western Australia and New South Wales were bound to resist; that the population is too small, the space over which it is distributed loo great to make a forced development of manufacture profitable to the community. Australian McKinleyism is a more adventurous fiscal experiment at the present stage than the United States ever yet made at one plunge. The new Tariff is an economic leap in the dark. … If the commerce and prosperity of the United Kingdom are reduced, by so much will the national existence of the Commonwealth be automatically jeopardized, since nothing but the existence of sea power enables the Australian people to exist as a nation and to develop protection with impunity.
Again, the writer says -
It is, at the sametime, true that if we cannot get more effective support from the Colonies in trade and arms than we are at present enjoying or promised, colonization would mean sheer loss of national blood leading to national death. That was Mr. Chamberlain’s case. Mutual preference is the only means of uniting the Empire, and without preference the rise of Colonial protection on purely local bases will help to destroy our commercial supremacy and disintegrate our Dominion.
I do not think it is possible to exaggerate the importance of this question of preference. I think it is greatly to be regretted that when the people of the Old Country had an opportunity of making an excellent start they threw away their chance. When Mr. Chamberlain came forward with his splendid policy and his splendid Imperialism, there was a little duty of1s. imposed on corn, which brought in no more than £2,400,000 a year, and which, perhaps, did not increase the price of thread to nine-tenths of the people of the United Kingdom, though it might have increased the price of offal, doing no harm to the consumer. Mr. Ritchie and Lord George Hamilton, stuffed full of Cobdenism, and unable to see the real interests of the Empire, and the use which a system of preference might be in its consolidation, though they did not suggest any other way of binding the Empire together, would have none of the scheme under which Mr. Chamberlain was prepared to use this duty of1s. on corn to establish a preference by imposing it on the product of foreign nations, and taking it off the corn imported from Australia, South Africa, and India. The two free-traders referred to practically wrecked the Government, and repealed the duty which, if it had been retained, would have given Great Britain something with which to barter with the protectionists of other countries.
– The honorable senator will admit that there were a. few voters in the constituencies, as well as the two gentlemen named, who thought in the same way.
– That is so, but my honorable friend knows what prejudice is, and knows the power of a phrase. He knows that the people of England have got it into their heads that free-trade made the Empire, although it was protection which made it in the first instance, and free-trade established at the psychological moment, led afterwards to an increase of British trade. I am bound to admit that it is. perfectly marvellous that Great Britain, under absolute free-trade, should have made such wonderful strides during the last few years. I hope that our Statistician will provide us with the statistics up to the 31st December last, that we may be able to see whether free-trade England has not relatively progressed quite as much as have Germany and the United States. For some time prior to the last few years, Great Britain was getting behind the protectionist countries, but she is nowgoing ahead. I do not profess to be able to solve these great questions, and arguments in favour of protection can be found in the history of every nation in the world, and in the history of England amongst the rest. In case my honorable friends opposite urge that protection is the only policy by which industries can be built up, let me give them one illustration which they will admit to be pertinent and striking. I refer to the illustration of the motor and cycle trade in Great Britain. All of us, I suppose, know that in regard to that trade, France originally took the lead, Germany came second, and Great Britain was a very bad third. I do not know what honorable senators thought about the matter, but I was almost despondent over it. I frequently found myself wondering why it was that with all the skill of the British workman, Great Britain occupied a. very bad third place instead of first place. It looked at one time, as the
Spectator said, as if protection was the only means by which that industry could be built up. But the latest statistics show that to-day Great Britain, is on a level with France and Germany in the motor and cycle trade, and that from the stand-point of prices she beats them both. That result has been achieved in the face of the greatest difficulties, under absolute freetrade conditions, and in spite of the fact that the other nations referred to enjoyed all the assistance conferred bv protective Tariffs.
– What is the honorable senator - a protectionist or a free-trader?
– I am a moderate protectionist. I am pointing out that it is a great mistake for honorable senators to think that the only way in which an industry can be encouraged is by piling up protective duties. Is there no such thing as skill amongst our workmen - no such thing as pluck ‘ and determination to win on the part of our manufacturers?
– Give them a show.
– The’ way to give them a show is not to doctor them with artificial stimulants. I believe that without any adventitious aid the motor industry in Great Britain has been established upon a firmer basis than it would have been had it been bolstered up by a high protective duty years ago. Free-trade conditions have forced her! workmen to exercise a greater degree of skill than they would otherwise have exercised. It has compelled her manufacturers to obtain the best raw material, and the best” machinery. Having done all that, they have made the trade an enormous success in the absence of the very means which Victorians appear to think is the only means of developing an industry. I understand that the preference given to the Mother Country under this Tariff will work out at about threefifths of the average preference conceded to her under the Canadian Tariff. I rather differ from Senator Mulcahy upon the question of what is the better way of granting a preference. I think that the plan adopted by the House of Representatives is tetter than that adopted by the Dominion of Canada. The former has exercised discrimination. I think it is better for us to look at the facts and the statistics relating to each item of the schedule, and then to determine the degree of preference which shall be granted to the United Kingdom in respect of it, than to insist rigidly upon a preference of onethird or one-fourth being extended toBritish imports. I would point out that the Chambers of Commerce of the Old Country by an enormous majority - by 1,077 to 472 votes - have decided in favourof preferential trade and an Imperial Customs Union.
– An “Imperial Customs Union.” What does that mean?
– It means reciprocal’ trade within the Empire. I listened with some pleasure to the definition of protectiongiven by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. When he spoke of “ effective “ protection, I thought “that he intended to declare - as most protectionistsdo - that protection tobe “effective” must protect, and that therefore we ought to> levy such duties upon the various items in the schedule as will practically prevent foreign nations from successfully competingagainst Australian manufactures. But I understand that effective protection, according to him, means that we should imposeduties which will equalize conditions in theMother Country and Australia from thestandpoint of the- cheaper raw material and labour available in the former, and that we shall then levy a slightly higherduty in order to afford our own manufacturers a little protection. As a moderateprotectionist, I cannot see that such a proposal is unfair. But Senator McGregor wishes to go further than. his leader. Hedesires to equalize the conditions as between the Commonwealth and the MotherCountry and then to secure a very large - measure of protection. By so acting we should make the Australian manufacturera very flabby individual.
– Just as they do in America and Germany.
– At the present timeGerman unemployed are walking the streets of Berlin in thousands. There are 12,000- there beseeching the Treasurer to afford” them employment.
– When I was in London a? couple of years ago the unemployed numbered hundreds of thousands.
– Of course we aretold that there is no. such thing as moderateprotection, but does it not occur to honorable senators that the truth often lies between two extremes? May.it not thereforefollow . that moderate protection is theproper policy for us to adopt?
– Moderate protection is; represented by the present Tariff.
– No. This Tariff contains many anomalies which ought to be rectified, and in its incidence it will fall heavily upon the primary producers. It imposes duties of 30 per cent, and 4° per cent, which I hope to see reduced. With regard to the new protection, I think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council and his colleagues will be absolutely relieved from any attempt to carry put their most extraordinary policy. It must be apparent to everybody, except those who deceive themselves, like the members of the Labour Party, that the scheme is unconstitutional, and that we cannot possibly use the power of taxation to put on the screw in the way that is proposed. We cannot say to an employer, “If you pay your men so much a week we will not tax you. If you put up your shutters at 5 o’clock in the day we will not tax you, but if you do not put them up till 6 o’clock we will tax you.” Did any elector in the Commonwealth when he voted for the Constitution Bill imagine that he was voting for such a state of affairs? The members of the Labour Party are apparently endeavouring to work up a bit of a “ funk “ over this matter. This afternoon I heard Senator Findley - who is particularly good at making unfair interjections - say to Senator MoColl, “ Oh, we cannot expect any help for the worker from you.”
– That was a perfectly fair interjection considering the statement made by the honorable senator who was then on his feet.
– It was a very untrue statement. The honorable senator was “hipped” at the time.
– The interjection was a very untrue one. At the same time, it gives us a glimpse of the inner workings of the honorable senator’s mind. It evidences that he and a good many of his colleagues often act when they are here as if they thought they had to protect the worker and nobody else. It shows that the Labour Party frequently go in for nothing but class legislation. I maintain that the worker has no special claim to our help in this connexion. He ought to receive justice - neither more nor less. We ought to extend the same measure of justice and fair play to every man in the Commonwealth. The interjection was unfair, and stamped Senator Findley as a class legislator. T marvelled at the injustice with which he tried to attack Senator McColl when he was making a most statesmanlike and reasonable speech.
– I “ did not attack him. He was making an attack om the protectionist policy.
– What is the meaning of the whole Labour Party, including Mr. Deakin and his Government, running away from all their advanced legislation? Have they no faith in Wages Boards or factories legislation, or Conciliation and Arbitration Courts? They have no pluck, no courage. They have thrown all that to the winds, and are siding -with those who proclaim it to be a failure. It is not a failure, and we ought to continue to think and act until we have made it a success. It is not necessary to resort to the powers of taxation to see that workmen are fairly dealt with. . I deny that the workmen of this community should be under a compliment to Senator Findley, and those who think with him, for giving them this novel and unjust new protection, or that that is the only effective way in which fair working conditions can be got. I will make one to see that there is a proper tribunal established between every factoryowner and his workmen, and that the conditions of labour are fair. But I will do it in a direct and plain manner, so that the man in “the street will know where he is, and not trust to this newfangled system of protection. For six years every member of that party, from ‘Ministers down, has declared again and again that ‘the States had everything to do with industrial life, and that we could not interfere unless we amended the Constitution. It would be interesting to know how almost within six days they have come to the conclusion that they can use the powers of taxation to put on the screw, to do what they like, and to take away from the States the whole of the powers of industrial legislation which they were supposed to have. A more extraordinary thing never happened in the political world’. Talk about party politics and dodges and political tricks : what can be said of a thing of that sort? For six years they all knew and admitted that these matters rested with the States; But now for a small party triumph, and to go before the world with a misleading policy, they pretend that under the Constitution they can tax people into paving fair wages.
– What has thehonorable senator done to- remedy the sweating conditions that were proved, before the recent Royal Commission, to exist an Tasmania?
– I do not belong to the Tasmanian Parliament, but if my honorable friend had listened he would have heard me say that I would make one to have in Tasmania - and I would declare it from the house-tops - a tribunal to which these matters could be referred. There must be such a tribunal.
– The honorable senator’s party is in power in Tasmania.
– I am responsible only for myown actions.
– If the honorable senator disowns his own party we can understand it.
– “ The evil that men do lives after them:”
– Am I to infer that I have been doing evil, as Senator Findley suggests? Does not Senator Russell know that years ago I introduced into the Tasmanian Parliament a Workmen’s Compensation Act, and passed it through the Assembly, but it was thrown out in the Council? When I left State politics I asked my friend, Sir Elliott Lewis, to introduce the Bill again, believing it fair that a man should get compensation, no matter how the accident occurred. It was passed a second time in the Assembly, and again thrown out in the Council.
– Compensation Acts do not cure sweating.
– What have I to do with sweating ? Is not sweating going on at our very doors? That is another splendid illustration of how the Labour members think that they are the only people who hate sweating and try to put it down. They are the only people, thank God, who swallow such nostrums as the new protection, and think that they will get credit for it in this world and the next. I shall be very happy to go before the workers of Victoria and Tasmania and tell them that they will get no help from me towards giving them their bread and their honest wages by a roundabout cumbersome method like the new protection, which is sure to break) clown, which in fact has broken down already, and which Ministers have not had the pluck to put into force. I would give them a direct judicial tribunal that every man could understand. I would have ajoint committee first, and if necessary lock the two sides up in a room until they agreed. If they could not agree I would have the Conciliation Board, and if then they could not agree I would have the Arbitration Court, and take very good care to have the Act so framed that both sides should be punished if the award was not adhered to. It is argued that it is not possible to fine a thousand men £5 each ; but do not the State authorities here collect the income tax and pettyfogging taxes like Codlin moth rates and all sorts of shilling and eighteenpenny rates from hundreds of thousands of people? If there were a Government in power which had the pluck to do it, it could fine any number of men apiece if they deliberately broke an award. I am astonished that after all these years of toil in rearing up these tribunals, which ought to be the strength and protection of, and the fountain of justice to, the working men, the Labour Party and the Government are going to throw them all to the winds because theyhave got hold of the new protection idea. I do not admire either their wisdom or their commonsense.
. When I heard the Vice-President of the Executive Council stating his opinion of what a protectionist should be, I quite agreed with him. I believed that he was going to promise to alter the anomalies in the Tariff as it has come to us. He went on to say that he believed in protection sufficient to put the manufacturer throughout the Commonwealth on the same footing as the manufacturer in the Old Country, giving the extra cost of labour and material here, and a shade over. I am a protectionist of that stamp, but I am not a protectionist of the kind who puts on duties of 30 or 40 per cent., which make the consumer all over the Commonwealth pay a higher price for his living and for everything that he uses. That is what is happening to-day, as I have letters by the dozen to prove. I am not a protectionist of that stamp.
– That is rather a novel proposition.
– The novel proposition, if any, came from the honorable senator himself.
– And the honorable senator agreed with it.
– I agreed with the honorable senator to the extent which I have already stated. I do not thinkthat the protection which he outlined goes to 30 per cent. or 40 per cent. I am certain that a Tariff that would reach perhaps half that rate would meet the conditions which the honorable senator mentioned.
– I said it would not.
– I hope that later on the honorable senator will be able to show that such is the case. If he can show it to my satisfaction. I shall vote with h’.m. If not, I shall vote against him. We were told that protection was in the air at the last election. I had some hundreds of meetings and never heard it. The only question we were asked was “ What about the Tariff?” We said that we were prepared to let the Tariff remain as it then existed, and no fault was found with that answer, except in one instance, throughout the whole of Queensland. Consequently the old Tariff must have suited the people there fairly well. I am told now that wages have not gone up, but that the cost of living has increased, under the new Tariff. I expected to hear the Minister and other honorable senators opposite tell us’ how the new protection was going to act, but they have all been silent upon it. It was understood that before the Tariff was finally passed we should have an intimation of how this new or scientific protection would act as regards the consumer and the workers in the factories. But we are kept quite in the dark, and are asked to pass this new, scientific, protective Tariff without having any idea how it will affect the workers or the consumers. ‘ An honorable senator to-night read a letter from a man who had been two years in the highly protected Dominion of Canada, and who had come to the conclusion, in view of the cost of living, that he was no better off there than he had been in the Old Country. That man pointed out that the only people who prospered in Canada were those who came with money, or those who settled on the land, mechanics being there in ample numbers. I think that exactly the same statements might be made about Australia. The highly protective. Tariff of Canada does not do the working man any good, just as I believe the Tariff before us will not be of an v benefit to him. A Tariff such as that defined by the Vice– President of the Executive Council would ‘give manufacturers fair and reasonable profit, but, as a matter of fact, we are asked to impose duties which will add lo the cost of living of every one in the community, while wages will remain stationary. In the case of the mining industry there is a duh of 2.=; per cent, on machinery, though a large proportion cannot, owing to patents, be manufactured within the Commonwealth. During our visit to Lithgow we saw that the machinery in use there was imported, and the same conditions prevail in the mining industry.
– Mention some machinery that cannot be made here?
– There are rock drills, for example.
– Nonsense !
– It is no nonsense. It might be said that employers in the mining industry have a prejudice against local machinery ; but, as a matter of fact, the men themselves, and contractors, stipulate for the imported article. I know a merchant who has eight or ten rock drills that were made in Australia, and he is unable to dispose of them, even at cost price. And yet we are asked to pass a Tariff which will compel users of mining machinery to pay 25 per cent. more.
– There was ev.dence before the Tariff Commission on that point.
– A great deal of tha* evidence was farcical. The Tariff Commission went, only to certain places, and took the evidence of men who had no connexion with the industry. I suppose that honorable senators, like myself, have been inundated with letters from manufacturers, who, even if they employ only fifty men, desire special protective legislation. But how many men are there in the country who have to earn their living without any legislation of the kind? In Queensland many low-grade ores have to be worked, and a high Tariff is most prejudicial, in view of the fact that the margin of profit is so’ small. A manufacturer who employs only 100 men demands protection, but, at the same time, he desires his raw material to be admitted free. No attempt whatever is made to bolster up the great mining industry, although, if a district fails, and, perhaps, 2,030 men are thrown idle, what becomes of their families, seeing that the men cannot turn then hands to any other occupation? Yet this may be the result of the bolstering up of manufacturing industries by means of high duties. It is well known that the whole object and aim of the Tariff is to bolster up Victoria. That State has called for protection morning, noon, and night. But I have no hesitation in saying that if tha Tariff which the Victorian people would accept were submitted by referendum to Australia as a whole, it would be rejected. Not an honorable senator on the Government side has enlightened lis as to the meaning of the new protection. We were led to understand that under this scheme the men in factories would receive higher wages, while consumers would lie charged no more for the goods. As a matter of fact, however, consumers have, under the Tariff, to pay higher prices, though we were assured that local competition would reduce them.
– Does the honorable senator expect local competition to spring up in five minutes?
– We were told that the new protection would increase wages and insure that higher prices would not be charged to consumers.
– That is the law.
– But the law is not put into force, and, in my opinion, the High Court will declare it unconstitutional. When we last met, there was a great cry about Mr. McKay, a manufacturer of harvesters, and the new protection ; but the Government have done nothing whatever towards collecting the Excise. In the case of income tax, the Government collect first, and then go to law.
– The Government have adopted the necessary legal procedure to recover the Excise.
– To the eye of the layman, the procedure seems very slow. How many times have I not heard Senator Findley and others denounce the Government for not taking action, though now we hear nothing of the matter.
– Because we have started our proceedings, and the case is sub judice.
– Surely the Government could collect the revenue according to the law of the land.
– Step in and take it out of the manufacturer’s cash-box, I suppose !
– It seems to me that the whole procedure under . this Act has been half-hearted. What I want to know is why the Excise has not been collected? It appears that the Government have a doubt about the law. As far as preference goes, I am with the Government, and I shall try before this Tariff gets through to increase still further the amount of preference to be given to the Mother Country.
I believe that we shall be set! ing a good example by so doing. The signs of the times in Great Britain indicate a revulsion of feeling on the part of the people, and I believe that before many years are over we shall have a Customs Union within the Empire. I read the other day that when a seat in the House of Commons became vacant through the appointment of a member to a vacant Judgeship, the by-election which occurred was fought on the Tariff question, and was won against the Government. That is a fair indication of a change in opinion. We should do all we can to foster that change by our own policy of preference. Therefore, when we get into Committee, I shall endeavour to increase the amount of preference proposed to be given.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause i (Short Title).
– I had hoped that the Minister would agree to report progress, considering the lateness of the hour and the amount of work done.
– There is no harm in passing the title.
– I was going to suggest that the whole of the preliminary clauses should be postponed until we have dealt with the schedule.
– If there is any objection to going on with the clauses I will consent to that course.
Clauses 1 to 9 postponed.
– I direct attention to the fact that there is a heading to the schedule containing certain definitions and other provisions bearing upon the schedule itself. I therefore propose to put the preliminary paragraphs as a question to the Committee.
– I have not looked through these preliminary paragraphs, but I take it that they are the same as those contained in the previous Tariff.
– That is so. We will dispose of the preliminary paragraphs, and then I propose to report progress..
Preliminary paragraphs agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 January 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080123_senate_3_43/>.