3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to announce to the Senate that the Government have, on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth, transmitted through His Excellency, the Governor -General a cable message indicating the horror with which this part of the Empire has received the news of the dastardly outrage resulting in the death of the King and the Crown Prince of Portugal. I am quite sure that what the Government have done in this matter will meet with the approbation of the Senate.
– Can there be any discussion on that announcement?
– No; there is no motion before the Senate.
Senator MILLEN presented a petition from 384 persons, being members of the watch and clock trade resident in the several States of the Commonwealth, praying the Senate to reduce the duties on watches and clocks.
Petition received and read.
– I am not at present in a position to make any announcement on the subject.
– I should like to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question without notice. ‘ It has reference to a statement which appeared in the press recently to the effect that the Treasurer is having prepared an analysis showing the effect upon the revenue of the Commonwealth of the Tariff now in operation. I should like to ask whether my honorable friend can expedite the preparation of- that analysis, and cause it to be laid on the table of the Senate? I assume that the analysis will, of course, show how much of the added revenue is due to the new duties, and how much to the larger importations under all items.
– I shallbe very happy to bring the suggestion and statement of my honorable friend under the notice of the Treasurer, and shall try to expedite the completion of the analysis to which he refers.
– With reference to a question that I asked on Friday, I now desire to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether he has yet received information relative to the practice of the non-payment for Sunday work done by telegraphists in Western Australia, and as to the reason why the new regulation on this subject is not in force in that State?
– I transmitted to the Postmaster-General for reply the two following questions -
I have been furnished by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department with the following replies -
The Public Service Commissioner has ruled that the intention of Regulation 66 is that where an officer works on Sunday and time off can be given so as to restrict work to six consecutive days he is to be allowed half a day’s additional pay for a full day and a proportionate part for less than a full day ; but where it is not possible to so conduct the work and an officer is required to be on duty on seven or more consecutive days in consequence of having to w.ork on Sunday, he shall be allowed i£ days’ pay for a full day on Sunday and a proportionate amount, for less than a full day.
– Arising out of the answer given by the Minister of Home Affairs, I should like to ask him whether he will draw the attention of the Public Service Commissioner to the resolution passed by the Senate disallowing the regulation, to which reference is made, and. insisting that in the cases referred to payment should be made for overtime? Will the Minister bring that resolution under the notice of the Commissioner?
– I forget the terms of the resolution to which the honorable senator refers, but I shall have the attention of the Public Service Commissioner specially directed to it.
– I desire to ask whether the Postmaster-General approves of the reply just given by the Minister of Home Affairs to the question put by Senator Pearce, and which the’ Minister stated was that of the Postmaster-General’s Department ?
– Does the honorable senator wish to know whether the Postmaster- General is satisfied with the reply?
– I presume that he is, since the reply was furnished to me not by the Public Service Commissioner but by the Postmaster-.General’s Department. That being so, I take it that it has the approval and indorsement of the PostmasterGeneral.
– I understood the Minister to state that the reply which he gave was that of the Department and not of the Postmaster-General, which is a totally different matter.
– But the Postmaster-General is responsible.
– The . question is whether he is or is not.
– If the honorable senator desires to ask a further question, he may do so, but he cannot debate the matter.
– Then, sir,I shall ask the Minister of Home Affairs if the reply which he gave was that of the PostmasterGeneral ?
– I cannot say. The reply was . received by me a few minutes before the Senate met, and reached me, in the ordinary course, as replies from other Departments do. If my honorable friend desires it, however, I shall endeavour to help him to obtain the personal opinion of my honorable colleague, Mr. Mauger. If he will give notice of his question, I shall be glad to send it on for a reply.
– May I ask the Minister of Home Affairs if the answers to questions which he gives, on behalf of other Ministers, and which are furnished by their Departments, are not answers for which the Minister at the head of each Department is responsible?
– Then I take it that the reply which the Minister gave to the question put by Senator Pearce is the reply, notof the Postmaster-General’s Department, but of the Postmaster-General himself? That is what I wish to get at.
Strike of Lads - Employment of Boy Labour - Establishment of Commonwealth Office
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether his attention has been called to a short article in the Age, to theeffect that a strike has taken place amongst the boys employed at the Government Printing Office; and, if his attention has been called to that strike, how he reconciles the causes which led to it with the replies that he gave to me, some five or six weeks ago, when I asked questions relating, to the employment of boys in the Government Printing Office, and the wages which they received? I may say incidentally
– There can be no debate ora the question.
– The Minister then said that the boys themselves preferred night work to day work. I interjected “bosh”; and since then the boys have shown that they have no such preference.
-The honorable senator must not areue the matter.
– I have also to ask whether the Commonwealth is to , be a party to the violation of an Act of Parliament
– I would point out that the . honorable senator, in raising that question, is now touching upon ‘a matter of argument. He should simply put a question to the Minister.
– Then I shall ask Senator Best whether the Commonwealth Government will be a party to the violation of a State Act piohibiting boys under the age of sixteen being employed at night. Further, I should like to know if the Minister will inquire whether there is a Wages Board determination as to the remuneration of boys employed at night in this capacity.
– I have seen in. the newspapers articles relating to a strike on the part of certain lads employed by the Government Printer of Victoria.
– In the employ of the Common wealth.
– No; in the employ of the Government Printer.
– Doing Commonwealth work.
– We are not directly concerned with the employment of any of the men or lads engaged in the Government Printing Office. The matter is wholly and solely within th’e cognisance and control of the State Treasurer. As to the statement which I made to the Senate, and to which Senator Findley has referred, I would remind him that I said at the time that, according to the Government Printer, the boys preferred to work at night rather than during the day. I made that statement after making inquiries from the Government Printer, and I gave my authority for it. Nothing further than what he told me was within my personal knowledge. I believe that the strike has terminated ; that arrangements have been made for the lads to return to their employment,, and further, that the State Treasurer has the matter now immediately under his attention, and has a.greed in some cases to increase the wages of the lads to the extent of 3s. and 4s. per week more than the amount fixed by the Wages Board. I believe, also, that the State Treasurer is in consultation with the Wages Board on the subject. Fortunately the strike has been, I think, satisfactorily terminated.
– I should like ari answer to the important question that I put to the Vice-President of the Executive Council as to whether or not the Commonwealth Government is going to permit boys under the age of sixteen years to be engaged at night on Commonwealth work, contrary to the provisions. of a State Act.
– I have already explained to my honorable friend that we have nothing whatever to do with that matter.
– The” Commonwealth Government have everything to do with it; they find the money.
Seinator BEST. - I have already explained to the Senate on more than one occasion the arrangements we have made with theState Government, under which we have nothing whatever to do with the employment of any men or lads in connexion with this work.- It is very difficult for me to think that the State Government would ignore or do violence to their own laws, but I shall be happy to bring under the notice of the State Treasurer the representations of my honorable friend.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the agreement between the Commonwealth and the State Government is of such a character as precludes the introduction of a new clause to prevent the employment at night of young lads in connexion with Commonwealth printing ?
– I have already stated the arrangement as it stands,, and have made the further intimation that I shall be very happy to ask my honorable colleague the Treasurer to bring under the notice of the Treasurer of Victoria the representations made by Senator Findley.
– In view of this further evidence of the unsatisfactory state of affairs in relation to the Government Printing Office of Victoria and the arrangements between the Commonwealth and the State in respect to Commonwealth printing, is the Vice-President of the Executive Council prepared to give the Senate a guarantee that the Government are expediting the organization of Federal Government printing works ?
– I can give no such guarantee. We regard the arrangement made with the State Government as very satisfactory, and I think Parliament has looked at it in the same light.
– May I remind the honorable senator that certain promises have been made.
– I do not think that the Government would be justified in incurring the expense which would be immediately involved’ in establishing a Commonwealth Printing Office.
– It would mean a saving of money.
– It is thought that the present arrangement is mutually satisfactory, and particularly- advantageous to the Commonwealth Government.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he is yet in possession of the information relating to the Tariff, for which I asked some days ago?
– I am not aware of the particular statement to. which my honorable friend refers. I have already furnished all the information that I promised. That is to say, a statement has been submitted embodying the Customs rates in force under “the Tariff, of 1902, the recommendations of both sections of the Tariff Commission, and the importations and duty payments for the year 1906. I understood that my honorable friend desired to obtain complete information up to the end of 1907, but I pointed out to him at the time that its preparation would involve an immense amount of work, and that it would not be so reliable as that for 1906. In addition to that, I have had. circulated among* t honorable senators - and I am sure that Senator Stewart must have received a copy of it - an index to the Tariff which enables one to put his finger upon any particular item immediately.
– Did not Senator Stewart, in his previous question, ask that a return should be. furnished, showing the form in which the Tariff left the other House ?
– In reply to Senator Stewart’s question I stated that the Tariff in the form in which it was originally introduced had already been circulated.
– But the form in which the Vice-President has now given the information merely embodies the Tariff as it was originally introduced.
– No. The schedule to this Bill embodies the Tariff as it was passed by the other Chamber. The schedule, in the form in which it was originally introduced,, has already been circulated.
– The other schedule, in conjunction with that which has already been .circulated, gives the whole of the information desired by Senator Stewart.
– Seeing that the Government have seen fit, in the name of the people of Australia, to send a message expressing their abhorrence and indignation at the death of a King who dissolved his Parliament and usurped despotic power, who taxed the people-
– Order. Will the honorable senator resume his seat? I do not consider that that is a question which he is in order in putting to a Minister. It contains certain allegations against a deceased Sovereign - allegations which are very disorderly, and I cannot permit a question of the kind to be put.
– I submit that I have a right to ask the question.
– I will not allow the honorable senator to put to the Minister a question embodying such assertions, which may or ma-y not be correct.
– I am assured that they are correct, and i submit that I have a right to ask the question. If I cannot ask it in one way I shall bring it before the Senate in another way. This is merely an attempt to “choke off” the truth.
– I have already told the honorable senator that I consider’ the statements which he is making are not statements which should, be embodied in any question.
– I hold that view so strongly that I shall not permit any statements of the kind to be embodied in questions submitted to Ministers. Whether the honorable senator can deal with the matter in another way is an entirely different question.
– This is the gag. It is an assumption of despotic power just as much as was that of King Carlos.
-I have already told the honorable senator that he is out of order, and I shall take other steps if he forces me to do so. Whilst I am in the Chair I will maintain order.
– I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council to inform the Senate of the text of the message that has been despatched on behalf of the people of Australia. Until we know its text, we are somewhat in the dark as to its true import.
– I have not the message immediately at. hand, but I will send for it at some stage before the adjournment of the Senate.
– What right had the Government to express sympathy with the death of a monster like that?
– Senator -Stewart has just used certain words in reference to a message which has been despatched on behalf of the Commonwealth-
– Order. I pointed out just now that we cannot have statements, which may or may not be correct, embodied in questions put to Ministers. I have already dealt with the question proposed to be put by Senator Stewart, and I do not see that any good purpose can be served by re-opening the matter at the present time.
– I do not wish to reopen discussion-, but merely to ask whether it is proper that an honorable senator should apply the word “monster” to a Sovereign? Senator Stewart used that word after you, sir, had spoken, and I think that it should be withdrawn.
– Of course, it is highlv disorderly for an honorable senator to make use of an expression of that character, but I did not hear Senator Stewart employ it. If he did so, I presume that it was after he had resumed his seat.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Government will cause a message of sympathy, in the name of the people of the Commonwealth, to be de-‘ spatched to the people of Portugal, whose liberties have been so grossly outraged?
– The Government have no intention of sending such a message.
– You are with the mighty tyrant every time.
– I am now in possession of the text of the message which has been despatched at the instance of the Government. It reads -
The people of Australia desire to express deepest sympathy with widowed Queen of Portugal, and abhorrence of crime of last Saturd a y . - Northcote.
– Should I be in order in moving an addition to the wording of that message?
– No. The document read by the Vice-President of the Executive Council is simply the text of the message which has been sent. It is not a motion before the Senate, and therefore it is not competent to add anything to it.
– It is a great pity that a message of sympathy was not also despatched to the people of Portugal.
– The honorable senator must see at once that he is now attempting to discuss . my ruling. The wisdom or unwisdom., the propriety or impropriety, of sending a message . of that kind is not the question under discussion at the. present time, and honorable senators must restrain themselves from attempting to deal in an irregular way with a-, subject of that character.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he has procured from the Postmaster-General’s pepartmont the information which last week he promised to obtain in reference to the painting of telegraph poles in Adelaide ?
– I have received no information from the PostmasterGeneral relative, to the matter since I furnished my previous reply. But I shall expedite the receipt of further information, and I shall be pleased to furnish it to the honorable senator.
– I wish to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he has seen the report of a. speech ‘ delivered by the Postmaster-General at some function in Sydney, a portion of which I intend to paraphrase? The report in question alleges that Mr. Mauger stated that he had recommended the appointment of i.ooo additional permanent hands in the Sv.dney General Post Office, and that Sir William Lyne had refused to make the necessary financial provision, alleging the drought as the reason why it was not advisable to make these appointments at the present time I now propose to read the exact words of the report, which states -
The drought, however, was a bogey, and should not be considered as a factor in the national expansion of a Department such as the Post Office.
Mr. Spence. The Department should not be dependent for funds on the whim of the Treasury.
Mr. MAUGER. We are suffering from that policy to-day.
I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, first, whether he has seen the report to which I refer, and secondly, as it is obvious that Ministers are unable to agree as to the policy which should rule in the Postmaster-General’s Department, will the Government take some steps to end the chaos which prevails there ?
– I have seen the report referred to, but am quite unable at this juncture to comment on it, because I am not aware of its accuracy, or otherwise.
– Regarding the question which I put to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, on Thursday last, I desire to ask, without notice, whether the Minister is. now prepared to lay upon the table copies of documents relating to the classification of the position occupied by, and promotion of, Mr. E. A. Blakney, in the General Post Office, at Hobart. If the Minister is not able to lay the documents ora the table to-day, will he kindly see that all correspondence in connexion with the classification and promotion is included ?
– On the last day of sitting, after having on the previous day replied to Senator Mulcahy, I replied to Senator Clemons that I would ask the Public Service Commissioner to furnish a report as to the substantial grounds for the appointment. Senator Mulcahy now asks that the correspondence be also tabled. That correspondence will ‘be with the Commissioner. I shall direct his attention to the honorable senator’s request. I do not know whether there is any reason why it should not be tabled. I am speaking, of course, on the spur of the moment. At any rate, I shall ask the Commissioner if he will be kind enough to furnish with the report the correspondence, or copies of it.
– In view of the statement of the Prime Minister with regard to the preparation of certain Bills for submission to Parliament, may I ask the Vice-President of the “Executive Council, without notice, whether he will make a statement to-morrow, or later, as to. what work the Government propose to ask Parliament to do after the Tariff is disposed of? In making that statement, will the Government take into consideration the fact that it will be very convenient for most of us that this session should, end after we have disposed of the Tariff., if we have to meet again in July or August ? .
– I do not think it will be possible for me to make such a statement to-morrow. But when we are approaching the conclusion of the consideration of the Tariff, if the honorable senator will then repeat the question, I think I shall be in a better position to say something than I am at present.
– Will the VicePresident of the Executive Council state the date on which the Excise Harvester case is set down for argument before the High Court? Do the Government intend to proceed with the new protection policy before the decision of the High Court has been given?
– It is our full intention to proceed with the new protection policy.
– Without hearing the decision of the High Court?
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following papers -
Public Service Act - Repeal of Regulation74, and substitution of new Regulation in lieu (Hereof Statutory Rules 1908, No. 13.
Copy of a report by the Military Commandant, Victoria, in rega’rd to the transport services in connexion with the recent manoeuvres of the 6th Australian Infantry Regiment in the vicinity of Heidelberg, 25th, 26th January, 1908.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
I may add, with reference to an inquiry made by Senator Millen, whether, when I was obtaining this information for Senator Stewart, I would ascertain the reason why the system broke down, that I am informed by the Secretary to the Postmaster-General that the memorandum which was recently read in the Senate upon the matter did not state or suggest that the system broke down. In New South Wales and Tasmania it was abolished by the States Governments, and it is reported that, in South Australia, it died a natural death.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 31st January, vide page 7786):
Division IV. - Agricultural Products’ and Groceries.
Item 53 - Fish ……
Upon which Senator McColl had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 53 by adding the following new paragraph : - “ (G) Fresh New Zealand Blue Cod, free.”
– I moved in this matter just previous to progress teeing reported on Friday last. Since then I have received more information, which I will put before the Chamber in the ‘ words in which it is supplied to me. First, it is said that blue cod - the fish which I desire to have admitted free into Australia - is found only in New Zealand waters. Then I am informed that -
We ask for the duty to be taken off blue cod only, not off any other class of fish from New Zealand, as it would go against and compete with our local fishermen. We have no fish in Australia to take the place of blue cod for smoking.
It was stated by the Minister of Home Affairs, that trumpeter took the place of the blue cod. I am informed that -
Hobart trumpeter in no way competes with blue cod, nor does the importation of blue cod interfere in any way with the sale of trumpeter, because trumpeter is a very scarce fish, and, as a matter of fact, only a few (two to four) cwt. is imported monthly, when it realizes a very high price - from10d. to1s. 6d. per lb. fresh. It is then only used as a boiling fish, and. is never smoked.
The yearly catch of Hobart trumpeter would not supply the Victorian requirements . for one week as a smoked fish, therefore, blue cod does not hurt the sales of trumpeter. Barracouta in no way competes with blue cod, nor does blue cod interfere with the sales of barracouta, which at the best is’ only a cheap, coarse class of fish, and sold so much per dozen, while blue cod ls fold per lb. Barracouta is a peculiar fish, and sometimes leaves pur shores for weeks and months at a time. What, then, would the smokers be doing? The works would have to close down, whereas the blue cod and barracouta help to keep the works going. Trevalla in no way competes with blue cod, because it is principally used as a boiling, fish, and has been practically non-existent for the past three years. No one can name any other ‘ Australian fish suitable for smoking, and as we have shown that blue cod does not in any way interfere with them,- we again say that there is no fiih in Australia to take the place of blue cod for smoking.
Blue cod is sent here from New Zealand in a frozen state, gutted and cleaned only - all the labour necessary for curing and smoking is done in Melbourne, which provides employment to a number . of men, whose wages last year ran into between , £2,000 and£2,500 - as blue cod is forwarded from here to New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia, likewise Tasmania.
– Only 870 lbs. was brought into the ‘ Commonwealth last year.
– The statement proceeds -
That the present duty of1½d. per lb. is equal to a tax of 2d. per lb., because the loss in weight in smoking is so great that we honestly think this fish should be allowed to come in free, because of this loss, which is practically a tax of 331/3per cent, in itself.
That since the imposition of the duty on blue cod the consumption has fallen off to the extent of one-third, owing to the enhanced price we were compelled to charge.
That if this fish, fresh blue cod, be allowed to come into Australia free, it will not hurt one single fisherman in the Commonwealth nor compete with any Australian fisheries; but, on the other hand, will assuredly give work and support to one of our local industries.
We sincerely hope and pray that you will give this matter . your earnest consideration, and in bringing it before the Senate make these facts known, when ‘we have no hesitation in saying that they will not allow our industry to’ be hampered, but will remit the duty and allow this fish to come in free.
As blue cod does not compete with Australian fish, and. as the smoking of it gives a. large amount of employment, and it isfish very much desired on the table, I think we ought to try to meet the wishes of those who desire the remission of the duty.
– Who wishes this fish to be admitted free?
– The smokers, the importers, and the users of the fish.
.- The concluding remarks of Senator McColl show that his object is to have this fish admitted free in order that it may be smoked within the Commonwealth. But the item, as proposed by the honorable senator, goes further, seeing that no provision is made ‘that the fish may be imported for this’ purpose only.
-It is not imported for any other purpose.
– But blue cod may come into competition with Australian fresh fish.
– Blue cod is not eaten fresh.
– I think that the item proposed by the honorable senator ought to provide that New Zealand cod shall be admitted free only for the purpose of being smoked under departmental bylaws. However that may be, I hope the Committee will not agree to the introduction of blue cod free of duty, whether for consumption fresh or for the purpose of being smoked for market. It is all very well to point out that blue. cod does notcome into competition with Australian fish, but we must remember that, not long ago,, steps were taken, by the Government, with the consent of both Chambers, to promote the further extension of the fisheries of Australia. There is a variety of fish caught in Commonwealth waters, and some has been smoked and put on the market.
– Barracouta, for instance.
– And also trumpeter and trevally.
– And whiting ?
– I have not had any personal experience of smoked whiting.
– It is a perfect smoked fish.
– I have tasted smoked trumpeter, trevally, and New Zealand blue cod, and I certainly prefer either of the former to the latter, though that, of course, is a matter of personal taste.
– It is !
– It is desirable that we should pay increased attention to our own fisheries, and see whether we cannot, by means of the smoking process, place on the market fish quite as good and as palatable as is blue cod. Some time ago steps were taken by the Commonwealth Government to bring about a reciprocitv treaty with New Zealand. The terms of the negotiations have been made public, but the New Zealand Government declinedto go further; and I suggest that this matter of fish importation is one which might verv well be left over until the resumption of the negotiations to which I refer. If blue cod be admitted- free, why not other fish ? Blue cod does not stand out as strikingly superior to any other fish in the world.
– It does so far as Australia is concerned.
– That, of course,, is a matter of opinion; . and, possibly,; some Australian people have had no opportunity, of tasting other fish of their own. Senator Symon referred to the fact that only 870 lbs. of blue cod was brought into the Commonwealth last year. That fish, I may say, was introduced in fresh form; and I find, on reference to the, figures, that fish frozen, which includes blue cod, was in the same year introduced to the amount of 927,922 lbs.
– Smoked ?
– Frozen, I think it is called. There is no justification for making any exception of blue cod, and I hope the Committee w ill see the necessity, for adhering to the policy of promoting and encouraging our own fishing industry.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South. Australia) [3.18]. - I cannot think. that Senator McColl will persevere with his proposal, which is really to admit only one kind of fish free. What about other classes of fish ?
– No other fish occupies the same position as that of blue cod.
– To me it appears that the honorable senator, if I may use a well-worn school phrase, is simply piling Pelion on Ossa in the direction of protection. The object of Senator McColl’s request is, not to reduce the cost of fish to the people, but to give additional protection to what he calls a Melbourne fish-smoking works.
– He might as well put shark on the free list.
– Yes. There is already a protective, duty of id. per lb. to prevent the importation of smoked fish. The quantity of fresh fish annually coming from New Zealand appears, according to the’ figures read by the Minister, to be about 800 lbs. , but probably some is also imported frozen, though the 900,000 lbs. spoken of includes smoked, fish. I do not know to what extent blue cod has been smoked in Victoria. If large’ quantities have been smoked here, the industry does not require more protection, whereas if smoking is not done here to anv considerable- extent, the smoked cod which is sent from New Zealand would seem to supplv all our wants, and to be preferred by the people. There is no reason why we should allow New Zealand fresh cod to be imported free of duty, not to make it cheaper to the people - because Senator McColl says it is not eaten fresh - but to assist a Melbourne industry. What about the fish-catching industry? The Australian coastal waters teem with fish, the great difficulty being to get the fish caught.
– And to get them sold when caught.
– Yes ; though the other is the greater difficulty. If there is one article, of food which is particularly dear in Australia it is Australian fish.
– That is because monopolies exist.
– No doubt there are rings among the fishermen, as in other sections of the community.
– It is the fish-sellers, not the fishermen, who are responsible for the rings.
– The fault may be with. our system of distribution. The fact remains that, while our waters teem with fish, our poor cannot buy fish for their breakfast tables.
– Particularly not fish costing1s. a lb.
– If the dutv of id. per lb. does not have the effect of increasing the business of the Melbourne fish-smoking establishment, there is no reason why we should give those engaged in that business fresh fish free of duty without benefit to the consumer simply to bring about the smoking here of some part of the 800 lbs. which represents the annual importation of fresh fish. To do so would be to offer a premium for the smoking of fish caught in other than Australian waters. In South Australia a. great deal of whiting and other fish is being smoked, and put on the market in excellent condition, and I am not prepared to increase the protection enjoyed by those who in Victoria devote themselves to the smoking of blue cod.
– I propose to support the request. I do so apart from anv question of freetrade or protection, which does not appear to be relevant in the slightest degree. We now levy a duty of1d. a lb. on nearly 1,000,000 lbs. of imported fish, which we cannot obtain in our own waters - NewZealand blue cod, a favorite article of food with a large number of persons.
– Neither blue cod. nor a substitute for it, can be obtained in local waters.
– Our waters may contain a fish equal to the New Zealand blue cod; but there is not a supply of such fish adequate to the public demands. Is there, then, any justification for charging a duty of1d. per lb. on the 1,000,000 lbs. of fish which we have to import?
– The justification for charging a duty on that fish is the same as for charging a duty on imported tinned fish, or fish otherwise preserved.
-The honorable senator is introducing the protectionist argument, which I do not propose to touch upon.
– It cannot be- kept out.
– If this is regarded as a protectionist proposal, I ask the honorable senator to reconcile it with what has been said by Senator Symon.
– Senator McColl based the request on the need for additional rjrotection to a local factory for the smoking of fish.
– I do not regard the proposal as giving protection to any industry. I do not suppose it will be affirmed that the smoking of fish in Australia is detrimental to the Commonwealth.
-Colonel Cameron. - What about our own fishermen?
– Can they catch blue cod in Australian waters?
– They can catch other fish which is as good.
– It has been argued that those who catch fish here cannot sell it.
-Colonel Cameron. - Better means of distribution are needed.
– I could understand protectionists voting for an import duty on fish to develop the local fishing industry, but I did not propose to touch upom the fiscal issue, though I am prepared to do so, if it be necessary. I agree with the remarks made as to the unsatisfactory condition of our fish supply. It must be improved, not by the alteration of the Tariff, but by an alteration of the means of distribution, giving a better system of marketing, and making/ it possible for the fishermen to sell direct to the consumers. That being so, I ask what justification is there for a duty of1d. per lb. on an article of food? I cannot see any. In my opinion, no one would be injured by the removal of the duty, and, as I believe that the less it costs to place articles on the market the more cheaply they are sold to the consumers, I shall vote for the removal of the impost. As it stands, I regard it as a revenue duty on an article of diet which is already too scarce; and which I should like to see made more available, not merely to the well-off, but to every home in the land.
– No fish ever caught by hook or in net could wriggle more than Senator Millen has wriggled concerning this proposal. It would have been very inconvenient for him to look at the matter from a fiscal standpoint, but, in so far as he did venture to do so; his argument amounted to this, “ If we are to protect, it is better to protect the smoking of fish than the catching of fish within Australian waters.”
– I did not say so.
– He said that there should be better methods of distribution.
– No. To start with, Senator Millen said “This fish is not caught here.” He knew that it was going to be smoked here, and, like every other senator, he is awaire that the object of Senator McColl is to allow the introduction of fish which can be smoked here; in other words, to help on the smoking industry.
– It is to help on the Consumer whom the honorahle senator is trying to tax.
– I am just coming to that. The honorable senator began to plume himself because he was going, -to vote to make this item free on the ground that it would help the consumer. The very basis of Senator McColl’ s demand for no duty rests upon the fact that blue cod is not eaten in the state in which it is imported ; that under no circumstances is it eaten until it is smoked.
– Why does not the honorable senator add the words “and cooked”?
– We all know that the object of Senator McColl is to secure, the free admission of blue cod in order that it may be smoked here. I do not know whether Senator Millen’s object is to induce consumers in Australia to eat blue cod without having been smoked. But if the fish is to be eaten in a smoked state he has to recognise the fact that the consumer has very, little to do with the question of introducing blue cod in order that it may be smoked subsequently, and the cost of the smoking, plus the profit, added to his burden. That is exactly what is going to happen and nothing else.
– That is an extraordinary argument.
– The honorable senator is blowing hot and cold.
– No. I want to make every item practically free. The honorable senator will not find me voting against-
– No; the honorable senator will walk out.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– The honorable senator walked out the other night.
– Hear, hear.
– I do not want to be taught my duty by a man who says that his attitude on the Tariff- is that of an anti-Socialist.
– It is absolutely incorrect to assert that I said such a thing.
– The honorable senator did.
– I did not.
– Order !
– If I get an opportunity to vote that any item- should be free I shall certainly do so. Further, I shall vote in every case for the lowest possible duty that I can get.
– As the honorable senator did the other night.
– The honorable senator cannot show that I have ever voted for a higher duty. If he is alluding to the question of preference, he is endeavouring to mislead, but he will not mislead either the Committee or myself. Finding myself in this position I shall certainly vote for this item to be free. What I regret is that the proposal is introduced in such a bad way. We are asked to make the article free in order to exalt some local smoking; industry.
– Against the fishing industry of Tasmania.
– That industrycan look after itself without any protection. I am amused at having to support the proposition made by Senator McColl. He says - “Make the item free in order tohelp the smoking industry,” and when itis pointed out to him that there are other kinds of fish which are smoked, the answer comes to us, as we might expect - “ We do not smoke those kinds of fish in Victoria.”’
That, of course, is typical of many demands of protectionists. Their whole attention seems to be focussed on Victoria. If only blue cod is smoked here, we must hurry to give the Victorian smoking industry some occupation. What I regret is that under such circumstances I am compelled to vote to make this item free.
I would support the proposal of Senator McColl if 1 believed that it would benefit the consumer to the extent of one farthing. If blue cod is imported in a frozen state or under the cold process, it is not’ so good when it is smoked as is blue cod which is smoked within twenty-four hours of capture. The reason why I cannot support this proposition is because very often fish of an inferior description - that. is fish which is very nearly bad - is . salted and shoved into a smoke house and afterwards put on the market. If the article were made free it would offer a great temptation to persons to shove into a smoking room fish which otherwise would not keep half-a-dozen hours. Until people begin to eat smoked fish they do not -find out whether there is anything the matter with it.
– But they find out what is the matter with . themselves, though.
– I was just going to say that very likely, after the fish was eaten, people would find out that they had been poisoned.
– The smoking of blue cod here has been going on for years.
– No; for the. most part blue cod has been imported in a smoked state. Very little blue cod has been smoked in Australia. I maintain that if the item were made free the blue cod smoked here would be . sold at exactly the same rate as the blue cod smoked in New Zealand -1s. per lb. - and the consumer would not derive any benefit at all from the local smoking of the article. If, however, I thought that he would derive a benefit, I might support the proposition. Unless we have men available to examine the fish when it is imported and to see that it is in a fit. state to be smoked and sold for human consumption, I shall oppose any proposal to remove the duty.
– Even if it is perfectly fresh it is better for the fish to be smoked before it is frozen than to be smoked afterwards.
– I have seen a good many small smoking stations on the coast of Australia., especially in Tasmania. Let us see how the barracouta is treated. Suppose that it is brought into port on a Tuesday. It is cleaned and put into salt during the day, and smoked on the following day. But fish which is imported from New Zealand under the cold process is treated differently. In Sydney I was poisoned through eating fish which had been frozen and was supposed to be fresh, and I was in the hands of a doctor for about a month. That fish was imported under the cold process, but until I had eaten a mouthful or two I did not know that it was unfit for human consumption. We do not want to give an opportunity for fish to be imported and, when it is on- the turning point, to be shoved into a smoking room and afterwards put on the market. If we are going to let in fish free at all, let us do that with smoked fish. But I cannot vote to put a duty of1d. per lb. on smoked fish and to let ordinary fish in free.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.40]. - I think that I ought to remove a wrong impression that seems to prevail on the part of some of my honorable friends sitting near me. Nothing could be more to the point than the remarks made by’ the honorable senator who has just sat down. If this were a request to free smoked, as well as fresh, New Zealand cod from any impost, so that the consumer would benefit, I would vote for it “ with both hands.” But, like Senator Sayers, I do not believe that the consumer would receive one brass farthing of benefit from the proposed remission of duty in respect of fresh cod.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the duty affects the price ?
– What is the use of my honorable friend, who is rather contaminated by the protectionists who are surrounding him-
– I am puzzled by the honorable senator’s logic.
– It is very clear to those who wish to understand it. Of course I think that the price of an article is increased iby the duty. It is so in this case. But the price of smoked cod will not be affected if we admit fresh cod free. That is the point. Some of my honorable friends sitting near me were under, the impression that the request submitted by Senator McColl was to free both smoked and fresh cod.
– I understand the meaning to be that if the fish comes in for smoking purposes it is to be free.
– No ; the meaning of the request now before the Chair is that, whether the cod is going to be smoked or not, it is to come in absolutely free. The people who smoke this lish and sell it will naturally include the 1d. per lb. in their price.
– That does not affect the question of whether it should be admitted free.
– If the consumer would get the benefit of the remission of duty in the case of fresh fish, t would vote for the request. But it is my belief that the people who smoke this fish will take advantage of the duty on smoked fish, and they would be fools if they did not. Therefore, by admitting the fresh fish free, we shall not reduce by one farthing the price of smoked fish to the consumer. I may be entirely wrong, but that is my belief. It is urged that the object of this request is to protect those who smoke blue cod or other fish. Of course, the result of that would be to encourage the introduction into Australia df foreign lish, although bur own seas are teeming with fish. There is not the supply of fish which there ought to be in Australia in proportion to the quantity contained in our seas. I do not say, as Senator Millen put it, that I want a protective duty for the benefit of those who catch fish. But what I do say is that.- if there are two. protective duties, the one which ought to be maintained, according to common sense, is the one which must largely benefit the country by encouraging the catching of our own fish: No one has yet told me, and I believe no one will tell the Committee, that we have not as good fish in the seas of Australia as the cod of New Zealand. I like New Zealand smoked cod. There are many of us whose palates it tickles. But it is a fish for the rich man’s table. The price is very nearly prohibitive. It will not be reduced by carrying this request. I am not to be twitted with being a protectionist because I say that I should like to see the fisheries of our seas developed. As between^ two things - smoking a few blue cod in Melbourne and developing our fisheries in the Australian seas - there is no comparison whatever as to which is preferable. If it were proposed to take the duty off the smoked article, and thus reduce the price to the consumer, I should support it.
– Does the honorable senator think that reducing the duty on smoked fish would reduce the price? Fresh fish to the value of £11, and smoked fish to the value of . £4,075, was imported, from New Zealand in 1906; and yet the honorable senator thinks that if the duty were removed on . fresh fish it would npt affect the price.
– I think the removal of the duty on smoked cod would affect the price. We should get our smoked cod much cheaper. Would my honorable friend join in removing the duty on smoked fish in the interests of the consumer ?
SenatorMillen. - I should be per- fectly ready to do that.
– There was an outcry when I said that “the price to the consumer would not be reduced by the mere fact that the blue cod was smoked in Melbourne. If fresh fish were the subject of consumption, I would vote for this request. But it is not fresh New Zealand cod, but smoked New Zealand cod, that is the subject pf consumption.
– I understood the honorable senator to say a few minutes ago that the price to the consumer would not be reduced if the duty were reduced.
– My honorable friend’s understanding is not very clear.’
– That is what the honorable senator said.
– It is not what I said. What I said was that the price to the consumer would not be reduced by taking the duty off the fresh fish and leaving it on the smoked fish, which is the ordinary commercial article. The men who smoke the fish will take advantage cf the duty, and keep the price up.
– If my memory serves me correctly I listened a little while ago, and with much pleasure, to Senator Symon expatiating in his usual strong and eloquent wav on the great principle of constructing a Tariff so as to free the food of the people.
– Hear, hear.
– I think that New Zealand blue cod is a food.
– Not the fresh fish.
– Yes ; I have had it frozen, and found it most agreeable.
– Then I must withdraw what I said on that point.
– New Zealand cod in any form is a most agreeable food, and the more it is consumed the better for the people. We are now doing the best we can to help to make an agreeable and useful form of food free of duty, so that our people may get it more cheaply. Senator. Symon has twitted our leader, Senator Millen, with inconsistency on this subject.
– I did not twit Senator Millen at all.
– The principle upon which we should act is to make the duties on all foods as low as possible, consistently with the demands of the revenue.
– What is blue cod to be made free for? Simply for smoking.
– I am not concerned with that, but with the principle that it is a useful food. Certainly a duty will not make it cheaper. On the other hand, to make it free would not injuriously affect any industry in Australia.
– It would affect the local fishing industry.
– If I could see that I should be to some extent with honorable senators opposite. If the remission of the duty would seriously conflict with any industry in Australia which it is worth while -to support, I should be inclined to listen sympathetically to the arguments against the request. But we on this side of the chamber have looked carefully into that question.
– Honorable senators opposite are all in conflict.
– It may be so, and I hope that the result of our conflict will be to elicit a sound conclusion. We found, on looking into the facts, that to’ marke this fish free would not conflict with any industry.
– What figures has the honorable senator to support that view ?
– The figures showing the importations of blue cod.
– What figures about the local production of fish?
– It is quite true that we cannot obtain blue cod in Australian waters. It ought to come in free.
– Then why not admit salmon free?
– On a previous occasion we tried to do our best in regard to this matter. We have fought valiantly sometimes when Senator Symon was not with us. The honorable senator has, to some extent, brought me back to one of the. essential principles- of free-trade, namely, that food should be as free as possible. If we have in. the country siich an industry as the smoking of fish, why should we not let the raw material come in free? I think that we are trying, upon the whole, to do what is best, both for the people and the fish industry.
. -We ought to be congratulated upon this item, since it has been declared to benot only in accordance with_ the. teachings of free-trade, but also a satisfactory protective duty. I would point out to Senator McColl that this duty of1d. per lb. is perhaps one of the few directly enjoyed by what are known as the primary producers. It is true that it does not relate to agriculturists, horticulturists, dairymen, or pastoralists ; but fishermen are primary producers in the sense that they are the first to handle the fish. We are asked to deprive them of the modicum of protection proposed to be extended to them> There is perhaps a still stronger reason why we should not encourage the introduction of frozen fish for smoking purposes. Smoked’ fish are tasty and desirable, but always more or less risky for the reason that the smoking process conceals in some measure a degree of staleness that might exist.
– Then such fish oughtnot to be allowed to come in.
– The encouragement of the intoductiori from a distance of fresh fish for smoking is not desirable if it can be avoided. Tt is altogether unnecessary, and the small quantity that has teen imported shows that the consideration is not a very important one.
– What? An importation of over 900,000 lbs. of fresh blue cod ?
– The 900,000 lbs. of fish to which the honorable senator refers was smoked. Some might have been fresh, but we have no statistics showing the proportion of fresh fish included in the total.
– Senator McColl ought to. recognise that the primary producers of fish - our own fishermen - would lose, by his proposal, the protection that is offered them. I have often argued that the primary producer gains by the duties that are imposed for the development of manufactures. That contention has to be argued and proved; but if protection is of any value, there can be no doubt that a direct protectionist duty must be beneficial to the persons in whose interests it is imposed. Unlike most of the duties we are imposing, this applies directly to primary (producers.
– If we have in Australia to-day an undeveloped field of industry, it is that of our fisheries. Senator McColl’s proposal is to bring into competition with our fishermen an industry in New Zealand which has received considerable assistance from the Dominion Government.
– Is it worth while taxing the people for the sake of an undeveloped industry ?
– My point is that the introduction of fish from other parts of the world has detrimentally affected the development of our own fisheries.
– It is not nonsense. I would remind Senator Croft that in the matter of fish the State of which he is a representative consumes nothing but tinned goods. The coastal waters of Western Australia are teeming with fish, but the fishing industry there has not been developed, and the people are prepared to accept fish from America and Great Britain. Although we have imposed a duty of1d. per lb. on fish coming from British Columbia, Newfoundland, and other countries, we are’ asked now to allow blue cod from New Zealand to come in absolutely free.
– I suppose that the honorable senator is aware that climatic conditions have something to do with the quality of fish?
– Can we obtain salmon in Australian waters ?
– With development we should be able to do so. Australian waters are capable of producing any fish obtainable elsewhere. We can obtain in Tasmania salmon as good as can be found in the rivers of Scotland; and our smoked cod and schnapper. are equally as good as any smoked fish from New Zealand. Senatpr McColl has read a circular addressed to him by those engaged in smoking New Zealand cod. ‘ Some of the men in . the industry have, been ‘prose cuted for evading the payment of duty, and yet the honorable senator apparently is trying to help them.
– I am trying to help the public to obtain a good article of food.
– The honorable senator said, in reply to an interjection, that he was moving in the interests of the consumer, but it would appear that he wishes to assist breakers of the law.
– I know nothing whatever of that matter.
– It has been reported from time to time that some persons engaged in smoking New Zealand cod were evading the Customs duties, and in certain cases severe penalties have been imposed. The policy of the Commonwealth Parliament has been to encourage the fishing industry, and we have placed on the Estimates a considerable sum to provide for the construction of a trawler to investigate our deep sea fisheries. We have plentv of fish, but fishermen, in at all events New South Wales, Victoria., and South Australia, can place their fish on the market only through middlemen. The fishermen of New Zealand are also compelled to sell their’ fish through the agency of the same middlemen, who are sweating the fishermen of Australia. It is absolutely impossible to place any fish upon the Australian market except through middlemen.
– Whose fault is that?
– It is our fault. It is now proposed to strengthen the hands of these middlemen, and to enable them to say to our fishermen, “ If you do not sell your fish at a certain price we shall obtain the whole of our supplies from New Zealand.” I am surprised that an honorable senator who has always posed as a protectionist’ should .be trying to undermine one of the natpral industries- of Australia.
– We cannot obtain blue cod in Australian waters.
– We can produce an abundance of fish. Had I proposed that purple straw wheat should be protected to the extent of1d. per lb., would Senator McColl have asked what is the difference between that and any other variety of wheat? The point I wish to make is that fish are fish, whether they be flounder, trevally, whiting, or cod.
– Then, if the honorable senator called for whiting, and were served with . porpoise, he would be perfectly satisfied?
– It is simply a matter of taste, and sometimes of sentiment. I heard of a man who .was compelled in certain circumstances to eat fish on Fridays. He went to a certain placeand inquired, “ Have you any shark on the menu to-day?”. The waiter replied “ No.” Then the man asked, “ Have you any whale? “ and receiving a reply in the negative, he said, “ That being so, my conscience is absolutely clear. I have asked for fish and cannot obtain it; let me have a rump steak.” . If this request were agreed to it would be detrimental to a big Australian- industry, which has not yet been developed, and needs all the encouragement we, can give it. Instead of offering the industry that encouragement the proposal under consideration would have the effect of giving it a set-back. I believe in affording protection to this industry, which is an absolutely’ native one, and I . do not think that the people of Australia would suffer one whit if not a single blue cod were imported into the Commonwealth. We have fish in our own waters, and we have merely to dispense with the’ middleman in order to make the industry successful. It is only the middlemen in Victoria to-day who are asking for the free admission of fresh New Zealand blue cod. I regard the proposal as an attempt on the part of Senator McColl to smother an Australian industry which ought to be encouraged.
– In accordance with the votes that I have previously cast in respect of food items, I shall support the admission of New Zealand blue cod, in any form, free of duty. I move -
That the request be amended by inserting after the word “Fresh” the words “smoked or preserved by cold process.”
When the fact has been established that suitable fish for preserving purposes are to be found in Australian waters, I shall be prepared to accord this industry a reasonable measure of protection. But we ought not to impose a tax upon the public for the benefit of an industry which is undeveloped. We have confessed that it is undeveloped, because ‘quite recently we voted a sum of money for the construction and equipment of a trawler whose special function it will be to exploit Australian waters. I am heartily tired of endeavouring to assist the local fish industry of Western Australia. There, the industry is entirely in the hands of a few foreigners, who do just as they like with the consumer. In Fremantle it is no uncommon occurrence for boats, to come in loaded with fish which, their owners, upon finding that they cannot control the market, again ‘ dump into the ocean.. When a strike was- in progress in Western Australia on one occasion in a certain industry, I recollect that we endeavoured to introduce Englishmen who were strikers into the fish trade there, but we found that all the avenues of distribution were ‘ practically closed to them. The foreigners have formed a very strong ring through which it is impossible to break. New Zealand blue cod is a very popular food, of a special quality, and I am not prepared to tax it. When, however, any genuine Australian industry claims out attention I shall be ready to extend to it a sufficient measure of protection to enable it “to live.
I confess that there is a great attraction about any proposal to give the people cheap food. But I have a very strong objection to fish being smoked here when it is five days old and more. Consequently, I shall have to vote against Senator McColl’s proposal. It is a common thing - as has been stated by Senator Sayers - for fish after being kept a day or two in New Zealand to be put in the refrigerating chamber and sent to the Commonwealth to be smoked. That practice is one which is against the interests of the consumer. Under the circumstances I shall be obliged to vote against this proposal unless smoked fish, as now proposed in the amendment, is included.
– - I have every sympathy with the view that has been expressed by Senator Croft. I am> prepared to go as far as possible to permit of the introduction free of duty of fresh food. But, unfortunately, we cannot deal with this question upon its merits. Personally, I feel that my hands are tieri bv the fact that some time ago I supported the expenditure of a large sum upon the construction and equipment of a trawler for the purpose of establishing the fishing; industry in Commonwealth waters. But for that fact I should be found voting with Senator Croft. It is a pity that we should have to impose a tax upon such a fine fish as New Zealand smoked blue cod, which is one of the daintiest that can find a. place upon our tables. But I dare ‘sa.y that many other honorable senators find themselves in the same position that I occupy myself. I would remind Senator Croft that, whilst the fishing trade of Fremantle is very much in the hands of Italians and Greeks, and whilst it is true that rings have been formed there, not only amongst the fishermen, but amongst the retailers, there are other places in Western Australia where similar conditions do not obtain. In this connexion, I might cite Mandurah, where a fish-curing factory has been established for some time past. What Senator Croft has said in regard to the conditions which prevail at Fremantle is perfectly true, but there are other ports in Western Australia to which his remarks do not apply.
.- I fwe have in Australian waters fish suitable for smoking, it seems strange that our local fishermen have failed to discover it during all the years that they have been carrying on their operations. Had we such fish we should not require to incur the expense of importing fish from New Zealand for smoking nurposes. That fact in itself disposes of the assertion that we have fish, which might very well take the place of NewZealand blue cod. If I thought that my proposal would detrimentally affect our fishermen, I should not submit it. But. as. a matter of fact, we are not supplying our own requirements in the matter of fish. New Zealand blue cod is a fish which is smoked in Australia, and its free importation, therefore, cannot detrimentally affect our own fresh, fish supplies.
.- I cannot vote for the free admission of New Zealand- cod into Australia. I am well aware of the difficulties and trials experienced by the fishermen in Victoria. Years ago I recommended them to form a limited liability company. They accepted mv advice, and- the company has proved highly successful. I realized that for years they had eked out a very miserable existence. ‘ We must recollect that they have to be out night after night in all kinds of weather, and that they have frequently to carry their lives in their hands. Consequently, I cannot vote for the free admission of fish from New’ Zealand, especially when I know, as the result of my own observation - and I have lived with them during the past few months - that they have constantly to release fish from their nets because they have not a market for it.
– They are the hardest worked men in Australia.
– I know a man named Owen, who resides at Queenscliff, and who preserves barracouta at certain periods of the year. Barracouta is a very good fish for smoking purposes, and it is also a very good fish when it is fresh.
– Not very good.
– No fish can be good when it is stale. Its quality is greatly improved if it be sold without having been placed upon ice. It deteriorates immediately it is put upon ice. It is a fact that hundreds of tons of good fish have to be returned to the sea because there is no market for it. The reason for this state of things is to be found in the high price which the consumer is charged by the middleman. The latter adds to the price of the fish the cost of his rent. Of course, he! must do that, and also increase the price to the man who hawks the fish round in his cart.
– Why do not the fishermen try to sell it themselves?
– I know that they . are trying, and are doing it to some extent. The shares that it was difficult to get subscribers for ten years ago, in the company that I spoke of, are now at a very high premium. If the fish that is now thrown back into the sea were sold at a low rate in Richmond, Collingwood, and other suburbs it would find a. ready market. I also recommended the Queenscliff fishermen to take . advantage of the Bounties Act which we passed, and commence tinning. If that is done matters will be’ on a very different footing, I simply rose to show why I could hot vote to allow fish to come in here free.
.- Senator McColl has urged that’ New Zealand blue cod should be admitted free, on the ground that “that will help on the protectionist policy of the country. I take it that the duties recommended by the Tariff Commission on fish, and agreed to by the Government, are designed to give encouragement to Australian fishermen. If there is anything in protection, why should it not be extended to the fishermen, the conditions of whose calling, as Senator Fraser has pointed out, are so very precarious? The average fisherman has great difficulty, year in and year out, after doing his hazardous work, in getting sufficient money to pay for the necessaries of life. If we vote to abolish the duty on blue cod it will be highly inconsistent to approve of a duty on tinned fish. The duty is proposed on tinned fish for the same reason that it is proposed on blue cod - in order to keep out of the Australian market as much foreign fish, if I may so term it, as possible. That the duty,. does have that effect is evidenced by the circular read by Senator McColl, as supplied to him by those interested in this industry. They state that since the imposition of the higher duty the consumption of New Zealand blue cod in Australia has fallen off by one-third. The object of the duty is to keep out New Zealand blue cod, and it is evidently having that effect-. I cannot consistently vote for the free admission of that kind of fish, unless I follow it up by voting for the free admission even of tinned fish. All that fish comes into competition more or less with Australian fishermen. Not long ago we voted ;£i 0,000 or £12,000 - I daresay it will be ,£15,000 or £20,000 before the work is finished - for the construction of a trawler, and’ a large sum of money in bounties for the encouragement of the Australian fish industry, and as this Tariff will probably remain unaltered for a considerable time, it is “ up to us.” to recognise that the fishermen of Australia are entitled to that protection which in some degree is being extended to other Australian industries.
– We have had an extraordinary discussion, in which free-traders have stated that freedom from duty does not cheapen an article to the public, and protectionists like Senator McColl have argued that to remove this duty will not interfere with the doctrine of protection. Various senators have given different interpretations’ of the advantages which are to be derived from the remission of this duty, but I have not heard one yet take into consideration the effect of the duty upon the consumers. The interests of the public are apparently absolutely ignored. We have had the extraordinary statement that fish is fish and that therefore everybody is to eat fish, simply because it is fish, without regard to the different varieties caught under different climatic conditions in different parts of the world. It is assumed that the trumpeter, blue cod, and sole, which flourish in New Zealand waters, and which we cannot obtain here -
– The sole and trumpeter are caught in Australian waters.
– They are not equal to those exported from New Zealand. It is also strongly asserted that the public cannot obtain fish in Australia because of its high (price, which is attributed to the charges of the middleman. Speaking broadly, there would be very little fish for Australian consumers if it were not in a certain measure for the middleman1. The reason why fish is not consumed in Australia to such an extent as it ought, to be arises to a great degree- from our climatic conditions.
– The- high price.
– Certainly, but that is caused by the climate. Fish caught in the morning is not fit for sale or consumption a few hours afterwards. It is hard enough to keep meat, but fish deteriorates much more rapidly. That fact and the sparsity. of the population to which the fish has to be distributed will for many years prevent the distribution of fish to the people, of Australia at a price that would make it a favorite article of diet. The fish supply will have to be taken in hand under a system such as - that pointed out by Senator Fraser, by which the fishermen by cooperation or some other means can distribute the fish to the public the moment it is. caught. I intend to vote for a free breakfast table. . Every article of food which the public require should be brought to their doors as cheaply as possible. I regard fish as an essential. It is quite equal to meat as a food. In fact, the finest race of people that I know of in the world - the Norwegians- live almost exclusively on fish. Most of them rarely see fresh meat more than once a month. It is my duty to the consumers of Australia to endeavour- so far as possible to enable them to purchase all kinds of fish as cheaply as possible. I shall vote for free fish and other free food whenever the opportunity offers.
– It appears to be almost incumbent upon every honorable senator to proclaim his faith in fish. I am not a whale on fish at any time, but I shall support the amendment ‘moved by Senator McColl. I cannot go so far as Senator Croft wishes. We depend entirely upon New Zealand for the luxury known as blue cod. It is to me a tasty morsel, and I do not want to be compelled to eat barracouta in its place. To me a piece of good barracouta tastes exactly like the sole of an old boot, although I admit that it is a question of taste. Fish is really a household necessity, and yet in Australia, great as as the quantity that is caught, and badly off as the fishermen are, no man can say that the public are getting the article at a reasonable price anywhere.
– And it is not that the fishermen charge too much.
– The fishermen do dangerous work for long hours, and get very little money for it. Yet the people of Australia pay considerably higher prices for fish than, they ought to pay, considering the quantity in our waters. If I voted to retain the duty upon smoked blue cod, I should consider that I was simply placing within the reach of those people who control the fish market, now another lever to further increase the price of fish to the Australian consumer.
Question - That the request be amended by inserting after the word “ Fresh “ the words “ smoked or preserved by cold process “ (Senator Croft’s amendment of Senator McColl’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of request negatived.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 53 by adding the following new paragraph - “(g) Fresh New Zealand Blue Cod,” Free “ (Senator McColl’s request) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item 54. Fruits and Vegetables, viz. : -
Fruits, Dried, viz. : -
Banana, Banana Flour, and Peel candied drained, or dried, per lb., 3d.
Fruits and Vegetables, including Ginger (preserved in liquid, or partly preseivedj or pulped) -
.- I should like to suggest that paragraphs a, b and c be postponed, in view of certain information, which Is not yet to hand.
– I do not see why there should be any postponement of the kind suggested, without, at any rate, some reason being afforded to honorable senators. We all know the object with which Senator Findlev makes the suggestion, and with thatobject I am not quarrelling; all I contend is that the reasons are altogether insufficient for a postponement. ‘ The suggestion is that a failure to bring about a settlementof the industrial trouble at
Mildura may influence certain, honorable senators in their vote ; but I personally decline to believe that honorable senators will be so influenced in regard to a! more or less permanent instrument like a Tariff, because of some temporary industrial trouble. I propose to submit a request on this item. Under the Tariff of 1902 the duty was 2d. per lb.
– Will the honorable senator permit me to move a postponement?
– Yes; but I express my opposition to the proposal.
– I trust that Senator Findley will not persist with his proposal for a postponement. No reasons have been advanced for any postponement, but I think they are fairly well understood. Personally, I am prepared to go to a division at once. The employers at Mildura are asking for free-trade in labour, and we ought to give them a taste of free-trade in the article they produce; and, if for no other reason, we ought to at once proceed to vote on the item. We have good reason for knowing that this industry is far from being on a satisfactory basis ; and those of us who believe in fair treatment for the workers ought to take this opportunity to teach the producers that the consumers of Australia are not going ±0 pay the heavy tax of 3d. per lb. on currants, and, at the same time, permit sweated labour conditions.
– Senator de Largie has furnished us with a very good reason why the Committee is not in a position at the present moment to vote on this item on its merits. Senatoi Millen has suggested that the Tariffis to be of a permanent character; and, having regard to that fact, is it not undesirable to atternpt to come to a decision in the present state cf feeling in regard to the industry at Mildura? It is well known that there is considerable ill-feeling at the present moment; and, under the circumstances, a voteon the item would not be on the merits of the question, but under the coercion of the feeling which exists as between theparties concerned.
– What does the Minister think the effect will be if the Tariff isheld in terror over those people?
– I know that it would suit my honorable friend to go to a vote at the present moment.
– Why should it suit me? I ask what will be the effect if we hold the sword over these people. Does the Minister want to terrorize them into agreeing to terms?
– There is no sword. There is a difference in regard to the rates of wages ; and I only hope the parties will see their way to a settlement by mutual arrangement. But if we take a vote in the present state of feeling, as indicated by Senator de Largie, this industry will receive a most serious blow.
– Why should the Minister say that?
– I know that my freetrade friends will vote for a lower duty.
– Shall we vote free-trade simply because there is some industrial trouble at Mildura?
– No;. I am talking about general principles which have been laid down by some of my free-trade friends, who have said that where thev canv ote for a reduction of duties they will do so. On the other hand, a numberof honorable senators feel very strongly against the growers of these particular frui’s at Mildura, because of their action towards their employes ; and I fear that, animated by that feeling, they may vote against any further protection. In my opinion, the Commiteee is not in a fit state of mind to deal temperately with this item. Under the circumstances, I urge that the consideration of . the item, should be postponed to as to enable the parties concerned, without any interference on our part, or without any injustice to the industry, to come to an arrangement, of which I understand there is ‘some prospect.
– That has nothing to do with our vote.
– From one stand-point the position may have nothing to do with our vote ; however, we cannot shut out eyes to the feeling which, exists not only in Mildura itself, but, judging by the expression of Senator de Largie, in this chamber itself.
– The Honorable gentleman is quite right ; I have no wish to conceal the fact.
– Under the circumstances, are we in afit state of mind to do justice to the industry? I appeal to honorable senators to fall in with the suggestion of Senator Findley, and postpone the consideration of this item.
– The Minister’s position amounts to this: that if a row is stirred up in connexion with any industryaffected by any item in the Tariff, the Government will be willing to postpone the consideration of that item.
– Not at all. It is only in regard to the industry affected by this item that a strike exists.
– There is a strike in the timber industry in Sydney.
– I had forgotten that. At any rate, we had best deal with each item as we come to it, and, in the interests of justice, I appeal to the ‘ Committee to agree to the postponement of the item at the present time.
.- I move -
That the consideration of item 54 be postponed.
There is every likelihood of a dispute : be tween the fruit-growers and workers of Mildura being settled to-night, it having been arranged that both parties shall meet in conference, and, if possible, agree to the request made by the newly-formed workers’ association. No delay will be caused by the postponement, because we have all the succeeding items of the Tariff yet to discuss.
– The motion to postpone consideration of the item amounts to an insinuation that we are not ready to do our duty.
– Justice can be done to the fruit industry only by dealing with the Tariff proposals on their merits. There are strong protectionists who have said that they will , not support- high duties unless the workers as well as the employers are to benefit, while free-trader’s have stated that if they are to vote for existing rates protection must be given to those who have not hitherto benefited by the protectionist policy.
– Cannot a Wages Board deal with the Mildura dispute?
– The Factories Act does not apply to the industry. The Mildura fruit-growers formed themselves into an association to fix the prices of. their fruit, and determined that they would not pay more than9d. an hour for the labour employed to harvest it. On the other hand, the workers’ union at first asked for is. an hour, but, after consideration, demanded 7s. a clay for their services.
– For casual employment?
– The employment is casual, because it lasts for only seven or eight weeks each year.
– Is Senator Findley in order in discussing the position at Mildura ?
- Senator Findley having moved the postponement of theitem, is in order instating his reasons, and those which he has given seem to me relevant.
– I feel that it will conduce to expedition in the consideration of the Tariff to postpone the item. If a settlement is come to to-night, bias and prejudice will be removed from the minds of those who have any feeling in regard to the dispute.
– Suppose it is not settled?
– Although, the unforeseen often eventuates, I am of opinion that it will be settled. I have been in close touch with the workers and growers of Mildura, and’ with others in Melbourne who are largely interested in the district, and they all have expressed a sincere desire that the trouble may be speedily ended. I know that at present strong feeling in regard to the dispute exists in the minds of members of the party to which I belong, and if the item were considered now, they might give a vote which reflection might cause them to regret. I hope that the Committee will prevent this possibility by agreeing to the postponement of the item, so that it may be dealt with fairly to-morrow.
.- One might look in vain through the record of debates for a statement like that of Senator Best since the Tariff question became a live one. A more extraordinary and deplorable statement has never been made by a Minister leading a deliberative body. He practically asks us to postpone the. consideration of this item on the ground that, because of an industrial dispute, we are not in a fit condition to deal with it. Does he speak for himself, or for the Committee?
– I spoke because of expressions which have been uttered in this Chamber.
– One honorable senator made a statement which hardly did him justice, but I refuse to believe that any member of the Committee, whatever he might say outside to secure an advantage for those whose cause he might champion, would vote for other than what he considered fair rates of duty, affecting, not a Mildura industry alone, but one carried on throughout Australia. Would the postponement of an item be asked for if we were considering the duties on boots at a time when there was trouble in a Victorian boot factory?
– But suppose that there were trouble in three out of every four boot factories in the Commonwealth ?
– The motion for a postponement is practically an announcement to Australia that we are ready to hold back the Tariff as a threat to certain employers or workmen.
– Quite the contrary.
– The Minister has justified his position by statements which have been made in this Chamber. I heard some one say just now, “ Let us be candid, and say, ‘no settlement, no duty.
– The honorable senator showed a clear hand by moving that, the duty he reduced.
– My proposal is to make the rate that which it was under the 1902 Tariff - the recommendation of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission - andImake that proposal irrespective of any dispute in the industry. Surely we are not going to show that we possess so little judicial character that we cannot determine what is fair and just to the fruit industry by dealing wi*h the item on its merits, but wish to use it as an illegitimate and iniquitous weapon for interfering in a dispute which does not concern us.
– I am sorry that there is need for the postponement of the item, but the eagerness of certain senators to discuss the Tariff proposal is very surprising. Why do they oppose the postponement? Have they never asked for the postponement of a clause or item in a Bill ?
– Not under these conditions.
– Under conditions which they thought justified postponement. Those who think that under the. present circumstances it w.ould be most judicious to postpone the consideration of this item are as honest as those who op pose its postponement. I know probably more about the circumstances of this case than do other members of the Committee, because I was recently in Mildura. The trouble there is due to the action of a small minority, and I should be sorry for anything to be done in connexion with the Tariff which would prejudicially affect, hot merely the people of Mildura, but all throughout Australia concerned in the growing of fruit. Although we have been chosen by the constituencies to represent them, we are nevertheless human. Those on the other side have no right to claim perfection any more than has any one on this side. I do not care who the man is, there are- times when his feelings may overcome his better judgment. At such a time we should not do anything which might seriously affect the welfare of any section of the community. It is for that reason that I would like this item to be postponed. What is the suggestion made bv honorable senators on the other side ? It is that we want to hold this item as a threat over some persons. We are animated by no such desire. We wish to act fairly and justly, and to see that no illadvised action on the part of anv one shall do an injury to any industry. Now, Mildura is not the only fruit growing place in Australia. In South Australia, Renmark, Coonawarra, and all the village settlements on the Murray would be equally affected with the fruit growers in Mildura if any unwise action were taken at the present time. I hope that the ininterests of not only the workers in Mildura, but also the Droducers in allparts of Australia will be safelv guarded bv rhe Committee, and that can be done in no tetter manner than bv postponing this item until a future date.
– I desire to state publicly the opinion which I have expressed privately on this subject. I am one of those who, as Senator Millen knows - perhaps he is presuming on the fact to some extent - cannot vote for protection to the manuficturer unless the workmen are to get an advantage therefrom. Until the present moment the honorable senator has alwn.vs been reasonable in dealing with the Tariff. Surelv it is a reasonable thing to ask him and those who generally vote with him to allow this item to stand over until tomorrow.
– Until to-morrow?
– Is there anything unreasonable in asking for the item to be postponed until a time when it can be temperately settled? It would not be the first occasion on which an item had been postponed here. When I look along the benches on this side of the chamber, I can see one of the reasons why the free-traders are howling so much this afternoon. Half-a-dozen of them want to speak at once. It is difficult for a protectionist to get a chance to speak. To my honorable friends who differ from me, I say, “ When vou think you have an opportunity of laying on the whip do it mildly. It is not often that vour numbers are so remarkable as they are this afternoon. We appeal to you not to force us to do a thing to-day for which you may be sorry to-morrow,” or, as the old Scotchman used to say, in a toast in the Old Country, “ Never let your evening’s enjoyments be your morning’s reflections.” As a true protectionist, I believe in supporting the fruit-growing and other industries. Our request for the postponement of this item is a reasonable one. Let it stand over for a short time until we can see whether the workmen, are to be treated as we should like them to be treated - without sweating. I for one believe that unless the workmen can get an advantage, a duty of 3d. per lb. is too much to expect the working classes to contribute to the revenue upon this item. It is because the duty has a protective object that I would support its imposition-. I do not want to tell the leader of the Opposition how I may act, but it. will be very embarrassing indeed if a protectionist is forced now to vote in a way which he does not like. Iappeal to the honorable senator, who has always been so agreeable, to listen to reason, and to allow this item to stand over for a day or two until we get the necessary information to enable us to act wiselv and well.
– When Senator Findley asked for this item to be postponed I felt inclined to oppose his request; but having listened to the arguments of honorable senators I now feel inclined to support him. I know that he and my leader, Senator McGregor, have recently paid a visit to Mildura, and. therefore are in a good position to speak with authority in reference to this industry. Another reason why I shall support a postponement of the item is because I notice that a certain amount of heat has been imported into the discussion. Senator Millen has stated that we are using this suggested postponement as a threat. He has asked whether we were not elected to consider items as they came before us. We were ; but I remind him that the very persons engaged in the industry with which this item deals are electors who by reason of their votes helped to elect certain senators. It would be wrong on our part to approach the consideration of the item unless we could deliberate calmly. The discussion has furnished ample proof that it would be impossible to-da.y to approach the item in that deliberate manner which is essential to securing a sound judgment. There is another reason why I shall support the proposal of Senator Findley. Since it was submitted I have noticed a paragraph in the.Melbourne evening paper in reference to the Mildura dispute. It says -
The item will come before the Senate this evening, and it is said that several labour senators intend to strenuously oppose the increase, in view of the labour troubles at the irrigation settlement.
I refuse to be dictated to by any newspaper in Australia. I refuse to admit that my vote will be given because any newspaper makes a certain statement.
– It does not sav the honorable senator’s vote.
– I am a Labour senator, and as such my vote shall not be influenced in any way. I intend to support a postponement of the item so that at a later date we shall be able to. act in a calmer spirit than we could do to-night. At the same time I regret the necessity for Senator Findley to submit his motion. I should like to see every body of workers so organized and united that when a dispute arose it could be immediately referred to the legal tribunal appointed by the State or Federal Parliment. Seeing that there is no possibility of the disputeat Mildura being referred to a legal tribunal-
– There is no tribunal to which it can be referred because the’ industry is exempted from the operation of the law.
– I recognise that if we were to vote on the item to-night we should not give a sound judgment.
-The honorable senator said he would.
– I said that heathad been introduced into the discussion. ‘
– No, the honorable senator said he was not included amongst those referred to by the news- paper and that he would give an impartial judgment.
– I do not wish to give any one the chance to say that the votes of either Labour senators or those who are opposed to them were irifiuenced. WhenI noticed the number of honorable senators who were anxious to speak on -the item this afternoon it proved to me conclusively that we could not deliberate calmly. Therefore I shall support a postponement of the item until such time as the industrial dispute has been settled, when it can be considered calmly. This is not the first time on which a request to postpone an item has been made. I dare say that before the consideration of the Tariff is completed honorable senators who are opposed to me in politics may move the postponement of some item, and probably I shall be found supporting them if they can advance logical reasons in favour of its postponement. The fact that the industrial dispute at Mildura is, if I may use the term, sub judice is I think a sufficient reason why honorable senators should postpone the consideration of this item until the atmosphere is clear.
– The leader of the Opposition is very much mistaken if he thinks that the idea, put forward by Senator de Largie is not shared pretty generally by Labour senators. Every time I cast a vote for protection it will be cast with the intention of giving equal protection to worker and employer. If I were called upon to-day to cast a vote on this item not only would I require to be quite satisfied that the industry was well established, but I should be influenced by the labour conditions obtaining at Mildura. The leader of the Opposition will undetstand that that) is my view. While other senators mav not care to express it on the floor of the chamber I feel sure that it is held by them. Senator. Mulcahy. - That is rather a painful admission to make. It is not a statesmanlike way of looking at the question.
– That is an admission which I would make on the hustings tomorrow if I were asking the people for their votes. It is a statement which is in keeping with the policy of the new protection. Some senators may not say what. I have said because it is not the sort of thing that they would like to say. here. I shall support Senator Findley’s motion. I think he is right in submitting it.” But if the Committee rejects his proposal, and I am called on to vote upon the proposed duty two considerations will weigh with my mind. One is - is this an established industry which is worthy of some protection? If that question be answered in the affirmative, the second question is - is it an industry in which the workers are earning a decent living and which if it grows will develop under conditions that will be likely always to provide a decent wage and fair conditions to those engaged in it? Those two factors will influence me in voting upon the question.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [5.26]. - I do think, with Senator Millen, if not with other honorable senators, that this is about the most hu miliating position in which a deliberative body, and certainly the Senate, has ever been placed. I confess that I share the astonishment which has already been expressed, that the leader of the Senate should fall in with such a proposal as has -been suggested, and should tell the Committee that it is not in a fit state of mind to deal with items in this Tariff which have to be examined and dealt with from a business point of view. I say that we have something else to consider besides a dispute happening in any particular industry. We surely have to save the Senate from havinga blot placed upon its reputation, and a blot upon its status. No body of men, certainly not the Senate of the Commonwealth, ought to sit clown under such an imputation as is. sought to he placed upon, us by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– The honorable senator wants us to court defeat.
– Oh ! that is it, is it?
– It is not because” he feels that our consciences and judgments will not act rightly; it is not because he feels that these poor people in Mildura ought to be facilitated in getting a settlement of the dispute in which they are concerned. It is merely the paltry, peddling idea that the Government think they may be defeated by not postponing the item !
– That the proposed duty may be defeated.
– I do not think that the Vice-President of the Executive Council requires Senator Trenwith to speak for him.
– My honorable friends have said that this industry would not have justice done to it.
– Not by this Senate? I deny it. I say that there is not a man whom I have heard who would not do justice. I have heard what my honorable friends of the Labour Party have said. It is pure bluff. The Minister thinks because Senator de Largie has said “No settlement, no duty “ - because there is a suggestion that if these employers do not yield to the demands of their workmen this duty will be taken away - that he ought to agree to postpone it. But I have a higher opinion of my honorable friends opposite. I should be ashamed to belong to the Senate if it were actuated by such motives. I say more - that my honorable friends ought to be ashamed to belong to a party if that party sought or tried to visit these employers with punishment for what they are doing in maintaining what they consider to be their just rights, byputting oh or taking off a duty which must be imposed or remitted on a different footing altogether. Then what is the proposed course going to result in? Senator McGregor has imputed to Senator Millen and others on this side of the Chamber that they say that the action proposed is going to be used as a threat - that it is intended to be a threat. Whether it is so or not its effect will te that of a threat. What will be the result? What have we had said by some of those who have spoken? Senator de Largie said, “ No settlement, no duty.” That is telegraphed to these gentlemen at Mildura. You are going to hold a sword in terror over them. Whether you penalize them or. whether you do not, you are going in effect to tell them that if they do not settle this dispute as completely as you would like them to do, they are not going to have this duty.
– In effect, that has been said hundreds of times.
– This Senate ought to have no part or lot in such a statement as that. The Senate has not taken the position in the Commonwealth that it ought to have taken. We all more or less feel that we are going down and down; and we shall degenerate more and more if we adopt a course such as this. Senator Needham says that he does not share the feelings suggested, and that he can vote so as to do justice. I share that sentiment. I believe that every member of the Labour Party would endeavour - I have too much respect for them to think otherwise - to do justice in relation to this duty. But what does Senator W. Russell say? He candidly, and with perfect honesty, says, “ Let us adjourn the matter until to-morrow.”
– I told the electors the same sort of thing.
– I am not disputing what the honorable senator told the electors. I am referring, to what he said here. He said, “ Let us deal with it to-morrow, or the day after to-morrow, or the day after that.” That is to say, “ Let us refrain from dealing with the dutv until the dispute is settled.” What for? To see if the workmen will be treated as he would like them to be treated.
– But we are not to use this Tariff as a weapon over the heads of these people in Mildura. 1 say that this is the grossest attempt at tyranny ever attempted to be perpetrated in this country upon one side to a trade dispute. Senator Needham says that the matter in question is sub judice. Where is it sub judice? There is no tribunal. It is a fight, and we are going to take sides with one of the parties.
– We are going to do what the honorable senator himself has contended for in- other matters - to keep the ring clear.
– The honorable senator helps one of the fighters ; that is what he calls keeping the ring clear. There is no tribunal whatever, and there is no question of the matter being sub judice. We have not come to deal with the new protection proposals yet ; but nevertheless we are asked to say, to use the words of Senator W. Russell - honestly spoken, I dare say - “ Until these employers concede the terms that we like we will not agree to the duty.”
– I did not. say that.
– Until a solution has been brought about.
– Are honorable senators opposite going to wipe the duty out?
– The honorable senator has frequently said that if an industry does not pay reasonable wages, or cannot afford to pay them, there should be no duty.
– I thinkthat every industry in this country should pay fair and reasonable wages.
– Is 6s. a day a fair and reasonable wage?
– That is not the question we have to deal with. That is not the reason why the postponement of this item is proposed. It is not proposed in the ordinary way. Items and clauses in Committee are frequently post- poned, and if the real reason had not been given for this motion I suppose that the courtesy of honorable senators on all sides of the Chamber would have been invoked. But when the postponement is asked for in order that it may be a sword to be held over the heads of men with whom you disagree, I say that to assent to it would be a disgrace to the Senate.
– The honorable senator is very virtuous when it suits him.
– The honorable senator is never virtuous, whether it suits him or not. I have said before, and I say again, that I desire personally and expect that the workmen, shall have a fair share of the profit secured by protection. What is more, I welcomed the principle of what is called the new protection as an admission of that for which freetraders have contended as long as freetrade has been known - that the manufacturer under protection pockets all the profit and very often sweats his workmen. I welcome this new protection as an admission and an acknowledgment df the truth of that contention. If duties are raised high it is only fair that the workmen should share in - I will not say . the plunder, but the profit.
– That is all that I say.
– The free-traders have always been opposed to Factories Acts.
– I do not want to deal with factories legislation now. But honorable senators opposite have not got their new protection yet. I took the liberty of warning’ my honorable friends the other clay, when they were told by the Vice- President of the Executive Council that unless they raised high duties there would be no new protection. I said”You are casting your bread upon the waters in voting these high duties, and expect that it will return to vou in the form of new protection. But suppose it does not?”
– Is the honorable senator ‘going to oppose the new protection? Let him tell us that.
– I will not tell the honorable senator anything. I took the liberty of uttering that warning ; I am sorry if it was a liberty. I warned my honorable friends that in every line of this Tariff where . they are raising high duties they are simply casting bread upon the waters without having any assurance of the new protection that they suppose they are going to get, or whether they are going to get any that will be valid and constitutional. But they are willing to do that with every other item of the Tariff ; they have been doing it hitherto, raising the duties all round. . But when we come to this particular duty they pause. Why do they not do the same thing with regard to this - wait for the new protection? If they are going to make the duty . 3d. in the same way as they have raised other duties, let them’ do it ; and when the new protection comes along I have no doubt that it will be sought to apply it to this as to other industries. The question for us now is whether we shall” keep this duty on or lower it. My honorable friends opposite are reasonable, and I hope that they will not think for a moment that I am going to cast any reflection upon what they have said with regard to the intention ; but I do put it to them in the most serious way that throughout the length and- breadth of Australia to-morrow it . will be seen and admitted that whatever, the intention was the effect is to hold tins rod in . terror over the employers in Mildura. That I say again, is a humiliatingadmission. My honorable friend Senator Croft, has said that he would not cast, his vote for this duty unless the dispute were settled, and settled in oneway.I donot think that my. honorable friend . did himself . justice’ when he made that statement.
– What . about the threat of hunger hanging over the emploves ?
-We are not talking about that.
– Hear, hear; it is nothing to ‘ the honorable senator that” the employes are threatened with hunger. ‘
– It is a great deal to me, . but this is not the way to find food for these men if. they are famishing. We are engaged in a matter of business. We- have to consider the duties under this Tariff apart from any industrial dispute existing for the ‘moment. I put it to Senator W. Russell, whether he thinks that it is a fair thing for us in this Senate to tell these men in Mildura that we are not in a fit state of mind to deal with these duties, and. consequently, that if they do not settle this dispute so as to give their workmen the treatment that we should like them to give, we will not give them a duty of 3d. per lb. on their currants.
– We should show our better judgment in letting the matter stand over for the present. .
– The honorable senator means that he will show his better judgment by saying that if these employers do not give their workmen the extra shilling a day that is asked, we will not give them a duty of 3d. per lb. on their currants.
-I never said that.”
– That is the effect of it.
– That is my opinion as to the effect of it. What we are telling these employers is that if they do not agree to these terms, so much the worse for them. Honorable senators opposite are in- such -a hurry, that they will not trust the promise of the Government about the new protection. They are in such a hurrv as to want to introduce it on this particular item, and in a form that will establish a precedent in this Chamber that will be incalculably mischievous. I put it not merely on this ground, but from the point of view of the Senate itself. Are we to make this confession - that in consequence of, shall I say, prejudice, or prejudgment, or anything you like, the Senate is unable to deal with a business item in the Tariff in respect of what the duty ought to be, or are we going to confess to the people of Australia that when we have an opportunity, we shall use any of the items in the Tariff as a weapon to scourge’ those who are not giving their employés the wages that we think they ought to have? Such a state of things would, indeed, be deplorable. It would be the greatest humiliation the Senate has suffered, and I trust that the VicePresident of the Executive Council - the leader of the Senate - who is in charge of the honour and dignity of the Senate, and has to guard them as well as to consider the possibility of getting his votes’ carried, will withdraw his support of the suggested postponement on the . ground that has been stated, and allow the item to be put.
.- It is unfortunate that we cannot discuss items in the Tariff apart from their association with other matters, but I suppose that we are not ideal people, and that outside questions will obtrude themselves. It is likewise unfortunate that this item should have come up for consideration at the present juncture, for we cannot get away from the fact that in voting either for the retention or reduction of the duty, we should be practically taking sides in an ‘industrial dispute, and giving the victory to one party or the other. We do not desire to be partisans ; we do not wish to interfere with the dispute. That being so, are we to adopt the high ideals which Senator Symon suggested - and no doubt ideally he is right - and possibly do irreparable damage to a community that we wish to help? This duty is a serious matter to the community concerned. It has struggled as probably no other section of the people of Australia has struggled to make a success of a great enterprise, and has met with difficulties of which many honorable senators perhaps know nothing. The settlement was established some eighteen or nineteen years ago, ‘ and the settlers have met with disappointment after disappointment. Their pumps proved to be too small, the salt” came, up in the soil, and various other difficulties arose with the result that many men grew grey in their efforts to make the settlement a success, and to show the rest of Australia that an industry of great good to the Commonwealth could be established there. The settlers are now labouring under the burden of a heavy debt, and we certainly do not desire to interfere in the present dispute. The workers are justified in endeavouring to obtain the best terms in respect of their labour, but we have to remember that the very existence of the community depends upon the decision of this Chamber if it be indorsed, by another place. If the duty be fixed at too low a rate, the settlement will go under; and there will be no revenue for the settlers and no employment for the workers.. They have at present to face the competition of foreign labour. I do not think that Senator Findley, in submitting his proposal, has been actuated by any save the best of motives - an endeavour to get the dispute settled in the interests of both employers and employes. I shall support the proposal to postpone the item, believing that if we dealt with it to-night, we should, as I have said, be taking a part in the dispute that we ought not to play. The item should be postponed until the matter has been settled, when . we should be able to approach its consideration with cool heads, prepared to discuss it on its merits, apart altogether from extraneous considerations.
– The significance of the proposition to postpone the item seems to me to be that we have already passed, with the approval of Senator Findley and most honorable senators of . the Labour F’arty, exceedingly high duties. Those duties have been agreed to by the Labour Party because of their belief in the policy of the new protection, and because they have accented, so far as I can understand the position, the assurance of the Vice-President of the Executive Council that that policy will materialize. If that be so, is it not surprising that Senator Findley should cry ahalt at this stage? It simply means that the honorable senator, in the clearest possible manner, has intimated to the Government that so far as the wages paid in the currant industry are concerned, he will not place any reliance in their promises with respect to the new protection. Still more extraordinary is the reply of the Government, “ Yes, you are quite right. You must not trust us. . Do not rely on the promises of the new protection, but see that the wages in this industry are fair, reasonable, and acceptable to the people concerned.”
– The honorable senator is now stretching it a bit.
– I do not think so.
– I have not said what the honorable senator attributes to me. He is simply placing his own construction upon my statement.
– I am not in the least degree blaming Senator Findley.
– Senator Findlev is blaming the honorable senator for misconstruing his statement.
– I am not. Senator Findley knows that I sympathize with the proposition as to the payment of fair wages.
– Then the honorable senator should vote for the motion.
- Senator W. Russell may laugh if he pleases, but if he turns to the recommendations of the Tariff Commission ihe will see that I do sympathize
– The honorable senator occasionally denies his own recommendations.
– That is not the question. I am simply pointing out that I am entirely in sympathy, with, the proposition that fair wages should be paid. Whether the scheme to insure the payment of fair wages is practicable or not is another question.- I do not think it is, but I am in sympathy with the object. I would again ask why Senator Findley has accepted the new protection proposals in connexion with other items as settling everything, whilst in this case he is not prepared to doso? Is not the new pro-“ tection policy going to over-ride the possibility of such a dispute as this ?
– But this dispute is at our doors to-day.
– Certainly it is; and Senator Findley is saying, “Let us settle the difficulty by some method other than that promised by the new protection; let us see that the wages are fair and reasonable before we vote this duty.” He says to the Government, ‘.’ The new protection proposals are not going to endanger our object in respect of this matter. Rather than run the risk of failing to secure by the new protection proposals of the Government the proper treatment of the workers, I shall not- help the currant industry.” Why should he single out this industry for special treatment?
– If the honorable senator knew the peculiarities of the industry he would bhdertetand this proposal better.
– I do not think that any industry is so peculiar as to deserve special treatment in this respect, having regard to the fact that the new protection proposals are intended to. cover every item in which the question of wages is involved. As has been suggested to me, Senator Findley’s proposition impinges very seriously upon ‘the Government’s new protection proposals, or at any rate it causes us at once to reflect as to what is to happen. Are we going to quarrel with them, and to prescribe totally different conditions with regard to every industry in the Commonwealth? In other words, are we going- to criticise in detail all the new protection proposals? We are asked to postpone this item until we have ascertained the terms and conditions agreed upon by those engaged in the currant industry. What does that mean? That we are to sit in judgment upon the whole dispute? That the question of payment of fair wages is to be taken out of the hands of the Government? Why is’ it to be removed from the general proposals with regard to the new protection? Is the Senate to be the sole judge of what are fair conditions in this particular industry, or are we to decide what shall be the conditions with respect to every one of them? If we are to decide the conditions with respect to all, why do we stop here? Why does not Senator Findley trust the Government, which he is supporting? The situation is made ludicrous by the fact that the Government are prompting Senator Findley, and’ saying, in effect, to him, “ Certainly. Never mind our new protection proposals. ‘ We agree with you that this matter should be settled apart altogether from our promise to bring about new conditions of labour in all our industries.”
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [5.52]. - This matter has been discussed at some considerable length, and I do not know that much that is new can be said on the subject. Still I do not desire to give a silent vote. To premise, I congratulate Senator Findley on having so entirely taken charge of Government business that, like the unfortunate, poodle, Ministers have, so to speak, stuck their tails, between their hind legs and retired from active service. But that Senator Findley should have absolutely taken charge of Government business at this stage seems to me to require a little more explanation than we have had. Clearly the proposal before the Committee is not only most immoral, but dastardly and unconstitutional. If legislation in the Commonwealth Parliament is to be postponed every time a strike occurs, we shall never do anything, since there is always a strike in some part of Australia If there is not a strike affecting the whole coal mining industry of New South Wales, there is never a day but what there is a strike in one of the mines. Are we to promote industrial disputes?
– That is the inference.
– That is what it will come to. We have on the business paper a proposal to deal with the Navigation Bill. Are we to postpone the consideration of that Bill if there is a strike, in one of the many brandies of the maritime service? . That is one difficulty that I see before us. If the Senate is not com-, petent to deal with an item in the Tariff’ because a strike happens to be in progress what in the world is to happen in respect of items with which we may deal when no’ strike is in progress but which, apply to industries in which strikes ma.y occur later ?
– We shall have recommittals proposed.
– Senator Millen is doubtless right.
– That would be the logical result.
– When I speak of this proposal as dastardly and unconstitutional I admit that the first word is a strong one to use, but to employ an old phrase “It is as plain as a pikestaff.”
– It is a cowardly proposal.
– I think that the word “ dastardly “ may fairly be taken to cover “cowardly.”
– Oh, use the two’ terms in conjunction.
-It is hot, necessary for me to do so any more than it. is necessary for me to describe Senator Guthrie as being both handsome and. beautiful. The proposal under consideration is plainly an intimation - as has been stated by other honorable senators - of “ No- extra shilling, down goes the duty.” Senator W. Russell did not use those exact words, but. I was sitting near enough- to him to hear what he said-
– I object to the honorable senator’s prejudiced opinion.
– But the honorable senator cannot object that my hearing is prejudiced.
– As far as the honorable senator is concerned whether the currant pickers get the extra shilling or not, down, will go the duty.
– Senator McGregor, with his usual impetuosity, is making a grave mistake, because I am not prepared to support a reduction of the duty below 3d. per lb.
– It was only 2d. per lb. in the former Tariff.
– Then let it remain at that.
– That is very different from the statements made by the honorable senator when writing to a Sydney newspaper. He then declared that they could not grow pepper trees at Mildura.
– My honorable friend is drawing upon his imagination.
– The honorable senator stated that there were Letter pepper trees at Wentworth than at Mildura.
– No. I. said that the finest pepper tree that I saw during my wanderings was located at Swan Hill. I shall certainly vote against the postponement of this item, because the adoption of that course would form a bad precedent and would open the door to everlasting delays in any Tariff matter which might be brought before this Chamber. Further, it seems to me that the proposition actually involves a threat of “ No shilling, no duty.”
– I do not intend to prolong this debate because I think almost all that can be said upon the question has been said. But I should like to add a little from- my point of view. I dare say that my remarks will not be received with a great deal of pleasure by honorable senators sitting upon the opposite side of the Chamber. In my judgment the Senate began its deliberations this afternoon by being more or less degraded, and in the proposal now under consideration I feel that it is being asked to consent to an additional degradation or humiliation being put upon it.
– Is the honorable senator in order in reflecting upon the Senate ?
-Whatever opinion may be entertained in regard to the first incident of the day the ‘ Government are certainly now asking the Senate to consent to its humiliation and degradation. That is a course of procedure to which I will not tamely submit. If I understand the functions of this Senate, it has been appointed by the people as one of the legislative tribunals which is to give a final decision upon the most important question that can be addressed . to it, in the interests of the country. In reference to Tariff matters this Chamber is a judicial tribunal, pure and simple. We have been asked by the Vice-President of the Executive Council to postpone the consideration of this item. Why? Because of a popular clamour, with the rights or wrongs of which no one in this Chamber is familiar. I repeat that in our relations to the people in respect of Tariff matters we occupy a similar position to that occupied by a Judge. What would be thought of a Judge who stood up and said, “ A popular clamour has been raised outside, a dispute is in progress in relation to the matter which ‘I have been called upon to decide, and because of that popular clamour and dispute, I refuse to exercise the powers vested in me. I shall consequently adjourn the Court”? Only one of two answers could be given to such a question. Either the Judge would be corrupt or he would be weak. We occupy precisely a similar position. We have been appointed to decide Tariff matters without any intimidation, and in the full light of our knowledge and . conscience.
– Oh, let us come to a vote.
– It is because I feel strongly upon this matter that I have instituted the analogy which I have . drawn. I say again, that if any Court postponed giving a decision in a case because some dispute was in progress or because of popular clamour, it would be adjudged either corrupt or weak, and if we pursue a similar course we shall stand similarly condemned.
. -I do not think that anybody who feels strongly upon the question of the postponement of this item can refrain from expressing his protest against the course proposed to be adopted. I can very well understand the position occupied by the Government, and to some extent I can sympathize with them. The party which usually supports them has taken a very pronounced view of this question, and evidently intends to make its discussion a means to an end - an end with which this Senate has nothing whatever to do. We are here to legislate - not to interfere with the law. I sympathize with the Government because I candidly confess that then: is in this Chamber a section which is prepared to take advantage of a situation such as has arisen, this afternoon.’ The fact is that the Senate is being practically invited to take a hand in the dispute in the fruit-picking industry at Mildura. What do we know about it?
– We are asked to take no part in it.
– We are not.. By a curious method of reasoning Senator McColl has urged that we should not interfere in that dispute by proceeding with the consideration of this item. By postponing its consideration I hold that we shall really be taking a/ side in that dispute.
– Which side?
– We should take no side. What is the reason usually urged for the postponement of an item ? It is either that some inconvenience will be inflicted upon honorable senators, or that there is a lack of information, or some uncertainty as to the policy of the Government. But there is no uncertainty about the policy of the Government in connexion with this Tariff.. They have given it out that they intend to go in for the new protection.
– And we want to win this item.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council should not ask the Senate to do something which will place it in a humiliating position.
– I have not done so.
– What is the object of the postponement?
– To enable the Senate to deal with the item when it is in a proper state of mind.
– Is not that a slur upon the Senate?
– Sometimes I have seen the honorably senator himself bilious.
– In the honorable senator’s company that would be excusable. I think that the Senate has been asked to take a wrong course, and one which will belittle it in the eyes of Australia. A dispute has occurred at Mildura in connexion with the picking of currants, and that dispute must be terminated speedily, or the whole of the crop will be lost.
– It would be a dreadful thing if the men engaged in picking it were paid 7 s. per day !
– As far as my information goes, the men are not adequately paid. That, however, is not the question with which we are concerned. I am not -prepared .to sacrifice the prestige of the Senate by interfering in a small, trumpery dispute. It is lowering the tone of the Senate and degrading it altogether.
– I cannot quite understand the tremendous anxiety on the part of some honorable senators over this matter. Are they in danger of being converted to some other political faith than that which they have hitherto embraced?- I include in that the leader of the Senate with others who have spoken. If this item is postponed it will not have the slightest effect upon ray vote. I will vote in exactly the same way upon it fourteen days hence as I should if a vote was taken on it in thenext three minutes.- I am’ not at all influenced, and do not intend to be influenced, by any dispute in connexion with this industry. Still, if some honorable senators feel that they are likely to be influenced, and fear that their knees are not strong enough to hold them up, I am quite prepared to assist the weak-kneed, brethren and to vote for the postponement of the item on that account. It would be terrible to me to think that I had forced upon .the Committee by any vote of mine a decision which would weaken the already weak knees of those who have been arguing upon this question. Senator St. Ledger apparently felt satisfied that he was going to injure some of us on this side of the chamber, and whip us with scorpions. To show us the heinousness of our crime, and the disrepute that we would fall into, if we postponed the item, he asked us what we should think of a Court which, in the midst of its business, adjourned a case in order to do something else.
– Because of public clamour.
– How shortlived are some men’s memories ! I remember only a few years ago when a big industrial dispute took place at Broken Hill, not only was the Court adjourned, but the venue was also altered, in order that the Court should be able to come to a decision. How short-lived are the memories of some men regarding the actions of tribunals that have to sit in judgment in industrial affairs !
– We are not a tribunal.
– I do not say that we are, but Senator St. Ledger compared our position with that of a Court.
Surely the positions are not similar, and no one is endeavouring to place the Senate in such a position..
– Parliament is the highest Court in the realm. ‘ That is a maxim of constitutional law. ;
– We are the highest Court in the realm, and I think that in our present proceedings we are justifying our existence. If my brother is weak, I desire to strengthen him, and because I am afraid that his weakness will get him down I shall support the motion for the postponement of the item.
– It would indeed be deplorable it the Senate were to be influenced by temporary considerations in the many weighty conclusions that it is called upon to arrive at, because we are legislating, not “for today or to-morrow, or even for next year, but, we hope, for all time. It wouldbe. calamitous if we were influenced in that work by what I might call a transient passion. Whatever happens at Mildura this week or next week will not influence my vote in the slightest. Those who say that it is the policy of the party to which I belong to vote in a certain direction in this matter are sadly mistaken, because I have determined to vote in a certain way on the item, even if there were fifty industrial conflicts in progress at Mildura or elsewhere.
– What is the reason, then, for a postponement?
– The reason, which I agree with, is to allow this item to be considered in a calm, reasonable, and impartial atmosphere, uninfluenced by any consideration that may be easily got rid of by waiting for a day or two. Certain honorable senators have openly proclaimed this afternoon their intention to agree to no duty upon currants if there is no settlement of the dispute. I fully recognise that position, and admire the candour with which it was expressed, but that very attitude is the one which was taken up by the leader of the Opposition in this chamber within the last week, for, when Senator E. ‘ J. Russell, dealing with the manufacture of biscuits, was outlining the deplorable conditions that prevailed in that trade. Senator Millen, sitting in his place as leader of the Opposition, asked. “Are you going to give a duty toan industry where such conditions prevail ?” Where are we going to draw the line? Will the honorable senator draw a distinction between circumstances which occurred in an industry five years ago and a concrete case which happens to-day?. I merely mention this to show that honorable senators who proclaim their intention of withholding the duty in this case until a settlement of the dispute is effected, are side by side with the leader of the Opposition, who declaimed against that very attitude this afternoon. Coming to the charge of degradation and humiliation - words which there was no warrant for using this afternoon - let us compare the attitude of the accuser and the accused. The Government were accused in unmistakable terms this afternoon of putting the Senate into a position of degradation by acquiescing in Senator Findley ‘s proposal. The position of the Government, as it appears to me, and as it will appear to any impartial man who looks at the matter reasonably, is that they want the item postponed until such time as those honorable senators who are now influenced by temporary considerations are freed from that influence, which will be tomorrow or the day after.
– Who are those honorable senators?
– Honorable senators all heard those views this afternoon, and should acknowledge the candour with which they were expressed. What is the attitude of the Opposition? It is perfectly plain that those who oppose the postponement of this item include almost’ every member cf the free-trade party in this chamber, and that it is their intention to take advantage of the passing passion by which men are justifiably possessed this afternoon.
– The honorable senator is blaming his own side.
– I am not. I blame the Opposition. If there is any degradation, it is to be found in the conduct of the Opposition in endeavouring to take a snatch vote on a problem of this kind when men’s minds are not rationally made up. When I use the word “ rationally “ in that way, I mean that the events of to-morrow or the day after may help those men to express their views more clearly and reasonably. The Government desire to postponethe item until honorable senators can make up their minds in a reasonable way, whereas the Opposition are seeking a mean advantage by taking a snatch vote on the item, because they see that the minds of certain honorable senators are justifiably, inflamed over present happenings in Mildura. I rose simply to compare the attitude of the Opposition with that of the Government, and- to examine as best I could the charges that have been hurled across the chamber. My vote will be totally uninfluenced by what happens at Mildura.
– I do not think that any one is justified in casting a vote on a question of this sort without expressing some dissent from the views of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, that certain honorable senators are so “off their heads “ over a paltry little industrial dispute in the Email State of Victoria that they cannot possibly carry on the business of Australia, but must postpone it for several day’s.
– Wait till we deal with the banana industry.
– I shall not ask that that item be postponed, and if I am beatenI shall be ready to take my gruel. If the honorable senator is frightened of what may be the result of this vote, he would do well to follow my example, and’ take his gruel whenever he has to. 1 admit that I know nothing about the dispute at Mildura, except what I have read in an odd paragraph in the newspapers, and what Senator Findley said to-day. It appears that the dispute arises from the fact that the men engaged in harvesting the currants wish for is. a day extra. I understand, that a man can in a day pick about 200 lbs. of currants, though of that I am nol quite certain ; but, assuming that to be the case, and that . currants lose 50 per cent, of their weight in drying, therefore, an extra duty of1d. per lb. would mean 8s. 4d. on the day’s picking, as against the extra1s. paid to the picker. It must be perfectly obvious that the employers, if they are like other employers I have known, ‘ are not going to object to paying an extra shilling in wages if it means that they themselves can make an extra 8s. 4d. on each 200 lbs. of currants picked. If we postpone the consideration of this item, it seems quite clear that the employers will concede the1s. demanded, and that those who vote for the postponement will be morally bound to support the duty as it stands. Honorable senators who vote for a postponement cannot blink the fact that if there be a settlement to-night on the basis which has been mentioned, they wilt be morally bound to vote for the increased duty; otherwise we shall practically “slip up “ the employers by having held out to them a sort of inducement to settle the dispute on certain lines, and then failing to carry out our share of the bargain in regard to fixing the duty. I do not think that honorable senators realize the great difference there is between the amount represented by the duty and the amount ‘ in dispute as, wages, or otherwise they would understand that there is’ no reason whatever why the item should be postponed. I indorse the opinion that we should set a bad precedent if we postpone an item simply because there happens to be a wages dispute ; and, further, I protest against any dispute of a small, paltry local character in the State of Victoria being advanced as a reason for “ hanging up “ an industry which is carried on over a large portion of Aus-, tralia. If honorable senators from Western Australia or from Queensland proposed the postponement of an item simply because in one section of an industry there was a wages dispute, I should oppose it as strongly and firmly as I now do the motion of Senator Findley.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
. -1 was very surprised to hear the opinions expressed by some honorable senators in regard to the postponement of the item. We were sent here, not to pay regard to every small dispute that might arise between the various sections of the community, but to frame a Tariff which there would be no need to alter for a number of years. I, as a moderate protectionist, told my constituents that I would not support any attempt to lower duties. But from what has been said this afternoon it Would seem that those who wish to get duties reduced haveonly to stir up strikes. Personally, I should like the men at Mildura to get 7s. a day, and if my vote could insure their getting that wage, they would have it. But some honorable senators have threatened that if the employers do not give way, they will vote to reduce the duty- on currants from 3d. to 2d. per lb., a difference of 8s. 4d. per 100 lbs. of currants. Now, one man might. well be expected to pick 200 lbs. of grapes in a day, which, allowing for shrinkage and loss in the drying and other preparations necessary to. make themmarketable, would represait at least 100 lbs. of currants. Employers would be very foolish to refuse to grant their workmen another1s. a day if, by doing so, they would be certain to lose a protection of 8s. 4d. a day. But the protectionists wish to saddle the whole Commonwealth with the burden of that 8s. 4d. We have been sent here to do justice to all persons in the Commonwealth, after cool deliberation regarding all the circumstances. Would it be fair for us to determine the rate of duty on currants in accordance with out opinions regarding the Mildura dispute? If a duly of 3d. per lb. be the rate which, we ought to impose, let us vote for it, or if -the rate should be lower or higher let us vote for that. But do not let us threaten any section of the community by . saying, Unless you do so and so, we shall take certain action.” A way out of a. difficulty such as that at Mildura would be for small orchardists to let out under contract the work of gathering their crops.
– We should not, . because there is a strike in Mildura, penalize all in Australia engaged in the fruit industry.
– No. It is not right to say that unless the strike is settled in favour of the men the duty on currants will be reduced to 2d. per lb. There are strikes in New South Wales as well as in Mildura, and if this item is to be postponed because of the Mildura strike, succeeding items might well be postponed because of other strikes. There is as much reason for adjourning to-day because of the Queensland elections, or on Friday next, because the honour of Australia will then be at stake, as there is for postponing this item.
– I have known a House to adjourn because of a cricket match.
– There is precedent for such an adjournment, but not for the postponement of a Tariff item for the reasons that have been given.
– Australia has led the world in many respects.
– I hope that she may continue to do so, but that she will never set a bad example. That would be done if we agreed to the postponement of the item. The dispute at Mildura will not affect my vote. It will be the same whether the division is taken to-night, to-morrow, or a week hence, unless good reasons are given for changing my opinion. But it will not redound to ourcredit for it to be known that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has asked us- to postpone the consideration of an item because he thinks that some honorable senators are unable under present conditions to give an unbiased vote on it. Those on this side of the chamber are prepared to go on with business.
– They wish to reduce the duty.
– There are, on this side, even extreme protectionists, who, no doubt, will vote with, the Government.
– Will the “honorable senator vote for a duty of 3d. ?
– I shall state my position, when we again deal with the item. I shall certainly carrv out my pledges to my constituents. Let us get on with business. The afternoon has been wasted in the discussion of the proposed postponement, and it seems probable that to-night will be wasted as well.
– Let us get on with the next item.
– We do not know what item the Minister intends to go on with next.
– Then the honorable senator does not know what he is talking about.
– I have known the honorable senator to be in that position. If he had the courage of his opinions, he would not sneak behind a motion like this, to serve party purposes. It should not go forth to the world that the Senate isready to hang up its business because of a little trouble at Mildura; honorable senators being weak in the knees, and not knowing how to vote.
– The hanging up of business has not been proposed; the honorable senator is “ stone- wal ling.”
– The honorable senator spoke as long as it suited him, and during the afternoon a number of others spoke from that side of the chamber. After great exertionshe has secured another follower, and, no doubt, when the Government think that they have a sufficient number of “ wobblers “ on their side, they will go on with the business. I hope that a similar position will not occur in Australian politics again.
.- When I entered the chamber this afternoon, I did not know that there was a difference between the masters and men at Mildura. We were elected to give our best consideration to the Tariff, and should deal with it on purely business lines. ‘ But the Government have allowed themselves to be influenced and dominated by the Labour Party. Does any one really believe that the Government are such nincompoops as to fall into a trap of this kind unless they feel that they must yield to the force behind them? For the first time in its history the Senate is being asked to engage in party politics. ‘ I am pleased to say that the members of my party are taking every step which they think is necessary to defend the principles on ‘ which they were elected. The members of the Senate were elected as trustees for the people of Australia, and not as trustees for a small section of the people of Victoria even if it be the settlers at Mildura. There is a great principle involved in the issue before the Chamber this evening, and it is whether we who were returned to carry on the business of Australia shall allow ourselves to be made puppets in a party move in order to enable a certain section to gain political kudos. In other words the question is whether or not the growers in Mildura shall be compelled to pay certain wages to their employes. I will not say whether the wages now paid are fair and reasonable. Looking at the position in all its surroundings.it appears to me that they are not fair, but that is not the question at stake. The real question is whether this small dispute is to be made a means by which the business of the country is to be impeded. Do honorable senators realize the kind of precedent which they are asked to create to-day ? At the present time 700 men are affected by a strike in the timber trade in New South Wales. Suppose that the Government succeed in establishing this bad precedent, will the consideration of the timber duties be postponed until that strike is settled? Will the Senate be asked to bring pressure to bear upon the masters? Will they be told that if they do not give way to the demands of the men the duties on timber will be altered in accordance with the desires of the Labour Party ? No one can interpret the conduct of the Government on the present occasion except as an attempt to influence the fruit-growers to give way to the demand of their men. It is idle for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to ask us on this side to believe that their motive in moving for a postponement is to procure an unbiased consideration of the item. We may be fools but I do not think, that we are so foolish as to fall in with that view. We can read between the lines andrealize that the postponement of the item was asked for in order that the fruit-growers could be informed by wire, either to-day or tomorrow, that if they did hot give way to the demand of the workmen there was in the Senate a party who were determined that they should not get the duty which the Government in their wisdom a short time ago believed was fair and necessary in the interests of the whole of Australia. Tomorrow the people of Australia are to be told that upon the success or otherwise of that demand will depend the rate of duty which is to be levied on imported fruits.
– How is the honorable senator going to vote?
– I shall vote for as low a duty as is consistent with my principles. I believe that if they were left alone the Government would do what they deemed to be right. But they are simply moved by party considerations. If the motion of Senator Findley be carried it will create a bad precedent and one which will be felt throughout the Commonwealth. I do not know what public opinion is in the other States, but certainly in New South Wales the Federal Parliament has not gained in popular estimation. It has not come up to the high ideals which many of us had formed. In New South Wales its legislation has not realized the expectations of those who did their best to bring about the establishment of the Commonwealth.
– I think that the honorable senator is now getting far away from the question before the Committee.
– I venture to say that in pandering to the desires of a party the Government are degrading the Legislature. I did look to Senator Best to take a higher view of the position of the Senate as a legislative chamber than he has done. I think ‘that when he reflects he will realize that in asking for the postponement of this item he has not pursued a wise course. I regret that I shall be obliged to. vote against the Government on this occasion.
Senator ColonelNEILD (NewSouth Wales) [8.13]. - It has just occurred to me that there is one aspect of this matter which has not been mentioned. There is trouble at one irrigation settlement on the Murray, namely, Mildura. The other place in the Commonwealth in which currants are grown is Renmark. I know that Senator Trenwith spoke of a number of other places, but those places do not grow enough currants to make up the buns for a Sunday-school picnic. There is a wages dispute at one of the two currant districts, and legislation in respect of the Tariff is to be hung up until that is settled. How is it going to be settled? If the extra is. a day is not paid, we are told plainly that an attempt will be made to reduce the duty proposed by the Government by 331/3 per cent.
– It does not follow that we are going to vote for the duty of 3d. just because the men get a rise or a reduction.
– Then what is the object of the desired postponement? If the duty on currants is to be reduced to 2d. per lb. because of the quarrel at Mildura, the fruit-growers at Renmark are to be punished because somebody at Mildura did not pay1s. a day extra. We know perfectly well that the decision of this matter by the people of Mildura does not mean that every one is going to vote in the same way. It will be settled by the majority who may be a few more than, those oh the other side. We will find therefore that all the growers at Renmark and nearly half the growers at Mildura are to be penalized by the vote of certain members of the Senate, because rather more than a moiety of the growers at Mildura do not care to pay an extra1s. a day totheir men. . There is a beautiful proposition in wise, honorable and statesmanlike legislation ! If public affairs are to be conducted in that way, I think that my honorable friends had better hunt- for a more dacant excuse than the one which has been submitted - the Mildura dispute. Why not add to the motion these words, “ until the completion of the Senate election now pending in South Australia”?
– Would - it not be better to put that into poetry?
– I think that the honorable senator’s capacitv for poetry is so exceedingly limited that I would not intrust the matter to him. I formally move as- an addition to the motion, the word’s which I have cited.
– The writ is not returnable until the 8th March.
– That makes no difference, because as the motion stands the item must be postponed until all the rest of the Tariff has been dealt with.
– The postponement does not affect the collection of duties in the slightest degree.
– Oh, well; what collection does the Minister refer to?
– The Government collect the 3d., and do not refund any of the money.
– Of course. I am proposing to add these words to the motion in order that we may deal with this matter with a fair degree of promptness, instead of leaving it as a piece of flotsam and jetsam until the end of the schedule.
– If we finish the Tariff before Friday, it will be before the South Australian election.
– There is a chance of my honorable friend finishing himself before the Tariff is disposed of. because he is exerting himself body and mind in a most unnecessary manner under a pretence ormake-believe that he really wants to get this Tariff out of the way ; whereas we all know that the Government do not want to get the Tariff out of the way at all. We know perfectly well that as long as they go on collecting the duties as fixed by another place, so long will they be quite satisfied, more particularly in view of the awful threats that have been recently made against them by a . very distinguished member of the Labour Party, namely, that as soon as the Tariff is out of the way it will be necessary to fit out an exploring expedition to find the whereabouts of the Deakin ‘Government. That threat having been officially pronounced by a distinguished member of the Labour Party, I can quite understand that the Government are absolutely shaking in their shoes, and clutching at any excuse for postponement that will stave off the awful calamity that lies before them.
– But they all wean boots.
– That Is so profound an observation that if I were the honorable senator I would’ supply myself with a phonograph to take down such gems of wit and imaginary humour, so that thev might be preserved. It is a pitv that -they should be lost on an ungrateful world, because the existing generation cannotcomprehend in the slightest decree where either the wit or the common-sense comes in.
– I do not think that the amendment which has been indicated bv
Senator Neild is one that I can receive. Standing order 198 says that -
Any clause- may be postponed unless the same has already been amended ; and standing order 192, in paragraph 2, mentions -
Postponed clauses (not having been specially postponed to certain clauses.)
I take it that the meaning of those two provisions taken together is that an amendment to a motion for postponement must be for the purpose ofpostponinga clause or clauses until after certain other clauses have been disposed of. Obviously, the South Australian election is not relevant to the subject-matter of tihe Bill before the Committee. Therefore I do not think that I can accept the amendment.
– Then I will move an amendment in another form.
– May I ask to what stage the postponement which we are now debating relates?
– No particular place having been fixed, the item to be postponed would be dealt with in the order provided in standing order 192, which directs that in- considering a Bill, first the clauses as printed and the. proposed new clauses shall be considered, and secondly the postponed clauses. That is to say, after we have gone through the Bill”, the item under consideration, if postponed, will be dealt- with.
– Then the effect of carrying the motion will be to postpone the item until we have considered the whole Tariff?
– That is 50.
– I move -
That the following words be added - “ until after the consideration of item 105, Tea.”
If my amendment is carried it will mean the postponement of the item until we have, dealt with all the other items in the’ Division of the schedule before the Committee.
– Why not move to add the words “ until after the settlement of the Federal Capital Site?”
– The honorable’ senator is flouting the decision of the Chairman. I, however, am satisfied that Mr. Chairman will see that I have respected his ruling in moving for the consideration of currants after “ Tea,” which is the last item in Division IV., Agricultural Products and Groceries.
.- I should like to be clear about this matter. Assuming that the Government carry their motion for the postponement of the item, would that mean that it would have to be deferred until we have considered all the other items in the Tariff ?
- Senator Neild does not want the item to be deferred so long. He wishes it. to be dealt with after item 105. Before we take a division I hope the Vice-President of the Executive Council will tell us what is the information he expects to receive,; what he intends to inquire into, and why he wants the item postponed.
– Put him in the box.
– He is in the box now, in a certain sense.
– Not “ the wrong box! ‘ ‘
– I think the Committee is entitled to know why the Government want this postponement, what inquiries they intend to make in regard to it. and why inquiries are to be made as to one particular item affecting only a small portion of one of the States of the Commonwealth. I should like the VicePresident of the Executive Council to answer those questions.
– The Standing Orders do not allow of tedious repetition, and therefore prevent me from answering the questions.
– If I received favorable answers I should possibly consider the attitude of the Government more favorably.
– The honorable senator is not going to support the Government ?
– I admit that. It would require a great deal of persuasion for the Government to get my vote, though I do not say I am not open to conviction. The Government ‘ ought to be clear and frank with us, just as some honorable senators have been remarkably clear, frank, and fearless in regard to their position. Some singularly candid declarations have been made by supporters of the Government as to why they want a postponement. I therefore take the opportunity of submitting these explicit questions to which I desire clear and explicit answers. If a senator from any other State were to request the hanging up of part of the Tariff I am certain that he would be charged with gross provincialism. Yet the Tariff has been hung up since 4 o’clock this afternoon over this postponement matter. Who is it that is hanging up the debate now ?
– We know who ought to be hanged up.
– I have a distinct opinion about that also. Of course the Government are to be excused in one sense for the position in which they find themselves. Hut I am not going to obey the crack of the whip. If this request for postponement had been made by a representative of Queensland or New South Wales we should have had the Age and the whole protectionist press of Australia holding us up as subjects for just derision. What would that oracle, the Age, which is behind the Government, say in such circumstances? I do not -wish to speak disrespectfully of the Agc, or of any other newspaper, for I recognise that the press has a right to attempt to influence in a legitimate way the opinions of Parliarnent as well as of the people outside. I take this seasonable opportunity, however, to point out that whereas Victorians are constantly asserting that they possess the true Federal spirit, the protectionist organs here would declare that we were gross tyrants if we attempted to do what the Government now propose, and would assert that we were seeking to strangle Federation. I would ask the VicePresident of the Executive Council why he desires a postponement”; what he seeks to find out, and presuming that he finds it out, what position will the Government take up in regard to it? If he does not give explicit answers to these questions he will occupy the position of a witness in the box who, having had addressed to him strong, adverse questions, says, “I refuse to answer.” In such circumstances the jury can form only one conclusion.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [8.32]. - I understand that the Vice-President of the Executive Council has said he is not permitted to reply now to questions submitted to him.
– I am not permitted to indulge in tedious repetitions.
– I have looked through chapter 20 of the Standing Orders which relates to the Committee of the whole Senate, and can find nothing to prevent Senator Best from now answering questions.
– Such a point of order has not been raised, and therefore cannot be discussed.
– I am raising the point of order that there is nothing in the Standing Orders to prevent the questions being answered.
-I rise to a point of order on that raised bv Senator Neild.
– A point of order cannot be raised on an interjection.
– That was the point I desired to take.
– I propose to put another question to the Vice-President of the Executive Council. Clearly the who!e question of the duty on fruits is dependent . upon the “grant or the refusal of an . additional1s. per day to the workers at Mildura. Let there be no pretence about that.
– I am afraid that there; is a gcod deal of pretence about it.
– No; I think that it is a very painful and ugly reality. Supposing that instead of the additional is. per day being granted or refused, the people split the difference, and agree to an increase of 6d. per day, will the Government propose to split the difference between 2d. and 3d. per lb. in respect of the duty? If an additional 6d. per day be given, what is to be done by those who are clamouring for a postponement in order to see if the1s. per clay is to be granted or refused?
– Is the honorable senator putting that question to the VicePresident of the Executive Council, or to honorable senators generally ?
– I am putting the question to the Minister. There is nothing to prevent his answering that or any other question which has been submitted to him.I cannot find in the Standing. Orders relative to Committees of the whole Senate a single phrase standing in the way of his answering these questions; but as it is possible that amongst the two dozen standing orders relating to the subject I may have overlooked some one word, it might be desirable for me to read the whole chapter.
– The question whether the Minister can, within the Standing Orders, answer questions cannot be raised at this stage.
– I shall not pursue the matter further, although I should certainly like Senator Best to furnish an answer to my query. I understand that the whole motive of the Government in seeking this postponement is to secure a settlement of the question as to the increase of1s. per day in the wages of the workers in this industry, and if the compromiseI have mentioned be adopted, will it lead to I compromise in the amount of the duty ?
– There is one matter which I think Senator Best has overlooked, and which I desire seriously and honestly to put before him. We admit now that this postponement is desired in order that we may know what arrangement has been made between the employers and. employes in the Mildura, fruit-growing industry. I would point out to Senator Best that neither he nor any one of us can have any guarantee that an arrangement arrived at to-morrow, whereby the employes receive the additional is. per day; will be permanent. The employers’ might say to the workers, “ We will give you the extra1s. per’ day,” and then, having got what they wanted - a high duty - there would be nothing to prevent their reverting amonth hence to the old rate of pay. I merely suggest that possibility.
– Then the honorable senator advises the men to insist upon a five years’ or seven years’ agreement?
– As Senator Turley has pointed out, we can only rely upon some sort of arrangement being made between the employers and employes. Such an arrangement cannot get the ratification of any legal authority, and therefore we can have no guarantee of permanency.
– The honorable senator does not mean to say that employers . at Mildura would not carry out an agreement into which they had entered?
– They might saythat they declined to commit themselves to any definite time.
– It has been stated that these men are mostly casuals.
– If they are, that lends more force to my contention.
– The shearers are casuals, and yet they have an agreement with the pastoralists which is continued from year to year.
-I repeat that the real danger is that by postponing the item we may secure nothing except what is purely illusory,’ and lend ourselves to a deception.
– I crave the indulgence of the Committee for a few moments-
– That is what all honorable senators say in rising to discussthis question.
– Since we have wasted . the best part of the day in discussing a motion which did not emanate from this side, the honorable senator need not object if I ask the indulgence of the Committee for a few seconds. I am proud to think that the motion did not come from this side.
– The discussion did.
– It occurs to me that I need not have apologized for proposing to trespass on the time of honorable senators; they appear to have plentv to spare, and I might have taken up their time as a matter ofright, and not as a matter of courtesy.. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, in moving the second reading of the Bill, made an appeal for its expeditious treatment. Responding to that appeal, I took the opportunity to point out that Governments frequently clamoured for divisions when the numbers were right, and manoeuvred for delays when’ the numbers were wrong. In the consumption of time over this matter to-day, the Govern- ‘ ment have given us abundant evidence of the correctness of my statement, and they must take the whole responsibility for the waste of time that has occurred.
Question - That item 54 be postponed (Senator Findley’s motion)- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative. ]tem postponed.
Item 55 (Fruits, n.e.i.) agreed to.
Item 56. - Fruits, citrus, per lb.,½d.
– The Government have had circulated for the information of the Committee a paper which’ we are expected to believe, ‘but which is utterly misleading. It sets out that under the Tariff of 1902 a duty of 3d. per lb. was levied upon citrus fruits, whilst the present proposal of the Government is 1d. per lb.
– The duty under the old Tariff was 2s. per cental.
– The information embodied in this paper is . utterly wrong.
– The paper to which the honorable senator refers is one which was used at an early stage in the Tariff discussion of the House of Representatives, but it has not been submitted to this Chamber at all.
– It was none the less incorrect when it was before the other House.
– It has since been revised and corrected.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [8.50]. - If a fresh paper has been distributed I have been passed over. No doubt its errors have been corrected. Nevertheless, it is a fact that the House of Representatives was misinformed when this item was before it. I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if the new paper which has been prepared can be accepted as reliable?
– A duty of 2S. per cental is rather less than ¼d. per lb., and consequently the new duty of½d. per lb. represents an increase of more than 100 per cent. The protectionist section of the Tariff Commission recommended an impost of½d. per lb. upon. ‘this class of fruits, but the free-trade section of that body recommended only 20 per cent. I. think that we ought to have some information before us to justify us in making the enormous increase proposed. There is really no necessity for a duty upon citrus fruits, because Australia is the home of them. The finest oranges in the world are produced in the. Commonwealth, and yet it is stated that 41,422 centals of citrus fruits were imported in 1906. I take it that these figures refer chiefly to the importation of lemons. This year the growth” of lemons has been so extraordinary that they were a. drug on the market in South Australia. They were practicallygiven away.
– They were given away in Svdney, but a great deal of money had to be paid for them.
– Tons of lemons could have been obtained from South Australia. This fruit) was never so cheap in that State previously. The proposed duty of £d. per lb. is entirely unnecessary. If the people of New South Wales desire to obtain lemons of the best quality, they can get them from South Australia.
– As Senator Symon has pointed out, the duty which is now proposed, represents an increase of 100 per cent, upon the old rate of 2s. per cental, inasmuch as it works out at 45. 2d. per cental. The A section of- the Tariff Commission recommended an impost of ½d. per lb. upon citrus fruits, but made a special exception in the case of summer fruits, upon which they recommended a duty of1d. per lb. The Government have not gone so far as that in their proposal, but they ask for an all-round duty of id. per lb. on citrus fruits. . The information which has been circulated amongst honorable senators shows that, during 1906, 41,422 centals of citrus fruits were imported into the Commonwealth. These consisted of oranges and lemons. The importations of other citrus fruits are not recorded. That our imports ‘ under this heading are increasing is evidenced by the fact that in 1903 we imported 33,537 centals; in 1904, 31,792 centals; in 1905, 30,548 centals; and in 1906, 41,422 centals.
– Where did they come from?
– Chiefly from Italy and the United States.
– Then they were principally lemons from California and Italy?
– Yes. The recommendation of the A Section of the Tariff Commission was that a duty of 20 per cent, should be levied. That, of course, would work out at varying amounts. We propose an all-round duty of id. per lb. It certainly represents a trifle more than double the old rate, but I do not think that we are asking too much, especially in view of the fact that one section of the Commission recommended an even higher impost upon summer fruits. The recommendation of the protectionist section of the Commission will be found upon page 36 of their fortieth report. It reads -
We recommend that the duty on citrus fruits be raised from 2s. per cental to½d. per lb., and to1d. per lb. on summer fruits.
The recommendation ofthe free-trade section- of the Commission would work out, perhaps, sometimes higher and sometimes lower than the dutyof½d. per lb. proposed by the Government.
– I wish to take advantage of the present occasion to direct attention to the fact that whilst we are granting assistance to our industries - and especially to our fruit industry - the various States appear to be doing all in their power to exclude each other’s fruits. Senator Millen has pointed out that the people of New South Wales were paying dearly for their citrus fruits at a time when, according to Senator Symon, they were a drug on the market in South Australia. The attention of the States ought to be called to this curious anomaly; that whilst we are protecting Australian fruits the various States Administrations appear to be bent upon excluding each, other’s fruits.
– That sort of thing is provided for in the Constitution.
– If such conduct is persevered in, it will raise the question of how far the States are contravening the provisions of the Constitution, which explicitly declare that trade and commerce between them shall be absolutely free. .
– I wish to -point out that this item really relates to lemons which are imported into the Commonwealth in good condition when our localIy-grown lemons are not in that condition. In Tasmania, we have sometimes to pay as much as 3d. each for lemons. Senator Symon has informed the Committee that tons of lemons went to waste in South Australia during the present summer.
– I said that they were practically a drug on the market.
– But they are not so now?
– Not now.
– The present is the season of the year when they are imported from Italy. It is desirable’ that we should be able to obtain supplies from abroad when our own lemons are not in good condition. At the same time, I am rather opposed to an increase of 100 per cent. in the old rate, because prices have nol been reduced.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.0]. - If South Australia is so burdened with citrus fruits as Senator Symon indicates, it is rather a case of a State being hoist with its own petard, because South Australia, was the first of the Australian States to bar the introduction of fruit from other States. There has been such an embargo in South Australia for at least twenty-one years, to my certain knowledge. As Royal Commissioner for New South Wales at the Adelaide Exhibition of 1887, I had the greatest difficulty to secure the admission of some ferns from the scrub lands on the coast district of New South Wales for the decoration of the New South Wales courts. I had to make I cannot tell how many solemn declarations that they had not come out of a vineyard, but when it came to the introduction of fruits, that was simply an impossibility. I know that there is a great deal in the trouble that is spoken of in regard to Inter-State trade in fruit. No doubt the Inter-State barriers that are set up lead to the introduction of foreign lemons, because the climates of Australia are so varied that, although we cannot perhaps grow lemons for every month in the year, we could certainly grow them for a great many of the months in the year if we had free . interchange. But if South Australia is limited to its own market, it very soon chokes. If New South Wales is limited to its own market the same thing happens, as it only produces for a small portion of the year. I take it that that is one of the reasons why we find so large an introduction of lemons. Break down these Inter-State barriers that are unfortunately specifically provided for in the Federal Constitution in respect of inspection charges and heaven knows what besides, and I feel sure that the fine citrus fruits of Australia would be able to hold their own even without a duty, and less of the foreign article would come into the market. I hope that, whatever sins of foul vineyards may exist, whatever offences are committed by or in any State in this regard, so serious an effort willbe made to secure freedom from insect and vegetable pests throughout the orchards of Australia that we shall be able to do away with all Inter-State difficulties of the kind indicated, and then whether the duty be ¼d. or½d. it will matter very little, as we shall supply our own needs.
– We ought to increase the duty. Australia, as Senator Neild has pointed out, has sufficient diversity of climate to be able to supply itself with oranges and lemons all the year round. There is therefore no necessity, ‘in ordinary circumstances, to import them from Italy or elsewhere.
– We must either do that or do without them, because they come in at a different time of the year.
– Oranges . and lemons are coming in from one portion or other of Australia all the year round.
– In what portion of Australia do they come in at this tittle of the year?
– There are ripe oranges now in portions of Queensland.
– They are not worth eating. The orange season is over in July and August.
– I saw them growing ripe on the trees at Toowoomba when I. was there last - about Christmas. They were late oranges. The early oranges begin away north at Cardwell, and you find oranges right down south until you get to Toowoomba. My experience is that there are oranges ripening in some portion of Australia all the year round. If so, why encourage importations from Italy and elsewhere?
-The trouble is that it is not so.
– It is not so with lemons. We cannot get lemons in summer now anything like equal to the imported lemons.
– I do not say that they are equal to the imported. With a little more encouragement there should be no difficulty in supplying our own needs.
– Does the honorable senator think the duty will alter the climate ?
– The duty will stimulate production and help to keep out the imported oranges. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duly on item 561d. per lb.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 57 - Ginger, green, per lb.,1d.
– I desire some information as to this commodity. Over£2,000 was raised in 1906 . by means of the duty on it. I understand that it is a Chinese product, and is not grown in Australia, nor are there any indications that it will be produced here in the immediate future. I shall vote against the duty unless I . am convinced that the article can be grown in Australia. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 57 free.
– I should like the VicePresident of the Executive Council to give us some information regarding this item. Under the Tariff of 1902 and amending Acts, the duty was 2d. per lb. ; and yet we find the Government, who are supposed to be highly protectionist, proposing to reduce it to id. I think we ought to know the reason.
– That duty was recommended by the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission.
– If the VicePresident of the Executive Council cannot give us the information I desire, perhaps some member of the Tariff Commission may do so; at any rate, unless some reason is given, I shall feel inclined to vote for the motion of Senator Lynch; At first glance this appears to me to be merely a revenue duty, because, so far, it has not been proved that this ginger can be grown in any State in Australia.
– It grows like a weed in any hot place.
– I am under the impression that the duty, instead of being reduced, should be remitted. What is the good of a duty of this kind, which results only in a revenue of ^2,000 per annum, when there is no evidence that the commodity can be grown or manufactured in Australia?
.- The Tariff Commission, on pages 51 and 52 of their progress report, number 30, dealing with anomalies and suggested reclassification, recommended -
Delete items 42, 43,- and 45, and omit words “including Green Ginger” from item 52 (a).
Add to item 21 (c), after the word “Peel,” the words “ Candied, drained, or dried,” and omit the words “ and Ginger preserved (not in liquid). “
After (d) insert item to read - “ Ginger preserved (not in liquid), per lb., 3d.”
In other words, the Commission recommended the reduction of the duty from 2d. to id. I understand that under the Tariff of .1962 there was a duty of 1½d. a lb. on preserved ginger, and a duty of 2d. per lb. on green ginger. It was shown that the green ginger preserved in the Commonwealth necessitated the use of sugar on which dufy had been paid, and in order that there might be a differentiation between green ginger, ‘which could be preserved in Australia, and the manufactured article, the Tariff Commission recommended a reduction of the duty from 2d. to id.
– Who are employed in this industry ? Chinese.
– I do not know. I understand that ginger is grown in Australia.
– At any rate, I should say that it can be grown in Australia; and the Government have adopted the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.
– I think Senator McGregor will bear me out, when I say that on this item no evidence was submitted to the Tariff Commission.
– That is so; we were simply dealing with anomalies.
– The section of the Tariff Commission. with which I was associated, made no recommendation whatever ; and I think that the suggestion of a duty has crept in by error. There may be people who grow ginger in their gardens, but’, commercially speaking, there is none produced in Australia. I agree with Senator Lynch that this is merely an unnecessary revenue duty which may well be remitted.
– Tt is quite true that no evidence was laid before the Tariff Commission in regard to this item ; and the recommendations which have been read by the Minister of Home Affairs were made simply in order to correct anomalies in the Tariff of 1902.- The idea was to make a distinction between green ginger and ginger in a more advanced stage of manufacture. We cannot call green ginger a raw material in, the same sense as -other commodities are so called; and I believe it can, and probably will, in time be grown in Australia, when people devote their attention more particularly to what may be called .gardening, as distinguished from farming. It was for that reason that we of the Tariff Commission did not desire to remit the duty altogether, but rather to give some encouragement for the production of- ginger here.- Some honorable senators seem always to be referring to industries as Chinese industries.
– In this case the description is correct.
– It does not matter whether or not it be a Chinese industry, because the day will come when, in the natural course of events, the Chinese will die out and all industries be in the hands of white people.
– What about the rising generation of Chinese?
– The rising generation of Chinese is very limited, and I do not propose to discuss the matter.
– In any case, I may remind the honorable senator that that is not the question before us.
– I am only showing that, under the White Australia policy, all industries must intime be in the hands of white people in Australia ; and, for that reason, I hope that the recommendations of the Tariff Commission may be adopted.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [9.26]. - I do not intend to be influenced in my vote by any considerations as to whether this is or is not a Chinese industry. - I can quite understand, however, from the value of the importations, that this industry must be prosecuted either by Chinese or by some very inferior set of white people. According to the statistics, the value of this ginger is rather under 2d. per lb., and, although for six years there was a duty of 2d., or 100 per cent., the general opinion is that not one ounce was grown in the Commonwealth for commercial purposes in that time. If that be the case, either we are doing a grave injustice in reducing the duty, or the industry is not congenial to the people of Australia, and, therefore, protection is not necessary. It appears to me to be rather like the rice root production which was spoken of the other day - an industry not worth encouraging. The Government seem to have adopted a rule of thumb method of halving the duty; and the result can only be to add to the price of the commodity, most of which I see is imported from Hong Kong. We have been told that the preserving of this green ginger necessitates the consumption of Australian sugar, but apart from that protectionist view, this appears to be a revenue duty of really very small consequence.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 57 free - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …. 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 58. Peel, preserved in . liquid, including the weight’ of the liquid, per lb.,1d.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty on item 58 2d. per lb.
In 1906, 659,520 lbs. of peel preserved in liquid were imported, showing that the duty of1d. per lb. was not protective. On’ page 13 of the general report of -the Tariff Commission it is stated that-
The Fruit-growers Union, in their written request before-mentioned, desired an increase of duty on fruits- in liquid. Regarding lemon peel in brine, it was suggested that the duty be increased by1d. per lb., as several ventures were being attempted in the direction of its manufacture, and the Commonwealth produced quite sufficient lemons to supply the demand.
It seems to me that we should encourage the growing of lemons in Australia, and, no doubt, if the duty were increased, a sufficient quantity of peel would be available for all requirements without increasing the price to consumers.
– Lemon peel is imported in brine chiefly for use by jam manufacturers, and as the duty on jams- is 2d. per lb. under the General Tariff, or1½d. on imports from the United Kingdom, we should, if we raised the duty on peel, and desired to be consistent’, increase those rates.
– The peel imported in brine is used to make candied peel for cakes.
– I am informed that it is largely the raw material of the jam makers, and it is not the policy, even of protectionists, to hamper manufacturers by placing a heavy impost on their raw materials.
– Senator Millen has stated what is a fact. The evidence given before the Tariff Commission on the subject of peel is printed on page 13 of its general report. In Sydney a witness called Jessop, a fruit merchant, was the only one to give evidence on this subject -
Only one of the fruit merchants who appeared before your Commissioners gave any information concerning this article. He said that the jam and candy peel manufacturers imported, very large quantities of peel in brine from Sicily. They contended that it was better for their’ purpose than the local product, although the latter could be purchased at a lower rate. Tt was thought that this was due to the fact that some element was extracted’ by the Italians, who thus rendered their peel more pliable. The preference shown for the imported peel was not due to damaged local lemons being turned into peel in brine. It was impossible to turn a damaged lemon into peel, it was only fit for pulp. An extra duty would impose a handicap upon manufacturers.
Why should we handicap our manufacturers ?
– This peel is used, not in jam making, but for the manufacture of candied peel.
– I have read the’ only sworn evidence on the subject placed before the Tariff Commission. The protectionist section of the Commission recommended a duty of1d., for which I think there is no justification. But even they would not go so far as Senator Stewart in handicapping our manufacturers.
– I have made inquiries in Brisbane and know that, in the season, lemons can be obtainedthere verycheaply. But the makers of candied peel prefer the peel imported in brine from Sicily to the local peel, not because it is cheaper-
– They pay more for it.
– That is so; but it is more suited to their requirements. A very large quantity of local lemons go bad, not’ because they ‘ might not be used, but because the Sicilian peel is found more suitable than the local peel.” In Sicily the inside of the lemons is removed and the pulp crushed for the juice it contains. The essential oils are extracted from the skins, and what is practically the refuse, remaining is thrown, into brine and sent out here to be made into candied peel. By using this peel our manufacturers can place an article on the market at 2d. per lb. less than they would have to charge for candied peel made from local lemons. They say that candied peel made from local lemons would be worth from 2d. to 4d. per lb. more, because of its greater value for cooking purposes, since it would contain the essential oils, which are extracted from the
Sicilian peel but they prefer the latter because it is more suited to their requirements. It would therefore be well for the Committee to increase the duty, so as to give the growers of lemons in Australia an opportunity to get the local market.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9.43]. - I do not know anything about the use of imported peel for jam making ; but I know’ that a great deal of it is converted into’ candied peel, and put into the cakes and Christmas puddings which are made in such numbers by one or more firms in each of the large cities of Australia, and distributed throughout the Commonwealth, a great many of them going to places where it would be impossible to make a decent cake or pudding. Five years ago I asked the Senate not to impose a duty on the brine in which the peel was imported, and I then pointed out that a great quantity of this peel has only to undergo certain inexpensive processes to make it candied peel.
– I entirely agree with the statement which has been made by Senator Turley.If atthe proper season of . the year any honorable senator pays a visit to one of the factories in Melbourne - and the same thing may be seen in other cities - he can see men employed in taking the pulp out of the Australian lemon and candying the peel, and realize that the statement of Senator Turley is absolutely correct. The essential oils are left in the Australian peel, but extracted from the imported peel.
– They may not be wanted, or desirable.
– The extraction of the essential oils makes the peel indigestible and everything else that is nasty. In various parts of Australia there is, at some portions of the year, a very large surplus of lemons which cannot be disposed of. I know of places where men have had lately to grub up lemon trees because they could not find a market for their produce. When we know that a large quantity of lemons inferior in quality to Australian lemons is imported, we should, I contend, do everything we can to encourage the production and use of lemons. This is one instance in which, owing to information I have received since the Tariff Commission arrived at its recommendation, I intend to alter my vote. I have found in South Australia that even in this year no market could be found for tons of lemons.
I think that in a country like Australia, where lemons of excellent quality and in large quantity can be produced, every encouragement should be given to growers of them.
– I have not been asked to support the imposition of an increased duty on peel. The protectionist section- of the Tariff Commission has not recommended a duty of 2d. per lb. I know nothing about the industry, and I think it is a significant fact that the jam manufacturers have not asked for an additional impost. The fact that neither the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission nor the Government has proposed a duty of 2d. per lb. is, I think, a very strong reason why we should retain the duty at1 d. It seems that the Italians have a. method of preserving the peel in such a way that it is made fairly cheap to our manufacturers. I do not think that any sufficient reason has been given for departing from the proposal of the Government.
Question - That the House of Representatives be requested to make the. duty on item 58, “ Peel, preserved,” 2d. per lb. - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item agreed to.
Item 59. Bananas, per cental,1s.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [9 . 50]. - I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make item 59 free.
Of course, I. know that I shall be charged with making an onslaught on one of the most promising industries of Queensland. I had that charge thrown at . me pretty often five years ago when I was seeking to reduce the duty then proposed. But had I known at the time what I learned shortly afterwards, I would have been able to make a much more effective fight than I did. Immediately the Tariff was out of the way, like the prophet Jonah, I took shipping and went up to the banana districts of Queensland. I found that the great banana industry of that State, so far as the export of fruit was concerned, was almost exclusively in Chinese hands. I know, of course, that bananas are grown to some small extent in the State from which I come. They are grown very largely by Chinese growers in Queensland for the purpose of exportation to other States, and I believe that there are some grown by white growers for consumption in Brisbane or thereabouts. I have here a few figures which show a most extraordinary reduction in the production of the article. Clearly this is not the flourishing industry which some persons would have us believe, and does not afford us very much hope of being able to cope with the demand of Australia for this particular kind of fruit. On the figures I have, I shall submit that Australia would be very badly off for its popular banana if it were restricted to the limits of the Commonwealth. I would like to see the figures reversed, but we are dealing with facts, and not with what we perhaps would appreciate. I find that there has been a serious reduction in the acreage under bananas in Queensland. In 1903 the acreage was 6,577 acres; in 1904, 6,680 acres; in 1905, 6,198 acres; and in 1906, 5,163 acres. I do not rely wholly upon the acreage. Let me quote the values for the years I have mentioned. In 1903 the value in round figures was £73,000; in 1904, £89,000; in 1905, £154,000; and in 1906, £74,000. Between 1905 and 1906 there was a fall of £80,000 in the value.
Settlements, Java, or the New Hebrides. I wish also to draw attention to the fact that this item of bananas slipped through in the other Chamber without much consideration. I do not think it was debated at all. But I have some references to the banana duty when it was debated in another place five years ago, while the first Commonwealth Tariff was under review. It will perhaps be remembered . that the original duty proposed was 2s. per cental. This item was criticised by Opposition members, and in replying, the then Treasurer, Sir George Turner, said - Hansard, page 7886 -
We have to consider our own Commonwealth, and it naturally follows that if we admit bananas free we must extend the same concession on other articles of produce from these islands. , I am aware that 2s. per cental is a pretty high duty, and I am prepared. to reduce the amount to is., if the Opposition will agree to it.
Now, I beg to point out that the argument that if we made bananas free we should have to extend the same treatment to the other products of countries which send their bananas to us, is open to this criticism : First of all, there are very few countries that send us bananas, and the other products are already provided for. We have provided for one of the only products that is likely to come, namely, coffee. We have provided for that in ‘ a double-barrelled sense, for we have imposed a pretty stiff duty, and have also granted a bounty to encourage local produce. Consequently we need not trouble about the tribulation that would follow in respect of other produce. Sir William McMillan moved an amendment to make bananas free. Then Mr. Kingston said that a duty of is. meant about one-eighth of a penny per lb. or an ad valorem duty of about 40 per cent. So that taking the opinion of the first Customs Minister of the Commonwealth we find that a is. duty now again proposed amounts to no less than 40 per cent, upon the value, which is extraordinarily high in view of the fact that bananas are necessarily a perishable fruit and a good many times in the course of a year banana’ shipments arrive damaged arid are a source of loss to the importers. So that, at the least, we have an extraordinarily heavy impost against the one fruit which perhaps more than any other is consumed by the general body of the people in Australia.
The duty now proposed would have the effect of encouraging a further growth of bananas in Queensland without raising the price to the consumer.
He also said that if bananas were admitted free from the islands a similar extension would be asked for maize and sugar. Unfortunately owing to causes which ‘ Senator Chataway and I both understand - storms and also change of use for the land - Mr. Kingston’s prediction has not been fulfilled, and instead of the duty acting as an encouragement to the growth of bananas in Australia, the production, as I have shown, has fallen off to the extent of more than one half in one year. I need not go through the various phases of the conflict in the other Chamber five years ago, but it was waged long and fairly furiously and a great many amendments were moved. There is one point that I must mention. Mr. Watson, the acknowledged and respected leader of a very large section of members in both Houses of the Federal Parliament, moved a reduction of the duty to 6d. per cental.
Queensland relates chiefly to that of the Cairns district and thereabouts. There, from what. I could gather, and certainly so far as my observations went, the growers are exclusively Chinese. The export is so large in the season that it is quite common for one steamer per diem to leave for the south; every week six steamers will . leave Cairns all carrying large cargoes of bananas and frequently of pineapples. This trade, whilst valuable I suppose to the Chinese growers, is certainly of value to the Queens- land railways and to the wharf labourers. I have not infrequently travelled by a steamer that was loaded by two gangs - the first not being able to complete the task the second had to go on in orcler to get the shipment aboard. The trade is of importance to a very large number of white men connected with the shipping trade of our coast. It is a valuable trade, even if it is in the first instance chiefly carried on by Chinese.
– I should like to traverse one or two of the arguments which have been advanced by Senator Neild in connexion with this item. He held that the banana was the fruit of the masses, and not of the classes. But during the course of his earlier remarks, in reply to an interjection by Senator Dobson, he frankly confessed that he was unable to say that the remission of the dutywould cause the price of bananas to be affected. A little later, however, he declared that the price of this fruit would be regulated by the generosity of the crop rather than by., any fiscal arrangement. He also urged that bananas were the product of the islands of the Pacific, with which it was desirable that the Commonweahh should be brought into closer friendly trade relations. I can only answer that argument by adopting the reply which was given to it by the Treasurer and Minister of Trade and Customs in a previous Government some four or five years ago. That reply Senator Neild himself has quoted. If we are to admit bananas free, there is equal reason why we should admit free even’ other commodity produced by the islands in question. Concerning the honorable senator’s statement that Fiji cameto the rescue of Australia in 1906, when there was a shortage of the banana crop in Queensland, I would remindhim of his own contention that the price of bananas is regulated by the generosity of the crop,and not by the duty imposed upon them.
– Is that not the case with every other crop in the world?
– Exactly. But in one portion of his argument. the honorable senatormade that admission, whilst his main argument was intended to convey the idea that if we remitted the duty upon bananas we should cheapen their cost.
– That is the Minister’s statement of the case, and not what my argument conveyed.
– I quite expected the honorable senator to further urge that the proposed duty was equal to an ad valorem rate of 40 per cent. But if that be so, the duty of 2’s. per cental proposed in 1902, amounted to 80 per cent.
– I quoted Mr. Kingston as having made that statement. The figures were not my own.
– Then there must be some error either in Mr. Kingston’s calculation or in the report of what he stated. Last year 146,250 centals of bananas were imported into the Commonwealth of a total value of £37,047. If these figures are worked out, it will be seen that they represent 5s. 6½d. per cental.
– Everybody knows that that is preposterous, seeing that one can buy a bunch of bananas for 2s. 6d.
– That is the value upon which duty was paid.
– Duty is paid upon the weight of the bananas, and not upon their value.
– The honorable senator is quite right. From Fiji 145,706 centals were imported, of a declared value of £36,891. Worked out, that approximates to 5s. a cental. From the Straits Settlements, 302 centals of the value of £98 were imported, which gives an average’ of over 6s. per cental.- The figures which. I am quoting are for 1906. From Java 97 centals of the value of £29 were imported. That is an average value of moVe than 6s., so that there was a variation in value. Evidently the cheapest line came from the New Hebrides, consisting of 145 centals of a declared value of £29, which works out at exactly 4s. a cental. A. duty of is. per cental on that would be 25 per cent., but the average price per cental of bananas imported into the Commonwealth, dividing the total importation into the value assigned, was about 5s. 6½d.
– The total duty collected,., according to the figures, was less than 20 per cent, of the value of the importations.
– The total duty collected was £7,319 on importations totalling £37,047 in value, or about 19 per cent. I do- not attribute the statement as to the 40 per cent, to Senator Neild. I recognise that he quoted Mr. Kingston,
– Mr. Kingston must have got his figures from the Department. According to the honorable senator he was a long way out.
– From the figures before us, the lowest price of bananas that came -into the Commonwealth was 4s. a cental. The value ranged up to and over 6s., and the average was 5s. 6½d. I hope that the Committee will see the wisdom of adhering to the duty which has been in force, since. 1902. The matter was debated in the House of Representatives, and also in the Senate, as far back as 1902. When the duty was reduced from 2s. to is. inanother place it was understood that the reason for so doing was that the weight of the stalk was to be counted under the lower rate of duty, whereas it was allowed for under the higher duty. Honorable senators will see that the reasons advanced by Senator Neild for interfering with the duty have no relation to normal or general conditions, but apply to exceptional cases such as he referred to.
Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia [10.35]. - I support Senator Neild in his motion to reduce this duty. It will be admitted that we know much more about the subject now than we did five years ago. Very few of us thought at that time that at least 90 per cent, of the bananas grown in Australia were grown by Chinese.
– Only two- thirds are grown by Chinese.
– I did not see a white man in any of the plantations in the northern parts of Queensland that I visited on the parliamentary trip.
– I agree with Senator Chataway as to one-third of the bananas grown in Queensland being grown by white labour, but those are consumed in and about the city of Brisbane. Those exported to the other States are Chinese grown.
– We had a splendid opportunity on that trip of seeing not only the sugar plantations of northern and central Queensland, but also the banana plantations, and it is remarkable that from beginning to end we did not see one plantation that was not owned and worked by Chinamen.
– In Victoria the Chinese have monopolized the distribution of bananas.
– I do not know about Victoria, but the Tariff Commission gathered evidence - and it is notorious without that evidence - that the Chinese middlemen in Sydney undoubtedly control the whole trade. The banana enters more largely into the ordinary food of the people than almost any other article, but in some parts of Australia., notably Western Australia, bananas are almost unpurchasable at a reasonable price. Why should we tax the food of the people to give an advantage to a few Chinamen in the northern parts of Queensland ? It is so ridiculous to do so that I am sure the Committee will take the opportunity of removing the duty. The “best banana grown is cultivated in the Fiji Islands. If I thought that the Pacific Islanders were going to be brought into competition in this trade with any white labour in Australia, I should be the last to advocate the removal of the duty, but there is no element of that kind in this question. The trade in Australia is wholly controlled by Chinamen, and, from what I have seen, and the evidence which has been placed before us, I cannot do otherwise than support the removal of the duty. One section of the Commission recommended that course, no doubt after consideration of the evidence.
– That was not the protectionist section.
– I grant that, but this matter is quite outside the question of protection. Any duty that we impose will be simply a revenue one. To call it a protectionist duty is simply to bring the principle of protection into ridicule. Notwithstanding the heavy duty that has been placed upon bananas, white men have not taken up their cultivation in Australia.. A duty of1s. per cental may look small, but when it is remembered that the weight of the stalks is included, and all duty paid upon the gross weight, it becomes a very heavy duty.
– If it is heavy it is not a revenue duty.
– It is heavy on the consumers. The only protection which this duty can give is to Chinese. We are supposed to have a White Australia policy ; and, yet, here we are legislating to keep Chinamen in the country.
– Chinamen are going out of the industry, and white men are going into it.
– I know that on questions of this kind we need not expect reason from Senator Chataway, who is prepared to impose a duty on anything that is grown in Northern Queensland.
– Did I not vote against the duty on green ginger just now ?
– I hope the honorable senator will continue in the same frame of mind, and put bananas on the free list. .
. -It seems to me that the mover of this request was somewhat unfair - though not so unfair as Senator de Largie - in the manner in which he quoted certain figures in order to show a steady falling off in the production of bananas since this duty was first imposed.
– The honorable senator surely remembers that I corrected myself when I foundI had made a slip.
– The honorable senator has corrected himself so many times that it is almost impossible to follow him. In the year 1905, the total output of bananas in Queensland, measured by bunches, had doubled since 1901, having risen from 1,160,000 to 8,509,900 bunches. Next year there was a. falling off ; but the honorable senator did not show that imports in . 1905 were only one-fourth of what they were in 1903.
– I quoted all the figures, . whereas the honorable senator is quoting only those which suit his case.
– I am perfectly prepared to quote the figures at length, only I do not wish to detain the Committee. However, the imports fell off up to 1905, and only . in 1906, when there was a decrease in the production in Queensland, did the imports from Fiji increase, further, Senator Neild quoted from . an official report which contains a statement to the effect that the fal ling off was due to the heavy cyclone in the early part of 1906.It will thus be seen that the decrease in production and the increase in imports, have a. clear and definite, cause, and that there is nothing to justify the statement that this is a declining industry.
Senate adjourned at 10.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 February 1908, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1908/19080205_senate_3_43/>.