4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 16.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– On looking over the notice-paper, sir, I observe that the series of questions which I set down tor Tuesday next, with regard to the wireless telegraph station proposed to be erected at Fremantle, has been amended, by leaving out certain words. The third question was- -
Is it contemplated by the Minister to advance the contract price by ^2,000, as was done regarding the sydney station, if the. fastidiousness of the contractors can be satisfied in no other way?
I find that it appears on the notice-paper in this form -
Is it contemplated by the Minister to advance the contract price by ^’2,000, as was done regarding the Sydney station, if the matter of site can be settled in no other way?
T want to know who amended my question, and by what authority, and why it was done?
– The honorable senator knows that he cannot offer comment in a question.
– I was not commenting or arguing, but stating a fact.
– The question to which Senator Givens has referred was submitted to me by the Acting Clerk. It asked for an expression of opinion as to whether a certain thing was due to the fastidiousness of the contractors or not. That is not permissible. Under the Standing Orders the President _ has the power to put in order any question which may be handed in by an honorable senator. Consequently, I amended the question of Senator Givens in a -way which, while it is still perhaps slightly outside the. limits of the Standing Orders will, in my opinion, enable him to get the information he desires.
– Am I to understand, sir, that you can amend a question without submitting the revised question to the honorable senator who gave notice of it?
– Yes. If a question is out of order I have the right either to leave it off the notice-paper or to put it on the notice-paper in such a form that it will enable the honorable senator to get the information he desires.
– Has it not been customary, sir, for the President to let the honorable senator concerned know that his question has been revised ? I know that that has occurred with myself.
– I cannot say whether that has been customary. But I do know that on two or three occasions since I have been a member of the Senate questions have not appeared on the noticepaper in the form in which they were submitted, and the President has always stated practically what I have stated, that it lay in his power to bring the question into consonance with the Standing Orders.
– But the senator concerned was informed of the alteration.
– I have always been informed when any such alteration has been made.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs cause copies of the Customs Tariff to be circulated, so that honorable senators may be in a position to intelligently discuss the Customs Tariff Bill today?
– I asked that each member of the Senate should be supplied with a copy of the schedule as early as possible.
– I want a copy of the Customs Tariff. ‘
– I shall endeavour to get copies. I may mention that the schedule which will be distributed immediately contains the duties on the different articles which are to be discussed here today.
– Senator Stewart wants the Customs Tariff itself, so that he may compare the schedule with it.
– One cannot judge the effect of the amended schedule unless he has a copy of the original schedule.
– That is shown on the schedule.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are -
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Originally it was contemplated that a referendum would be taken at the time of a general election, and consequently provisions in that direction were made. The pending referenda will not be taken at that time, and consequently a slight alteration of the law is necessary. The Bill consists of only two clauses, one defining an elector and the other fixing the time when the voting shall take place.
– In what way does it alter the law?
– It does not alter the law except as I have stated. It is necessary that the electors’ roll should be defined, and therefore it is defined in the Bill as the electors’ roll at the time of the issue of the writ, instead of as in other cases at the time of a general election. That is the principal amendment which is proposed. Honorable senators will recognise that unless that alteration be made a dispute might arise as to whether an elector whose name was put on the roll after the issue of the writ, or shortly before the taking of the referendum, would be eligible to vote. It is to remove any doubt on the subject that the alteration is proposed. There is no necessity to elaborate the reason for the introduction of the measure. That is so evident that I have not the slightest doubt that every honorable senator will agree to its passage without discussion.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [10.43].- I have not risen to oppose the Bill, but to refer to a matter to which our attention has not been directed. Of course, there is a strong reason for passing a Bill of this character, in consequence of the referenda on the two Constitution Alteration Bills being taken at a time different from that which was originally contemplated. In the past, constitutional amendments have been submitted to the people at the time of a general election, for the excellent reason that we are much more likely to obtain a large vote then than on any other occasion. The same amount of interest or enthusiasm is not shown by electors at a byelection as at a general election, and, con sequently, not so many of the electors take the trouble to vote. Several questions of very vital importance to the interests of the Commonwealth, and to the interests of the States, are about to be referred to the people. It is very regrettable that it is not possible to make the references at the time of a general election, so that the fullest possible expression of opinion from the public might be obtained.
– And mix the issue.
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD.- To get the fullest possible expression of public opinion. I admit that the point the honorable senator has raised may be open to argument.
– What about having a general election along with the referenda ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - I am quite willing. Suppose that we ask the Ministry to submit a Bill providing for a double dissolution at the time of taking the referenda?
– That is a brutal suggestion.
– As honorable senators are not very enthusiastic about the suggestion, let it pass.
– There is no enthusiasm on the other side.
– There does not seem to be any enthusiasm ; that is an extraordinary thing.
– Even Senator Walker is not enthusiastic.
-i am quite willing. I should be ready to go to the people tomorrow.
– I do not know that it is worth while to discuss the matter, because I am afraid that the Government will not look upon it in quite the same light as some of us do. I can understand that honorable senators who had the privilege of being returned at the last election may consider it unnecessary to have a double dissolution at present. But it is very desirable that matters of this sort should be remitted to the people at a general election. However, we recognise that Parliament has decided to submit certain questions to the electors in the immediate future, and, consequently, we can only urge them to record their votes, so that an authoritative expression of opinion may be obtained upon those questions. There is one matter which the VicePresident of the Executive Council failed to mention in moving the second reading of this Bill. Paragraph b, sub-clause 3, of proposed new section10a reads -
By adding at the commencement of section seventeen the words “ The Governor-General, or any person authorized by him, may appoint one scrutineer and”.
Honorable senators may be at a loss to know - without consulting the principal Act - precisely what that proposal means. It is merely designed to enable the Government of the day, through the Governor - General, to appoint scrutineers in connexion with any proposed amendment of the Constitution.We all know that, at the present time, Parliament is divided into two hostile camps upon the question of the advisableness of amending the Constitution in the directions proposed, and it would be desirable, if it were possible, to afford each party an opportunity of being represented at the various polling booths throughout the Commonwealth.
– I thought that the honorable senator was not opposed to the Bill ?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - Am I opposing it?
– The honorable senator says that he desires representation at the polling booths.
– Surely I am at liberty to point out a difficulty which presents itself to my mind. Under the Bill, the GovernorGeneral will be empowered to appoint scrutineers, and it will be the duty of the Government to see that the persons so appointed will do justice to both political parties. The amendment is, I think, a desirable one. I trust that the Ministry will realize their responsibility, and that at the principal polling places throughout the Commonwealth scrutineers will be appointed in whom both sides will have the fullest confidence.
– Does the honorable senator expect a scrutineer to be a man in whom both sides can have confidence?
– Yes. I know plenty of men who are entirely opposed to me politically, but in whom I would have the very greatest confidence. Are not men from either one section of Parliament or the other appointed to the High Court Bench, and do we not repose the utmost confidence in their desire and ability to do what is right and proper ?
– I quite admit that.
– Sub-clause2 of proposed new section10a reads -
For the purposes of this section, the writ shall be deemed to have been issued at six o’clock on the day on which it was issued.
If we wish to remove all doubt as to the meaning of this clause it will be necessary to state whether the 6 o’clock in question is 6 o’clock in the morning or in the evening of the day upon which the writ is issued. I recognise that it was necessary to introduce a Bill of this character, and I am glad that the opportunity has been embraced to have the Commonwealth represented at the polling booths by empowering the Governor-General to appoint scrutineers.
– I may inform Senator Gould that I had not overlooked the question to which he has referred, and at the proper time I shall submit an amendment upon the amendment which has been inserted in the Bill by another place. If honorable senators will look at the provision in question, they will see that it admits of some doubt as to what scrutineers the GovernorGeneral may appoint. In the past, the returning officers and other officers who have been charged with the conduct of elections have been under the control of the Commonwealth, and it might naturally be thought that they would be intrusted with looking after its interests even upon such an important matter as a referendum in respect of a proposed alteration of the Constitution. But another place considered that that provision was scarcely sufficient, and consequently an amendment was inserted in the Bill declaring that the Governor-General may appoint scrutineers. The amendment which I intend to move in proposed new section10a is to insert after the word “ scrutineer,” the words “ at each polling place in each State.” There will then be no want of definiteness about the provision. It will empower the GovernorGeneral to appoint a scrutineer at each polling place in each State. Of course, the Government of each State has power to appoint a scrutineer at each polling place in that State, but the powers of the GovernorGeneral should extend to all States.
– What about the 6 o’clock ?
– I do not think any difficulty exists in respect of that matter. The clause was intended to read “ six o’clock in the afternoon.” If it does not read in that way it is because of a printer’s error.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
The Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906-1909 is amended -
by inserting therein, after section ten, the following section : - “ 10a - (1.) At a referendum the following electors only shall be admitted to vote -
Electors whose names are on an Electoral Roll at the time of the issue of the writ; and
Electors whose names are placed on an Electoral Roll in pursuance of any claim, application to transfer, or change received before the time of the issue of the writ. (2.) For the purposes of this section, the writ shall be deemed to have been issued at six o’clock on the day on which it was issued. (3.) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to entitle any person, who is disqualified from
Toting, to vote,”and
Amendment (by Sena tor McGregor) agreed to -
That in sub-clause 2 of the proposed new section the word “ on “ where first occurring be left out, and that after the word “ o’clock “ the words “ in the afternoon of “ be inserted.
Amendment (by Senator McGregor) proposed-
That in paragraph b of sub-clause 3 of the proposed new section after the word “scrutineer” the words “at each polling-place in each State” be inserted.
– Is there any necessity for the insertion of the words “in each State”?
– Yes. They are intended to draw a. distinction between the powers of the Governor-General and those of a Governor of a State.
– If we declare that the Governor-General shall have power to appoint a scrutineer at each polling place we shall get away from the question of State boundaries altogether.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments : report adopted. .
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
In the Governor-General’s speech at the commencement of the present session, a promise was made that a Bill for the rectification of Tariff anomalies would be introduced during the session. In fulfilment of that promise, I have much pleasure in moving the second reading of this Bill. Honorable senators are fully aware that there is a considerable difference between Tariff anomalies and Tariff revision. The questions are separate and distinct. Because of that the Government desire that the consideration of them should be treated separately and distinctly. The intentions of the Government with regard to Tariff revision are known, 1 believe, from one end of Australia to the other. I think I can say, without any desire to be egotistical, that Australia is absolutely safe, from a Protectionist view point, in the hands of the present Government.
– Very doubtful.
– Not a shadow of doubt.
– There ought not to be any doubt in the mind of any honorable senator, especially one who belongs to the Labour party, on that question. The Senate must be aware that anterior to the last election every candidate standing in every part of Australia on behalf of Labour, was obliged to subscribe to the item in our platform which embraced the policy of new Protection. I have seen statements in publications, and I have read remarks which were made in another place, to the effect that there is a certain amount of disappointment in certain circles at the action of the Government in respect to the Tariff. I do not know why that disappointment should be felt. Ever since it came into existence the Government has declared clearly and emphatically that all that it intended to do this session was to rectify the anomalies in the existing Tariff. But the Government also gave the assurance to the people of Australia that, until the referenda which will be submitted to the people early next year, willi the hope that they will give to the Commonwealth Parliament increased powers in regard to industrial legislation, had been decided, it was not our intention to deal with Tariff revision.
– What will happen if the proposals of the Government at the referenda are defeated?
– I give place to nc honorable senator in my desire to assist Australian industries. But I am not unmindful of the fact that though, in the State that I have the honour to represent, there were, prior to the inauguration of Federation, very high duties in respect to nearly all industries conducted in the State of Victoria, nevertheless, I regret to have to say that at the time when those duties weir highest, wages were lowest. Some of the conditions in the protected industries were simply damnable. There are many fairminded and just employers in Australia. There are many who recognise to the full their obligations to the workers in their industries. But there are some employers on the other hand who, whilst they desire the highest protective wall to be erected around the Commonwealth to assist them, after they have been so protected turn round and put forth their strongest efforts to prevent the workers from obtaining -any share of the protection whatever. They objected, as we know, to the passage of Factories legislation, and to the establishment of Wages Boards. The employers at their conferences took action to the extent of declaring emphatically and unanimously, not only their opposition to Factories legislation which was intended to advantage the industrial classes, but in favour of freedom of contract and against trade unionism. Whatever disappointment may be felt in restricted areas regarding the intentions of the Government, I feel sure that that disappointment, if there be any reality in it, is nothing in comparison with the intense disappointment that would be manifested from one end of Australia to the ether in the ranks of the industrial classes if the Government introduced a. Bill for the revision of the Tariff, and for giving increased protection to manufacturers without giving practical consideration to those engaged in the protected as well as in the unprotected industries.
– What happened in regard to the harvester case gives proof of that.
– I well remember that anterior to the consideration of the general Tariff by the last Parliament, those engaged in the harvester manufacturing business, particularly the McKays, haunted the precincts of this chamber day after day. and pleaded with members of the Senate and of another place, alleging that their industry was in such a condition that unless relief was immediately given to them they would practically have to close up. So strong were their representations that Parliament singled out their industry, :md also the distilling business, for early consideration apart from the general Tariff. An assurance was given by the gentlemen interested in those lines of business that if Parliament gave them the protection they desired they would observe the conditions laid down by Parliament in respect to the wages and hours of their employes. Parliament by an indirect method passed legislation under which the employers so advantaged by Protection were to pay to their employes reasonable wages, and were not to work them for longer than eight hours per day without paying overtime rates for the additional time worked. We thought we were dealing with straight men at that time, but we found that, almost immediately after they secured Protection for themselves, they set to wo’rk to prove that the legislation that we had passed, not solely in their, interests, but in the . interests of those in their employment, was unconstitutional. They were assisted in the case that was brought before the High Court largely - I am speaking in a financial sense - by the Employers’ Federation of Australia.
– I do not think that the honorable senator can prove that.
– It is very difficult, I will admit, to prove that statement absolutely.
– There is no doubt about it, all the same.
– There is a good deal of doubt.
– I am as certain as that I am standing here this morning that the whole of the expenses in connexion with that case were not borne by the McKays ; that it was a test case, the McKays and all other employers knowing that if the High Court ruled that the legislation was constitutional its application would be made general, and would affect all industries throughout Australia. Because the employers did not want that kind- of legislation applied to their industries and their employes, they assisted.
– The honorablesenator is absolutely wrong.
– The Federated Employers’ Union assisted financially in having that case tested before the High Court.
– If they did not, they rejoiced very much over the decision.
– There was general rejoicing over the decision of the High Court in that case.
-Colonel Sir Albert Gould. - Assertion is not proof.
– I challenge the honorable senator’s statement.
– Is it not a fact that the Employers’ Federation has time after time condemned legislation of that character ?
– No, it is not true.
– It is silly to deny such a thing.
– Order! The interjectionof Senator Vardon that the statement made by the Minister is “ not true “ was out of order. I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the statement.
– Certainly I will do so if it be against the Standing Orders. I will say that the honorable senator made an incorrect statement.
– The Honorable senator can take that view if he please, but I believe my statement to be absolutely correct. Let me inform the honorable senator of this. About a couple of years ago a gentleman representing the British Chamber of Manufactures came to Australia. When he arrived in Melbourne he was received and welcomed by the Employers’ Federation, the President of which at that time was Mr. George Fairbairn. Mr. Fairbairn, in extending a welcome to this representative, said that the Employers’ Federation only believed in the Wages Board provisions of the Factories Act as the lesser of many evils favoured by the Labour party.
– That does not prove the honorable senator’s previous statement.
– There can be no denying the fact that if there were no Labour party in existence there would be no Factories Acts and no Wages Boards, and the employers would rejoice at their non-existence.
– Dad the Labour partyoriginate the Wages Board’sin Victoria or in South Australia?
– No, they did not.
– No . reform has ever been obtained from any Parliament in the world, in my opinion, unless there has been force behind it; and it was the force of combination and the force of public opinion, which were focussed by instrumental combination, that moved the different Parliaments of Australia to concede to the workers that measure of justice that they had for years and years been denied.
– The other party underrated that force for many years-
– Honorable senators are fully aware that the Commonwealth Parliament has full and complete power to impose any kind of duties it so wills in respect to importations into the Commonwealth. Parliament invested with such power ought, in. my opinion, also to possess the power to give the fullest measure of Protection to the workers of Australia. It is with the object of investing the Commonwealth Parliament with such power that, next year, the people will be asked by a referendum to say whether they are in favour of this Parliament having that power. I have, from time to time, made my position quite clear in regard to Protection. I believe in the fullest measure of Protection being given to manufacturers, and the greatest assistance given to all industries in Australia; but I have no time and no consideration for manufacturers who, when they are given the fullest measure of Protection for themselves, desire Free Trade in labour.
– There are very few asking for that now.
– The honorable senator surely does not imagine for a moment that all employers are like himself? I wish to goodness they were. Although we differ politically, I know that Senator Vardon is held in high esteem in his own State as a fair and just employer. There have been members of our party who worked for him who have been elected to public positions, and they have told me what I am saying in this Chamber this morning. The honorable senator has himself said, on more than one occasion in the Senate, that he believes in the principle of trade unionism, and prefers a union to a nonunion man, because he -says the unionist is a better tradesman than the non-unionist.
– I do not know that I have said that, but I certainly believe in 4he principle of trade unionism.
– I have heard the honorable senator say that the best men join trade unions.
– That may be.
– The best men naturally join unions, and, therefore, the best tradesmen are to be found amongst the trade unionists.
– And the “scab shop “ gets the worst workmen.
– There is no doubt about that. Now, with regard to these anomalies, the major portion of the proposed amendments of the Tariff schedule are unimportant, but they are very necessary for the convenience, not only of the Department, but also of importers. I propose to read the list of suggested amendments which are unimportant, and which, therefore, will not require lengthy consideration. The numbers of the schedule items to which they apply are - 4, 7r, 72, 115, 121, 126, 137a, 139, 141, 156, 162, i6sa, 165b, 169, 170b, 175B, 187, 190, I91. I9S> I98» 2°6» 222> zz9, 253A, 279, 286, 295.a, 338, 344, 347, 353a, 256b, 356aa, 356ee> 357b, 364a, 364b, 37°a, 395A> 395B> 398> 443-
– Do any of these amendments propose increases or decreases in the duties?
– I shall get that information for honorable senators, but they are proposed for departmental’ convenience, and for the convenience, I understand also, of importers j if they involve any alteration of duty, it is so small as to be unworthy of serious consideration. I come now to the important amendments proposed in the schedule. The first are in respect of items r 06A and 107. The Customs Department have found great difficulties in connexion with the importation of materials cut into shape, and an amendment is proposed to overcome those difficulties. In connexion with items 123D, 134A, and 134B, the Department are, at the present time, at great trouble and expense. They are inter-related, and it is said that it is practically impossible for importers and the Department to distinguish between ribbons, galloons, lace, braids, gimps, and trimmings, and many importers have ex- pressed a hope that all these goods will be placed in one line, and under one duty. That is proposed by the amendment now suggested.
– One width, I understand, is regarded as trimmings, and the other as piece goods. I am informed that there are powerful reasons why all these articles should be brought into one class, and the same duty levied in respect of them all.
– Should we not have these explanations in Committee?
– If it is the wish of honorable senators, I have no objection, but I thought I would, perhaps, save softie time by making a general explanation on the second reading.
– I think the honorable senator is quite right in the course he is pursuing.
– I thought that if I made a general explanation, we should have less difficulty in dealing with the schedule in Committee. An amendment is proposed on item 170. The intention is to insert a new paragraph e, to place on the same footing all malleable iron castings used on agricultural machines and implements. It appears that the duty at the present time on metal parts of strippers and stripper-harvesters is 1 3/4 d. per lb., and on practically similar parts of chaffcutters, cultivators, and other agricultural machines the duty is 25 per cent, and 20 per cent., according to the machines of which they form parts. Another amendment of some importance is proposed in connexion with’ item 178D. When the Tariff was being considered, a desire was expressed that brass and gun-metal work used in the engineering, plumbing, and other trades should be dutiable at 30 per cent, and 25 per cent., according to the country of origin, and that is what is now proposed. In connexion with item 200, the amendment proposed is intended to overcome the anomaly that, the raw material, although somewhat similar to bar and rodiron, cannot be admitted as such, and must be charged duty as manufactures of metals, at 30 or 25 per cent., and the finished dropper and standard at 17J or 12J, and 5 per cent, and free, respectively. In connexion with item 217, the proposed amendment is necessitated by the fact that droppers and standards are almost alike, and that standards may be imported extra long at 5 per cent, or free, and converted into droppers at one cut. In’ connexion with item 230, the Department say that it is impossible, in many cases, to distinguish inks and stains for leather and dressings for leather, and the amendment proposed is considered highly necessary. It is proposed to. make an amendment which will increase the duties, under items 236A and 236s, on small packages of paints and colours, ground and liquid. But this will facilitate the business of the Department by obviating the present necessity for examination to determine whether paint imported in tins is ready for use or not. In the Tariff as it stands, paints, ground and liquid, are dutiable at 4s. per cwt., and, if prepared for use, at 6s. per cwt. The Department is compelled to open a number of packages in order to ascertain whether the goods should be charged the higher or the lower duty. The amendment proposed will relieve them of that work, and, it is believed, will give more satisfaction. Item 26 1 a deals with glue and gelatine. I am informed by the Department that it is impossible, even for chemists, to distinguish between them. Although it is proposed to alter one of the items, it will make no material difference in regard to the duties, because they will work out at about the present ad valorem rates.
-The Bill substitutes duties of zd. and 1 1/2 d. per pound for duties of 30 and 25 per cent.
– Yes. The proposed definition of “ board “ in item 356 is an abbreviation of the definition in the old Tariff. It will remove all the difficulties which have been caused from time to time in distinguishing board from heavy paper. The goods covered by items 356G and 356H are, the Department state, really manufactured stationery, and the amendment will bring them under that head at slightly increased rates. Item ^51561 is different from the old item, but only tto the extent that “all wrapping papers’ are now included, and that candle carton boards are mentioned with candle carton paper. The Department state that formerly large quantities of wrapping paper which was similar to light brown paper had to be classified as paper, n.e.i., at duties of 20 and 15 pei cent., according to the country of origin. According to the Department, it is impos sible to distinguish the paper from brown, and other great difficulties were experienced. The new wording will, it is believed, remove the difficulties. Item 356L proposes an increase.
– What about item 356J, cartridge paper?
– That is unimportant.
– I am informed that it is practically the same as at present. Item 356L compensates for the increased duty on wrapping papers which are used for boxes. The effect of item 356M and item 356N is to increase, from 5 per cent, and free to 20 and 15 per cent., the duties on cardboard, pasteboard, leatherboard, woodboard, manilla board, and grey coloured folding board used by box-makers.
– Is the Department including all pasteboards and cardboards of every description, whether made in Australia or not?
– Because it is impossible for the Department to distinguish between one and the other.
– That is nonsense.
– The Department states that the amendment is absolutely necessary. It is not proposed to alter the duty 011 millboard as that is easily distinguishable. Item 357D provides for increased duties on paper- board boxes to compensate local boxmakers for the increased duty on their folding-box boards. The amendment in item 373 will remove the anomaly by which children’s toy motor cars and similar vehicles must be charged at 25s. or 20s each, according to the wording of item 372. Having enumerated the important amendments which are proposed, I shall content myself with stating that if in Committee any information is desired in respect to any item in the schedule, I shall be only too pleased to give the information if it is obtainable.
Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (New South Wales) [11.35].- I think that honorable senators may fairly complain about the short notice which has been given to them regarding a Bill of this character. We know that from time to time the Government have told deputations that beyond rectifying certain anomalies they did not contemplate a perfect revision of the Tariff this session. They have submitted this Bill for the rectification of anomalies, and, according to the Minister’s statement, in certain cases rather important changes are proposed with regard to one or other of the smaller industries. The Minister has alluded, amongst other things, to the question of millboards and boards used in the box-making industry. I am aware that a great many representations have been made to the Government in this regard, and that it has been pointed out that in consequence of some departmental interpretation of the Tariff, undue pressure has been placed on certain persons engaged in the industry. I do not profess to have the details at my fingers’ ends, nor am I in a position to give honorable senators technical or full information on the subject. But, according to the Minister’s statement, it appears that the position is being rather aggravated instead of being mitigated. Whether that be the case or not, I hold that before the Parliament is asked to deal with a measure making so many alterations, even though they may generally be considered unimportant, the public ought to have an opportunity to see the proposed changes and state their views. So far as one can see, there was no reason to prevent the Government from introducing the measure a month or six weeks ago - not for the purpose of rushing it through Parliament, but for the purpose of enabling those who are principally interested in the Tariff to make their representations to the Government, either directly or through members of Parliament in whom they have confidence. Had that course been taken, it would have greatly facilitated our work in dealing with the schedule. But what is the position? The Bill is thrust upon us at the last moment. The other House was treated very little better than is the Senate. We have certainly had an opportunity, if we had taken the trouble to avail ourselves of it, to see what was proposed by the Government a day or two earlier than to-day. The Bill was received here yesterday, andprinted during the night, and to-day we are asked to put it through all its stages in one sitting. Is that reasonable to honorable senators or fair to the people of the country or those whose interests are immediately affected?
– It contains nothing really important.
– There are some things which arc important, though they may not be very important. Unless it is merely a bare alteration for departmental purposes, without affecting the trade or industry of anybody in the community, an opportunity ought to be afforded to persons concerned to express their opinions. I am speaking, not as a Free Trader or a Protectionist, or a Revenue Tariffist, but in the interest of all the parties who are concerned in the proposed alterations. I protest against the Government bringing forward a measure of this character in the closing hours of the session, and giving no opportunity to those who do not happen to be engaged in, or intimately associated with, a trade affected to offer any criticism which might be valuable and effective as regards the industry or the persons concerned. I do not profess to understand any of the details which have been brought before us; but I do profess to be able to grasp matters of detail after persons have been afforded an opportunity, to explain to me their position and attitude. I can then form my own judgment. Otherwise an honorable senator in my position is practically called upon to legislate in the dark. That is not fair when a measure of this kind is under consideration. Let me now turn to the more important matter whichhas been brought under our notice by the Minister. He has made certain excuses, and given certain reasons, why the Government have not done what a great many persons in the community anticipated. No person who re collects the utterances of public men and the articles in the press, can doubt that a large number of the electors were induced to record their votes in favour of that which is the dominant party at present, because they were under the impression that they would have a very early measure of Tariff reform.
– Who gave that promise?
– It was made on platform after platform throughout Australia.
– By whom?
-Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD. - It was given in all directions. The honorable senator cannot deny that it is notorious that a large number of the Protectionists inthis community voted for the party now in power because they thought that they would get an early modicum of Protection.
– Who promised that?
– I do not intend to go into details, or to say that the promise was made by the honorable senator. I did not attend all the meetingsof candidates.
SenatorGuthrie.- The honorable senator made the assertion.
– Yes, based on statements made in the press of this country.
– They were misleading ; they were pulling the honorable senator’s leg.
– I made the assertion in consequenceof statements made by honorable gentlemen occupying prominent positions in this country.
– The honorable sena tor cannot mention one name.
– Honorable gentlemen who profess themselves to be ardent and strong Protectionists have only been fooling the people over this business, and now what is proposed by the Government?
– That is what the other side tried to do, but could not.
– The other side was prepared to remedy anomalies, and to get the whole thing settled, so that this question of Protection or Free Tirade might be removed from this troublesome arena.
– Is it a wretched question ?
– It interferes with other important matters affecting the community. As one who is a thorough believer in Free Trade, and who has fought for it, I have been prepared to accept the verdict of the people.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to carry his Free Trade principles into effect?
– We fought this question before the people at several elections, and, so far as one can judge from the returns to the Senate, the Protectionist party has been the dominant one. I do not set my judgment against that of the whole community. I hold my own views, which I believe are correct; but, of course, if after a fight I find that another view is taken by the people, 1 am prepared to accept their verdict, as everybody else must be. Until the people are either educated more strongly in favour of the principle, or are educated in the other way, it would be well to let us have an opportunity to deal with matters which are, at any rate, of equal importance to them. I am not surprised that a great many Protectionists are dissatisfied with this Bill on the ground that it is like the proverbial chip in porridge - no good at all.
– Did you ever know a Tariff which would satisfy everybody?
-No. But it is possible to frame such a Tariff as will for a time, at least, remove the fiscal question from the. region of party politics. The Fusion party proposed to rectify Tariff anomalies in the direction of granting industries an increased measure of Protection, and not of Free Trade. That was a reasonable proposal, because, when the electors saw Free Traders and Protectionists in one Government, they may have been exercised in their minds as to which party was to be the top, dog. I know that there are some Protectionists who favour the imposition of absolutely prohibitive duties. They may be regarded as fiscal maniacs.
- Senator Stewart is one.
– I was not alluding to Senator Stewart. I had in my mind certain persons who are outside of this Parliament. As the Honorary Minister has said, Victoria, priorto Federation, had the highest protective Tariff operative in the States, and yet it paid its employés in protected industries the lowest rates of wages. I believe that that statement is correct. But, so far, I have not heard how the consumer can be protected under a high protective Tariff. It stands to reason that the prices of the goods which he uses must be enhanced by the operation of such a Tariff. Yet the Government say that they are not only going to grant an increased measure of protection to the manufacturers, and to increase the wages of the workers, but that they are also going to safeguard the interests of the consumer. I agree that if the manufacturer be granted a higher measure of protection, his workmen are entitled to a higher wage. If a benefit is to be given to the former, undoubtedly the latter, who assist in conferring that benefit upon him, should share in it. But my honorable friends opposite declare that they are going to protect the consumer. How can they do that? They affirm that they intend to fix the prices of goods. But how. are they going to fix the price of wheat, wool, or butter? Those prices are not, and never can be, fixed in Australia. They are determined in the markets of the world, where our farmers have to compete openly with the farmers from the Argentine and other countries. Does Senator W. Russell mean to tell me that, by increasing the ID rice of everything that the farmer uses, we can bestow a benefit upon him, although we cannot insure that he shall receive an additional farthing for his produce ?
– We can protect him by means of the new Protection.
– How can we raise the price of wheat, butter, wool, or of a single commodity which the farmer produces?
– We can take him out of the grip of the ‘ ‘ honorable understanding “ - the Darling Wheat Ring.
– lt is true that, in America, occasional attempts have been made to establish a corner in wheat. But we cannot by legislation add one farthing to the value of wheat, unless we impose an export duty upon it, and thus destroy the industry itself.
– What fool would advocate that?
– I believe that some persons have advocated it, and that they recently waited on the Minister of Trade and Customs as a deputation.
– Does the honorable senator know the reply which the Minister gave to them?
– I dare say that he had the good sense to recognise the utter impossibility of their proposition. The Government propose to hold out to the people of the country a bribe by telling them that if they vote in a particular direction they will receive something. I say that it is politically dishonest to put a matter before them in that way. In the course of his remarks, the Honorary Minister referred to the McKay case, and with a great many of his utterances in that connexion I am in entire sympathy. I believe that that firm brought pressure to bear upon the Government by declaring that if it received an increased measure of protection it would undertake to increase the wages of its employes. But, as soon as it had obtained that additional protection, it made up its mind to fight the Government over the constitutionality of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act. To their credit be it said, several firms gave effect to the judgment of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court in respect of the wages which should be paid to their employes in the agricultural implementmaking industry. It is wrong to say that the Employers’ Federation aided those who sought to upset the Act which I have mentioned, because there is no evidence that it did. Personally, I do not know whether it aided them or not. But, in any case, there were persons belonging to the Employers’ Federation in some of the States who respected die law.
– And who did not uphold the action of McKay.
– Exactly. But if a question arises as to the constitutionality of a particular measure, I do not know that any man who assists in securing a determination of that question is committing an offence. It is unfair to make charges against any person in the community unless there are tangible grounds for doing so. Because individuals are engaged in a particular occupation, I may imagine that they will do a certain thing. But I may be absolutely wrong ; and I have no right to make a charge against them unless I have some evidence upon which to found it. No evidence has been adduced in support of the charge made by the Honorary Minister in moving the second reading of this Bill. I think that the public have been deceived by the attitude of the Government upon the fiscal question, and that a bribe is being held out to the electors by telling them that if they rote in a particular way they may benefit financially.
– Do not worry about the public. They understand the position.
– I am very glad of that interjection. The Government do not worry abour the public, but only about certain coteries which are sufficiently strong to bring pressure to bear upon them. The great mass of the community may “ go hang “ for all that they care, simply because it is composed of men who form their own independent judgments, and who are not bound by the majority decisions of associations.
– Is not every citizen a consumer?
– But the consumer is not the person who is considered by the Government. Does Senator W. Russell realize that the farmer has to pay through the nose for everything that he uses which he does not himself produce? If we impose additional duties upon the articles which he must use, it is obvious that we shall add to his expenses. When we dp that, do we not detrimentally affect his interests, especially when we remember that we cannot enhance the value of his products one iota ? Under the policy of my honorable friends opposite, the cost of the labour which he employs is to be increased, the price of the clothes and the boots which he wears is to be enhanced-
– But the effect of the operation of the Land Tax will be to reduce his rent.
– Instead of rents being reduced the honorable senators will find that they are being increased.
– All the big landholders are saying that land will become so cheap that they will not be able to give it away.
– I know that at the present moment, in Sydney, workmen are finding that the rent of their cottages are being increased by is., 2s., and 2s. 6d. a week. Mr. McGowen, the Premier of that State, addressing his constituents in his presessional speech, was pointing out many of the advantages to be derived from the change of Government, whereupon one energetic man in the audience shouted, “What about the reduction in rents?” Mr. McGowen wisely refrained from replying. The tenant farmer will find that his landlord will increase his rent if he can. Furthermore, if we are going in for a policy of leaseholding, those who have freehold property will be able to command much better prices for their land. When the policy of new Protection and of increasing duties for the benefit of manufacturers is in full play, the consumers will find that they will have to pay more for their goods. The workmen will then discover that their increased wages have not made them better off to the extent of one. penny. No doubt an incentive can be given to a particular trade by a Tariff duty, but when that occurs people will rush into that trade to the detriment of others which are of equal benefit to the community. I am not in a position to criticise this Bill in detail. One matter that has been mentioned affects millboard. I dare say that Senator Vardon will be able to say something about it, though I do not know of my own knowledge whether the Government are going in a right or wrong direction.
– They are playing up to one particular firm.
– With regard to the alteration of duties affecting ribbons, laces, and so forth, it has been pointed out to me that there is really no reason for making adistinction between articles of this kind of various widths. The proposal, I am informed, will involve a large amount’ of inspection before delivery of goods can be obtained. Under I34A,- these goods, when under 18 inches in width, are to be dutiable at 25 per cent, and 15 per cent. There is, I am assured, absolutely no reason why there should be two rates of duty on the same goods. They are not manufactured here, and are not likely to be. The proposal will create trouble, and increase the burden on the people generally, and manufacturing interests in particular. “ In short.” my informants say, “ it is in itself an anomaly.” I hope that the Minister will give attention to that criticism, and will take the advice of the departmental expert officers. 1 am told that the proposal of the Go,vernment -
Increases trouble, hampers manufacturing industries, particularly the white working, as under the proposal all their raw materials for trimmings will be taxed by an additional 10 per cent.
An amendment has been suggested by the trade which it is contended -
Will benefit the Customs Department, manufacturers and importers, and will not in any Way affect Protection, the duties being revenue duties only.
I commend that matter to the consideration of the Minister when we get into Committee.
– lt would be idle on my part to say that the present position regarding the Tariff is satisfactory. Whether we view it purely from a Labour point of view or from a taxation point of view, the state of affairs is extremely unsatisfactory. The people of Australia have time and again declared for a policy of Protection.
– New Protection.
– The new Protection includes the old. Without the old
Protection you cannot have the new. The duties imposed in accordance with the policy of Protection are the foundation of the new Protection. I heard the Honorary Minister compare himself to’ the Himalaya Mountains. He seemed to regard himself as a kind of Protectionist Mount Everest, whose top pierces the sky.
– And is nearly always enveloped in clouds.
– I am afraid, however, that his great peak has dwindled down to the size of a mole hill. We are importing into Australia huge quantities of goods that can, and ought, to be manufactured here. The electors desire to stop that sort of thing. We were sent to the Federal Parliament with authority to impose such a Tariff as would enable those goods to be manufactured here. That was our mandate from the people. A Labour Government, above every other sort of Government, is under a distinct obligation to carry out that policy.
– Is not the Government under an obligation to carry out its own policy of new Protection?
– The first duty of a Labour Government is to provide work for the people of the country over which it rules. We have attempted in our land tax legislation to carry out that idea. But that is not sufficient. Last year we imported about ,£50.000.000 worth of goods, a very large proportion of which could have been manufactured in Australia under a proper Tariff. No honorable senator can stand up here and say, with any degree of accuracy, that our Tariff is Protectionist, lt is a revenue Tariff. It is the kind of Tariff that every Labour man should set his face against like a flint. He should not accept it under any conditions. We ought either to make the Tariff protective or sweep it away and substitute a Free Trade Tariff for ‘it. A revenue Tariff is one which no Labour politician can contemplate with any degree of satisfaction. One would have imagined that, having a Labour Government in power, with a strong backing in both Houses of the Legislature, some attempt would have been made to rectify the present position. The excuse made is that there has been no time during this session. My reply is that a number of other questions of not nearly so great importance have been discussed at great length and dealt with.
– The session might go *>n for another month yet.
– 1 remember that the first session of the Federal Parliament, lasted about seventeen months. I say at once that I am not anxious to sit seventeen months now. But I think that we should have been much better guided and more profitably occupied if we had dealt with the Tariff rather than with some of the’ other measures which have been submitted to Parliament.
– The honorable senator thinks that a Tariff discussion would have been more profitable than the discussion of the Capital, site question?
– I think it would have been very much more profitable, and more profitable also than the discussion of the proposal to take over the Northern Territory, important as that no doubt was. In any case, ‘the evil has been done, and no serious amendment of the Tariff is to be proposed this session. We do not know what is going to happen next year.
– Does not the honorable senator approve of the reason for the delay ?
– I am just as strongly in favour of the new Protection as is Senator O’Keefe, but I say candidly that I do not approve of the reason given for the delay. There is not a shred of justification for it or an atom of sound sense or logic in the reason advanced, and I shall attempt to show the honorable senator why. In the first place, I defy any man to tell whether a duty will create an industry in Australia until it has been imposed. It is an experiment. We cannot tell whether a duty of 5, 10, 15, 40, or 50 per cent, will establish an industry. We must make the experiment, and I say that now is the time to make it. If next year the people of Australia, as I hope they will, agree to give the Commonwealth Parliament the powers for which we are asking, we are told. that the Tariff will then be dealt with. That is to say, the experimenting will begin then. We have a number of men in this Parliament who have been pronounced, I will not say Free Traders, but Revenue Tariffists. They believe in raising revenue through the Customs. We shall have the opposition of those honorable senators, I suppose, to anything in the shape of duties which would be so effective as to establish industries within the Commonwealth. Should the referenda be carried, as we hope they will, the experimenting will then begin, and that means that the settlement of the whole question is to be deferred for a year, or it may be a couple of years.
– Why should it, if the referenda are carried?
– The work of Tariff revision will, I suppose, be gone on with immediately, but I repeat that we must experiment before we can say what duties are sufficient to enable industries to be created in Australia. Protection is the policy which has been laid down by the people of the Commonwealth. They have told the members of this Parliament at every election to carry out that policy, and I regret to say that no Parliament and no Government of the Commonwealth has so far made an honest attempt to do it. Each Government has in turn sacrificed the policy of Protection to .revenue. It is time an end was put to this sort of thing. If I had my way I should put an end to it very speedily. If the Tariff is not going to create industries it should be swept away, with the exception of duties on spirits and narcotics. So far as I am able to bring that about, all duties on commodities imported into the Commonwealth, unless they are made protective, will be swept away. I do not believe that there are many members of this Parliament who are prepared to take up an attitude of that kind, but that is really the only consistent attitude to adopt. We must make the duties protective or abolish them; there is no middle way for members of the Labour party. When we look at our imports we find that goods which can be manufactured in Australia are coming in here in huge quantities, and we are paying very large sums in duties upon them. In 1908 we imported nearly ^14,000,000 worth of apparel. Australia is the greatest wool-growing country in the world.
– Those would not all be woollen goods.
– I admit that. We might produce great quantities of cotton also. Yet we imported apparel to the value of nearly ^14,000,000 in 1908, and I believe the imports for the year ending 30th June, 1910, were very much larger. I say that the whole of that money should be spent in the Commonwealth. Speaking of woollen goods, I looked up the figures in connexion with our woollen and tweed mills, and I find that in 1908 the number of our factories was twenty-one, the number of employes in the industry 2,717, and the total value of the output ^517,000. The total wages paid in the industry during the year amounted to ^143,000. During the same year we imported nearly .£4,000,000 worth of woollen goods. Surely there is a field for the employment of labour and capital in the expansion of an industry which should find its home in Australia. We are one of the greatest wool-growing countries in the world, and if we were wise we might in time become one of the largest woollen manufacturing countries in the world. That might be done with a sufficient Tariff protection. I find that we manufactured only about one-seventh of the woollen goods we used, and that instead of having 2,717 people working in our woollen factories, if we merely supplied our wants we should have over 20,000 employed in those factories drawing in wages not ^143,000, but between £1 ,000.000 and .£1,500,000 a year. That is one industry which affords an excellent opportunity of extending the system of Protection which has been authorized by the people of Australia. Yet the Government do not attempt to do anything in this direction. It is an industry which would give employment to a large number of people, provide a safe investment for a considerable amount of Australian capital, and help to make the country more selfsupporting than it is at present. Now, take manufactures of metals. We imported metals unmanufactured, partly manufactured, and manufactured, to the value of £13,000,000 in 1908. We have plenty of iron ores in Australia, plenty of coal, and plenty of labour. If we have not sufficient labour for the expansion of the iron industry, if we provide the work labour will soon find its way here, and we need population as much as we need anything. Here is a further opportunity to largely extend the industrial operations of the Commonwealth. But the Government do not propose to do anything in this connexion. They say, “ Wait until next year, when the referenda have been taken, and then we shall say what we intend to do.” If the referenda are carried in the way we desire I suppose the Government will at once begin to deal with the Tariff. I hope so ; there will be no excuse then for delay. But what if the referenda are not carried as we desire? The position will be an exceedingly unsatisfactory one. So far as I am personally concerned, I may say at once that I have no intention of abandoning the policy of Protection even if the referenda are not carried. I believe in Protection. I believe in every community producing as much of the things it requires as it possibly can. I believe in utilizing all the natural resources placed at our disposal, and if 1 cannot get the new Protection at the same time as the old Protection I shall take the old Protection first, and strain every nerve to get the new Protection later.
– We shall have both together.
– I hope so. I am merely asking what is to happen in the contingency of the people refusing to give the Commonwealth Parliament the powers we ask. If they do refuse, is the Tariff to be allowed to remain as it is ? I say that from a Labour man’s point of view it cannot be allowed to remain as it is. It must be made Protectionist or Free Trade. It :is quite on the cards - I hope it will not happen, but the unexpected very frequently happens - that the people may refuse to give the Commonwealth Parliament the powers for which they ask. They may say, “ We are in favour of Protection. We have authorized you to carry out that policy, but we are not yet prepared to give you full” power over industrial conditions throughout the Commonwealth.” I hope they will not take up that position, but they may, and I am curious to know what will be the attitude of the Labour party towards the Tariff in that contingency. 1 shall remain a Protectionist for the reasons 1 have given. I shall endeavour by every means in my power to secure the passage of such legislation as will create industries within the bounds of the Commonwealth ; as will give employment to our people; induce people to come here from other portions of the world, and enlarge the scope of our industrial and commercial operations. The getting of a share of Protection for the workers must be accomplished, and will be accomplished, sooner or later, even if it is not brought about by the coming referenda. I want honorable senators to remember that wages in every industry throughout Australia must ultimately tend very much to a common level, and that level will be governed very largely by the wages paid in the primary industries. If the wages paid in the protected industries are high there will be a rush of labour into those industries which would immediately tend to bring wages down. The same thing applies right through every industry in the Commonwealth. You may establish a Court to-morrow, but no Court can in an arbitrary way make wages higher in one industry than in others. Wages must of necessity tend to come to an almost uniform level. I do not mean to say that wages in the northern portions of Australia will ever be so low as in the southern portions; but the purchasing power of wages must come to the same level throughout the continent, independently of what a Court may fix.
– The northern State had the lowest wages in any part of the Commonwealth except Tasmania.
– Probably. I know that a large number of the workers in Australia, pin their faith to the Arbitration Court. They do so, because from their point of view they have been . exceedingly fortunate in getting a Judge like Mr. Justice Higgins, who laid-down the principle that every industry ought to provide a living wage to the people who work therein. I think that that is a most admirable principle to lay down, and every nerve ought to be strained by the people of the Commonwealth to secure a living wage for the employes in every industry. I believe it tq be quite possible to accomplish that. If an industry is in any sense of the term native to the Commonwealth a living wage can be paid therein. But we may have other judges on the Bench than Mr. Justice Higgins. We may have Judges who will take quite a different view of the position, and the faith which a large number of the workers have in the Arbitration Court, as opposed to Wages Boards and other means of fixing rates of wages, may be rudely shaken.
– Evidently the honorable senator does not think so much of the principle as of the man who is administering it.
– Exactly. The principle laid down by Mr. Justice Higgins is, I think, that which every political party ought to try to work up to, and I believe that it can be carried out with proper legislation. If we make the lands of the country free to its people, and do away with all unnecessary flummery and expense, I have not the slightest doubt that a living wage can be paid in every industry which is native to the Commonwealth. But all this, of course, will be a matter of time. It cannot be accomplished in one year, or perhaps in ten years, but that it will ultimately be brought about I, for one, have not. the slightest doubt. I have no desire to unnecessarily continue the discussion on this measure. I hope that in due time, when the referenda have been carried, the Government will seriously take up the question of the Tariff, and give us one which will carry out the ideas of the people of Australia. As I have already pointed out, our Tariff is not a Protectionist one. It yields a. larger amount per head of the population than does any other Tariff I know of, except that of New Zealand. It would not be accepted as a Protectionist Tariff for a moment by. Canada, the United States, Germany, or France; indeed by any country which has attempted to create industries within its borders by such means. And that being the case, I think that the sooner we seriously tackle the question, and evolve such a Tariff as will carry out the national idea with regard to the development of industries within the Commonwealth the better it will be for everybody.
. -I have but very little to say on the Bill. I cannot express a feeling of disappointment as other honorable senators have done, because without expectation there can be no disappointment. I did not expect anything, and therefore I am not disappointed, because much has not been given. I think it is a matter for regret that when the Government did profess to tackle the subject of anomalies they did not really deal with anomalies. This Bill cannot be said to deal with anomalies at all. It simply deals with the rectification of definitions and terms. It enables Customs officers to more correctly define.
– Surely these are anomalies?
– No. Before I am done; I shall point out one or two anomalies to the honorable senator, which I think ought to have been dealt with. Where there is a distinct duty on an article in one form, and the article is allowed to come in practically free in another form, that is an anomaly. It is admitted, even by the Government and their officials, that this is really a measure dealing with definitions, and giving a more clear and correct classification. I regret very much that anomalies under which real hardships are suffered have not been dealt with. It was, perhaps, too much to expect in a strenuous session of this kind that we would get a comprehensive Bill dealing with the Tariff. I certainly cannot find it reasonable to lay any particular blame on the Government, because they have not been able to do everything in the first session. .1 do not think it would be quite reasonable to blame them because of that. But I do earnestly express the hope that before the close of next session we shall have had an opportunity to deal in a comprehensive and really effective way with the Tariff, because I heartily agree With the contention put forward by Senator Stewart, that we should not’ be content with a merely revenue-raising Tariff. We should be satisfied with nothing less than effective Protection, so that by-and-by we shall be able to look with pride on Australia as producing almost everything which the heart of woman 01 man can desire, and as nearly as possible a selfcontained nation. I think it is a matter for regret that when the Government did profess to deal with anomalies they did not really deal with the many and great anomalies which are in the Tariff. I hold in my hand two samples of cotton goods - one sample of one kind, and two samples of another kind. Except with regard to colour, I defy any person either here or, for that matter, elsewhere to tell me the difference between either of them. I am assured that even analysis will not show that the goods contain anything but cotton. They are purely cotton goods. This Parliament, in its wisdom, said that cotton goods should be allowed to come in free, but imposed a duty of 10 per cent, on cotton goods containing a silk stripe. We do not manufacture silk in Australia yet, and if we did a duty of 10 per cent, would be absolutely ineffective as a protective duty. Therefore, a duty of 10 per cent, can only be regarded as a purely revenue duty. In the samples which I have here there is not a particle of silk. One or two threads of cotton here and there are mercerized, so as to have a silky appearance, and because they are supposed to have that appearance a duty of 10 per cent, is charged. The samples which are allowed to come in free are exactly the same to the lay mind and the scientific mind as those on which there is a charge of 10 per cent. But just because a Customs official comes along, and happens to say, “ There is a silky stripe in one,” while another official sees that it is only cotton, one importer is mulcted in 10 per cent., and the other is allowed to get his goods in free. That is what I call a real anomaly. If I were to remove the tickets from the samples I would defy the Minister to tell me which should be subject to a duty of 10 per cent., and which should be free. There are many and real hardships suffered by merchants all over Australia because of definitions of this kind. One merchant who imports a lot of goods may be able to satisfy the Customs officer that they are purely cotton goods, and get them in free. Another merchant, at perhaps a different time or in a different town, imports another lot of exactly the same goods, and because the Customs officer says, “ It contains an. imitation silk stripe,” he has to pay a duty of 10 per cent. That is, I think, an anomaly which might be rectified. The Government might have gone so far even in this Bill, which I have said merely deals with definitions, as to remedy a grievance of that kind. But there are other cases ; in fact, the Tariff bristles with anomalies which are not touched at all. Let me point out another anomaly. If I boil a ton of fruit and- a ton of sugar into a pulp, and put that up in tins, and call it jam, I am protected to the extent of 2d. per lb. against foreign jam. But if I put that ton of fruit and that ton of sugar in similar tins, and sell it as tinned fruit, I get little or no protection. That is a gross anomaly. Yet there is no attempt made to deal with it. What are the facts in regard to that industry in Australia? We produce, both cheaply and well, almost every known kind of fruit. Yet because of this anomaly in the Tariff, while jam gets a fair protection, tinned fruit gets little or none. Before Federation we hardly ever saw, outside of the States in which tinned fruit was put up, a tin of Australian fruit. But Federation, which threw open the markets of the States to each other, rectified that to some extent. In the north-west of Queensland, where formerly we saw nothing but C’alifornian tinned fruit, we now see Tasmanian, Victorian, or South Australian tinned fruit. It is mostly Tasmanian tinned fruit which we get there, and a most excellent article it is. In Queensland we do not grow the more temperate fruits to any extent. But we grow tropical fruits of the finest kind. We grow pineapples, and put them up in a tinned form. But we get very little protection for them, because pineapples tinned in Singapore’ are admitted at a very low duty. That is an anomaly which ought to be rectified. Then I would nsk, “ Why are two duties levied upon the same class of articles?” All green fruit is green fruit, whether it be in the form of apples, pears, peaches, or cherries. With one exception, we impose a duty of 2s. per cental upon all green fruit. That exception is bananas, which is one of the most extensively used fruits in Australia, and upon which the duty levied is only is. per cental. The excuse which used to be urged against extending protection to bananas was that they were grow.n by Chinamen. But that is not nearly so true to-day as it was. Do honorable senators suggest that we should remit the duty upon furniture merely because furniture is made in Melbourne by Chinamen? I have a list in my possession of thirty-seven anomalies, all of them of an equally glaring type. When the Government attempted to deal with Tariff anomalies, they should have dealt with the whole of these. It is regrettable that anomalies under which severe hardships are being inflicted upon persons engaged in our primary, manufacturing, and distributing industries are not to be rectified. I would also point out that, at the present time, shopkeepers are labouring under a disability in that, at one time, they are allowed to import goods under a certain classification, whilst at another time the same goods are placed under a different classification. The men engaged in our primary industries are suffering because of the anomaly which exists in regard to tinned fruit and green fruit.
– That anomaly exists in accordance with a decision of Parliament.
– So does every other anomaly.
– I hope that it will be corrected.
– I regard the Bill as a necessary one, and I have no desire to delay its passing. But I trust that, in the not-distant .future, the anomalies which I have indicated will be rectified.
– As one who was not present when the last Tariff Bill was under consideration, I was very much amused this morning in listening to the castigation which was administered to the Government by Senator Gould, who spoke almost as a good Protectionist might speak, notwithstanding that he is a Free Trader. He blamed the Government for having fooled the people, and said that they owed their presence on the Treasurybenches to deluded Protectionists. Surely he must have been laughing up his sleeve !
I have taken the trouble to read the speeches delivered in another place by some of those who think with the honorable senator, and I have also looked up the votes recorded in this Senate when the Tariff was last under revision. Let me take the item of woollens as indicative of the views which honorable senators opposite hold upon the fiscal question. We know that Senator Stewart this morning rightly complained that Australia is not manufacturing as much in the form of woollen goods as she ought to be.
– Not one-twentieth’ as much.
– I hope that, as soon as is humanly possible, we shall rectify that mistake. When honorable senators opposite cheered the remarks’ of Senator Stewart, I was prompted to look up the Journals of the Senate for the year 1907-8, and, upon page 309, I found the following -
Postponed item 114. Blankets, &c, &c. - on goods from the United Kingdom, ad vol. 30 per cent. ; and on and after Sth November, 1907, 20 per cent.
– That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty under the item on goods from the United Kingdom 25 per cent, ad valorem.
Question - put.
Then, on page 308 of the Journals, I found the following -
Postponed item 114, Blankets (except of Rubber) Blanketing; Flannels, including Domett containing wool; Rugs n.e.i., including Buggy Rugs or Aprons and Rugging …. ad vol. 30 per cent. ; and on and after 8th November, 1907, 25 per cent. - further considered.
– That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item by inserting after “Flannels” the words “ whether plain, fancy, or printed.”
Question - put.
Later on, I learn that -
– That the Houseof Representatives be requested to make theduty under the General Tariff 20 per cent, ad vol.
In other words, he moved for a reduction of the duty. With what result? That the following gentlemen voted in its favour : - Senators Chataway, Gould, Gray, Macfarlane, Millen, Neild, Pearce, Sayers, St.Ledger, and Dobson. Those who votedagainst it were - Senators Best, de -Largie, Findley, Givens, Guthrie, Lynch, McColl, McGregor, Needham, E. J. Russell, W. Russell, Stewart, Story, Trenwith, Turley, and Henderson. Senator Pearce was the one stray lamb from the Labour party’s fold.
– Is the honorable senator going to flog him?
– No; I was sorry for him. But I am glad to know that to-day he is an ardent new Protectionist. That was the division which was recorded upon a proposal to reduce the duty upon woollen goods. Now, if there be one industry in the Commonwealth which may well be called an Australian industry, it is the manufacture of woollen goods. Senator Vardon stated, by way of interjection this morning, that there are Free Traders uponthis side of the Chamber.
– Senator Stewart was returned to Parliament as a Free Trader.
– If he was he haslearned the error of his ways, and is now a most rabid Protectionist. To-day, the Labour party has no Free Traders in it. Out of fourteen or fifteen Labour senators who were in this Chamber when the Tariff was last under consideration, only one or two- voted in favour of reducing the duty upon woollen goods. I do not wish to occupy time by carrying the comparison further. But, if honorable senators will take the trouble to look at page 309 of the Journals of the Senate-, they will see that division after division tells the same story. Then, how hypocritically empty is the cry of honorable senators opposite, and of their friends in another place, that the Government have fooled the people because they have not extended to them a larger measure of Protection. They know perfectly well the reason for this. Dare they openly support the leading spirits in the Chambers of Manufactures throughout Australia, who took the action which they did to knock out the small modicum of new Protection which we attempted to extend to the workers a few years ago? We know perfectly well that the present High Commissioner, when he was Leader of the Free Trade party, always loudly declared that he would not object to Protection if the workers received a portion of the benefit conferred by it upon their employers. When this Parliament endeavoured by an indirect method to extend some measure of Protection to employes in protected industries, what happened ? The Employers’ Federation, behind which stood a considerable body of electors, who were responsible for the return of honorable senators opposite^ - -
– I deny that statement absolutely.
– Does the honorable senator deny that his presence here is due to that portion of the electors which works hand and glove with the Employers,’ Federation ?
– -Yes. I owe more to the other side.
– We have only to look up the newspaper records to find that meetings of the Employers’ Federation and of the Chambers of Commerce throughout Australia, constantly decried the new Protection. Why was it that the modicum of new Protection which we endeavoured to extend to the workers was defeated ? Was it not entirely due to the Chambers of Manufactures and to the Employers’ Federation ?
– It was due to the Constitution.
– Exactly. But who took the ease to the High Court? Would that tribunal have considered whether the’ law was constitutional or otherwise if the matter had not been brought before it by the Employers’ Federation? Which political party in Australia is supported by that Federation? Is it theLabour party ? No. Consequently, it is somuch nonsense for honorable senators opposite to blame the Government for not having submitted to us, at this stage of the session, a measure for the complete revision, of the Tariff. Personally, the approach of Christmas does not trouble me. I was sent here to perform the work of the country, and I would not hesitate to join with honorable senators in embarking upon the task, of thoroughly revising the Tariff tomorrow.
Sitting suspended from z to 2.30 p.m.
– Every one admits that our present Tariff is not complete. I do not think that there is any difference of opinion on that point. The difference of opinion arises over the contention of those who say that in this Bill the Government is deluding the electors because it does not deal sufficiently with Tariff anomalies. Wequite admit that had time and circumstances permitted, it would have been better to include within this measure a larger number of subjects. As a matter of fact,, it would have been better to re-open thewhole Tariff, instead of dealing with it piecemeal. But there is a special reason which appeals to me, and, I think, to most of the supporters of the Government who are in favour of the course that has beer* taken. Many of those who, like myself, are strong, all-round Protectionists, and: have advocated the doctrine of new Protection,, have learned from bitter experiencethat they will never get what they want in an effective manner until we secure an alteration of the Constitution. That is why I make no apology for supporting this measure,, even though it does deal with only a few of the anomalies of the Tariff. I make no apology to the Senate, or to thosewho sent me here, for supporting a measure which deals with the Tariff only in an incomplete fashion, because we have behind us. that bitter experience to which I havereferred. The last Parliament, having given legislative shape to the policy of new Protection in as effective a way as it could, found the very employers to whom also we gave a larger measure of Tariff protection, taking advantage of the weakness of the Constitution to. deprive the workers of. even the little bit pf new Protection that Parliament had tried to secure for them. The Employers Federation and the Manufacturers Association have shown themselves- openly and candidly to be the enemies of the new Protection.
– The Chambers of Manufactures helped the honorable senator’s party.
– The Chamber of Commerce in my own State politically crucified me on every possible occasion, and every journal with which they had any influence has always done the same thing. However, quite apart from that consideration, I am prepared, as I always have been, to vote in the direction of giving the manufacturers of Australia that adequate protection to which their industries are entitled, if we wish them to compete against similar industries in other parts of the world where labour conditions may be less favorable to the workman. But, at the same time, we are perfectly justified in saying to the manufacturers, “ While we will give to you the measure of protection that you require, we insist on your sharing that protection with your employes. You fooled us once; we are not going to allow you to fool us again.”
– The Constitution stood in the way.
– Who brought the Constitution into the way?
– Not the honorable senator’s supporters, at all events.
– I am pleased to say that it was not our party that raised the constitutional difficulty. It was raised by the supporters of honorable senators opposite, who declared the Constitution to be an obstacle to the new Protection policy. That is why I state deliberately that until the people of Australia will give us power, by means of an alteration of the Constitution, to deal in a proper manner with the employes, I am going to use my vote in such a way as to defer granting a larger measure of protection to the manufacturers. I maintain that the term “ Protection,” if it has any meaning, must mean protecting Australian citizens all round. When, however, we find it used merely for the purpose of protecting a certain section of the community, I maintain that it is our duty to insist upon the extension of the principle to all who are concerned in our industries. I say again that we are justified in saying to the manufacturers of this country, “ You fooled us once, but we will not allow you to do it again; if you want protection, we will give it to you ; but we want a provision to be placed within the four corners of the Constitution which will enable this Parlia ment to give a proper share of that protection to the workers.”
– Is that a threat or a bribe?
– The honorable senator may take it as both a bribe and a threat.
– The honorable senator can make his choice. He can regard my declaration as a threat, or a bribe, or both.
– The honorable senator is putting it forward merely as a statement of fact.
– I am. I am a Protectionist, but I am for Protection all round. I believe in protecting the employes in the manufacturing industries as well as the employers; and I say that, beyond dispute, it has been shown that the manufacturers have hitherto stood in the way of extending to the workers that protection to which they are entitled. It is for that reason that we require constitutional authority to pass legislation to compel the manufacturers to give to their employes a share of the protection for which they are always clamoring themselves.
– Does the honorable senator assert that the great body of the manufacturers of Melbourne are treating their employes badly?
– Certainly not. I should be very sorry to say so. But does the honorable senator contend that all the manufacturers have treated their employes fairly? Although we may admit that many of them are fair, we have to legislate to make those fair who at present are quite otherwise. The legislation which we propose is in the interests of the fair-minded manufacturer.
– The States can pass that legislation better than we can.
– The States can do nothing of the kind. Every time it Has been -attempted _ in the State Legislatures to extend anything like fair conditions to the employes, the proposal has been thrown out, because the Legislative Councils stand across the path of progress. The honorable senator knows perfectly well that every time attempts are made to protect the workers, and to give them better conditions and better wages, a measure passed by the House elected by the people is kicked out by the Legislative Councils.
– What history has the honorable senator been reading?
- Senator St. Ledger is “a whale on history.” But, instead of studying the history of current times, in order to enable him the better to understand the present situation, he devotes himself to diving into the musty archives of the past.
– The legislation passed by the Victorian Legislature is quoted all over the world.
– Victoria is but one State among six. What is to be done by those strong Protectionists who want to extend a larger measure of protection to the manufacturers, but who also insist that they, in their turn, shall give proper protection to their employes? Are we going to be fooled again ? No. We say - and it is a perfectly fair proposition: there is nothing in the nature of a threat or bribe about it - that we want to see this Parliament obtain authority to impose fair conditions on the manufacturers of Australia.
– Suppose the people do not give us that power?
– Then I am not troubled very much as to whether the manufacturers get the protection they want or not. The country is not worth living in, be it a Protectionist or Free Trade country, that cannot afford to pay decent wages and insure decent conditions of labour to those employed in its manufactures. Honorable senators opposite profess to be very anxious about this question. I do not know whether Senator St. Ledger was formerly a Protectionist or a Free Trader. Honorable senators who profess that the measure now before the Senate will not afford the protection which the electors were led to expect, voted to reduce the duties proposed when the Tariff was last being considered.
– Did the honorable senator ever hear of a man named Peel?
– Senator St. Ledger is always thinking of things that have been, things that do not interest Australia at all ; and he will not face the facts that confront him. This Parliament has the sole power to levy Customs and Excise duties; and, unless it is given also the power to insure fair conditions and wages to the workers in our factories, we can never hope to have a Protected Australia in the sense in which I have always used the expression. Regardless of the end of the session, if. we had the constitutional power which the people will be asked to give us next year, I should be quite pre pared to consider a measure for the revision of the whole Tariff next week. I am satisfied that the people, when appealed to, will give this Parliament, which is the proper tribunal to deal with such matters, the power to impose fair conditions upon manufacturers, just as they have given us the power to impose Customs duties for their protection. It is absurd to consider the one without the other. I suppose that some of our honorable friends opposite will oppose the request made for this additional power ; but whether they do so or not, I am satisfied that the people will be prepared to enlarge our powers under the Constitution in the way we desire. When we have that power, there will be a thorough revision of the Tariff, and I shall then be found ready, not merely to remedy the anomalies of the existing Tariff, but to afford a proper measure of protection to all the industries of Australia. That is a perfectly fair attitude for any member of this Parliament to take up, and it is the attitude I have adopted since I entered public life. It comes with a very bad grace from our honorable friends opposite, to blame the Government for not giving the country the measure of protection which the electors were led to expect would be proposed when, on reading the records of this Parliament, we find that time and again nearly the whole of them voted against the duties proposed to protect the manufacture of woollens in Australia. The statement that the Labour party contains Free Traders as well as Protectionists does not hold water. The records show that when the Tariff was last under revision in the Senate, only one or two Labour members voted with Free Trade senators on the other side against protective duties, whilst all the other Labour members of the Senate voted in favour of them.
– Our factories cannot supply half the orders they get.
– Some manufacturers of woollen goods in Tasmania have distinctly stated to members of the-Senate that they are perfectly satisfied with the protection given them under the existing Tariff.
– I do not denythat. I am prepared to take the honorable senator’s word for it. But that does not absolve me from” my duty as a member of this Parliament. There are only three woollen factories in Tasmania ; and, if because of the superior excellence of the goods they turn out, which I think it is admittedare better than the goods turned out by the mainland factories, they can compete- with those factories on more than favorable terms, I am not absolved from my duty to provide adequate protection for the benefit of all the factories in Australia.
– If higher duties are imposed, the public will have to pay them.
– Order ! The honorable senator will have an opportunity to speak later on.
– Quite a number of other honorable senators have also interjected.
– I think the interjection to the point ; but it would open up a debate which we could not hope to conclude to-day if we entered upon it. In reply to the interjection which Senator Fraser made just now, I should like to say that when the honorable senator was not present, Senator Gould stated that the Government had fooled the people because they had not brought down a comprehensive measure for imposing protective duties. I was attempting to show that it comes with very bad grace from the honorable senator and his colleagues to make any such charge against the Government, in view of the records of this Parliament to which I have referred. I had not the pleasure of recording a vote in the divisions taken during the last revision of the Tariff, as it was my fortune to be out of the Senate for a time, but some of my honorable friends opposite have adorned this Chamber since the commencement of Federation ; and, following what took place here when the Tariff was being revised, it gave me great pleasure to find that some of my friends who called themselves Free Traders when they first entered this Parliament, had become Protectionists. In view of the fact that we must wait until the people have, next year, given us the increased powers for which we ask, to enable us to do something for the protection of factory workers who have now to work under bad conditions for low wages, I feel that the Government cannot be blamed for having brought forward this rather skimpy little measure to deal with office difficulties rather than with the real anomalies of the existing Tariff. I hope that when the time comes, and we have the power to regulate the industrial conditions of the people as well as the Customs duties, our honorable friends opposite will display all the anxiety they profess to-day in assisting us to give all-round protection to Australia, not merely protection through the Customs House for the manufacturers, but protection also for the men and women employed by them.
– One very useful fact has been elicited during this debate. When Senator 0’ Keefe, in the course of his speech, was dealing with new Protection, I asked him, “ Is this a bribe or a threat?” The VicePresident of the Executive Council, who is responsible in this Senate for the fiscal policy of the Government, said, before Senator O’ Keefe could give me an answer, “ The people of Australia can take it as both a bribe and a threat.”
– I said the honorable senator might do so; but he is not the people of Australia.
– The honorable senator will be unable to wipe that interjection out of Hansard. There was a fairly large attendance of honorable senators here when that reply was made to my interjection. It will go forth to the public as part of the policy of this Government, that this legislation is submitted by way of a bribe and a threat to the people. I wish to say, on behalf of the people, that they will thrust aside legislation submitted to them in that way. They will resent it. What right has the representative of any Government to say that any measure, or the consequent results of it, is intended as a bribe and a threat to the people ? Is this Democracy ? Is this leaving to the people of Australia freedom to decide matters for themselves? If there should be no other result from this debate, it will not have been in vain, in view of the interjection deliberately and purposely made by the VicePresident of the Executive Council to inform the people of Australia as to the object for which this legislation is proposed.
– If I have elicited that information, I have done some good.
– The honorable senator was doing better than he knew when he gave me the opportunity to get that statement out of the representative of the Government in the Senate.
– I was very anxious that the honorable senator should know how I stood ; I did not hedge on the question.
– The honorable senator was not left in doubt for one moment by the representative of the Government. I shall now refer to a portion of his speech. He stated that, generally speaking, we on this side were representatives of such bodies as the Employers’ Federation, the Chamber of Manufactures, and so on. I retorted that his statement was inaccurate, or perhaps I used a stronger word.
– It did not matter.
– The honorable senator ought to recognise that they have no right to representation.
– I intend to deal with that point.
– Who are the Chamber of Manufactures ?
– That is another interjection which I welcome. Whatever the members of that body may be politically, they represent manufacturers. To my mind, _ we cannot have industries under Democratic and Liberal conditions without some persons being manufacturers, and we are bound to consider them. They all have a right to be heard, and their views have just as much right to be presented clearly and strongly to the Senate as have the representations made by the Australian Workers Union, or any other body ‘in the land.
– Have they authorized the honorable senator to do it for them?
– My honorable friend has already put his feet, head and neck, into one reply, and that might suggest to him caution, while I am making a speech. The very statement of the assertion by Senator O’Keefe that we were in that position should have carried on its face its absolute inaccuracy and absurdity, because no man in the Senate can represent a small section of the public. He could not be here unless he had the support of a large percentage, and it may be a majority of the votes of the workers. Any man who would say that the manual workers, or even the salary earners, did not vote for a candidate in large numbers, would state that which is absurd. That is one of the reasons why the Senate was made to depend on the votes of the citizens of the States. I deprecate the introduction of appeals to past prejudices into this debate. If an honorable senator on the other side states, or attempts to make out, that he is the specially chosen, and the only representative, of the workers, and to insinuate that every man on the other side is his enemy, the answer is that nobody - neither honorable senators on that side, nor we on this side - could be here unless we had the confidence of a large proportion of the people. The object of making such appeals while important measures involving grave issues are being discussed, is to play down to the lowest passions and prejudices of the people, and not to discuss the measures on their inherent merits, and in new of the difficulties which confront, not merely that side, but our side as well. It will be impossible, as the tone of the remarks of many senators on the other side have indicated, to discuss this motion without considering fairly closely, the policy of parties in the past, and a great principle which is involved in this measure. It is within the memory of every honorable senator, and of every citizen who has given particular attention to this question, that before the last general election, a Government was formed which was known then, and which is known historically, as the Fusion Government. It consisted of the most radical Free Traders and the strongest Protectists. When the Fusion party was formed, and had to deal with the questions arising out of the Tariff, what was the charge brought against it ? It was that the industries of Australia would not receive from the Fusion Government any attention from a Protectionist point of view, by reason of the inclusion in it of men who held diverse fiscal opinions. It was also pointed out by every journal in Australia - Protectionist or Prohibitionist - that so long as the Fusion party lasted, not a single promise which it might make, either through individual members, or through its Leader, Mr. Deakin, who was a strong Protectionist, could be relied upon by reason of the elements in the Fusion. It was pointed out by a great Protectionist journal, as it has been pointed out over and over again by followers of the present Ministry, on the floor of the Senate, that Protection was absolutely unsafe, that the highest interests of Australia’ were involved, and that the general election had decided that the question should be intrusted to some other party than ours. We were assailed in Victoria by the newspapers, right from the leading Protectionist organ, the Age, down to the most humble organ. I could reproduce their statements, but the purport of every one of them was that the Australian industries required further and immediate protection in the rectification of palpable anomalies which, in some cases, were preventing development. Further, that these organs, and the candidates who stood on that fiscal policy, urged again and again the necessity for the rectification of anomalies, is clear and indisputable.
– And the reopening of the Tariff.
– And very largely the reopening of the Tariff. It was pointed out by Protectionist journals, both here and elsewhere, that industry after industry was not progressing as it ought to do because of the anomalies in the Tariff. The candidates took up the phrases in the newspapers, and reproduced them on every platform in Australia. They all urged, candidates and newspapers alike, that it was absolutely necessary that, at the first opportunity, these industries should receive attention from that point of view, and that the Labour- Socialist party was the only party possible.
– No Labour man did that.
– That is the substance, if it is not the language, of the profession. The objective of the campaign was the palpable and immediate need for reconsidering the Tariff. And because the Fusion party included certain elements - men who had been Free Traders or Revenue Tariffists - the Protectionist press told the people that if they wanted an immediate rectification of anomalies, and on the lines of the expressed verdict of the people, Protection, they must brush the Fusion party on one side, and trust the Labour-Socialists, and they did it.
– And they will get it.
– Very well. To-day may be for you, but to-morrow may be for us. I shall have something to say on that point presently. It is now about nine months since that kind of campaign was started in the . Protectionist press of Melbourne, and carried throughout Australia. It is eight or nine months since these candidates went on the platform, and said to the people of Australia, “ One reason why you cannot support the Fusionist party is because it includes Free Traders or Revenue Tariffists.” These gentlemen pointed out how the industries of Australia could be improved and developed by giving them assistance, and they were returned by an overwhelming majority to this Parliament. But what did they do in the matter?
– Did they say anything about bananas?
– My honorable friend may reply to me in a few moments. He may, if he likes, play more or less into my hands by making either personal or foolish interjections. We intend to have our say, if it be for only a few minutes, on this matter. There is no newspaper which is against me fiscally, or one which supported me in the campaign, which will say that I am not putting the position fairly and squarely before the Senate and the people.
– I will.
– And I.
– If my honorable friends choose to speak, we shall have the matter cleared up. Let us look at this important question from another point of view. Senator O’Keefe has pointed out that Senator Gould and others have voted more or less consistently, or inconsistently. It does not matter to me”, or, possibly, to them, a straw whether they voted in favour of a revenue Tariff or a Free Trade Tariff. Senator O’Keefe has taunted us now with that position, but one thing is forgotten. Whether rightly or wrongly, consistently or inconsistently, we fought the matter out - more or less every one of us - in view of explicit declarations we had made on die platform. To the best of our ability, we tried to carry the day, and to make our words square with what we had put before the people. But, taking it historically, what was the result? In the campaign of 1906, where the appeal was made to the electors on the fate of the Tariff, the verdict was, to a large extent, against us. We had to recognise that fact, and in the recognition of it to-day we on this side who received at that time the confidence of the people, have a right to say that, so far as we are concerned, the position is altered.
– I referred to the votes after the election of 1906.
– Will my honorable friend allow me to take the campaign a little further back, and get at the position before that election? It is all very well for him to pick out one section of the history of a big political campaign to serve his purpose, but I have a right to take both sections of its history, and consider them relatively. We on this side have to recognise that the verdict of Australia, if not absolutely in favour of high Protection, was, at any rate, coming round to a strong expression of the opinion that, through the means of a Tariff, these industries should be assisted, and to a large extent on this side the verdict was accepted. Apart from the verdict of the people, to which I must bow all the time, the position was pretty clear.
We looked upon it from a revenue Tariff stand-point. We recognised that in order to preserve the financial equilibrium of the States it was necessary that the Commonwealth should collect from Customs and Excise a revenue of £8,000,000 or £9,000,000 annually. But since then another election campaign has been fought. The Fusion Parliament definitely pledged themselves to undertake a rectification of Tariff anomalies based upon the extension of an increased measure of protection to Australian industries. Through their leader they assured the electors that if they were returned to power that was the fiscal policy which would be adopted. The answer which was returned to their appeal was, “ We do not trust you. There are such Free Traders in your ranks asMr. Cook and Senator Gould, and there is, perhaps, one of a deeper dye in the person of Senator St. Ledger.” Notwithstanding our deciared loyalty on the public platform to a protective policy we were told that we were not to be trusted. My honorable friends opposite were returned with a majority to undertake the work of Tariff revision. Yet, what have they done? The session is about to close without a single act on their part to redeem the promises upon which they were returned to power. Senator O’Keefe and others have pointed out that this Bill is merely preparatory to the introduction of a measure dealing with the new Protection. Senators Givens and Stewart have both castigated the Government for not having taken action long ago to remedy admitted defects in our Tariff. They are thus being flogged by their own supporters. As an economic proposition I would ask Senator Findley how it is possible to adopt the new Protection without adopting the old Protection?
– We want both.
– The Honorary Minister says that the Government want both, but Senator O’Keefe declared that this Bill is merely preparatory to the introduction at a later period of a measure dealing with the new Protection. The two statements are absolutely inconsistent. This morning Senator Stewart boldly announced that he regards a high Tariff as such a good thing in itself that he intends to support such a Tariff, irrespective of whether or not a policy of new Protection be adopted. That honorable senator and myself are as far apart politically as are the poles.
– Both honorable senators are suffering from megalomania.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council is evidently smarting under the recollection of some of the shots which Senator Stewart has recently directed against him. But the people of Australia have no doubt as to the position which Senator Stewart takes up. He holds that if Protection be a good thing it is a good thing in itself. As I am now about to open up a new aspect of this question I would ask leave to continue my remarks on the next day of sitting.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Navigation Bill - Petherick Collection Bill - Alteration of a Question.
Motion (by Senator McGregor) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should like to know what are the intentions of the Government in regard to the Navigation Bill and the Petherick Collection Bill ? Do they propose to drop the further consideration of the Navigation Bill this session, and, if so, will they give it priority over all other measures next session?
– Seeing that the Navigation Bill is. a measure of the first magnitude it would be very unreasonable, at this late stage of the session, to enter upon the consideration ofsome of the questions raised by it which yet remain to be discussed. Therefore, I do not think it is the wish of honorable senators that we should seriously consider it this session. There is no possibility of its being finally dealt with. But I hope that, amongst the measures submitted for our consideration next session, it will receive the pride of place. In regard to the Petherick Collection Bill,I have been waiting to get some definite information from the Library Committee, and if that information is not forthcoming it will not be possible to deal with the measure this session. But honorable senators may rest satisfied that, until definite action has been taken by Parliament, the existing condition of things in regard to that collection will continue.
– Before putting the question I wish to make a statement to the Senate in justice to the Acting Clerk.
When this sitting commenced a question was asked concerning the alteration of a question of which notice had been given by an honorable senator. I was asked whether notice had been given to the honorable senator whose question was altered. At that time I was not in a position to say whether notice had been given ; but I now find that it has always been the custom, when a question of which an honorable senator has given notice, has been altered, for an intimation concerning the alteration to be conveyed to him by the Clerk or the Acting Clerk. Last evening, I am informed, the ActingClerk wished to give notice to Senator Givens that an alteration had been made in the form of his question. But Senator Givens was not in the Chamber or within its precincts after the dinner adjournment. I asked Senator Givens to-day whether that was so, and whether it would have been possible for him to receive notice. He informed me that he was not in the Chamber after the dinner adjournment. The alteration in his question was not made until a considerable time after the dinner adjournment, when the proofs from the printing office came to hand. I make this statement as a matter of justice to the Acting Clerk, in order to show that he did not in any way neglect the duty imposed upon him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.31 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 November 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19101118_senate_4_59/>.