8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Spirits Consumed by Troops.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether, as hewas the representative from Australia for arranging the settlement of accounts between Australia and Great’ Britain, he can give the Senate an estimate of the amount of money that Australia had to pay Great Britain for the spirits consumed by our troops?
– I certainly had no dealings in spirituous liquors with the Imperial Government. I am not in a position to answer the honorable senator’s question now, but if he will put it on the notice-paper I shall see what information is available in reply to it.
. - (By leave): - I move -
That the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, so far as members of the Senate are concerned, have leave to sit during the sittings of the Senate.
The Senate recently granted the permission now sought for the full Committee to a sectional Committee nowengaged upon an exploration trip. The motion I submit, if agreed to, will give the same right to sit during sittings of the Senate to the whole of the members of the Senate on the Public Works Committee.
Question resolved’ in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Cockatoo Island Dockyard,&c. - Royal Commission - Minority Report by Mr. W. J. Mcwilliams, M.P.
League of Nations: Permanent Court of International Justice- Copy of Statute and relevant papers.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Space for South Australias Producers
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
In view of the projected establishment, by as old-established British firm, of spinning mills in Launceston, which would, furnish employment for several hundred employees, will the Governmentgive further and favorable consideration to the expressed request of that firm’s visiting representatives that the Department ofRepatriation proceed no further with the acquisition of certain land at Glen Dhu, Launceston, and facilitate the same being acquired by the firm referred to as a site for their projected works?
– The land referred to has already been acquired, and the Acting War Service Homes Commissioner reports that it will be required for War Service Homes purposes; consequently he cannot recommend its re-sale.
Motion (by Senator Crawford) agreed to -
That six months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Adamson on account of ill-health.
Motion (by Senator de Largie) agreed to-
That Senators Poll and Newland be granted two months’ leave of absence, to attend to urgent public business elsewhere.
Protection and Free Trade: Germany:
Competition with Cheap Labour Countries - Development of Secondary Industries - Immigration and Employment - Protection and Prices : Price Fixing - City and Rural Populations - Industrial Efficiency: Labour Conditions: Rural Workers’ Log - Quality of Australian Manufactures - Tariff Board Bill - Gold Mining - Woollen Industry - Sugar Industry - Boots - Bananas - Motor CycleEngines - Silks - Picture Films - Oil Resources - Returned Soldiers as Stevedores : Wharf Pillaging - Hospital Requirements : Remission of Duties - New South Wales and Protection - Unemployment: The Labour Party and The Tariff: A “Master Class” - The Census : Protection and Population - Agricultural Implements - Imported Timber: Cost of Building: Bee-keeping Appliances.
Debate resumed from 13th July (vide page 9977), on motion by Senator Russell -
That this Bill be now read a first time.
– The Tariff Bill is very properly regarded as a non-party measure. It was so treated in another place. It may be a contentious measure, but it is certainly a non-party measure. In another place honorable members voted in accordance with their opinions of the duties proposed, quite irrespective of party considerations. Senator Gardiner, to the greater part of whose address I listened with very great pleasure, is the most uncompromising Free Trader in this Chamber, or in any Legislature in Australia. Yet we finethat of tho members of his party the overwhelming majority are undoubted Protectionists. These facts, taken together, will prevent me being charged with doing anything improper in addressing to the Senate a few remarks on the subject of the Tariff generally.
As my remarks are to be of a general character,I think it proper to make them at this stage of the Bill. 1 intend to speak of what might be called the philosophy of the Tariff. Senator Gardiner, without any equivocation, said that he is a Free Trader. I understood him to say that he is in favour of absolute Free. Trade. If so, the honorable senator is a rare bird indeed.
– The honorable senator is that, irrespective of the remark referred to.
– I know very few countries whose fiscalism in regard to trade over their boundaries or through their ports is conducted on absolutely Free Trade principles. The levying of a Tariff is a privilege of free men, and a nation has to be to all intents and purposes independent, with perfect powers of self-government, before it has the privilege and right to levy a Protective Tariff, or, indeed, a Tariff of any kind. Take such a nation as China, which is a bone of contention and a subject of discussion amongst contending Powers, who fear that the question of trade with this country will bring about another world catastrophe such as we have recently experienced. Why is that so? Because China has had forced upon her at the point of the bayonet treaties which she is bound to observe; and as they were imposed on her by force, she has been prevented from levying anything in the nature of a Protective Tariff. If China wishes to levy a duty of an extra 3 or 4 per cent. on any particular article, she has to secure the consent of outside countries, so that in regard to the levying of a Tariff she is not in any sense an independent nation. Let any one suggest that the Japanese Empire, for instance, should abandon its undoubted Protectionist principles - particularly where the importation of goods from European countries is concerned - and the argument would be decided at the muzzles of guns. Every one knows that any suggestion to the Japanese that they must abandon Protection would be strongly resented bythem, and, if necessary, a decision would be reached by the exhibition of armed force. I have not any hesitation in saying that if Australia adopted absolute Free Trade principles it would not be long before this continent was just as much a bone of contention as is China.. So that we have to shake hands with ourselves that we have the advantage to levy a Protective Tariff against the productions of any other nation. I am not going to deny that in certain circumstances Free Trade may have beneficial results in some particular countries. I appreciate to the full the remarks of Senator Gardiner in connexion’ with the magnificent efforts put forward by the Mother Country during the recent great war. Financially she exhibited very great strength, and resources other than financial, which were really racial and of the highest order. Situated as she is - territorially small - she has great natural resources of coal and iron.
– Not of iron.
– I am well aware that a great deal of the ore smelted in the British furnaces is imported from Spain and other countries; but for a considerable time during the early period of exploitation she depended largely upon the native iron ore which was found in many of the coal pits amongst the coal measures. Notwithstanding her territorial limitations, undoubtedly the United Kingdom showed herself to be the possessor of resources of wonderful . magnitude. I am not one of those who -would dictate to the people of the United Kingdom and tell them that they would be better off under a Protective policy, or that Protection of the kind we favour would be suitable tothe United Kingdom. But I would remind Senator Gardiner and those who extol the Free Trade policy of the Mother Country - perhaps no other policy was possible in establishing herself as a world Power - that at the period of Britain’s greatest prosperity, antecedent to the war, there was a tremendous substratum of people right up against the border line of abject poverty. In fact, it has been computed by statisticians and sociologists that no fewer than 12,000,000 of British people were in a state of deplorable poverty at the time of Britain’s greatest prosperity. While I admit the greatness and glory in many Avays of the British Empire, I direct Senator Gardiner’s attention to the fact that Great Britain is about the only Free Trade nation we have. Other countries which, owing to circumstances, have adopted a Free Trade policy are of practically no account in the world’s affairs at the present juncture. I have spoken of China. Let me refer to the Empire of India. We read the other day that the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) intended to visit India to witness the Indian Parliament in operation. I am not aware that the granting of self-government to India includes the power to do anything very great in the way of shaping a highly Protective Tariff. But once selfgovernment is conferred upon the people of the Indian Peninsula, to the extent that they can enact a Tariff as high as we are capable of enacting, Britain’s economic hold on the Empire in that direction has gone. When once power is given to India to enact a high Protective Tariff Britain’s control over India is not worth nearly as much as her control over Australia, notwithstanding the fact that at present Australia has a high Tariff.
– But what of America ?
– I think it is rather unfortunate that Senator Thomas should mention America as an illustration, because high Protection has been the policy of the people of the United States for many decades. Will Senator Thomas deny that the United States of America is one of the leading Powers in the world ?
– With a population of 110,000,000 she is carrying on Free Trade in her own country.
– We have practically the same superficies as the United States of America, and we have established Free Trade within our borders because our economic and racial situation allows it.
– The people in the United States did not go there under Free Trade.
– No, and peqple are emigrating to America to such an extent that the United States Government is now limiting the influx of population. They are going there, notwithstanding the high Tariff, because of the deplorable conditions which exist amongst the down-trodden people in countries on the European continent. I ask honorable senators in considering the policy of Protection to take into consideration Germany. Germany, although she embarked upon a policyof militarism, also embarked upon a trade war, and one which it is an object lesson to study.
– From, the military or fiscal stand-point?
– From every stand-point. We have in arms defeated Germany. We narrowly escaped defeat in the third and fourth years of the war, largely because Germany’s Protectionist policy enabled her to develop her technical education to such an extent that her manufacturing industries were supreme, and the whole world in arms had to draw a ring around her for four years to destroy her external trade before she could be overwhelmed. Even when defeated, Germany emerged from the war with her manufacturing interests practically unimpaired.
– But before the war waa there not a big steal, after Che Franco-Prussian war, enabling Germany to get into such a favorable position ?
– Most decidedly. All the things referred to by Senator de Largie contributed to Germany’s strength; but the factors that make for national prosperity, the development of the intelligence and the technical skill of the people, were employed to such effect that the allied nations just succeeded in defeating Germany.- I invite honorable senators to consider the position of such a Free Trade country as Turkey. Does Turkey count for much in the world’s affairs ?
– Has Turkey any iron or coal resources?
– Turkey’s potential wealth in mineral resources is very considerable, and was just about to be developed by Germany when the world war broke out. Make no mistake about that.
My principal objection to the attack that has been made upon the Protectionist policy of Australia during this Tariff debate is this. We are told that we, as Protectionists, are ignorant of the operationof economic laws and forces; that we are bringing about a condition of things that will lead to unemployment; and that we are blindly imposing immense burdens upon ourselves. We are told that ships are lying idle. Senator Gardiner spoke ofunemployment in other directions. But there is this to be said for a Protectionist policy : If, a Protectionist believes in his fiscal faith, if he believes it is necessary to establish manufactures here before we can be constituted as a highly civilized community, technically and economically, he must recognise that some temporary disadvantages are inevitable in the furtherance of that policy. I do not expect a Protectionist policy to shut out those goods which are at present being brought here in ships, and at the same time to find the same number of ships trading with our shores. I frankly admit that if, through the establishment of a Protectionist policy, we succeed in manufacturing the goods which at present are purchased overseas, we cannot expect ships to be ploughing the waters towards these shores bearing those goods which, as the result of our fiscal policy, we have succeeded in shutting out. That would be an anomaly. I am aware that if we enact such a Customs Tariff as will yield practically no revenue, we must rely upon direct taxation for the necessary revenues to enable the Administration to be carried on. We cannot under this Tariff expect to collect the same amount of revenue as was received a couple of years ago, and therefore if we require the same amount of money for the Administration, it must be got from other sources. Probably we shall have a higher income tax, and so I am going to vote for a Protectionist Tariff with my eyes open.
– We shall then have more taxpayers.
– Later, there may be more taxpayers, but probably the immediate effect of this Protective Tariff will be an increase in income taxation, and, possibly, increases in many other taxes.
– And there will be big increases in other directions if no
Bhips are trading with these shores.
– No country will send ships to Australia to take from ua anything that is not vitally needed.. People talk about trade being a beneficent operation. So it is, but we must not be in the position of being compelled practically to take from other countries goods which should be manufactured in the Commonwealth. If there is anything required by the Australian people which cannot, under reasonable conditions, be manufactured here, I believe in the free admission of such goods. I have very little respect, politically, of course, for the Free Trader who believes in what is’ called a high revenue Tariff, and I have very little respect for the Protectionist who wishes to protect the industries of his own State but advocates Free Trade in regard to the industries of any other Australian State. In the consideration of this Tariff, we must think of Australia as a whole. This Senate is legislating for the Commonwealth, npt the individual States. I have no sympathy with the Tasmanian, for instance, who wants a high duty on timber because timbergetting is an important industry .paying hundreds of thousands of pounds in wages per year in his own State, but because Tasmania does not produce bananas, believes they should be admitted to the Commonwealth free. I have no sympathy with members of the Country party in another place, who believe that anything produced by the mau on the land should be protected; hub advocate Free Trade in regard to everything else. I noticed that during the Tariff discussion a representative of a country constituency in which prunes are produced supported Free Trade in connexion with everything required by the man on the land, but asked for an oven higher duty than the Minister intended to impose on prunes because they happened to be grown in his electorate. That sort of Protectionist gets very little political or economic respect from me. I believe that Australia, requires a Protectionist policy at the present time, and no duty can be satisfactory if it does not effectively protect. I see very little virtue in a duty that makes commodities dearer, but at the same time does not prevent their introduction from another country. That kind of a Tariff has very few charms for me, though I may remind Senator Gardiner, who attacked it yesterday, that I. arn no fanatical Protectionist. I do not believe that Protection is some Heavensent doctrine that will solve all the ills of humanity. I regard a Protectionist Tariff as a’ helpful expedient, enabling a people to establish manufacturing industries which otherwise might not take root and grow perhaps for centuries.
– Protection may be a costly expedient.
– If Senator Gardiner or anybody else could guarantee, to me ten decades of perfect world peace, it is possible I would be quite’ willing to agree to an experiment in absolute Free Trade for a quarter of a century, because I feel sure that if the world enjoyed a period of absolute peace extending over a century, the economic and labour conditions amongst the white peoples of the nations would closely approximate to some uniform standard. If we could insure the same standard »in America, as in Australia, and the same standard in the United Kingdom, South Africa, and New- Zealand, I can see no reason why we should not have complete Free Trade between these units of the Empire. But nobody can guarantee peace. Can anybody guarantee a world peace for five years? If peace cannot be guaranteed, let us reflect upon the lessons that we ought to have learned during the war. If I had any doubt as to the desirableness of Protection as a policy for the Commonwealth, that doubt was entirely removed during the war period. Remember that we were not beleaguered, and that hostile ships, even when they were nearest to us, were hundreds, if not thousands, of- miles from our shores. Nevertheless, the war affected us to such an extent that commodities vital to the Australian people were not procurable for money. Who could, at the time of which I speak, procure galvanized iron, barbed wire, or fencing wire at anything’ like a reasonable price in Australia? Were not the lessons upon the blackboard for us to learn? I desire to see such a condition of things established in Australia that if a world war were to break out to-morrow, this country, which embraces a superficial area which is equal to that of the United States of America, will be practically self-contained.
– All the items which the honorable senator has mentioned have been highly protected in Victoria for fifty years.
– We are beginning to manufacture them now. But if they bad not been protected they might not have been manufactured at all.
During the course of his speech, Senator Gardiner affirmed that Protection is of very little benefit to the miner, that it is of no benefit to the seaman, and that it is of very little advantage to the rural producer.
– And to the public servant.
– I distinctly remember the honorable senator mentioning the Public Service. But we cannot segregate sections of people in that way. We cannot place them in watertight compartments. The rural producer is dependent upon the consuming power of the city population in his vicinity, and the public servant is merely an employee of the whole community. I ask Senator Gardiner whether the conditions, of the rural population of Australia, thirty and forty years ago, were as good as they are now? I can remember the time when a farmer’s wife used to bring butter to our place and sell it for 6d. per lb. Was that a good thing for the rural producer?
– It was a very general thing.
– I am not . one who lightly abandons the opinions which I have held for a long time, because most of my opinions have been formed after a course of reflection which has led to the development of a mature judgment. But during my youth I confess that I was somewhat hostile to the apparently inordinate growth of Australian cities. This growth is merely the manifestation of a movement which is taking place in all the civilized countries of the world. My principal objection to it was based upon certain historic considerations in respect to the value of rural populations from a defence stand-point. We know that for centuries in respect of European wars it was nearly always the peasantry which sustained the shock of battle and maintained the country and its racial ‘flag against the armed anight of other nations. A nation which possesses a sound, wellnourished peasantry has a tremendous military asset. That remark is applicable, for example, to France. and to the dauntless peasantry of the Ottoman Empire, which has succeeded in maintaining the Ottoman rule against all the Powers of Western Europe for centuries past. But the conditions in Australia are vitally different from those which obtain elsewhere in that regard. Despite the fact that a few noisome alleys are to be found in most of our cities, they are very different’ from those which exist in the Old Country. I see nothing wrong in city life, provided that there are no slum areas existent. There are military gentlemen in this Chamber who will confirm my statement that the metropolitan populations of Australia fought as loyally and well during the recent war as did the mem who were recruited from our rural districts. In regard to physical fitness, there was very little difference between the men who were recruited in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, and Hobart, and those who were recruited from our rural areas.
– But there were some astounding figures in regard to the number of rejects.
– It is well known that thousands of the men who were recruited for Kitchener’s Armies in the streets of London were far from physically fit. But that fact is explained by the existence of slum areas in London, and by the circumstance that the metropolitan populations of the United Kingdom are not as well-nourished as .are the metropolitan populations of Australia. I repeat that there is nothing deteriorating in city life, provided that the cities contain no festering slum areas. Take, for example, such suburbs as exist across the Yarra. There are thousands of people in Toorak and South Yarra who live under conditions which permit them to keep their own poultry, to grow crops, and to keep their own cows.- Where wo have modern cities like Brisbane, Sydney, and Adelaide, there is nothing to be feared in connexion with city life. In Tasmania, we pride ourselves upon the possession of great resources in the way of water-power. What are we going to do with our resources? We are inviting immigrants to come to this country. Quite recently I have seen a good many of these immigrants, and I say, unhesitatingly, that they are most welcome additions to our population. But what are we going to do with them ? Are we going to send them into theback-blocks to grow wheat, of which we have asurplus production at the present time? Are we going to set them mining copper which we cannot sell; or axe we going to ask them to grow more apples when,already, we cannot profitably market our surplus apple production?No. If we are going to initiate amovement which will result in our securing a large stream of people, preferably from the United Kingdom, but, if not, from other European countries, we shall have to manufacture a great many of the commodities which we are at present importing, and the production of which is affording employment to people elsewhere. If the hydro-electric scheme in Tasmania succeeds in adding greatly to the population of Hobart - and I believe the electors of Denison have increased by 12,000 during the past ; few years - that city will provide a better market for the adjacent orchardists than they have possessed hitherto. If Tasmania contained two cities, each as big as Sydney or Melbourne, would Tasmanians have to consider so much the question of oversea markets, or even of Inter-State markets? Would they not have two splendid markets at their own doors ? The establishment of large manufacturing populations in Australia, with cities which will really constitute local markets, and thereby relieve our producers of much of the anxiety which they experience in regard to the disposal of their present surplusproduction, is a most laudable ideal to keep in view. It is manifest that in certain circumstances we cannot have too many people on the soil of Australia; but it nas been calculated, I believe, that one-seventh of the population of any country, and it is certainly so. in a country like America or Australia; is sufficient to provide food for the whole of its inhabitants. What would the policy of establishing people on the land and depleting the population of the cities for the purpose lead to? I suppose the greatest agrarian country in the world, or the country in which the biggest percentage of the people is settled on the land, is Russia. But is Russia an object of emulation and envy at the present time? It is so only to senseless,people with Bolshevik proclivities, a few of whom, I am sorry to say, are to be found in Australia. But to any other class of people of -ordinary intelligence is Russia at the present time anobject lesson ? Yet Russia, I suppose, possesses at least 100,000,000 of arnagrarian population.
– You would noit comparethem with our people?
– I would not, but even in Australia, where the rural population is highly intelligent and educated as compared with the rural populations of many other countries, the disadvantages are such that it is not desirable, particularly at a time ‘like the present, When wehave such difficulty in disposing of our surplus primary products, to increase it greatly. Cities, when all is said and done, are representative of culture and civilization.
– There are many things which we could grow in Australia that we import.
– Most decidedly, and they will be grown here, particularly when we give an incentive throughthe establishment of a Tariff like this. The Tariff is not wholly satisfactory to me, but it goes in many directions a long way towards satisfying my intentions and desires. I ask honorable senators to. consider this point also, particularly in regard to modern life: How has manufacturing industry advanced man’s knowledge of nature’s processes? You must have, in any country, manufacturing industries of a complex and highly valuable kind before you will have trained scientists and experts possessing that knowledge which is of the greatest value to the modern community. Beyond all doubt, a rural population has not the same chance, because rural industries axe quite different from manufacturing industries, of evolving from its ordinary economic life all those highly trained specialists who are in the last resort the stronghold of a country under modern conditions. I have spoken of rural populations being the backbone of a country in wars of the past, but what value would a purely rural population have in modern war? What value would it have if there were no manufacturing industries in Australia ? That is why, while I have a great regard for him personally, if I did not understand human nature, I would look with something like contempt upon the attitude of an honorable gentleman in another place, who fought most strongly for even higher duties than are imposed by this Tariff on a hundred and one articles, and at once pleaded for Free Trade in connexion with explosives, because explosives were used by the Newcastle miners. I am a miner. I never did anything elsebut mine for ores until I entered the Tasmanian Parliament, and afterwards this Parliament. But is a miner to be a Free Trader for the simple reason that the bulk of what he produces at present has to be sold in oversea markets ? . Does not the miner marry ? Has he not sons and daughters? Are they all to be tin or gold or copper miners? Does he not look forward to establishing them in some of those industries and arts which are more permanently connected with civilized life than a mining field with its ephemeral prosperity?
– A great many do look forward to it.
– They do. Consequently the miner, whose industry at first glance would seem to demand his adhesion to the policy of Free Trade, is in Australia nearly always a Protectionist, for he knows the nature of his industry. He knows that the prosperity of a mining field is not permanent. In Ballarat, the town in which I was born, there is not a single mine operating, although it was founded because of the gold discoveries of the past. It is now a city with considerable manufacturing industries, and affords, because of those industries and because of its group population, a substantial market to the rural industries in its vicinity. I say, without hesitation, that the rural communities of Australia are ten times moreprosperous to-day than they were when I was a boy. In those days, the farmer in nine cases out of ten was not a prosperous individual. It is true, perhaps, that he did not often experience a dearth of the ordinary necessaries of life, but there were not too many of what are considered to-day ordinary comforts in the farmer’s home. He lived a life which was that of a very crude pioneering community. I am pleased indeed to know that, notwithstanding the railing at a Protectionist policy as being opposed to rural industries, because of the establishment of large city populations in Australia, Which are engaged in a very great num ber of manufacturing industries, the farmers at the present time have a local market for many of their products; they own motor cars, and have on their farm holdings buildings which contain in a large measure the comforts of modern life. I know that even in my own State I shall be reprobated by some short-visioned people for avowing myself a very strong, and even a high, Protectionist. There is no moderate Protection about me. I am not in favour of that kind of Protection which merely raises the price of commodities without affording an assurance that they will be produced in our own country. I want Protection that will protect. I do not care if it goes so far as absolute prohibition. If I think it is desirable that a thing should be made in Australia, and if it is necessary to prohibit its importation from any other country before it can be successfully manufactured in an economic sense in Australia, I am prepared to prohibit. What sort of community are we going to establish here if humanity does not attain to that state of settled peace to which we have all been looking forward?
– Would you subject the community to exploitation?
– In no way can the community be better protected from exploitation than by seeing that as many as possible of the commodities we require are manufactured within our borders.
Honorable senators know that I am not in favour of the policy of price- fixing. I said there were too many elusive factors in regard to it to make it a success. I have consistently opposed all the proposals for constitutional amendment because they were nearly always suggested and elaborated and advocated as being the foundation for the initiation of a policy of fixing prices. I know it is not a satisfactory policy, but if you are at any time going to fix prices you cannot more successfully attempt to fix them than in connexion with a production which is wholly Australian. You do fix prices to a certain extent in connexion with Australian industries. You can establish Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts for the arbitrary fixing of wages and conditions of labour. But can you do it in connexion with the marketing of a product from overseas? You have a very much better chance of doing it, whatever the policy of fixing prices may be worth, and of giving force and enactment to that policy, if the commodity is manufactured in Australia.
– How are you to fix the price of wheat?
– That is fixed by the markets of the world. A great’ many people urge that Australian wheat must, perforce, be sold overseas, but I say that the countries overseas will take it only if it suits them. Trade is not a matter of courtesy; it is a matter of necessity. If we, the inhabitants of a continent surrounded by water, and isolated in these southern seas, think it necessary to fortify ourselves against days of stress that may not be far distant, by producing here everything that the community requires, and we believe that this Tariff is a factor which will enable us to give effect to that policy, let us adopt it. If Protection is a fantasy entertained by ignorant men, all I have to say is that some millionsof Australians must be mostly fools; probably 90,000,000 of American’s and 30,000,000 of Frenchmen are also fools.
– The honorable senator is speaking on Carlyle’s lines now.
– Yes. Seeing that the bulk of the people of the world are Protectionists, they must be fools if Protection is an idle fantastic doctrine held by those who believe in it to their economic disadvantage. What has become of the Free Traders who used to peregrinate. Australia in the old days and lecture us about the beauties of Free Trade? What has become of Sir William MacMillan, and the other gentlemen holding similar views, to whom we used to listen years ago in New South Wales? Senator Gardiner is the sole survivor of them all.
– What about Senator Thomas?
– Where is the honorable senator? He, too, has gone.
We are a smaller body numerically than is the other Chamber of this Legislature. I have no hesitation in saying that we have equal power, because the power of request is to all intents and purposes as effective as is the power of amendment.
An amendment must be accepted by another place before it can be given effect in just the same way as a request must be accepted. This is not a party matter. Let us approach the consideration of the Tariff as Australians. Do not let any honorable senator, because hi is a representative of Tasmania, hold out for the greatest possible protection for Tasmanian industries and then bewail the fact that members representing other States desire to secure protection for industries established within their borders.
-brockman. - Very noble, but I am afraid it will not work.
– It will work. I have discovered on many occasions that in respect of Australian thought the Senate is a more representative body than is another place.
– We can admire the honorable senator’s courage in saying so.
-brockman. - We can also agree with the honorable senator’s expression of opinion.
– Although, very few members of the Senate have so far declared themselves on this question, I have no hesitation in expressing the view that the overwhelming majority of honorable senators are Protectionists. I do not embrace Protection as some people embrace religious or national prejudices. If I could be assured of the millennium, I should probably be a Free Trader. Put the millennium is not at hand. Less than 6,000,000 of the white people inhabit this continent and claim exclusive possession of it, and I say they had better take heed, and should take time by the forelock and secure the manufacture within its boundaries of everything necessaryfor their national life.
– Should not the millennium come after Armageddon?
– Yes, but it will not come. I have said that I have not recanted opinions I have held for a long time, but I make one exception. At one time I believed that the growth of large cities was inimical to the interests of Australia. I say now that so long as those cities are built according to modern ideas in respect to town planning, and the provision of services that tend to the prolongation of life, large cities are centres of culture and enlightenment, and they represent important and close markets for rural producers.
– In three of the capital cities of the Commonwealth, 50 per cent. of the population reside, but no one suggests that they are not properly employed.
– Quite so. The general condition of the people of Australia is equal, if not superior, to that of the people in any other country in the world, so that in Australia’s circumstances the growth of large cities is not pernicious. When Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane become cities likeLondon, Manchester, and Birmingham, the Australian farmer will not need to weep and wail for lack of markets for his productions. He will not be a prey, to heartburning anxiety in connexion with Pools for oversea export. These nightmares will have disappeared for ever, and he will be able to sell his products to Australian citizens.
Senator Gardiner has spoken of the mining industry. Protection is’ supposed to make things dear. If it does not do so at first before the protected industry is established, the object of the Protectionist Tariff is not secured. Honorable senators will remember that I was not one of those who some time ago were demanding that all profiteers should be shot because prices were high, and in the next breath advocating the adoption of a Tariff to make things dear. I know that a Tariff makes things dear for a time in connexion with the products of industries which are not properly established. That is the real objective of a high Tariff, and certainly, its temporary result. But that Protectionist countries permanently produce articles for sale at high prices only is a. doctrine to which I do not subscribe, because I have learned otherwise from actual experience. I have learned that Protectionist countries by developing manufacturing skill, technical knowledge, and perfection of machinery enable the production of articles in bulk to be accomplished, which means cheaper production. I should like Senator Gardiner if he were present to explain why I, as a miner from my youth upwards, had always to use picks, shovels, and axes of American manufacture. ‘ America is a Protectionist country, and yet in the State of Tasmania miners were almost invariably supplied with tools of American manufacture.
– They used to be about one-third of the price they are now.
– That is so; but the honorable senator knows as well as I do that owing to a multiplicity of causes which it is needless to enumerate now, prices have gone up throughout the world. The fact remains that we purchased and used American mining tools at a price for which the manufactures of Free Trade England could not be sold in Australia. Why this was so, and whether Tasmania was regarded as a dumping ground for these productions of America, I am unable to say; Senator Earle, whom I knew for many years, when we had no anticipation that we would ever be members of the Australian Senate, will bear out my statement that nearly all the tools used in the mining industry in Tasmania a quarter of a century ago were of American manufacture.
– Was that due to the price, or because they were more suitable for the work ?
– Suitability, quality, and price had each no doubt something to do with the matter. I do not know that things are comparatively dear in this Protectionist Common wealth at the present time. I believe that nearly all the articles required by people of European extraction are cheaper here than they are in other countries. Boots, I think, are cheaper here than they are in the United Kingdom. I bought a hat the other day from a man with whom I have dealt for a very long time, and he assured me that the hat was of Australian manufacture, and as good as an imported hat at twice the price. Needless to say, as an Australian, I bought the Australian hat.
– And as an economist, too, apparently.
– Yes. I am of opinion that it was as good a hat as one for which I would have been charged twice as much if I had exhibited a preference for the imported article. Honorable senators will remember that during the war it was stated, to the credit of the administration of successive Ministers for Defence in this country, that the Australian troops were better clothed, better shod, better fed,. andinsomerespects. better armed, than those of any other country engaged in the war.
– And better paid.
– And they were also better paid than the spldiers of any other country fighting in European or, Asiatic arenas of war. Does that not say. something for Australian manufactures? I venture to think that, it does. I remember that a Frenchman told methat in the Franco-Prussianwar one of the contributing factors to the defeat of tha French armies was that during the long agony of the retreat upon Paris it was found that the troopswere shod with boots that were little better than brown paper. He held the view that the fact that the Army Department supplied them with boots of that description went a long Way to take the heart , out of the French troops. Nothing of that sort happened in connexion with our Australian troops. The leather, harness, boots’; general accoutrements, and equipment supplied to them was admitted” to’ be superior to those supplied to the troops of any other country engaged’ in the war.
– That did a great deal to break down the prejudice against the use of Australian manufactures.
– I am glad to think that it did, and if that is one result of the war, it was not fought wholly in vain’. I have’ noprejudice against the productions of my country. Ihave never seen a bad article of Australian manufacture unless, perhaps, a few matches, and certainly the matches’ which were manufactured here a few years ago were an abomination. I suppose it is not unreasonable to say that in the early stages of the manufacture of an article it cannot be expected to compare favorably with the production of a better established industry in an older country. Australian whisky is as good as any in the world, and half the whisky sold here as imported whisky is Australian whisky.
– Even the matches were hot so bad as some that Were imported.
– They were not so bad as some. imported Japanesematches. I have here a lead pencil taken from the table in front of me, and. these pencils are made in Japan. They are of very inferior quality. I have ho doubt that if Australians undertook the manufacture of lead pencils they would turn out a very muchbetter article.
– As a practical miner, can the honorable senator tell us anything about Australian explosives?
– I have used the Australian explosives. I am of opinion that accidents owing to their use result very frequently rather from the contempt that is born of long familiarity on the part of the miners who use them than from anything inferior in the composition of the explosives. I say that notwithstanding the diatribes of Mr. Charlton and others’ associated with the coal mining industryof NewcastleSenator Earle has used colonial explosives, and I also have used great quantities of them. I am thankful toProvidence for the protection afforded to miners, and although I have had misfires, I have always showed such care in the handling of explosives that during my mining experience I have never lost a toe, or even a finger nail.
– When the honorable senator wasmining, where were Australian explosives manufactured ?
– They were sold as Australian, but where they were manufactured I do not know. I am in favour of explosives being manufactured in Australia, because if we were engaged in war to-morrow - even if we had leather goods, guns, shells, and aeroplanes - where would we be without explosives?We must manufacture them in Australia, and, if necessary, give protection to the industry. If the explosives manufactured hereare of inferior quality, let the industry be established on a satisfactory basis, with thoroughly qualified chemists and analysts employed in connexion with the indus’try, so that we shall have no cause ti) complain concerning the inferiorityof the Australian product. Why should Australia manufacture explosives’ of an inferior, quality when we can produce boots, hats, clothing; rifles, and everything else we require? If we can! manufacture nails, kerosene cans, railway iron, and other necessaries, why cannot we make explosives ?
– We cannot manuture horseshoe nails.
-That is nonsense. We can manufacture anything in Australia. I am not such a Protectionist, however, that I believe we should, enact duties, to enable us to rear elephants and animals of that kind inthe Commonwealth. I am not in favour of elephants, black,, taa, or white being bred in this country, because we do not wantthem. In an island continent, inhabited by a civilized white race and populated by people who suffered from segregation during the war through our lack of locally-produced commodities, it is our duty to remember the lessons which we were taught, and undertake the manufacture in Australia of articles we require on such a scale that we shall be able to give employment to hundreds of thousands, in fact, millions, of people, whom we desire to attract to our shore’s.
– It is also desirable to have industrial efficiency.
– That is absolutely essential. Senators Earle and Payne have dealt with that phase of the question. If the Australian artisans decide that they shall work only five or six hours a day, and at as slow a stroke as possible during those days, we cannot hope to achieve efficiency. If they desire that the mines shall be owned only by those who work in them, and at the same time expect capitalists to invest their money for their exploitation, they are pursuing a phantom. They are endeavouring to create conditions which Protection cannot produce and which Free Trade could not alleviate. Senator Gardinerhas said that Protection cannot confer any benefits on the mining industry. No; but if the man with capital is not given sufficient encouragement, it is not likely that we shall find prospectors going out in search of minerals, because what is the use of prospecting when no one will supply the money to develop the deposits which may be discovered ? If the false economic philosophy is embraced which says that brains, organizing ability, and capital shall not have any share of the wealth produced, andthat the mines shall belong to those who work in them, the end of mining in Australia is in sight;
In conclusion, let me say that there are incidental advantages in a policy of Free
Trade, in some countries, and there are also incidental disadvantages in the establishment of a policy of Protection, particularly in its initial stages. But, having beforeme the object lesson of the great prosperity and magnificent population of the United States of America, the scientific education, the manufacturing expertness,. the great rise of Germany from a second rate Central European Power to that degree of might which caused the whole world to be overshadowed by the German name, I am a Protectionist. When we consider that the policy of Germany was one of Protection) that- America, herself a Protectionist country, will not allow China to enact a Protective Tariff, that India-, which has been given many privileges of self-government by the generous Mother Country, will not be able for a long timeto enact her own Tariff, when we independent people, also through the wisdom of the Mother Country, have theprivilege of enacting a Customs Tariff in order to secure the proper development of our internal resources, I, as an Australian senator, say that this undeveloped continent, with its great natural resources, should institute a policy of Protection. I am prepared, in the present circumstances, to give “ McKinleyism “’ a fair trial, and if, as the result of experience,we find that we have made a mistake, it will be possible for the Australian Government to reverse their policy, and, if they so desire, introduce one of absolute Free Trade. My previous actions have received indorsement at the hands of my constituents in the State of Tasmania, and I am not going to be mealymouthed in advocating that which I believe is right. I intend voting for duties which will effectively protect those infant industries of Australia, which, at present, are undeveloped.
.- Like Senator Gardiner, Senator Fair- bairn, and others, I was, in my younger days, a diligent student of Adam Smith, Cobden, arid Gladstone en the question of Free Trade versus Protection. My beliefin Free Trade continued for along period, and, in fact, I was only converted to a policyof Protection as a result of Our experience during the recent great war. The reason for my long belief in-
Free Trade was that theoretically, there is no answer to the Free Trade arguments. If we support the axiom that every country should produce that which it is most suited to produce and exchange its products for those of other countries, there is no answer to the argument. But this axiom presupposes many things, included in which is one that other countries will adopt a similar policy. The main argument of Adam Smith was that other countries would follow Great Britain’s lead, and that in a very short time we would have Free Trade throughout the world.
– He also argued that, whether other countries followed your lead or not, it was good enough to stand on its own.
– But he laid great emphasis on what I have said, contending, as the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) has pointed out, that such benefits would ensue that other countries could be disregarded. The fundamental argument, however, was that other countries would follow the lead. But that has not been the case. In fact, during the eighty years in which Great Britain has operated under Free Trade, I have not discovered any other country which has adopted a similar policy. On the contrary, other countries, such as America and Germany, have worked under a highly Protective policy, and have been able to establish within their borders and expand industries which originated in Great Britain, and which, according to the Free Trade argument, was the most suitable place for their development. Under the Protective policy of those countries these industries have been built up to such an extent that they are now able to more than compete with Great Britain on equal terms. Aniline dyes were first produced in Great Britain, where the raw material existed; but it occurred to the German scientists that this was a key industry, with which the manufacture of explosives was closely associated, and that it would be advantageous to make it a German monopoly. The Germans therefore proceeded to protect the industry in every way; and they encouraged their scientists to such an extent that in a very short period the in dustry was under the control of the German people.Similarly in America and Germany the cutlery trade, which was strongly established in Sheffield and Birmingham, has been transferred to countries operating under a Protective Tariff. The Germans deliberately set out to capture certain key industries, so that, if they achieved success, they would be able to cripple Great Britain intime of war. They knew that if they secured control over certain important manufactures, the establishment of other industries, which were dependent on them, would soon follow.
Senator Gardiner, in the course of his speech, stressed the point that if we built up protected industries they would combine to oppress the people; but, apparently, the honorable senator has never heard of Combines outside Australia. It is well known that the importing interests are equally capable of combining where there is no local competition, and the people are oppressed to a greater extent than they would be in the hands of local manufacturers who, at least, are under our own control. The honorable senator also asserted that the duties imposed are paid by the consumers in our own country; but, in fact, they are very often paid by the importers. Recently, the Argus published a statement that certain agricultural implements were sold in Free Trade New Zealand at a higher price than in Protectionist Australia, thus demonstrating clearly that the duty was paid by the American importer, in that case at all events.
Senator Gardiner made a further complaint about the high cost of woollen goods in Australia. In connexion with this matter I feel sure that if our industries are encouraged - and judging by the number of woollen companies which have been floated in Victoria recently, the position is very promising -we shall soon be able to cope Avith the demand, and the price ofwoollen goods in Australia will then be lower than at present. On this subject I may draw the attention of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) to the position of the Returned Soldiers’ Co-operative Mill, at Geelong. This cooperative society was established to support returned soldiers and their families.
– The honorable senator cannot say that. They do not expect to live out of the dividends.
– The company was formed for the purpose of providing employment for returned soldiers and their dependants. The articles of’ association provide that no person but a returned soldier or his dependant may be employed, and also that the shareholders must be returned soldiers or their dependants.
– They are not.
– According to the articles of association they must be, and I thinkthe Minister will find that I am right.
-It is simply a question of fact, which can be cleared up in twenty-four hours. I say the shareholders are not limited to returned men, and I can give the honorable senator the name of one man to justify my statement ; but this does not affect his argument in any way. I am only saying that his statement is not quite correct.
– Well, the returned soldiers went into that venture in order to help themselves. I was one of those who advised them to do so. They had an assurance that the Government would be prepared to assist them in the same way that the farmers in Western Australia were helped, but, so far, that promise has not materialized. It would be a good thing for the Commonwealth, and for our returned soldiers too, if some such assistance could be given to this movement.
– You would apply that to all the States, I suppose?
– Yes, in regard to similar institutions. This Geelong Cooperative Society’s difficulty is in regard to getting outside capital into the venture, because the articles of association prevent any one but returned soldiers and their dependants from becoming members, and so I cannot understand the Minister’s statement.
Senator Gardiner also said that boots were too expensive in Australia. I hold the contrary opinion, based on prices which I have observed in the various retail establishments. I am satisfied that, after making allowance for increased labour costs, the price to-day for the Australianmade boot is down to about the level of pre-war costs. It was also said that the reputation earned for the Australianmade boot during the war did a great deal to break down the prejudicethat had hitherto existed against the Australianmade article. Ministers, I think, must be aware of the efforts that were made to induce the Government to substitute the British for a supply of boots for our troops ; but the troops themselves determined to wear nothing but the Australianmade article, and I think that at the end of the war it was generally agreed that our troops were better equipped in this respect than any other troops.
– Can you explain why our boot factoriesare now idle, and why they are not exporting and taking world’s parity, like our wheatgrowers ?
– I believe there was a very great over-production of boots during the war, and that the present glut in the market is only temporary.
– Why not export the boots?
– The . honorable senator must not forget that for a long time hides were very much above present values, and that when the slump came our boot factories were encumbered with boots that had been made from high-priced leather.
– We are now told that a pair of boots costs as much as three hides.
– I do not know the details of costs to-day, but it is a fact that the bulk of the boot manufacturer’s capital is, at the present time, locked up in high-priced stock, which they cannot get rid of without great loss.
Senator Gardiner also had something to say about bananas. It seems to me that there is no reason why banana cultivation should not progress to the same extent in Queensland and the northern parts of New South Wales as the growing of softstone fruits and citrus fruits has been developed in the northern parts of Victoria. There is no reason why, when the industry has developed sufficiently, bananas should not be as cheap as when produced under black-labour conditions in Fiji. We would then have this additional advantage : we would be getting the bananas cheaply, and have the money in the country as well.
I want, now, to direct attention to another soldier industry established in Victoria since the war. A certain’ number of returned soldiers, who were stevedores) last year formed themselves into a co-operative company and started in business om the Melbourne wharfs. Becoming thus a company of capitalists so called, as well as stevedores, they were naturally v careful to see that claims for pilfering goods on the wharfs should be as light as possible, and I am informed that their enterprise has been remarkably successful. The men make good money in wages, and their company is earning high dividends. They are most particular in checking anything iu the nature of pillaging from the ships, as they realize it is to their interest that claims against their company should be as. light as possible. Their reputation is now so good that they are being preferred to other people, and I suggest to my friends of the Labour party that some of the unions engaged in this kind of work, as well as in other industries, might very well form similar companies and provide their own capital by investing their savings, as these returned soldiers did, although, of course, they were able to utilize their war gratuity bonds, upon which they obtained an advance from the bank sufficient to carry them on for the first few months. It appears to me that if these co-operative enterprises were established, and were working amicably, many of our labour difficulties would be solved.
Senator Gardiner also, and, perhaps, by way of a joke, made some remarks concerning the leadership of our Australian generals during the war. I can only reply that we had a very short apprenticeship in leadership, and so I am not going to defend the mistakes made, such as they were.
– May I say that your reputation was so high that it’ could even stand my joking about it?
– I suggest to my honorable friend (Senator Gardiner) that he and his . colleagues had a much longer apprenticeship in leadership than we, and I venture the opinion that if, during the war, their leadership had been directed differently, the attitude of the people of Australia towards his party to-day would be very different.
There is another matter to which I desire to direct attention. The hospitals iu Australia at present are in difficulties owing to increases in wages and other working costs. In 1910-11 the maintenance costs of the Melbourne Hospital amounted to £42,196, and last year it rose to £74,000. Salaries and wages, for example, have advanced from £19,000 to £32,618,. and the dispensary costs from £4,552 to £9,100. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) was sympathetic during the debate on the Tariff in another place, and exempted from duty alcohol, which is an essential ingredient in the preparation of most medicines. That concession resulted in a, net saving to the hospitals of £800 a year. I hope that the Minister will be able to see his way to make similar concessions iu regard to other articles which are almost as essential as is alcohol. By so doing no great injury will be inflicted upon the drug manufacturers of Australia.
– I suggest that the honorable senator is now getting rocky upon his Protectionist principles.
– I am as ardent a Protectionist as is anybody, but there is a difficulty in dealing with these public institutions, and in raising nearly £100,000 for the benefit of poor people. If we can save a few. hundred pounds by the remission of duties upon articles which are commonly used in cur hospitals, it will confer a great measure of relief upon those who are endeavouring, under great difficulties, to keep these institutions going.
– Most honorable senators who have addressed themselves to the motion for the first reading of this Bill have delivered second-reading speeches upon it. I do not propose to follow . their example, although I may have something further to say upon Tariff matters when the motion for the second reading of this measure is under consideration. In my judgment, we are now being invited to put the cart before the horse. We ave asked to deal with the Tariff schedule, and later on we are to be invited to discuss a proposal for the establishment of a Tariff Board. I believe there are a good many honorable senators who would not . support the Tariff schedule in its present form if they thought therewas not subsequently to be a Board constituted for the purpose of controlling the Tariff, I believe, too, that there are a good many honorable senatorswho do not think that any such Board should be created. Consequently, we ought to decide whether a Tariff Board shall be appointed before being called upon to determine tie formof the Tariff itself. I therefore suggest to the Minister (Senator Russell) that this Bill should notbe proceeded with until we have been afforded an opportunity of dealing with the Tariff Board Bill. There is ample business upon the notice-paper to keep us occupied until the Tariff Board Bill has been dealt with elsewhere.
– Why keep the banana-growers in suspense?
– In the form in which it has been presented to another place, the Tariff Board Bill does not appeal to me. Considerable alterations will require to be made in it (before I shall be a party to it. Upon another occasion, when speaking in this Chamber, I protested strongly against the delegation of legislative powers to outside individuals and bodies.
– I do not know that it is quite in order for an honorable senator to discuss a Bill which is before another Chamber, but if the honorable senator is stating what he believes to be contained in that measure, I disagree with him.
– I repeat that in speaking in this Chamber upon another occasion I expressed myself very strongly upon the subject of the unwisdom of delegating legislative powers to outside individuals and bodies. At the time, the Minister in charge of that measure pointed out to me that nothing of the sort was proposed, and he proceeded to set up the opinion of a junior official who was sitting behind him, against the opinions expressed by three or four legal members of the Senate. Presumably the junior official in question had drafted the Bill, and was under the impression that he had incorporated in it just what the Minister desired. I dared to say that he had done nothing of the kind, and to point out that we were delegating legislative authority to an outside person. Quite recently I was present in the High Court when mention was made of that particular measure, and when one of theJustices, in referring to it, stated most specifically that this Parliament had delegated its legislative authority to a Public Service Arbitrator, thereby supporting in almost my exact words the statement which I made in this chamber, and which, the Minister had contradicted upon the advice of the junior official who was sitting behind him. If the Tariff Board Bill, which is nowbefore another place, is submitted to us in its present form, we shall be invited to delegate our legislative authority to an outside body.
– I would remind the honorable senator that it has been laid down upon several occasions by my predecessors that there must be only the vaguest reference to any Bill which is under consideration in another place. The reason for the practice is obvious, because if such a measure were to be discussed and Opinions expressed upon it in this chamber, it might be regarded as an interference with the right of another branch of the Legislature to freely discuss it. This rule has been laid down by my predecessors, and I think that it is a very good rule. Of course, the Senate will have a full opportunity of expressing its opinion upon the measure at a subsequent period. I have allowed the honorable senator to make a general reference to it. but I hope that he will not proceed further upon the lines which he is now pursuing.
– Upon a point of order, may I remind you, sir, that last evening Senator Fairbairn devoted practically the whole of his speech to the Tariff Board Bill, which is now engaging the attention of another place.
– I have allowed Senator Drake-Brockman quite as much latitude as I allowed to Senator Fairbairn. If Senator Fairbairn had proceeded further I would have stopped him. I listened most carefully to his remarks in an endeavour to discover whether he was expressing opinions which might be held to unduly influence the members of another place.
– This is quite an important matter.
– Of course, it is an important matter. However,I am not discussing its importance, but merely the impropriety of an honorable senator proceeding upon certain lines. The rule to whichIhave directed attention is a perfectly sound one.
– Upon a question of privilege, seeing that Senator Fairbairn last night devoted nearly the whole of his speech to the question of the Tariff Board Bill-
– That is not a matter of privilege. In any case, I listened carefully to Senator Fairbairn, and, as far as I followed him, he spoke generally of the principle of Boards, and certainly not in the strong terms used by Senator Drake-Brockman in referring to a Bill which will come before the Senate in the near future.
– But the Tariff Board Bill specially refers to the Tariff Bill which we are now considering.
– That does not affect the rule which I have laid down that honorable senators must not anticipate discussion upon a Bill which is at present before another place.
– I bow to your rulnig, sir, and shall not proceed further upon the lines which I was pursuing. Having regard to the relation which exists between the Tariff Board Bill and the measure which is now before us, it is regrettable that upon this occasion it is impossible for me to carry my argument any further.
– I had no intention of preventing the honorable senator from bringing forward any argument as to why consideration of another Bill should precede the consideration of this measure. There is no point at all in regard to that matter, but the honorable senator must not denounce the pro- - visions of a Bill which is now under consideration in another place.
– It is highly improper that we should be asked to consider the terms of the Tariff schedule until we know what sort of a Tariff Board is to be created, and what functions are to be discharged by it. “I therefore seriously suggest to the Minister that he should afford us an opportunity of dealing with the measure to which I have directed attention before we are. asked to determine what duties shall be imposed upon various articles, and what latitude we ought to allow the Minister for Trade and Customs’, or anybody else, in regard to their imposition.
– I will give the honorable senator this assurance, which is as far as I can go, that upon the assumption that the Tariff Board Bill is passed by another Chamber, it will be submitted to the Senate before the Tariff leaves this Chamber.
– I should like a further assurance.
– I cannot bring the Bill on to-day.
– I think that Senator Gardiner will take the hint, and if we cannot continue talking either upon the motion for the first or second reading of this Tariff Bill-
– If he wishes to tie up the business of the Senate the honorable senator may simplify matters by moving that the consideration of this Bill be postponed until that course be
– I have no desire to tie up the business of the Senate. There is sufficient business upon the notice-paper to occupy us for a fortnight without touching the Tariff. Moreover, we are to be asked to sit an additional day each week in order to expedite the consideration of that matter. I do not know whether there is any special reason why we . should meet an additional day each week-
– Order! The honorable senator must not discuss that matter, seeing that it is already upon the business-paper.
– I was under the impression that on the first reading of a Bill of this sort the more irrelevant one was the more relevant he was.
– What the honorable senator says is quite true, although it is a contradiction in terms, but it does not get him over the rule that he must not anticipate the discussion of a matter of which notice has already been given.
– I rise to order. There is no reference in the notice-paper which I have to the subject which called for your ruling: I should like to be quite clear whether the fact of a Minister giving notice of a motion really prevents its discussion, or whether it is necessary to wait until the notice of motion appears on the ‘business-paper before- we can be considered to be debarred from discussing it.
– The matter is part of the business of the Senate now. The moment a notice of motion is given, it is on the records of the Senate. The notice-papers are merely printed for the convenience of honorable senators. It is not necessary to wait until the notice of motion is printed and circulated tomorrow for it to become part of the business of the Senate.
– The position as stated by the Minister is correct. The printed notice-paper is merely a record of the .business of the Senate. Even if no business-paper were printed, it would not matter. Directly notice is given of a motion, it becomes part of the business for the consideration of the Senate. I rule that the honorable senator is not in order in anticipating the discussion of such a motion.
– I hope the Minister for Repatriation will consider whether it is possible for him to meet the views I have expressed.
– I shall certainly endeavour to do so as far as possible.
– I thank the Minister for his courtesy. A section of the press of Australia seems to expect a declaration of faith on the Tariff from ‘ the various new members of this Chamber. I have listened during the past two days to arguments which I have heard other honorable senators say reminded them of the fights of twenty years ago. The question of whether Australia should be Protectionist or Free Trade was settled when I was in short coats, or certainly when I was in short pants. I came into the political arena to find that Australia had decided to be Protectionist. Whatever’ my views on the subject might have been, I think they would have affected the issue to a very small extent. I come into this Chamber now to be confronted ‘with a scientific Tariff. A scientific Tariff is a most wonderful and amazing thing. This one, for instance, allows most of the tools of trade required in the coal -mining . industry to come in free, and imposes a duty of about 40,per , cent, on all the requirements of gold mining. It is beyond me.
You cannot protect the gold industry, but you can protect the coal industry. This curious document, designated a scientific Tariff, imposes a burden on the gold-mining industry of Australia, and at the same time provides protection for the coal-mining industry. That may be scientific, but the ways of science are certainly extraordinary.
– The time when I declared my faith on the fiscal question has long gone by. The discussion on which we have entered covers an exceedingly wide field. There is nothing that affects the life and well-being of a nation so minutely and yet in such a far-reaching way as a Tariff does. It is an ingenious instrument that has been invented for extracting almost the last shilling out of a man’s pocket in an exceedingly clumsy way. Examining this document, I am reminded of standing upon some eminence, and looking over an exceedingly wide landscape. ‘ To the eye only the outstanding objects are really visible, yet not only in .the far distance, but also in the almost immediate neighbourhood, there are many objects of equal interest, if not equal attractiveness. We must study, not only what the Tariff will produce for the Treasury, but the effects it will have on the whole community. Australia is still only in its infancy, but I have serious doubts whether it is still so immature that it can really afford to have what Senator Gardiner regards as Free Trade. ‘ There was a time in the extreme youth of this country when Tariffs of this kind were not imposed.’ Even animals reared in other countries and seed grown in other ocuntries had to be introduced, and in those days it was manifestly against the best interests of Australia to raise any Tariff barrier against their importation. Before development took place the imposition of a Tariff would have been really inimical to Australia’s best interests, and therefore no Tariff was imposed, but as Australia developed it became necessary to inaugurate something .’equivalent ,to a Tariff. Revenue was required, and that was one of the means suggested for raising it. It is a question now whether our fiscal garments of the past have not become too small for us. A policy which was suitable for Australia: 50 or 100 years; ago is not suitable for it today, and the man who claims that we should adopt Free Trade to-day is really abeing wholives in the past. It has. been argued here that at the time of Federation that portionof Australia which was Free Trade had grown much more quickly and expanded more greatly than the portion which was Protectionist in its principles. It is doubtful if the fiscal policy had anything to do with the development. There were many other factors which had to be considered.
– If the people pay an immense tax for a Protectionist policy, it ought to produce some results.
– I shall deal with what the people pay for Protection. All trade is practically barter: The effect of a policy of absolute Free Trade, if carried on with the people of a lower civilization, must be to bring the standard of civilization in Australia down to the level of those people. I say, without any desire to reflect upon the coloured races, that if, under a policy of Free Trade, we admit their goods to Australia free of duty the result must be to reduce those who are engaged in the manufacture of similar goods in the country to their level of civilization. .
– If the honorable senator exchanges a South Australian apple for a Fiji banana, how can that affect conditions one way or another in either South Australia or Fiji?
– I am afraid that the honorable senator permits trivial matters to obstruct his vision . We are dealing in the Tariff with questions of far greater importance than the exchange of apples or bananas. If wethrow open our ports to the products of lower-paid labour in other countries, one effect must be to reduce the standard of labour in Australia. Senator Gardiner should be able to see that the White Australia policy, is quite inconsistent with the principle of Free Trade.
– The White Australia policy has nothing to do with trading interests.
– The range of my honorable friend’s vision must be exceedingly limited if he cannot see that the two things are absolutely bound together. The progress of Australia in the past gives proof, that there, has been amongst usidealistswho have recognised that the White Australia policy is. a conception of improved humanity. It can be given effectto without.any reflection upon, people of the coloured races, because its operationsshould tend to improve them as well as ourselves.
– The honorablesenator interprets the White Australia policy to mean that we should not trade with coloured races. I interpret it differently.
– Let me go further, and say that it is only by a Protective Tariff that we- are able to prevent the competition with our manufacturers of the products of the “slum” labour of other nations. The adherent of the policy of Free- Trade practically affirms his belief in using tne products of the slumlabour of other lands to the exclusion of the products of the better paid labour of Australia.
– People do not buy things unless it is to their advantage to do so.-
– The article sold at the cheapest rate is that which is bought first. If the honorable senator were to put two umbrellas of equal value in a window in Bourke-street and ticket one with a lower price than the other, it would be useless for him to expect that the one ticketed with the higher price would be the first sold.
– The worst, slums I came across in my travelling were in Belfast.
– I do not dispute that.
– Surely the honorable; senator would not, on that account, object to purchase linen manufactured in Belfast, which is the best in the world ?
– I am prepared to’ admit that the honorable senator has tried sincerely to elevate the lot of the workers in Australia, but he has’ been false to himself and to the workers in advocating a Free Trade policy for this country.
I have said that all trade is barter, and we have to choose what the future of Australia shall be. If we say that we shall deal only in primary products we shall find that shipping will not come here from other countries unless we are prepared to take the manufactured products of those countries. If we are to be self contained, we must establish, . manufactures here. That againhas itslimitations, because by that means we may not be able to fill the waste places of Australia as rapidly asthey should be rfilled. There are comparatively impoverished nations of the world who would be quite willing to exchange their manufactured products with us, but cannot do so, because, owing to their poverty, they cannot buy our primary products. A Tariff imposes duties upon a variety of articles. Itmay impose a duty upon an article which as required in the manufacture, for instance, of varnish, and which is not produced here. The local industries concerned with its use mayclaim that it should be admitted free,and we have to consider what, in the circumstances, is best in the interests of Australia as a whole. It is contended that Protection will assist in the manufacture of goods, but that does not contain the whole truth. A claim is made by a manufacturer1 for protection to the extent of 10 or 15 per cent. He raises the price of his goods as nearly as possible to the price of imported similar goods, plus the duty. “Then he comes again to the Minister for Trade and Customs and asks for still higher protection. Our friends interested in the productionof sugar desired protection against the importation of sugar produced by black labour. We gave it, willingly. Directly we did so they began tomanufacture sugar, but later they saidthey, were unable tp continue its manufacture without increased protection. It has to be borne in mind thatone effect of the imposition of duties which protect themanufacturer of sugar was to add to the value or rent of lands upon which sugar was grown. An indirect effect was the increase in the value of lands upon which wheat, maize, and other produce is grown.
– I never heard of wheat being grown in the neighbourhood of sugar lands.
– The honorable senator has heard of maize being grown in the neighbourhood of sugar lands.
– Sugar beet and wheatcan be grown on similar soil.
– That is so.
– I do not think that the production of sugar beet has increased the value of land anywhere in Australia.
– It has in Gippsland.
– We impose Tariff duties in three grades. We may levy a prohibitive duty for the purpose of shutting out a particular article entirely. We may levy a duty, not with a view to bolstering up any particular industry, but because the Government needs revenue.. We may again impose duties which will earn revenue to a certain extent and will at the same time assist in the building up of industries. It has to be borne in mind that when duties are imposed, whilst they may produce a certain amount of revenue, they are passed oil to the consumer; and if it were merely- a matter of obtaining revenue, the simpler andmore direct course would be to increase the income tax. _ We should in the consideration of a Tariff, have regard for the point of view of the taxpayer as well as of the manufacturer. We have to bear in mind also that the purchaser of imported goods has ‘to pay not merely the duties imposed upon them, but an additional 10 or 15 per cent, to the importer.
In some directions I am in agreement with the arguments adduced by Senator Gardiner, particularly in connexion with the articles we cannot produce here.
– What cannot be produced in Australia?
– The honorable senator, who is an . ardent Free Trader, should not ask the question, because if we can produce everything in Australia he should be a Protectionist.
– What cannot we produce ?
– Do we produce newsprint ?
– I have been assured by paper manufacturers that wo cannot produce the finer grades of paper in Australia.
– That is not so, as it is being produced in Western Australia.
– I have accepted advice from persons who are handling paper every day, and if I have been misled it has been by those who know the position. Those who advocate a selfcontained continent have to contend with a very important problem, because in time we may produce in excess of our requirements, and we shall then have to consider the question of markets. If we are not buyers of the articles produced in other countries we shall have to search the world over to find markets for the commodities we produce.
– Our markets will be in the countries which produce less of a particular commodity. than we do.
– Although money is exchanged for goods, it is, after all, really a question of barter. Other nations will take our goods if we are prepared to accept theirs.
– It is not a direct barter.
– No; but money iu exchange for goods merely disguises the barter. It will be readily recognised that vessels will be attracted only to those countries where there is a possibility of securing back loading. We are a long way from being a self-contained country, and there is much to be said, quite apart from the principle, upon the effect that a Protective Tariff will have upon Australia as a whole. It will certainly not only assist in building up local industries, but it will largely assist in peopling Australia. We have not to depend simply upon filling our vacant spaces, but we shall have to see that the’ conditions which obtain in Australia afford to those who desire to come and live amongst us greater facilities than prevail in other lands.
asked by interjection what could not be produced in Australia, and I may remind him that oil, which is so essential to the progress and development of any country, has not yet been discovered in Australia; but I am not going to despair on that account, because there are at present clear indications of oil in several parts of the Commonwealth. Oil was not discovered in any part of the world for many centuries, and we need not therefore be too pessimistic concerning the possibility of discovering supplies in payable quantities in Australia.
– Professor David seems to have upset South Australia’s hopes. s
– Those who have condemned the possibility of oil being discovered in South Australia have based their opinion on superficial investigations. I’ can remember when a leading geologist said that there was not enough silver in
Broken Hill to make a silver spoon. Undoubtedly there is a large stretch of territory across the southern portion of Australia, reaching out towards Western Australia, where the conditions are very favorable, and any one who has knowledge of the subject will admit that it is difficult to locate oil merely by boring a hole in the earth’s surface.
– Where have they found oil in limestone country?
– The honorable senator has had considerably more mining experience than I have ever had, but I desire to remind him that beneath the strata of limestone, which he has condemned, oil shale has been discovered.
Australia is in the making, and if we are to do our share in making the Commonwealth really great, taxation will have to be imposed in such a manner that it will be effective without being oppressive. Let me quote an instance to shew how carelessly duties are imposed. The present rates on motor cycles, which are extremely useful for many purposes, are absolutely prohibitive. If we have to do without motor cycles until the engines are manufactured in Australia, many decades will pass before we shall have a complete motor cycle manufactured in the Commonwealth.
– Why cannot we manufacture the motors here?
– With the limited demand at present it would not pay to establish as an industry the manufacture of such engines.
– I have seen winding engines working ‘ at Broken Hill which were manufactured in Victoria, and surely we can manufacture motors.
– Victoria is not the only place where such engines are made. Senator Thomas was with me on a visit to Renmark, where we saw a pumping engine, made, not in New South Wales, but at Gawler, South Australia ; but there is a great difference between a pumping engine and an engine for a motor cycle. We should certainly manufacture in Australia all that we can, but we should not be blind to obvious facts in any mad rush towards the consummation of a Protectionist policy. We want to move as men who know where they are going. Our purpose should be to insure the development of Australia as a whole; hot simply to build up, say, a banana farm in one State to the destruction of some kindred industry in another State. Australia can never progress satisfactorily under Free Trade pure and simple, and it is of vital importance that Australia should progress. “We must be prepared to do “without some things in order to insure the true development and prosperity of the Commonwealth. We must recognise that it is better to direct the energies of the people into certain channels, under good conditions, rather than impose a heavy Tariff burden upon certain articles of commerce which cannot be manufactured in this country. As an illustration, I may point to the duty on silk. By no stretch of imagination can it be contended that silk production is ever likely to be an Australian industry.
– But silk is a luxury.
– The honorable senator is wrong. Silk, as an article of apparel, cannot by any means be regarded as a luxury in certain parts of Australia. There was a time when the motor car was also regarded as a luxury.
– And so it is to-day, in the case of nine men out of ten.
– The motor car is an absolute necessity for the average business man.
– It was a necessity for me to get rid of mine. I could not afford it.
– My honorable friend is now judging the community needs from his individual experience. As a means of transit the motor car to-day is a necessity in our commercial life. And so, for climatic reasons, silk is a necessary article of apparel in every day use. I see no possibility of Australia ever producing the raw material, and therefore the duty on silk cannot be regarded as scientific.
– The honorable senator cannot claim that silk is worn in every-day life.
– My honorable friend must know that at certain seasons of the year silk is very largely worn both by men and women in Adelaide. We should, of course, endeavour to encourage the manufacture of silk goods in Aus tralia, but the raw material should be allowed in free.
– But if silk is made cheaper it will compete with wool, too.
– Then the honorable senator should advise his Queensland friends not to grow cotton, because it also will compete with wool. Our aim should be to insure the development of Australia in all its parts. The war taught us this lesson, and we should indeed be dull if we failed to profit by it. There may come a time - *God grant it may be a long way off - when Australia will need to be self-contained. We should be able to produce all that is necessary for the sustenance of our people, and, -instead of being a large importing nation, we should be one of the exporting nations of the world.
.- –In addressing myself to the Bill, I want to say at the outset that I agree very largely with the remarks made by my honorable friend Senator Drake-Brockman in connexion with another measure which has to come before the Senate. I regret it was not here before we entered upon the consideration of the Tariff. I cannot see the necessity for the great haste that is now exhibited by the Government in desiring to get the Tariff through, in view of the fact that it has been in operation for so long and that it has given to the Commonwealth all the Protection that is needed. “The Ministry might very well have consented ‘ to postpone the debate on this Bill until the other measure had been dealt with. I feel in some difficulty because of the situation that has been created. I am one of those mentioned by Senator DrakeBrockman who would not vote for many of the high duties in this Tariff without some means being given to the Government to control those who, because of the extreme measure of Protection given to them, will be able to impose their sweet will upon the people of Australia in regard to the cost of articles produced by them. I feel sure that the Government intend to do the right thing in giving to the people - I hope through the people’s representatives and not as at present suggested - some measure of control overmanufacturers who will enjoy the benefits of this Protection.
With all due regard to those who havespoken during this debate, I do not think, the issue is Free Trade or Protection at all. Whether we like it or not, we cannot have Free Trade. Some honorable senators, as well as one or two members in another place, are ardent Free Traders, and believe, apparently, that Free Trade will give us everything that we can desire. They think, apparently, that if we could only abolish Tariffs altogether, the millennium would be at hand. I cannot accept that point of view. There are others who believe that Protection, .provided it is high enough, will give us everything that is desired..
– We have had this Tariff for fifteen months_now. and have not got much out of it.
– I cannot accept that view either. However, this issue has been to a large extent decided for us. The deliberate and accepted policy of Australia is one of Protection, and. it looks as if it is going to be her permanent fiscal policy. When they entered Federation, the people of New South Wales knew that they would be called upon to sacrifice their fiscal principles. Prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth that State had a Tariff in operation which approached as closely to Free Trade conditions as was possible. Nevertheless, she maintained a Customs Tariff under which a considerable amount of revenue was collected.
– Chiefly upon spirits and sugar.
– There were revenue duties upon a good many other articles. I repeat that the” people of New South Wales knew, when they entered Federation, that they would have to forgo their long-cherished fiscal principles. But the fact that they then agreed to sacrifice those principles has not made them any the less fervent Free Traders. At the same time it must bo admitted that in New South Wales the policy of Protection has made great strides. Under Protection the manufacturing industries of that State progressed to an extent which was never anticipated. Consequently her people are prepared to accept just whatever duties this Parliament may think fit to impose upon them. There will be no outcry from the electors of New South Wales, no matter how high, may be the duties which we levy upon, the various Tariff items. That circumstance, however, will not prevent me from, endeavouring to truly reflect the views of my constituents. Feeling that there isa very large section of the people of New South Wales who are not in favour of. high duties, it is incumbent upon me togive expression to the beliefs which they hold. Consequently where I consider it will be in their best interests that dutiesshould be reduced, my vote will be cast for their redaction. Upon the other hand, where I think it will be in the best interests of Australia that higher duties should be imposed to assist, perhaps, in the building up of a key industry, I shall vote for those higher duties. Some of my friends may possibly twit me with being, inconsistent, because upon the one hand I am prepared to support reductions of duties, whilst upon the other hand I am willing to vote for increases of duties. ,
But before proceeding to discuss the general principles of the Bill, I desire to, offer a few observations upon certain remarks which were made by Senator Gardiner yesterday. For many years I have known that the honorable senator is a pronounced Free Trader, and that his fiscal opinions are not the fiscal opinions of the party with which he is associated. Nevertheless I was amazed at some of his utterances, especially inview of the fact that the arguments which he advanced were destructive of the argument which is constantly being put forward by his party that the present ‘Government ought not to be in office. The honorable senator said -
Protection creates unemployment, and after twelve months of this Tariff ships are lying idle, because prices have so increased becauseof the Tariff.
In his opinion the chief cause of unemployment is the Tariff.
– And the sub-chief cause is the present Government.
– Throughout the last election campaign Senator Gardiner and the members of his party declaimed from one end of the country to the other, not against Protection, but against themembers of the Government, who, they said, were creating unemployment,, quiteapart from the fiscal question.
– It is only .since the last election that this Tariff has been imposed, and I could not have anticipated such an atrocity as the schedule before us.
– If it be true that the Tariff is the chief instrument in the creation of unemployment, most of those with whom Senator Gardiner is associated in the Labour party are untrue to the people they, represent, because they are sincere advocates, not merely of this Tariff, but of higher -duties than it imposes.
– Surely the honorable senator cannot hold them responsible for the Tariff.
– They have indorsed it, and they have pleaded for even higher duties.
– And they have attended iri thousands upon deputations.
– Exactly. They have worked for the imposition of higher duties. If Senator Gardiner’s argument bc right, he is so much out of step with his party that he ought seriously to consider h.is position. If it be his reasoned opinion that the imposition of Customs duties is responsible for unemployment, he ought to be denouncing this Tariff and its supporters. Consequently, he ought to be denouncing the party to which he belongs.
– -There is no occasion for that. I took the opportunity of putting the truth for Free Trade, which will spread all over the world.
– Such modesty overcomes me.
Another argument used by Senator Gardiner which made me sit up and think was that Protection increases prices. I agree that it does. To my mind, that is one of the things which should give any man pause before he consents to increase a duty to any extent. Protection does increase prices. Unless it gives to the local manufacturer the power to sell his products at a higher price than he would be able to sell them at if he had to compete with products from abroad, it- is valueless. Protection does give the local manufacturer the power- to. sell- bis. goods at higher prices than, he; would otherwise, get for them.,
– I saw imported carbide from Japan being sold for £87 per ton. Yet in Tasmania carbide can be manufactured for £16 per ton!
– If Senator Duncan continues talking as he is doing, he will be up against his own party.
– Not at all. My reply to the interjection of the VicePresident of the Executive Council is that if carbide was being imported at- £87 per ton, and a similar article was being locally manufactured for £16 per ton, there was no need to grant it protection. There are numbers of instances in which, to gain a temporary advantage, the price of the local article may be considerably below the price of the imported article. But if it were possible to manufacture a commodity in Australia at such a price as would enable the manufacturer to undersell tha imported article without the aid of a Tariff, there would be no request for protection to be extended to it. The reason underlying the imposition of all protective duties is a desire to give the local manufacturer protection against the exporter from some other country, without which the latter would undersell him.
– And to give the local manufacturer a larger market, which will enable him to produce more cheaply.
– The real object of any Tariff is to enable higher prices to be charged.
– That is a most candid statement, and I welcome it.
– I am very glad that Senator Gardiner and I agree sometimes.
– How is it that agricultural machinery is cheaper in Victoria than it is in New Zealand?
– Yet we find the agricultural implement manufacturers of the- Commonwealth asking for increased duties. A man like Mr. H. V. McKay can send thousands of harvesters out of this country each year, and can successfully compete with the manufacturers of the world. He- sells his harvesters cheaper in. other countries than he. sells them here.,
– In Argentine theprice of agricultural1 implements is- about: three times as- much as i’t is here.
– The statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council may be quite true. But I know of numbers of instances in which articles of Australian manufacture are being sold much cheaper in other countries than they are being sold to our own consumers. I shall give one instance where Protection does increase prices. In another place additional protection was given to the local producers of picture films, and already the price of admission to many picture shows has been raised in consequence. The women and children, who chiefly go to picture shows, are- already paying more because of the increased duty that has been levied by this Parliament. When that’ item comes before the Senate I shall have something pretty strong to say about it. I am what might be called, in Senator Gardiner’s words, a discriminating Protectionist. I look on a Tariff and each item of it in this way: I ask myself, “ Is the imposition of the duty in the best interests of the great majority of the people of Australia, or is it not?” If it is, .1 am prepared to vote for it; but if it is not, as in the case of one or two of the items I have mentioned, I shall vote against it.
– Will the honorable senator obtain a guarantee from the picture-show men that they will reduce their prices of admission if he succeeds in lowering the duty on films ?
– I have obtained that guarantee already.
– No doubt Senator Reid will satisfy Senator Crawford on that point.
This is a scientific Tariff, and I am what may be called a scientific Protectionist. One argument used by Senator Gardiner against the Tariff was that Protection establishes a master class. In delivering a .slashing attack on certain well-known members of his own party - particularly Mr. Anstey and Mr. Fenton - and holding them up to ridicule, he referred to them as “ those lions of the Labour movement, who roar to establish a master class in order to give employment.” What is a master class? Evidently there are members of the honorable senator’s own party who believe it is a proper thing to establish a master class in tha community in order that the people may have employment. He differs so widely on this point from certain distinguished members of his party that it is his duty to seek to convert them., or they should seek to convert him. I do not- know that it can be said with any degree “.of honesty that there is a master class in this community. There is not a man in it. who, by the application of industry, energy, and ability, may not, in a few years, be in the position that almost any employer of labour in Australia occupies to-day. There is hardly an employer of labour from one end of the Commonwealth to the other who was born into his present position. Nearly every one of them has built up his business by his own industry and energy.
– And by. the taxes imposed upon the Australian people under Protective Tariffs.
– Perhaps ; but there are men to-day in the Labour movement, to which Senator Gardiner belongs, who boast of their wealth. I know some of them in Sydney who employ thousands of hands. They belong to the master class, which Senator Gardiner holds up as anathema. These are the men whom the honorable senator seems to regard as being opposed to the best interests of Australia.
– You are missing the point. I object to the working people having to- find the money to establish them. I do not mind them establishing themselves.
– I cannot agree that the establishment of a master class under such’ conditions is such an awful thing. Senator Gardiner said that a Tariff cannot establish an industry. I believe that a Tariff can, and does do so. In the next breath he said that a. Tariff establishes a master class. There can. be no master class unless the industry has already been established. If .there are no industries, there are no masters. If there are no masters, there are no industries. We are prepared to accept the fact that there are masters and even a master class, in order that we may have strung from one end of the Commonwealth to the other industries that are building up Australia’s greatness, giving employment to Australian men and1 Women, adding to our wealth, and mak-‘ ing our position in the world secure not only for ourselves, but for those who have to come after us. It is not only a Tariff that sets up master classes. Even political organizations may set them up. Senator Gardiner’s own organization has set up one, and when it cracks the whip, he must come to heel, like every other minor light in his. organization. To my own knowledge, the greatest master class that we have in Australia to-day is the political one. It seeks to dominate us in the Parliaments of Australia, in the industrial organizations, and in almost every avenue of our daily life.
I believe many of the comparisons that are made between the virtues of Free Trade and the grandeurs of Protection are quite idle. No hard and fast rule from a fiscal stand-point can be laid down. “We cannot say thatFree Trade will ruin countries, or that Protection will make them great,” or vice versa. We see Free Trade countries that are poor, and Protectionist countries that are wealthy. On the other hand, we see many Protectionist countries that are poor and mean, and we see in great Free Trade Britain one of the mightiest nations the world has ever seen. Altogether too much importance is attached to the fiscal consideration. Many other things enter into the question of what constitutes or helps to build up a nation’s greatness. There are the personality of the people, and the energy and ability they put into their undertakings. These and other factors, altogether apart from fiscal considerations, contribute to the making of a nation’s greatness. Germany and the United’ States of America became great under Protection. They might have become just as great under Free Trade. Great Britain became great under Free Trade. She might have become great under Protection, or even greater. No one can say that she might not. It is certain that when the great war broke out, Great Britain would not have been in the unfortunate position in which she found herself, in connexion, for instance, with the dye industry, had she previously had a Protective Tariff.
– That had nothing whatever to do with Protection, It was all science.
– In industries of that kind, we must offer some pecuniary advantage, or science will not be applied to the solution of the problems that arise.
– Do you think that a scientific Tariff will give us the secret of making dyes?
– It may. A scientific Tariff may offer an incentive to somebody to put up the money required for scientific research work and investigation, in order that an industry may be established which is so well protected that it offers handsome profits. There were other directions in which Germany led Great Britain, largely because of the incentive of her Tariff. When war came, we found that British scientists and manufacturers were able in three or four years to catch up almost entirely with Germany, when they had the incentive to dp so.
– And when they were protected.
– Yes. It was not due to the superiority of Germany’s scientific men. When the pinch came, the British scientist proved himself just as good as the German in every direction. He always was so, and I hope he always will be. As I have pointed out, many of the comparisons that are made are quite idle. To use an old phrase, I might call myself a fiscal atheist, because it seems to me that it does not matter much. A country may be great either because of a Protective Tariff or in spite of it.
In my opinion, too much importance is attached to the issue of Free Trade or Protection as such, without giving proper consideration to the real needs of the community, and the real effect of Customs duties upon those who have to carry them. We have an illustration very near home. Before the inauguration of Federation, New South Wales was Free Trade and Victoria was Protectionist. Both these States were prosperous. In New South “Wales we used to like to make comparisons at the expense of Victoria, and the people of Victoria used to make all sorts of comparisons at our expense; but each State was prosperous in its own way. Since the imposition of Protection by the Federal Parliament, New South Wales has not become any less prosperous. Senator Gardiner painted an awful picture of what is likely to happen as the result of this Tariff, but the same picture was held up to the people of New South
Wales in. the early days of the Federation. They were told that if the same sort of Tariff as had been -impose on the people of Victoria for many years was applied to them, their industries would languish, their primary industries would wither away, and their State would fall from the proud position it had attained by its adherence” to Free Trade principles. But New South Wales is better off today than ever she was. She has been able to build up industries which she would never have succeeded in building up without the Tariff.
– Would you name one of them?
– Yes, I could name quite a number of them. The honorable senator knows them as well as I do.
– I should like the honorable senator to name one that owes its existence to this Tariff.
– I could name a. number, and when we reach the schedule of the Bill I shall be able to enlighten the honorable senator on the subject. New South Wales is prosperous to-day, -and she was prosperous before to-day. The fiscal question made no real difference to the prosperity of New South Wales. The harrowing picture the honorable senator has drawn as a warning against the adoption of this Tariff need not be seriously regarded. New S’outh Wales, and Australia generally, will prosper because of a Protectionist ‘Tariff, or in spite of it. .
– Australia is rich enough to stand either Protection tor Free Trade.
– That is so. Everything depends din the people of Australia, and not on fiscal issues.
– Why fritter our riches away for the benefit of foreigners?
– I believe that it is essential to the establishment of certain industries that they should be given a measure of protection against unfair competition by outsiders, towhose advantage it would be to stifle our infant industries andcrush them out of existence.
Senator Senior referred to the oil industry, and it is pretty shrewdly suspected in many quarters in Australia thatone of the chief reasons why there isnot to-day a well-established industry for the production ofoil is that it is believed that the Standard Oil Trust is prepared to crush out of existence any industryestablished here, that would be likely to compete with it, as it has. done in other countries.
– Does thehonorable senator believe that the imposition of a duty on oil would assist us to discover it in Australia.
– I do not know, but I do believe that the wealthy corporation to which I have referred is prepared to spend money freely to crush any oil industry established in Australia.
SenatorPratten. - I do toot see why we should not make oil from shale if we cannot discover it in natural wells.
– There is no reason, but the fact remains that we are not doing so to any appreciable extent. .
– Thehonorable senator would impose; an unreasonable burden on Australian people in order to make the establishment of the industry here possible.
– I would not if it can be shown that to do so would be against the best interests of the majority of our people.
There are industries, such as the iron and steel industries, which are key industries, and for some time, at any rate, we should be ‘prepared to pay more for steel rails and the products of these industries manufactured here than we would have to pay for importations in order that, in the interests of Australia’s future defence, we may secure the establishment of an industry so essential to our independence.
– The same might be said of explosives.
– I would say the same of explosives. But such industries are not on the same -plane as the banana industry. Bananas are not essential to the future greatness of this country and to enable us to reach nationhood. It is not with bananas that we defend ourselves.
SenatorCrawford. - Ihave heard of politicians who have had to defend themselvesfrom bananas.
-I have heard of that also, and I have heardof a politician who in Queensland hadto defend himself from eggs.
SenatorGardiner has told us that we cannot expect prosperity under
Protection. In this connexion I wish to quote a few figures from a progress report of the recent census by the Commonwealth Statistician. In that progress report it is pointed out that the population of Sydney in 1911 was 629,503. We have had since then about ten years of a Protectionist Tariff, with all the accompanying disasters’ so graphically described by Senator Gardiner, and yet during that time the population has increased to 897,640 persons, an increase of 4?. 60 per cent.
– What about the rural districts?
– Unfortunately, the population of the rural districts has not increased in the same proportion. The increase in the rural districts was only 13.11 per cent., and the increase of the provincial population only 24.47 per cent. I deplore the great increase in the population of Sydney whilst the rural population of New South Wales has been increasing at so slow a rate.
– How arc we to stop that?
– We may not be able to stop it, but Parliament, in considering the imposition of a Tariff, can see to it that no more burdens are imposed on the farming community and primary producers than are absolutely essential. We can see to it that those who live in cities shall not be given any benefit under the Tariff at the expense of the primary producers. It is a wrong policy to build up even the agricultural implement industry by the imposition of heavy duties on agricultural implements which would force the farming community to pay more for those implements than they would be called upon to pay if no Tariff duties were imposed. When we come to consider that particular division of the Tariff it mil have to be shown to me very clearly that agricultural implements are not costing more than a fair thing under this Tariff. It would be unfair that the farmers of Australia should be prejudiced in any way whilst manufacturers of agricultural implements in the cities are enabled to make huge fortunes, and at the same time increase so largely the city populations.
– Are they making fortunes?
– I believe they are.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of reducing the duties proposed on agricultural implements ?
– I am very strongly inclined in that direction. Very good reasons must be given for their retention before I shall consent to vote for them. I am out for the reduction of duties of agricultural implements in the interests of the farming community, and I shall look to Senator Wilson for assistance in this connexion. Before concluding, 1 would have liked to say something about the timber industry, because I consider it very important.
– Before the honorable senator concludes we should like to know- Because we have not gathered it from his remarks - whether he is a Free Trader or a Protectionist.
Senator DUNCAN. I do not wonder at that.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– When we adjourned for dinner Senator DrakeBrockman submitted a question, the answer to which is, I believe, exercising the- mind of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen). I can, however, assure Senator Drake-Brockman and the Minister for Repatriation that my attitude towards the different items in the Tariff will be revealed when the schedule is under discussion. The duties imposed on some items will have my support, and others I shall seek to reduce. There are some, however, on which I am hoping to secure support in the direction of increases, more particularly in connexion with those which affect the iron and steel industry.
The Tariff imposes certain duties upon imported timber which are a charge upon the building industry of Australia, notwithstanding the fact that the present costs are exceedingly heavy.
– If there is any industry that requires protection, it is. the timber industry,’ Because we have the raw material at hand.
– When one mentions bananas the representatives of Queensland become perturbed, and when timber is discussed Tasmanian senators are immediately up in arms; but the fact remains that we are imposing duties upon timber which are being passed on to the consumers, with the result that building operations, and all industries in which timber is used, are severely handicapped.
– That applies to every duty.
– Of course it does, and I am pleased to have that assurance. I have received information concerning the duty imposed on white pine timber used in the bee-keeping industry. Under the existing Tariff a duty of 6s. per 100 feet is placed upon the timber used in making beehives and beekeepers’ appliances, and it is felt by those immediately concerned that the impost is unnecessarily adding to their cost and interfering with their industry. Representations have been made to me by the bee-keepers in New South Wales, who claim that the Queensland hoop pine is quite useless for this purpose in certain districts, as, in consequence of the varying climates in which the work is carried on, the timber splits. We have also found that the heavy duties imposed upon imported timber have increased the cost of constructing War Service Homes, and that those who are having houses built on their own account are being compelled to pay much more than would otherwise be the case.
– If the duty is passed on, how much does it represent ?
– It depends upon the size of the cottage. If it is only £20 per house it is too much.
– It would not be that much.
– I have been informed that it would.
– What quantity of timber do bee-keepers use?
– Quite a lot, and some of them who use it may have a very good sting at election time. There are other anomalies in the Tariff that will require attention, and when the items in the schedule are under discussion I shall do my utmost to have them rectified.
– Is not there a high Protective duty on honey?
– As soon as one mentions bananas, or anything else produced in Queensland, the honorable senator appears to be agitated; but I can assure him that, in common with other honorable senators, a great majority of the Australian consumers feel that they should not be taxed as heavily as “they are at present.
Generally, the Tariff meets with my approval. I am not a Protectionist, and I am not a Free Trader. It is my intention to deal with each item on its merits in the interests of the great mass of people in this continent, in whose interests we are seeking to legislate.
– When one faces his constituents, the first question he has to answer is, ‘ What is your policy ?” I have listened with interest to the various speakers for the last two days, and have come to the conclusion that the only pronounced Free Trader in the Senate is the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner). Before the elections the Government promised to introduce a scientific Tariff to assist the development of our secondary industries, and one that would not be a burden to the producers of Australia. In listening very attentively to the lengthy and interesting speech delivered by Senator Gardiner, I could not help wondering how he could favour the policy he enunciated whilst he remained an advocate of a White Australia, because, in countries that are not very distant, men and women are labouring under conditions repugnant tothe Australian people, and underFree Trade they would be our competitors. We all realize the burden which the war has cast upon us, and our responsibilities and liabilities must be met by increasing production, which can only be done under a reasonable policy of Protection. During the discussion honorable senators have been asked whether they are Free Traders or Protectionists, and in case some honorable senators may be somewhat impatient, I may say, believing as the Minister (Senator Russell) stated, . that this is a scientific Tariff, that I am a “ Scientific Tariffist.” I intend to support the Tariff; but at the same timethere are many items which will have tobe carefully considered on their merits, irrespective of whether the duties imposed favour the policy of one party or the other.
During the present session frequent reference has been made to the taxation, imposed and the action of profiteers. A few days ago I was charged with being a representative of the profiteers.
– The honorable senator did not deny it.
– I did not think it worth while, because, . if the profiteers wore looking to me for support they would not receive much encouragement. During the last few weeks I was informed that a wealthy gentleman, who is temporarily residing in Australia, is taxed in Great Britain to the extent of 16s. in the £1.
– The honorable senator might have informed him that we would not charge him as much in Australia.
– He could not bring his capital here, as it is invested in property.
– He could dispose of his property and invest his capital in. Australia.
– He is a representative of the Home authorities, and, perhaps, that would be impracticable. Australia’s success depends largely upon what she produces, and our industries must be protected in such a way that they will be adequately assisted. Naturally, when the schedule is under consideration different opinions will be expressed; but I am not likely to support heavy duties on tools of trade or any articles that are necessary in producing from the soil. The primary producers are now asked to pay a considerably higher wage than was the case five or six years ago; but while they are getting an- adequate return for the money paid I do not think they will complain. In addition to high wages, men are working shorter hours, and now a rural workers’ log has been submitted. If the rates suggested in. that log have to be paid it will be the death knell of many primary industries, because they could not possibly carry on. I direct attention to the condition of cur dairymen. How can we expect that industry to develop under working conditions of eight or nine hours per day? As a matter of fact, if a man desires to be successful inthe dairying industry, he must be prepared to work fifteen or sixteen hours a day.
– And nearly all the members of his family as well.
– That is so. A man, with a family is entitled to the fullreward of his labour every time. In addition to the shorter hours now worked) in the various industries, there is the further handicap that the labour return is not so good as it was five or six yearsr ago, and, in addition, the primary producer is up against the difficulty caused; by dearer money. Very few are working entirely on their own capital. As a general rule, they have to pay6½ per cent, or 7 per cent, for borowed money, as compared with 5 per cent, a few years ba.ck.
– We are all in the same box.
– No doubt, but the honorable senator can pass his increased working costs on to somebody else, whereas the farmer has to sell in the markets of the world, and, in addition to higher working costs, shorter hours, and dearer money, he is face to face with a declining market for his products.
-brockman. - And seasons are uncertain.
– In the State from which I come we are fortunate in that respect, and can expect a reasonable return, though occasionally, like other, parts of Australia, we are subject to droughts.
I agree with other honorable senators that we ought to have the Tariff Board Bill before us at the very earliest possible moment.
– If it is ever coming.
– We live in hope, at all events.
– If that is the case, then we shall know what to do with this Tariff. We ought, at least, to have that Bill before we deal with the Tariff, so that we may give an intelligent vote on the various items. I have endeavoured to. make myself conversant with working conditions in this country, and I know that the overhead burdens on industry are becoming increasingly heavy as the result of action that has been taken by the various unions connected with them.
– Are you referring to the four-fifths principle?
– I am pleased that principle has been abolished. It should never have been adopted. I refer particularly to the reduction in working hours in many industries from forty-eight to forty-four per week, because the economic effect of this reduction upon the industrial position of Australia is most important. At Cockatoo Island Dockyard, for instance, just to mention one industry, employing, I suppose, about 2,600 men, the reduction of hours from fortyeight to forty-four per week means an absolute economic waste to the Commonwealth of over £70,000 per year. Unless we are prepared to work reasonable hours in all industries, we can never expect to build up our economic position, and meet competition from overseas: One of the biggest contractors in Australia told me recently that a few years ago the men employed in an industry in which I am financially interested shifted, on the average, 4 tons per day per man for a wage of 10s. per day, and to-day, for 14s. per day, they shift only 2£ tons per man per day.
– Would it surprise you to know that, according to Knibbs, the production in the factories of theCommon wealth ‘ to-day is infinitely greater, per head than it was six years ago ?
– It would noi surprise me in the least, because the value of products has gone up at least by 60 per cent, in recent years.
– That estimate, therefore, is based on inflated figures.
– The honorable senator is quite right. Senator Gardiner might repeat this statement about the increased production in our factories to people who would take it as they would a sugar-coated pill. Those of us, who, unfortunately, are interested in some of these industries, realize that there is a practical side to that statement as well.
– Even after you took part in an investigation into the working conditions of Cockatoo Island Dockyard, you had no occasion to report that there was any “go-slow “ method about the men there.
– In our report concerning Cockatoo Island Dockyard we stated we had no evidence of the adoption of the “ go-slow “ principle. It would be very difficult, indeed, to get evidence of that nature, particularly in connexion with a public concern. I speak of personal knowledge concerning this matter, when I say that the labour return for a higher wage is not so good as it was a few years ago.
– What industry are you referring to?
– I om referring to a big industry, handling stone in South Australia.
– Have you improved facilities for carrying on the work ?
– Certainly ; but all that goes by the board, and so the position is worse than it appears to be.
Senator Gardiner spoke about the growth of our cities, and I say, unhesitatingly, that the party to which he belongs is largely responsible for this condition of affairs. Our cities are growing, but conditions in the country are not so satisfactory. In our cities men work only eight hours per day, and they drop the pick quick and lively on the stroke of 5 o’clock, whereas in the country a man who desires to make good gets up at 6 o’clock in the morning, to feed his horses, works all day, and at 9 o’clock at night is feeding his horses again. We who are interested in primary production know that these are the factors that are eating the heart out of industry, and retarding the development of Australia. We must wake up to the fact that our primary industries must be developed to a greater extent than at present. Seven or eight years ago, persons engaged in the currant industry were able to employ boys and girls, during the holiday season at Christmas time, for 4s. or 5s. per day for currant picking, but this is not possible to-day. Boys may be no longer engaged, although it is only boy’s work. The producer is compelled to pay union rates of 12s. 6d. per day, and directly a man comes on to a property he is under the union log as to conditions and wages, starting at 8 o’clock in the morning and knocking off at 5 o’clock at night. Last year when a storm threatened to destroy the currant crop in one of our settlements representations were made to the men as to the necessity for working overtime in order to prevent economic waste, but the union decided that no overtime would be worked. While such conditions obtain we cannot expect men with capital to risk their money in these industries. It is our duty to assist our primary producers to* the fullest extent possible, by means of this Tariff, so that we may develop our rural industries and insure a greater production of that wealth which has to carry the burden of taxation.
I regret that I cannot declare, for the advantage of my many friends, whether I am a Free Trader or a Protectionist. Instead of doing so, I shall content myself with saying that I intend to deal with the Tariff in accordance with the best interests of Australia. I hope that we shall be able to make the best possible use of one of the finest countries in the world, as God intended us to do.
– Does the honorable senator favour a reduction of the duties upon farming machinery.
– I have already said that I do.
– I want the honorable senator to say it clearly.
– My honorable friend is so accustomed to speak in ambiguous terms that I quite understand the difficulty which he experiences in appreciating my candid statement that I shall assist the primary producers of this country to obtain their tools of trade at the lowest possible price. At the same time we must not forget the need which exists for protecting industries that are already established in our midst. A Free Trade Tariff, of which we heard so much yesterday, will not hold water. In New Zealand there is practically a free Tariff.
– No. New Zealand is a Protectionist country.
– Agricultural machinery is admitted into New Zealand free of duty. As a matter of fact, it is more expensive to purchase a harvester there to-day than it is to purchase one in Australia. Why ? Because we have encouraged the development of the agricultural implement making industry in the Commonwealth. ‘ It is due to the thrift of the persons who have embarked upon that industry that our farmers are able to obtain their machinery to-day cheaper than that machinery can be purchased in New Zealand.
– Mr. Gregory says the very reverse.
– I can assure Senator Gardiner that my statement is perfectly accurate.
– I shall supply the honorable senator with Mr. Gregory’s figures to-morrow.
– I shall be pleased to have them, and I hope that, in the interests of the primary producer of this country, the honorable senator will assist me to secure a reduction of many of the duties which have been imposed under this Tariff. The farmer, the grazier, and the fruit-grower will be pleased indeed to know that Senator Gardiner is willing to aid me in the matter. It is rather encouraging to find that Queensland has something of which she has reason to be proud: - I refer to the banana industry. Personally I am opposed to placing a duty upon a fruit which has become almost a food for the child life of this country.
– What about a duty of 3d. per lb. upon currants ?
– It has always been my aim to prevent my children from eating that sort of fruit. But bananas are practically a food for children, and until the representatives of Queensland can satisfy me that that State is able to supply Australia with bananas at a reasonable price, I shall not be prepared to protect the industry to the extent which has been asked. Queensland will not buy my vote by offering to sell eighteen bananas for ls. for the brief period of a month or six weeks.
– A great State like Queensland does not do that sort of thing.
– But the middlemen who handle its fruit are keen enough to do it, even if the growers are not.
– There are a lot of unscrupulous people in the South.
– Yes, in the South of Queeusland. Any honorable senator who considers the Tariff items without paying due regard to the requirements of our people will utterly fail in his duty to the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a. first time.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
As I was under the impression that the motion for the first reading of the Bill would be regarded purely as a formal matter, I did not seize that opportunity to express the views of the Government upon it. To-day there is nothing more difficult than to give an accurate representation by means of figures of the volume of our trade and commerce. Of course, that trade to-day is - and has been for some years- abnormal, and until the position re-adjusts itself it is quite impossible for one to cover the ground as itshould be covered. But this Senate,with the exception of Senator Gardiner, was certainly elected upon the Protectionist policy, which was submitted to the people of Australia.-. We were led by a man who had pledged himself to Protection, and by a Government which was similarly pledged. We have heard some talk about a “ scientific “ Tariff, but that term was used by me in a jocular way in reply to an interjection by Senator Gardiner.. I had to say something when I was asked a question by him, and, naturally, I would not admit that I was associated with a Tariff which was not scientific. I repeat that this . Senate was elected upon a Protectionist policy. We were pledged to such a policy, and nothing is more harmful to politicians than to give pledges to the people and afterwards betray them. The Government and their supporters undertook a collective responsibility to the electors of this country.
– Surely the Government’s pledge does not commit every honorable senator to any proposal which Ministers may bring forward !
– Certainly not. But every supporter of the Government And of the programme of the National party who does anything to reduce the Tariff duties below, a good average for Australia will be false to his pledge. Personally, I gave no pledge to anybody at the last election, nor do I intend to give one in the future. Yesterday Senator Gardiner sought to institute a comparison between Victoria and New South Wales. I defy anybody to say that I have ever registered a parochial vote in this chamber. Despite the bitter opposition of the Victorian newspapers, I voted for the survey of the transcontinental railway because I believed that the work of constructing that line was a. national one Though I have always favored the Victorian gauge of 5 ft. 3 in., in order that Australia might not be held back on account of my parochial leanings I supported the adoption of the 4-ft 8½-in.- gauge.
I do not desire to initiate a debate upon the merits of different States. I prefer to be an Australian. But Senator Gardiner has instituted a comparison between Victoria and New South Wales. All I. have to say in that connexion is that, if. Victoria possessed the. territory to which some persons say she is entitled, she. would be able to show a better record than can New South Wales over an equal area. Although New South Wales is one of the richest States, of the Commonwealth, Victoria, with her much smaller area, is to-day. the most thickly populated State of the group. New South Wales has not made anything like the progress that she ought tq have made. She should possess a population of millions in excess of the population of Victoria. When I consider its area I am proud of Victoria. It is a wonderful State. But it does not possess the coal which is necessary for its development. Senator Gardiner spoke of our cities and of the country. The honorable senator said that if the money spent on the development of secondary industries in Australia, had been expended in the country in developing primary industries, the Commonwealth wouldbe producing millions more to-day than it is doing. Where is there any contradiction in our having both primary and secondary industries? We do not want to cut the throat of one because we desire to build up the other.
– That is what Protection: does:. It makes the primary producer pay to build up the secondary industries) and gives him no protection.
– The honorable senator and myself were members of a Government which, on one occasion, took the duty, off cornsacks for the benefit of the grower. I have watched: a gradual transition take place in this country. When I was a boy I used to see scores of men working on a harvest field; Today a whole area of land is ploughed, and you scarcely see a man working on it. I have seen- a man driving a tenfurrow plough in this State smoking; and giving his kiddies a ride on his knee while he used the other hand for driving. The thousands of men who to-day are working at McKay’s are doing farming work in making implements which, iri some cases, reduce the actual work on the farm to one-tenth of what it used to be. They are as much farmers as those on the land, because if they were not making those machines ten times the labour would be needed on the farms. The manufacturers in the central districts have been benefactors to the farmers, who have been able to produce much cheaper and more effectively under modern conditions. In the old days the men were not in establishments like McKay’s at Sunshine, or Martin’s in Sydney, but were out farming or in some corresponding occupation.
In the early days of the war I was for two years in charge of price-fixing, and was astonished ato some of the things that came under my notice. This is a country rich in tin, but our meat-scanners -and fruit-packers lost millions of pounds during the war because they could not get tin plates under £5, £6, or £7 per box. Iu pre-war times I saw tin plates brought from Wales, practically as ballast, for from lis. to 12s. per box. These would be 20 by 14 tin plates, going about 100 to the box. Why cannot we produce tin plates here? They are not made in black-labour countries, but are turned out by Britishers like ourselves, but because we had no factories here we could not take advantage of .the markets of the world that were open to .us. Are we going to be caught that way again? There are markets waiting for us to-day, and it is idle to say that a country like this which produces some of the finest tin in the worldcannot make tin plates. . I do not believe there is anything in ‘the manufacturing line which Australia cannot produce. We have the raw -material and the labour. Vickers Brothers, one of the greatest engineering firms in the world, built the electrical station which is used to run our Victorian electric railway system. They said it -was the cleanest, easiest, and best job, and the best workmanship, they had ever .had, and it paid them handsomely. That is a tribute to Australian workmen, who are as skilled, intelligent, and- efficient as the men of any other country, if not more so. So far we have not produced electrical appliances, but great strides have been made in that direction by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, which is .producing steel. I believe that in the near future that company will assist the subsidiary industries in the iron and -steel trade to <such an extent as will make every Australian proud of them. When our boys are .-given an opportunity to obtain technical: education- and proper .training, ;I am sure .they -willmot only equal, but ‘will excel, most of the races of the world, jui;t as ‘ they excel them in field sports. Next year, I believe we shall produceenough galvanized iron in Australia to supply our requirements. A few years ago we had immense quantities of wheat stored here, and had to cope with the mice plague and the weevil. We had to use iron to protect the wheat. Before the war that iron cost from £16 to £18 per ton, but during the whole of the war period the cheapest iron we imported was1 £55 a ton. That came from America.We could not get any from Great Britain at all. Think of the hundreds ofthousands of pounds which had to be spent in the endeavour to protect our produce with imported iron, because we did not produce it here before the war. During the war the women of Australia complained that, although Australia was the land of wool, they could not obtain knitting wool to make socks for the soldiers. I was asked by the Government to try to organize this business so that knittingwool could .be made available, and I. set out round Australia to see what I could do. I went, among other places, to Botany Bay, and saw there acres of sheds, full of the -most beautiful wool produced in the -world, -which was worked from the fleece right up through .about fifty-four different processes. I asked why some o’f this could not be turned into knitting wool for the ladies to use, but I found that we had no yarn-making machineryin Australia, outside of the machines pos-‘ sessed by those who used them as part of their- complete plant. When the Anzacs wanted to make hand-made tweed, a big fuss was made, and we, as a Government, were .accused of being against them.I found that it would be necessary to stop four-fifths of the machinery in our plant at Geelong to make yarn for three shifts, and that to turn out -that yarn would have meant dismissing more people and holding up more machinery than the production of the yarn would give employment to. All the .factories had to keep their machinery running in unison, including their* yarn machinery, -to -make their own requirements for the manufacture of tweed. Therefore, in -spite of the fact that we pro,duced so:much wool, -we could not get yarn. Because of the disorganization of ‘trade over £100,000 worth of machinery for our textile trades was lying on the wharfs in England, and we had no freight to bring it here. Every country should make sure that it has the necessary machinery to carry on its textile industries. I have shown the position in which Australia - a land of wool - found herself during the war, but I hope we shall never be in that position again. We were asleep then, but we should have got over the difficulty if we had awakened in time. The principal glass bottle maker in Australia asked me, one day, in Collins-street, what the Government were going to do about getting supplies of soda ash, which he told me was the principal ingredient in the making of glass bottles. It went up to about £27 per ton, and very often could not be got at all. Most of our supplies came from Germany before the war. The shortage of it during the war caused all our pickle bottles and beer bottles to go up in price. If the Government had not taken steps to organize it, the bottlemaking industry would have been closed up throughout Australia. The ordinary tomatosauce bottle went up to something over Id. each. This was because we had not developed the manufacture of the necessary requirements for the industry in Australia ; but to-day we have a definite promise from Bruno Monier, one of the biggest firms in the world, to undertake the manufacture of soda ash, probably in Western Australia. They have practically made arrangements to spend some hundreds of thousands of pounds in establishing that industry, which is a basic one. We have great prospects of developing our deposits of bauxite, which is a base required for the making of aluminium. We have had more recent tests made which show that Australian bauxite is equal to the world’s best. The Board of Trade has done very good work in extending our knowledge in this matter. I believe the mineral is found somewhere down towards Cape Leeuwin, and the latest reports from our experts are most favorable, although we had really pessimistic reports as to the quality of our product two or three years ago. These things mean big developments in Australia, which is a vast country with illimitable possibilities, only awaiting exploitation by the hands of man. Our wool possibilities alone are boundless, and I cannot understand why we should be exporting wool in the grease, when we have here men who are quite capable of working it up into every form needed by Australians. When we have the necessary machinery, there is no reason why we should not work our wool, not through one or two stages, but through every possible process. To-day we are losing millions through not being properly equipped. It is’ the same with our fellmongering industry. We have had a good deal of industrial trouble, but I do not think Australia has been any worse in that respect than other countries in that regard. 0We have gone through a time of trial and stress,, and, like other nations, our position is not yet quite normal. With our climate, we ought to be able to lead the world in the excellence of our industrial conditions. We have led the world in the past, and have still managed to live, with industrial conditions 20 per cent, better than in any other country. We should be able to do so . in the future, for it is all a matter of development.When we obtained galvanized iron here at £55 per ton, we thought we were lucky, because it was then being sold in the open market at £90 a ton. The fencing wire required by our farmers, which cost £14 a ton before the war, rose to £44 a ton during the war period. I am glad to say that we are now in a position to produce all the galvanized and black iron that we want. We hear complaints from day to day that we cannot get copper wire. The works at Port Kembla have been organized, and today are turning out wire of all sizes, quite sufficient to meet our future requirements, not only for telephones, but for other purposes. They can produce all the copper wire and copper tubing that is wanted in Australia.
The building up of some of these industries in the war time was not a difficult matter, because of the natural protection then afforded to them by the extraordinary high rates of freights, running up to £15 per ton. I can give honorable senators a story of the voyage of one vessel, chartered by the Government, that earned a freight for the round trip averaging £100 per ton. In 1917 we chartered a vessel called the Yankadilla for 40s. per ton per month. She left hero with a cargo of wheat for England, where she got a cargo of coal for Port .Said at, £5 per ton. The coal strike was on’ here at the time, and when we received a cable from our agents asking whether the vessel would load up with coal from Ceylon, we replied that it was no use bringing coal here from Ceylon, because there was a strike on and it would, be declared “ black “ and we could not get it unloaded. The agents of the vessel then picked up a load of jute goods at Calcutta for San Francisco. She got a load from San Francisco to Vancouver, and loaded up at Vancouver with a cargo of newsprint paper for Melbourne. For the found trip that vessel earned freight at the rate of £100 per ton. That kind of thing was common in those days, because of the extreme shortage of shipping. We are criticised sometimes because we have built ships at high prices, but everything was then at high prices. We should have looked after these things in normal times, ‘ and if we had had another 200 ships at our disposal during the war period in Australia we might have wiped out our war debt with their earnings.
What is wrong with the Australian engineer? He is as good as the engineer in any other part of the world. What is wrong with our timber? There is nothing wrong with it. What is wrong with the iron ore taken from the Iron Knob? It is as fine as any to be found in the world. There is nothing wrong with the work done by the Broken Hill Company in converting that ore into the finished article, nor can any fault be found with Australian tradesmen who build ships with the finished article. It has only been Australia’s indifference and a foolish prejudice of Australians for imported manufactures that has prevented us undertaking the establishment of a great many industries long before we did. That prejudice against Australian goods on the part of Australians has been a curse to this country, and it is to be hoped that it has passed away for all time.
The purpose of the Tariff is the development of existing industries and the fostering of industries begun during the war. Some of these are but small, but their products are essential. We had a certain valuable experience in connexion with carbide. We used to get most of the carbide used in this country from Norway, but during the war Norway lost her ships and could not continue to export it. There was then only one place, and that was Japan, from which carbide could be obtained, and the price went up to from £75 to £80. Then a plucky Australian company set out to secure the machinery requisite for the manufacture of carbide in Tasmania, associated with the zinc works there. They imported electrodes necessary for the manufacture, but when they came here it was* found that they were composed of bad material, and were a failure. The company then: set to work to make electrodes in Tasmania. They succeeded, and are turning out carbide at £30 per ton. We have heard much talk about profiteering, and as soon as this was known the profiteers started competition with the object of crushing out of existence the Tasmanian carbide industry. That industry will be crushed out of existence, too, unless the people of Australia are prepared to assist those who came to their rescue -during the war.
After the Armistice the price of galvanized iron dropped from £65 per ton to £22 12s. 6d. per ton for sales three months ahead. Foi’ some time normal industrial conditions were not revived in England. As one who was associated with the Department controlling the chartering of shipping, I was aware df occasions during the war when it was impossible for us to get a single boat for six months. If, in Australia, we had been dependent entirely upon our own energies, we should, for some time, have been practically without the service of any shipping. We could not have secured a vessel by private chartering, and our wheat, meat, jams, and fruit would have been left to rot in Australia, had it not been for the fact that the Imperial Government took control of shipping and gave us the use’ of some of the tonnage they acquired. In this connexion I may say that those persons who adversely criticised the action of the British Government during the war could have ho know- - ledge of the assistance they afforded us in bur time of crisis.
Honorable senators will have observed that the principle of preference to Great Britain has been retained in this Tariff, and is widely extended. .Great Britain desires that her Dominions shall develop, and I am sure we desire that Great Britain shall regain her prestige in the northern seas. No one can question the quality of her manufactures, or the engineering skill of her people. If it is necessary for us to import articles from outside Australia, it is our desire that preference shall be extended to the Motherland. After giving fair protection to Australian manufacturers; we give preference to. the manufacturers, of Great Britain as against those of foreign, and, it may be, enemy countries. I hope that honorable senators will exhibit a generous spirit in discussing the schedule, and will preserve the preferences which the Government propose to extend to Great Britain. I hope that there will be’ a further extension of trade between the various. Dominions of the Empire.
There is provision made in this Tariff for certain deferred duties. I, personally, do net like the principle of deferred duties, but men possessing great capital have said to us, “ We ar-e under heavy taxation in Great Britain owing to’ the war. We are thinking of opening a branch of our business in Australia. Will you help us?” There’ is no suggestion of ‘a corrupt bargain, but men willing to invest their capital in industries in Australia have some right to know what conditions are likely to prevail here. Most of’ these offers have been inquired into by the Board of Trade, who, from time to time, have made recommendations to the Cabinet in regard to them. I am very glad to be in a position to say that since the signing of the Armistice capital to the extent of over £100,000,000 has been invested in industries and in the extension of industries in Australia. We are under an obligation to those who have invested this money to assist production, here to see that they shall not lose it. At the same time, I believe that they should not be permitted to exploit Australia.
– How many industries are represented by the £100,000,000 mentioned t
– I shall be able to give that information when we get into Committee. No country progresses which has to depend entirely upon the production of raw materials. We want to see all kinds of secondary industries established in Australia. Our people are quite as- capable of -turning our raw materials into’ finished articles of manufacture as are the’ people of any other country. It is’ admitted that in the matter of physical development Australians can hold their own with any . people;. This has been proved in cricket, in golf, and in. every form of athletic sports, and it might, be said that, owing to the. excellence of. our climate and the. ample supply and high quality of the food available to our- children, we are developing almost a superrace in this country .-
Some people say- “Give us Free Trade.” The world has tried Free Trade and has abandoned it. Even the Motherland, the. home, of Cobdenism and the Manchester School, has not only given up Free Trade, but has adopted Protective duties, with an additional 33 per .cent, to balance rates of exchange. The abandonment of Free Trade by Great Britain is an admission that the principle is wrong. All countries should be selfsustaining, particularly in regard to the production of the raw materials of essential industries. No country in the world has finer iron deposits than are to be found in Australia. Why should they be left to lie idle when we have the men here to turn them into articles of use whilst Australia is at the same time importing every year hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of machinery ? Why should we place ourselves at the mercy of the American Steel Trust ? It was said at one time that we could not make steel rails in Australia. It was said, also, that we could not make engines for ships. To-day,- at Walkers Limited, Maryborough, Queensland; at Thompson’s, Castlemaine; and at Cockatoo Island, we are turning out engines for 12,000-ton boats of 23,000 tons displacement. This proves that, given the opportunity, the Australian artisan is the equal of any in the world.
We have a great variety of valuable timbers in Australia, and if Australians are not good bushmen, then there are none in the world. In spite of this, two vessels arrived here only recently, one of which carried 5,000,000 feet of ‘ Oregon. She dropped 1,500,000, and brought 3,500,000 to Melbourne. Another vessel brought a very big cargo, and this timber, of which there was very little coming to Australia during the war because of the absence of shipping, is now being dumped here.
– It cannot be bought for War. Service Homes to-day for £3 per 100 feet, as it was before the war.
– The fact is that it is now being dumped here in advance of sale.
– The price of Oregon in Sydney to-day is £2 per 100 feet.
– There may be some attempt to exploit the local consumer. I remind honorable senators that because ofour constitutional limitations such exploitation cannot be prevented by this Parliament, but it can be prevented by the Parliaments of the States if they take the matter in hand. We cannot central American or Norwegian Combines, but we can exercise some supervision over the disposal of the material the moment it lands in Australia. There has been some exploitation in Australia in connexion with timber.
– By the importers?
– Yes; and there has been a good deal of it done in the direction of increasing the prices of Australian timber to that of the imported.
– There has been no’ exploitation by the Australian millowners.
– Perhaps not; but there have been increases in prices in sympathy with those ruling for imported timber. Of course, there has been an increase in wages, and the workers in the timber industry during the war period were operating under very favorable conditions.
SenatorGardiner. - We have no timber in Australia equal tooregon for building purposes.
– Perhaps not. I have a residence constructed solely of Australian timber, which is satisfactory in every way, and if other builders would use only the Australian product there would be no occasion to use imported timber.
– The first wooden houses were built of Australian timber.
– Yes. Tasmanian hardwood floors, when polished, have an excellent surface.
– Many of our Australian timbers are better than oregon.
– Apart from the fittings, houses can be constructed of Australian timbers, because Tasmanian hardwood and Western Australian jarrah are quite as serviceable as any that can be imported. During the war period Australian manufacturers had the bene fit of a natural protection in consequenceof the absence of shipping and the high freights which were ruling. Many of those engaged in local industries have thus been able to extend their businesses, and it is now our endeavour to help to maintain them on a sound basis.
I am suspicious of price-fixing by Trusts . and Combines, because any attempt in that direction is infinitely worse than . similar action on the part of any Government. If two or three manufacturers or -importers get together in the absence of competition, they are likely to fix prices to the detriment of consumers. The more manufacturers there are the greater the competition, and the less risk there is of exploitation in that direction.
– Sometimes they agree not to compete.
-If two or three manufacturers engaged in the same business decide to confer with the idea of fixing prices, the consumers must suffer. An illustration of the way in which we are in the hands of foreign Combines is to be found in the price which is charged for petrol. For a considerable time, excessive rates have been ruling; in the Commonwealth, and although prices have been reduced by about 2s. per case, it is still considerably dearer than it is in the country of origin. One company, which obtains supplies from Sumatra at a low price invoices its product here to a pup “ company on the New York prices.
During recent years we have been very generous in paying millions to other countries for articles which could be manufactured in Australia. It has been said during the discussion on the Tariff that the primary producers will have to pay more for the articles which they require, but in New Zealand, which is practically a Free ‘Trade country, or one that imposes a revenue Tariff, the implements which the primary producers use are imported free, but they are more expensive there than in Australia owing to the absence of local competition.
– Why do they -not purchase the goods we produce?
– They do, and if the honorable senator desires information in regard to prices I shall be pleased to supply it when the schedule is under consideration. Agricultural implements manufactured in Australia are now used throughout the Commonwealth, and that industry would not have reached its present state of efficiency and security if it had not been for the protection it - has received under a reasonable Tariff. In the Argentine, where there are . no duties, the prices of agricultural implements are in excess of those ruling for similar machines in Australia, because the primary producers in that country have to depend solely upon importations. During the nineteen years that New-South Wales has been working under a Protective policy, she has progressed and developed her territory to a greater extent than she has ever done before.
– There has been a general advance everywhere.
– Certainly, but New South Wales has made greater progress under the conditions I have mentioned. If ‘Victoria possessed the coal resources of New South Wales even greater progress would have been made.
– What has coal to do with it?
– Great Britain has lost her export trade in coal, and her industries have been severely handicapped because of the price which is at present ruling. Australia has been able to sell coal to Norway at 24s. per ton cheaper than Great Britain can sell it.
I have not dealt in detail with the schedule, because the items can be fully debated when we are in Committee. I have, however, endeavoured to justify the policy of the Government in submitting high duties, which have been made a little higher in some cases than would otherwise have been the case, in an endeavour to give reasonable preference to Great Britain. We cannot deal with the operations of the Steel Trust and other such Combines, but if industries are established in the Commonwealth for the production of those things which we require, we shall have power to prevent exploitation. I believe the Tariff is a scientific one, and although it may not be the last word in Tariffs, it will be the means of protecting existing industries and encouraging others to become established. We have been hewers of wood and drawers of water for other countries too long. We have lost millions of pounds sterling because we have been lacking in enterprise in establishing industries, but that time has passed. Although we have a small population, we have the raw material at our disposal, and should therefore have every opportunity of fully developing the country.
– You have had that for fifty years.
– Victoria has done better than any other State in the Commonwealth. We have a larger population per square mile, and we have borrowed less money than New South Wales. The Victorian taxpayers are paying about one-third of what the New South Wales taxpayers are contributing. We have a population of 17 per square mile, and that cannot be said of New South Wales.- If we had a portion of the Riverina down to the Murrumbidgee, Victoria would show even more striking figures. I commend the Tariff to the Senate, and ask honorable senators to give the schedule full and careful consideration in the interests of Australia and its industries. I ask honorable senators to realize that, in supporting the motion, they will be voting for the future of the Australian nation. If they do that I shall have no cause for complaint.
Debate (on motion by Senator Pratten) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Russell) ‘ proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Yesterday, when speaking on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, I made reference to the fact that the Government did not purchase telephone instruments that were available in Sydney. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell), in his reply, stated that practically all the money for telephones had been ear-marked, and I said I was rather surprised, in view-of the fact that last year the Minister had stated that £3,000,000 had been voted for departmental requirements. The Minister seemed to question my statement. I have looked up Hansard, and I find that in the debate on the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill, in September, 1920, page 5167, there appears the following: -
– No money will pass over to the Treasury. We have definitely laid down a programme for the expenditure of £3,000,000 on works.
We were then dealing with the question of postal rates, which the Government proposed to increase to 2d. per letter, and I was contending that1d. was sufficient to cover the cost of that service. The Minister stated it was necessary to have the money in order to make up a good deal of the leeway caused by the war. When Senator Russell made that statement I asked him if he meant that the Department would be able to expend that . amount within the next year, and he replied, “Yes.” The Howard report reads-
– I am staggered by the statement, and I have bad a little experience of the Department. Does the Minister say that, notwithstanding the difficulty of getting material and labour, the Department expects to spend the bulk of £3,000,000 within the time stated?
– We believe we can.
– To him that believeth all things are possible. I . must say thatthe Minister has great faith.
SenatorRussell. - We must not miss any chance ofgetting in early with our orders for material. You know the Post Office “ moves “ nowadays.
-I am glad to hear it, but I have never been one to run down the Department. “
– If you can show me where I said we intended to spend £3,000,000 in connexion with the Postal Department, I shall be surprised.
– In the debate on the Post and Telegraph Rates Bill last year, the Minister made the definite statement that £3,000,000 was to be spent on a works programme, and that, in seeking to increase the postal rate to 2d., the argument was that it was necessary to get the money from somewhere. If I misunderstood the Minister I am sorry, but that is the impression I had, and I feel sure his statement had some effect upon the vote in the Senate. Therefore, I do not think I was unfair in making the statement yesterday.
– Last night I thought I made an ample apology in connexion with this matter. I admitted that if I had used the words referred to I must have made a big slip. I may point out, however, that the Senate had just dealt with a Loan Bill, and when reference was made to the work that was going to be done I had in mind the Works Loan Bill, in which there was provision for a works programme involving an expenditure of £3,000,000. When I said- that the Post Office was “ moving “ I intended no reflection upon earlier administration of the Department. I simply meant that the difficulties in the matter of procuring telephone instruments and other material were being overcome, and that the Post Office authorities were moving as fast as possible in order to pick up the leeway. If I made a Blip on that occasion I regret it, but I have never yet beenaccused of misleading any honorable senator.
– I should be sorry, indeed, if you thought I had that in mind.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned atat9.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 July 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210714_senate_8_96/>.