8th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon.T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Min ister representing the Treasurer whether it is a fact, as stated in one of to-day’s metropolitan newspapers, that the- Government purpose giving £1,000 for the relief of the unemployed at Port Pirie; and, if so, will Ministers consider the donationof £1 000 to the unemployed at BrokenHill?
– The answer to the first question is “ Yes “ ; the second I’ shall submit for the consideration of the Government.
– Do the Government consider the giving of indiscriminate relief to a district in which men are out on strike calculated to engender respect for the compulsory arbitration law, for which they are responsible?
– I take it that that must be a matter of opinion.
The following papers were presented : -
Norfolk Island. - Ordinance No. 3 of 1921. -
War Service Homes Act. - Land acquiredis New South Wales at- Singleton; Wentworthville.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Prime Minister been drawn to a’ statement in. Saturday’s press that the police in Sydney have found that a person who was unwilling to give evidence about some diamonds which had been stolen from him was formerly an officer of the Prussian Guard, and fought against the Australians at Mont St. Quentin? Will the honorable gentleman have inquiries made to ascertain whether this man was a resident of Australia before the war ; and, if so, was he naturalized here?.
– Before calling on the Minister to reply, I draw the attention of honorable senators to the Standing Orders, which forbid the quoting of a newspaper in connexion with the asking of a question, and I remind them that to ask the Minister if he has seen a certain statement in a newspaper is tantamount to quoting that’ statement from that newspaper. Furthermore, the Standing Orders are explicit and emphatic in declaring that no honorable senator may make a statement while asking a question. If a senator has not the right to make a statement, surely no person outside the Senate can do so ; but the quotation of a newspaper statement, in effect, allows an outsider that privilege. It is in order to ask the Minister for information, but a newspaper statement must not be quoted.
– I did not quote from a newspaper.
– The honorable senator drew attention to a statement which had appeared in the newspapers, and that was tantamount to quoting that statement.
– Then I ask the Minister if he has been made aware of the facts I have mentioned?
– Will the honorable senator give notice of the question?
– Have arrangements yet been made by the Government for the representation of Australia at the forthcoming meeting of the League of Nations next month, and is he in a position to say what arrangements have been made?
– The Government have arranged for the representation of Australia, but I am not yet in a position to give the name of the person who has been appointed to attend as Australia’s representative.
. -(By leave.) - In response to a request made by Senator Duncan, I recently placed on the table of the Library certain papers relating to Brigadier-General Elliott, and last week the latter asked if certain other papers, which he said had a bearing on the case, and were not on the file, could be placed there. I promised to inquire about these papers, and I purpose now to give the Senate the result of that inquiry.
On Thursday, 4th August, I noticed in the press that General Elliott had stated that he had been asked by the Commandant of the Third Military District to accept a divisional command.
General Elliott’s statement of this offer is reported in the Age and Argus of that date, from which the following quotation is extracted: -
Now, in point of fact, before any appointments were announced, I received a letter from Head-Quarters, Third Military District, asking “ if I would accept a divisional command if recommended to the Minister.” I wrote, in reply, in effect, that until I had had an opportunity of considering the whole of the Govern ment’s proposals I would not bind myself to accept any appointment under the scheme.
I thereupon sent for the file of papers in connexion with General Elliott’s case, and going through it found that there was no record of such an offer on the file, nor any suggestion thereof. I then sent for the Chief of the General Staff, General White, and the Adjutant-General, General Sellheim, and asked them if they were aware of any such offer having been made. They both assured me that they were notaware of any such offer having been made, and, moreover, that no District Commandant was authorized or empowered to make such an offer. I instructed them to have a search made both at Central Administration and at Third Military District Head-Quarters to see if there were any papers bearing on General Elliott’s statement, and also to ascertain from General Brand what knowledge he had with regard to the statement.
As I anticipated that General Elliott might raise the question in the Senate, I also gave instructions for copies of all papers to be made, and to be sent up to me that afternoon.
After luncheon on that day, Senator Duncan informed me that he desired to see the papers in the case, and that he was going to ask for their production in the Senate. I told him that I would have no objection to producing them.
In bis statement in the Senate on Thursday, 11th August, General Elliott said that -
The substance of the correspondence was an inquiry by the Commandant, Third Military District, whether I would be a candidate for the position of Divisional Commander, and my reply thereto.
As a result of this, on Friday, 12th August, I directed the Adjutant-General to have a further search made, and again to communicate by telephone with General Brand in Sydney.
In reply to my directions, the AdjutantGeneral has submitted the following report : -
In accordance with your instructions, I beg to submit the following report concerning the statements by Colonel (Honorary BrigadierGeneral) H. E. Elliott, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., D.C.M.:-
The following reply wasreceived from General Brand next morning, 5th August:. - “ No offer made to Elliott, official or personal.
Anticipating that the Military Board would ask Commandants to recommend officers as Brigade Commanders under the re-organization scheme, I wrote a personal note to General Elliott saying, “In the event of your getting one of the Divisional Commands, whom do you recommend to succeed you in command of the 15th Brigade, Citizen Forces?”
I desired Elliott’s opinion of certain senior battalion commanders so as to effect transfer, thus having my nominees in the brigades to which they might be eventually appointed to command. The reply from General Elliott was to the effect that my note was the first intimation that he had of the likelihood of a Divisional Command. He also gave me his opinion as to the relative capabilities of the Battalion Commanders in has brigade - the information asked for.
In the course of conversation later, or a personal letter on other matters, I told General Elliott that as he was one of the senior brigadiers in the Australian Imperial Force, his claim to a. divisional command could not be overlooked.
As Commandants were not eventually asked to nominate Brigade Commanders, that responsibility resting on the new Divisional Commanders, I destroyed all such correspondence on relinquishing the position of Commandant, ‘3rd Military ‘District.
Sydney,12th August, 1921
Confidential- Reference this office telegram 3598, General Elliott, in Argus of same date stated following:-“ I wrote in reply in effect that untilI “had had an opportunityof considering the whole ofthe Government’sproposals, I would not bind myselftoacceptany appointment under the scheme.” Your statement does not mention this. Can yourecollect it, and if so, state to which of. your communications it was in reply.
To which the following telegram, in reply was received: -
To the best of my recollection General Elliott’sstatement in reply to my original letter is correct. Not being asked by the Military Board or any one else to sound him, I naturally placed theletter in my personal ‘file, and took action only as regards merits of Battalion Commanders.
It willbe observed that General Brand does not admit that an offer of a divisional command was made to General Elliott. No District. Commandant, of course, had any authority to take such action; moreover, it would have been highly irregular andunusual for him to do so.
I wish to inform the Senate that the procedure followed in the selection of officers for appointment to the higher commands is as follows: - The Head-Quarters Promotion and Selection Committee, consisting, of the Inspector-General, the Chief of the General Staff, and the Adjutant-General, makes the first selection, and refers the names to the Military Board for consideration and recommendation to the Minister for his approval or otherwise.
This system was followed in the case in which Commanders were required for the Divisions recently created under the new organization.
On receipt of the recommendation from the Military Board, I sent for the Chief of the General Staff, and discussed the- matterwithhim,andthendirectedhim tocallonLieut.GeneralSirJohnMonash, to whom- I had personally written’ on thesubject,andobtainfromhimhis views.- Sir JohnMonash definitely con- curred in the choice’ made by the Selection Committee, and stated’that the- officers proposed were’ the best’ available.
Before finally giving my approval, I instructed the! Military Board to- communicate: confidentially with the officers named, to inform them of the proposals and of the conditions’ under which they would be expected to- serve, and to ascertain whether their services would be available.
The replies being all satisf actory, I approved of the appointments. Until the confidential letter referred to was sent by the Military Board- by my direction, no officer had been approached on the matter, and no officer, either at Head-Quarters- or elsewhere, had any authority to- approach any one on the question of such appointments.
I maintain, asI have reason to do, that the’ file which’ I laid upon the table of the Library’ at the request of Senator Duncan is complete.
Advisory Committee’s Report
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked, the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
If he Will make provision for telephone subscribers outside a 2-mile radius of an exchange’ to receive the same consideration as those subscribers within that radius, by having an, allowance of 2 miles made when calculating the payment to be made by the former?
-Subscribers residing, outside the 2-mile radius of an exchange already receive the same consideration, in so far as charges are concerned, as subscribers residing inside the radius, that is to say, each subscriber is charged the same annual rental for the line up to 2 miles radially from the exchange. Where, however, lines extend beyond 2 miles -radially from the exchange, the Department makes an extra charge of 10s. per¼ mile, calculated from the Simile limit. The present practice is an equitable one, and there is no justification for any alteration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In connexion with the recent appointment of a Commonwealth Trade Commissioner in the East -
Forwhat period has the appointment been made?
What is the salary paid?
– The answers are - .
– Arising out of the reply-
– Order! As the time for asking questions without notice has expired, the honorable senator is not in order in submitting such a question at this stage.
– I gave notice of my intention to move -
That, unless otherwise ordered, the hour of meeting of the Senate be 11 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday in each week.
As the motion, to my great surprise, was declared “not formal,” I ask permission, before submitting it, to put it into a shape which will more clearly express the intention which I ask the Senate to indorse. I wish to add to the motion, as it appears on the business-paper, the words- and that on such days the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee of the whole Senate, shall be suspended from 1 p.m. to 3.30 p.m.
Probably if no such amendment were made, the sittings would be suspended as proposed for luncheon; but I wish the motion amended as I have suggested in order to bring it into conformity with the standing order regulating the hours of sitting on Fridays.
Motion, by leave, amended accordingly.
– In submitting the motion as amended, I want to assure honorable senators that I do not do so out of sheer hunger for prolonged sittings. I point out the position into which we are drifting in connexion with the consideration of the Tariff. It is not to be assumed that by submitting this motion I am inviting honorable senators to scamp their duties in any way. That is the last thing in my mind. It must be obvious to honorable senators that we have taken, oyer a number of items in the Tariff, an amount of time out of proportion to that consumed in the consideration of previous Tariffs, and to that occupied in another place in dealing with the Tariff now under consideration. The Senate has considered the Tariff on eight sitting days, on one of which the hours of sitting were extended until seven o’clock on the morning following the day on which the Senate met. We made very good progress on that occasion, I may say-
– And then adjourned over the whole of Friday.
– We did more than we should have done if we had adjourned on Thursday night until the usual hour of meeting on Friday. I challenge Senator Thomas, as an old parliamentarian, to deny the statement I now make : That if on the Thursday night we had adjourned till 11 o’clock on Friday, we should have spent the whole of Friday in a second-reading debate on the one item. By the course we adopted we did ‘dispose of that item and several others. I have said that the Senate has considered . the schedule of the Customs Tariff Bill on eight days, and during that time has dealt with 135 items. There are 430 items in the Tariff. I turn to the records of another place, and I find that honorable members there dealt with 290 items in twelve days.
– They scamped their work, and we have had to spend time in rectifying their errors.
– I do not know whether the honorable senator considers himself quite In order in reflecting on the work of the other Chamber.
-They could not have done their work well in view of the vast correspondence we have had asking for reductions of the duties.
– Does the honorable senator affirm that any House could pass a Tariff that would prevent such correspondence being received ? Honorable members iri another place dealt with 290 items of the Tariff in twelve days, whilst we have dealt with 135 items in eight days. If we continue the same rate of progress during the next four days we shall have dealt with 202 items in twelve days as against 290 items dealt with by the House of Representatives in the same period.
-All the more credit to us !
– It is no credit to a legislative chamber merely to occupy time. I remind honorable senators in making a comparison with another place that its membership is twice as numerous as that of the Senate.
-Would the honorable senator say that it has twice the intelligence ?
– The honorable senator is not in order in commenting on another place at all.
– In the matter of intelligence I shall not quarrel with the degree of intelligence claimed for the Senate. The mere fact that Senator Thomas and I hold seats in the Senate sufficiently demonstrates that point. There is, however, a reasonable and an unreasonable measure of progress. If the Senate of thirtysix members is going to take the same length of time to deal with 202 items as another place with double that membership occupies in dealing with 290 items, it must be said that the Senate is travelling with supremeand dignified caution, or that another place proceeded with commendable rapidity.
– Why not say that the Senate does its work more thoroughly ?
– I wish I could say that. But when I find honorable senators getting up and repeating time after time the same statements, I think I am justified in asking honorable senators, not only for their own credit, but for the convenience of the majority, to endeavour to make better progress.
– I should like to know whether the Minister is in order in saying that honorable senators get up and make the same statements time after time.
– I will withdraw anything that may offend my honorable friend. I hope that what I have said has not injured his inner conscience too deeply.
– There was no reference to me; I wished merely to observe the rules of the Senate.
– There are two items of the Tariff yet to be considered which in another place occupied attention for six days. I hope that we shall not have a similar experience here; but these items deal with . matters of great importance, and I may assume that honorable senators will spend more time upon them than they have considered it necessary to spend in considering the average of the items already dealt with. This will probably mean, if we proceed with the rate of progress we have already made that we shall not complete the consideration of the Tariff until towards the end of September. Every one knows the desire of the Government that the Tariff shall be disposed of in time to permit of the Bud-‘ get being submitted in another place prior to the return of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes). The undertaking has. been given in another place that the Budget will be submitted next month, and, in the circumstances, I do not, as has been suggested elsewhere, attempt to coerce the Senate, because the Governmnt could never do that; but I ask honorable senators to devote a little more time on Wednesdays and Thursdays to the consideration of the Tariff in order to enable us to make greater progress with it than we have hitherto registered.
– When does the honorable senator want us to finish the Tariff ?
– Does the honorable senator refer to my personal desire ?
– I want the Tariff to be returned to another place by
SenatorPratten. - That is, if we will stand it.
– May I ask who are “We”?
SenatorPratten. - The Senate.
– The majority,of course, will rule. Three or four honorable senators are not going to inconvenience the Senate; of that I am convinced.
SenatorLynch. - They will have their say, all the same.
– I have put the position before honorable senators. What I propose is not to suit my personal convenience, as honorable senators are aware. On the contrary, it is a very great inconvenience to any one charged with the administration of a Department to give up mornings which might be devoted to departmental duties. On the other hand, I equally object to all-night sittings; but it does seem to me that, in. view of our present rate of progress, honorable senators should agree to meet in the mornings of the two days referred to in my motion, or, alternatively, to sit later at night than we have been in the habit of doing. If not, we cannot hope to dispose of the Tariff by the middle of next month. I venture to say that every one regards it as desirable that we should be in a position to return the Tariff to another place by the date I have mentioned.
– I very much regret that the Government have seen fit to propose this change.
– I regret having to submit the motion.
– I think that the speed we have been making with the Tariff has been quite reasonable. We have some business men in the Senate who are very closely in touch with business men outside, and it was only to be expected that there would be a much closer inspection of the Tariff than perhaps took
– No undebatable items were discovered until we sat all night.
– I did not sit all night. I left at a reasonable hour, and I also remind the Minister that I was not present in the debate upon theearlier items in the schedule, and that theprogress was then much slower than subsequently. Therefore, I do not feel disposed to take any of the blame for delay. Honorable senators should realize how important every item is tosome one outside. I do not go round looking for people with complaints to make about the effect of the Tariff; but business people have sought me out to direct my attention to this and that matter, and I must confess that the speed at which items are being passed permits of no time to describe adequately the difficulties experienced by business people asthe result of undue haste in another place in passing the schedule. There is another aspect to this matter. As far as I can see, the Minister in charge in another place lent a very willing ear indeed to every suggestion that the Tariff should bear the complexion of the opinion of the House. If there was anydistinct expression of opinion by honorable members, the Minister, without prolonging the debate, made concessions, and agreed to compromises. But nothing of the kind has been experienced in this Chamber. The Minister seems to have taken the stand that the Tariff must go through complete in every detail as it left the other place.
-Note the applause from Senators Guthrie, Payne; andPrat ten. If we had pleased one honorable senator last week, we would have offended others.
– I can quite understand that Senators Payne; Pratten, and Guthrie, being’ keen business men, with an exact knowledge of the effect of this Tariff on various businesses, should have irritated the Minister by the persistency with which they scrutinized the various items. The Minister in charge of the Bill is responsible for its slow progress, because of his persistency - if I felt strongly towards him I should say, unparalleled obstinacy - in resisting any request for a reduction of the slightest fraction of one penny in the duty on some of the items.
– I think I can claim a higher percentage of concessions upto the present than were made in the other House.
– The Minister will have a chance of proving the assertion. I make this statement as the result of my observation during debates in which I have participated.
– What concessions have you made?
– Well; I permitted one hundred items to go through without moving requests which, in view of my attitude generally towards a Customs Tariff; I had every right to submit The Tariff, I take it should represent the views of the majority in this Chamber ; not the Minister’s view-point only:
– I claim to have interpreted the opinion ofthe majority of honorable senators: In respect of two or three items I suggested a compromise.
– I am glad to hear that. Any compromise made by the Minister must have been during my absencepossibly in the early hours of Friday morning; last, when, no doubt, the Minister was amenable to reason.
SenatorE. D. Millen.-That may be one advantage of allnight sittings.
– Perhaps itis; and perhaps by means of such all-night sittingstheTariffmaybegotthrough; by themiddleof Septembers Instead of lengthening the hours of sitting; in order to conclude the debate’ on the schedule; I would prefer that we fixed a date at whichthe measure should pass its’ final stage: We would then be in the happy position of knowing that, whatever’ time wasoccupied by the discussion on debatable items, the schedule would be through by a certain date.
– That would be better than all-night sittings.
– It would. There is another aspect to this proposal to meet at 11 o’clock on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. Does this mean that we shall adjourn earlier at night, and is it a guarantee that there will be no all-night sittings?
– Everything will depend on the progress made.
– Then the Minister would be well advised to make some statement on this point. Let us fix an hour for adjournment, say, 6 o’clock in the evening.. For an assembly like this that would be a reasonable hour. Then, with daylight for the transaction of our business, we would get through a lot of work, and the Minister could come eachday refreshed in mind, and, let us hope, prepared to accept more readily concessions suggested by his own party. If this suggestion is not acceptable- to the Government,, the Minister might divide the schedule into’ sections’ and determine to take a vote upon each section on’ a certain day.
– That could not be done. If on the date fixed’ the item “woollens,” for example, had been under discussion, do you think that SenatorsPratten or Guthrie wouldhave agreed to close the debate on that day?
– I think it is a pity the debate on those items was closed so early, because Senators Pratten and’ Guthrie’ had much valuable information to give us. However; I am sure that those senators’ would be willing: to meet the Government in such a . matter, because in the’ schedule there are only half-a-dozen items about which’ there need be a great deal of discussion, whereas there are. hundreds of items’ upon’ which there need be little, if any debate/ An arrangement for fixing the date for the passing of each division wouldwork very satisfactorily.
– Then why not take a vote on this motion without further delaying the Senate?
– I am quite willing to do that; but as this is a very important matter, I doubt if it would be wise to close the debate now. If the Minister intends to be obstinate, and persists in saying that the Senate is to sit longer hours, it may be just as convenient for me to be here moving amendments at every opportunity in order to give expression to the principles which I hold. Unless we are to adjourn at a reasonably early hour every evening, no advantage will be gained by resorting to morning sittings, since honorable senators will have no time to prepare for their work. As the result of this proposal, we shall gain two and a half hours per day; but . I venture to say that the first time the Minister thinks we have not made sufficient progress, we shall be asked to sit all night. It is not reasonable for the Government to try to compel us to pass the Tariff at the pace set by them. I have tried again and again to induce one or two honorable senators to assist me in holding up business, but the Government have such loyal supporters here that it is impossible to secure such co-operation.
– Then the honorable senator admits that he has attempted to hold up business?
– Yes. On the item relating to paraffine, for instance, I endeavoured to do so. If I had had my way, that item would still remain unpassed, because it will put out of action an industry that has grown up under Protection. When dealing with such industries, honorable senators may be pardoned for discussing for a few hours the interests involved. Many items which may seem unimportant are of] immense importance to the business men conducting the industries to which they relate, as well as to the employees in those industries, and the people who consume their products. There is not an item in the schedule that does not seriously . affect some interest. The Minister should endeavour to obtain from the Senate an honest expression of opinion as to what sort of Tariff is desired. I realize that I am out of step with the Senate and another place, since I desire a Tariff that would be more acceptable to the men who have to pay, and probably less acceptable than this is to the men who want to make money out of it. Since both Houses have practically said that the Tariff before us is what they desire, it remains for us to deal with it item by item. I cannot get any consideration from the Minister, and I am forced therefore to justify my attitude to the people by showing them - and it will take a little time to show them - how this Tariff is going” to make the cost of living a little heavier. Because I have made that attempt, the Minister practically says to me, “We will penalize you by forcing you to remain here for an undue number of hours per day.” I wonder whether we could appeal to the Arbitration Court to save us from unduly long hours? Even under the present arrangement, I find it difficult to deal with ten or fifteen items every morning so as to prepare myself for their discussion when the Senate meets. I have to consider what will be their effect upon the people I represent, and to obtain full information in regard to them. If we are to have morning sittings, I shall be unable to do this, and the result will be that we shall sit until late. If I am in doubt as to the effect of any item, I can but ask the Minister for an explanation, and with his usual courtesy he will supply me, if he feels so inclined, with the information I require. If we continued as at present, I could obtain that information for myself during the morning, and so save the time of the Committee. If the Government take from honorable senators who are bringing their intelligence to bear upon the Tariff in a way that does credit to them, and adds to the dignity and importance of this branch of the Legislature, the hours that they have been devoting every morning to an endeavour to thoroughly understand the Tariff by a careful examination of the items of it, as well as by giving interviews to those who wish to put certain facts before them, the morning sittings will lead only to greater delay. There are people who wait on honorable senators to complain that many of the duties are an unfair tax on their raw material, and I have seen honorable senators morning after morning devoting themselves’ to a consideration of lists of anomalies that have been brought under their notice. My suggestion to the Government is that they should invite us to deal, first of all, with the non-debatable items. That having been done, L do not think more than twenty would remain to be disposed of, and the whole Tariff could be passed within a few days. If the Minister in charge of the Bill had the same desire that I have to meet- the wishes of honorable senators generally, we could conclude our consideration of the Tariff by Friday next. There is no reason why business men, who are anxiously awaiting our decision on the more important items of the Tariff, should be kept in suspense week after week, whilst unimportant items are being dealt with. We have a most important division to deal with to-day, and we ought to be able to pass it by 11 p.m. If the Government are not prepared to say that we .shall not sit after a certain hour every evening, I shall vote against the motion.
– I am quite in accord with the motion, and it will be remembered that I suggested a few clays ago that we should resort to morning sittings.’ I am o,ne of those who desire that the Tariff shall be dealt with as soon as possible, and am prepared, if necessary, to agree to Monday sittings, and also to the Senate meeting every Saturday morning. I desire to make sure, however, that if we agree to morning sittings, as proposed by the Government, vrc shall not have an all-night sitting. I therefore move, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added: - “Provided that on such Wednesdays and Thursdays as the Senate meets at 1 1 a m., the President shall, at 10.30 o’clock p.m., put the question. That the Senate tlo now adjourn, which question shall not “bc open to debate; if the Senate be in Committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the question, That he do leave the tillair and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question, That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall not be open to debate. Provided further that, if the Senate or the Committee be in division at the time last mentioned, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to until the result of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it shall appear on the business-paper for the next sitting day.”
I move this amendment because I am very anxious to avoid all-night sittings, which should not take place except in the most extreme circumstances,- for instance, whena number of honorable senators are deliberately blocking business. I do not think it can be said that this has been done in respect to the debate on the Customs Tariff Bill. Of course, I can quite understand that the measure is not going through as quickly as the’ Government would like, but there has been very little useless or unnecessary talk upon it. I am not pleading for the cutting out of allnight sittings for my own personal convenience, .because I will not stay here all night. On Thursday night last, when we were told that we were expected to sit all night, I went home at 10.30 p.m. I agree with Senator Gardiner that in dealing with the schedule to the Customs Tariff Bill we are considering a matter vitally affecting’ the interests of the people, and requiring the application of a’ll the intelligence, ability, and wisdom, senators possess, in order to give adequate protection to the manufacturers of Australia, and those who arc employed in our various industries, without at the same time’ unduly taxing the overwhelming majority of the people. Even with the exercise of all our intelligence and wisdom, we are liable to make mistakes. But the people have a perfect right to ask us to discuss the matter when we are in a fit state of mind to do so. No item in the Tariff should be agreed to merely because honorable senators are too weary to discuss it properly, or are, perhaps, too indifferent as to what happens to it. At the same time, the public are anxious tohave the matter settled one way or another. I spent the week-end with a prominent business man of Melbourne, who said, “ I congratulate you upon the way in which the Senate are dealing with the Tariff. They did not seem to bother about it in the other House, and the schedule went through anyhow, but you, in the Senate, seam to be devoting time and attention to the items.” I believe that the people are entitled. to ask us to sit a week or so longer if by doing so we can do better work.
– Then why not sit on two extra mornings ?
– I do not mind doing so. As I have already said, I would not- mind coming here also on Mondays and Saturdays. Our doing so would certainly cause the representatives of New South Wales and South Australia to spend a couple of week-ends in Melbourne;: but it would not be any great inconvenience to them, and’ would not be any inconvenience to the representatives of other States who reside in Melbourne throughout the session. I object to having, items passed merely because honorable senatorsare tired, or indifferent, or even asleep.
– That is not a fair charge. During the last all-night sitting we were all paying keen attention to our work.
– As I was not here I cannot contradict the honorable senator; but I have been through other allnight sittings.
– The honorable sena tor should have been here.
– Possibly those honorable senators who remained throughout last Thursday night were all busily engaged in the chamber, and were not sitting by the fire in the club room; but as I was not here I did not see what waa done. Why in such circumstances more work should be done than can be done while we are sitting here during the day-time with our minds quite active I do not know.
– It was because you were not here.
– That remark is very unfair. Ministers will acquit me of any charge of having interfered with their anxiety to get the business through. Some honorable senators suggest that we should always adjourn at 11 p.m., but there is an advantage in adjourning at 10.30 p.m., because, while honorable senators can get away easily enough when the Senate rises, the officials and members of the Hansard staff find it very difficult to catch their trains when the adjournment takes place close to midnight. My amendment willnot prevent the Senate from sitting later than the hour proposed. It will, however, prevent the Govent from coming down and saying, “We are going on “ ; and if there is any obstruction, of which I have seen very little here, the Senate can very easily decide by a vote to sit all night.
– The Senate can quite as easily prevent an all-night sitting by a vote. A majority must be in favour of sitting all night before the Government taa ask the Senate to continue sitting.
-I know that the Senate can do as the honorable senator suggests, by refusing to,give the- Ministry a quorum.
– Or by some one moving that progress be reported.
– But that would be taking the business out of the hands of the Government, a thing that some of us do not like to do. The amendment seems to me to.be a reasonable one; in any case, if it does not work satisfactorily, it can be put on one side. I am pleading, not so much in the interests of the convenience of honorable senators as in the interests of the Tariff itself, not one single item of which ought to be permitted to pass merely because some honorable senators may be tired or indifferent.
– Or in bed!
– Or in bed. Allnight sittings are not new to me; and I have never known one that was a credit to Parliament or the people.
– The honorable senator has not seen the all-night sitting here.
– That is so; although there was a time when I was foolish enough to stay all night.
– I understood that this was to be a Tariff session; indeed, when other legislation was suggested, the country was over and over again told that the session had to be of such a character. That meant, of course, that the session was to be exclusively devoted to the discussion of this thing called a Tariff; and now, in the early days of the treatment” of this valuable production, we are asked to speed up - to wipe out any suggestion of the “Government stroke.” Personally, I do not think there has been anything like the “Government stroke” practised up to date; in fact, since we began, I have been as active as a Queensland taxgatherer, and still I have not been able to make up my arrears of work. Senator Thomas tells us that the proposal is an alternative to all-night sittings, but, if it is the best alternative, I must confess that it is one that will deprive me of any time to study the Tariff.
– That will help its progress!
– I do mot know that it will, but it might help Senator Thomas ito sleep more soundly when we are here trying to .do his work and ours. The question is whether we are to be given ample time in order that we may do justice to .our task, and evolve a Tariff of credit to the Senate. The schedule has been laid before us as the policy of the Government, sometimes radically remodelled at the hands of the House of Representatives, and we are simply asked to say, “ Approved ; I concur.” I do not know that that is the traditional or constitutional position that the Senate should occupy in relation to either the Government or the House of Representatives. If it is, then I wholly misconceive the position of this Chamber in the Parliament of the country.
The work of parliamentarians, notwithstanding anything said to the contrary, does not consist merely of what is done here in the course of the day. If a parliamentarian does his duty - and, so far as I have been able to observe, all parliamentarians do, with very minor exceptions - it is not represented by what transpires here, and is published in the newspapers^ It is something vastly more - something like an iceberg, the greater portion of which is submerged, out of sight. Notwithstanding the characteristics of parliamentarians, and notwithstanding the criticisms of that enlightened organ of Democracy which circulates in Victoria, and which is never tired of hurling its miserable, flimsy, and disreputable innuendoes and insinuations at this Chamber particularly, I repeat that the work of honorable senators is by no means kept within the hours at which Ave sit here from 3 o’clock until 11 o’clock at night. Yet an attempt is now being made to take from honorable senators the only opportunities they have of making themselves acquainted with the subjects they have to discuss. If the attempt is successful, it can only result in ill-considered, illdigested discussion, and lead to the still further prolongation, rather than the curtailment, of the debates.
The strongest argument offered in favour of the motion is that it is desired to give-, another place more time for the discussion of the Budget. But, after all, the Budget fa merely, the .proposed balance-sheet for twelve months, whereas the Tariff, for what it is worth, is the law under which the industries of. the country will be carried on for at least ten years. This is only ‘ the second attempt there has been in the twenty years of Federation to> comprehensively settle the fiscal conditions of our industries, and yet it is nowsaid that the Tariff must give way to a consideration of the annual receipts and expenditure before the Prime Minister returns to Australia. From this it will be seen that, in the opinion of the Govern^ ment, the Tariff, which will control our industries for ten years, is about onetenth the importance of the Budget, which covers twelve months. I have known the Budget to be discussed right up to Christmas time, and yet the argument I have just indicated is the best that canbe put forward in order to accelerate our progress with the Tariff. I object tomaking this Chamber subject to the convenience of the House of Representatives. I remind honorable senators that too> often has this Senate been considered as a secondary kind of Chamber, and that too often have we mildly and tamely submitted ; and if I am not mistaken, I think that the cause of the Senate and its independence has had the hearty and eloquent support of the very Minister who> now asks us to give way in order that the House of Representatives may have more time to discuss the Budget. Too oftenhas the Senate been made the liveried lackey of the House of Representatives - a position to which I object, particularly at the close of sessions when Bills areheaved at our heads, and we are asked to say, “I concur.” I am not prepared to see the Senate placed in such a position; it is too much to ask. If we never gave . fair consideration to a Tariff before, we ought to submit this particular Tariff to wellconsidered, all-round, analytical treatment. It marks a departure in the fiscal policy and legislation of this country. Instead of hastening, honorable senators would be well advised to proceed slowly. How can honorable senators - be expected to give proper consideration to the Tariff, item by item, while working for twelve hours a day through an already full week ?
– Iam most anxious to assist the Government.
– I have been suspecting that of late.
– The Minister will be given cause for even deeper suspicion before matters have proceeded much further. With respect to the motion, I would like an assurance from the Government that they are in earnest. The Senate is now required to meet in the mornings as well as to deliberate during the afternoons and nights, and occasionally, perhaps, all through anight. The Government should show that they really want to put through the schedule with despatch.
– The motion indicates that.
– There are other considerations which indicate the contrary.For example, I have received an invitation from the Government requesting my attendance at the official opening by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) of an exhibition of enlargements of war photographs next Friday afternoon. The Senate will meet on Friday afternoon. Coincident with a motion to extend the hours of sitting an invitation comes to hand which, if it is generally accepted by honorable senators, will practically mean no sitting next Friday after luncheon. This Chamber will meet on Friday morning at 11 o’clock. From 1 to 2.30 p.m. there will be the usual suspension of the sitting for luncheon. Before the business of the Senate can be well got going again, it will be necessary to adjourn in order that honorable senators may avail themselves of the invitation to attend the exhibition of war pictures. Indeed, if they are to do justice to the occasion, those who propose to leave by the Inter-State trains on Friday will need to be present at the Exhibition before the formal opening, in order to study the pictures. To do so, they must leave Parliament House immediately after lunch. Why should that afternoon be sacrificed? Half-a-dozen important items of the Tariff might well be dealt with in that time.
– If the honorable senator should happen to be absent.
– Am I to understand then, that, while some honorable senators are attending the exhibition of pictures by special invitation of the Government, others will remain in this chamber to put through items at the behest of the Minister in charge? . I hope the amendment will be agreed to, for it presents a fair compromise.
– I protest against the manner in which the business of the Senate is being conducted. Last week’s all-night sitting was a display of absolute cruelty on the part of Ministers. At 11 p.m. on Thursday, after a hard and earnest day, in which honorable senators had endeavoured to do their best in the public interest, a request was made for an adjournment. The moment was opportune. Consideration was about to be taken of probably the most important division in the Tariff schedule - that, at any rate, upon which the greatest amount of duty is collected, and in regard to the incidence of which the people have to pay, indirectly, the most heavily by way of increased cost of clothing. However, the division was “bullocked” through when honorable senators were so tired and exhausted indeed that they scarcely knew, towards the close of the sitting, how, they were voting. For the greater part of the time there were few honorable senators present in the chamber. At times, a quorum could not have been counted, despite the fact that there are thirty-six members of this Chamber, each of whom is paid £1,000. a year to perform- the job which he has undertaken to carry out. Altogether, the spectacle was very disappointing to one - such as myself - who has not had much experience of parliamentary life. Ministers appear to wish honorable senators to attend, to give up all their own business interests, and to swallow holus bolus whatever may be placed before them. It is only in every eight or ten years that there is a revision of the Tariff, and its duties so vitally affect the whole business of the Commonwealth that each item requires to be not only debated, but carefully studied beforehand in the light of the facts available to us. There are hundreds of matters dealt with in the schedule of which I know nothing; but I have tried to do my duty by finding out all it has been possible to find out, about the proposals of the Government and theirprobable effect. We must remember that this has been declared to be a very scientific Tariff, and it may be regarded as worthy of the name, seeing that it imposes a duty on straw.
– The honorable senator may not now discuss the Tariff.
– I was merely going to add that it had given the Minister in charge of it an opportunity for displaying his knowledge of live-stock. My experience of parliamentary life, so fnr, has very much disappointed me.
– I shall support the amendment of my honorable colleague, Senator Thomas, because I do not think that it is fair, at this stage, for the Government to hold over our heads the threat of all-night sittings on the Tariff unless we make progress to the satisfaction of Ministers. It has been truly said that the present is really the only opportunity, during the past thirteen years, that we have had to discuss a Tariff. Every item in the 400 odd in the schedule is of importance to some one connected with the trade and commerce of the country, and, for my part, I intend to exercise, to the best of my ability, my independent judgment as to the shape it shall take. What has happened . in the past in the discussion of Tariffs? More than twelve months has been occupied by the Federal Parliament in the consideration of a Tariff, and, if my memory serves me aright, the Senate took a long time to deal with the Tariff proposals of 1908, and, in connexion with them, made no fewer than 200 odd requests to the House pf Representatives. I do not say that we should go to that length in connexion with this Tariff, but, so far as I have been able to ascertain from the evidence at my disposal, some of the items in the schedule were illdigested and ill-considered when proposed, and for a number of the amendments made in another place I, for one, shall not vote. The Government should be well satisfied if the Senate has got rid of the Tariff by the end of September. I do not propose to take as much time as I can in dealing with it, because my time is as valuable and as dear to me as that of another senator can be to him; but it is our absolute duty to see that the proposals of the Government are thoroughly threshed out, and to endeavour to have fair play shown to all concerned. Does the Minister desire that this Chamber shall be a mere registering nonentity, or does he wish it to be a House of review? Does he ask us to commit political harikari, or does he desire the specialists oh commercial matters who are senators to put their brains together to make the
Tariff acceptable to the people, so far as that can be done?
– I wish to give you ample time for the work.
– I do not think that we can finish the consideration of the Tariff by the middle of September, as the honorable gentleman is suggesting, seeing that we have, perhaps, a dozen important items to deal with. One very important item was amended in another place, and those who voted for the amendment are now praying that we may restore the item to its original form.
– This is not the first time that that has happened.
– No. I suggest that the Minister should . promise that there shall be no all-night sittings, and I, on my part, will promise that I shall not waste time. As we wish only to do our duty by correcting anomalies that we know’ to exist in the Tariff, Ministers might well have some sort of informal conference or discussion with senators in order to save time. Those of us who have been applying ourselves to the subject, not for the past two or three weeks only, but for the past two or three months, indeed, ever since the discussion of the schedule was commenced in another place, are acquainted with many glaring anomalies in the Tariff, and I am sure that Ministers will appreciate the position when I remind them that the views that we have formed are the result of study, interviews, and research. Personally, I shall not stand for any Tariff made in the Department of Trade and Customs in Spring-street; the Tariff must be made bythis Parliament. I do not object to meeting at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, provided that the threat of all-night sittings is not held over our heads at this juncture. If, by the will of a majority, all-night sittings come, those of us who have the care of many important interests on behalf of our constituents must endeavour, by preserving a proper attitude of mind, and living a temperate life, tokeep in . a physical condition which will enable us to pay proper attention to the business in hand.
– I am unable to accept the amendment. Although I loathe all-night sittings, I know that occasions may arise when no other alternative will be left to the Ministry if it is to get on with business. No Government wantonly seeks all-night sittings ; but I submit to those who have had parliamentary experience that the keeping of a House sitting all night is a reserve power which must be left in the hands of a Ministry. If it is abused, the House will be competent to prevent the repetition of the abuse.
– Has it not been said this afternoon that it was abused last week ?
– The speeches that have been made have rather justified my motion. I had the honour to sit’ in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales with Senators Gardiner and Thomas, and they will remember what followed when a motion similar to the proposal of Senator Thomas was adopted by that body. Half-a-dozen men were then enabled to holdup the business of the Assembly. They used to saunter into the chamber, having dined well, if not wisely, and after occupying time until 10 ‘or 10.30 p.m., would go home, paralyzing the transaction of business.
– Honorable senators do not do that.
– No: but it might be attempted. The honorable senator’s proposal is an incentive, should the occasion arise, for the blocking of business by three or four honorable senators.
– Even if the amendment is carried, the Senate will be able to sit after 10.30 p.m.
– Honorable senators would still be able, if the amendment were not carried, to refuse to sit all night. Irrespective of the Tariff discussion, the power to ask the Senate to sit all night is one which should be left in the hands of Ministers, for meeting with extraordinary circumstances should they arise. I join with Senator Thomas in de precating all-night sittings; but without the right to require the House to sit all night on occasions, any Government would, sooner or later, find itself unable to proceed with business.
– Then this Senate comes down to the level of an ordinary Chamber.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
On Mr. President putting the original question,
.- Mr. President-
– The honorable senator has already spoken.
– I have not spoken to the amendment.
– The honorable senator spoke to the original question and the amendment. If a further amendment is moved the honorable senator will then have an opportunity ofspeaking; but, if not, he has lost his opportunity.
– Can I move a further amendment, Mr. President?
– The honorable senator, having already spoken, has lost his right to move a further amendment.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from11th August, vide page 10954):
DIVISION VI: MEXALS AND MACHINERY.
Iron, and steel - (a) Pig iron, per ton,. British, 20s.; intermediate, 30s.; general,. 40s.
– We have now reached what might well be considered the most important section of the Tariff, as the iron and steel industry is the great basic industry upon which the whole of our manufacturing industries have to depend. In rising to submit certain requests for the consideration of the Committee, I desire to ask honorable senators, in view of the very grave importance of the issue presented to us, and the impossibility of any honorable senator being able within the prescribed time to cover in anything like a comprehensive way the field covered by these duties, to extend to. me the courtesy that was extended to Senator Crawford when he was dealing with the sugar duties, which are of great moment to the State of Queensland. I am anxious to put the case for the iron and steel industry fairly and clearly before honorable senators, becauseI believe there is a necessity for presenting the importance of this industry - or at least certain of its aspects - in order that justice may be done to. those who are engaged in. this great undertaking,, and in the subsidiary industries which depend very largely for their success upon the maintenance of the iron and steel business.. The. Government, I amsure realize the vital importance of iron and steel to the people of Australia. Past Governments, have realized that we cannot hope to reach commercial and manufacturinggreatness unless we build up an iron and steel industry in every way independent of the outside world, and one which will permit of the fullest possible extension, in order that Australia may reach that stage of national” greatness which should be her destiny: Considering this matter from another stand-point, I desire to lay before honorable senators - more particularly before those who’ had; the privilege and honour of rendering- service in the recent great war - the. urgent necessity at this time of. maintaining not only what we have, but of extending the opportunities we possess of being independent of attack from outside forces. It must be obvious to every honorable, senator that it will be. absolutely impossible to keep Australia white, and maintain the defence system we have already laid down, unless we insure that we have the means of equipping men and manufacturing munitions, without which we would be powerless. In considering particular items in the Tariff, I do not regard them from the stand-point of a High Protectionist, but, like other honorable senators, I desire that certain facts should be clearly established before I shall support high duties. The first fact in this instance which should be established is whether the industry we wish to protect is worthy of protection. During the time the schedule has been under discussion, we have given a great deal of attention to industries which, after all, are only minor in their importance. But in this instance we are dealing with one of the greatest that Australia possesses, and one which is not. peculiar to any particular State; because the iron and steel industry in New SouthWales is depending . upon other States; for the supply of its raw material. Although the. industry is established in New South Wales, it draws its supplies from Other parts of the Commonwealth, and it can, therefore, be said that! it is truly an Australian industry. In speaking on behalf of this undertaking, I desire to, plead for its future protection. I amnot doing so from the stand-point of a New South Wales representative, but as an Australian on. behalf of a. great Commonwealth industry which is worthy of protection, if only because it is absolutely essential in the matter of defence, and is, the industry upon. which otherswhich make for our national security are established. When we are asked to consider whether the iron and steel industry is worthy of protection, we have to realize the amount of capital invested and the extent to which it affords employment toour Australian people. Approximately, £7,000,000; has, been invested in the industry; on which, owing to the war conditions, there has been. a. reasonable return ; but in view of the altered conditions, the interest and profit on the capital invested is not likely to he as satisfactory as it has been in the past.From this stand-point, we have to decide whether it is worth protecting, and on investigation we find that it is. We then have to consider whether it would not be futile and absurd to give additional protection to any industry which does not need it ; but I hope to show as I proceed that this undertaking needs assistance, because of the worldconditions which obtain at present and which arc so different from those which prevailed when the schedule was first submitted by the Government. Tinder the conditions which ruled some time ago the protection afforded may have been considered sufficient; but as it is entirely inadequate at present, the duties must be increased. Further, it is useless imposing duties unless they really protect the industry, and this is one of the items in which I consider the protection suggested is insufficient. The proposed duties have not been imposed for the purpose of raising revenue, but for adequately protecting a great industry, and unless it can be shown by the Government that the degree of protection is adequate-I feel sure that it is not in certain aspects - it is the duty of the Committee, realizing the importance of the industry, to increase the rates. The next matter to be considered is whether the imposition of the required protection will be a burden upon other industries. That is a very important point. I am pleased to know that the iron manufacturers of Australia are not anxious for the impositionof any duty that will hamper in any way the industry of other men. They do not, for instance, desire any duties that will hamper the great industry for the manufacture of agricultural implements. The Broken Hill Company, which owns the largest iron and steel works in Australia, and Messrs. Hoskins and Company, who own the only other works with a considerable output, do not desire the imposition of a duty which would hamper in any way production by subsidiary industries. They do not desire such an increase in the duty on pig iron as would make its cost very much higher to those who must use it in other industries. They are asking for a very moderate increase in the duty on pig iron, and it is my intention to submit, as my first request in connexion with this division of the schedule, a motion for a very moderate increase in the duty on sub-item
– Nonsense; he sold out well.
– He was forced to go out of the business, which was taken over by Hoskins and Company, who displayed a magnificent generosity unparalleled in my knowledge of industrialism, in taking over the industry from Mr. Sandford.,
– Is the honorable senator referring to the bonus of £209,000 ?
– I shall come to that matter. I am referring to the generosity of Hoskins and Company to Mr. Sandford when they took over his industry. Honorable senators will remember that large sums of money were paid by the Commonwealth in the shape of bounties in order that this industry might be firmly established. They will bear in mind also the tremendous services which the industry rendered to us during the war, when it was impossible for us to draw the supplies of iron and steel we required from other countries.
– I direct the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that the time allowed him by the Standing Orders has expired.
– I am sorry that the honorable senator’s time has expired. I am against his proposal to increase the duty on pig iron, but I should like to be in a position to consider all that he has to say before adding anything further at this stage.
– Now that we have overcome the inconvenience of this extraordinary standing order-
– I cannot allow any reflection to be made upon the standing order, which exists by virtue of the almost unanimous desire of the Senate.
– Hear, heart And fairly represents its. intelligence.
– I may remind honorable senators of the great assistance which this industry was to Great Britain during the war in the supply of very highgrade munition steel, which was acknowledged by experts and by the British Government to be equal, for the purpose for which it was required, to anything produced anywhere else in the world. I could go on enumerating the advantages enjoyed, not only by this country, but by the Empire generally, because of the fact that we have had established in Australia an iron and steel industry that is capable of entirely fulfilling our own requirements, and doubtless of building up a big export trade in the future. In the two great concerns engaged in the industry in New South Wales the capital invested, as I have already said, is approximately £7,000,000. I do not know of any other manufacturing concerns in Australia in which anything like the same amount of capital is invested. The total annual output of these firms is about 300,000 tons of finished product. It is expected that in the near future, if this Parliament will do the right thing by the industry, this very large output will be considerably increased, and so further opportunities will be afforded for the building up of subsidiary industries, not only around the present centre of the iron and steel manufacturing industry, but in every State of the Union. The value of the annual output of the factories is about £5,000,000. Messrs. G. and C. Hoskins employ about 3,000 persons, and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company somewhere in the neighbourhood of 6,000, so that there is a total of about 10,000 employees in the industry. The greater proportion of them, we may assume, are married men with families, maintaining homes and rearing the future generation of Australia, and so helping us to make Australia the country which it ought to be. The industry is consuming the products of our primary producers, and assisting generally in the betterment of the community. Surely an industry of so much importance deserves every consideration at the hands of this
Parliament! We should be prepared to pay almost any price in order to keep it going, so long as- the price to be paid does not involve hardship upon any other section of the community. If we grant to the iron and steel industry of Australia the rates of duty which those engaged in it desire, they will not involve any hardship upon any other manufacturers in this country. I find, according to the last figuresI have, that the annual wagessheet represents about £2,000,000 per year.
– What did the honorable senator say was the value of the annual output?
– I have said that it is about £5,000,000. The industry pays about £2,000,000 in wages and salaries each year. When I come to consider the average wage paid to each employee, I find that it amounts to £5 13s. 2d. per week of forty-four hours. I desire for a few moments to pass to the consideration of wages paid in the industry in other countries with whose productions we have to compete, and which will certainly compete with ours unless this Parliament agrees to the increased rates of duty desired by these engaged in the industry here. The wages paid in the competing countries are much lower than those paid in Australia. In Germany, with the depreciation of the mark, the wages paid are equivalent in sterling to £1 6s. 8d. per week. On 12th July we were informed by cable that wages in the United States of America were to be reduced by 10 per cent. on 16th July. On 16th January of this year wages were reduced by 18s. 6d. per week in Great Britain, and on 15th July the cables stated that there was to be a further reduction of 15s. per week, and of 15 per cent. in the price paid for piece-work.
– What will be the wages paid in other countries when the reductions referred to have been made?
– I may inform honorable senators that, prior to the reductions referred to, the wages paid in the United States of America and in Great Britain were about the same as those paid in Australia.
– What is the authority behind the honorable senator’s figures?
-The Iron and Steel Trades, which is: the recognised trade journal of the iron and steel trades throughout the world. It is published both in America and in Great Britain.
– Has the honorable senator the document ?
– Yes. Any honorable senator who doubts my word can rest assured that I am prepared to back up every statement I make with evidence-. On 16th July, in the United States of America, there was a reduction of $4 per ton on bars and other forms of production of iron and steel, and of $10 per ton on plates. The fact is that in every country of the world to-day, with the exception of Australia, wages and costs of production are falling. They are falling in Great Britain, in America, and in Belgium, from which countries there is a great deal of competition in the iron and steel industry. Wages are falling rapidly in Belgium. The Great Bethlehem Steel Trust, of America has reduced wages during the last three or four months-
– What are the wages paid in other countries, allowing for the reductions?
– I have said that the wages paid prior to the reductions were about the same as the wages paid here. Wages are tumbling all over the world to-day. In Belgium they are paying in this industry very much lower wages than are being paid in Australia. In Great Britain and in America wages are also falling.. Further than that, in other countries the cost of raw materials in many instances is falling also: On the other hand, we. find that in Australia the great firms that are building up the iron and steel industry, for us do not find their costs of production falling. Wages here are not falling.. On the contrary, the costs of production are increasing. If we want to stand by the policy of high wages - and I have no doubt that we all desire to do so - then we should see to it that those who have to pay the high wages awarded by Arbitration Courts, Wages Boards, and other tribunal’s are given adequate protection.
– When men are paid well can they not do more work than when they are paid low wages, and have to work long hours ?
– I know of some people who are paid, very well indeed but who go home at night while others are working.
– But is it not the idea that when a man is paid well, and works short hours, he can do more than when he is poorly paid, and has to work long hours?
– The position is that wages certainly have not fallen in Australia. Even since the introduction of this Tariff’ wages have been increased under awards made by Wages Boards; Arbitration Courts and other tribunals. The cost of the raw material, in certain other respects, has also increased. Whilst the iron and steel manufacturers of other countries are able to meet the growing competition by reason of the fact that the cost of their raw material, and the wages they have to pay, are falling, our manufacturers find, themselves in a far worse position than was contemplated when the Tariff was originally framed, inasmuch as they have to pay increased wages and higher prices for their raw material. Surely that is not a fair nosition in which to place them. We. should at least be ready to go back to the position thatexisted when the Tariff was originally introduced, and give the industry the same measure of protection which at that time was considered by the Government, to be absolutely necessary.
– Has the honorable senator any figures as to the production of iron and’ steel in Belgium ? Belgium is cutting Britain out of the market at the present time.
– Yes ; I. have here a Reuter’s cablegram dated London, 10th August, setting, out that Belgian bars are being, offered at Swansea for. £7 5s. per ton; and that, as a result of this, the South. Wales Siemens Steel Association has decided to further reduce its price to £8 10s. per ton - a drop of £1 per ton - in order- to cope- with foreign competition. Even with that reduction, the Steel Association is charging £8 10s. per ton, as agains £7 5s. per ton, the price at which steel bars can be imported from Belgium-. Ifwe are going to stand by our own in dustries we must be prepared , to pay the price. Throughout the- Tariff discussion the Committee has shown thatitisnotto be deterred from; doing what, it conceives tobe justicetoourindustriesbytheplea that an increased’ duty may. mean a slight increase in prices. During the war ‘the local industry had no competition. It enjoyed anatural protection as high as any Tariff that we could impose, yet its product was sold at a lower rate to Australian manufacturers than that at which steel could be obtained in any other part of the world. The local industry was able to supply the steel necessary for the carrying on of our secondary industries at a much lower rate than that at which it would have been obtainable if we had not established the steel industry in the Commonwealth. Those engaged in it did not take advantage of the condition of prohibition - that was practically what it amounted to - created by the war.
– Yet the Broken Hill Proprietary Company managed to make 20 per cent. profits.
– I do not thinks so.
– I refer the honorable senator to the company’s balance-sheets.
– I have carefully examined the annual balance-sheets published by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, and if my memory serves me rightly it declared last year a dividend of 11 per cent.
-Brookman. - It has increased its capital from £400,000 to £2,000,000.
– But even since last year conditions have altered to a considerable extent.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– This is -a very big question. Whatever success has been achieved by the iron and steel industry of Australia has been due not to a Protectionist Tariff, but largely to the exorbitant prices charged for iron and steel manufactured in other parts of the world. Those high prices in turn were due to most of the iron and steel foundries in Europe and America being devoted to the production ofwar requisites; and this circumstance, together ‘with the abnormally high freights and other charges, led to our imports being materially re duced. I offer my congratulations to those who, although they had but a meagre guarantee of Tariff help, had the pluck and enterprise to establish this industry in order to help Australia in time of war. They had, of course, the vague promise of politicians that they would stand by them, but they had no definite guarantee of substantial protection; and they rendered splendid service to Australia during the war period.
– But the Broken Hill Proprietary Company commenced operations before the war.
– Since then their works have been so extended that they have been able to aid materially in the development of many of our industries. But for the enterprise of that company, such a development would not have been possible. I have had no intimation from the trade that they desire an increased duty in respect of sub-item a; and I am not prepared to accept any request for a variation of the duty in regard to that sub-item, since the whole of the iron and steel duties are based on a duty of £1 per ton on pig iron under the British preferential Tariff. If this duty were increased we should have to alter the whole of the division. This sub-item is the basis of the whole of the duties in the division, and any variation of it would involve the recasting of the division in accordance withthe altered foundation. The cost of pig iron is the first thing that has to be considered in determining the cost of iron and steel manufactures. Next in importance comes the cost of angle, rod and bar iron.Ifthe duties in respect of any of those items were altered, the foundation upon which this division rests would be knocked down, and the remaining sub-items would have to be recast. For this reason I cannot accept a request for an alteration of the first sub-item. The duty was fixed practically by agreement with the trade.
– What does the honorable senator meanby agreement with the trade?
– No arrangement
Was ‘made with the trade, but I understand that when a request was made for a higher duty, the trade was told that this particular sub-item could not be varied, since anyvariation of it would mean the recasting of many other items. On hearing this explanation, they did not press their request.
– When the honorable senator speaks of the “ trade,” does he mean those who* use this material, or those who produce it?
– We have no ar- rangement with any trade or trading companies; but we have asked, from time to time, for information.
– Those who are producing this material do not ask for a higher duty?
– I believe they did at one time; but they did not press their request when the matter was explained to them. Senator Duncan has said that those engaged in ‘the iron and steel trade have asked for an increased duty such as ho has indicated. I know of no such application.
– That is a serious statement to make. Representatives of both Hoskins Limited and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company have asked many honorable senators, including myself, to suppport a higher duty on pig iron.
– I have had no such application, and the officers of the Department of Trade and Customs know of no such request having been preferred to the Minister (Mr. Greene). We shall not save the iron and steel industry of Australia merely by the carrying of these duties^ We can save it only by putting a stop to the dumping that is going on today. I have seen tenders submitted for the supply of steel rods for shipbuilding purposes here in which the prices quoted oy Belgian contractors were 50 per cent., if not 70 per cent., below those of their British competitors. Even with a duty of 15 or 20 per cent., the local industry could not stand up against such competition. My hope is that this Tariff will be backed up by the passing of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Bill, the consideration of which, I regret, was postponed by another place. These duties, in themselves, will not save the iron and steel industry. We need to take steps to prevent dumping, and to meet the exchange position. It may be quite true that some of those engaged in the industry have discussed this question with honorable senators, but since the duty on pig iron is the basis of the whole division, I think ‘that such a request should have been made direct to the Minister. It is probable that those concerned know that the Government are not prepared to support a higher duty. Beginning with a duty of fi per ton on pig iron as the basis of the division, we have gone, stage by stage, into the individual costs and charges throughout the iron industry. If the Committee alters the duty on what must be regarded as the foundation of the allied industries I shall have to send this section of the schedule back, and have it recast in accordance with the ideas expressed in this Chamber.
– Then nothing can be altered?
– Honorable senators must bear in mind that pig iron is the raw material out of which billets, bars, blooms, angles, and other steel products are made, and that all of these commodities have a distinct relationship, one to the other, in the world’s market. This item covers iron in the next stages of manufacture to pig iron, which forms the raw material for the rolling mills. Both the Broken Hill Proprietary Company and the Lithgow works are . producing large quantities of these lines, and since 1916 they have practically supplied local requirements. The total imports in 1918-19 amounted to only 172 tons, so there is no doubt as to Australia’s ability to meet its normal needs. The duties on this sub-item have been arranged in approximate proportion to the respective values of pig iron and ingots, blooms, &c, on the ground that the respective costs of production are” reflected in the values - that is to say, the added cost of labour for converting pig iron into blooms, &c, has to be taken into consideration. The proposed rates on ingots, blooms, &c, exceed the rates on pig iron, by 60 per cent, in the case of the British preferential Tariff, and by 62 per cent, in the case of the general Tariff. In . April, 1914, the prices quoted for the American basic pig iron and billet3 were 13 dollars and 21 dollars respectively, or a difference of 61 per cent. In March, 1920, the respective prices were 41 dollars and 60 dollars, a difference of 46 per cent. There has been some criticism of the prices charged by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company during the war, but it must be remembered that it was a struggling industry, and although prices may have been high they were not so high as. rates for the same material from any other part of the world at that time. . I am not discussing the question of profits at all. If the Broken Hill Proprietary Company made undue profits it was right that they should be prevented from continuing to do so. In December, 1919, the company were selling pig iron at £7 10s. and £S per ton, and steel billets at from £12 10s. to £14. The difference between £8 and £14 is 75. per cent., and the difference between £8 and £12 10s. is 56 per cent.
– As I understand the position, pig iron is the raw material for the manufacture of all other forms of iron and steel products. Therefore, it seems to me to be very desirable that we should get the raw material as cheaply as possible. Senator Duncan, however, wants to increase the cost of pig iron to the manufacturer by increasing the duty on pig iron from 20 s. to 25s. per ton. I have a different idea altogether. I would like to see the duty decreased. Under the old Tariff, pig iron came in free from Great Britain, and under the general Tariff ‘ the duty was 10 per .cent, ad valorem. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company and Hoskins flourished under those conditions. If, now, we increase the cost of manufacturing the other forms of iron and steel for which pig iron is the raw material, we shall have to face increases all along the line. It is very desirable, and perhaps necessary, that the iron and steel industry should flourish in Australia at some time or other, but whether that time has arrived is quite another matter. No one would have said that the first settlers in Australia should have set about establishing iron and steel works. And no one would suggest that, when there were 100,000 people in Australia, the time had arrived for the establishment of these secondary industries, but possibly a few would have urged that when we had 1,000,000 inhabitants, we were in a position to do so. We are still a handful of people, and I submit that we should examine the position most carefully before we commit ourselves to the proposition to increase the duty on pig iron. Honorable senators should look at the proposal, not from the point of view of New South Wales, where these industries are established, but from an Australian stand-point, and ask themselves, whether the time has arrived when we can afford to establish these secondary industries, and, in a measure, sacrifice our primary industries. Our primary producers should be able to obtain their implements at the cheapest possible price. If a duty of 20s. per ton is going to increase the cost of the raw material to our iron and steel manufacturers, we should hesitate before we agree to it. It is much more important that we should have the remote areas of the Commonwealth peopled and developed than have an iron and steel industry flourishing in New South Wales. We want to see the vacant spaces filled. This Australian sentiment should appeal strongly to all honorable senators. We cannot expect to hold Australia against the teeming millions of Asia unless we get it peopled. If we make the conditions more difficult for our primary producers, we shall fall short of our duty. From a defence stand-point, it is essential that we should populate and develop this continent. Therefore, I urge honorable senators not _ to support Senator Duncan’s requested amendment. If the Committee rejects it, I shall ask for a further reduction in the 20s. per ton duty now asked by the Government. Seeing that the established industries got along very well under the old conditions, when pig iron from Great Britain was free, there can be no adequate reason for a .duty of 20s. per ton now.
– Were not the conditions then very different from the conditions of to-day?
– The conditions enabled the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, on an initial capital of £400.000. to pay a dividend of 11 per cent, on a capital of £2,000,000, and I am informed that this £2,000,000 does not re- present new capital, but bonuses made out of the business. If I am properly informed, this most wonderful concern has made a tremendous amount of money; but, even assuming that I am wrong, it is still paying a dividend of 11 per cent.
– It is earning 11 per cent.
– 1 accept the honorable senator’s correction; but in- any case these, people are increase ing their capital all the time, as they have done in the past. For a company not to pay out all its profits in the way of dividends, but to put by a reserve, is very business-like; but I do not think that a concern capable of increasing, its capital’ out of profits, as this company has been doing, according to my information, should be given any further protection than it already has.
– I think the honorable senator is wrong in what he has stated.
– I am not making a definite assertion in regard to the matter. I have said that I have been informed that’ this is the case, and I have not had- the opportunity df. discovering the exact facts. I understand that if this duty is increased it will necessitate a. re-casting and reconsideration of the whole of the duties on iron and steel which follow, and that a decrease in the duty will not necessitate this. Therefore, if we decrease the duty on the raw material for the iron and steel industry, not only will it not affect, from a Customs House point of view, or from a Government point of view, the duties proposed in regard to all the other items which follow in this division of the Tariff, but if will also assist to a certain extent in securing a reduction of the duties on many items affecting the interests of primary producers, who are so essential for the development of the Commonwealth.
– I resent Senator DrakeBrockman’s imputation that I have approached this matter in a parochial way or from the stand-point of New South Wales. As a. matter of fact, I took- some trouble to point out that, in respect to the production of pig iron, although the final production of the article might be confined to New South Wales, supplies of the raw material were drawn from a number of States.
– I merely appealed to honorable senators not to approach the matter from a parochial point of view. I certainly did not say that Senator Duncan had done so, but his resentment against something which I did not impute would seem to’ indicate that he had done’ so.
-~-I have not attempted to deal with this matter from- a parochial or New South Wales’ point of view. It is news to me to learn that- this division of the Tariff is like the laws of the Medes and Persians,- and must no’t be altered in any way, on the ground that an alteration to one item would throw out of gear the whole machine.
– No. I said that an alteration to this item would throw out of gear two or three df the succeeding items.
– We have no- desire to throw anything out of gear; but when we consider that the duties the Government have proposed are not adequate, we ought to alter them even at the risk of throwing something else out of gear. In any case, the other items affected can be altered.
– Certainly; but if an alteration is made in this basic item, the whole of the related items will need to.be re*cast.
– That would happen if an alteration were made anywhere in this particular division.
– No, not in respect of the branch items, but’ only in the case of pig iron, which is a basic item.
– The manufacturers of iron and steel have not asked for an increased duty on pig iron. I had my own reasons for taking the step I have proposed.
– I understood the honorable senator to indicate his intention of moving for ah increased duty, but he has not submitted any formal request in that direction.
– That- is so. The probability is that I shall not submit any request for an increase in the duty on pig iron. Before answering one or two of the points made by Senator DrakeBrockman, let me refer to an anomaly that will need to be rectified. While- we are endeavouring to build up an industry for the production of pig iron, we allow scrap iron, a serious competitor with our pig iron, to be imported free of duty. Senator Drake-Brockman has put up a very strong- plea for the subsidiary industries and for the man on the land in Western Australia; where there is no- iron and steel industry established. He claims’ that- we must iget ourraw material as cheaply as possible, no matter where it comes from. Very well, let us get it from Japan. Let us look at thematter from a national point of view, as the honorable senator has asked us to do, remembering all the time that we want to stand by the principle of a White Australia. But if the Senate agrees to Senator DrakeBrockman’s proposal to reduce the duty on pig iron, the raw materialfor our iron and steel industry will be imported from Japan. The Melbourne Herald of the 29th July, 1921, contains the following cablegram from its special representative at Tokio : -
The discovery of a process of smelting magnetic sand, by which Japan will be rendered independent of outside sources for her iron supply, and become an extensive producer, was anmenced ‘to-day by Mr. Goro Matsukata and Doctor Asobu Niito. The process, which has been thoroughly tested, produces pig iron for 25 yen (nominally £211s.) a ton. The Japanese authorities indorse the claims made for the -process by its discoverers. Included among those who approve of it are Admiral Shozo Arisaka, the big gun expert, and Inspector of the Naval Arsenal, and the leading metallurgists of Japan. The German firm of Krupps, of Essen, has been making inquiries, but it isannounced that the process will not be divulged outside Japan. In Japan there are extensive fields of workable sand, and the discovery is regarded as of the greatest importance, economically and politically.
If we are to get our pig iron from the cheapest source, we will get it all from Japan, where it can be produced for £2 11s. per ton.
– Why not?
– That may be the honorable senator’s point ofview. To my mind, it is much better to produce our own pig iron by working our own iron deposits, such as those we have at Iron Knob, in South Australia. There are big deposits of iron ore. also in Western Australia.
– Yes, much more extensive than they are in New South Wales.
– The Broken Hill Proprietary Company are not getting any of their iron ore in New South Wales, and Idoubt if Hoskins Limited are getting much from that State. Therefore, I am pleading for the development of the iron ore deposits of other States.
– Does thehonorable senator claim that iron ore is conveyed to Lithgow from other States for smelting there?
– I did not. If my friend would manifest as much interest in this subject as he displays in a desire to upset some of my statements, he would know more about it than he does at present.
– The honorable senator’s words conveyed the impression that Senator de Largie alleged.
SenatorDUNCAN. - If I conveyed that impression I regret having done so. I say that I doubt if Hoskins Limited get allthe supplies they require from ‘New South Wales. Are we legislating to assist to build up the greatness of Japan, or is tho objectof this Tariff to assist in building up the greatness of Australia ? Looking atthematteragain from a national point of view, as Senator Drake Brockman advises us to do, is our national greatness to bebuilt up by extending consideration to the producers of another country? If we are to be dependent upon Asia for all ourraw material, then thepeople of that Continent will in futuredictate what the policy of this country shall be, what its Tariffshall be, and whether we are to retain inviolate that grand principle of a White Australia which we so cherish.
– And Asia will do so if we do not get more population.
– Are we to get more population by shutting down an industry employing up to 10,000 Australians - by saying that our own industries can “ go hang,” while those of other countries may be developed by the money, so long as we have it, we pay for products of those industries?
– What proof has the honorable senator that the iron and steel industry of Australia will shut down unless it is given the extra protection which he proposes to give it ?
– I am convinced that increased protection must be given. I admit that the companies have not asked for an increased duty on pig iron, and I shall not move in thatdirection, but I intend to move for increased duties upon bar iron, rod iron, and angle iron, because
I am convinced from my own knowledge that unless we do so, the production of these things in Australia will not increase. I need not say any more about pig iron, but I hope that Senator- Russell will take note of the anomaly I have pointed out, namely, that scrap iron is permitted to be imported free of duty, although it competes with our pig iron. In order to rectify the anomaly a new sub-item, which I hope the Government will agree to insert, will be necessary.
– No one, I think, can charge me with lack of sympathy with the iron industry of Australia, notwithstanding Senator Duncan’s remarks in regard to my lack of knowledge on the subject. Senator Duncan would be well advised, when discussing matters of this kind, to try to control his temper; it certainly does not help his case, or increase his own knowledge of the subject, to charge others with ignorance. As a matter of fact, the establishment of the iron industry is rather a pet subject of mine, and one which I have brought more often before the Senate than I think has any other senator. It is an industry with which I have a life-long acquaintance.
– To my knowledge, the honorable senator, has not been engaged in the industry for the last thirty years.
– I have not been engaged in the industry for many years now; but I was engaged in it at one time. I was born, and bred, and lived at the very home of the iron industry in Scotland, and, therefore, I know something of its conditions. What experience has Senator Duncan had of the industry ? I should say that it is so small as to make it presumption on his part to question the knowledge of others. I suppose the honorable senator, in the whole course of his life, has seen only the works at Newcastle, and the works at Lithgow.
– I frankly admit that.
– Yet in a selfsufficient manner, the honorable senator lectures others who have a life-long knowledge of the subject. Many years ago I introduced, and had carried, a resolution in this Chamber in favour of the establishment of the iron industry in Australia ; and I claim to be able to speak with some little authority. In my opinion, the greatest danger of this industry in the future is not, perhaps, the lack of sufficient Customs duty, but rather the effects of foreign exchanges, and the dumping of iron in its raw form. During thegreater part of our history, pig iron, rails, and bars in the rougher form have been brought here as ballast, carried practically, for nothing, and sold on the market for what they would fetch. Quite a number of our secondary iron industries have .grown up on supplies of this cheap raw material. As Senator ‘ Drake-Brockman has very, correctly pointed out, this is a question of the supply of raw material for secondary industries, and if this raw material is increased in price beyond a reasonable point, it is obvious what must happen. These industries, in such an event, must be given much higher duties than are provided at present in the schedule; we cannot raise the price of the raw material above a certain point to the engineer, the iron-moulder, the boilermaker, the agricultural implement maker, and the hundred other mechanics who handle iron, without increasing in proportion the duties they enjoy. Agricultural implement making is, perhaps, the greatest of the secondary iron industries in the Commonwealth ; more money flows in and out because of that industry than because of any other of the same class. There is certainly a large industry in railmaking, but, in view of ‘modern processes, that may rather be regarded as a primary industry. With plant such as is seen at Newcastle, where the pig iron is practically turned into steel rails in two processes - a more direct method than, perhaps, is -to be found in most places - no excuse is presented for saying that the work is carried out under antiquated conditions.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to have that expression of approval from so great an authority. I have not seen the plant at Lithgow, which I understand is not quite so up to date as that at Newcastle. It is said, however, that Hoskins Brothers are considering a suggestion made by myself many years ago that the works should be established at a more advantageous place. The suggestion I speak was made to Mr. Sandford, the predecessor of Hoskins Brothers, and he agreed that it was one which ought to be carried out. At’ that time, however, he. had command of a very limited capital, and could not make the change to the Illawarra coast, where is produced the best coal for coking purposes. To Illawarra, the ore can be carried from any part of the Commonwealth by sea, the cheapest mode of transit for heavy, raw material of the kind, and placed in the furnaces with very little handling, altogether at a cheaper rate, all round, than is possible at Lithgow. I am glad to know that the Hoskins firm, with a capital of something like £2,000,000, is now proposing to establish works at Illawarra, where they will be able to establish an uptodate plant, quite as efficient as, and perhaps more efficient, than that at Newcastle.
– Provided they have ample duty.
– I have always admitted that in this industry a duty is necessary ; the only question is how much. What is the industry entitled to in the Way of duty, in order that it may supply the necessary raw material for the secondary iron industries? We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the other industries, which have already been established, have even greater claims upon us than have industries that are now coming into existence. In . Melbourne, for instance, no pig iron or other raw material of the kind is made ; and we cannot ignore the iron foundries and factories of Perth, Hobart, Ballarat, and other places in the Commonwealth. We cannot confine our attention and care to the production of the raw material at Newcastle, Lithgow, or on the Illawarra coast, for- if we do we shall defeat our object, which is to extend the iron industry generally and increase employment. The iron industry, taking it altogether, is not confined to the production of pig iron, steel ingots, and so forth, but extends widely into subsidiary industries, whose interests it would be foolish to disregard. If the price of the raw material be raised by means of the Tariff, the effects must be evil ; and, as I said before, the question we have to ask ourselves is what protection this iron industry requires to make it a success. On that point, I think the opinions of gentlemen who have invested their money in the industry are entitled to consideration. From printed evidence, given on oath before the Inter-State Commission and published broadcast, we learn that Hoskins Brothers, during the war, expressed themselves as quite prepared to accept as sufficient a duty of 15s. per ton. The House of Representatives has fixed the duty at 20s., which I think is a very fair increase on that asked by the proprietors of the Lithgow blast furnaces.
– Conditions have altered in the meanwhile.
– I admit that conditions have altered, but not to any great extent.
– There has been an increase in the cost of labour, for instance.
– I am speaking of the war period, when that statement was made.
– Was the statement made to the honorable senator himself?
– No; I have not the pleasure of Mr. Hoskins’ acquaintance. The statement was made publicly.
– What is your authority?
– A printed document issued by Hoskins Brothers, which may be found in the Library. Under the circumstances, it cannot be said that any undue advantage is being taken of those at present engaged in the industry. . Further, Mr. Delprat, the head of the Broken Hill Iron Works, gave evidence before the Inter-State Commission.
– Mr. Delprat is out of the company now.
– That is not so; Mr. Delprat may not occupy his former position, but he. is still the moving spirit of that great corporation, and is one of the greatest authorities on the subject in Australia. Mr. Delprat, in the course of his evidence, said that at the time he entered into the industry he could do so without any duties at all.
– What does he say to-day? I do not know, and would like the information.
– I am quite prepared to let Mr. Delprat speak for the second time. In the opinion of Mr. Delprat, and all other reasonable men, the amount of duty provided by the House of
Representatives is quite ample. Senator Duncan, when referringto foreign competition, spoke of Belgium, and ‘of the prices toppling down in : the iron industry inthat country. If what Senator Duncan says is correct, it is very creditable to Belgium. During the war the great mines and iron works therewere destroyed, : and now we are told thatthe industry has so far recovered as to be able to compete successfully with our industry and others which were in operation during the whole of the war period.
– The Belgian works and mines were not destroyed.
-Senator de Largie’s time has expired.
.- The remarks of Senator DrakeBrockman, and those of Senator de Largie, induce me to say a few words, based upon broad lines of national policy. As a representative of Tasmania, I have no State interest in the iron and steel industry of Australia. I cannot be accused, therefore, in anything that I may say upon the subject, of desiring to “ boost “ the activities of my constituents. I have always held the view that the iron and steel production of a country is almost literally its backbone, and that such an industry - established and flourishing - is essential to its welfare. I have always strongly advocated State ownership in this regard. When I was in a position of authorityso to act, I came to Melbourne and offered the then Commonwealth Prime Minister 10,000 electrical horse-power in Tasmania at £2 per horse-power per annum if the Commonwealth Government would establish iron and steel works in that State. I believe that the inauguration of such an industry, as a national concern, would have been a wise undertaking. However, the project was not taken up by the Federal authorities, but was left to private enterprise to develop. I desire to see Australia self-supporting and self-contained with respectto the production of iron and steel. That could never come about, however, unless Australia could produce its own pig iron. If the duty upon the raw material is increased so that the production of articles therefrom is rendered more expensive, higher duties must necessarily be placed also upon the latter. Concerning my individual attitude upon the sub-item under discussion, I may say that noeffort has been madetoenlist my sympathyforthe smelters of pig iron. I have not been approached to support an increaseof the present rates of duty. I have been informed, however, thatthe free admission of scrap iron provides an opportunity for the importation . of pig iron free. I know that there is a desire, therefore, that scrap iron shall be placed upon the same footing as pig iron. But I repeat that no application has been made to me from people interested, either in the local production of pig iron or in its importation in respect of the Tariff.
– If the honorable senator has not been approached in the matter of an increase, has he been asked to support the present rates?
– And yet the honorable senator intends to give them his support. He is swayed by curious principles.
– I certainly see nothing inconsistent in my attitude: I do not desire that Australia shall be dependent on foreign countries for the supply of raw material.
– And most of them Eastern countries.
– Even if Australia were so favoured as to be able to draw her supplies from a friendly country the time might come again when it would be impossible to secure supplies from any source overseas. From the broad national aspect, to which Senator DrakeBrockman so frequently referred, this Committee should be prepared to encourage the production of the raw material for our iron and steel industry, even if if meant that Australians would be called’ upon to pay a little more for iron and steel goods. I have been assured that it is necessary that some degree of protection should be given in respect of the production of cheap foreign pig iron. The schedule has been so framed that productions having pig iron for their raw material are protected, under the Tariff, in proportion to the degree of protection afforded upon the pig iron itself. That being the case, and since I am a supporter of the principle of Protection, where does Senator Lynch see any inconsistency in my supporting the schedule ra tes ? I emphasize that, from the national stand-point,, Australia must be selfcontained.. She cannot be, however, if she is to remain dependent upon outside sources for her basic material. In Australia there is iron ore in great abundance. Practically every State has rich deposits, the conversion., of which, however, may possibly add a little to the cost of finished products. I appeal to honorable senators to support the schedule rates as they now stand.
– I realize that, since the Senate is composed as it is, I would not be able to induce a majority to agree that, in the best interests of Australia, it would be wise to allow pig iron to be imported free. However, accepting the view that it is desirable to impose a sufficient degree of duty - but not more than sufficient - to permit the Australian industry to be carried on, I intend to move a request for the reduction of the British preferential rate. I have looked into, the whole subject very carefully, and have secured information from every available source, and I have come to the conclusion that a duty of 20s. per ton is more than sufficient. The Inter-State Commission recommended a duty of 12s. 6d. Formerly, pig iron was free of duty. The Commission pointed out that the rate recommended would involve an all round increase of 5 per cent, in respect of every iron . and steel article dependent on pig iron as its raw material. Despite the assertions of the Age, and other organs and persons - enthusiasts in regard to Protection, who avow that the imposition of duties makes for cheapness - the Inter-State Commission came to the conclusion that there would be a general increase of 5 per cent.
– That recommendation was made several years ago, and conditions have changed meanwhile.
– There have been considerable alterations with respect to wages and employment generally.
– That applies to every country.
– Precisely. Increases in wages in Europe and Great Britain have been proportionately greater; but the conditions which obtained when the Inter-State
Commission made its* recommendation and those existing to-day are- relatively almost the same. I have been informed that there is actually a slight difference, and that that difference would be covered by adding, another 2s. 6d.’ to the fate of duty recommended by the Inter-State Commission in 1916. If the British preferential rate be made 15s. per ton, that will now be practically equivalent to the suggestion of the Commission that the duty should be 12s. 6d. I ask honorable senators to accept the premises laid down by Senator Earle, and upon those premises to fix what is a fair and proper rate. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (a), British, 15s.
– I hope ‘ that Senator Drake-Brockman will nob persist in his amendment. In my opinion, the duties fixed by the House of Representatives give a fair and reasonable protection to the iron industry. I do not wish injustice to be done to that or to any other industry; but the House of Representatives has struck a happy medium in this instance, and, therefore, I should like to see the item remain unaltered. The Minister has drawn attention to a measure of legislation, the Anti-Dumping Bill, which, in my opinion, is likely to do more for the salvation of the industry than any increase of the protective duties.
– But the Government cannot get it through the other House.
– That will be seen later. It is the policy of the Government to prevent dumping. Nothing could be more easily dumped here than pig iron, rails, and other iron products. But I think that the Anti-Dumping Bill will prevent such dumping. I would remind those who ask for higher duties for the protection of the iron industry, that in Australia this industry gets its raw materials as reasonably as they can be obtained in any part of the world. Indeed, there is no country where iron ore can be obtained as good and as cheap as it can be obtained for the ironworks at Newcastle and Lithgow. The great Iron Knob in South Australia is a mountain of firstclass iron ore. In the Old Country iron ore is mined for in thin seams in th» bowels of the earth, but in South Australia good iron ore. is simply quarried out.
– Has it not to be carried a long way?
– I understand that there is up-to-date transport, as is to be expected with men like Mr. Delprat at the head of the iron industry. At the same time, I would not reduce the duties. I do not look, upon our iron industry as a thing of the future; I regard it as already established, and I wish to maintain it. It will have to face keen competition within the next few years, and the Tariff is being fixed, not for one year only, but for a period. It is to be expected that the prices of iron material will come down. Therefore, to reduce the duties would be a wrong step. It is to those who ask for an increase of the duties that I have pointed out what good and cheap supplies of iron ore we have. We have also good and cheap coal. There are few countries with which we cannot compete successfully in regard to coal.
– We send it to Sweden in competition with the coal of Great Britain.
– It is a mistake to think that the Old Country has everything athand for the manufacture of iron. On the contrary, she draws much of her raw material from other countries, and, as I have said, the seams of iron that are mined there are thin, and the ore inferior, containing phosphorus, to get rid of which special treatment is necessary. This Government can take great credit for what it has done for the Australian iron industry. Not only has the Commonwealth Parliament voted bounties for the manufacture of iron, and imposed high duties for the protection of the industry, but the Government has assisted by its purchases.
– The Government bought a good deal of iron material from the local mills more cheaply than it could1 have got that material from other countries.
– When Mr. King O’Malley, then Minister for Works in the Fisher Government, contracted for a supply of iron rails from the Broken Hill Company, he was giving that company a preference, because, had he bought in the open market, he would have paid less.
– But during the’war we got locally made rails more cheaply than rails could have been obtained from abroad.
– It is proposed to impose a duty of 40s. per ton in the general Tariff upon imported pig iron, and, as Senator Duncan knows, it is not many years since pig iron was being made at that price, even with out-of-date plants.
– What is pig iron worth now ?
– Belgian pig iron from £5 to £5 19s. a ton; that from the United States of America from £5 15s. to £6 5s.; and that from the United Kingdom from £6 15s. to £8 a ton.
– Those are very high prices, which we cannot expect to continue. In the Old Country iron workers are highly paid. At one time they were not well paid, but to-day they are better paid than ever before in the history of the industry. The iron workers of the United States of America are, perhaps, the most highly paid iron workers in the world. They are much better paid than our own iron workers.
– I saw a report a few years ago which stated that in the iron trades of the United States of America the men were working seven days a week.
– That must have been many years ago. If you read the speeches of Mr. Samuel Gompers, the United States Labour leader, you will find that the wages of the iron workers of that country have increased, though, at one time, when the price of iron products was very low all over the world, these men were not well paid.
– The wages paid at Newcastle are much higher than those paid at Pittsburg.
– Then they will have to come down, because the iron industry in Australia cannot afford to pay more than is paid to-day by the iron industry of the United States of America.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Many years ago Idreamed that we would some day be making our own iron by our own workmen from our own ores. That dream has been realized.
Although I have had very little to do with the development of the iron industry, I have watched it with much interest, and, so far as my own personal attitude towards it is concerned, I have laid down the principle that no act, word, or deed of mine shall in any way retard the development of the Australian iron industry. It has been pointed out that this is the greatest of the basic industries in Australia. We have heard that it employs 10,000 men in producing the iron required for our subsidiary industries. Further than that, I believe that the annual production to-day is worth £4,000,000 or £5,000,000, and practically the whole of the cost involved in converting the iron ore into material suitable for other industries is in labour.
SenatorDe Largie.- Oh, no!
– If we start with the iron ore, which is brought to Newcastle, consider.the coal and limestone . required, and. the many ramifications of the industry, it must be admitted that practically the whole of the cost relates to labour. This industry pays £2,000,000 per year directly in wages, and, in considering the iron duties, I may repeat that no word, act, or deed of mine shall place our iron industries in jeopardy. There is another aspect of the question which has been mentioned, but which has not been stressed, and the time at my disposal is not sufficiently long to enable me to emphasize it in detail now. Ineed only mention the fact that, without the basic iron industry in the matter of defence - irrespective of the number of fighting men we might have available - Australia would be powerless. During the war the works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, at Newcastle, were established, and before that Hoskins’ works had been in operation. For the six years following 1915, these two large iron-producing firms - the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and Hoskins - produced about 1,000,000 tons of iron from native ores, and it is common knowledge that onehalf of the work carried on during the war could not have been undertaken, owing to short supplies from overseas and high prices, if these works had not been producing. I desire the Committee for a moment to consider how these two firms treated the Australian iron consumers during a period of great stress and difficulty. The prices of American and European iron rocketed to such an extent that it was almost unobtainable at any price; but the 1,000,000 tons of iron produced by these firms enabled all Australian industries to be kept going, because the producers did not take the fullest advantage of the world’s markets. Did they profiteer to any extent? Did they exact the last £1 of profit from the Australian consumers ? It is to their credit, it must be admitted, that they did not.
– It has been estimated that they saved the Australian consumers from £5,000,000 to £7,000,000.
– My estimate is greater than that.
– That is excluding Hoskins Limited.
– Exactly. I have a carefully tabulated statement, the accuracy of which I do not doubt, because I have been able to check it in one or two directions, which shows that, compared with the English current prices at the time of manufacture and delivery, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company alone saved the Australian consumers between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000, which confirms the figures given by the Minister (Senator Russell). I have assumed from the statement before me that Hoskins Limited produce about 50 per cent. of the Broken Hill output, and that they saved the Australian consumers a proportionate amount, so that the total savings on the 1,000,000 tons of iron produced by the two big companies would be approximated £10,000,000 from 1915 to 1921. I have had an opportunity of checking some of the figures submitted to me, and as one ounce of fact is worth a ton of theory, I desire to put some facts before the Committee. About eighteen months ago, concerns with which I am connected ordered two large dredges in Sydney, the contracts for which were based upon a certain price for angles, channels, and shipplates. The angles and channels, which were’ made at Newcastle, cost about £20 per ton, although they could not be imported at less than £30 per ton. That is evidence in support of the statement I am making that, as a result of the existence of these industries, the Australian iron consumers were saved in the region of £10,000,000 sterling. Unfortunately at that time Australian manufacturers were not producing thick plates, and the order for these had to be sent to America, the cost, including , exchange, by the time they reached Sydney, without ‘duty, being approximately£40 per ton. When these duties were ‘first imposed the price of commodities abroad, particularly of iron,were very high, and I do not think anybody dreamed that within two years a slump would come, and that Germany and Belgium would quote blooms, at £6 per ton, f.o.b. When these duties were imposed in March, 1920, it was considered that if they were not sufficient the world’s price of iron would give the local industries every protection. What has happened since? These duties were imposed, and money has been made out of the business, but we are on the eve of a time of great stress and difficulty because the world’s prices have crashed, and are at such a level that it is hopeless for us to expect Australian industries to be able to compete.
– Since March, 1920, when the Tariff was first introduced the effective protection which these duties were expected to give has been very seriously reduced owing to the higher price of coal and the increase in wages. The.proposed duty on pig iron is20s. per ton. Since March, 1920, the extra cost of coal owing to the Hibble award equals 7s.7d. per ton of pig iron, and the extra cost in wages since that time owing to increased awards given in the Arbitration Court and the introduction of the forty-four hour week has amounted to 5s. 7d. per ton, and . one or two other miscellaneous expenses, including harbor dues, have amounted to a few pence per ton. Consequently the increased cost of producing pig iron since the duty was first imposed is 14s. per ton, thus reducing theeffective protection from 20s. to 6s. per ton. I am somewhat in a quandary as to how to act. My first duty is to the iron industry, and my second duty is to the users of iron; but I say quite candidly that if I have to choose between preserving the iron industry and giving the many -consumers in Australia cheaper iron, I must decideto protect the iron industry, which , is absolutely essential for defenceand other national purposes..
The position is that the effective protection given to pig iron has been reduced now to only 6s. per ton, as compared with 20s., as originally designed and intended when the Tariff was imposed in March, 1920.
– What about the enhanced prices?
– I think that the prices have come down, and that prices generally are falling.
– Prices have come down whilst wages have gone up?
– The statements I have made are. absolute facts, and I repeat that I am in somewhat of a quandary in connexion with this matter.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I intend to say one or two words on this subject, but I feel that I could not compass what I have to say in the space of fifteen minutes. I therefore suggest that, in view of the very interesting address which Senator Pratten is delivering, he might be allowed to proceed with the discussion whilst I am given opportunity to consider how I can condense what I should like to say.
– I am obliged to Senator Lynch for enabling me to continue my speech. I shall not unduly delay the Committee by padding the facts at my disposal. I clearly see that an alteration of the duty on gig iron must involve an alteration of the duties proposed upon other subitems, as pig iron is the primary product of the iron industry. We have in connexion with this great industry three divisions of manufacture to consider. We have the basic division of the bloom; the second division carries the bloom to the finished product; and we have, in the third place, to consider the other industries dependent upon the finished product of the iron industry. The industry has its ramifications throughout Australia, and is truly of national importance. It is an Inter-State, and not an intra-State, industry, inasmuch as Tasmania and South Australia are to-day supplying most of the ore that is being manufactured into iron. The measure of protection designed and devisedby the Government has, as I have said, . been seriously reduced by increased wages and the increased cost of coal. The next point of importance is that prices in the world’s markets are so tumbling down that I doubt very much whether any duties that the Committee would be inclined to pass can save the iron industry unless other measures are devised. That brings me to the question of the great necessity for an anti-dumping Act.
SenatorLynch. - We must be a poor people, after all, if nothing will save us.
– I want to say quite frankly that, so far as my investigation of the iron industry goes, it seems to me that wages- are going up all the time and are practically keeping the industry on the “ bread line.” I indorse the- remark of Senatorde Largie that the time has come when we must consider whether wages will not have to be reduced. That is one of my difficulties in considering the imposition of increased duties. An increase in these duties may, in some cases, involve increased cost in other industries ; and I feel that the real solution of the problem with which the iron industry is faced to-day, speaking generally, and with a reservation in respect of only two or three items, is to be found in an antidumping measure to cope with the international position. I believe that the sooner we adopt such a measure the sooner we shall be in a position to effectively protect the workers in the iron industry.
– What about the workers employed in other industries?.
– I hope that their interests will also be protected by the Committee. I believe that honorable senatorswill endeavour to give a fair deal all round. Senator Drake-Brockman took some exception to the financial figures of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. So far as I have been able to examine them, I should say that the company has done exceedingly well since 1915, the first year of its establishment. But it has been somewhat conservative with regard to paying away the whole of” its profits. Whilst it has declared only moderate dividends, it has capitalized’ the remainder of its profits, and used them for the extension of the industry. In addition a large amount of money has been borrowed on 6 per cent, debentures, and the result is that the capital which was in the company in 1915, in connexion with its other metal activities; has been very largely increased, but, so far as I can. see, there is not very much of what is called, watered capital in the. many millions invested in the industry. I am opposed to the request moved by Senator Drake-Brockman. I was sorry to hear the honorable senator say. that he considers the interests of iron consumers of greater importance than the establishment in Australia of the iron industry. In other words, the honorable senatorbelieves that parochial, are greater than national interests. I am not sure thatan increase of 5s. or 10s. per ton in the duty on pig iron would effectively enable us to cope with the international position that certainly is looming. I feel, particularly with regard to this basic product of the iron industry, that the only instrument that is likely to be effective for its salvation against- foreign competition is an anti-dumping law, which I believe the Government are determined, if possible, shall be passed by this Parliament. To-day bar iron is quoted at £9 per ton f.o.b. European ports, and blooms are quoted at £6 10s. per ton. Other iron is equally cheap. I consider that unless this industry is carefully watched and nursed, we shall have an era of very great unemployment in Newcastle, and that thousands of very fine, men will, find their employment gone; the blast furnaces will be shut down, and it will be very difficult, indued, to restore the industry to its present state of great activity and productiveness. ‘
– Cheer up,, brother !
– The condition of the iron position throughout the world to the industry in Australia is not calculated’ to make one very cheerful. It is our duty to see that we do not shut the stable door after the horse has gone. We should frankly discuss with one another what is the true position, and what we ought to do to meet it. I again stress the point that from all the evidence at my disposal the consumers of iron in Australia, during the last six years, have been saved £10,000,000 as compared with what, they would have had to pay for their iron if theyhad imported it f rom abroad. I feel that there is some, gratitude due to the companies manufacturing iron in Australia for treating Australian consumers of iron as fairly as they have done. Already we have listened to very strong arguments on behalf of the sugar-growers of Queensland to the effect that because, during the war, they sold their product at much lower than the world’s parity, they were entitled to consideration. In my opinion, the time to give consideration to the iron industry has now arrived. I doubt whether the increase of duty suggested by Senator Duncan of 5s’. per ton on pig iron will have any good effect. I doubt whether an increase in the duty of 10s. per ton would be of any real use. I do deliberately say that until we have an anti-dumping Act we shall be deliberately risking the ruin of this great industry that has been established on the eastern coast of Australia, which I think is a credit to those who -have established it and which was of inestimable service to Australia during the war.
– I wish to say briefly that I intend to support Senator DrakeBrockman’s request. I do not want my action to be interpreted as in any way unfriendly to this great industry. I am justified in saying this, because when I arrived in this Chamber some fourteen years ago, I supported a policy which some other members of the Senate then deliberately opposed. I am glad to think that in the whirligig of time, though I shall not refer to the causes operating upon them, those honorable senators have come to see that if Australia, in the familiar phrase, is to be self-contained and self-supporting, we must have protective duties. While admitting that, I am not going to the extreme of giving two doses to a patient when by all rules of common sense it is obvious that one would be sufficient.
I have heard the iron industry referred to as a key industry. I remind honorable senators that a key has a double significance. It may be used for locking just as effectively as for unlocking. To the unfortunate individual who is locked up on insufficient or false evidence, a key has a very sinister significance. I believe that many of the excessively high duties imposed by the Tariff will serve the purpose of very effectively locking up much of the latent wealth of this country. I would not willingly aim a blow at an industry like the iron industry. My speeches and votes in this Chamber prove the truth of that statement. But when I examine the claim put forward for increased duties on behalf of the industry, I consider it a positively weak one. I should like to say that, in regard to this and every other industry affected by the Tariff, wo sadly lack authoritative up-to-date information. We have evidence that was collected before the war, some seven years ago, in what may be regarded as normal times. We have evidence collected during the intervening period, which might be used, some for and some against, the imposition of high rates of duties. The last speaker told us that consumers of iron in Australia were saved £6,000,000 through the philanthropy of the Newcastle ironmasters, who permitted them to obtain iron at a much lower price than that at which they could have obtained it from other countries.
– I did not say anything about philanthropy. I said they had treated us fairly.
– We have been told that because of what the iron and steel masters of Australia did during the war the consumers of iron and steel in this country benefited to the extent of £6,000”000.
– You are not disputing that statement, are you?
– I am inquiring into the why and wherefore of this remarkable statement, and I turn to that official document, issued by the Government but of which they take very little notice, namely, the return of imports and exports in relation to these particular commodities. I find at the beginning of the war period 1915-16, bur imports of bar, rod, and angle iron amounted in round figures to £938,000. In 1916-17 the figures rose to over £1,000,000; and in 1917-18 they dropped to £340,000; in 1918- 19 they rose to £373,000; and in 1919- 20 they rose to £5.00,000. But it should be remembered that this industry, which Ave are told is now languishing for want of more protection, was also exporting iron and steel pro-, ducts. I find that for the same quinquennial period, our exports of rod and angle iron of the same dimensions were - 1915-16, £12,000; 1916-17, £140,000;
3917-1S, £96,000; 191S-19, £272,000;
1919-20, £227,000. This was all native stuff, turned out in Australian factories.
– Mostly mining machinery.
– Can you tell the Committee if your figures include machinery ?
– They include rod and hoop iron, ingots, and bar iron.
– Hoop iron is not made in Australia, so that item must represent re-exports.
– I have been particularly careful, in this matter, to see that my feet are on granite all the time. All the hoop iron exported could have been carried away in a dray, the. total being only £13,000 in value. The balance of exports, bar iron, ingots,, and such products, were being exported on an ascending scale during those .years, and the imports, as I have shown, were less than in 1915-16. I think, therefore, that we are justified in inquiring into the reason for this extra duty. I do not want to injure the industry. As a matter of fact, my vote has always been given to sustain it, and I intend to do the same on this occasion if it can be shown to me that it is in need of further protection. In this- matter, I prefer to accept the opinion of those interested in the industry at the time. They are coming forward now, at the eleventh hour, appealing for protection. I do not blame them. It is likely that they have been influenced by the manner in which the Tariff schedule was put through another place, where requests for duties of 40 per cent, and 55 per cent, were so readily acceded to. No doubt, these men said to themselves, “ If these duties are being ladled out like this, might not we be in it too?” We have received a lot of correspondence on this particular subject from experts in the industry. I suppose I can consider myself five-sixths of an expert in the business, because for practically the whole of my life I have been not a “ wheat-grower,” as I am so often called, but a wheatsower, using the implements produced by our manufacturers in iron and steel. I am associated with an industry, to assist which I would go to the utmost limits consistent with conserving the public interest. In 19’15 Mr. Delprat, the mouthpiece of those concerned in the iron and steel in dustry, in his evidence before the InterState Commission said -
I had a Conversation with Mr. Hoskins with regard to these proposed duties. I have gone into these matters, but have not made any application for duty. One of the reasons why X did not is that when I started the industry I told people that if I could not live without any extra duty I would not go into it at all. It was after I had made my estimates I said that [ made my estimates on ordinary market conditions.
Mr. Delprat did not go into the industry rashly. He would not have been where he is, on the topmost rung of the ladder, and recognised as a captain of industry in this country, if he had entered into any industrial operations rashly. During the debate in another place the Government were asked if a request was made by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company for additional protection, and the answer was an unqualified “no.” Therefore, we are entitled to ask on what ground this duty is now being imposed if it has not been asked for by the people directly concerned, and who, we may assume, are the best judges as to whether it is required or not. The Government, apparently, acted in obedience to and in consonance with the generallyexpressed desire for a Protective policy. But it is putting an extreme and unwarranted construction on public opinion. That is not my policy. I do not feel disposed to support any Protective duty unless it is wanted. High Protective duties, if their effect is not to encourage those concerned in an industry to make the best use of their opportunities, may work lasting injury. The keynote to success in any industrial enterprise is healthy competition.
– Senator Lynch wantS” to know why it is proposed to extend Protection, in regard to pig iron, to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company and Hoskins Brothers. I think the answer was supplied by an interjection, during his speech, that the conditions to-day are entirely different from what they were during the war period, when these two concerns were selling their products at about £4 per ton below European rates. In 1914 Mr. Delprat did make the statement quoted bv Senator Lynch, but that was at a time when the world’s exchange rates were normal. I find from to-day’s Herald that the German mark, the par rate of which, is twenty to the sovereign, is quoted at 312. Germany is now exporting iron and steel products in considerable quantities, and I am not too sure that some of the exports from Belgium do not include German products.
-brockman. - We do not propose to interfere with the Tariff rate against Germany.
– No ; but I am replying to the arguments used by Senator Lynch, and giving reasons why it is necessary, to protect the local industry. Belgian steel rods can be landed in Melbourne to-day at about one-half the cost of the. local product. This fact has been brought under my notice lately in connexion with our ship-building contracts. In normal times our iron and steel industry could hold its own, but at present European prices it is seriously threatened, even with the Tariff protection proposed in these items. The dumping that is going on under the present exchange position must be stopped, and unless we can put an end to it by means of the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Bill, the iron and steel industry of Australia will be closed down at least until the exchange position becomes normal. We were all hopeful that we would return to normal conditions within two or three years of the close of the war, but we hear men saying to-day that another ten years may elapse before we do so. Senator Lynch referred to our export df steel rails. I know that during the war period we exported a quantity of steel rails, and we are proud of the service that we were thus able to render the Allies. Some of those rails were laid in the neighbourhood of Albert, and contributed to the success of the Allies. . We congratulate, not only the manufacturers who were thus able to come to the assistance of the Allies at a critical stage, but our own boys who, as members of the Australian Railway Corps, did excellent service. Among them was the honorable member for Fremantle (Ma-. Burchell), who was in a particularly hot corner. The local industry has put up a good performance. Those engaged in it could have exploited the people of Australia during the war when we were totally dependent upon them for supplies, but they gave us their products at. a fair price. We did not expect them to- be philanthropists, but they might legitimately have raised their prices to a far greater extent than they did. A careful analysis shows that the output of Broken Hill steel works since 1915 amounts to about £7,000,000 worth, and, including the output of Hoskins- Limited, we have a total local production of nearly £9,000,000 worth. Is it not a good thing that Australia has been- able to supply her own wants to that extent? Most of our pig iron of recent years has come, not from Great Britain, but from India and China. Queensland, as soon as the necessary financial arrangements, can be made, intends to bring iron ore from Western Australia. Two or three vessels are regularly engaged in carrying ore from the Iron Knob to Newcastle, and in that one branch of the industry alone a great many men are employed. The local industry has done good work for Australia, and is in a position now to supply the whole of our requirements in respect of steel and iron. We are independent of any other country so far as iron and steel are concerned, but we still import large quantities of machinery. During the war period, when there was a great dearth of shipping, Ave could not for a time build a vessel of our OAvn because
Ave had not the necessary steel plates, nor had Ave the steel required for the construction of engines, and although we had- an enormous production of wool ourwomenfolk found it impossible for some time, owing to the lack of local mills, to obtain a skein ofwoolwithwhich to knit a pair of socks. We could not get anything like the machinery required to develop our great industries. To-day Ave have over thirty-six Avoollen mills in Australia, and machinery for use in such mills is being made within 5 miles of this chamber.
– Only a small proportion ofwat is required,butthe machinery that is being made here is very good.
– That is. so. We are also making machinery for the manufacture of carpets. A Sydney firm - Carmichael’s - is now making carpets with machinery manufactured here. The plant used in Toy and Gibson’s mills wasalso built in Geelong from imported plansIwell remember the time whenwe could not get here the galvanized iron we required to protect, our wheat stacks from mice. We could not obtain supplies fromGreat Britain, but we eventually secured what we wantedfrom the United States of America, and the lowest price paid by us for galvanized iron from that country was about £55 10s. per ton. We are now rolling sheets to less than onesixteenth of an inch, and by the endof this year it is expected that local manuf acturerswill be able to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements in respect of galvanized iron. Angle iron for building purposes, and other classes of iron, are now being made here. I do not advocate -excessrve protection for any industry, but I believe this is a sound proposition to keep the industry going in normal times. I do not say that it will cure the existing evils. We must cope with the dumping that is now going on. Unless we do so, I am satisfied that with the exchange position remaining as it is, our iron and steel industry will be closed within six months. If we could get back to the conditions prevailing in 1915 - to the conditions operating when Mr. Delprat spoken - I believe the industry would be able to carry on without Protection and without any antidumping legislation. But those times have gone. Twelve months ago the bank rate of exchange was 212 marks to the sovereign, to-day it is 312 marks to the sovereign. I do not wish to argue the point as to whether or not we are proposing to give the industry 1 per cent, or 2 per cent, more protection than that to which it is entitled, but I am satisfied that in the near future it will have to battle hard to keep going. It may have to close down for a time, although I believe it will ultimately recover, but since it has been established our effortshould be to continue it.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– An extraordinary fact to which I have previously drawn attention is that whenever high Protectionists like the Minister , in charge ofthe Bill (Senator Russell) find themselves up against facts and figures, they trot out a bogy, and proceed at once to demolish it. The Minister, with his usual astuteness, has done so on this occasion.
– Is the question of exchangeamere bogy?
-It is so far as the request immediately before the Chair is concerned. We havebefore us a motion to requestthe House of Representatives . to reduce the duty under the British preferential Tariff from 20s. to 15s.per ton, and I understand that ifthat request is agreed to, we cannot then move a request to reduce the rate under the general Tariff. If we had desired to reduce or increase the duty underthe general Tariff, we should have submitted such a proposition before proceeding to move a request in regard to the British preferential Tariff. I am not aware that any honorable senator has yet suggested any alteration of the duty of 40s.per ton under the general Tariff. That being so, the question of exchange so astutely advanced by theMinister is a mere bogy. The exchange position to which he refers does not obtain as between Australia and Great Britain.The honorable senator has told us that over 60 per cent, of our imports of this commodity recently have come from China and India. What has that fact to do with the proposition now before the Chair, namely, that the British rate, and not the rate of duty applying to imports from China and India, shall be reduced from 20s. to 15s. per ton?
– But consider what our importsfrom Great Britain were before the war.
There is no need to do so. The only question before the Chair is whether a request shall be made to the House of Representatives to reduce the duty under the British preferential Tariff, so that all these bogys which the high Protectionists trot out and demolish with so much vigour - and the Minister (Senator Russell) is an absolute champion in this regard - count for nothing. Can honorable senators think of a bigger red herring that could be drawn across this trail than the exchange position between, say, Australia and Germany to-day. It has absolutely nothing to do with the question beforeus. This question is merely whether we are going to give the iron industry of Australia - the producers of the raw product - a greater measure of protection against Great Britain and Great Britain alone.
– ?But the whole division is based on sub-item a, which relates to pig iron.
Senator DRAKEBROCKMAN.That is entirely beside the question. It does not affect the exchange position as between Australia and Great Britain. I rose merely to draw attention to this wonderful red herring which the Minister has drawn across the trail in order to catch the sympathies of honorable senators. I agree almost entirely Avith everything he has said Avith regard to that particular matter, but it does not affect the proposition before the Committee. We have to decide whether a duty of 15s. per ton will afford sufficient protection to the Australian producers of this raw material, or whether the rate should be 20s. I accept the premises laid down by Senator Earle, knowing perfectly well that in the present temper of honorable senators I could not prevail if I attempted what I feel very much inclined to do, and that is to
WiDe out the duty altogether. I accept the situation that what Ave require is sufficient protection against Great Britain, but not more than sufficient, and I think I demonstrated, when I Avas on my feet before, that a duty of 15s. is sufficient to meet the requirements of those who practise and preach those particular principles which have been enunciated so clearly OVer and over again in this Chamber, and emphasized once more to-night by Senator Earle. Therefore, I urge honorable senators not to be drawn off the trail by this red herring of exorbitant exchanges, but to keep to the real point at issue, namely, that a duty of 15s. is sufficient protection against Great Britain, and that our manufacturers of this raw material do not require any higher rate.
– I have some facts, taken from authoritative sources, , to show that the conditions of the workers in Great Britain are changing so rapidly that the Australian producers of pig iron need as much protection against Great Britain as against any other country. The following are extracts from Engineering and Industrial Management, a journal well known in Great Britain: -
Furness Miners Union .agreed to accept a reduction in wages from 22s. 8d. to 19s. 7d. per day. Iron ore mines in Lancashire agreed to accept a reduction in wages of about 3s. a day. - (27th January, 1921.)
Welsh tin plate workers reduced by 7J per cent.- (Srd February, 1921.)
Steel trade, West of. Scotland, record fall of 30s. per ton, which automatically carried with it a reduction of 15 per cent, in wages as from 17th January, 1921. Further reduction in price of ships’ plates Avas intimated, which will involve an additional reduction in wages - (10th February, 1921.)
Welsh steel bars fall £4 per ton. This will mean a reduction of 30 per cent, in steelworkers’ wages in May next. - (17th February, 1921.)
Black Country bolt-makers accept a reduction of 10 per cent. Screw Manufacturers Union agrees to a reduction in wages . . . of from 4s. 9d. to lis.- (3rd March, 1921.)
Even in America wages are falling in the same way. This is an extract from the Iron Age of the 6th January last: -
The Bethlehem Steel Company has announced a reduction of wages at the South Bethlehem plant of from 10 to 20 per cent., effective 16th January. The announcement was made following a joint meeting of the company officials and representatives of the workmen under the employee representation plan in effect at the plant. The reduction is similar to the one being made at Lebanon plant.
– Have you the rates of wages paid in America and Great Britain to-day?
– No; but I am pointing out the changing conditions in those countries, which are likely to be our great competitors in the future, and from which Ave must expect dumping. To my own knowledge it was quite a common practice a few years ago to send ships from Great Britain to Australia Avith pig iron as ballast.
– A good many years ago.
– It was done just prior to the Avar; and now, when wages are falling in Great Britain, and the manufacturers there are endeavouring in every possible way to increase their output and find markets for it, they may be prepared once more to supply pig iron as ballast for ships which are sent out here to remove our produce.
– Hundreds of vessels come out to Australia in ballast.
– Is 19s. 7d. per day a small wage?
– It is the wage among the ironworkers of Great Britain to-day, in spite of the fall.
– The honorable senator’s statement carries on the face of it its own refutation. The average rate of wage in Great Britain to-day is nothing like 19s. 7d., even in the highest-paid trades. .
– A moment or two ago the honorable senator quoted the fact that the Furness Miners Union had agreed to accept a reduction of wages from 22s. 8d. to 19s. 7d. per day.
– It is highly improbable that the average wage now paid in the iron and steel industry is 19s. 7d. per day. With the unemployment at present prevailing in Great Britain, it is not possible for that rate of wage to be paid to-day, even in such a highly-paid industry as the iron trade. I think I have the figures among my papers, and in a few minutes I shall take the opportunity of hunting for them. For the moment, my purpose is to deal with the position in a general sort of way.
– The honorable senator has failed to demonstrate that the workers’ conditions governing the cost of production in Great Britain are very much lower than they are in Australia.
– I am endeavouring to show that conditions are rapidly altering in Great Britain. Wages and other costs of production there are falling to such an extent that we must expect Great Britain as a future competitor in the Australian market.
– That is an assertion not based on facts.
– It is based on facts. I have quoted from authoritative sources. At any rate, I hope that the reduction proposed by Senator DrakeBrockman will not be agreed to, because it would have the effect of shutting down the steel industry in Australia, and leaving us entirely dependent on the outside world for the supply of the very necessary raw material for some of our great manufacturing industries.
– I understood Senator Duncan to say that in January last some employees in the iron trade of Great Britain had their wages reduced to 19s. 7d. per day, but I did not understand from him that that was the ruling wage at the present time. The honorable senator quoted from the Iron Age. He might also have quoted from the Melbourne Age of the 6th
August last, or from the Melbourne Argus, or from any other metropolitan journal of the same date, the following cablegram despatched from London on the 4th August: -
Midland Counties Wages Board reports that since January the price of finished iron has fallen to the extent of £13 a ton. The effect of this reduction is an 80 per cent, reduction in the wages of the workmen.
The North-East Coast Arbitration Board has reduced the wages of puddlers, forge, and mill workers to theextent of 47 per cent.
Accepting Senator Duncan’s statement that 19s. 7d. was the wage in certain divisions of the industry in January last, and also accepting the statement that wages since then have decreased by 80 per cent., we have no right to calculate on a competition based on anything like 19s. 7d. a day. I do not profess that what I have read is correct, but I have given my authority.
– Is that reduction from the rate in January last, or from some higher figure previously?
– From January last, I take it. Those of us who read the English newspapers must have noticed in many industries a considerable drop in wages, and realize that 80 per cent, is nothing phenomenal. Very high wages prevailed in England during the war in the coal industry, the iron industry, and many others which it is the fashion to designate as key industries. The altered conditions since the peace have necessitated enormous reductions, and it is this fact that is the cause of a good deal of the present unrest in the Old Country. Whether the drop is justified by circumstances or not it is not for us to inquire; we have to accept the facts. We cannot attempt, in adjusting the duties on this particular item, to have regard to wages and conditions that prevailed in the competing industries in Great Britain twelve months ago, or in the early part of this year. Whatever be the actual wages paid, I feel sure there has been a considerable drop in the last nine or ten months, and that the wages at the beginning of that period probably represented a drop from some previously higher figure, especially during the war. I cannot see my way clear to support the request proposed. A Protectionist policy in a young country, like Australia that does not succeed in, firmly establishing an iron and steel industry can be compared to the staging of Hamlet without the appearance of a
Prince of Denmark. It is the greatest of all industries, other than those purely primary. It is the industry on which the country’s prosperity, safety, and very existence depends. Having listened patiently to the arguments on. both sides, I cannot, as I have said, see my way to support the- request.
– I can assure the Minister that in his belief that I am in favour of abolishing the. duty–
– I did not say anything of the sort; I said that you were in favour of a reduction unless we proved the necessity for the higher duty. .
– From the fact that I commenced by supporting- Senator Drake-Brockman in seeking a reduction of the British preferential, duty, the inference can be drawn that I am in favour of higher duties in respect of countries other than the United Kingdom. Much has been said in a vague sort of way which almost leads me to the belief that it would be a. mercy if some one were to move that the question be put, for those who support the duty are not giving intelligent reasons for their attitude. On the other hand, I propose to show that the manufacture of iron ore in Australia is carried on under condition’s that are specially favorable. Notwithstanding what may have been the rise in wages, that has been more than counterbalanced in the Old Country, as I shall prove. We have heard Senator Duncan and Senator Keating, giving percentages, but as they indicated neither starting point nor finishing point, we are left as much in the dark as if they had not spoken at all. As to wages in the Old Country, the London Daily Chronicle of 1st March, 1920, contains the following: -
43,000 MEN IDLE TO-MORROW.
Lightning Decision at Welsh Steel Works.
Union Order Ignored.
Men Refuse to Work Out 28 Days’ Notice. Steel-workers in South Wales, telegraphs the Daily Chronicle Llanelly correspondent, decided on Saturday on a lightning strike, to secure the 40 per cent, advance in wages refused by the masters on Friday.
It is expected, telegraphs our Swansea correspondent, that at least 10,000 men will be affected by the decision.
Steel Workers’ Wages at Present Range from £8 to £25 a Week.
The strikers have ignored the union’s advice, and thrown over their leaders.
Here we have over 40,000 men engaged, in a dispute, when the ruling rate of wage was from. £8 to £25, or, an. average of £16 per week. Honorable senators may juggle with percentages, but here are facts - something concrete to ponder over.
We are told that, in this remote corner of the globe, we. are. at a disadvantage inplacing our primary products, which needno protection, on the: markets of the worlds But if distance is in that regard a. standingdebit to Australia, it. is a standing credit to manufacturers, operating in Australia: That has not yet been stated by the supportersoftheduty.
– It: is their heavy, natural protection.
– I. thank the honorable senator for that phrase, though I think I have heard it before. We have been told over and over again that, owing, to the peculiar climatic conditions in this country, certain duties should be placed on certain products which I do not desire to mention now. I have taken note of that argument, and voted in accordance with, it ; and if we apply the same reason ing when the advantages are in our favour,we have good ground for easing a duty. What are the easy conditions on the authority of the chief operators in the iron industry?Mr. Delprat, according to the Inter-State Commission’s report on the iron and steel industry, said that this country had: great advantages in the manufacture of pig iron from iron ore as compared with all the other competing countries in the world, bar none. The figures he gave were as follow: -
Tons of Ore for 1 Ton of Pig Iron. - United States of America, nearly 2; Sweden, 2; Russia, 2; Great Britain, 2.4; Germany, 2.4; France, 2.7; Belgium, 2.7; Australian (Iron Knob), 1.5.
So that the percentage of pig. iron in our iron ores is the highest in the world on the authority of one man who ought to know. The chief ingredients used in this industry are coal and iron; and what are the facts in regard to coal? Is there need to go any further than Mr. Charlton, the member for Hunter in. another place, who has said that coal is cheaper here than in any. other part of the world? I reinforce that statement by saying that our miners can get more out of the earth than the miners of any other country, bar one. I should now like to give some figures from Webb’s Dictionary of Statistics, which succeeded the renowned Mulhall, showing the tons produced per person employed. The figures are not quite up-to-date, being for. 1905-07, but they have some significance for us : - 1905-7 - Tons per Persons Employed. - United Kingdom, 280; Canada, 425;. Australia, 478; Germany, 270; Belgium, 163; Japan, 130; United States of America, 555.
Australia, it will be seen, shows the second highest output in the world. With all these advantages, it is proposed to impose a duty, and I repeat the argument with which I began, that if a duty is necessary because we are at a disadvantage in some respects by our tropical and sub-tropical climate, then, when the advantages are with us, there is warrant for at least an easement of duty.
I should now like to quote from an article by Mr. Bell, one of the leading iron masters in the Old Country, in reference to the position of the iron industry there, in order to combat a statement that, as wages increase, the cost of the product naturally increases. That does not hold good always, and, at any rate, it does not in the case of the production of iron in the Old Country. Mr. Bell, and his father before him, and, perhaps, his family for generations past, have been in the iron trade, and his firm has been amalgamated with that of Dorman and Company, whose products are well known in Australia. Mr. Bell says, according to the Contemporary Review of last year: -
When I first became acquainted with the manufacture of pig iron, the cost of labour at the blast furnace amounted to something like 6s. per ton. Prior to the war, and, indeed, prior to certain changes in conditions, which set in some time before August, 1914, this cost had fallen to about 3s.6d. per ton. In the interval, not only had wages risen in a remarkable manner, but the hours of labour . had been reduced from twelve to eight per day.
When wages had risen on the one hand labour costs had fallen on the other from 6s. to 3s. 6d. It does not follow that because wages rise the cost of production increases in proportion. ‘The writer proceeds to explain how the fall occurred. It was owing to the fact that the industry was fighting hard against competition. Those engaged therein were put to their wit’s end to keep going successfully. They were not permitted to grow flabby and indolent behind any protective barrier. Why provide ‘more shelter than is needed ? I do not propose to support the erection of any such unnecessary local shelter. My ideal is that every operation in the land shall be given the necessary measure of assistance to enable it to compete, strenuously but successfully, against foreign competitors. And, in an active young country such as this, only a slight shade of encouragement is required over and above what outside competition will dictate.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I appeal to honorable senators to approach the subject from the point of view of common sense. Between £6,000,000 and £8,000,000 has been invested in this industry in Australia. That money has not been advanced for fun. Its investment has proved beneficial, not merely to the parties immediately interested, but to the country at large. Its expenditure has been in the wholesome direction of exploiting Australia’s raw materials; and, in respect of this latter consideration, South Australia has benefited.
– Parochialism once more!
– When honorable senators consider the statement of Mr. Delprat to the effect that the industry could carry on without the assistance of protection, they should not forget that those words were uttered when the company’s mining interests at Broken Hill were flourishing. As for the criticism of parochialism, there are probably between8,000 and 9,000 employees concerned in the investment of the £6,000,000 or £8,000,000 just mentioned. They are not engaged in one particular State, and they do not include those indirectly concerned, for example, in the transport of ore and mining for coal. The national character of the iron and steel industry is forcibly brought home to one whohas made himself, acquainted with progress in Germany compared with ‘the state of the industry in Great Britain prior to the war. Again returning to the investment of capital in Australia and to the employment of thousands of wage-earners in different States, it should not be lost sight of that the annual wages bill amounts to at least £1,750,000. If such a sum were distributed among the workers of Australia through any other industry the latter would unquestionably be ranked among the staple enterprises of the Commonwealth. To-day the Broken Hill Proprietary Company and Hoskins Limited are able to supply the whole of Australia’s iron and steel requirements. Is such an industry to- be permitted to languish ?
– Nobody proposes that..
– In the course of the debate it has been remarked that Australia has no need to fear the output of Great Britain. Upon that point the following extract from the Argus of 6th August is illuminating: -
According to a report issued by the Midland Counties Wages Board,’ since January the price of finished iron has fallen to the extent of £13 per ton, the effect of which should bc a reduction of 80 per cent, of the amount paid in excess of pre-war rates on the wages of ironworkers. The North-East Coast Arbitration Board has reduced the wages of puddlers, forge and mill workers, to the extent of 47 per cent, of the additions to pre-war rates.
That shows that- the wages of ironworkers” in Great Britain to-day are only 20 per cent, above pre-war rates. “Will Senator Drake-Brockman still argue that there is no danger? Japan is stated to. have discovered a method of smelting magnetic sand by which- pig iron can be produced for £2 lis. per ton. Is there no danger from that source?
– If the honorable senator cares to request an increase of the general rate from 40s. to 60s. per ton I shall support him.
– America has a reserve of something like £700,000,000. Although it is illegal in that country for companies tq enter into combinations for the exploitation of the home market, a combination is permitted by the Webb Act for the exploitation of export trade; and if the iron concerns of the United States of America combine and use the surplus of which I have just spoken, they can destroy the Australian iron industry, unless the Commonwealth Parliament stands, by it. It would be a serious thing: to let an infant industry like this besmashed.
– It is proposed only to reduce the British preferential duty.
– But it must not be forgotten that prices are rising in Australia, and that this increases the cost of producing iron here. Wages have risen; harbor dues have risen.
– Any rise in harbor dues would equally affect imports.
– The price of coal has risen by 4s. per ton. All these increases handicap the local manufacture of pig iron. I hope that honorable senators will not allow an industry which has been of great benefit to Australia to be destroyed. For a considerable period the construction of the east-west railway was hindered by the want of steel rails, and the work was finished only because we were able to obtain rails made in Australia.
– Would it have hurt us if in those days, before the local iron industry was started, iron rails had been dumped here for nothing?
– There is a possibility of dumping, despite the Tariff. I believe, with the Minister, that the duties in the schedule will not prevent dumping,, and that unless we pass the AntiDumping Bill, the iron industry and other industries will suffer.
– The honorable senator’s time hasexpired.
– We have been told that the iron> industry of Australia is in a bad way, yet it is only recently that that has been discovered. As a matter of fact, the ironmasters of thi3 country, noticing the outrageous duties proposed for the benefit of other persons, .have said, “ We might as well have a share in this largesse.” I donot blame them, but it is my duty to point out the effect that the duties in the itemunder discussion will have on the. general” prosperity of the country. We haveheard of the 6,000 persons at Newcastle^, and the 3,000 persons at Lithgow, towhom the iron industry gives employment ; but what about the 235,000 personsengaged in agriculture who use iron im- plements, and the 64,000 men in the mining industry, who are, also dependent on the iron industry and are taxed to support it? Are these not to be considered? We know that the metalliferous mining industry of this country is declining, and the next thing we may know if a change does not come is that it is dying. What is the reason for the present state of affairs ? One reason is that there is not enough prospecting. In Western Australia, hundreds of square miles of metalliferous country are still unexplored. Men will not go out to seek the hidden resources of that vast area so long as the cost of mining remains such that it will hardly pay to work anything but a very rich find. For the mining industry to succeed, it must be possible -to work medium grade ores at a profit. Men will not stake their all on the discovery of a bonanza at every venture. But at present only an exceptionally rich mine pays to work, and what contributes more than anything else to the cost of working is the cost of equipment. The duties under discussion must have the effect of greatly increasing that cost. The miner, like the wheat-grower, has to sell his produce in the markets of the world. He cannot, like those engaged in the various industries that are protected by the Tariff, pass on to the consumer any charge whereby he may be hampered. If he said to prospective purchasers abroad, “I have to pay a duty of £1 a ton on pig iron, a duty of 25 per cent, on wrought and angle iron, and so on, right up the scale,” he would be told, “A fig for all that. Others will sell to me more cheaply, and therefore I shall buy from them.” The State of Western Australia, of which I have the honour to be arepresentative, welcomes population which will turn its vast resources to account. It is capable of producing 90,000,000 bushels of wheat. But every duty that is imposed -makes it more difficult for men to go out into dry, uninviting districts to struggle for a living. Unfortunately, too many honorable senators follow the Government blindly.
I admit that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company deserves well of this Parliament. It has put brains into a venture which it has managed well, and I wish to see it hold its own. If it does so, it will be a good thing for the Commonwealth. Its balance-sheets, however, show that it has not done too badly. Let us consider the balance-sheets for the last seven years. Omitting the year 1913-14, we find that the profits, which have varied from time to time, on the subscribed capital, which, in 1915, was £472,000, and to-day is £2,100,000, were as follow: -
The actual profit on the shareholders’ capital is in the neighbourhood of 15 per cent., -which is not a bad return; and it has to be remembered that the returns for last year are for a period when the Broken Hill operations were at a standstill owing to the strike. There were slight adjustments in metal receipts that perhaps balanced expenditure at Broken Hill.
– The honorable senator must not forget the debentures.
– I am showing what has happened in. 1920, when debenture liability was brought to account, and when the company had the protection which we now seek to reduce. I am prepared to support Senator Drake-Brockman, who is in favour of a duty of 15s. per ton on importations from Great Britain, and I.’ am willing to allow the other duties to remain as they appear in the schedule. I am anxious to see the industry thrive, and I believe the duties suggested are sufficient to enable thatto be done. I could, if time permitted, quote the opinion of Mr. Bell, a leading ironmaster in Great Britain, who says that he wants a gross profit of only 10 per cent, on his iron investments in Great Britain, and that should be sufficient for the company with which we are dealing. As I have already mentioned, we have also to consider the interests of those who are engaged in other fields of activity, including those who are raising metals from the depths of those vast and untrodden wastes, and who have to pay exorbitant prices, by virtue of this Tariff, for everything they require. We also have to keep in mind those who are operating in our wheat areas, not on. established farms, and who have to stand the strain of enhanced prices for land and equipment. There is no direct or positive inducement to them to leave the cities. And in an endeavour to hold the scales evenly, and equalize the incidence of these duties, I shall support a British preferential duty of 15s. per ton.
– I desire to indorse everything Senator Lynch has said in favour of a reduced British preferential duty, because his arguments have been most convincing as regards the dangers of increasing the price of such a commodity as pig iron, which enters very largely into the manufacture of agricultural machinery. Reference has been made to the value of manufactures in Australia, but when we peruse the figures for 1919-20, we find that of our total wealth, agricultural industry was responsible for £58,000,000, pastoral industry £98,000,000, dairying and poultry raising £33,000,000, forestry £7,000,000, and mining £27,000,000. We are all deploring the enormous decrease year by year in the output of gold, which has arisen largely in consequence of the excessive cost of production. We have wonderful wealth in Australia, and during the last two or three years have obtained highly satisfactory returns for our wheat, wool, and meat. The value of our manufactures is only £75,000,000. Our trouble in the future will be owing to the enormous decrease in the value of our primary production, as sheep, which in 1920 returned £60,000,000, will not this year return more than £30,000,000.
– Does that indicate over production?
– It indicates the tremendous fall in values. Our success depends upon the value of our exports over our imports and upon the efforts of those who work on the land ; because it is the people in the out-back country who enable those who work in the cities to live in comfort. Excessive duties are.a menace to the community, and are responsible for increasing the cost of living to the whole community. In all the States people are leaving the land and flocking into the cities, as the latest figures prove. Although, the price obtained for wheat during the last few years has been satisfactory, what is going to happen when we come down to average values? Wheatgrowing is becoming so unattractive, particularly in the dry areas, that men are deserting the industry and engaging in other pursuits. The area under cultivation in Australia decreased from 18,528,234 acres in 1915, to 13,332,393 acres in 1919 - a decrease of over 5,000,000 acres.
– As the honorable senator believes in normal values, why not deal with wool on that basis?
– It is nearly normal now, as the pre-war price was 91/2d., and to-day it is approximately 9d. per lb.
– It has been down to lid. per lb.
– The Minister does not, apparently, know that there are847 different kinds of wool, and the prices range from1/4d. to 24d. per lb. I want cheaper pig iron in order that we may be able to obtain more cheaply in this country the tools of trade we require. In 1915-16, there were 12,484,572 acres under wheat in Australia. In 1919-20, the acreage under wheat was 6,412,708 acres, or a decrease of over 6,000,000 acres.
– There were a great many workers away from the country.
– Not in 1919-20. I support Senator Drake-Brockman’s request because I -want our tools of trade to be obtained as cheaply as we can get them. The average yield of wheat in
Australia over twenty years is 11.26 bushels per acre. The. average value per acre is £2. 5s. 73/4d., and the average cost of production is over £3. Whilst wheat cultivation is very profitable with wheat at 7s. 6d. and 9s. per bushel, when we get back to the normal value of under 4s. per bushel it will not pay to grow wheat in this country. We should try to keep down the price of agricultural, implements, instead of doubling and trebling prices to producersas we have been doing through these Protection-gonemad duties,. It will shortly be unprofitable to grow, wheat at all in Australia, and our people will flock more and more into the cities. Under the duties imposed by the Government we have to-day 52 per cent, of the population of Victoria resident in Melbourne. Is that a healthy state of affairs ? Senator Duncan put up a splendid case, but I am goingto blow him out by evidence supplied to honorable senators By the very estimable Broken Hill Proprietary Company, in which I, unfortunately, bought some very dear shares some time ago. On their own showing, wages in this industry in Great Britain are higher than they are here. They are 19s. 7d. per day in Great Britain, as against18s. 6d. per day in Australia. In the document prepared for us by these advocates of higher and still higher Protection there is evidence in support of Senator Drake-Brockman’s request. I am sure that Senator Duncan would not misrepresent any matter, and he must, when he was speaking, have been looking at the wrong figures. The first subitem in the division now under consideration is pig iron, and in this connexion I say that,’ recognising that the iron industry is a key industry, and one which we must see shall never go under, it is nothing like the great industry for Australia that wheat growing is. I quote from a comparative statement supplied by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company of prices of British and continental products, and, dealing with pig iron, I find that they say that the landed cost per ton is £8 15s. 6d. The duty is £1 per ton; so that the total landed cost is £9 15s. 6d. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s price is £9 2s. 6d. per ton ; so that, allowing for the £1 per ton duty, they can beat the imported article by 13s. per ton, or something like 7 per cent.
– What is the date of those figures?’
– Yesterday ; they are up-to-date. We should be fair tothe primary producers of Australia - the tillers of the soil - and should consider the interests of every man who wants a pump, a plough, a traction engine, or mining tools. Senator Dun-can has put up a splendid case in support of Senator Drake-Brockman’s request for a reduction in the duty on pig iron imported from Great Britain. I would not suggest, a reduction in the duty on pig. iron imported from foreign countries. The Committee may put up the duties. against foreign countries employing cheap labour as high as they please. I should be prepared to shut their imports out altogether, but I am not prepared, to shut out imports from the Motherland. I do not think, that honorable senators realize the seriousness of the future of the man on the land in Australia, and those who are engaged in mining. They are the real backbone of the community. I know that at election times honorable senators tell the farmers out-back that they are the backbone of the community ; but sitting here with electric light, electric radiators, and cool beer to be had upstairs, they cheerfully pile duties on to the unfortunate farmer out-back, who has no redress. The Government are responsible for drawing people off the land into the cities, and this Tariff will accentuate in a marked degree that drift of population to the cities that every true Australian must deplore.
.- In view of the fact that we are to meet to-morrow morning at 11 a.m., perhaps the Minister would agree to adjourn, at this stage.
– I think we should sit to at least 10.30 p.m. I have no desire to sit late,but we ought to come to a vote on this sub-item.
– The honorable senator should realize that some of us were travelling all last night.
-I think that the debate is practically finished.
– I have not spoken once on the sub-item so far.
– Some honorable senators have spoken four times.
– They are members of the Minister’s own party, and, on behalf of my party, I am asking that progress should be reported. If we are to sit long hours, the schedule should be dealtwith correctly. I find that last year we imported into this country 178 tons of pig iron. As the duty proposed by the Government is £1 per ton, that would represent £178. Senator DrakeBrockman has submitted a request for a reduction of the duty by 5s. per ton. On last year’s importations that would amount to a little more than £44, if all the pig iron came from Great Britain. If we have discussed for about six. hours a matter which involves a difference of only £44 to the iron industry in Australia, how long shall we take to deal with matters that count? I am personally rather glad that it was in New South Wales, under Free Trade, that the iron industry originally came into existence in this country. Struggling companies then showed that the iron industry established here could compete against the imported article, and then the Broken Hill Proprietary Company came into the business. Some honorable senators appear to have misunderstood Mr. Delprat’s statement made when this company was going into the steel and iron industry that it could carry on without Government assistance or Customs duties. Although that Commission sat in 1914, it is probable that Mr. Delprat and the Broken Hill Proprietary people were considering, as far back as 1910, the conditions of the industry into which they proposed to invest their millions of money. I had an opportunity of coming closely in contact with Mr. Delprat during those years, and I am satisfied that before he made the statement quoted by Senator Lynch this afternoon - that the company could make good without Government assistance - every possible contingency had been provided for. Therefore, it is idle for the Minister now to quote international exchanges and a falling wage rate in Great Britain as reasons why this Protective duty should be imposed. All these matters, I venture to suggest, were taken into account by the shrewd business men who are prominently associated with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. We need have no fear of any great dumping of iron and steel products in the near future.
– Dumping has not commenced yet.
– And it isnot likely to commence. What would happen if the Labour Government in New South Wales and the Labour Government in Queensland were given millions of tons of iron and steel rails? There would be no interference with the Australian industry, but there would be a considerable stimulus in railway construction for the benefit of the primary producers of those States. I believe that we are going to have an AntiDumping Bill as soon as the Tariff schedule is out of the way, in order to prevent other countries from introducing valuable commodities into Australia. I could not help thinking, while listening to Senator Pratten, that he is losing faith in Protection, which, we have been told, would lead to the regeneration of the industrial workers, because Protection must now be buttressed by legislation to prevent dumping. I have witnessed two sad spectacles in Australia within the last two years. I have seen disabled returned soldiers begging in the streets of Sydney, and I have seen this big industry in New South Wales begging in this Senate for more protection ; taking the hat round, and asking the primary producers, who themselves have no protection against their competitors in the world’s markets, to put a little in it for the assistance of this industry.
– And your party in another place fought for the proposal for several days.
– I realize that my party in another place and Senator Pratten think a good deal alike. And then, when I heard Senator Guthrie, of Protectionist Victoria, speaking, I could not help thinking that we are nearing the time when a. great number of people will realize that, just as we increase the Protectionist duties, so will we cripple the primary producers of the Commonwealth. My point is that Mr. Delprat, who, so far as this industry is concerned, is admittedly the ablest man in Australia, stated that it required no Customs duties and no Government assistance.
– He has changed his mind, and is now asking for protection.
– Does Senator
Duncan say that Mr. Delprat is now asking for protection?
– The company he represents is asking for these duties.
– I rely on Mr. Delprat’s statement beforethe InterState Commission. If he has changed his mind since then, the Minister, who appears to have been pretty well prepared with his case for the duty on this item, should give . us the date when that happened. Judging by the balancesheets which Senator Lynch quoted this afternoon, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company are on a pretty good wicket, if they can pay 18 per cent., 19 per cent., and 22 per cent, in dividends, notwithstanding that they have not. yet completed the development of their plant and machinery.
– The last dividend was on the production of iron alone.
– It is strange that honorable senators when talking about this industry should emphasize that production depends upon the labour employed. I have had an opportunity of looking over the plants, and I realize that production depends to a much greater extent upon the machinery employed. For six hours the Committee has been discussing a proposal to reduce, by 5s. per ton, the duty on pig iron, which is the raw material for manufacturing establishments throughout Australia. It is important to note that the New South Wales iron and steel works are not yet producing all the iron and steel required by the manufacturers in the various . States. Therefore, if we impose, duties to shut out importations we shall make it difficult for these various business concerns to get the quantity of the raw material required. With me, business is business, and sentiment is sentiment. It is, I think, to Australia’s interest to buy and trade wheretrade is most profitable. If we do not operate upon these sound business lines, we can no more expect to succeed as a nation than an individual acting otherwise can expect to prosper in his business.
– Would you buy labour in the same way ?
– Of course. The honorable senator may take it from me that there is hardly a business concern in Australia that does not operate upon the principle that as soon as a man’s hair begins to turn grey, he must look elsewhere for employment.
– If we acted on that principle, we would not have a White Australia.
– Nonsense ! The policy of a White Australia depends on the growth of our population and the selfreliance of our people. I am not, of course, referring to the self-reliance of industries that are begging this Senate for assistance. Take the Lithgow industries as an example. I asked a question the other day, and ascertained that the people of Australia had paid £209,000 by way of bonuses to the Lithgow iron and steel works. I think Lysaghts have also been paid about £23,000. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company did not require this’ form of assistance, but I think they had an assurance that the ironmasters of the world would not be permitted to trespass upon their trading margins. The Minister knows that when we were obtaining rails for the east-west railway a good deal of information was obtained showing that, so far as the big firms are concerned, there is no danger of competition from outside with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company or any other large Australian corporation. If we want to make the Broken Hill Proprietary Company richer still we will, of course, go on increasing these duties. We will ask the people least able to bear the burden - the primary producers, who, by the way, produce most of the wealth of this country, and the wage-earners - to pay more. Senator Drake-Brockman took us back to the landing of Captain Cook in Australia. No one would have thought of attempting to establish the iron industry in Australia at that time, but when we have a population of millions the possibility of successfully conducting such an industry becomes apparent. In such circumstances industries grow naturally. It is the natural industries that we want. The “ hothouse” industries which are constantly asking for assistance - assistance which has to be paid for by the workers of Australia - cannot expect to grow to the same extent. Those engaged in such industries constantly taunt the workers with “ going slow.” They tell them that they will not do a fair day’s work, and that they are not like the men who used to work years ago. They are prepared to heap abuse on the workers, but when they are trying to squeeze a little more out of them - when they are asking the workers who send us here to give them more protection - they adopt a different attitude.
– Is the honorable senator opposed to all iron duties?
– I am not permitted to discuss the general question.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired:
; - Reference has been made by Senator Gardiner to the time that has been devoted to the consideration of. subitem a,which he. has declared to. be. relatively unimportant from the . point of. view of the monetary, considerations involved. I desire, however, to draw the attention of honorable senators to its very great importance as. shown by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene). When introducing, the Tariff in another place, lie said, in dealing, with the division relating. to metals and machinery -
Honorable members will see. that the whole, division to which I am now. alluding has been practically recast. In former Tariffs- pig iron has occupied a place about the middle of the division, and has been free of- duty; we have made it the first item of the division and dutiable at 20s., 30s., and 40s. per ton. Honorable members will see as we come to discuss the items how the iron and steel duties generally have been based upon this initial duty. I shall be able to show them as we proceed from item to item how we have built upon it right through the division.
This quotation from the Minister’s speech will serve to show honorable senators the important bearing which this item has upon the whole of the iron and steel duties. The argument that the extra duty on the pig iron used in an implement would not be more than about 2s. is quite beside the point. What we have to consider is the effect which this item will have on the rest of the division. It sets a standard for the whole division, so that in determining what the duties shall be in respect of it we shall virtually settle the remaining rates.
– That remark applies to only the first three sub-items.
– Believing, as I do, that the duties in respect of various items in this division should be reduced,I am not going to vote for the duty as proposed on British imports under sub-item a, and so place myself in the unf ortunate position of having set a standard upon which I cannot go back. My votes on the rest of the items in this division will virtually be determined by my vote on this item.
– This governs the lot?
– That is so.
– It does not govern the lot, but it is the starting-point-.
-It is the basis on which the whole of the division is framed.
– The first three subitems relate to pig iron, ingots, blooms, and billets, which are the basis, of manufactures.; but honorable senators are free to do what they like with the remaining, duties.
– But, according to the honorable senator’s own statement, and that, of his colleague (Mr. Greene) in another place; sub-item a sets a. standard for the whole division. Senator Guthrie has given- us -figures showing that the local, industry can make a profit and yet- sell pig iron for. less than the price at which it can be imported. His figures show that the price of the Australian article is about 13s. per ton less than the imported pig iron.
– Prior to the introduction of this- Tariff, pig iron was free.
– The Broken Hill Proprietary Company have supplied a statement showing, that the cost of imported pig iron plus the duty, of £2 per ton under the general Tariff is £10 15s. 6d. per ton. The duty under the British preferential Tariff is only £1 per ton, sothat imports from Great Britain would be selling at£9 15s. 6d. per ton, whereas the Broken Hill Proprietary Company areselling their product at £9 2s. 6d. per ton. I would stress the importance of the vote we are about to give, and I, earnestly ask honorable senators to retain their right tomake such reductions as they may deem necessary in the later items of the division. I, like many other honorable senators, will be compelled to vote for the request, because it is in keeping, with my idea of a Tariff suitable to the producers of this country.
– When Senator Russell was speaking- he said that the companies had not asked for an increased duty on pig iron, and I interjected that they had. I find that I am mistaken. The representatives of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and Hoskins Limited had several interviews with senators, but. their request was for an increase in the duty upon bar iron, and not pig iron.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senate adjourned at 10.44p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210816_senate_8_96/>.