8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act - Kegulations amended. - Statu tory Rules 1921, Nos. 155, 156, and 157.
Lands Acquisition Act. - Land acquired’ for Defence purposes at Broadmeadows, Victoria (two notifications).
Brigadier-General Elliott: Divisional Command
– (By leave.) - In regard to the statement made yesterday by Senator Elliott, the. opinion appears to be held outside- I do not know whether it is entertained by the Senate - that some rejoinder might reasonably have been expected from me at that time. I have only to say that I heard but very imperfectlywhat Senator Elliott was saying, and, therefore, thought it better not to make any reply to him until I was able to obtain a report of what he had said. Having obtained that report, I wish to make the following personal explanation with regard to his statement of yesterday. Lot me deal, first of all, with the question as to the origin of this controversy. It arose out of a lecture entitled, “ The’ Defence of Australia,” deJivered by Senator Elliott in St. Paul’s. Chapter House, in the course of which he made a number of allegations as to my being dominated by the officers; of the.
Military Board. In my reply to that statement, I said, inter aiia: -
I know, of course, that Senator Elliott was expecting one of these divisional commands, and that when, he was not appointed he applied for .transfer to the Unattached List. Up to that period, he had not discovered any objection to the divisional organization.
I made that statement to the press in reply to Senator Elliott’s original observations. The Senate will naturally conclude that I must have had some grounds on which to base the assertion that I knew Senator Elliott was expecting a divisional command, and that his attitude regarding the divisional commands was determined by the fact that he had not received one. When I made that statement I had already received from Senator Elliott a letter which I shall read, and which I may say is on the file that has been laid on the table of the Library. It was addressed to the Commandant of the 3rd Military District, and concluded with a request that it be placed before the Minister. This letter, which is dated 10th February last, contained the following : -
I forward, under separate cover, my resignation r’. the Command of the 15th Brigade, Australian Military Forces, and request to be placed on the Unattached List of Officers.
I am compelled’ to take this step as a protest against my treatment in the matter of my supersession under the new scheme of divisional commands as announced in the newspapers.
From the outline which you gave of the scheme, it now rests upon the Divisional Commanders in this State to select their Brigade Commanders. In each case in this State, the Divisional Commanders appointed are officers who were junior to me in the Commonwealth Military Forces before the war, and junior to me in the field until the last promotions that were made to higher rank in the Australian Imperial Force.
Under existing circumstances, I am thus required to submit my name for selection as a Brigade Commander to men who are my juniors in substantive rank (their rank of Major.General being merely honorary in the Australian Military Forces). This is a position which no officer of my rank and services should be expected to tolerate.
Accordingly, I request that this letter be submitted to the Minister for Defence for inquiry as to the reasons why I have been deemed unfit for promotion.
On. 1 5th March last, Senator Elliott forwarded another letter in which, after acknowledging the receipt of the information that his resignation had been accepted, he wrote -
I would, however, direct your attention to the fact that your letter makes no reference to my request that an inquiry might be held as to why 1 was superseded by the officers mentioned. <
Paragraph 3 of your letter, quoting the advice of the Military Board, merely evades the point of substance.
The gazettal of Major-Generals Glasgow and Gellibrand, to substantive rank in the A.M.F. referred to, was in its effect a supersession of myself in the Service.
The fact of their qualification and suitability for the position is not in issue. The point in issue is my own implied unfitness or unsuitability fo’r appointment or promotion.
As I have been thus superseded by the Military Board without any crime or fault imputed to me, or any opportunity to answer any accusation made against me, and as it is ‘ a fundamental principle of British justice that no man should be a judge in his own cause, I must respectfully request that the matter be made the subject of an inquiry by a Supreme Court Judge, or other independent commissioner, on the lines mentioned in my former letter, so that I may be informed wherein I have failed to win the favour of the Military Board or other authority.
I respectfully request also that this application be shown to the Minister.
I had those letters, and had read them when I made the statement which I have already quoted, namely -
I know, of course., that Senator Elliott was expecting one of these divisional commands, and when he was not appointed he applied for transfer to the unattached list. Up to that period he had not discovered any objections to the divisional organization.
At that time, and up to the time when Senator Elliott made his statement, I had no suspicion, nor any reason for suspecting, that any oiler, or, indeed, any suggestion of any kind whatsoever had been made to Senator Elliott by the Commandant of the 3rd Military District. On the contrary, I could not suspect that anything of the sort had been done since I was in possession of the knowledge that no District Commandant had anything whatsover to do with the divisional commands, and that a District Commandant would not, in any circumstances, be asked to make a recommendation. I- was familiar with these facts, because, as I stated here the other day, I had issued the instructions under which the Promotion and Selection Committee were to select these officers, and recommend them to the Military Board. In these circumstances, I did not look for a suggestion on the subject coming from any District Commandant. Moreover, I point out that, although General Brand was then a District Commandant, the district commands were to be abolished, and General
Brand would be one of those whose claim for appointment would be considered, because he was one of the senior officers of our Force. The position comes down to this: That General Brand, as a District Commandant, apparently without authority, or even without a suggestion from any one, wrote to Senator Elliott on the subject, and there is a difference in the statements made by them as to the contents of his letter. Both Senator Elliott and General Brand apparently have made those statements from memory, because General Brand says that, regarding the letter as a personal one, he destroyed it, while Senator Elliott says he did not retain it; but having written his reply on it, returned it to General Brand. We have, therefore, to rely on the memories of these two officers as to the contents of General Brand’s letter, and we find that their memories clash. Senator Elliott is reported to have said here yesterday that -
As nearly as he could recollect it, the letter from General Brand read as follows: -
As one of the senior officers of the A.I.F., your claims to appointment as a divisional commander cannot be overlooked. Will you please inform me whether, in the event of your being recommended to the Minister, you would bo prepared to carry out theduties? Also, as this would leave a vacancy in your present command, will you please state which of your battalion commanders you would recommend to succeed you, and whom you would propose, to succeed in turn in his battalion ?
If Senator Elliott received such a letter he would certainly be entitled to regard it as having been prompted by some one in high authority, as an inquiry in regard to whether he would be willing to act if appointed, and I would not blame him for assuming that it was an official feeler ; but if such letter was sent to him it was sent without authority from the Military Board, the only body that could authorize it through the Minister, or from me, and was entirely an assumption of authority which General Brand had no right to take upon himself. This is General Brand’s recollection -
Anticipating that the Military Board would ask commandants to recommend officers as brigade commanders, under the re-organization
Hellenic, 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 loth Brigade, Citizen Forces?”
It would be quite a natural letter for a District Commandant to write to any officer in command of a brigade who happened to be a senior officer in the Australian Imperial Force. Every such officer in the Australian Imperial Force would be a potential divisional commander, and the District Commandant would like to be in a position to know whether in the event of the senior officer in the brigade accepting a divisional command he would be obliged to come down to the next in seniority inthe brigade. It was perfectly reasonable for the District Commandant to say to himself, “As Senator Elliott is one of the senior officers of the Australian Imperial Force, he may be asked to take a divisional command, and if he does so I shall probably be asked who is to succeed him in command of his brigade. Therefore, I shall get the opinion of General Elliott upon the officers of his brigade, and be in a position to make a recommendation.”
– General Brand says, in effect, to General Elliott, “If so-and so happens, whom would you recommend to take your place?” There is a clear suggestion, that the way was open for the promotion of General Elliott. t
– Yes. The District Commandant said, “You may be appointed to a divisional command. If you are, whom would you recommend to take your place?”
SenatorVardon. - I presume that General Elliott knew that General Brand had no authority in the matter.
– I presume so. Having been in the Australian Imperial Force, he would know that divisional commands are made only by the highest authority. As a matter of fact, General Brand was aware at this time that the district commands were to disappear, and that as the officers holding those commands were to be placed somewhere, each District Commandant was a potential candidate for a divisional command. It would be ridiculous to assume that the Military Board would ask a District Commandant to make recommendations for divisional commands which might include, and in the case of General Brand would have included, . the District Commandant himself, who, as a senior officer of the Australian Imperial Force, was eligible for appointment. There is a considerable discrepancy between the statements of General Elliott and General
Brand. In either case dependence is placed on memory. General Brand takes up the attitude that he was merely making an inquiry in order to be in a position to appoint some one in the place of General Elliott if that officer should be chosen for a divisional command. General Elliott takes the view that General Brand’s letter was an official feeler as to whether he would be a candidate for appointment to a divisional command.
– That is done every day amongst senior officers.
– It is , somewhat significant that in the first letter which General Elliott asked should be brought under my notice, and even in his subsequent letter, he makes absolutely no mention of having received any communication from the District Commandant, and as he was complaining of having been superseded is it not natural to assume that if he received such a communication he would have referred to it and asked why the offer had been made? However, he makes no mention of this offer in either of his letters which he asked should be brought under my notice, and I can assure honorable senators that up to the time he made his statement about it I had no knowledge of any such letter having gone from the District Commandant to him.
– Was the date of the District Commandant’s letter prior to the date of the letter you received from General Elliott?
– It must have been, because at the time the appointments could not have been made, whereas when General Elliott wrote his letter, which he asked should be brought under my notice, the appointments had actually been made, and he had been unsuccessful. However, in order to finalize the matter and clear up the difference between General Elliott’s statement and General Brand’s recollection of what he wrote, I am asking General Brand to state definitely whether he did use any words in his communication to General Elliott which would bear the construction that the latter now says he put upon them, and to state, if he made, them, under what authority he did so; also to say definitely whether, if he did write as General Elliott says he did, his action in that respect was suggested to Lim, or whether he was requested, or in structed by any member of the Military Board or by the Minister at any time to sound General Elliott on this matter.” When I get a reply from General Brand I shall make it known to the Senate.
In Committee. (Consideration resumed from 18th August, vide page 11124) :
Schedule - division vi., metals and machinery.
Agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i.; including cane loaders, cane unloaders, and cane harvesters; channel-making graders; garden and field spraying machines; garden and field rollers; garden hose reels’; garden syringes; horse road rollers and machines; lawn mowers, sweepers, and sprinklers; road scoops and scrapers; scoops; stump extractors; fibre scutching machines; milking machines; potato raisers or diggers; potato sorters; root cutters, pulpers, and graters; straw stackers; and subsurface packers, ad yal., British, 224 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per Cent.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duties, ad val., British, 15 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.
This request means a reduction of 5 per cent, in the general and intermediate columns, and of 7i per cent, in the British preference column. It cannot be said that I am taking what has been described as a “geographical stand,” because the destructive effects of these high duties are felt all over Australia. It is, indeed, difficult to understand why duties, any duties at all, should be placed on items of this character. If I had my way, or thought it possible to get my way, I should move for much larger reductions. ‘ I realize, however, the stand that the Government are taking in regard to the Tariff, and also the stand taken by the Minister (Senator Russell). I further realize that, in view of the great information and assistance that honorable gentleman receives from the officials behind him in the corner, it would be difficult to persuade the Senate, as at present constituted, to reduce the duties on such commodities as are now under discussion. I desire to use this item as a means of testing the attitude of the Committee with regard to duties on articles which are of the utmost importance to agriculturists, horticulturists, and primary producers generally. The Commonwealth has spent some millions of money in protecting aud assisting the sugar industry in Queensland, but, at the same time, heavy duties are imposed on machines and appliances which are designed to cheapen the handling of “the cane.
– That is because such implements are made in Australia-
– 1 shall deal with that phase of the question later. Only this morning I had brought under my notice a practical illustration in a machine which would greatly decrease the cost of production, but which, owing to the absurd character of the Tariff, is unprocurable. That, of course, amounts to simple prohibition.
– To what machine is the honorable senator alluding?
– A stone cutter. Implements and machinery used in primary production, and all other purposes, must be the very best, irrespective of where it may be manufactured. It is a question of results. It may be that some of these machines which I have in my mind are made in Australia; but if, for Instance, a great improvement is made on a machine in America, it ought to be procurable here at a reasonable price. Even if the machines are made here, -we know as commercial men - or, at any rate, some of us know - that when an opportunity is given by the Government to put prices up, prices go up, and remain there. To speak with perfect candour, I can say that, personally, I never saw an opportunity to- make a fair and legitimate profit without taking advantage of it. However, the primary producers, for whom I am. speaking more particularly now, must have the very best implements and machines. Amongst the articles under this item is the channel-making grader, largely used on river flats in the preliminary work of intense culture.
– If we protect the sugar grower, why not protect the man who makes the machines?
– The honorable senator will have his opportunity to express his views, and I undertake to meet any objections he may raise to my attitude on this question. These graders are not made in Australia, and thus the man who desires to turn waste lands to profit able use is faced with heavy duties. I am speaking of these items individually, because the Minister seems to have an opinion that they are merely small side issues hardly worthy of consideration, and I desire to impress on the Committee how important they are to the man on the land. Garden and field spraying machines are amongst the implements that are made dutiable. Does it ‘not seem ridiculous that those whose interest and duty it is to fight and abolish diseases and pests, should not have at their disposal, on reaonable terms, the very best appliances available? Senator Rowell, who is a greater authority than myself on this subject, will doubtless have something to say, and he will tell the Committee that this is no mere local or ‘ ‘ geographical ‘ ‘ question. These machines are required in the apple districts of Tasmania, and in every other State of the Commonwealth, and duties on machines that can accomplish so much good are a direct menace to production generally. Garden and field rollers and garden hose and reels are made here in Australia, but the next item that strikes my eye is that of syringes, a great variety of which is necessary to all engaged in primary production. The man who scientifically and energetically fights diseases and pests in his garden is doing a great national work. In South Australia, some few years ago, an Act was passed under which the Government sent around men who disinfected the fruit trees throughout the State. In my own case, these Government officials put a tent over the top of the trees, and made a good job of it - so good a job that never since has there been any fruit on the trees worth picking. The work of fighting these pests and diseases is, I repeat, a national one, but the growers ought to be allowed to do it themselves.
– The blighting influence of Protection !
– The case I have cited, whatever the honorable senator may think, was one of absolute destruction. Under this item the Commonwealth Parliament is asked’ to indorse a duty of 22^ » per cent, upon, perhaps, the best make of stump extractors the man on the land can secure. There are millions of waste acres in Australia, much of which countryshould be cleared and put under cultivation ; but the clearing is laborious work. The Government have stepped in and precluded freedom of choice in the selection of the farmer’s tools of trade. A severe handicap - probably something in the nature of an embargo -has been placed upon British machines. The South Australian Government are offering £10,000, I understand, to the inventor of an implement which will effectively deal with shoots. That bonus presents one side of the picture. The other side is revealed in the rates of duty imposed upon item 161. Is there any industry in Australia more clearly entitled to practical assistance than that of dairy farming? Dairy farmerswork seven days a week. The cows do not “ let up “ on them, even on Christmas Day. Some varieties of milking machines do not dry off adequately. The man who uses them, knows exactly what he wants, and what different machines will do. Good machines are made in Australia ; but if the dairy farmer considers an imported line better, why should the Government restrict his choice?
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time hasexpired.
– As I desire to move a prior request I ask if Senator Wilson will consent to temporarily withdraw his motion ?
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make : - Agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i. ; including cane loaders, cane un- loaders, and cane harvesters; channel-making graders; garden and field spraying machines; garden and field rollers; garden, hose reels.; garden syringes; horse road rollers and machines - free.
I trust that Senator Wilson will move subsequently, as he has indicated, in respect of a reduction of duty upon any machine remaining in the item such as, for example, milking machines. I am speaking at this moment under the strain of a severe shock. I realize that my splendid isolation in this Chamber, as a Free Trader, has departed. Senator Wilson has uttered one of the finest Free Trade arguments ever hear.d in the Senate. He has urged that Protection retards civilization. He holds that the man who uses the machine should be the best judge as to which make, and whether local or imported, is the better for his purposes. I hand over the leadership of the Free Trade section of the Senate to the honorable senator, and shall be well satisfied to range myself under the banner which for the future he will carry. I cannot help feeling that if the Tariff debate is prolonged for many more days there may be no Protectionists left in the Committee except the Minister (Senator Russell), and possibly Senator Earle. In fact, it is not impossible that, out of sheer sympathy for the loneliness of the Minister, I myself may be persuaded to switch over and support him. Item 161 deals with implements which very closely concern the man on the land. They are, indeed,his tools of trade. Protection goes altogether too far when it makes the already severe struggle of the rural worker more intensely difficult than ever. Why should the Government, by means of a handicap placed upon British and foreign inventions, restrict the choice of tools of trade for the farmer and orchardist? The man actually engaged in producing from the soil knows better than any one else what he wants. He has probably tried a variety of implements, and knows what each will do, and which will give him the best value. Would local manufacturers be injured if any implement mentioned in the item were admitted free of duty? I mention, by way of example, cane loaders, cane unloaders, and cane harvesters.
– Those implements should be very easily manufactured in this country.
– That may be so. But even a simple machine cannot be made until a plant has been established for the purpose. What will be the position of the cane-growers in Queensland and northern New South Wales, where the production of cane is steadily increasing? Is the Sunshine Harvester Company likely to erect a plant for manufacturing the machines required by the cane-growers? I do not think it will. * I objected to a heavy duty to protect the sugar industry, and I object to the imposition of a heavy tax on the implements required for harvesting the cane. We have protected the cane-growing industry, and the Minister is proposing a duty of 22½ per cent. on the machinery the growers require. Channel makers and graders, which are largely used by municipal and shire councils, are also included. These bodies are working on very little capital, and have to undertake extensive works on the money they obtain from land-owners, and they require these machines for roadmaking and other purposes. If, as Senator Wilson says, superior machines are manufactured in America or Great Britain, surely it would be more economical for public bodies to use the most up-to-date machines, which would not only enable them to perform their work more satisfactorily, and at a cheaper cost, but would also be an incentive to local manufacturers to produce a more uptodate article. I have submitted a request, the effect of which is to make half of the articles mentioned in the item free; and if honorable senators are not prepared to accept that proposition, they will either have to support Senator Wilson’s request for a reduction to 15 per cent., or the Minister’s proposal of 22£ per cent. I do not see why the primary producers should in this, as well as in other instances, be so heavily taxed.
– I have listened with interest to the remarks of Senator Wilson and Senator Gardiner, and I do not think there is any possibility of converting the latter.
– I do not know.
– Does the Minister think that he can convert me?
– I understood the honorable senator was elected to this Parliament as a Protectionist.
– I came in on a policy of Free Trade for all tools of trade.
– -Frequent reference has been made to the superiority of implements manufactured abroad; but that has been a common impression in Australia for many years. Some honorable senators believe that an article is useless unless it is imported. The item includes a great many machines and implements which are being made in Australia, the manufacture of which cannot be successfully continued without sufficient protection. Those who are opposed to the proposed duty speak of the superior quality of imported machines ; but they do not give names. Milking machines are made by at least three firms in Australia, and I understand their manufacture would not be continued unless they were proving a success to the users. Garden and field rollers are made by ,the Clyde Engineering Works, Sydney; Hugh Lennon, Plow Machine Company, Melbourne; Mitchell and Company, Melbourne; T. Robinson and Company, Melbourne; and the Gawler Implement Manufacturing Company, South Australia. Milking machines are manufactured by T. Robinson and Company, Spotswood; Blackham and Company, Melbourne; and Bar tram and Company, Melbourne. Potato raisers or diggers are made by Lee, Woodend, and Daniels, Queensland. Sub-surface packers are made by Furphy, Shepparton; and Nicholson and Morrow, Melbourne. Garden and field spraying machines are manufactured by Langwill Brothers and Davies, Melbourne; and D. and W. Chandler, Melbourne. Scoops are made by the following firms : - Clyde Engineering Company, Sydney; Meadowbank Manufacturing Company, Sydney; Beard and Sisson, Melbourne; Johns and Waygood, Melbourne; II. V. McKay, Melbourne ; T. Robinson and Company, Spotswood; H. Dennis, South Australia; and 0. H. Smith, South Australia. Stump extractors are manufactured by the Clyde Engineering Company, Sydney; Trewhella Brothers, Trentham, Victoria; and Cooper and’ Sons, Victoria. Horse road rollers, road scoops, graders and plows are made by Kirchner and Shadwick, South Melbourne. The rates of duty under item 161 are influenced by the rates imposed on pig iron, bar iron, &c.
– Did the Minister give the names of the Australian manufacturers of garden and field spraying machines ?
– Yes. Langwill Brothers and Davies, Melbourne; and D. and W. Chandler, Melbourne. The list I have quoted may not be complete, but is sufficient to show that the manufacture of these implements is extensively undertaken in the Commonwealth. The Canadian Prime Minister is reported in the Herald, of 12th April, 1921, to have said -
I do not want a woollen industry, or any other industry, to get any greater protection than makes it pay to stay in Canada. But I do not want a line of Canadian industries to be. closed up in obedience to an arbitrary differential, merely because its chief competition is in England. We cannot succeed, and we cannot grow as a one-sided field-products country. No nation in tho world ever grew that way. The best service we can render to agriculture is to bring the biggest share we can of its market near to its place of production. We are gaining in that way in Canada. If we turn in the other direction agriculture will have harder times. The history of agriculture in the United States should be a lesson in Canada.
– Would’ the Minister mind telling us what are the duties on these machines in Canada?
– Let me tell my story in my own way. The importations under this item amounted in value to only £41,000.
– That was under a duty of 25 per cent., and the Government now propose a duty of 35 per cent.
– We know the reason why Senator Wilson made his dramatic appeal in the interests of the poor starving farmer.
– I beg the honorable senator’s pardon. ‘ I did not do so. I do not make such appeals.
– Then let me say that the honorable senator justified his action on the ground, that it would tend to enable agriculturists to obtain cheaper and more effective machines, in many instances, than can be obtained in Australia. That is surely a fair interpretation of what he said. I do not suppose that any of us can claim to be experts in respect of all these machines. I should like to compare prices in New Zealand, where there is Free Trade in respect of all these machines, with those in Australia, where duties are imposed upon them. I have here a list of the prices quoted for eighty different machines used in agriculture, and, in the case of every one of them, the price in New Zealand, where there is no duty on the machine, is higher than the price in Australia, where duties are imposed.
– What is the date for which the prices are quoted ?
– The Australian prices were quoted on 1st February, 1920, and the New Zealand prices in May of 1920, and it will not be contended that prices altered very much during the interval between those dates. I find that for a reaper and binder, 5 feet, the cash price in New Zealand, where the machine is free of duty, was £76. In Australia, with a 5 per cent, duty, the price was £75 10s.
– Can the Minister say that he is referring to exactly the same machine in both cases ?
– If honorable senators desire it, I can read out the whole of the eighty examples in this list. It would be an education to some honorable senators, but I shall refer to only a few of the principal items. Hay rake, free in New Zealand, cash price, £16 lis. 6d.; dutiable at 10 per cent, in Australia, cash price, £16 3s. Grain and fertilizer drill, 9-hoe, free in New Zealand, cash price, £53 12s. 6d. ; in Australia, dutiable at 30 per cent., price, £46.
– Is the honorable senator quite sure that he is quoting prices for the same size machines?
– Yes. In all cases.
– What is the honorable senator’s authority for these prices ?
– The list has been made up from inquiries in New Zealand through the Trade and Customs Department, and from published prices.
– Is the honorable senator in a position to assure the Committee that the prices quoted are on the same terms and conditions.
– So far as I know they are.
– Am I not correctly informed when I say that the New Zealand price is for delivery on the farm, whilst the Australian price is at store?
– In my opinion, the honorable senator is not correctly informed; but I cannot be expected to give emphatic replies to every detailed question. I do not claim to know everything. I find that the prices quoted for box for sowing clover, for 9 hoe disc, were, New Zealand, £7 16s., free of duty; and Australia, where the machine is dutiable, £4 5s. 6d. Spring-tooth cultivator, 6-ft., free in New Zealand, cash price, £27 6s.; duty in Australia, 25 per cent.; price, £26 12s. 6d. ; spring-tooth cultivator, 5-ft., with 9 tines, free in New Zealand; cash price, £19 10s.; duty in Australia, 25 per cent. ; price, £19. Maize cultivator, No. 8, free in New Zealand; cash price, £29 5s. ; duty in Australia, 25 per cent.; price, £28 10s. Maize drill, No. 1, single row, free in New Zealand; cash price, £7 16s. ; duty in Australia, 30 per cent.; price, £7 12s. Disc harrow,
No. 2, fourteen discs, 7-ft., free in New Zealand ; cash price, £1611s. 6d. ; duty in Australia, 25 per cent.; price, £16 3s. Diamond harrow, two section, with bar, 6 ft.. 6 in., free in New Zealand; cash price, £4 7s. 6d. ; duty in Australia, 25 per cent. ; price, £4 5s. 6d. Spring-tooth harrow, No.8, one section, 4½-ft., free in New Zealand; cash price, £4 10s.-; duty in Australia, 25 per cent.; price, £48s. Plough, single furrow, No. 43, free in New Zealand; cash price, £4 5s.; duty in Australia, 25 per cent. ; price, £4 2s. 6d.
– Can the Minister tell me when the last single-furrow plough was imported?
– I am not out for jokes. National gang plough, with straight coulter, free in New Zealand; cash price, £17 6s. ; duty in Australia, 25 per cent.; price, £1518s. Massey-Harris disc plough, free in New Zealand; cash price, £26 15s. 6d. ; duty in Australia, 25 per cent.; price, £24 14s.
– The honorable senator does not mention the extra equipment required in New Zealand as against Australia.
– Will the Minister give prices for disc ploughs?
– The last prices I quoted were for Massey-Harris onedisc ploughs. For the two-disc plough, the prices were £34 2s. 6d. in New Zealand, and £31 17s. 6d. in Australia. For the three-disc plough, the prices were £41 18s. for New Zealand, and £39 8s. 6d. in Australia. For four-disc plough, New Zealand price, £46 16s.; Australian price, £45 12s. For five-disc plough, price in New Zealand, £52 12s.; and in Australia, £51 6s. The Department has been to the trouble of preparing this list of eighty different agricultural implements.
– The honorable senator did not quote prices for milking machines.
– I have not , the prices for those machines. It is sufficient to say that practically every machine used in connexion with agriculture is dearer in New Zealand under Free Trade than it is in Australia, where duties are imposed.
– Then Australian manufacturers, if working under Free
Trade conditions, would obtain higher prices for their machines?
– I do not say that ; but I do say that, as a rule, the importer of most of these machines is an exploiter.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I desire immediately to correct the comparison made by the Minister (Senator Russell), because of its probable effect upon some honorable senators. I do not propose to question the accuracy of the figures, but I point out that while they may be accurate in one sense, they may be very inaccurate in another. I am informed, and I believe correctly informed, that the prices quoted by the Minister, so far as New Zealand is concerned, are prices delivered to the producers, whereas Australian prices are at store or the source of manufacture.
– How can the New Zealand price be delivered? One farmer might live 100 miles and another 200 miles away from the store.
– Nevertheless, I am informed that that is the position in New Zealand, and I want to put the Australian position clearly before honorable senators. Machinery of the kind referred to in this item is not manufactured to any extent in Western Australia or Queensland, so that by the time the farmer in Western Australia gets a harvester delivered from a Victorian manufacturer, he has to add another £10 or £15 by way of freight to the price quoted by the Minister. Therefore, the Minister’s comparison was not a fair one. Australia is a big continent, whereas New Zealand consists of a couple of small islands, and the cost of transport in Australia is a factor that should not be overlooked. I am sure honorable senators have some regard for the farmers of Western Australia and of Queensland, and I am satisfied that the facts I have disclosed need only to be mentioned to insure that the interests of Western Australia and the other distant States will receive consideration. Very few of these implements are made in Western Australia, and that State, as honorable senators are aware, is principally dependent for its existence upon primary production.
– Is there not a Government implement factory in Western Australia?
– Yes. An implement factory was ‘established by the Scaddan Government with a view to protecting the interests of the Western Australian producers against the manufactures of Victoria, but, like most other industries undertaken by Governments, it has been a lamentable failure.
-*- I heard Senator Lynch, on one occasion, hold it up as a pattern for South Australia.
– You give the quotation. The idea is all right. The realization proved a failure.
– If honorable senators read their daily papers carefully, they will have noticed, I think in this morning’s Argus, that there was a very heavy loss on “the trading operations of this particular portion of the Western Australian State industry last month, and that is the history of every month with regard to this State trading concern. I remind honorable senators that when they talk about the Australian price for these farming implements, to the price must be added Australian coastal freights, which are probably heavier than in any other part of the world, and, of course, they add materially to the cost of implements to producers in the distant States. This is a factor that must not be’ lost’ sight of in any comparison between Australian and New Zealand prices. If the figures supplied by the Minister had had relation to the cost of implements -at the various centres of distribution in both Australia and New Zealand, the comparison would have been fair.
– Is there any difference in freight whether we are a Free Trade or Protectionist country ?
– I am not submitting that there is. I am merely pointing out that the Minister made what I regard as an unfair comparison between Australian and New Zealand prices for these farm implements. The Minister, like many other . Victorians, apparently thinks that Victoria is Australia; but honorable .senators from other States do not subscribe to that view. In this matter we are concerned, not with the Australian price prevailing in Victoria, but the Australian price for farm implements delivered to the producers in Queensland, Western Australia, or elsewhere in the Commonwealth.
.- I desire to make a few remarks, dealing both with the suggested request by Senator Gardiner and that outlined by Senator Wilson. The Minister (Senator Russell) in his reply to Senator Wilson made an- accurate comparison between the prices charged for agricultural imple-. ments in Free Trade New Zealand and Protectionist Australia, the figures, as honorable senators will remember, being very much to the advantage of the Commonwealth. Some doubt has been expressed, however, as to the accuracy of the Minister’s figures so far as they affect the delivery cost to the farmer. I have in my hand the official price-list of the MasseyHarris British-built Farm Machinery Company, issued in- May, 1920, in which it is clearly shown that the quotation made by the Minister relates, only to the delivery price in Auckland, Wellington, Lyttleton, and Dunedin. ‘Therefore, the suggestion that the New Zealand price is the price delivered to the farmer is quite inaccurate. Just as the local manufacturer of a reaper and binder will quote the Australian farmer a price, c.i.f. Melbourne or Sydney, so the International Machinery Company will quote to the New Zealand farmer prices c.i.f.’ Auckland, Wellington, Lyttleton, or Dunedin.
– You had better give us the prices.
– I have made the comparison, and I find it is quite accurate. The honorable senator may take my word for that, or he may make the comparison himself from the price-list which I shall hand to him.
– Does the MasseyHarris Company quote a higher price in Auckland than Sydney?
– I do not hope to convert Senator Gardiner. Judging by his utterances here he is beyond all hope of conversion, but it is difficult to understand why he and others who still lean ‘ to the policy of Free Trade are not prepared to profit by the experience of other countries.
– Does the honorable senator wonder at our attitude in view of Senator Wilson’s speech ?
– No doubt Senator Wilson made an impressive speech, but I cannot understand why, having regard to the lessons of history, he is unable to take a wider view of this national question and recognise that a sacrifice must sometimes be made by a part of the community in order that the good of the whole may be achieved. The man who takes the view that one section must be immune from sacrifice, and thai the remaining sections must carry the whole burden, can never hope to be described’ as a statesman. Senator Gardiner and Senator Thomas are on a different plane. Incomprehensible though it is to me, they believe that the best policy for any country is that of free competition.
– And our belief is based on England’s success under such a policy.
– The conditions prevailing in England and Australia are absolutely different. Let us look for a moment at the experience of other countries which, like Australia, have abundant supplies of raw material. Take what has been done by the United States of America and Germany. Germany, under a rigid system of protection, prior to the war was the most successful nation in the world’s history. Had she been able to suppress the military element she would have completely conquered the world by commerce. She was rapidly doing so under a strict Protectionist Tariff - under a policy which declared that Germany should manufacture everything, and that Germans should use only German manufactures. That was her policy, and under it she was able, not. only to supply the requirements of the great German Empire, but was rapidly capturing the trade of the whole world. I do not ask of Australia the same degree of fiscal isolation, but it is absolutely essential that Australia, if she wants to be great, shall adopt a Protective policy. The United States, under a highly Protective policy, has been similarly successful. New Zealand, at one time, had a duty on the agricultural implements to which this item relates, but certain members of the New Zealand Legislature who, like Senator Wilson, thought they would benefit the agriculturists by securing the abolition of the duties on agricul tural machinery, succeeded in doing so with the result as shown by the figures quoted by the Minister, that the prices of agricultural machinery in New Zealand to-day are higher than those charged for the same machines in Australia, where a heavy duty is still in force. Senator Thomas, more in jest than earnest, made several interjections concerning an antidumping Bill, while the Minister was speaking. He has frequently made such interjections, quite oblivious of the fact that a country which has no industries to be destroyed cannot be injured by dumping. If we had no industries, and no prospect of establishing any in Australia, then the greater the dumping that took place here the better, since we should thus have placed at our disposal, enormous quantities of goods at perhaps less than half their value. Dumping is resorted to in order to injure competing industries. The object is; to destroy the local industries, so that the people who indulge in. dumping will be able later on to exploit the market, and ultimately gain far more than they have lost by the process. For an honorable senator to say that the prices charged in New Zealand for machinery and implements that are not protected do away with the fear of dumping is to show that he is unable to grasp the situation. I strongly hold the view that it is in the best interests of those who use agricultural implements that we should do everything to secure the stability of the industry in Australia. I deny that by placing a duty on machinery of this class we are compelling the users of such machinery for all time to pay increased costs. That is contrary to all experience - contrary to fact and common sense; Like their kindred in New Zealand, those honorable senators who lay themselves out specially to guard the interests of the land worker are, whether they recognise it or not, taking a wrong step by proposing the reduction or abolition of these duties. By reducing or abolishing the duties under this item, they would, of necessity, prevent the development of the manufactories engaged in the production of agricultural machines and implements in Australia, and would probably wipe them out of existence. When that happened, those whom they are now seeking to serve would be absolutely at the mercy of foreign manufacturers, and as in New Zealand, and every other country where the same conditions exist, would have to pay the penalty of having been so represented in. this Parliament. It is useless for me to quote further figures showing the difference between Australia and New Zealand in this regard. It is obvious to every honorable senator who knows anything of trade and commerce that the people of any country who are left to the mercy of the importers are exploited to the fullest extent.
– It is human nature. The remark does not apply to importers alone.
– It is human nature. In the interests of Australia, these industries should be fostered, even at the cost of some sacrifice, in order that we may be able to supply our own requirements. If our local manufacturers do not play the game, we can control them, and compel them to do so, but such control is impossible where a country has to depend upon the importers for its supplies.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I am going to support the request of which notice has been given by Senator Wilson, in so far as the reduction of the duties under the British preferential and intermediate Tariffs is concerned, but I hope that he will agree to allow the duty of 35 per’ cent, under the general Tariff to remain as proposed by the Government. We have heard much this morning from the Minister (Senator Russell) and Senator Earle with regard to the prices of agricultural machinery in Australia and .New Zealand, but the information I have obtained from representative New Zealand primary producers in both Sydney and Melbourne is quite contrary to that which those honorable senators have given us. I mentioned the other day to a representative New Zealand primary producer that during the debate on this item in another place, it had been suggested that the prices charged in New Zealand for agricultural implements were far higher than those ruling in Australia for the same class of imported machines. He had taken the trouble to interview certain agricultural implement supplying firms and had no hesitation in denying the assertion that their machines were dearer in New Zealand than in Australia.
– But I have quoted the Massey Harris price list.
– My informant pointed out that the climatic conditions of New Zealand were different from those of Australia and involved certain structural alterations in a great many instances.
– But those alterations at the most would not cost more than 30s. per machine.
– That is not so, my informant said that because of the structural alterations rendered necessary by the different climatic conditions prevailing in New Zealand, certain agricultural machinery was dearer there than in Australia, but that other classes of agricultural machinery were cheaper than they were here.
– But even if the prices were the same in both countries would not the honorable senator prefer to see all this machinery made in the Commonwealth ?
– Even if our manufacturers can get in New Zealand the high prices which the Minister (Senator Russell) says are ruling there in competition with, the world, surely they will have no difficulty in getting fair prices in Australia against similar competition. Our makers of .agricultural implements are not merely manufacturing for the Australian market; they are exporting largely to the markets of the world, and it is surprising to learn just how far afield many of our implements go. New Zealand is one of our best customers for them, and in spite of the fact that the Dominion has no Tariff against agricultural implements, and America and all other countries of the world compete there on even terms, our manufacturers are able to sell as many implements in New Zealand as they can manufacture and send there. We also export to Fiji, South Africa, and the Straits Settlements, and one of our very best customers is Spain, where we sell them against the competition of the cheap labour of other countries. We also export to the Argentine, Java, Sumatra, Siam, the Philippine Islands, and even to Russia.
– Does the honorable senator know whether we sell them cheaper abroad than we do at home?
– In some instances, the price for export is lower than the price for home consumption. We give the benefit of our Protective duty to the consumers in other countries. In a great many other instances; however, the price for export is just about the same as it is for local consumption. The point I am most particularly anxious to make is that, under Australian conditions, paying Australian rates of wages, and whatever price is demanded for the Australian material that enters into the manufacture of these implements and machines, we can produce them, export them, and sell them against similar implements made in countries where wages and the cost of production may not bo as high as they are here, either because we can undersell them, or because our article is superior. At any rate, we are able to find a ready market for just as much as we can export; therefore, I cannot see the tremendous necessity for the imposition of a very high duty on agricultural machinery. I am prepared to meet the Government in regard to the general Tariff, which will apply more particularly to foreign countries, where we may in the future have to meet unfair competition; but we know that we need not fear it from Great Britain. In respect to countries to which we may apply the intermediate Tariff, unfair conditions would not be permitted to exist under the reciprocal arrangement made. In these circumstances, the rates under the British and intermediate headings are too high, and I am prepared to support Senator Wilson’s request to reduce them, but I am not agreeable to a reduction of the general rate. This is another of the items upon which the Senate was petitioned by the primary producers, who implored us, because of the serious position of the agricultural and primary producing interests of Australia, to ease their load as much as possible. This is one direction in which we can do so. I hope that the majority of honorable senators will support Senator Wilson’s request for a reduction in respect to the duties under the British and intermediate headings.
– One is not justified in discussing other items, but as Senator Earle has quoted certain New Zealand prices, I think I am in order in making use of his figures to show how Protection does not work out in the way that Protectionist pamphlets say it does. The following are the prices of reapers and binders in New Zealand, taken from the list issued by Massey Harris, in 1920, before this Tariff came into operation in Australia : -
The Australian prices for reapers and binders last year, according to a list supplied to me by Senator Wilson, were: -
The best test of prices is to buy, but these figures convince me that a huge increase in the price of these implements followed the introduction of this Tariff. I ask honorable senators to request the House of Representatives to impose no duty whatever on sprays and other implements used by fruit-growers and farmers.
– This item affords us an opportunity of analyzing the real relationship the extra duties imposed by this Tariff bear to the primary producers of Australia. I quite realize that to the producers of this country, who have no means for the sale of their goods other than an overseas market, every pound of extra expense imposed on them by this Tariff, is to that extent a handicap upon their industries. According to the latest figures, issued’ by the Federal Taxation Commissioner, the number of taxpayers, classed as farmers, assessed last year, was 42,867, who paid on the average £12 per head in. income tax. According to the same figures the number of pastoralists assessed for income derived from all sources other than casual was 11,403, who paid on the average £170 per head in income tax. I think that we can conclude from this official statement that the pastoralists of Australia as a class have done very well. As far as I have been able to analyze the Taxation Commissioner’s figures they are doing better, as a class, than any other class in Australia.
– I will tell you about it directly.
– At any rate, they were paying more Federal income tax on the average than is paid by any other class in Australia, manufacturers included. Seeing that 42,867 farmers are assessed for Federal income tax purposes, and pay on an average only £12 per head, we may reasonably assume that the number given includes all who are engaged in primary production in Australia outside the pastoralists. It is clear that the incidence of the protective duties on all the machines and goods required for carrying on production does not fall upon pastoralists comparatively as heavily as it falls upon the farmers. Consequently I propose to apply my argument to the farmers alone. I have made some inquiries from reputable and knowledgeable persons as to the average amount of money a farmer pays for his special goods affected by this Tariff, and my information is to the effect that the average farmer in the class I have indicated, which only pays. £12 per head in Federal income tax, buys each year not more, and possibly less, than £200 worth of special material affected by this Tariff. If a man- buys an expensive machine it lasts more than a year, but the average amount paid for machinery, wire-netting, galvanized iron, iron wire, and articles of that sort directly affected by this Tariff, and directly used in production is not more than £200 per farmer per annum. We can thus assume that the average farmer pays £200 a year for the commodities which are taxed by this Tariff, and which some honorable senators urge are thereby unduly inflated in price. Let us assume that the average increase of price to the farmer made by the Tariff on these articles1 is 20 per cent, ; then we arrive at the figure of £40 per year as the handicap, or socalled handicap, imposed on the farmer. There is a contra account, and that contra account must be taken off; we must all admit that the Tariff gives something to a number of the primary producers, fruit-growers, and men on the land. There is a duty of £6 on sugar, and £d. a lb. on bananas, and the Tariff helps’ the arrowroot grower, the maize grower, the onion grower, and many others. At all events, there is a fairly substantial contra account so far as my analysis of the Tariff goes. Taking the whole of the farmers, fruit-growers, sugar-growers, and others who benefit, the contra account will amount possibly to almost £20. I am pointing out these figures, as throwing a new light in an endeavour to analyze what the exact position is. If those figures are in any way nearly correct, the average net impost on the farmer and small producer under this Tariff is from £20 to £25 per year.
– We have to take into account what he pays for other things besides machinery.
– I am talking about the things which directly affect the farmer more than any other member of the community. I think that on these figures, if they be correct - and I am informed on the most substantial authority that the £200 I have given is fairly accurate - we must admit that there is an impost on the average farmer, and fruitgrower, omitting the pastoralist, of £25 a year. I for one, in admitting that, say that it is not quite fair to the farmer, who has to compete in the world’s market. Rather than jeopardize the key industries in Australia, and rather than smash up our secondary industries that provide for the farmer’s wants, and the wants of other men on the land, it would be far better to admit freely that this handicap is imposed, and endeavour, in some way, to compensate him in the shape of a bonus on exports abroad. That position is. I think, a fair arid reasonable one to take up; that would prevent controversy, bitterness and unfairness in connexion with the treatment of many very reputable secondary industries.
On the item itself, I remind honorable senators that we are now dealing with an industry in Australia of which we may reasonably be proud. So far as my information goes, there have been no inventions so numerous in connexion with the improvement of machines for use on the land as those made in Australia. The harvester, and, I understand, the stump-jump plough’, and others, were invented here, and I can cite another example. During the last wheat season in New South Wales the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Dunn, estimated the loss of wheat that would take place owing to its being rain beaten when about to be harvested, at 5,000,000 bushels for the year. How- ever, some of the agricultural implement factories got busy with an invention of a gentleman at Henty, in New South Wales, and within six weeks there were turned out machines that eventually garnered this rain-beaten wheat, with the result that, instead of 5,000,000 bushels, the State lost only 1,000,000. There is, I think, some credit due to the factories of Australia for a thing like that. Had we no factories, that wheat would not have been saved. It is to the credit of Australia and Australian industries that we have not only led the world in harvesting inventions, but that, owing to those industries being established here, 4,000,000 bushels of rain-beaten wheat were saved in New South Wales last year. I put this aspect of the case to honorable senators, and ask them to consider it in connexion with their votes on this item. I should like to point out that there is an anomaly in the item as it stands; and it should be considered in the interests of more than one small firm which manufactures special sprinklers for fruit growing and irrigation purposes. Necessary parts which have to be imported should be included in the item; otherwise, complete sprinklers will be imported under this item, while parts will be charged, under another item, at least 20 per cent. more. That is not a position, I am sure, that the Senate wishes to continue. Whatever is done, it should be remembered that the Americans havecopied every one of our inventions and used them, and that Australian invention has led the world in connexion with agricultural machinery. It is absolutely necessary, and only just, to protect Australian industries against the huge Combines in the United States which desire to grip the- world in their own interests in regard to harvesting machinery.
– I shall be brief, because, though much has been said which might bear repetition, to indulge in that repetition would be out of place on the present occasion. The item covers a wide range of articles used by every class of primary producer, great and small, stretching out from the small orchardist to the large wheat grower in the interior. When we have an item of this description we should weigh well the effect our action will have on a great class of producers. We quite appreciate the congestion of population in suburban areas and the effect of the rates of wages obtaining there; and we must ask ourselves seriously whether it is right to stimulate that tendency,, with its result in upsetting or altering the balance that has hitherto prevailed between the standards of wages in the country and city areas. When I landed in Australia, thirty years ago, upon the Queensland coastal regions a piece of good advice was given me. I was told that if I desired to make headway in this new country I had better push inland, that if a man preferred to hug the coast and spend his life in the coastal cities where competition is fiercest he could not hope to carve out an independent career. The tendency in recent years, however, has been to discourage men from going inland. Everything favours their remaining upon the coastal fringe. Without question, the dwellers outback are under greater disadvantages than city people ; and, more and more, the population of the interior is striking back to the coast. This Tariff will considerably augment that tendency. The Leader of the Labour party in Western Australia (Mr. Collier) recently said that the men working on the Golden Mile today were getting lower wages than the workers along the Western Australian coast. The same comment would apply to conditions in every State. Should the Government encourage such a state of affairs ? Must the man outback, in addition to fighting various pests and battling with nature in all its moods, be further penalized by the payment of higher prices than ever for the implements of his occupation? I know what I am talking about, for I am trying to make a very unwilling patch of the Western State productive.
– The stage has just about arrived when the addition of a few more burdens cannot make much difference to the farmer.
– That is just what I am trying to hammer home. In Canada the duties upon agricultural implements generally range from 12 to 15 per cent, while in the United States of America the Tariff is probably rather less. What is the reason for these enormous rates in the Commonwealth? My ideal for this country is that the farm labourer of today shall become the farmer of to-morrow. The farm labourer is satisfied to improve his status by sheer virtue of his physical powers and mental ambitions. But the effect of the Tariff will be, instead of promoting the farm labourer of to-day to the farmer of to-morrow, to make the farmer of to-day either the farm labourer or the city dweller of to-morrow. Has anyone ever heard of a millionaire farmer ? I know of millionaire landlords, manufacturers, traders, wheat-buyers, and land and estate agents. There are millionaires among the suppliers of every variety of farming requisite ; but the poor, overburdened primary producer never gets anywhere. Yet, in face , of these unchallengeable facts the Government would heap still higher burdens upon his tottering frame. The National Parliament is too closely involved in city interests. One can scarcely step outside the door of this Chamber without being lobbied by representatives of some coastal fringe concern.
– Hear, Hear ! We want Canberra.
– The sooner the Federal Parliament establishes itself on independent territory the better for the whole of Australia. But, proceeding with my point, have any honorable senators been lobbied by representatives of rural interests? The primary producer is too busily engaged in making a bare living to waste his time or spend his money in pleading his interests at the doors of the National Legislature. Nevertheless, the primary producer is not a negligible factor. There are 240,000 adult males trying to scratch a livelihood from the Australian soil.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– I was rather surprised at some of the figures quoted by Senator Pratten, and since the luncheon adjournment I have had an opportunity of looking more closely into them. I do not mean to sug- gest that the figures he quoted were incorrect; but, although they were the latest available, they were only up to the 30th June, 1919. The honorable senator said there were 42,867 taxable farmers, that the annual income tax paid by each averaged £12, and that there were 11,493 taxable pastoralists who paid on an average £170 each. These figures convey the impression that the pastoralists to-day are doing much better than the farmers. In 1919 the price of wool, of course, was at its highest, whilst that of wheat was only about 4s. per bushel, as against, approximately, 9s. at present. The farmer, therefore, was in a much worse position then than he is in today, but, on the figures for the year ended 30th June, 1921, the pastoralist was not even so favorably situated. I speak with a good deal of authority, because I have approached many experts and business men who visit the pastoralists, when I say that to-day probably not 5 per cent. of the pastoralists are making sufficient to . pay wages and land and income tax. I do not like to contemplate what is likely to happen in the coming year. The cost of producing wool has been estimated at about 9d. per lb., but the average price of wool at present is about 8d. per lb. Very many people are misled by the prices quoted in the press, and by statements to the effect that wool has risen and is still rising in price. Many are guided by the maximum prices, and do not consider the lower rates which, at some times, are as low as1d. per lb. I absolve Senator Pratten from any intention to distort the figures; but we have to remember that the position has completely changed since 1919.
– The figures I quoted were official.
– Yes ; I believe the honorable senator did his best to ascertain the true position, but that, as I have said, has completely changed. I believe that the pastoralists require as much consideration as the farmers - or, perhaps, more - because their product has fallen in price to such an extent that it does not provide sufficient for the payment of wages and land and income tax. I am one of those who agree entirely with the opinion expressed by Mr. Barwell, the Premier of South Australia, that the only thing that is going to save the country from a tremendous amount of unemployment is a reduction of wages. Instances have been brought under my notice where men employed on pastoral properties have approached their employers and requested them to reduce wages in preference to discharging some of them.
– If the price of products kept up that would not be necessary.
SenatorFAIRBAIRN.- Certainly not, because pastoralists and graziers could well afford to paythe wages they have been paying in the past. In almost every industry we are faced with a similar position, and I am afraid that by increasing the duties on agricultural implements the conditions of the industry will be so favorable that the employees when they see that the manufacturers are getting higher prices for their products will ask for higher wages. Then wages in the country will have to be still further reduced, while the city workers will receive an additional reward.
– It will be difficult to get men to go inland when high wages are prevailing on the coastline.
– Exactly. Of course, the inflexibility of Arbitration Court awards is responsible for much of the trouble, because wages are fixed irrespective of the ability of the industry to pay them.
– It is to be regretted that some of our Arbitration Court Judges have not to conduct, at their own expense, some of the industries at the wages they have awarded.
– It has been pointed out that a Judge is unfitted to assess the wages of workers, because he is not fully conversant with the conditions . and the responsibilities of employers. Mr. Justice Higgins laid it down that if any industry could not pay the wage that he thought it should pay, that industry should be closed down. What would be the condition of affairs if that principle were carried to its logical conclusion? The mining and pastoral industries would be in a most unsatisfactory position, as would also threefourths of the industries in the Commonwealth. Wages are now fixed entirely irrespective of what they produce. I believe that a great many of the working men are reasonable enough to admit that such is the case, although I am sorry many of the leaders take a distorted view of the situation. I have been interviewed by a great many manufacturers in connexion with the industrial situation, and I always ask them what wages they pay. The reply always is, “ They are very high. We are working under a log, and there is another one coming along which will make wages still higher.” A new log served on the boxmakers provides that the saw “doctor” shall receive £12 12s. per week - apparently he is to be paid in guineas, because of his professional appelation - the head benchman, £10 per week, and the person who throws off the timber - work that can be done by a boy - £8 per week. It would be impossible for such an industry to prosper, whatever protection we might afford, under those conditions. It is impossible for the primary producers to carry such heavy burdens, and many do not realize the position in which some Australian industries are at present. I am delighted to learn that our implement manufacturers, who are producing implements second to none in the world, are doing well. But if we keep on demanding higher and higher Protection the wages of the city workers will be increased to the detriment of those who are employed in rural areas, and the result will be that more people will be compelled to live in the larger centres of population. I have never known the pastoral industry to be in such a parlous condition as now ; there is a possibility of many of the smaller men being ruined because it is impossible for them to pay the wages demanded. Many of the smaller men have discharged their employees and are endeavouring to carry on with their own labour. In these circumstances, I am in favour of reducing the protection afforded to implement manufacturers-. Even if 1 thought that reduced protection might be the means of these magnificent works being closed I would take the risk, but I do not think that would happen, because they have become well established on lower duties. They have enormous protection in the matter of freights alone. I do not think people realize the position in which our primary producers, who have to market most of their products overseas, are placed. Before the war the freight on wool was fiveeighths of a penny per lb. and now itis1d. per lb., or a rise of 116 per cent. In 1914 the freight on tallow was £2 7s. 6d., and now it is £8 10s. per ton, a rise of 258 per cent. In pre-war days the freight on wheat was 20s.. per ton, and it is now £2 6s. 8d. or a rise of 133 per cent.
– Is not there a possibility of those freights being considerably reduced in the near future?
– I do not think so. No one cares to tackle the labour question until he has to. Those who man the ships do not make the welfare of the Australian primary producers their first concern.
– But the shipping companies have made big profits, and they could carry our products at cheaper rates than are prevailing at present.
-I quite agree with the honorable senator ; but the shipping companies do not feel inclined to tackle the question of wages, which’ comprise a large proportion of their expenditure. The shipboard workers are so well organized’ that the shipping companies are paying high wages, which results in high freights, and no advantage will be gained until the producers establish voluntary pools, and undertake collective bargaining. The shipping companies will not endeavour to reduce freights until they find that those who own the produce they carry are taking a determined stand. So long as the shipping companies can pass on their costs to the primary producers, the present rates will be maintained. Although I am anxious to see our implement manufacturers succeed in the huge undertakings they have launched, I am not prepared to support a tremendous increase in duties. When the industries were established the duties were almost nominal, and we are now asked to support impositions, the lowest of which is a rate of 22½ per cent. That is more than the primary producer can bear, and for these reasons I shall support the request.
.- Any one who has had experience of the difficulties of the primary producer must welcome a discussion of this kind, which gives an opportunity to refresh one’s memory of the difficulties of the man on the land, and to contribute something to the debate which may influence the Government to afford him a certain amount of relief. Whilst we give consideration to the needs of the manufacturing industries, we must hold the scales as evenly as possible, and see that the manufacturer is not benefited unduly at the expense of the primary producer. Included in this item is a number of articles that are absolutely essential, especially in the more closely settled portions of Australia. I have no knowledge of large pastoral areas, because Tasmania is an example amongst the States of close settlement, and there are few holdings of great extent there. The land in that State is difficult to bring under cultivation, because in its virgin state it is so heavily timbered. The expenditure incurred by men taking up original selections in Tasmania is enormous. I have known men who have worked the whole of their lives in the effort to convert the virgin forest into well-improved farms. They have reaped for themselves no advantage except that they have seen their land grow more valuable year by year, have helped in the development of the State, and have made it possible to relieve their sons of the hardships of pioneering which they have had to undergo themselves. ‘Recently these men have had a very hard time indeed. It may be said that the northwestern portion of Tasmania is famed throughout the Commonwealth for the production of potatoes, but I venture to say that there is not’ one potato-grower in that district who will show a profit on his operations for this year. There are very few whose returns will cover their expenses, because they have no control over the market price of potatoes. The same may be said of those who have been growing chaff. Every one knows that the price the article is bringing this year leaves no margin of profit for the producer. This is not an exceptional year. There have, indeed, been many worse years, whilst, of course, there have been some good years for those engaged in agriculture.
– Does not the good year make up for the bad year?
– It may do so, to some extent, but the suggestion applies with equal force to manufacturing industries. Many manufacturing industries have made very large profits during the last few years, and. they will not have much cause for complaint if by the imposition of duties which would give relief to men engaged in land development their profits were slightly decreased for a time. Garden and’ field spraying machines are covered by the item under consideration, and they are absolutely necessary for the orchard industry. Year after year the orchardist is faced with new pests, and with increased difficulty in dealing with old pests, and we should hesitate before we impose increased duties on a machine which is absolutely essential for the success of his industry.
– What about the rural labourers log?
– When one considers the wages which workers’ in agricultural industries would like to get-
– And which the employers would like to pay.
– I say that if the log which has been submitted by the workers were put into force, every primary producer would have, to disappear from the face of Australia. They could not possibly hope to carry on. Thousands of men who have small holdings find it almost impossible to develop them as they should be developed, because of the difficulty in obtaining labour at prices which1 will enable them to secure a return for the money spent in their industry. Every one knows the difficulties with which dairymen have to contend. The invention of the cream separator and the milking machine has been a great boon to them. But for their aid, life in the dairying industry would be intolerable at the present time. Whilst under this item milking machines are dutiable at 22^ per cent. British and 35 per cent, foreign, they were under the last Tariff dutiable at 5 per cent. British and 10 per cent, foreign. The milking machine is perhaps a more valuable accessory of the dairying industry than is the cream separator, because of the difficulty of obtaining labour in the industry. I believe that milking machines are being very successfully manufactured in Australia. I do not know how many varieties of the machine are in use, but I know that some imported machines have given excellent results. From a conversation which I had over the telephone with a gentleman interested in milking machines, I have learned that Australian manufacturers turn out a very good article. The question is whether they can supply sufficient machines to meet Australian requirements, and whether those they manufacture meet all the needs of the “dairying industry. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us some information on those points.
– Is the honorable senator’s friend an importer of milking machines ?
– No. . He is not interested at all in importing the overseas article. I rang him up to get some information as to the machines that are made in Australia. I am not standing out for the interests of the importing section of the community.
– I do not suggest that for a moment.
– I think that, taking everything into consideration, the Government might agree on this item to accept a reduction in the duty proposed on the British-made articles. Great Britain has for many years supplied us with a fair proportion of the commodities we have required; and I am prepared, in considering these duties, to give Britain a preference. I am not inclined to support the proposal to reduce the duty in the general Tariff on this item. Though I would not oppose a slight reduction of the duty in the intermediate Tariff, I think we should concentrate our attention upon a reduction of the duty proposed on British importations.
– Does the honorable senator recognise that we obtain our main supplies of machines covered by this item from America and Canada? Is he not prepared to give any relief there?
– I am not disposed to give any relief so far as the general Tariff is concerned.- I do not think that would be advisable. It has been stated that with their surplus production American manufacturers are .able to overcome high Tariffs, and if that be so, there is less reason why we should consider American manufacturers in connexion with this item. i
– Or Canadian manufacturers?
– They might by arrangement be placed in a position to take advantage of the intermediate Tariff. Let me say that the duties imposed on these articles in the Canadian Tariff are not anything like so high as the duties set out in the schedule, although Canada has the United States of America alongside her border.
– The Canadian duty is 12i per cent.
– I believe that the Canadian duties are 12½ per cent., British, and 15 per cent., general.
– No. Twelve and a half per cent., general.
– The honorable senator may be correct. I looked up the Canadian Tariff this morning, and I know that the duties imposed by it are lower than those specified in the schedule. In view of the discussion which has taken place on this item, I intend to support a reduction of the duty in the British preference column.
Request that the item, general, be free, agreed to.
Request that the item, intermediate, be free, by leave, withdrawn.
Question - That the item, British, be free - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, intermediate,25 per cent.
If my request is agreed to, I propose to ask for a duty of 15 per cent. under the British preferential Tariff. Earlier in the debate I stated that I was pledged to secure, if possible, a reduction in the duties on tools of trade; but I realize that, in the present constitution of the Senate, there is no possibility of getting all I want in this respect. In order to meet honorable senators fairly, I have submitted this modified request, and I trust I shall have their support. This is a very important matter to every one con nected with those industries that are producing the wealth of this country. It is not sufficient for us to stand up in this Senate and talk about what the farmers should or should not do. This is a time when we might fairly be judged by our actions rather than our words.
– In case I should be found voting against the request, I want to explain that it will not be because I have gone over to the Protectionists, but because I can see so very little possibility of advantage to the farmers by the difference in the British Tariff between the 15 per cent. proposed by Senator Wilson and the 22½ per cent. proposed by the Government. In view of these facts, I am inclined to support the Government on this item. .
– I should like to know if Senator Wilson thinks that 15 per cent. British preferential Tariff is sufficient to protect the local industries covered by this item. If he thinks it is, well and good; but if it is not sufficient, then it is merely a revenue duty, and, as honorable senators know, I never was a Revenue Tariffist. ‘ I want to know where we stand; and I shall be glad if Senator Wilson will help us by an explanation, because I look upon him as a Protectionist desirous of protecting the manufacturers of the Commonwealth. Do the Protectionists take the stand that 15 per cent. British Tariff is sufficient? If it is not, and if they regard this item as a revenue Tariff, then I am opposed to it.
– Where would you get the revenue from?
– From direct taxation, because it would be obtained more cheaply. If, instead of collecting revenue indirectly through the Customs, our Protectionist friends would allow each individual citizen to pay the Protective duties direct, I would be prepared to support the imposition of as many duties as they desired, because the people would then know exactly what they had to pay, and Protection would not last a fortnight. A friend of mine, a staunch Protectionist, nurtured in this doctrine at Bendigo, in Victoria, obtained a position as a mining manager at Broken Hill, and in the discharge of his duties he was required to draw cheques for thepayment of duty upon imported machinery. He told me subsequently that, having had that experience of the working of the policy, he was not such a keen Protectionist- as he had been prior to taking up his position at Broken Hill. If the British duty suggested by Senator “Wilson is to be a revenue duty, I shall object to it; but if it can be demonstrated that 15 per cent. is a Protective duty, and is intended as fair protection for Australian industries, there may be some inducement for me to vote for it.
– The speech we have just listened to from Senator Thomas is a most extraordinary one. He knows as well as any other honorable senator that the Protective Tariff against foreign manufacturers in this item is 35 per cent., as proposed by the Government. What Senator Wilson proposes to do is to reduce the preferential duty against British manufacturers to 15 per cent. Eight through the schedule it is laid down that the general Tariff should be sufficient to give protection to Australian industries as against the outside world; but so far as British manufacturers are concerned we are not attempting to lay down a Protective Tariff.
– I am afraid my colleague is rather young. Ask the Minister.
– By the imposition of this preferential Tariff, we admit a desire to trade with Great Britain.
– Over the foreigner, certainly.
– If the British Tariff is not sufficiently low to permit of trade, where is the advantage of preference at all?
SenatorRussell. - Our statistics show that Britain is picking up her trade under the preferential Tariff.
– Of course, she is. This preference is real and substantial, and Great Britain is reaping a benefit under it.
– I do not think the honorable, senator was so keen on preferential duties in connexion with the iron industry.
– In connexion with that industry, we propose to give Britain very substantial preference. It is the earnest wish of every Britisher in the Senate, Senator Gardiner included, to give Britain every preference that it is possible to give, consistent with fair play to our own manufacturers.
SenatorRussell. - If Senator Gardiner got his way, there would be no room for preference. He does not believe in Customs duties at all.
– I am aware that Senator Gardiner is very solicitous concerning the interests of the British manufacturer, and so is Senator Thomas. To him, one industry in Great Britain is worth half-a-dozen in Australia, and 1,000 men employed in Great Britain is more to him than 10,000 employed in this country. Other honorable senators do not conform to that doctrine. We certainly want to give Britain preference in the Tariff. That is Senator Wilson’s object in connexion with this item; but we want the preference to be worth something, and so we propose a Protective Tariff against the foreign manufacturer of 35 per cent. Therefore, we are giving Britain a preference of 20 per cent. against the foreign competitors, which is more than Britain proposes to give Australia.
– I cannot pretend to a feeling of anger towards Senator Duncan for not being able to see the truth in this matter any more than I could feel anger towards a blind man to whom I was endeavouring to explain an error without knowing that he was blind. But the honorable senator deliberately said that Senator Thomas and I, through our attitude towards these Tariff items, desired the employment of British workmen over Australian workmen. Nothing could be further from my thoughts. I want to see the workmen of both countries fully employed. I want trade with Great Britain to be unhampered by heavy Customs duties. Senator Duncan is prepared to give a preference to Britain over Germany, Japan, and America, but he is not willing to give any preference in trade as between Great Britain and Australia. I want to cultivate that trade for our mutual advantage, and to insure employment in both countries. Just as the eyes of puppies open after a time, sohis eyes some day may also be opened.
– I was rather surprised at some of the remarks made by my colleague from New South Wales, Senator Duncan, whose temporary absence from the chamber I regret. I have listened to many speeches made by him during the Tariff debates, and, however much I might have differed from him, have not given expression to my disagreement. His statement that I would sooner give employment to 1,000 people in Great Britain than provide employment for 10,000 in Australia was both ungenerous and uncalled for. Senator Duncan says -that Protectionists are anxious to give a preference to Great Britain, but, as I understand their attitude, they” are not prepared to give Britain a preference that would be detrimental to Australian manufacturers.
– That is so.
- Senator Earle is a Protectionist, and admits that I have correctly stated the attitude of those’ who share his views. Shortly put, they are prepared to give Great Britain a preference where it will be of no service/ but are not prepared to grant it such a preference as might lead to importations to the detriment of Australian production. In the case of this item, it is said that a duty of 20 per cent, is necessary to enable local manufacturers to cope with competition from overseas. Do Protectionists think that a British preferential duty of 15 per cent, will be sufficient to enable British manufacturers to compete with our own?
– The honorable senator is perfectly frank. The reason why I am not very euthusiastic about Protective duties is not that I desire to see our people unemployed, but that I believe such duties are calculated to cause unemployment. I may be wrong in that view ; but even if I am it is ungenerous for an honorable senator and a colleague to say that I think more of finding employment for 1,000 people ‘ in Great Britain than of providing work for 10,000 here. I am quite as sincere as he is in the desire that our people shall be profitably employed, and when Senator Duncan expresses surprise at some of my remarks, I think I am well entitled to express surprise at some of his actions and votes. He moved to- increase the duty on pig iron, and so to increase the cost of the raw material of the agricultural machinery makers. Having imposed that handicap upon them, he now supports increased duties on the finished article so that he may say to the machinery makers, “ I did my best to make up for the handicap that I put upon you in respect of your raw material.”
– It was not a handicap at all.
– If the imposition of a duty on pig iron, which was previously free, was not a handicap on those who use it as their raw material, why is a duty on agricultural machinery a handicap on any section of the community? It is because Senator Wilson and others, who claim to speak on behalf of the farmers, have said that this duty is a handicap that I have taken up the position to which he objects.
– The additional duty on the raw material represents only 10s. on the cost of a harvester.
– Why is an increased duty a handicap in one case and not in the other? If the honorable senator had voted to make pig iron and bar iron free, I could have understood his position, but as it is, I fail to understand why he favours an increased duty on agricultural machinery.
– I invite honorable senators to view their handiwork in so far as this division is concerned. At the outset they imposed on iron and steel ingots and blooms, which had previously been free, a duty of 32s. per ton under the British preferential Tariff. To that extent we have loaded the local manufacturers of agricultural implements. In the Tariff of 1914 this item was dutiable at 20 per cent. British. Either that duty was too high, seeing that the manufacturers of agricultural machinery there got their iron free of. duty, or the present duty is too low, having regard to the fact that blooms are now dutiable under the British preferential Tariff at 32s. per ton. In the 1908-11 Tariff the British preferential duty on this item was 12J per cent., and under that Tariff also blooms came in free. We are now proposing to raise the duty to the extent of 2£ per cent., but, on the other hand, we have loaded up the raw material of the agricultural machinery makers to the extent of a duty of 32s. per ton. We decided that it would ‘be wise to encourage the local production of iron, and that being so, how can we expect the agricultural implement makers here, with a duty on their raw material, to continue their industry with less protection than they had before? It is undoubtedly desirable tl at agriculturists should be able to obtain the machinery they require at reduced prices, but if we load the raw material of the machinery maker with a duty of 32s. per ton, we cannot expect him to supply at lower rates. To disturb this duty would be to bring down the whole structure of the division. I am anxious to give fair consideration equally to the user of agricultural implements, to the man who makes them, and to the man who produces the iron from which these implements are made. Honorable senators must bear in mind the claims of all three without being carried away by any impulse to favour one against the others.
– I regret very much that the few remarks I made disturbed my honorable and esteemed friend, Senator Thomas. I had no intention of slighting him or even of suggesting that he would be in favour of what he alleges I said he would do. What I intended to say was that the policy he indorsed would have that effect. I know that he is just as keenly desirous as any of us that Australia should prosper, and that the fullest employment should be given to Australian workers at the highest wages. If it is necessary to do so, I apologize to him.
.- I congratulate Senator Wilson on the diplomacy he has displayed, diplomacy worthy of an older politician. It is a good idea in a deliberative assembly like this to demand a great deal at firs’t. feel your way, and then compromise. All those honorable senators who are not pronounced in their views on this question will, of course, recognise the apparent sweet reasonableness of Senator Wilson, and say, “Now that he has toned down his demand, we shall support him”; but I want those honorable senators who believe in the Protective policy to stick to their guns on this issue. If we are making a mistake in fixing the rates of duty as they appear in the schedule, later on there will be an opportunity of rectifying it. The Tariff Board, for the appointment of which provision is being made, will make a full investigation into the working of this Tariff, and if it can be shown to them that too high prices are being charged for these agricultural implements an alteration can be made.
– And if we find that the duties are too low we also can rectify the matter.
– But if, in the meantime, the industry is out of action, what can be done? When we find that an industry in operation is making too much profit we can easily reduce its amount of protection, but if by the imposition of too small a duty we “ knock out” an industry, how can we rehabilitate it?
– Would a reduction of 7 per cent, “knock out” these factories ?
– I do not know. No honorable senator can say definitely what is the exact border line between success and failure.
– Some honorable senators want to give the bias to the importer.
– Apparently, and that is the trouble.
– That is a most unfair assertion.
– I do not know that it is. Where there is a doubt some honorable senators would give the manufacturer the worst of it. I would give him the best of it, and if later on the Tariff Board should find that he has been given too much advantage it can easily be taken away from him again. If, on the other hand, it is found, even without an investigation by the Tariff Board, that factories have closed down, honorable senators will be in a very difficult position.
– That is a rare bit of special pleading.
– No, it is common sense. I am not a special pleader for any one, but I want to see Australia’s industries succeed, and do not want to run the risk of finding that our factories are closing down, and Australia is losing one of its greatest assets. Honorable senators should not be led away by the ap- parent sweet reasonableness of Senator Wilson in modifying his request, and if they are not convinced beyond all question that the duties set out in the Tariff are too high, let them vote to retain them, trusting afterwards to an investigation by the Tariff Board. ‘ If that investigation proves that the duties are too high, they can easily be reduced.
– I wish to know where I stand in regard to submitting a request in respect to spare parts for these agricultural implements. There being no provision for admitting them except under very burdensome conditions, I ask whether I shall be in order in submitting a request for the addition of a sub-item clearly denning that they are to be admitted in the same way as spare parts for other classes of machinery are admitted.
– Several times during the discussion of this schedule I have pointed out that if honorable senators wish to make alterations in the verbiage of an item it is essential for them to be alert and take steps to do so before the Committee proceeds to the consideration of the duties themselves. As a division has already taken place upon the duties attached to this item, it would clearly be a reversal of procedure, which would lead to confusion, if honorable senators now commenced the consideration of the language of the item. The Committee cannot retrace its steps. However, as the Minister has indicated that the Bill will be recommitted-, Senator Lynch in due time will have the opportunity of carrying out his intention in proper form. For the moment, his request for the insertion of a new sub-item would have the effect of seeking to amend what the Committee has already decided upon.
– The item deals with machines, but not with those spare parts which are as essential as are the machines themselves.
– If the spare parts to which the honorable senator refers are imported under the item with which the Committee has dealt-
– Is dealing.
– Any attempt to deal with them by amending the verbiage of the item would have the effect of modifying a decision of the Committee already arrived at. What the honorable senator wishes to do cannot be effected in the way that has occurred to his mind.
– The Chairman’s attitude rests on the probability . that if spare parts are imported under the conditions set out for the machines themselves, the matter is already settled.
The CHAHIMAN.- The best thing would be to obtain a declaration from the Minister as to whether that is so or not.
– In regard to other classes of machines, there is set out the manner in which spare parts are admitted, whereas on that point this item is silent. That warrants me in asking where I stand.
– If the honorable senator’s suggested request will have the effect of modifying a decision already arrived at it cannot be entertained, because it would be a reversal, in an indirect way, of that decision.
– What I wish to know is how spare parts are to be admitted. Are they to be admitted under perfectly reasonable conditions, as is the case with parts for other machinery, or under exorbitant conditions?
– The point raised by Senator Lynch is, in my opinion, a most important one. We have committed ourselves to this item as it stands, so far as the machines are concerned, but we have not dealt with the parts of those machines, particularly the brass work appertaining to them, which, under another item of the Tariff, are dutiable at 40 per cent. I had in mind a request in the direction of adding a sub-item clearly defining that parts of the machines - on which the Committee has to some extent decided so far as the duties are concerned- shall be admitted at some specified rate of duty.
– That is what I asked the Chairman to be permitted to do.
– And I am indorsing Senator Lynch’s attitude. A new sub-clause would be perfectly in order, and would in no way conflict with any previous decision of the Committee. Clearly, the parts of the machines on which we are asked to place a certain duty could not equitably be charged a greater duty than the machines themselves.
– If parts are not particularly mentioned, then, from a dutiable point of view, they come under the same heading as the machines themselves. The Committee has decided that the machines are dutiable at a certain rate, and parts, not being specifically mentioned, are included in that decision.
– Parts are charged under a different heading in another part of the Tariff.
– I cannot see my way clear to accept a request in the direction indicated. Over and over again, I have intimated that honorable senators must watch the language of the items, because any request dealing with the language must be given precedence to any request dealing with the duties. We have had discussion and divisions on the duties, and now it . is desired to revert to the language of the item in a way which, as it appears to me - though I may be wrong - would conflict with a decision the Committee has already arrived at.
– I always take an interest in questions of procedure, and I think that, strictly speaking, Senator Lynch could do what he desires, after we have settled the duties. The honorable senator could then move a new sub-item 161a, providing that parts’ shall be admitted at any duty he likes to specify; and for this we have precedent in the way shafting is treated in item 156. This would only be following our usual procedure on Bills.
– There is a request before us which must first be dealt with. The discussion, which I have permitted for the information of Senator Lynch and others, is somewhat irregular.
– Just imagine what would happen in the case of a motor car ; a chassis is part of a car, but it is pretty well 95 per cent. of the whole.
– We are not dealing with motor cars, but with agricultural machinery.
– That question need not be discussed until Senator Lynch has an opportunity to propose his request in regard to parts. I should now like to say a word or two in reply to Senator Senior, who is regarded as one of our deepest and clearest thinkers, and most concise speaker. He has argued that a duty of 32s. per ton on iron blooms and bars has an appreciable effect on the price of the implements made from the iron. We have a duty of 22½ per cent. proposed on an article worth £20, in which there may not be 5s. worth of iron; and I do not see why Senator Senior should risk his reputation as a thinker by arguing that a duty of 32s. per ton has the effect he suggests. I cannot complain because the Senate has not accepted ray proposition to make all these implements free of duty; but I am doubtful whether I should, by my vote, alter the Government proposals when I realize that any little amendment in the duties, like any little defect in the wheel of a machine, may throw the whole out of gear, and destroy that which makes this. Tariff scientific.
– You are not a revenue Tariffist!
– I am not. I wish the Government were not a revenue Tariffist Government. They received a revenue of £32,000,000 from the Tariff last year.
– The Customs revenue will decrease. This is a ‘Protectionist Tariff.
– The first month of the current financial year showed even higher returns than those for the last month of the year just ended. It is a revenue Tariff, with a vengeance, which extracts from the public pocket £32,000,000 in one financial period, and £2,600,000 in the first month of the next-
– The number of cargoes landed here during June was affected by the big strike in England. Hence the fall in revenue returns for that month.
– I take it, then, that but for the British strike still more cargoes would have been discharged in this country, both during June and July, so that the Customs figures would have been even higher. Senator Pratten related an instance of the marvellous fertility of Australian manufacturing enterprises. He described how an expected loss of 5,000,000 bushels of wheat, due to torrential rainfalls just on the eve of harvest, had been reduced by four-fifths. Virtual ruin stared thousands of farmers in the face, but our protected factories put on an enormous burst of energy by taking up the invention of a farmer at Henty, and turned out innumerable machines for salving the ruined crops. Within six weeks the new invention was at work practically all over the wheat fields of Australia, and the estimated loss of 5,000,000 bushels was reduced to 1,000,000 bushels. It is years since I have heard so wondrous a fairy tale. I do not doubt the word of Senator Pratten. He is in earnest, I am sure, and is confident that his information is correct. But only the wonderful imagination of a Protectionist could have turned an estimated loss of 5,000,000 bushels into the comparatively small loss of 1,000,000 bushels by the rapid-fire distribution of a superb invention all over the stricken wheat- fields of Australia.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that my statement was not approximately true?
– Oh, no!’ It was absolutely true so far as Senator Pratten is concerned. He must make allowances, however, for my obtuse mind and my stolid imagination. I confess my inability to believe that within the period indicated the protected factories of Australia could have collected the necessary material, concentrated the essential labour, and have produced the number of machines necessary to make that extraordinary four-fifths “.save.” The days of miracles are past. One or two machines may have been put into one or two wheat fields. One or two farmers may have been sufficiently wealthy to buy the new invention from one or two Australian manufacturers, but the average farmer would have had neither money nor inclination to buy one, faced as he was said to have been with ruin in his paddocks, and an adamant financier in his bank.
– Will not the honorable senator admit, at least, that the wheat was saved? My statement was based on figures furnished by the Labour Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales.
– I cannot even bring my mind to picture the labour involved in turning out the enormous number of machines, requisite to save fourfifths of the ruined wheat’ spread over fields in almost the whole of the wheatproducing States.
– Could not the wheat have been concentrated at one point?
– Not in the period mentioned, by Senator Pratten, I think.
– More than 5,000,000 bushels have been put through the heat treatment at one point in Australia.
– Concentrated within a matter of a very few weeks?
– The figures which I quoted related to New South Wales alone, and I repeat that they emanated from the Minister for Agriculture in that State.
– But those figures were almost immediately discovered to be incorrect.
– Senator Pratten is not far out.
– Still, I cannot bring myself to believe the beautiful story. If the figures, quoted by Senator Pratten were those originally of the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales, it would seem that that gentleman has not outlived the delightful period in which one believes fairy tales. Possibly the explanation is that the farmers merely imagined the completeness of the disaster, and discovered that they could salvage considerably more of their crop than had been expected.
– It cannot be controverted that the ruined wheat crop was gathered in ultimately by these specially manufactured machines.
– Gathered from every wheat field in every corner of New South Wales!’
– Over a wide area the wheat was not ruined or even badly damaged, but was only flattened down by the rain. It was gathered up again by the machines.
– I am deeply interested. The more I hear the more I want to know. I invite Senator Pratten to provide this Committee with the actual number of machines turned out to meet the emergency. I am sure he will not discover that, in all the wheat-fields of New South Wales, more than twenty or thirty of them were used.
– The machines were at work for many weeks before the whole job had been completed.
– I feel bound to accept everything Senator Pratten says. I know that the honorable senator, and the Labour Minister for New South Wales in conjunction, provide a strong source of information. I must take the earliest opportunity to investigate one of these marvellous inventions, and to inspect the factory from which it ha3 been turned out. I do not say that the result of my investigations may not induce me to request the imposition of duties amounting to 2,000 or 3,000 per cent. For it would appear that the new device will prove to be the long looked for means of turning the poor, struggling, hard-pressed, downtrodden farmers, men such as Senator Lynch, into men of affluence.
– I believe this is the only opportunity for making provision for the importation of spare parts. I suggested that the Minister (Senator Russell) should give the Committee some information; but, up to the present, that has not been done. In following the usual procedure, I believe, spare parts for machines are included immediately after an item. But there is no such reference to parts in this instance. I therefore move-
– ‘Order! The honorable senator cannot move at this juncture, as there is a request before the Chair.
– Very well, I shall indicate that, at a later stage, I intend to move that attachments and equipment regularly supplied with machines, and finished parts for repairing machines mentioned in this item be admitted free of duty. I understand that Senator Wilson, who favoured reducing the duty, has abandoned the position he had taken up by suggesting that he is willing to allow the general rate to remain at 35 per cent. It is most regrettable that the honorable senator should be forced into that position, particularly if such a high duty is to be supported by a majority of the Committee. As honorable senators are aware, the imposition of that duty affects the importation of implements manufactured in Canada and America, which have been the means of making vast areas on this continent highly productive. Importations from those countries will be dutiable at 35 per cent.
– - Will they not be dutiable under the intermediate Tariff?
– There is no comfort to be derived from the intermediate Tariff, as far as an easement of the situation is concerned. What position are these manufacturers in to-day? Hundreds of thousands of machines manufactured in Canada and America, if exported to Australia, will be dutiable at 35 per cent.; and if this rate is agreed to the manufacturers in those countries will be unable to send here. The high- impost, coupled with the incidental expenses, would make it impossible. I desire to know what has warranted the Government imposing a duty of 35 per cent. Have the Australian manufacturers asked for it? I shall prove that they have not. Notwithstanding this, honorable senators are supporting the proposed duty merely because it has the Government label on it. Why has the Government brought down this proposal for a 35 per cent, duty? We cannot get the Minister for Repatriation (‘Senator E. D. Millen) or the Minister for Defence (‘Senator Pearce) to speak for love or money, even on the question of milking machines. This is the work of the Government we are supporting, and Senator Payne will have to take the responsibility if he favours the proposal.
– Order! Will the honorable senator resume his seat? The hour of 4 o’clock having arrived, I must, under a sessional order, put the question - “ That I do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.”
– I rise to order. Mr. Chairman, the Standing and Sessional Orders have been suspended.
– I am unaware of this sessional order having been suspended to such an extent as to preclude me from putting the question. The Committee can negative the question, if honorable senators so desire, but it must be put without debate.
– But the Standing and Sessional Orders have been suspended.
In the Senate:
The Chairman of Committees. - Mr. President-
– On a point of order. ‘I understand, Mr. President, that the Standing and Sessional Orders which would prevent this
Bill being passed through all its stages without delay have been suspended. The Chairman of Committees said that he did not know of any suspension which would prevent him from putting the question - “ That the Chairman do now leave the chair, and report to the Senate.” Unless I speak now I shall not have an opportunity of clearing up the point whether the Standing and Sessional Orders have been suspended to that extent. I contend that they have.
– I did not say that I was unaware that the Standing Orders had been suspended; but I did not know whether this particular sessional order had also been suspended.
– The point is whether the decision of the Senate to suspend the Standing and Sessional Orders included this particular sessional order; and it is upon that point I ask your ruling before you put the question - “That the Senate do now adjourn.”
– The motion moved by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen), as Leader of the House, and adopted by the Senate, when this measure was first introduced, suspended so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders as would prevent the Bill which has been under consideration ‘by the Committee, passing through all stages without delay. Under a sessional order, at 4 o’clock on Friday, the question must automatically be put, but if that were done now it would necessarily delay the passage of the Bill. I do not think it could be held otherwise. Undoubtedly that sessional order was suspended, because if it were not, the passage of the Bill might be delayed. Supposing it were the closing day for considering the measure, and the Minister in charge of it desired it to be considered for another hour or two, this sessional order, unless suspended, might prevent this further consideration, and thus delay the passage of the Bill. I therefore sustain the point of order taken by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen).
The Senate having again resolved itself into Committee, progress was reported,.
– I direct attention to the state of the Senate. There is not a quorum present. [Quorumformed.]
That the Senate do now adjourn.
In submitting the motion, I should like to say that, whilst I appreciate the progress made this week with the Customs Tariff Bill, and believe that it is the desire of honorable senators to make even better progress next week, I hope that if the necessity should arise on Friday next they will come prepared to sit a little later than the ordinary hour for adjournment on Friday. I hope that the necessity will not arise; but I make the announcement in order that honorable senators, in packing their suit-cases for their return to Melbourne next week, will make the necessary preparations for a possible later sitting on Friday next.
.- I wish to say, in reply to the Leader of the Senate, that we on this side have assisted in every way possible to expedite the passage of the Customs Tariff Bill, and I can assure him that’ we will come prepared to sit late next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 19 August 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19210819_senate_8_97/>.