8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator GARDINER brought up the report of the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the claims of Captain J. Strasburg for a war. gratuity, together with minutes of evidence,&c.
Ordered to be printed.
– (By leave.) - I lay on the table of the House the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1923, and the Budgetpapers. Following a practice which has grown up in the Senate, I intend to make a brief reference to ‘them, concluding with a motion that the papers be printed. It is known to honorable senators that, in order to enable them to have an early opportunity of reviewing the national accounts, the practice which I am following to-day has been adopted on other occasions with more or less advantage. In the ordinary course of events, the Budget-papers would not be received in the Senate until the House of Representatives had dealt with the Appropriation Bill.For good reasons, that House naturally hesitates to pass the Appropriation Bill too early in the session, and it would therefore follow that honorable senators would not be given an opportunity of dealing with the national accounts until just at the close of a session or on the eve of the prorogation of Parliament. It is true that, by bringing forward the Budget-papers for the review of honorable senators in this way, whilst they may discuss them as freely as they please, it will not be possible for them to make any alterations in them until the Appropriation Bill is before them. I have here a memorandum containing a brief summary of the public accounts, and it brings home, to my mind, one of the disabilities under which the members of either Chamber, under a bi-cameral system, suffer fromthe fact that the Minister dealing with a particular matter cannot be present in both Chambers to deliver his address. This is a disability which honorable senators generally recognise, and there is no matter of which I can think in connexion with which that disability is more apparent than it is in dealing with the public accounts.
-Does the Minister regard the difficulty as insuperable?
– No. I should hesitate to say that any difficulty is insuperable.
– Has any attempt been made by the Parliament to overcome the difficulty?
– No attempt has been made. The disability to which I have referred must be present in the minds of honorable senators, and points to the necessity for some reform, and that is why I have taken the opportunity of referring to the matter now.
Additional receipts under the headings of Customs and Excise and Income Tax, and a payment of £835,000 on account of the army of occupation, largely contributed to this increase. Full details, however, of the receipts under the various revenue headings, and showing excesses and shortages as against the estimated revenue for the year, will be found on page 17 of the Budget-papers.
The actual revenue, as I have stated, was £64,897,046, and the actual expenditure £65,106,949-or £209,903 in excess of the revenue for the year. Included in the expenditure, however, was a sum of £300,000 which was set aside for the payment of Defence compensation in connexion with the retrenchment scheme. Had that sum of £300,000 been provided for in 1922-23, which could legitimately have been done, there would have been an actual surplus on the past year’s transactions.
The loan proposals for the year contemplate an expenditure of £17,250,924, The chief items are as follow : -
It will be observed that a large sum has been provided for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. This action has been taken as a survey of the. position showed that it was impossible , to place the postal services on a proper basis out of revenue without imposing a very heavy burden on the taxpayers. Information obtained as to the system adopted in the leading countries of the world shows that the practice universally followed is to provide for capital works out of loan, provision being made for repayment by means of a sinking fund based on the life of the assets. The Government proposals, therefore, include a scheme on these lines covering a period of three years, and involving a total expenditure in that period of £9,750,000. In that time, the arrears will be overtaken, much improvement will be effected in technical equipment, and the service will be placed on a modern basis.
In connexion with the £6,000,000 provided for soldier land settlement, it may be mentioned that the total loans to the States for this purpose amounted at 30th June last to £33,153,273.
Amounts paid to each State under each head of our agreements with the States were : -
In all, 27,858 soldiers have been settled on the land.
The. States are responsible for repaying the moneys advanced, together with interest at the rates at which the Commonwealth borrowed the money for the purpose. During the first five years, however, a rebate of interest is granted to the States at the rate of 2½ per cent. per annum.
It may be of interest to state that the gross debt of the Commonwealth at 30th June, 1922, was : -
The operations of the year just closed were : -
The increase in the gross National Debt in the year amounted to £14,350,484.
It should be stated, however, that the gross debt of ,£416,070,509 is not as great a burden upon the Treasury as would appear, because the moneys which are owed to the Commonwealth and moneys in hand must be set off against that figure. The moneys due to the Commonwealth include indebtedness of the .States as follows : -
Alao there should be deducted : -
leaving £341,120,778 as our net national debt at 30th June, 1922.
In this connexion, it may also be of interest to furnish information as to the debts of the several States. Figures for the last financial year cannot yet be furnished, but, at 30th June, 1921, the total State debts amounted to £474,847,459. Combining the Commonwealth and State debts, we get the following result : -
Taking the total gross debt of Australia at £842,366,331, the following comparison may bo made between the pre-war and the present debts of Australia and of other countries : -
It will be seen that Australia’s position compares more than favorably with that of other nations.
Before passing from this matter of our national debt I may say that the Government feel that the time has come when provision should be made for the gradual and regular repayment of the Commonwealth debt according to a definite and systematic plan. The scheme in broad outline is that a sinking fund of J per cent, should be provided annually on the total amount of the indebtedness, . and should be paid to trustees for the repayment of the debt. In this way the indebtedness would be extinguished in fifty years, if the funds in the hands of the trustees earn 5 per cent, per annum. In arriving at the figure of per cent, the Government took the view that this was a fair and equitable arrangement as between the present generation of taxpayers and those generations which will succeed. Legislation will be introduced later for giving effect to these proposals.
I have previously stated that the year’s transactions are expected to show an estimated surplus of £494,557, and that, in addition, a surplus of £6,408,424 was brought forward into the present year’s accounts, which would produce a surplus at 30th June next of £6,902,981.
The Government have considered whether they are justified in retaining thi3 large surplus, and have come to the conclusion that it should be employed either in the cancellation of debt or for the purpose of reducing taxation. To employ it for the purpose of reducing the national debt would not, it is considered, be employing it to the greatest advantage, especially as provision is being made for the repayment of the national debt on a definite basis, and very little additional benefit would be gained by the employment of the accumulated surplus for this purpose. The Government believe that such part as can be employed prudently should be employed for the purpose of reducing taxation. They, therefore, propose to employ £3,200,000 of the accumulated surplus in the reduction of taxation and in encouragement of manufactures.
It is felt that the use of that sum in the manner suggested may be recommended without any fear that, in order to make the revenue and expenditure for the year 1923-24 balance, it will be necessary to re-impose taxation.
The directions in which relief is contemplated are as follow: -
At the time the Customs Tariff was dealt with all our metal-manufacturing industries were fully occupied, and it was anticipated that local manufacturers would be able to supply the whole of the requirements in galvanized iron, fencing wire, wire-netting, and tractors. For reasons which I need not go into, this has not proved to be the case. As a result, a revenue Tariff is now being collected which was never intended. This means that primary production will be burdened with duties without securing the benefit of local production and competition.
The estimated effect of the reduction of taxation and of the bounty is as follows : -
The Government believe that these proposals with regard to the remission of taxation will have the approval of Parliament and of the public. They also are confident that they will have the effect of stimulating trade and industry, promoting enterprise and development, reducing the cost of living, and attracting surplus capital from overseas now awaiting investment.
The effect of the reduction of taxation and the payment of bounty willbe that, instead of the estimated surplus of £6,902,981 on the 30thJune next, the estimated surplus will be £3,702,981.
In view of the necessity for reductions, both inside and outside the Public Service, to correspond with the decrease in the cost of living, the Government believe that a great obligation rests upon Parliament to set an example in this matter. They accordingly propose to submit to the House an amendment of the law whereby the parliamentary allowance payable to members will be reduced from £1,000 to £800.
While it is realized that the present allowance is by no means extravagant, and that the alteration represents a very real measure of sacrifice by honorable members, the Government are convinced that the authority of Parliament will be strengthened if it shows readiness to submit itself first to the reductions which it proclaims that others must be prepared to accept. Thus Parliament will be able better to take steps towards the readjustment of our economic position.
I move -
That the papers be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
– I desire to give notice of motion-
– Has the honorable senator prepared the motion inwriting?
– No ; but I shall do so, if necessary.
– On a question of privilege suddenly arising, I understood Senator de Largie intended to give notice of motion, and that you, sir, required him to submit the exact terms of the motion. I would, therefore, ask your interpretation of standing order No. 110, which reads -
A senator giving notice in general terms to move certain resolutions must deliver at the table a fair copy of the proposed resolutions, at least one day prior to that for which he has given notice.
Are we to understand that an honorable senator cannot give notice of motion in general terms only if he proposes to move the motion on the following sitting day, and lays on the table a copy of such notice in writing? That has always been the practice of the Senate; and, seeing we have regulations governing contingent notices of motion, it is most desirable that honorable senators should have preserved to them all rights hitherto recognised. The general interpretation, so far as practice has been concerned, has been that an honorable senator has been able to indicate in general terms the purport of his motion, contingent upon the arrival of a Bill from another place which has not then been introduced. I think it has always been the practice that notice can be given in general terms of a motion which an honorable senator intends to move on the sitting day following, when the exact terms of his proposal will be in writing.
– The honorable senator is right, in a way, and yet he is not, because notices of motion are governed by standing order No. 104, which reads -
Notice of motion shall be given by the senator stating in terms to the Senate-
He has to state the terms when he gives notice - and delivering at the table a copy of such notice, fairly written, printed, or typed, signed by himself, and showing the day proposed for bringing on such motion.
Honorable senators will see that the standing order refers distinctly and definitely to a motion. Senator Keating quoted standing order No. 110, which refers to notices of motion, and which obviously applies to a series of motions which an honorable senator may give notice of in general terms, provided he submits details in writing and lays them on the table of the Senate so that honorable senators may peruse the exact terms. Standing order No. 110 reads -
A senator giving notice in general terms to move certain resolutions- not motions - must deliver at the table a fair copy of the proposed resolutions, at least one day prior to that for which he has given notice.
There is a clear and distinct difference between a definite motion and a series of resolutions, and the practice has always been that an honorable senator shall read the motion at the time of giving notice, so that honorable senators may know what is to be dealt with when the motion is brought on. It would be in the interests of honorable senators generally for that rule to be practised, and on a simple motion it would entail no hardship. I rule accordingly.
– But on a contingent motion standing order 110 has been availed of.
– In the case of Senator de Largie’s notice of motion, I told him quietly what the proper practice was. It is a good one, but, of course, if honorable senators think otherwise, it is within their province to alter it.
– I submit that standing order 110 is a protection.
– I am not called upon to give a ruling upon that.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to amend the Defence ( Civil Employment) Act 1918.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce.) read a first time.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill may, for the present, be termed the culmination of a policy long held by this Government, and I think very largely shared by the people of Australia - that of bringing together, in closer unity, the peoples comprising the Empire of. which Australia is a part. It is not pretentious to say that the British Empire to-day embraces a Commonwealth of Nations, and that any movement to solidify that Commonwealth, and bring the separate sections of it into closer relationship, either in literature, commerce, art, or trade, must necessarily strengthen it, and conduce to a better condition generally. This Bill is the outcome of a conference held between the Minister for Trade and Customs in New Zealand, associated with the Controller of Customs of that Dominion, and the Minister for Trade and Customs of the Commonwealth, associated with the Tariff Board. Those who have very strong Protectionist leanings will realize that when we have had associated with the Minister (Mr. Rodgers) the Chairman of the Tariff Board, who was the captain on the bridge when our splendid Tariff Bill was passed through this Parliament last year,. Australia’sinterests must have been amply protected. In a case of reciprocity between two such countries as Australia and New Zealand-
– They should be one.
– Hear, hear! The country which has the larger population, and the greater opportunity for industrial organization, must necessarily have no fear from even absolute Free Trade. I am decidedly a practical Protectionist. If, however, one of two kindred societies of people, such as those found in New Zealand and Australia, both comprising practically entirely white people of
British origin, and both enjoying the same standard of life, is able to live up to thesame standard as the other, and pay the cost of transit on its products to the larger State, and still successfully compete, it deserves the opportunity of doing so. If in that competition it can vanquish the larger State, it deserves its success. Therefore, honorable senators will understand me in being perfectly agreeable to a reciprocity between two such countries, even were it leading up to Free Trade.
The basis of the present agreement has been on British preference. Honorable senators will remember that, in the schedule of the Customs Act dealt with last year, there were some 430 items. Apart from those items which comprise the schedule to the Bill now under consideration, the remaining 300 items are dealt with between the Commonwealth and the Dominion on the British preferential scale. That is to say, articles imported into New Zealand from Australia will be admitted on the Australian preferential duty, whilst articles imported from Australia into New Zealand will be admitted on New Zealand’s British preferential scale. As far as I have been able to investigate the matter, the New Zealand preference is greater than that provided under our Customs Act, and Australia, therefore, will have a slight advantage. Seeing that this Bill is of such a character, we cannot amend it. It is based on an agreement between the two countries. That agreement has already been ratified by New Zealand. The Bill has’ passed the other branch of our Legislature, and to make any amendment would necessitate throwing the whole thing back into the melting pot. Hence I think it is better for me, in opening the discussion’ upon the Bill, to confine myself to the national phase of trade reciprocity between the two countries, rather than to criticise any flaws in the agreement or any item in the schedule. I may be permitted, however, to refer to the trade which now exists between the Commonwealth and the Dominion. The value of New Zealand products imported into Australia in 1920-21 was£1,980,000. Of this total, £880,000 comprised goods already on the free list under our Tariff, and therefore independent altogether of the agreement. The dutiable goods imported into Australia from New Zealand in 1920-21 amounted to £1,100,000. Of this total timber was responsible for £879,000, leaving a balance for manufactured goods of £221,000. Australian exports to New Zealand cover a very wide range of manufactured goods as well as primary products. A number of the more important items, as set out in the New Zealand official statistics of imports for 1920 may be mentioned - :
These figures show that there is a substantial balance of trade in favour of Australia. Honorable senators will realize, of course, that in any reciprocal Tariff arrangements between Australia and New Zealand, the latter, being the smaller Dominion, would naturally be somewhat reluctant to admit all goods from Australia on an equal basis of reciprocity. The population of New Zealand is only 1,000,000,. whereas the population of Australia, with enormous possibilities of expansion, is 5,500,000, and it follows that higher industrial organization in this country would, place Australia in a more favorable position from a trading point of view than New Zealand. Therefore, although the Commonwealth desired to bring about complete reciprocity on . the basis of British preference, New Zealand found it impossible to agree to that course, and so- the agreement had to be negotiated on the principle of give and take. The following figures, totalling £1,830,277, representing the value of Australian exports to New Zealand in 1920-21, will be of interest, because of their bearing upon the items in the schedule to the Bill. The figures are taken from the Commonwealth official statistics : -
– Does the Minister think that reciprocity would be mutually advantageous?
– I do; but still I think Australia is getting the better of the deal in this agreement. Senator Wilson. - The Government are in favour of reducing the Tariff in New Zealand, but not in Australia.
– This agreement” effects a reduction in the Tariff in Aus-tralia on New Zealand products.
– Is that in keeping with the great principle of making Australia self-contained!
– It is in keeping with the principle of making the Empire self-contained, and that is extremely important, for it would be as much to the disadvantage of the Empire if New Zealand failed to develop her resources to the fullest extent as it would be if Australia failed to fulfil her mission in this respect.
– But what about Canada ?
– Canada is in an entirely different position. It must not be assumed that, by my advocacy of this reciprocal Tariff with New Zealand, I shall for <the future indorse’ reciprocity with any other British Dominions which may not observe the same standard of living as prevails in Australia and New Zealand. Negotiations are now in progress with the Dominion of Canada for a similar reciprocal arrangement, but we want ‘to deal with each case on its merits.
It is possible that some opposition may be raised to the agreement, because of its effect upon the Australian timber trade; but it must be. realized that although there is a considerable remission of duty on New Zealand timber coming into Australia, exports of timber from New Zealand to other parts of the world are steadily diminishing, and moreover, a large portion of New Zealand timber which will come in free under this Tariff is used for box making, and therefore does not compete to any extent with our own timbers. On the other hand, Australian timber-getters will reap a considerable benefit, because hardwood timber, which hitherto has been dutiable at 2s. per 100 feet in New Zealand, will in future be admitted free.
– Do you think that 2s. remission will compensate the timbergetters in Australia for the loss of 4s. general protection ?
– I think it will. New Zealand pine is not used extensively for the same purposes as is Australian timber in the Commonwealth. In order to show that the softwoods of New Zealand are becoming a diminishing quantity, I shall quote the figures of the imports into Australia for ,the years 1912 and 1920. I find that the imports of New Zealand timber to Australia in 1912 amounted to 93,467,553 superficial feet, while in 1920 the figures fell off to 61,548,649 feet, making a deficit, in comparing these two years, of 31,918,904 superficial feet. We know, without the necessity for very much consideration, that timber resembles minerals in that it is cut in only one generation. The man who fells a mature pine tree will never fell the pine tree which he plants in’ its place. It takes at least forty years for a pine tree to mature. Our hardwoods are of very considerably longer growth, and I have been informed on very good authority that an Australian hardwood tree takes up to 250 years to mature fully. Of course, in sixty, ‘ seventy, or eighty years a tree may grow large enough to be taken to the saw-mills, but the timber will be of very little value, being young and sappy and lacking in durability. - When minerals are. taken from the ground they do not recur, and when timber is cut it does not reproduce itself in the same generation. The figures I have quoted indicate that the reserves of New Zealand timber are being very largely depleted; and I am of opinion that those who fear serious interference with the Australian trade by the competition of New Zealand timbers will be agreeably surprised in the verynear future to find that the supply of New Zealand softwoods is not nearly so great as they now anticipate.
– Would it be a nice thing for an Australian to anticipate the decay of an important New Zealand industry?
– The honorable senator is rather facetious. I want to deal with the matter seriously. I do not mind an occasional joke, but when the honorable senator wishes to continue joking he becomes monotonous. We should not approve of any nation’s downfall. I merely say that the competition with New Zealand in softwoods will not, unfortunately for her, be so serious as has been anticipated, owing “to the depletion of the supply of such woods.”
– That is a factor that must be taken into consideration in estimating the value of the agreement to us.
– Undoubtedly. I consider that the agreement is a step towards bringing about a closer relationship between these two important Dominions of the Empire. I feel sure that the Bill will receive very favorable consideration from honorable senators, and I have every confidence in moving its second reading.
– I do not think that anything that has ever happened in this Senate has given me more satisfaction than the opening remarks of the Minister (Senator Earle). His constant struggle, his hard fightings, and his sturdy opposition to trading with the Dominions of the Empire have led me at times to think rather unkindly of him, and to imagine that in the matter of Protection his mind was impenetrable to any rays of light. That one ray has penetrated the mind of this sturdy champion of Protection we may fairly claim from the fact that he states that the closer the Dominions are drawn together by trade and commerce, the more the bonds will be strengthened that unite us to the Empire. I suppose the same argument will apply to other Dominions than New Zealand. Why two
Dominions living under similar conditions, and having practically the same standard of living, should put up artificial barriers to prevent trade, I never could understand. Why the people of Australia andNew Zealand should each in their separate Parliaments set themselves out to put up barriers to prevent their people trading with each other, is a matter that only those like the Minister who introduced this Bill can understand.
– And he cannot explain it.
– I do not say that he and other Protectionists cannot explain it, because, as a matter of fact, they can give a very good explanation, from their own view-point. I can quite understand the fear that haunts the Protectionist mind of trading with the older countries, where the rates of wages and the standard of living are lower than ours, and where we are pleased to think the people are inferior to us. Personally, I have never been afraid of the Australian workman coming into competition with lower paid people with an inferior standard of living. I have ofttimes begun to doubt whether the colour claim is a proof of superiority. When we have our Protectionist friends telling us, as they repeatedly do, that we must dread the competition of these underpaid people, that our workmen are not sufficiently capable of producing upon equal terms with them, and that we must handicap the inferiors so that the superiors may survive, my mind becomes one of confusion and doubt.
– The white man can compete with them if they live up to the same standard.
– The honorable senator’s idea that the inferior can beat the superior, that the man living on a level that provides him with the bare necessities of life can drag down the man living on a higher scale, is one that I do not indorse. When he makes a statement like that, I do not believe him. Looking at the subject in any way we choose, we must admit that the Protectionists, even if they have not thrown open the door to the freer interchange of goods within the Empire, have at least withdrawn the bolt and opened the door a little. They will find it difficult to argue that what is good for Australia and
New Zealand is not good for Australia and Canada, and that what is good for Australia and Canada is not good for Australia and Great Britain. And if we get that concession from them, I suppose we can go a little further and say that it would be equally beneficial for Australia and America. If it is a good thing - and I unhesitatingly say that it is - to link up and strengthen the bonds of Empire, I venture to say that, situated as we are, it is equally desirable for us to strengthen our relations with America.
– And why not with all the countries within the League of Nations?
– I can only deal with one thing at a time, and I am developing a line of thought. The bolt has been withdrawn, the door is ajar for New Zealand, and we are peering through the little gap. I am quite hopeful of living to see the time when we shall open it a little wider, and perceive that it is equally in our interest to keep our relations good with Canada. After that, I think it will be seen that it is equally de- . sirable forus to have the good-will that trade and commerce bring by removing all artificial barriers with Great Britain. Having achieved that, I think we shall then see that there are other and better reasons why we should extend the system and say that Australia has as much to gain by laying herself out - and I do not care whether we do it by Tariffs or agreements - to improve the relations between Australia and America.
– After hearing the honorable senator say that, I forgive him for everything else he has said.
– I thank Senator Lynch for that remark. I remind him that possibly he has sown the seed of the thought, and hope that I am not snatching the growth from him. Trade with America is all-important to us. I do not think there are many of us who claim, with regard to the standard of living or the rates of wages paid, that the American workman is inferior to the Australian.
– The American people have put up the barriers against us. The honorable senator has only to look at the duty they put upon our wool.
– I think that duty was an act of retaliation because we practically prohibited the importation of their goods into Australia. America possibly is in the same boat as we are in. That country is governed by people who are overpowered by the selfish idea of keeping all American trade to themselves. Thus they object to trading with any one outside their own country. There is no doubt that the dominant thought running through the Protectionist’s mind is the outcome of a selfishness which prevents him seeing that extending trade with other nations will increase employment in his own country.
I am pleased, indeed, that we are going to trade with New Zealand. “When we come . to consider details, there is no doubt that the saw-mill proprietors in the timber-getting States will naturally think that they have been thrust outside the advantages of Protection; they will consider that an agreement has been entered into which will be good for almost every one else in the community but them. A few months ago, with reasonable fearlessness, I took the view that they ought not to have any of the advantages of Protection. The honorable senator in charge of this Bill was strongly opposed to that view. I do not wish to do him an injustice, but I think it was only on the question of the duty on superphosphates, the remission of which would benefit the Tasmanian fruit-growers, that the honorable senator departed from his unrelenting Protectionist attitude.
– The honorable senator is doing me an injustice.
– The honorable senator does not blame the Minister for changing his mind?
– No, I welcome his change of mind. ‘ I regard it as indicating a similar change of mind in the attitude of the whole of the people of Australia. They must have begun to realize that Protection does not give employment, and that cutting. off trade with other nations weakens ourselves. They must recognise that we can trade on grounds of equality with people possessing similar standards of living and working under equal conditions, I do not attribute the Minister’s change of mind wholly to his present . environment, though I can quite understand that even a stronger Protectionist than Senator Earle might have to succumb to the atmo sphere in which he would find himself with Senator E. D. Millen on one side and Senator Pearce on the other.
– The honorable senator has mentioned the names of two good Protectionists.
– When I wish to find good Free Trade arguments I know that they are recorded in the utterances of Senators E. D. Millen and Pearce, and I challenge Senator de Largie to say that they have- ever repudiated them. They have bowed to the Protectionist majority in the party to which they belong, but they have never withdrawn the Free Trade arguments they have used in the past. They have never admitted that those arguments were wrong, and have never repudiated their Free Trade principles. I can understand that the atmosphere in which Senator Earle has found himself recently as a member of the Government has had sufficient influence upon him to make him realize that his exclusive Protection is not .altogether desirable. We now find him, advocating the introduction free of duty of timber from New Zealand to compete with the timbers of Tasmania. I welcome that.
– What will the people of Tasmania say to that?
– Senator Earle will not find himself in any more difficult position than that in which I have stood all along, because I have contended that the timber-getters and workers of New South Wales can compete with the New Zealanders, for the reason that they are their equals. When the Tariff was under consideration in this Chamber there were about five honorable senators who were constant in their efforts to broaden the outlook of this Parliament, and the introduction of this Bill by Senator Earle may afford them the satisfaction of knowing that, although one seldom receives due acknowledgment of his work, if the light is directed sufficiently strongly to even the densest intellects, they will eventually realize the truth.
– The honorable senator might try to convert the members of his own party in another place.
– I find my duties in the Senate sufficient to engage all my energies, and it is. beyond me at my time of life to enter upon any very large undertaking. I am content now to say that I welcome, this agreement with New Zealand, and I hope it will be extended.
– Has the honorable senator yet converted his colleague in the Senate ?
– I would not attempt to do so, because Senator MacDonald has come fresh from the people of his State. He has his own views and ideas, and the will and determination to stand by them. I welcome this agreement between Australia and New Zealand, in the words of the Minister, as drawing the two countries more closely together. I can quite believe that the time may yet come when we shall have a Federation with New Zealand. I should like advantage to be taken’ of this opportunity to. further extend trade and commerce and friendly relations between the Commonwealth and New Zealand. I should like the statesmen of this country to seriously consider the possibility of New Zealand coming into this great Federation. I believe that if the subject were taken up by men who realize the advantages of such a Federation success might be achieved. All the difficulties that stood in the way of uniting the States of Australia were overcome a little more than twenty years ago, and the differences existing between Victoria and Tasmania were as great before Federation as the differences existing to-day between Australia and New Zealand. The lessons of the last ten years have taught both Australians and New Zealanders the need of getting closer together. The real unity and oneness of the people of these countries are more evident to-day than they were before ‘the war. Small as is the step towards bringing together these peoples of similar nationality, who are equals in everything, represented by the introduction of this Bill, it suggests that we should take advantage of every opportunity to see whether we cannot .reach a stage which will ultimately lead to Australia and New Zealand becoming part and parcel, if honorable senators please, of an Anzac Federation.
In pre-Federation days, there was a bitter feeling in Tasmania against Vic toria because of the high Tariff in Victoria. There was, on the other hand, a friendly feeling between New South Wales and Tasmania because of the Free Trade principles adopted in New South Wales. That was so pronounced that the good feeling extended not only to people engaged in trade in the two States, hut to the whole of their communities. This friendliness was exhibited at conferences and in public places, and it is in existence to this day. I venture to say that the interchange of goods between New South Wales and Tasmania free from barriers in pre-Federal days promoted the friendly feeling existing between the people of the two States. ‘ There is no reason why similar results should not follow from any step taken to improve our relations with the people of New Zealand. T do not expect the Government, pressed as they will be during the next six months-
– The honorable senator is waxing prophetic.
– Yes. I say pressed as they will be during the next six months, and struggling for their very existence, if not in this Parliament, at least in the country, I do not expect the Government to ‘take any very active interest in enlarging the opening which is made by the introduction of this Bill. I am not concerned about whether or not we get a little better of the deal than New Zealand, because it is not a question of bargaining, but of securing an agreement which will be of mutual benefit. This agreement goes a little step in that direction. The fact that it does not go further is due, perhaps, to the limited outlook of the Governments of both countries, and, perhaps, to a reasonable fear on their part as to the attitude their people would take up towards a wider agreement. I say that Ministers need have no fear of the extent to which they may go in proposing agreements of this character between Australia and New Zealand, or between Australia and the rest of the Empire. They need have no fear in this twentieth century of submitting proposals to enable us to trade with all civilized people who are willing to trade with Australia.
The agreement under consideration has been approved in another place, and I shall not delay the passage of the Bill here. I welcome it,” and
I welcome the speech in which it was introduced by the Minister. I venture to regard the agreement not merely as one that will be made with New Zealand, but as suggesting the possibility of similar agreements with the other Dominions, with the people of Great Britain, and then with the other nations of the world.
– The address which we have just heard from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) must have given great satisfaction to those who were privileged to listen to it, especially when the honorable senator viewed with a prophetic eye the prospect of our entering into similar agreements, not only with the other British Dominions, but also with our cousins of the great English-speaking Republic of the United States of America. The fact that New Zealand is not in our Federation already is not the fault of the people of the Commonwealth. The people of New Zealand in pre-Federation clays had the opportunity to come into this Federation, but for some reasons, insular or otherwise, they considered it wise to remain apart. It is quite certain that if ever the position of this country or New Zealand is challenged - and we have no guarantee that it will not be challenged - this country and New Zealand must make common cause. They must then come together. We must in the meantime do all that is possible to strengthen the tie between the people of the two countries so as not to put off the day when they will be one people in these southern seas. We are one people, and there is no reason why we should not have one common feeling, one standard of well-being, and one destiny.
Senator Gardiner has referred to the light which the Minister has found. Senator Earle occupies to-day a higher and more responsible position than he did as a private member of the Senate. He has been able to view the small circle in which he moved as a private member, and to realize that it would not fit in with hi3 higher position as a member of the Government. He must have seen that the armour with which he clothed himself as the most pronounced and hard-shelled Protectionist in the Senate, bar none, had to be discarded. That armour had several chinks which the Leader of the Opposition found with his’ fine-pointed spear. Sena tor Earle has discarded it for the chain armour of centuries ago, which, at least, has not the resisting power of the impenetrable armour with which he clothed himself as a private member of the Senate, and has been able to recognise the common sense which is the basis of this proposal to give effect to the relations which should exist between the Commonwealth and the other Dominion which is only a few hundred miles away from us.
Senator Gardiner’s remarks concerning the “United States of America cannot be too often repeated in this vast continent. We have a population of only 5,500,000, and it is our bounden duty, if we have any regard for the future and for our own safety, to cultivate the closest and most mutually advantageous business relationships with our kinsmen of that great American republic which has a population of over 100,000,000 people. The time has come for us to take stock of our position, and to plant thousands of fathoms deep roots of friendship with that great nation, on which we should not look with suspicion, as is done by some odd people in the Commonwealth. What are the American people? Our own surplus stock. Have the Americans altered in any respects by virtue of their presence in that country which they have developed to such a remarkable extent? Have they not proved their worth just as those in Australia have proved that they are superior to those who remained behind in the old land.? In seeking new pastures our early settlers improved not only their condition, but have helped considerably from time to time in making Australia what it is to-day. Has ourcharacter diminished when compared1 with those who remained behind’, and who refused to sever old ties and’ relationships? We have improved, beyond all expectations. Briti’sh stock is. predominant in America to-day, but can it be said that we are superior to the Americans or that they are inferior to us? We need to be. careful, because, after all the samples of American we occasionally come in contact with are not representatives of the bulk of that great nation:. If we are to succeed we must go still further on the pathway we are treading, take stock of our position, and see that people of our own blood and speech, are allied in such a way that severance is impossible. Let us consider the opinion expressed by men who have visited the United States of America, and have inquired into the characteristics of the American people. What has the late Viscount Bryce said concerning the American people? He summed up unequivocally in their favour. Mr. Kelly, who was once a member of this Parliament, and who can be regarded as an exceptionally keen observer, published in the Sydney Bulletin a most interesting and instructive article on the American character, which showed that, as a people, they are not what they are thought to be by some in this country. He quoted numerous instances of native honesty and high character, and the respect that is shown by one to another. Under the present postal system in America articles for despatch are placed in receptacles without any lock or key, whence they are taken by public officials for distribution. Can we imagine such postal receptacles being placed in the main streets of Sydney or Melbourne, and stuff piled feet high in boxes, without lock or key, waiting collection by public officials?; We would never dream of that, and, although the American is looked upon as a man of sharp practices, he is sufficiently’ honest to leave untouched those things which are not his property. It has also been stated that iu many leading establishments it is a common practice for a purchaser to move from counter to counter, and from department to department, without offering payment until his purchases are completed. A dishonest buyer could very easily leave the establishment without paying. That characteristic permeates the body politic, notwithstanding the criticisms expressed by many who are not in a position to judge. There is no evidence of such intrinsic honesty on the part of people here.
– Mail matter is often deposited in open boxes , in the country.
– It is in the country, but not in the cities, and when we hear the Americans spoken of as being people who adopt sharp practices it is mere “ hog wash.” There are, of course, some in that great country, as there are here, who will “ take down “ their fellow men, but there are “Brummagem” Britishers, and “ Brummagem “ Australians, too.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bakhap). - The honorable senator is not in order in discussing American character on this motion.
– I admit that I have drifted somewhat from the subjectmatter of the Bill. But you realize, Mr. Deputy President, as well as I do, that on the mining field assays are made only from! bulk samples in order to arrive at the true value of a mineral deposit. That is what we should do in judging ‘fife American citizen. Many of us can ‘be compared with the average parent who is always willing to magnify the virtues of his own *flock and to overlook their faults and shortcomings.
Coming to the Bill. it will be seen that the arrangement made between the Com- ‘ monwealth and, the Dominion of New Zealand is as good as can be expected, but, if I had had the framing of it, I would, have improved upon it considerably. It would appear from a perusal of the schedule that we are including New Zealand with Great Britain in our Tariff, wherein special preference is given in the matter of duties.
– Goods going into New Zealand from Australia will not enter at the British preferential rate, except in regard to those items specifically mentioned in the schedule.
– Is that the position ? It will be admitted, I think, that
We can afford to give away more than a country which does not possess the resources we do. Certain goods entering New Zealand have to bear a higher duty than we impose upon British goods entering the Commonwealth, and I quite agree that our goods should carry an extra impost to enable certain New Zealand industries to be established and to progress. They, however, do not give much away, but we should be willing to give them some assistance in this direction. Under this measure, more extensive markets should be made available for our wines, which will now be able to enter New Zealand on a more advantageous basis. On boots a very stiff rate of 35 per cent, is imposed.
– That is one of the items upon which we had to give way.
– There is one item in particular which does not please me= at all. We are imposing duties upon such goods as onions and fodder, which will.be imported only during abnormal seasons when droughts occur, and, in this instance, the Treasurers in both countries will benefit, which is quite wrong, lt is an indefensible principle to use the Customs House as a taxing machine during periods of stringent shortage, because that means increasing the cost of -certain necessaries when the community can least afford to bear it. In such cases greater consideration should be shown to the public welfare; but this has been ‘the practice in eVery instance, and is one of the dark blots which we should help to erase. It is only dipping into the pockets of the people, and taking money from them at a time when they must have what are to them necessaries of life at any cost. That is a slight blemish on the measure, but, taking the good with the bad, I think that the present arrangement is one by which both countries can be drawn more closely together for- their mutual benefit.
I hope that steps will be taken in the direction of getting the people of Canada and the United States of America into line. There is nothing to justify the United States of America being charged 40 per cent, duty on agricultural machinery made by white labour and used largely in cultivating the drier and lighter soils of Australia, where men are perforce living under conditions scarcely fit for blackfellows. It is nothing but. a candid admission that the captains of industry in this country, and the Aus* tralian workmen, are inferior to those of the United States of America. In spite of the Tariff, that machinery is still coming in, and will continue to do so. I hope that every effort will be made to induce that country to send its products here under reasonable Tariff conditions, so that it may be disposed to admit our raw products in return on easier terms. Mention has been made of the substantial duties imposed on Australian wool. Of course, the United States of America put on substantial duties, because we levy stiff duties on American products. Having got New Zealand at a round-table talk, so to speak, the time has arrived when we should approach Canada and the United States of America for a trade arrangement whereby the products that those two countries are manufacturing or producing may for our mutual benefit be admitted here without unreasonable restrictions in exchange for our’ raw products.
I support the Bill, and am pleased that the first move has been taken in the direction of . reciprocal trading by one who has been regarded as the high priest of Protection. I am glad1 that the Minister (Senator Earle) has come to acknowledge that a high Tariff does not necessarily bring prosperity in its train. In the case of New Zealand, he -has discovered that flourishing trade relations cannot exist when the Tariff is too high. I have no faith in nostrums that are supposed to usher in the millennium before its time, and I welcome the present attitude of the Minister, who needed so much convincing on this point. I believe that the measure will have the double advantage of bringing Australia and New Zealand .together, and of emphasizing the fact that. the Tariff passed last session has not, as was foretold by Senator Gardiner and myself, produced the results that in some quarters were expected. It is, I may say, something of a vindication of our action.
– The question of Protection versus Free Trade does not seem to have lost any of . its freshness or interest. We had it brought before us yesterday in connexion with the Budget, and now we find it a burning question in this Chamber. When some honorable senators were referring to the United States of America, my memory went back to my early impressions of fiscal issues. There is perhaps no country in the world that has practised trade reciprocity more than the United States of America have. Therefor©, there is nothing surprising in the fact that reciprocity and Protection should be associated. It is only countries with a Protectionist Tariff that can have reciprocity to any great extent. We in Australia are part of an Empire that, unfortunately, cannot extend to us anythingequivalent to reciprocity in the home markets, because everything has been given away. Britain’s ports are open to her enemies as well as to her friends, and ‘ when her friends apply for some privilege, over the enemies, there is none to be had. When visiting Glasgow a few years ago, I pointed out that Australian products received the very same treatment in the English markets as goods from Germany. There was someastonishment at this statement for a. while, until people realized the effect of the British policy of Free Trade. When Australia has obtained any form of reciprocity with Great Britain, it has been a one-sided arrangement, because one of the parties has received ail the benefit.
– Britain cannot give us anything more, because she has given us the whole.
– While she has given us nothing more than she has granted to other nations, she gets a great deal more from us, not only through the Customs Tariff, but in many other ways. In no part of the world has Australia so much to gain by means of reciprocity as in the markets of Great Britain, and there are no countries from which Britain can derive so much benefit from reciprocal arrangements as she can from the British Dominions. Britain is no longer the great country that she was when the French were able to refer to her as the shopkeeper ‘among the nations. She is no longer the business nation of outstanding importance. If Britain wants to regain her lost trade, she must undoubtedly take stock, and alter her fiscal policy. There are signs that she is doing so, because Great Britain has an antidumping law. Fancy that in a Free Trade country ! It would not be going too far to ask for a reciprocal arrangement in Tariff affairs with the United States of America. I feel sure we could get it without trouble, both with Canada and the United States of America.
There are nations with which Great Britain is doing business on the very same basis as with Australia, and those people are entering directly into competition with Commonwealth trade. I think we could justly point out to the United Kingdom that we have a better right to that trade than those countries have. For instance, there is the Argentine Republic, whose seasons synchronize with those of Australia, and whose principal products, like ours, are meat, wool, and wheat. If there is any country in the world that comes directly into competition with our primary products, it is the Argentine, whose grip of the British market is gradually increasing. What has the Argentine done for the British Empire? What claim has it on the markets of the Old Country in comparison with Australia? What “did that Republic do for the Allies in the Great War ? Absolutely nothing ! It made lots of wealth out of the* people of the allied countries; it took advantage of its position in that respect, while Australia exerted the whole of its strength in backing up the Allies. If we pointed out these facts, I think a sense of fair play would be aroused in Great Britain, and a reciprocal Tariff would be granted to us. It may be urged that Great Britain could not offer reciprocity in ‘the matter of duties, but I contend that preference could be given in other ways.
Senate adjourned from 1 to> 2.30 p.m.
– I do not know that we can reasonably expect Great Britain to readily alter her fiscal policy in the direction of either increasing or decreasing her duties. I dare say that, ultimately, she will come round to that point of view, and it is only a matter of years, in my opinion, before the Dominions will become much stronger and more important in trade, while Great Britain, by losing Ker population, will find her trade relatively weakened. This will bring about an Empire Tariff. There will, perhaps, not be one Tariff for the whole of the Empire, but there will be such reciprocal arrangements as will be equivalent to it. In the meantime I think we would be well advised in Australia to. direct our attention to the question of tonnage dues on our shipping entering British ports. A great deal could be done to lighten this burden that our primary producers have to carry. Our exports nave to be transported farther than those of any other nation in the world, and the handicap that this imposes on us could ‘be lightened if Great Britain would do what she has done in past years, namely, give our shipping an advantage in the matter of harbor, lighthouse, and river dues, and other charges against our shipping. We would be well advised to direct the Imperial Government’s attention to that aspect of the question so that we might get, at least, that little advantage over such countries as the Argentine Republic, which is our direct competitor. I think that, in every way, we have a right to that consideration from the Old Country. As I do not wish to prolong the debate, I will simply content myself with what I have said, in the hope that the principle of reciprocity will be encouraged with the other Dominions, and with the Old Country in particular, as we have a much better market there than elsewhere. Even the United States of America, I think, would listen with a friendly ear to out representations. At all events, there is now a very unanimous opinion existing among the various component parts of the British Empire that Empire trade has not received that amount of attention to which it is entitled. It would be well worth the while of all parts of the Empire to give consideration to this matter. The opening up of trade with New Zealand is a step in the right direction.
.’ - I wish to welcome this preferential Tariff with New Zealand, because it is a country that I happen to know very well. Although the Bill represents a very belated effort,” it is a step in the right direction. Personally, I think there should be Free Trade between Australia and New Zealand. New Zealanders are our sisters aud brothers. They and we are the same people. They, produce the same produce; they have the same ideals, and, almost identically, the same laws. When the Australian Tariff was passed we treated our sisters and brothers in New Zealand as foreigners. Naturally, they had to retaliate. The very word Anzac, and its origin, shows the spirit that ought to exist between the two countries. The bitter trade haggling about Tariffs has not been very becoming, although, probably, it was forced. We put on such a prohibitive Tariff against New Zealand that they had to retaliate, and they “ put in the boot “ by imposing a 40 per cent, duty on our boots. That, however, has broken down, but there are still many items of produce from New Zealand against which we have a very stiff Tariff. Senator de Largie inferred that the British Empire was weakening, but my opinion is that the British Empire has never been so strong, nor so glorious, nor on such a high pinnacle of fame as it is to-day.
– The honorable senator is either misrepresenting me or he has misunderstood me.
– I must have misunderstood the honorable senator. I thought he said that Great Britain, by losing her population, would weaken; but I maintained that the redistribution of her white people throughout the
British Empire to develop these mighty outposts will greatly strengthen the Empire and its trade in every way. It would be a good thing if the population of Great Britain did diminish, as a result of the people being spread out over Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the other parts of the Empire. Great strength must lie in such a redistribution. The greatest need of the Empire to-day, and the greatest need of Australia, is immigration. There are still in the Tariff schedule of New Zealand some slight anomalies, or what appear to me to be so. There is an item under agricultural products - “ animals living, cattle horned, other than for stud purposes.” I would like to point out that the best breeds of cattle have no horns, such, for instance, as the two famous breeds of red-polled and polled Angus cattle. We import this class of cattle from New Zealand. When we wish to improve our breed of cattle in Australia, and find need to import animals from our brothers in New Zealand, we shall have to pay a duty. Stud beasts should be allowed in duty free.
– The expression “horned cattle” is simply used to distinguish cattle from other animals.
– There is no reference in the schedule to sheep. During droughts, as in 1914, we import sheep from New Zealand, in order to give the people of this city meat at a reasonable price, yet we had to pay ls. 6d. per head duty on them. I would like the Minister to tell me whether there is still a duty on sheep from New Zealand.
– If sheep are not mentioned in the schedule there will be no duty on them.
– We never import products such as onions, hay, oats, &c, from New Zealand until there is a drought in this country which deprives us of our own home-grown supplies. If the Government imposes a Tariff at such times, it will only be heaping coals of fire on the heads of the people, for they will be already paying excessive prices owing to drought conditions. I welcome this Tariff, incomplete as it is, as a step in the right direction. Personally, I have always’ thought, and always will think, that in trade relations with New Zealand we should emulate the spirit of the Anzacs.
.- The Bill that we are discussing is a very important one, inasmuch as it represents v our first attempt, in the history of the Commonwealth, to do anything in this direction. When we were discussing the new Tariff last year many references were made by honorable senators to the excessively high duties that were being imposed on many of the articles which we felt it necessary to import from time to time, and it was pointed out then, by those who claimed to be moderate Protectionists, that while they were opposed to anything in the shape of a high Tariff which would result in prohibition, they recognised that it was only reasonable and fair that every attempt should be made to protect, up to a certain point, industries upon which the people of Australia were dependent. In considering the question of reciprocity we need to be very careful that we do not go so far that we injure industries which we have been trying to build up, and some of which we have been endeavouring to extricate from the awful conditions into which they had fallen, not through any fault of those conducting the enterprises, but as the outcome of our own legislation. We must be very careful, in considering a measure of this kind, that we do not agree to anything that may have a tendency to hamper still further the development of industries essential to Australia. I realize, in looking through this schedule, that good may result to Australia, but there are one or two items that do not commend themselves to me, because I am afraid that if the Bill becomes law all the work done during the last session of Parliament to protect particularly one industry will be in vain. I understand, from the Minister, that we cannot amend this measure by eliminating or altering any particular item in the schedule. I realize that the basis of the agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the .representatives of the New Zealand Government is the schedule of the Bill in toto, and I understand that the Now Zealand Parliament has already passed a measure coinciding with this one. If any amendment should be insisted upon by this Chamber it would mean re-opening the whole case. I shall, of course, be glad to hear the other side, and if there is a suffi ciently good case, even in only one or two instances, for an alteration of the schedule to this Bill, I shall feel justified in opposing the second reading. I wish to refer to one item in particular, and that is timber. .The Tariff schedule which we discussed last session, as originally introduced, provided for certain duties on imported timber. As the result of representations made in. ‘this Chamber by honorable senators, amongst whom I include myself, the timber item was reconsidered, and finally we were able to obtain, at least, a portion of what we asked for. No one will deny that our representations were justified.
Senator Bolton__ They were combated at the time in debate.
– That is so, but fortunately they were not opposed by a majority, or otherwise we could not have gained a portion of what we were asking for. No one will question the fact that at the time we were considering the Tariff the timber industry had fallen into a very parlous condition indeed. I wish to learn from the Minister in charge of the Bill whether the representatives of the Commonwealth, in discussing the proposed reciprocal Tariff with the representatives of New Zealand, made the fullest inquiries into the conditions under which the timber industry is carried on in New Zealand and in Australia. The industry is carried on here under awards of the Arbitration Court with respect to the wages to be paid, the hours to be worked, and the periods of cessation of work for which full rates of wages have to be paid. If all these things were not taken into consideration, the representatives of the Commonwealth are open to a charge of having partially failed in their duty. Under the Protection afforded by the Tariff which we passed last session, the Australian timber industry has to some extent revived. It will not completely revive until there is some variation of the Arbitration Court award, but the additional Protection afforded by the last Tariff enabled some of our mills to reopen and carry on up to the present. We have about half of our mills closed down, but before they received the Protection of the last Tariff two-thirds of our mills were idle.
– Does the honorable senator know that some mills have been opened in Tasmania in consequence of the passing of the last Tariff?
– I am confident that on that account same of the smaller mills on the north-west coast have resumed operations. My chief point is that many mills in that State were threatened with the cessation of work, and have been able to continue their operations because of the additional Protection afforded them by the Tariff passed last session. We’ are, in this Bill, asked to accept an agreement with New Zealand under which the Protection we afforded the timber industry in Australia only a few months ago must go by the board. Millowners have been able to make certain arrangements to carry on the industry in view of the Protection afforded by our Tariff.
– Is the honorable senator sure that they have been able to do so for that reason ?
– I am assured that that is so by men who know the industry better than I do.
– I do not .think that the passing of the last Tariff made all the difference between those mills carrying on and closing up.
– I am assured that it did. This Parliament believed that Protection should be’ afforded to the industry to a greater extent than was provided under our previous Tariff, and that additional Protection having been given, it is proposed now in this Bill to take away from those engaged in the timber’ industry in Australia all Protection against the importation of New Zealand timber, and not merely to modify the Protection afforded the Australian industry by the Tariff- which we passed last year. I ‘am specially concerned about the Protection afforded to the production of scantlings and timber in small sizes. Only within the last twenty-four hours I have heard that a contemplated contract with Tasmanian millers for a large quantity of their timber has been suspended pending the passing of this measure, and the Tasmanian suppliers have been notified that, if this Bill becomes law, the contract will not be further entertained.
– I am afraid that is a trick of the trade.
– The question is whether the statement is correct, and I am assured that it is so. I agree that the Bill must be considered from the point of view of the Common wealth, as a whole, but I have often before contended that an injury inflicted / upon a Commonwealth industry, no matter in what part of Australia it is carried on, must have its effect throughout the Commonwealth.
– The timber industry is carried on in New Zealand under exactly the same conditions as in Tasmania, and why, therefore, should Tasmania need Protection against New Zealand timber?
– The honorable senator has made an assertion, but I think he would find it difficult to prove that his statement is correct.
– Wages in the industry are as high, or higher, in New Zealand than they are in Tasmania.
– It is not only a question of wages. So far as Tasmania is concerned, it is a question of having to pay wages when no work is being performed. ;>
– We cannot give- Protection against those conditions.
– We must certainly take those conditions into consideration if we wish to preserve the industry in Australia.
– How long will that condition last in Tasmania?
– It is of no use for the honorable senator to ask ,me that question; he should ask it of the Judges of the Arbitration Court.
– Does the honorable senator really think that wages are higher in the industry in Tasmania than they are in New Zealand ?
– I believe that the conditions under which the industry is carried on in New Zealand are. more tolerable than those under which it is carried on in Tasmania.
– That must be the fault of Tasmania.
– Is the honorable senator not aware that under the last award of the Arbitration Court, under which the mills are working to-day,- the men are to be the judges of when the weather is too wet to work, and if they decide that it is too wet, they must receive full pay just the. same ?
– Does the honorable senator ask for a Tariff which will give protection against that sort of thing ?
– I remind the honorable senator that this Parliament passed the law which has permitted that sort of thing to occur, and that is a condition which must be taken into consideration. I have- heard it stated by interjection that New Zealand timbers do not enter- into competition with timbers produced in Tasmanian mills.
– Not to the extent that some people seem to think.
– Let us consider the timbers which, are likely to be affected by this agreement with New Zealand. In Tasmania, we produce Huon pine, King William pine, and celery top pine. The New Zealand timbers which compete with these pines are New Zealand, white pine, kauri, and rimu. New Zealand white pine and rimu are inferior timbers to our pines.
– Then they will not compete with them.
– They will, because, although they are inferior in quality, they can be used, and are used extensively, in the manufacture of bee-keepers’ appliances and mouldings. They are used in this way in Victoria, especially where the cheapest things are always considered the best. I have to admit that New Zealand kauri pine is an exceptionally fine timber, but in cutting it produce® a very large quantity of small sizes. That small size timber is put on the market here at practically any price, and competes very successfully with timber produced in Tasmania.
– For fruit cases?
– I am not speaking now of timber used for fruit cases. I recognise that one industry must be considered with another, and that it is essential that fruit-growers shall not be hampered in obtaining the cases they require.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that New Zealand timbers are ‘ ‘ dumped ‘ ‘ in Australia ?
– The present protective duty of 5s. to 6s. per 100 super, feet enables the Tasmanian miller to compete with these importations of small sizes from New Zealand. Only yesterday, I was informed by the manager of a very large corporation in Tasmania engaged in the timber industry that he had to dispose of a large quantity of scantlings at a very low price in Victoria. He pointed -out that the difficulty of his company would be accentuated if the duty on timber is removed, and it will be almost impossible to secure a price for small size timber that will pay for its production.
– Is the honorable senator going to move an amendment?
– I have said that the schedule to this Bill must be accepted or rejected, and cannot be amended, but I am surely entitled to direct the attention of honorable senators to items in connexion with- which I think more care should have been taken to protect industries in which we are vitally interested. Tasmania is not very large in area, but it is a very important State of the Commonwealth. It produces many things that are required on the mainland, and I may point out that from one little port alone, Strahan, over 2,000,000 super, feet of pine are annually shipped to the mainland. In north-western Tasmania there are fairly large areas of land that are not used exclusively for the milling of pine timber, but where there is a mixture of celery-topped pine and blackwood there is a possibility of the pine trade established by the Tasmanian millers suffering a severe blow, because the two can be worked in conjunction on some of the areas where supplies are not very plentiful.
A timber which grows very luxuriantly, and which is known as the myrtle, but which is really a beech, has come into commercial prominence during the last few years, mainly owing to the operations of the Van Diemen’s Land Company on the north-west coasit, which sent trial shipments to England, where it was manufactured into office furniture and other articles. For a long time there was no demand for beech timber, but during recent years a profitable trade has been established with the mainland. Beech is a close-grained durable wood used for handles of all classes of brushware, and also for wooden heels of ladies’ shoes. It is claimed by those who have given the timber a lengthy trial that it is equal, if not better, than other timbers used for these purposes, and’ sales have been increased to such an extent that it is now an important adjunct to the timber trade. Red beech, produced in New Zealand, enters into competition with this timber, and we are now asked to allow New Zealand timber to enter the Commonwealth free, which will result in the mill-owners being confronted with increased difficulties or even disaster.
Instead of the conditions of the millowners improving they are becoming worse.
– I am particularly anxious to get this measure through this afternoon, as several important business transactions are pending.
– I do not wish to delay the passage of the Bill ; but as a representative of the people of Tasmania I would not be worthy of my place in the Senate if I did not enter a. strong protest when legislation prejudicial to the interests of the Tasmanian people was before the Senate. I was assured only a day or two ago that 1,200 timber getters, or men engaged in the industry, are out of employment, and I am very much afraid that if this measure is passed in its present form, that number of unemployed will be larger than it is to-day. The difficulties of the mill-owners, corporations, or companies owning timber areas have been further increased in consequence of the recent Arbitration Court awards, which render it almost impossible for the industry to be carried on profitably. There are some honorable senators who have urged that Australian industries should be kept in operation at any cost; but I have never argued in that way.
– That is not so.
– There are some who have argued strongly in that direction; but I am asking for only reasonable protection to be given to the timber industry. I think I have made it abundantly clear that the interests of the timber industry were not fully considered when this reciprocal arrangement, which we are now asked to adopt, was under consideration by the representatives of the Commonwealth and of New Zealand.
.- The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Earle) has asked us to allow the Bill to be passed without further discussion.
– I said that I wished it to be passed this afternoon.
– It appears to me that appeals are constantly being made to the Senate to pass measures without giving them the attention to which they are entitled, and whilst if may be true that certain business firms may not be able to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill if it is not passed to-day, we should not be asked to dispose of it in a hurried manner. The Senate has a duty which it owes to the country and to itself, and should most earnestly consider the important proposals which are now before it. With other honorable senators, I am delighted to see that the Government have in certain measure realized the advantages to be derived from reciprocal trade arrangements, and I trust that this consideration will be extended to other countries. I regret, however, that we are in the unfortunate position of having to either accept or reject this Bill in its present form, because it seems to me that in entering into this arrangement, the Government have not made the best terms possible. The Minister has boasted of the fact that Australia is to derive greater advantages than New Zealand under this agreement, but in glancing through the schedule it would appear possible for Australia to have secured greater advantages than are provided.
– Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that we should have an unfair advantage.
– I am not suggesting that, but it was a mistake on the part of the Minister to say that Australia is getting the better of the deal. Under such an agreement, it should have been possible for the Commonwealth to have secured at least similar terms to those offered to Great Britain by New Zealand. There are a number of products which are penalized when compared with similar articles manufactured in Great Britain.
– The whole position was discussed for three weeks, and this is the best we could get.
– If such is the case, Australian trade has been prejudiced, particularly in connexion with primary products. For instance, the rate imposed on preserved fruits is 25 per cent. against Great Britain and 35 per cent, against Australia. On jams, jellies, marmalade, and preserves of all kinds, there is a British preferential rate of 2d. per lb., whereas the rate against Australia is 2½d. per lb., and in the case of preserved milk the rate against Great Britain is 10 per cent., and against the Commonwealth 15 per cent.
– But they do not import that from Great Britain.
– Then take soap powders and extract of soap, where the rate against Great Britain is 25 per cent., and against Australia 30 per cent. Wearing apparel and textiles are closely associated with the great wool industry of Australia, and the rates are Great Britain 20 per cent., and Australia 25 per cent. Blankets, shawls, and woollen rugs are imported extensively from Great Britain, and the rate against that country is only 20 per cent., whereas against Australia it is 25 per cent. I could enumerate many other items to prove that under this agreement Australia is not getting a fair deal, and that the agreement is one which this Parliament should not be asked to accept. It should have been possible to have secured from New Zealand a Tariff similar to that which has been given to Great Britain, and it is unfair that our industries should be prejudiced to such an extent.
– But Great Britain allows imports from New Zealand to come in free.
– I know that. Some persons, including the Minister in charge of the Bill, have expressed the opinion that the day is not far distant when Great Britain will see the error of her ways, and will impose duties on imports from other countries.
– I have expressed that opinion, but not to-day.
– The Minister has used a good many expressions of a similar character. To-day we find that the archpriest of Protection has become a mere altar-boy at the shrine of Free -Trade. To-day he is not the Protectionist he used to be.
– Yes, I am.
– Now he is fathering a reciprocal arrangement, when previously he pointed out that any reduction of the duties proposed by the Government on a number of the very articles” where reductions are now proposed would have the effect of destroying Australia’s industries, and throwing thousands of men on the labour market. I compliment the Minister upon his changed attitude, and upon realizing that a great many of the arguments he used in bygone days are not sound. It is a matter for congratulation that at last the Minister should have seen the light. While I regret that we have not secured as good an agreement as is desirable, the Bill meets with my almost entire approval. I realize the value of entering into trade and other agreements ‘ with the whole of the British Dominions, and with Great Britain itself; but it is most unfortunate that we have not established absolute Free Trade at once between Australia and New Zealand, in order that we might be bound together by far stronger ties than would be possible under any reciprocal agreement, which really amounts only to an. agreement for establishing restrictions upon , trade. whether the people want them or not. I hope that the Bill, as a small step in the right direction, will be passed, and that the Government will give further consideration to entering into even better agreements between the Commonwealth and other parts of the Empire, in order that the British-speaking communities may become an Empire not only in name, but in actual fact, and that we may thus be enabled to do our share in furthering the interests of all mankind.
– I am astonished at the honorable senator from New South Wales (Senator Duncan) taking any exception to Free Trade between New Zealand and his State, seeing that Sydney occupies* such an important commercial position in regard to the two Dominions.
– I advocated absolute Free Trade. I said the Bill did not go far enough.
– The latter portion of the speech did not coincide with the middle of it. The honorable senator certainly put the case both ways.
– Do you mean that he “ sat on a fence “ ?
– He did not sit “ on “ it, but on both sides of it. Sydney is one of the hubs of Australia, and, with the sole exception of the capital of the Argentine, is the finest city south of the line. It was a surprise to me to find an honorable senator from New South Wales objecting in any way to this treaty, because a great deal of the trade between New Zealand and Australia goes through Sydney.
– The honorable sena=tor could not have been listening to me. I said that the treaty did not go far enough.
– I heard the reference to which’ 1 take exception, and I admit that the latter part of the speech mollified it to a certain extent. I regard New Zealand and Australia as one country. It is peopled by descendants of the British race, and there is no reason why, when Australian Federation was inaugurated, that Dominion should not have been included. I was living in New Zealand at the time Federation was established. Having just arrived at the electoral age, it occurred to me that, if I had had a vote on. the question, I would have heartily supported an Australasian Federation. When I ‘ attended State schools in New South Wales, I felt that New Zealand was only another Tasmania, pushed a little further into the ocean. Customs barriers have a great tendency towards straining what should be friendly relations.
Before Federation there was a danger, I understand, of the Customs barriers between New South Wales and Queensland precipitating civil war. It seems an outrageous thing to say, but I have met people who have lived in both States who took the view that feeling on trade matters ran so high that some day that unhappy result might be experienced.
I am pleased that the Bill has been brought forward, and I hope that it will lead one day to a Federation between the Commonwealth and New Zealand. I do not desire to question on which side the advantage lies in connexion with the treaty. When two countries, peopled by the same stock, and enjoying the same standard of living, wish to come more closely together, there is no need for any Protectionist to try to “ push his barrow.” I do not subscribe altogether to the principles enunciated by my colleague, Senator Gardiner, on this much-debated issue. I differ a good deal from the Free Trade ideas that at one time overran New South Wales. I am somewhat of a Free Trader when it is in the interests of Australia, and a Protectionist when it suits this country.
– What were you saying a few moments ago about Senator Duncan sitting on both sides of a fence?
– This is a different kind of fence; for I maintain that New Zealand is part of Australia. Under the rules of the Australian Natives’ Association, I believe New Zealand, Fiji, and, I think, Norfolk Island and others are linked with Australia. South Africa is distant .some “sixteen- days by steam from Fremantle, but between Sydney and Auckland it is only a matter of about three days’ steaming. At times I think it would be well to have a Protectionist policy covering Australasia in regard to certain matters. International Free Trade does not offer a solution of the problem of securing international peace and good-will, as some economistsseventy years ago hoped; but it goes a good deal of the way towards it. Australasia has one people and one destiny,, and I have great pleasure in supporting the Bill.
– I do not intend to give a silent vote on the matter. I congratulate the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Earle) upon its introduction. It spells progress in the interests of Australia. To-day many of us have learnt with a great deal of pleasure that on many items that count a ‘great deal in connexion with production, .the duties are to be relieved. My only-regret is that the Bill does not go’ further. I think Senator Gardiner voiced the feeling of honorable senators when he remarked that the Government had seen the error of their ways, and had taken timely action to remedy an unsatisfactory position
, - I must say that I am very pleased with the general tone of the discussion. It indicates that honorable senators understand the purpose of the Government in introducing this measure, but some of them do not quite realize the consistency with which I have advocated the protection of Australian industries. I cannot follow the line of reasoning of those honorable senators who seem to imagine that the advocacy of a reciprocal Tariff with a country with exactly the same standard of life as our own is a relinquishment of my Protectionist ideas. I have already taken the trouble to show the inconsistency of the honorable senator from South Australia, and, if I cared to consult Hansard, I could show that the average of honorable senators who have found some amusement in this discussion constitute the most geographical Protectionists that I have ever struck in my life. They include Senator
Duncan. I am not disposed to follow that line of argument,nor am I disposed to follow Senator Duncan in a discussion of the matters contained, in the schedule of the Bill. I can assure him that those who were responsible for this agreement exercised as much judgment, and were as keen in the interests of Australia, as it would have been possible for the honorable senator himself to have been. Although they set out on a mission to obtain reciprocity on the basis of British preference, the best that they could induce the representatives of the smaller Dominion to accept is represented in the schedule of the Bill.
– The Minister admits the justice of my criticism, but says that it could not be helped.
– I quite admit that. I can understand, and I am sure honorable senators will understand, that a small Dominion like New Zealand, with only one-fifth of the population of Australia, is naturally anxious to protect its industries against the larger organizations of Australia.
– Has Tasmania suffered by being part of Australia?
– Many contend that she has, but that is a debatable question. I am not in agreement with Senator Payne in his contention that the prevailing unemployment in the timber industries in Australia is largely due to competition from New Zealand.
– I did not say that. I said that the evil would be accentuated by the removal of the duty.
– I think that the opposite is more likely to be the effect. Most of the timber imported into Australia from New Zealand is used for boxes, and it only pays a duty of1s. per 100 superficial feet. This timber does not come into competition with our hardwood, and those representing the business in Queensland have no objection to this reciprocity. When we consider further that a duty of 2s. per 100 superficial feet is removed from our hardwoods entering New Zealand, I believe that, whatever we lose by the removal of duty on New Zealand timbers, we shall be more than compensated for by the removal of the general duty in New Zealand. I am assured by the officers of the Customs Department that there is a law on the statute-book in New Zealand restricting the exportation of timber from that
Dominion on a diminishing basis. The effect of that is apparent in the figures that I have quoted. The timber exported from that Dominion into Australia was 93,000,000 superficial feet in 1912, and only61, 000,000 superficial feet in 1920. I am pleased with the reception the Bill has had.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and, Standing andSessional Orders having been suspended, passed through its remaining stages without debate or request.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I would like to know whether, when the election takes places - andI presume it will be very shortly now - it will be possible to issue a regulation instructing the Electoral Officer in each constituency to state the reasons why votes were informal. I have raised this question before, and I remember making a similar request in another House. The reply on that occasion was that it was impossible to do what I desired. Since the commencement of this Parliament two by-elections have been held, at West Sydney and Parramatta, and in connexion with them I asked the Minister whether he could obtain from the Returning Officer a statement of the reasons for the informal votes. In both cases the information was supplied to me and the House. Such information is not only interesting and sometimes amusing, but instructive, because it enables candidates to point out to the electors why certain votes are disallowed. If this information can be supplied in Parramatta and West Sydney, it can also be given in individual electorates throughout Australia. When the returns are being sent in they ought to be accompanied by a statement, not only of the number of informal votes, but of the reason why those votes were informal.
– Having endeavoured in Committee to improve this Bill, and having failed to an extent that will satisfy me, I intend to call for a division on the motion for the third reading. My chief objection is that for the first time in the Commonwealth we propose to do away with secret voting. When this Bill becomes law, the elector will no longer be able to go into the polling booth and record his vote absolutely without any fear that how he voted will be revealed to any one. We have changed the old idea, and we have before us a Bill which makes provision, under certain circumstances, for publishing information as to how a man votes. That is a provision which, at any stage of the Bill, I would resist. At this third-reading stage, I want to emphasize my objection to breaking away from the old system of the secret ballot.
– They have had a similar system in Queensland for the last ten years.
– The fact that Queensland has adopted the system is not a justification for its adoption by the Commonwealth, unless representatives from Queensland can point to occasions on which the use of this system has been proved to be of advantage.
– I could mention halfadozen such occasions.
– I invite the honorable senator to do so, before this Bill passes its third reading.
– Is there not a Labour Government in Queensland, and is that not an advantage?
– The fact that there is a Labour Government in Queens- land is due to the common sense of the Queensland people, and not to the Act of Parliament under which the Government were returned. We have boasted of the secret ballot as a product of Australia.
– Of South Australia.
– I believe that it originated in South Australia. . Now we are invited to consent to the abolition of the secret ballot because it is suggested that we should follow the example of Queensland. I shall not follow the example of Queensland in this matter. We should consider this Bill as business people, and realize that when thousands of voters enter the polling booths to record their votes the Presiding Officers must mark each ballot-paper, and see that there is a corresponding mark on their rolls. All this trouble has to be gone through, and for no advantage.
– Yes, to prevent impersonation. There is no means under the existing Act to follow up the impersonator.
– There has been very little impersonation in this country. We can congratulate ourselves that, broadly speaking, we have been free in the Commonwealth from impersonation and other illegal practices in the polling booths.
– I understand that there was a good deal of impersonation in connexion with Labour selection ballots in New South Wales.
– No doubt the enemies of Labour will say so, but I should be perfectly satisfied to have the fullest investigation to compare what is done in the Labour movement with what is done by people interested in other organizations.Under this Bill, if there should be an appeal against an election, ballot-papers may be opened until one is reached bearing a number which corresponds with the number under which a certain voter recorded his vote.
– In Queensland, that can only be done before a Judge, and under an oath of secrecy.
– I do not think that there is anything in. this Bill to provide for secrecy.
– Then it should provide for it.
– That is a good reason for opposing the passage of the Bill.
– There is provision in the Bill for secrecy.
– I shall be very pleased ifthe honorable senator can make that clean to me, and if the Minister will agree to the adjournment of the debate, he will have an opportunity to do so next week. In all the elections that we have had since the beginning of the Commonwealth, there has not been one in connexion with which any occasion has arisen for the opening of ballot-papers I believe that some ballot-papers were lost on one occasion, but I have never heard of a charge of impersonation having been made in connexion with a Senate election. I challenge honorable senators to prove that the adoption of the system proposed by this Bill will lead to the discovery of impersonation. We are deliberately adopting a system which will give presiding officers an enormous amount of trouble at a very busy time. We are invited to do so for a very vague and improbable advantage, which will nob be commensurate with the additional trouble to which we shall be putting our Electoral Officers. Can any honorable senator say that impersonation has been rampant in Australia? If I have any fault to find with the electors of this country, it is not that too many votes have been polled, but; too few. The returns from all the States show not that the people have been giving double votes, but rather that there has been a lack of interest in the affairs of the country. I ask leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- When speaking on the Address in Reply last month , Senator Wilson made reference to the cases of two gentlemen who were said to have applied to the Home and Territories Department for passports, and. to have subsequently been informed by the Taxation Office that before their applications could be granted they would have to pay income tax. I may say at once that, in no case, is the issue of a passport withheld on the ground that income tax has not been paid by the applicant. Having satisfied myself that nothing was known in my Department respecting the complaints, I took the matter up with the Taxation Office. Senator Wilson was good enough to give the names of the two gentlemen, confidentially, and I have been able to trace the cases, but as I cannot reveal the names, I must refer to them as Mr. “A” and Mr. “ B.” . The following statement has now been received from the Commissioner of Taxation -
The Taxation Branch in each State ascertains from the Passports Office the names of persons who have applied for passports to leave Australia.. Application for these’ passports is not made to the Taxation Department,
The action taken by the Taxation Branch is to ascertain if tax is owing by the persons about to leave Australia, in order that these persons may, if thought fit, he asked to pay the tax or to satisfy this branch that the tax will be paid on their behalf, and also that any returns which may have to he lodged during their absence will be lodged.
In the particular cases mentioned, it was ascertained by the Deputy Commissioner, Adelaide, that Mr. A was about to leave Australia. The Deputy Commissioner took no action whatever, knowing from past experience that Mr. A’s taxation matters would be attended to on his behalf.
With regard to Mr. B, the usual stereotyped communication issued to persons about to leave. Australia was posted.
Mr.B, on receipt of it, immediately got into touch with the Deputy Commissioner, Sydney, who assured him that the request issued was a matter of form, and, in the circumstances, couldbe disregarded.
The procedure, which merely consisted of a despatch of a formal request and a telephone message fromMr. B to the Deputy Commissioner, and a written reply to Mr. B, was of a most amicable character.
No action whatever was taken in either case to attempt to prevent the issue of passports.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 August 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19220818_senate_8_100/>.