9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Deputy President (Senator Newland) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
City Building Leases
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories decided upon the date on which building leases at Canberra will be made available for settlement? Can he say why the matter has been delayed? Is the real reason for the delay a desire on the part of the Government to convert leaseholds at Canberra into freeholds?
– I hope to be able to make a statement to the Senate tomorrow as to the date on which building leases at Canberra will be submitted for sale. The reason for the delay referred to by the honorable senator is that the Government determined that on this occasion they would make absolutely sure that the sale would take place on the date finally fixed upon.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Home and Territories been drawn to a report in the press with reference to the destruction of a motor car belonging to the Commonwealth Government, and will he say whether it is usual for chauffeurs to use Government motor cars without authority on occasions when the cars are not required by Ministers?
– I hope that it is not usual for chauffeurs to use Government motor cars when they are not required by Ministers. In this case the car which suffered damage was used without the authority of any Minister, or, so far as can be ascertained, of any officer authorized to give permission to make use of Government cars. However, the whole of the circumstances are now being investigated by the Defence Department, and when a report is available, Parliament will be advised of the result of the inquiry.
Rescue of White Women
– If the Government have aeroplanes at their disposal will they dispatch some of them to the locality where white women are reported to be held in captivity by blacks, so that if traces of these women can be discovered by the use of these machines, a report can be made to the proper authorities, and urgent assistance given to rescue them ?
– To send an aeroplane to the locality referred to without first ascertaining whether suitable landing grounds were available would certainly expose the airmen to death. Aeroplanes cannot land anywhere. It is first necessary to ascertain by means of a survey whether suitable landing grounds are available. The locality where these women are supposed to be held captive is perhaps the least known part of Australia. Very few white people have been there, and there is practically no information available to enable one to say that an aeroplane could land safely anywhere there. The country is probably either thickly covered with timber or exceedingly marshy.
– If it is too much to request the Government to take active steps or to ask any one to accept any risk in an endeavour to ascertain whether these white women are in the hands of the blacks in the Northern Territory, will permission to make use of any aeroplanes belonging to the Air Forces be given to persons who are willing to volunteer to make a search by air?
– As the suggestion is that the Government are not doing all that can be done to rescue two white women supposed to be in the hands of the blacks in the Northern Territory, I ask permission to make a statement to show exactly what , is being done in the matter.
– The Commonwealth Government is keenly sensible of its responsibilities in regard to measures for the relief and rescue of the supposed survivors of the Douglas Mawson, and it is satisfied that the arrangements made were the best possible in the circumstances. The unfair and unjustifiable criticism directed against the Government could not have arisen had there been a proper know ledge or understanding of the facts on the part of the critics. The Douglas Mawson was not a vessel engaged in the Northern Territory trade. She was a vessel owned by the Queensland Government, and under charter to a private firm trading between Brisbane and Queensland ports in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The last that is definitely known of her is that she left Burketown on 26th March, 1923, and was sighted off Batavia River, Queensland, on 28th March. When she was reported missing, there was nothing to suggest that she had been wrecked on the Northern Territory coast, as her movements were ordinarily confined to the eastern shores of the Gulf. The obligation to search for her was one that rested on the Queensland Government, and searches were duly made both by sea and land parties, but without trace of her being found. In April, 1924, it was reported that signs of wreckage had been found in the vicinity of Mount Alexander in the Northern Territory. A search was at once undertaken by the Northern Territory Administration, two mounted constables, with black trackers, being dispatched by the John Alce to the locality referred to. The police were instructed to make as complete a search as possible and to pay special regard to the possibility of any survivors having reached the mainland or the islands off the coast. A thorough search, extending over a period of four weeks, was made, but nothing was discovered in the vicinity of Mount Alexander that could have been associated with the wreck. Some pieces of wreckage were subsequently found at Melville Island and Bradshaw’s Inlet, but no trace of any survivors. When the report of this search party was communicated to the Queensland Government, the Department of Home and Territories received through the Prime Minister’s Department a letter from the Premier of Queensland (Mr. Theodore) expressing his appreciation of the prompt and thorough action that had been taken by the department to follow up that information. Nothing further transpired until Dr. Wade reported to the Administrator statements made to him by natives during his recent visit to the Gulf. The first intimation of this report appearedin the press on the 18th July, 1924. I immediately communicated with the Administrator, and received from him a reply confirming the press statement. The Administrator, at the same time, asked for, and was immediately given by me, a free hand and full authority to organize and carry out a relief expedition, and to incur whatever expenditure was necessary for the purpose. In acceding to the Administrator’s request and conferring upon him the authority he desired, I felt that it was a sound principle to allow the authorities on the spot, who were in a better position than I to judge of the needs of the situation, to exercise discretion as to the nature of the arrangements to be observed. . I was fortified in this opinion by the fact that the Administrator had had years of personal experience of both shores of Cape York Peninsula, where he had personally .carried out several expeditions of the character contemplated. The only vessel available for the purpose was the Huddersfield, and as she had undergone a special trial in Sydney Harbour, when she attained a speed of 5.54 knots per hour against wind and tide, and of 7.06 knots per hour with a following wind and tide, it was quite reasonable to expect her to be able to reach the scene of the supposed wreck within a few days, and certainly much sooner than a vessel despatched from any other part of Australia. The Administrator originally intended to equip two parties, one to operate from the sea, and the other from the land. He was reluctantly compelled to relinquish the idea of a land party, because of the serious obstacles to travelling presented by the intervening country, which consists of difficult ranges and large- swamps. On the 23rd July, the Administrator intimated that the Huddersfield would leave Darwin on the 30th July, and, since special constables had to be enlisted, and the party properly equipped and supplied, and alterations made to the ship, for the accommodation of horses, &c, this was not considered unsatisfactory. Unforeseen difficulties, however, arose, for which neither the Administrator nor the Minister was in any way responsible. Officers and members of the crew left the Huddersfield, a development which no one, having regard to the purposes for which the expedition was being organized, could have anticipated;, and, later, engine troubles supervened. The Huddersfield, it should be borne in mind, is a privately-owned vessel, not a Government vessel. She eventually left Darwin on the 5th August, direct for Elcho Island, where it had been decided she should romain pending the result of negotiations by a small party which it had been arranged should proceed from the island to the mainland, and there endeavour, by peaceful means, to effect the release of the women said to be in the hands of the natives. This procedure was considered to be in the highest degree advisable in the interests of the women themselves, because of a fear that they might be murdered by the natives upon the approach of an armed party. The statement that the detention of the Huddersfield at Elcho Island is due to the shortage of provisions is absolutely false. She is detained there because that is the nearest point from which operations on the mainland can be conveniently conducted. The peaceful party, under a’ leader accustomed to dealing with natives, is now proceeding with its negotiations, and no move will be made by the armed party to take up the search until such negotiations have definitely failed. Elcho Island is in the immediate vicinity of the locality inhabited by the natives who are said to be- holding the women; but there is no telegraphic communication between the island and Darwin. As, moreover, the island is out of the track of the regular coastal trading vessels, the department is forced to depend for reliable information on small trading luggers which occasionally pass by. Consequently, some days must elapse before any further advice is received. The suggestion that the Government has exhibited callousness or indifference in regard, to this grave matter is an unworthy one, for which no real foundation exists. The present is the second occasion this year on which the Commonwealth Government has undertaken a search for survivors of the Douglas Mawson. As has already been pointed out, a search was. made earlier in the present year; but, although some weeks were devoted to the work, it was without result. At that time no suggestion had been made that any survivors had been seen. The means adopted are the only ones which afford the slightest prospect of success. The despatch of a warship would almost certainly, have defeated the object in view, and have ended all hope of rescu- ing alive the survivors, if any there be. I ask honorable senators to consider whether a party of bluejackets or a party of experienced bushmen are more likely to succeed in such a search. The work is work for bushmen and men accustomed to dealing with natives, and of such the expedition as organized consists. The expedition is already on the scene - a fact which does not appear to be recognized in some quarters - and is carrying out, according to plan, the operations entrusted to it. There is, therefore, nothing that can at present be done to hasten those operations. The members of the expedition have been carefully chosen, and the party is ample in number to effectively accomplish its task. In further reply to the suggestion by Senator Gardiner, I ask what more could be done by an aeroplane, even if a landing could he effected ?
-Was the Huddersfield the only available vessel ?
– Yes. The Administrator, in his first telegram, intimated that he proposed to send the Huddersfield. The vessel was not despatched under instructions from the Home and Territories Department. The Administrator was given a free hand in the matter, and he was not limited in regard to expenditure; but he was asked to make the best arrangements he could to conduct the search. I have every confidence in him because of his experience.
– How long would it take to obtain news from the search party?
– It all depends when the party can get in touch with a passing lugger that can carry news to Darwin. Of course, if the women were rescued, the Huddersfield would return immediately.
– How long would it take to return?
– Less than a week.
– Is there no settlement of natives there?
– No ; they are always on the move.
– Since the Minister appears to be unmoved by the anxiety that is felt by the rest of the community concerning these women, will he send one, two, or, if necessary, three aeroplanes to the locality, with a view to giving the search party some assistance in the matter of scouting and observation work?
– The proposition does not seem to be practicable; and it would not be as satisfactory as the operations now being undertaken.
The following papers were presented : -
Cost of Construction in Australia of a 10,000-ton Cruiser - Report by Lieut.General Sir John Monash, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., &c.
Territory of New Guinea - Report by Colonel John Ainsworth, C.M.G., C.B.E., D.S.O., (late Chief Native Commissioner, Kenya Colony), on administrative arrangements and matters affecting the interests of the natives.
Ordered to be printed.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 126, 128, 129, 130.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Aggregate Balancesheet of Commonwealth Bank of Australia at 30th June, 1924, together with Statement of Liabilities and Assets of the Note Issue Department; and AuditorGeneral’s Reports thereon.
Customs Act, and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 127.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 119, 120, 132.
Lands Acquisition Act - Notifications of land acquired -
For Defence purposes -
Wakefield, South Australia.
For Postal purposes -
Balldale, New South Wales.
South Hobart, Tasmania.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act, and Northern Territory Crown Lands Act (of South Australia) - Statement giving reasons for resumption of the Reserve at Alice Springs, Northern Territory, reserved for the purpose of the Police Department, together with sketch showing area resumed.
Papua - Ordinance No. 6 of 1924 - Supply, 1924-1925.
Public Service Act - Appointment of L. N. Macleod, Department of Trade and Customs.
Report on the Administration of Nauru during the year 1923, prepared for submission to the League of Nations.
Carriage of Fresh Meat
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The honorable the Minister supplies the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : - 1 and 2. Under existing conditions, fresh meat could not be carried excepting by the passenger trains, and the accommodation on those trains admits of the carriage of a limited quantity only. The traffic is not yet sufficiently established to enable the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner to determine just what facilities should be provided.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That forthe remainder of the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper except questions and formal motions.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Wilson) read a first time.
Bill returned from House of Representatives, with a message intimating that it had made the Senate’s requested amendment.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Wilson)read a first time.
Motion(by Senator Wilson) pro posed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
Amendment(by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
Thatthe bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 10.
In committee (Recommittal) :
Nothing in this act shall affect the operation of Division 10 of Part IV. of the Navigation Act 1912-1920 or the operation of any other act for the time being in force limiting the liability of the owners of sea-going vessels.
– I move -
That the following sub-clause be added: - “ 2. The rules shall not, by virtue of this act, apply to any contract for the carriage of goods by sea made before the commencement of this Act.”
As it would be very difficult to interfere with existing contracts, the proposed new sub-clause is necessary.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Standing and sessional orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wilson) read a third time.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia -
Minister for Home and Territories) [3.35]. - I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
Although the provisions of the Papua Act 1905-1920 have, in the main, been found satisfactory, it is considered that in the light of experience in the working of the act, and the improved conditions in the Territory, certain amendments should be made. Papua has a form of local government consisting of an Executive Council and a Legislative Council. There are, at present, three non-official representatives in the Legislative Council, but the Executive Council consists solely of officials of the Territory. Complaints have been received from time to time from the non-official residents of the
Territory that the representation provided for them in the Legislative Council is inadequate to meet the requirements of the various sections of the community. One of the objects of the bill is to increase the number of non-official representatives in the Legislative Council from three to five, and to provide for a non-official member to sit on the Executive Council. The Administrator of New Guinea receives £1,800 per annum, but the Papua Act provides that the LieutenantGovernor of Papua shall receive £1,250 per annum. It is considered that the salaries of both these officers should be the same, and an allowance of £550 per annum has already been granted to the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua to bring his total emoluments up to the salary of the Administrator of New Guinea. The bill proposes to consolidate the salary and allowances of the Lieutenant-Governor into salary without allowances, thus placing the two officers on the same basis in regard to salary. There are two judges in the Territory, namely the chief judicial officer and the deputy chief judicial officer, the former position being held by Judge Murray and the latter by Judge Herbert. As a matter of practice, however, Judge Herbert performs some of the duties of the chief judicial officer, and draws the salary attached to that office. The titles “Chief Judicial Officer” and “Deputy Chief Judicial Officer “ are cumbersome, and it is considered that they should be altered to that of “ Judge.” The salary of the judge of the Territory of New Guinea is £1,200 per annum, and Judge Herbert has been granted an allowance of £200 to make his salary conform to that of the judge of New Guinea. The bill proposes to make the salary of the judge £1,200 instead of £1,000. The Papua Act 1905-1920 provides for the appointment of an Administrator to perform the duties of LieutenantGovernor when the latter is absent- on leave or unable by reason of illness to perform his duties. The Administrator holds a dormant commission, which immediately comes into operation on the absence from the Territory of the Lieutenant-Governor, or when he is unable through illness to perform his duties. In view of the fact that the principal officer in each of the Territories of New
Guinea, Northern Territory, and Norfolk Island is called the Administrator, a certain amount of confusion has been caused by the existence of an officer in Papua holding the title of Administrator. Communications which should be addressed to the Lieutenant-Governor have been addressed to the Administrator, and. the general public has assumed that the Administrator holds the position which is really occupied by the LieutenantGovernor. It is proposed to remove this anomaly by abolishing the title of Administrator and providing that the senior official member of the Executive. Council shall become Acting Lieutenant-Governor in the circumstances in which at present the Administrator’s dormant commission comes into operation. This will not, however, become operative so long as the present holder of the office of Administrator remains an officer of the Papuan Public Service. Although the Lieutenant-Governor can purchase and lease land from natives, he cannot transfer Crown land to natives, or accept transfers from natives of land in exchange for any land transferred to them. Neither can’ he return to natives land which has been purchased or leased from them, and subsequently found to be not required. As it is desirable that the Lieutenant-Governor should have those powers, the necessary provision has been made in the bill. As an example, the Lieutenant-Governor has quoted a case in which a considerable area of native land was flooded, and it was desirable to give the native owners Crown land in lieu thereof. He hadnot the power, however, to make the necessary transfer. It sometimes happens that the LieutenantGovernor purchases land from the natives for the purpose of leasing it to private persons, but the latter fail to take it up. The land so purchased is not required by the Government, but, as the law now stands, it cannot be handed back to the original native owners. The bill proposes to empower the LieutenantGovernor to return such land to the original native owners. The other amendments to the act are of minor importance. I assure honorable senators that, in the provisions relating to the lands of Papua, there is nothing that gives any power to administer the law to the detriment of the natives. The bill is in the interests of the natives; it will empower the administration to hand land back to the natives, and not to take it from them.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner), adjourned.
Senator WILSON (South Australia -
Honorary Minister) [3.42]. - In moving
That the bill be now read a second time,
I remind honorable senators that it does not in any way alter the principles of the act which it proposes to amend. Last evening, I spent a little time in reading the discussion that took place when that measure was being passed. Knowing the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) as I do, I realize that he will have made himself conversant with what occurred on that occasion, and therefore the very least that he can do when he addresses himself to this measure is to compliment me upon my vision and foresight.
– This bill has been introduced after an experience of three years of the operation of the Tariff Board Act. The Tariff Board has many duties to perform. It has referred to it questions relating to the Customs Tariff or bounties, exemptions from duty, imposition of dumping duties, appeals from decisions of the Comptroller-General regarding the classification of imports, and complaints that manufacturers are taking an undue advantage of the tariff. It is purely a research board. In fact, I may say that it is merely an advisory board set up to assist the Minister. Viewing the widespread activities of the Department of Trade and. Customs, I feel quite certain that every honorable senator will fully and freely admit that no one man could possibly do the whole of the work that is required of the board. The present Minister (Mr. Pratten) is a very energetic man, and possesses a great deal of commercial knowledge. He freely admits the helpfulness of the board in making it possible for him to discharge his duties and keep the wheels of commerce revolving.
-The board is mostly used to prevent the wheels of commerce from turning.
– That, of course, is a matter of opinion. The difference between the honorable senator and the Minister is that the latter has had a large and varied commercial experience, and the present critic of the board has not.
– The Minister has no idea of what experience I have had.
– I merely express my opinion. I am certain, however, that honorable senators will freely admit that the present Minister is unquestionably a very keen and able business man.
– I shall endeavour to induce the Senate to adopt his views as expressed when the original measure was before us.
– Three years ago we debated a matter that was new to us. Trade and commerce have developed so rapidly, however, that there has been tremendous scope for the members of the board to perform very valuable service. Duing the month of July last the board received 26 deputations, in addition to its ordinary interviews and personal investigations. Those deputations included cigar-makers, wine-makers, millet-growers, film censorship, Engineers and Industries Preservation League, British manufacturers, Brandt Brothers, lead and zinc producers, wine-makers and distillers, British Phosphate Commission, Kent Engineering Company, Victorian railways representatives, New South Wales railways representatives, primary producers’ representatives, steel producers, dried fruit producers, paper manufacturers and users, General Electric Company, Federal Cigar Factory Employees Union, Rylands, soap-makers, almondgrowers, and others. Is it possible for any one individual to inquire into all those matters and give a decision upon them? The Minister refers such matters to the board, which conducts a searching inquiry and reports its findings to him. It has no power, as some persons imagine it has, to increase or decrease a duty: All it can do is to inquire into and report to the Minister upon the various matters that are referred to it.
– Has the Minister ever turned down a recommendation by the board for an increase or a decrease of duty?
– The ComptrollerGeneral assures me that a large number of recommendations by the board have been turned down by the Minister. That must, of necessity, be the case.
– Which Minister - the late or the present occupant of the office?
– Both. Until last year there were three members of the Tariff Board. Honorable senators will remember that the matter was discussed last year, and a fourth member was appointed to the board to make it more representative- of every section in any inquiry that it was called upon to make. To-day the board consists of Mr. Hudson., as acting chairman, and three other members. I think that it is doing very good work. That also is the opinion of those who have been brought into contact withit. Decisions are given more quickly, and the business of the merchants and others witu the department is greatly facilitated. The bill provides for the continuation of the board. No additional powers are proposed to be conferred upon it. By clause 2 provision is made for the appointment of members for three instead of five years. I do not think that any honorable senator .can take any exception to that provision, because under it each Parliament will be in a position to deal with the matter. Had the appointment of members been fixed at five years, the next Parliament would not have been able to deal with the board. Therefore, *I think the reduction to three years should prove acceptable to honorable senators. Clause 3 provides for public inquiries by the board, and for the taking of evidence in such inquiries on oath. However, in this regard a discretionary power is given to the board. I do not think that any honorable senator would advocate that the many intricate details of a man’s private business calling for investigation should be made known to the general public, possibly to his detriment. Clause 4 provides for postponing the date for the presentation of the annual report of the board from June to July, an arrangement which . will be more convenient in the making up of the half-yearly balance. Clause 5 makes the board permanent; but, of course, Parliament will always retain the right to abolish it if it be deemed necessary to do so, I have explained the details of this short bill. Of course, it is quite possible for an open debate on freetrade and protection to take place upon it, but my purpose is merely to explain in the plainest possible language just what it purports to do.
– Will, the Minister encourage a flow of rhetoric on freetrade and -protection ?
– I leave it to the good sense and judgment of honorable senators to say whether such a debate should take place.
– The bill opens up the whole question.
– I admit it does.; but I have simply .told honorable senators what it contains, and I ask them to deal with it straightway. We are -now reaching a stage when we may rightly look forward to a little rest after a strenuous session. Senator Graham may laugh, but I am quite willing to admit that I have found the session strenuous enough since my return from Great Britain, and my experience is. nothing in comparison with that of Senator . Pearce, who has been under a great strain for very many, months. In the circumstances I ask the Senate to facilitate the. passage of the bill.
.- In view of the fact that Senator Pearce, last week, asked the Senate to come, this week prepared to deal with this bill immediately on its presentation, I shall not ask for the usual adjournment of the debate. I find it impossible to discuss the measure unless I discuss, not the whole question of freetrade and protection, but the glaring interference with the trade of Australia that has been in evidence since the coming into operation of the last tariff. According to Senator Greene, that tariff was not framed in the interests of protection, but in order to raise revenue. I shall endeavour to point out what injury has been done to the business section of the community by the activities of the Tariff Board, and at the same time voice some of the grievances of business people. If Senator Wilson will accept an amendment to provide that all inquiries by the board shall be held in public, without exception, thus giving the right to business people whose interests are affected to attend and put their cases before the board. I shall be willing to let the bill go through, but, of course, I do not expect him to accept my suggestion. There are many sides to a bill of this kind. The bill gives the board the right to inquire into every man’s business, and my respected Leader in another place at the present time (Mr. Anstey) sees in this a very desirable weapon for future use by the Labour party when its turn comes, and admittedly its turn is close at hand. Honorable senators are well aware of my capacity to differ frequently from members of my own party, and I can assure them that I do not want any party to have the power to unnecessarily inquire into or interfere with a man’s private business.
– I think it is provided that the board shall not unnecessarily inquire into a man’s private business.
– What more power would any party want to make use of than the provision that inquiries conducted by the board relating to any proposal for improving the conditions of any primary or secondary industry shall be held in public? I am merely pointing out the possibilities that attach to legislation of this character. Clause 3 provides that inquiries shall be held in public and that evidence in such inquiries shall, “ subject to the next succeeding sub-section,” be taken in public on oath. At the proper time, I shall move an amendment to leave out the words, “ subject to the next succeeding sub-section,” the effect of which will be to have all inquiries, without exception, held in public. Much good would result from taking such a step, but for the moment let me examine the possibilities of legislation of this character. A couple of years ago at a Labour Conference, a condition of affairs was foreshadowed under which many industries of the nature of monopolies would come under the control of a supreme economic council. There was an outcry against this proposal, not only from outside the ranks of the Labour party, but also from inside the party itself. Quite a large section of people hold the belief that the supreme authority in Australia should be the national Parliament. At this stage let me say at once that if I speak in strong terms about the Tariff Board, my remarks are not to be taken asareflection on the members of the board or on their capacity to deal fairly with the cases that come before them for investigation.
When a thing is evil in itself it is very hard to describe it in sufficiently appropriate language without in some way appearing to drag in for drastic comment those who are responsible for its administration. I do not desire anything of the kind, but I want to say that in business circles there is a feeling of indignation at the dealings of the board. Let me quote the following from the Sydney Morning Herald of the 6th September, 1924:-
A resolution ofprotest against the methods ofthe Tariff Board has been carried by the New South Wales Master Printers and Connected Trades Association, on the following grounds-: -
It has proved itself to be, not an interpreter of the tariff as fixed by Parliament, but a taxing authority, more powerful than Parliament.
It has enormously increased the tariff on certain items, to the great detriment of some of the secondary industries, and of the great producing interests of Australia - acting thus in direct opposition to the decisions of Parliament.
It does its work in camera, allowing its beneficiaries to state their case, allowing no cross-examination, not even notifying those interested that theirinterests are in danger.
That is typical of the manner in which business in Australia has been interfered with by the board. Many of our secondary industries are seriously handicapped by alterations effected by the Tariff Board in the conditions under which things required by them for the conduct of their businesses may be imported. For many years in the State Parliaments and, later, in the Federal Parliament, Customs tariffs have been passed with many irregularities, some of which have detrimentally affected many people, but there never was such an outcry against a tariff as there has been since the Federal Tariff Board came into existence. No matter how well the gentlemen who comprise the board perform their duties, or how conscientious they may be in the performance of those duties, it is a mistake to expect a board to do work that has heretofore been done by Parliament itself. On this subject I shall quote some rather excellent authorities. Senator Wilson says that he has been reading up what he has said on this subject in the past, and I am rather pleased that he could refresh his memory in that way, and yet introduce this bill without a blush. I concede to Mr. Pratten, Minister for Trade and Customs, who was formerly a member of the Senate, all that business experience and capacity spoken of by Senator Wilson; I concede, also, that he is an authority, but I do not think that since he spoke in the Senate three years ago he has had such commercial experience as would justify an alteration of the opinion he then expressed. If business experience and capacity are worth anything, surely, at his mature age, something extraordinary must have happened to Mr. Pratten to cause him to face right-about.
– I think he goes to school every day, as every progressive man should do.
– Then the sooner we get some people in control who have left off going to schoolthe better for the affairs of Australia. I have a great admiration for the man who is always learning, but business cannot afford to have such a man in control. The remarkable feature of the education of the gentlemen whose cases I shall cite is that the change of mind has come about with office. It would be rather unfair for me to impute that the honour and dignity of office or ministerialemoluments would cause gentlemen of the capacity of Mr. Pratten or Senator Wilson to alter their opinions. Nevertheless, I think that I am justified in saying that the views uttered by them to-day are not merely slightly different from those they expressed two years ago, but are distinctly in opposition to them.
– Is it not a case of altered circumstances ?
– Circumstances do alter cases, and as far as political opinions are concerned circumstances alter Ministers’ views, although more than that is required to justify the alteration. I believe it was Carlyle who said that consistency was the doctrine of fools, but I still think that the community expects consistency in public men. If Carlyle’s theory be true, then Mr. Pratten and Senator Wilson are no fools. When Mr. Pratten sat in this chamber he said - .
As a representative of the people in this Parliament, I am not prepared to sanction any abrogation ofministerial responsibility by removing any power to a board which is not responsible to Parliament. . . .
Weare here to represent the consumer. . . I am not prepared to vote for the formation of another board. . . .
Senator Wilson, in introducing the present bill, drew attention to the way in which the board had been worked. He spoke of the 26 deputations, and asked, “ How could one man attend to. all that?” Mr. Pratten, in his speech in 1921, went on to say -
If assistance is needed for him - referring to the Minister for Trade and Customs - it can be better provided by the appointment of an Assistant Minister rather than by the appointment of a board to abrogate his responsibilities in this Parliament. . . .
– He does not say that now.
– No. But he is the same commercial man to-day, and he had all his commercial experience behind him when he made that statement. All that has happened since is that he has ceased to be a private member, and has now become a Minister. Of course, it would be unkind of me to suggest that his promotion to the Ministry accounts for the change. Again, Mr. Pratten said -
One objection I have to the bill is that in certain circumstances it may be used as an instrument to harass the whole trade and industry of Australia, possibly for political purposes. . . .
That is the statement of a man of mature judgment. What has happened since it was made to render the present bill any less likely to be used for political purposes? I maintain that the bill constitutes the same danger to the community as was feared of the original measure, two years ago, by Mr. Pratten. He further said -
I use these illustrations to point out the fallacy of believing that by the appointment of a Tariff Board we shall be able to deal with all the matters mentioned in this bill. . . .
My contention is that when, after mature deliberation and much debate, Parliament passes a bill, it is desirable to let it remain the law of this country until Parliament in its wisdom makes some amendment of it. I strongly object to variation of the tariff by means of a board. We remember the pressure that can be exerted by those who obtain the ear of the board, and who often press their claims in such a way that they are heard in secret. All that Mr. Pratten said with regard to the original bill can be repeated in a more emphatic way of the present measure. Senator Wilson remarked that I should commend the judgment he showed in speaking on the original measure, and I shall do that in due course; but let me deal first with Mr. Pratten, who also said -
If this bill passes its second reading I shall on every occasion in this measure, and in the Customs Tariff Bill also, require from the Minister in charge an explicit assurance that there shall be no abrogation of parliamentary authority, directly or indirectly. . . .
I entirely agree with the views voiced by the present Minister for Trade and Customs two years ago. I do not wish to be disrespectful to Senator Wilson, and therefore I shall refer to the clear and concise way in which he expressed his opinion of the Tariff Board Bill of 1921. He said - ‘
I cannot support the appointment of the proposed board.
– I think that I was under the honorable senator’s influence in those days.
– I should not like to be held responsible for all that the Minister has done. We know that prior to his accession to ministerial office he jumped to conclusions quickly, and very frequently he was right, because he acted* independently of all influences. I realize that he is now one of a team, and as at good puller he does not desire to kick over the traces, even if it means a departure from the opinions he formerly held. The following remarks by him regarding the bill of 1921, however, require some explanation: -
I think the powers of the board should be curtailed. . . . Unless there is a reasonable suspicion in the mind of the Minister, inquiries by the board should not be authorized. . . .
I take it that Senator Wilson was then expressing the views, that I now hold.’ Senator Wilson moved “ That the total amount chargeable audi payable out of revenue shall not exceed £3,000 per annum, this amount to include salary, expenses, &c.” The honorable senator was then ahead of his time, for Senator Russell interjected -
I thought the honorable senator went in for economy. The departmental estimate of the expenses of the hoard is £1,000’ a year.
But Senator Wilson could foresee more than £1,000 a year being spent on the’ board, and I think an amendment was accepted that the annual cost should not exceed £3,000. In 1923-4, however, the board cost £6,640.
– Speaking from memory,’ I think that the bill was recommitted and1 altered. There is now no limitation of the annual expenditure to £3,000.
– That is a mere detail. Two years ago the Minister thought that £3,000 should be the maximum cost, but in the last twelve mouths the board has cost £6,640, and the estimated expenditure for 1924-5 is £6,000. We have an illustration of the irony of fate in the fact that honorable senators who were- sa actively opposed to the board two years ago are the very instruments to-day by which this legislation is to be re-inflicted upon the community in a more undesirable form than before. Other honorable senators had strong views against the board’s appointment in 1921. Senator Drake-Brockman,. for instance, stated, in regard to the original bill -
It certainly will not survive if my vote can assist to reject it. . .
– In what way did he vote?
– I did not hunt up the records, but if my memory serves me rightly, the board would not have been appointed if Senator DrakeBrockman had had his way at; that time. He further said -
I entirely agree with Senator John D. Millen that we shall simply be re-creating the old, useless, and expensive Interstate Commission. The Tariff Board will be that body under another name. … If this unfortunate bill ever gets into committee - I trust it will not - … It now comes to us useless and emasculated, and’ is not worth the .paper it is printed on. . . . All - it. affects is additional expenditure. ‘. . . Are we going to ignore: that demand - the demand for economy - by incurring this stupid and wasteful expenditure? I strongly appeal to honorable senators to reject the ‘bill. . . ‘. I dislike government by regulation. . . . I do not like the proposed board, and shall certainly vote against it. … In my humble opinion, the greatest danger that at present exists is the- delegation of powers to extraneous boards.
I do not suppose that the honorable sena- tor’s appointment as Whip will have caused him to change his views. In view of the quoted statements of the Minister who introduced the bill in another place, of the Minister who introduced it in the
Senate, and also of the Government Whip, Senator Drake-Brockman, we are now entitled to ‘know why they .have changed their opinions. May we take it that the act is working so smoothly that they have reversed the views which they formerly held on this subject?
– One reason may be that two honorable senators have since received portfolios^
– The fact that these two honorable gentlemen have been taken into the Ministry and that Senator Drake-Brockman has been appointed Government Whip may, of course, influence them, but we are entitled to some explanation. Oan it be said that the work of the board has been performed so. satisfactorily that business men are now able to conduct their businesses more smoothly as the result of the operations of the board? We have to remember that the people best able to correctly estimate the value of the board to the community are they whose business dealings bring them in close contact with that body. Earlier in my remarks today I referred to statements made by certain business men,, as an indication of the views held by that section of the community. If I had kept a record of all the grievances of business men and importers concerning the transactions of the board, I could occupy the time of this chamber for several hours.
– Does not the honorable senator think that there’ would have been just as many complaints without the Tariff Board?
– The Minister, himself, supplied evidence in support of my contention. He said that, in July last, no less than 26 deputations waited upon the Tariff Board with requests for redress of grievances due to the incidence of the tariff, or with proposals which, in their opinion, would confer some benefit upon them in their business. Nothing could be more dangerous to the interests of the community generally than the creation of a board with authority to so alter the incidence of the tariff as to benefit or injur© commercial interests in Australia. The Minister shelters himself behind the statement that the board itself cannot alter the tariff; that it can only make recommendations to the Minister, who must accept full responsibility for any decision arrived at. Senator Wilson presented us with a picture of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) working hard from morning till night struggling with the affairs of his huge department, and keeping abreast of the demands of commercial interests in connexion with tariff matters. In the course of his administrative duties the Minister may issue an instruction to the board to inquire into’ and report upon certain requests. In view of the fact that the board is well trusted by the Government, how could the Minister, without an examination of all the evidence that may be placed before it, turn down its recommendations 1 ‘ His action, in such circumstances, would be like that of a judge who. refuses to accept the verdict of the jury, which hears and weighs the evidence, and comes to a decision upon it. Can it be said that the Minister has greater personal knowledge of tariff matters than is possessed by members of the* board after investigation of a definite request in relation to them?. If of his own volition the Minister turned down a recommendation of the board, all I can say is that he would be taking a responsibility greater than I should care to shoulder. It would be suggested that some outside influence had been at work to- cause him to come to a decision contrary to the recommendation of the board. I ‘ do- not think I can discuss this matter adequately without opening . up the whole tariff debate. We have been told that, in- July last, no less than 26 deputations waited upon the Tariff Board with requests in connexion with business interests that were affected by the tariff. Under the old’ system,’ business people with tariff grievances had to wait until Parliament passed the necessary remedial legislation. Now, all that is necessary is to approach the Tariff Board, and if business interests are being interfered with, present the case in a proper light and secure an alteration in the incidence of the tariff. Let me quote what I shall describe as an imaginary case as an illustration of what I mean. I refer to the carbide industry of Tasmania. During the war, when carbide was scarce in Australia, a certain company in Tasmania bought expensive machinery to engage in the manufacture of carbide for the Australian market. Whilst the -war lasted the company was successful, but when the war ended, and when cheaper carbide was placed on the Australian market, the Tasmanian concern found itself in difficulties. I. can imagine a company such as that approaching the Tariff Board and putting up a strong case for tariff protection, on the ground that cheap foreign carbide was being dumped on the Australian market. The board in such circumstances would give relief. The Tasmanian company received very sympathetic treatment. The Minister decided that importations, which must be limited to the Canadian product, should not exceed 500 tons a year. Carbide from- Norway and Sweden was excluded. All my life I have been a believer in the principle that the burden of taxation should bear evenly upon every unit in the community, and in connexion with the operations of the Tariff Board I am wondering where we are drifting.
– The honorable senator’s reference to the carbide industry was rather unfortunate, because that matter was dealt with before the appointment of the Tariff Board.
– I thought it might be, and, therefore, I took the precaution of saying that I was refering to the carbide industry as to an imaginary case to illustrate, my argument. However, I will satisfy myself on that point before this debate is finished, because I have a lively recollection of having placed certain questions on the business paper just about the time when the Tariff Board was appointed. I was prompted to make the inquiries by Messrs. Slade and Company, a Sydney firm, and, if my memory serves me aright, the Minister in charge of this bill supported me on that occasion. The Sydney firm to which I refer was in a position, at that time, to import carbide and to retail it at about £30 per ton, but in order that the Tasmanian industry should not be jeopardized, the Minister fixed the retail price at £39 per ton. We should know where we are going in -connexion with legislation of this nature. The representatives ‘of ‘one industry which happens to get the ear of the board should ‘not be in a position to reap special advantages from the incidence of the tariff.
– Every industry may approach the Tariff Board.
– Yes, but as there are thousands of industries in Australia, and only 31 days in the longest month of the year, it is not possible for members’, of the board, who are only human, to deal with every request that may be made. The Government seem to be proceeding in the wrong direction. After the experience of the last two or three years one would have thought that the board would be dispensed with, instead of being made a permanent’ body. Apparently, the views once expressed by certain honorable members who are now Ministers of the Crown are of little consequence.
– I do. not think that is fair.
– The Honorary Minister (Senator Wilson) and Senator Drake-Brockman should at least state why they have changed their opinions. I would be satisfied, to some extent, if the Minister would .accept one amendment which I. am prepared to submit, although I am opposed to the bill, lock, stock, and barrel. The measure is wrong in principle, and we should not enact it, particularly as the operations of the board interfere with trade. I am not suggesting that- the board has not been properly regulated and managed, but, as a result of its investigations, one set of business people are deriving benefits which are not’ available to others.
– I thought the board was appointed to assist in overcoming the difficulties experienced by commercial men.
– I am conversant with the opinions of many prominent business men in Sydney, and I venture to say that if . this bill were submitted to them, they would be unanimous in saying that it should be rejected, because, in consequence of its operations, many are at a distinct disadvantage. According to the statement of the Minister, 26 deputations waited upon the board during July, and if business were transacted on Sundays the number would doubtless be larger. Why is there this rush in pushing the bill through ? Is it because some one wishes to derive -some advantage? Business men do not wait upon Governments or boards unless it is with the intention of deriving some benefit.
– Deputations may have waited upon the board with the object of assuring the Government of their support.
– It might have been with the object of inducing the Government to include some provision in the bill which is not there. I always’ regard deputations to Ministers with a good deal of suspicion, because there is often a desire on the part of some to have legislation that is foreshadowed framed in a way that will suit them. My experience with this Government has been that replies to deputations are already in type before the Minister has even heard the arguments.
– That is unusual in my case, at any rate.
– I am pleased to know that such is the case. As’ a representative of a state far removed from the seat of government, it is impracticable, in most instances, for me to introduce deputations to Ministers in Melbourne. The people of New South Wales, however, are always called upon to find the money, and, having done so, must be satisfied. The arguments submitted by the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) when a member of this chamber, the Minister (Senator Wilson); and Senator Drake-Brockman still stand, and as the result of experience there is no valid reason why the board should continue its work. The Minister referred to the practice of dumping goods into Australia.
– Did I mention that ?
– Yes, the Minister referred to the fact that the Tariff Board deals, among other things, with the question of dumping. I have found it very difficult to ascertain where dumped .goods can be purchased. I understand that if cigars, for instance, are dumped, the board orders them to be burned. If they were well distributed and burned one at a time, perhaps no objection would be raised! If wine or beer is dumped into the Commonwealth, does the board order the bottles in which it is contained to be emptied? I do not know the exact procedure, but I should like a clause inserted in the bill providing that goods dumped into this country shall be given to the people who need them.
– There would be a number of applicants.
– Yes. If such a policy were adopted, the interests of producers and manufacturers would not be interfered with, and the goods dumped would be distributed amongst those who could best use them. It appears, however, that neither the board nor the Minister can ever find any dumped goods, or goods that are imported at an extraordinarily cheap rate.
– I have never seen any.
– Neither have I. They exist, I think, only in the minds of those who wish to prevent the importation of any goods. It would appear that this bill, which is to amend the Tariff Board Act in certain directions, and which has been introduced in this chamber by Senator Wilson and in another place by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), is one of the practical jokes of the Bruce-Page combination. I suppose the Minister .was asked to join the Cabinet because, after the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) and the Acting PostmasterGeneral (Senator Crawford) had been selected, he was the only honorable senator opposite who was capable of filling the position.
– I thought it was on account of the qualifications which the honorable senator said I possessed.
– I will give the Minister credit to that extent. Probably the Government had commenced to question the Minister’s loyalty to the Administration, and had some doubt as to whether he could be depended upon as a supporter. The Minister for Trade and Customs was also allotted a portfolio because, I suppose, of his outstanding ability. Probably the duty of introducing this bill in another place by the Minister for Trade and Customs and in this chamber by Senator Wilson was assigned to them as a test, and I can imagine the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) saying, “ If these Ministers will swallow this they will swallow anything.” They’ have swallowed it as easily as they would a sugar-coated pill. After all, we owe a duty to the people who sent us here, and it is our responsibility to ascertain the reason why men have so suddenly been converted. The public of Australia should know why these Ministers have now reversed the opinions which they held two or three years ago, and it is to be hoped that at least the Minister in charge of the bill in this chamber will give a candid and straightforward explanation, in order to create confidence in the minds of the public. If there is one question which is more serious than another, it is that which was raised in England some 50 years ago, when it was said that parliamentary government was on its trial. I venture to say that that trial is nearing its end, and if a verdict is not to be given that our parliamentary system has failed, drastic methods will have to be adopted.
– I am sorry that Senator Gardiner did not indicate the amendment which he said he proposed to move when speaking on ‘the second “reading of the bill. I gather from his - speech that he is opposed to the bill, but that if certain amendments are made he will not regard it as altogether objectionable. Personally, I am in accord with the principle of the measure, but with some of the details I do not agree. I think that the Tariff Board as an advisory body is a necessary and, indeed, a desirable adjunct to the administration of the Trade and Customs Department, but there are certain powers’ which are to be assumed by the board under this bill which I cannot support. For instance, the board is to be granted a sort of roving commission, and is to have the power to inquire into and adjudicate in certain directions to an extent which I am not prepared to support. It has authority to deal, not only with tariff matters, but also with questions affecting our primary and secondary industries. The board is entitled and authorized by this bill to inquire into various matters affecting such industries; and generally speaking its scope is very extensive. If the time of its members is already taken up in receiving deputations, as it apparently is on the figures quoted, it will have very little opportunity to deal with this additional work which is to be referred to it. I . should like to see some drastic amendment made in that direction; The provision relating to the publicity of the proceedings of the board is very necessary. It is the ^custom of the -department, at all events, to regard the tariff as a measure affecting only two sections. There is an old proverb to the effect that every question has two sides. That expresses only the minimum. Tariff matters have three sides, namely, that of the Government, the merchants, and the long-neglected consumers. The consumers, who are always the last to be considered, seldom take any interest, because they know so little concerning the procedure which leads up to the imposition of tariff duties. The publicity provisions of the bill will, I think, go a good way in the direction of stirring up healthy and wholesome interest in the subject, and will have a beneficial effect upon the administration of the Trade and Customs Department. I might also say that a new interest in life will be created. We are in the habit of alluding to the decadence in dramatic art and the way in which public taste is degenerating. This measure will, I think, stimulate public taste. Instead of people attending picture shows and such like entertainments they will now attend the proceedings of the Tariff Board. I can imagine the Tariff Board staging what one may term post-Shakesperian dramas, including one entitled Shylock Redivivus, in which the Jew of Venice will have abandoned his original idea of making much out of one, preferring rather to make a little out qf many.
– Who will be Portia?
– I have no suggestion to make in that respect. I can conceive this to be a play portraying the subsequent career of this Jew of Venice, laying before the public the manner in which, in the years that followed his defeat at the hands of Portia, by devious and divers devices he finally came to great affluence, and died a Christian manufacturer in the pleasant odor of sanctity and great wealth.
– Why a Christian manufacturer 1
– Up to date the operations of the Tariff Board appear to have been entirely in the direction of assisting the manufacturer. I can see his conversion coming as surely as those conversions that have already been alluded to in this chamber. Again, we may find the board putting on a play entitled “Much Ado About Nothing, Part II.” In many places that would be the most frequently-produced play.
– What about “ The Taming of the Shrew “1 The honorable senator surely would not pass that over?
– I know the very man for the part of Petruchio - the honorable senator who has just resumed his .seat - Senator Gardiner.
– He would make a better Petruchio than a Romeo.
– He is the Romeo who waits unceasingly, and, so far, unavailingly, for his Juliet, who is represented by an official position on this side of the Senate. He may, perhaps, attain his object. If he does, let us hope that the result will be as good as he thinks it will.
– It will be over a greater number of political corpses than Shakespeare introduced into any of his tragedies.
– The honorable senator is ruthless enough. May I be permitted to say, as I have said on a number of occasions, “A plague on both your houses “ ? To resume in a serious vein: These publicity regulations meet with my entire approval, but they do not go far enough. Apparently it has been expressly and explicitly decided that investigations made under the Industries Preservation Act are not to be included in the publicity provisions. At all events, it does not appear that publicity is to be afforded to those investigations. Speaking for a state for which the anti-dumping duties have had a very real significance, I enter a strong protest - so strong that, although I am prepared to support the motion for the second reading of the bill, if publicity is not to be given to the anti-dumping investigations, I shall feel very greatly inclined to vote against the motion for its third reading. The act expires in March next. I think it is a very good tiling that a matter of this kind should be brought forward as often as, within reason, is possible, in order that Parliament may express an opinion and adjudicate upon it. I should like to see embodied in this bill a provision fixing the’ duration of the act at three years. I hope such an amendment will be moved.
– That matter is in the hands of Parliament.
– I realize that it is. The honorable senator knows perfectly well, however, that the taking of the first step in a matter of this kind very often proves to be a deterrent. According to what Senator Gardiner has said, if the party which he so ably leads gets into power there will immediately be a tremendous slaughter of various acts. He has gone so far as to issue the warning that certain acts will be repealed.
– This will be one of the measures that will go by the board.
– It is likely that this board will be continued for inquiry into private business if we get into power.
– The scope of the measure will be greatly widened.
– Hear, hear !
– That is the view of one authority opposite. St. Simeon the lesser says that the .bill will go altogether.
– Yes, the whole of it.
– In what way will honorable senators arrange it among themselves?
– The whole of tho Customs duties will be taken off, and a straightout land tax will be imposed instead.
– Now I can see the bunch of carrots that is leading the honorable senator on. I should very much appreciate a reasonable, commonsense definition, by the Tariff Board of thu two words “ commercially made “ that we find continually recurring in tariff acts and in the explanations of those who are in favour of the imposition or the remission of certain duties. If the board will give that definition it will do a very great deal for the people of Australia. I have never been able to find out what limit there is to the application of those two words. Therein lies tho crux of the Tariff Board- Act, and of the Tariff Board’s administration. I feel very keenly the absolute necessity for publicity to be given to all inquiries that relate to the Industries Preservation Act. That, to me, is the’ most important part of this bill. Although I am prepared to vote for the motion for the second reading of the bill - believing in the principle of having a board of this character for departmental convenience, to inquire into tariff matters only - I also think that it is imperative that. the public should know more about the administration of the Industries Preservation Act. There is an old French saying that to know all is to pardon all. Perhaps that may be so. At all events, it would be a good thing for the public to know all, and for those who desire to do so to have the means of informing themselves upon parliamentary procedure- and the administration of acts of Parliament, about which they know very little, and in which their interest is less. If they had the opportunity to learn a little more, I believe that their interest would be keener; and if their interest were keener and their knowledge greater it would lead to the improvement of Parliament in every respect. “With the reservations I have mentioned I have pleasure in supporting the motion for the second reading of the bill.
– I intend to oppose the bill at every stage. I do not know whether or not it is a necessary part of our Customs legislation. Until quite recently it was not required. At one time, when Parliament had decided upon the penalties to be imposed on imported goods, the public knew what it was required to pay if it used any goods that were manufactured outside Australia. “ But apparently that practice has been superseded, and to-day, notwithstanding the fact that Parliament has come to a decision upon certain matters, no man is able to say what amount of penalty will be imposed upon any goods that are manufactured in low-wage, foreign, protectionist countries. That is deplorable.
– What about lowwage freetrade countries?
– The honorable senator is in favour of revenue being, raised through the Customs House. I do not come within that category. We can agree to differ upon that point because we agree upon so many other points. In view of the particularly mischievous character of this bill, it is my intention to move later, as an amendment to the motion, that the bill be . referred to a select committee for investigation and report. I understand that my Leader intends to move an amendment providing that all inquiries . by the Tariff Board shall be conducted in public. I cannot imagine anything so disreputable, so despicable, so contemptible, as the practice of men sitting behind closed doors, and quietly and deliberately ruining some of their fellow-citizens. That is what this board has done. It, of course, is not to blame; it has been created by this Parliament, and it is a part of the law of the land.. It has proved itself, not an interpreter of the tariff, as the Minister (Senator Wilson) has stated, but a body more powerful than this Parliament, in that it has been able to alter the tariff at its own sweet will. It has not only raised the tariff in many cases, but in instances too numerous to detail it has also allowed goods to come in free of duty for one day only. Just imagine a tariff that has been passed by this Parliament being so manipulated by a board - apparently with the full concurrence of Parliament - that goods can be allowed to enter Australia free of duty for one day only ! That could be achieved only by the miserable and contemptible underground wire-pulling that, to my mind, is inseparable from our so-called glorious policy of protection. It is discrimination in favour of one particular importer, and is unparalleled in the history of -British administration. I shall give to the Senate one example of the extraordinary nature of the decisions of this board. Last year, before the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) left for Great Britain, the Tariff Board resolved that Canadian Kraft wrapping paper” should pay a duty of £18 a ton in Queensland and £10 a ton in Sydney. Such action - was never contemplated by this Parliament. So far as I am able to judge, Parliament has always favoured the principle that the duty imposed at one port shall apply to all ports in the Commonwealth. If one port were made a free port it would be worth our while to live there. It is understood that the Prime Minister intervened, and told the Tariff Board “ not to be silly asses.” He also cancelled the board’s instructions. A month or so afterwards the board decreed that Kraft brown wrapping paper should pay a duty of £12 a ton in Brisbane, £10 in Sydney, £1.1 10s. in Melbourne, £12 10s. in Adelaide, and £15 in Perth. Hobart and the other commercial centres of ‘ Tasmania were, apparently, overlooked..
This ridiculous decision provoked such unanimous disapproval that, after a month or so, it was withdrawn. But, of course, the board is a live body of gentlemen, and a little later it decided that any Kraft wrapping paper landed in Australia at below £35 a ton c.i.f ., and duty paid, should pay a dumping duty of about £2 10s. a ton, bringing the total duty np to £12 10s. a ton. This dumping duty was payable if the paper cost ls. a ton below the minimum price, but if it cost ls. a ton above the minimum price, no dumping duty was paid. The result was that importers who were not keen buyers paid no dumping duty, and landed their goods in Sydney or other ports at a very much lower price than they would have paid if they had been keen buyers. It sounds like comic opera, but I can assure the Senate it is a simple statement of fact. Recently, the decision has been again altered, and I am not quite sure that the Minister for Trade and Customs himself could tell us what the decision ruling to-day is. Another most extraordinary action of the Tariff Board was to allow one person to import paper for the -manufacture of toilet rolls at 10 per cent, duty, or £2 a ton, while other manufacturers of toilet rolls were forced to pay £10 a ton. The result of this decision, which continued in operation for nearly two years, was that, to my certain knowledge, four Australian manufacturers of toilet rolls had practically to cease operations. I drew the attention of the Senate to this extraordinary state of affairs some little time ago, when I asked -
Is it a fact that, under instructions from the Tariff Board, paper in rous, for use in the manufacture of toilet paper, was classified under item 404 at 10 per cent, duty on the - 10th January, 1924, 26th February, 1924, 5th June, 1924, 12th June, 1924, for one day only on each occasion?
The reply I received was -
No. The Tariff Board has no power to give instructions as to classification of goods. The board can only report for the information and guidance of the Minister. On the approval of the Acting Minister . for Trade and Customs, paper in rolls, for the manufacture of toilet paper, was classified under item 404 for the dates mentioned.
Surely it must be evident to every one from this answer that the Customs tariff, as administered by the Tariff Board, operates most unfairly for some manufacturers. Here we have the case of a duty imposed by the Commonwealth ‘Parliament, and in operation for some time, being altered for one day only. It is all very well to deny that the board alters the tariff. As a matter of “fact, any recommendation by the board which is approved by the Minister does alter the tariff, increasing it or reducing it at the sweet will of the board. Let us imagine the effect of an alteration of the tariff for one day only. If we were informed, that just for one day only motor cars could be imported free of duty, there would be such a rush to land motor cars at every port of the Commonwealth on that day that every one in the Commonwealth anxious to buy a car would be able to secure one for at least £50, and probably £100, less than a car costs to-day. If we could be informed authoritatively that on a certain date whisky and brandy could be imported free of duty, a supply of these commodities would be landed on that date sufficient to last the Commonwealth for a long time. The reply to my question is recorded in Hansard on page .3294, and clearly, indicates that the hoard does interfere directly and -indirectly with the tariff, to the detriment of a number of worthy citizens. Could, there be anything more unfair or undemocratic than for a board’ to sit in private and take deliberate steps to ruin some men in order to benefit a few others ? Yet that is precisely what tho Tariff Board is doing.
– The honorable senator does not give the board credit for meeting to save people from being ruined.
– I do not. People who are willing to do the right thing do not- meet behind locked doors, as the Tariff Board does. All who are ready to do the right thing to their fellowcitizens are prepared to have their proceedings recorded. Whatever we say in Parliament is faithfully recorded in Hansard for the general information of the whole of the public.
– Then how dreadful it is for the honorable senator to meet in caucus !
– It might be an advantage for all caucuses to be abolished, but while the party to which I have the honour to belong holds its caucus meetings, and freely admits the fact, its opponents do the same thing, but will not admit it. I cannot, imagine anything more distasteful in a civilized community than that certain men should be clothed with the power to meet in private, and deliberately proceed to ruin some of their fellow -citizens. No body of men would meet in private to transact public business unless it was doing something of which it was ashamed or which it knew would not withstand public criticism. If for no other reason than that the bill will make it possible for the Tariff Board to meet in private, I shall oppose it. Clause 3 certainly provides that inquiries by the board relating to any revision of the tariff, proposal for a bounty, proposal for improving the conditions of any primary or secondary industry,, or any complaints made under paragraph li of sub-section 1 of section 15, shall be held in public, but those matters are not the bone of contention. The Government have inserted this provision in the bill merely to cloud the issue. The main function of the board is to deal, not with the matters covered by clause 3, but with questions arising out of the administration of the Industries’ Preservation Act. . Why did not the .Minister tell us that matters arising out of the administration of the Industries Preservation Act may be investigated in camera ? Clause 3 was evidently inserted to engage the attention of Parliament, while at the same time the real purpose of the bill is to secure the continuance of the Tariff Board for an indefinite period. I should like to know if the Minister has in his possession a memorandum by the Associated Chambers of Commerce, Adelaide, which gives instances, even more glaring than those I have detailed, of how the Tariff Board has detrimentally affected quite a large number of trades. I have been repeatedly interviewed by business men, and I have received many communications from others, with regard to the provisions of the infamous Tariff Act. To-day I have received communications from the Associated Chambers of. Commerce, Adelaide, the New South Wales Paper Bag Manufac turers, and the New South Wales Master Printers and Connected Trades Association. Those bodies are all keenly interested in this bill, and their opinions should carry some weight. The New South Wales Paper Bag Manufacturers submit that all inquiries by the Tariff Board should be held in public, particularly those arising out of the administration of the Industries Preservation Act, that all witnesses should be subject to cross-examination by interested parties, and that the new board should consist of one man only, the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, who is likely to possess universal confidence. The association further points out that the Tariff Board consists of Victorians only. Surely a request from organizations of this character that witnesses should be subjected to cross-examination ought to appeal to. every one. Who could support a miserable contraption of this kind, holding its meetings with closed doors, and quietly ruining some . business men to the advantage of others? If business people are to be handicapped at every stage by the, operations of. this board, they demand the right to cross-examine witnesses. Surely there is nothing unreasonable in the request, but there is no such provision as that in the bill. The Government wishes to give the board a further lease of life, and allow it to continue to harass the interests of this country. As- long as the present board exists it will continue the mischievous work it has been doing. It is engaged in underhand work, due to judicious wire-pulling behind the scenes. But it is ashamed of what it is doing, for it dares not open its meetings to the public.
– Does the honorable senator consider that a fair statement to make concerning . a body of reputable gentlemen ?
– The board is doing work of a most reprehensible character.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - Order!
– le that too strong a statement to be allowed?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Such language is not calculated to add to the dignity of parliamentary procedure.
– I have no desire to be offensive, but I think that it is reprehensible for a board to hold meetings in secret, and injure persons engaged in business. I also draw attention to the fact that the personnel of the board is entirely Victorian. Probably the board is none the worse for that, but it would be more in keeping with the federal spirit if gentlemen from other states were also included. Another unfortunate aspect is that one of the members, Mr. Herbert Brookes, was, prior to his appointment, chairman of directors of the Australasian Paper and Pulp Company Limited, and to-day two of his brothers, Messrs. Norman and Harold Brookes, are directors of that company.I understand also that Mr. Corney, the managing director of the company, is a brotherinlaw of Mr. Brookes. While honorable senators know that Mr. Brookes is a gentleman of the highest honour, the public cannot be expected to know it. These facts have put the board in an invidious position, especially when it is known that the Australasian Paper and Pulp Company has been most persistent in securing prohibitive duties on goods similar to those it manufactures. For instance, the duty on strawboardwas, after a long and thorough debate, fixed in another place at £3 10s. a ton, which the then Minister for Trade and Customs suggested was equal to 35 per cent. Notwithstanding that fact, the board has recently imposed a dumping duty on strawboard, and has increased the total duty to about £5 a ton. What is the use of denying that the board does, in effect, alter duties? After thorough investigation, the duty on Kraft brown paper was fixed at £10 a ton, equivalent to 40 or 50 per cent. ad valorem, but the board has increased the duty by about £2 10s. a ton. It makes a recommendation to the Minister, who, if he is a good protectionist, as the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) is, automatically agrees to the proposal, and up goes the duty. Another, feature of the board’s methods is that its victims have not been allowed to lay before it their objections to increased duties, although other witnesses have been allowed to present their case in camera, without crossexamination. I particularly refer to inquiries under the Industries Preservation Act.
Most arbitrary decisions have been given by the board as to the cost of goods overseas, while the firms who use the goods in the process of manufacture in Australia have had no opportunity to give evidence showing the board’s decisions to be incorrect. Ifthe Senate, in its wisdom, decides in favour of the re-appointment of the Tariff Board, I think it would be a great improvement to have a board consisting of one man, say, Mr. Hudson, of the Customs Department in Melbourne, or Mr. Barkley, the Collector of Customs in Sydney, either of whom would fill the bill admirably. Those gentlemen are entirely dissociated from any manufacturing business, and they enjoy the. entire confidence of the community. I realizethat they would have a most difficult task to perform, but, by reason of their position, they are much more capable of discharging the duties than the present board. The inquiries should be held in public, and the evidence taken, not behind closed doors as at the present time, but publicly and on oath. Every opportunity should be given to those seeking tariff benefits to put their case, the witnesses, of course, to be subject to cross-examination. I should like the Customs Act to be so worded that anybody could see at a glance what duty had to be paid. I understand that it has been suggested by the present Minister for Trade and Customs that, unlike previous Ministers, he will not approve of all the recommendations of the board. If that is to be his policy, what, I ask, is the use of appointing a board ? If, after it has made careful inquiry, the Minister intends to use his own judgment in any particular matter, the board will be quite unnecessary. I intend to move at a later stage that the bill be referred to a select committee for the purpose of evidence being taken regarding the outrages perpetrated by the present board during the last two or three years. I am sure that if that course were adopted, the Senate would never consent to the passage of this measure. All those seeking special favours under the Industries Preservation Act should be required to make their statements in public, so that they would be subjected to the scrutiny of the public press. If that course were adopted, it would put an end to the practices of those people who now go before the board in secret and secure unfair advantages. The present board has brought the commercial life of Australia completely into disrepute, and I am surprised that its operations have not aroused more widespread protests than they have. I do not suggest that any of its actions have been corrupt, but they have certainly been beyond the comprehension of ordinary citizens. One can only come to the conclusion that, in many cases, somebody has been makins; money that could not have been made if the inquiries had been held in public. I have before me a copy of the report of the twentieth annual meeting of the Associated ‘Chambers of Commerce of Australia held at Adelaide. That - conference agreed to the following resolution : -
That in view of the embarrassment to trade resulting from its operations in the opinion of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, the life of the Tariff Board should not be extended beyond the time fixed by the present act.
We have been told that this Government is in favour of encouraging the development of Australian industries, ‘ and yet these -men who conduct commercial operations in Australia declare that the board should not be allowed to continue its operations. A further resolution was to the following effect : -
That this conference is of opinion that the operations of the Tariff Board whilst in existence are so conducted as to preclude any adequate consideration of the interests of importers, and considers that all official inquiries into matters concerning the tariff should be open to representatives of the importing interests.
Those people want daylight thrown upon the operations of the board. Why is there objection to this course? Obviously it is because those who are responsible for the board’s recommendations are doing something which will not stand scrutiny; - something in the nature of an injury to others of their fellow-citizens, and probably at the same time conferring a benefit upon a limited number of business people. That is my view of the” protectionist policy.
– Is it not believed that this secrecy is considered necessary in the interests of the business people themselves ?
– ‘Secrecy should hot be tolerated, especially when the interests of the general public are concerned. Certainly secrecy is not desirable when importers present requests for assistance in their business. It is equally undesirable that evidence should be taken behind closed doors when manufacturers approach the Tariff Board with the object of inducing that body to make a recommendation which the Minister is likely to adopt for the imposition of duties. If these people are doing the right thing they haves nothing to be afraid of, and there is no reason why the sittings of the board should not be held in public. . I move as an amendment -
That all the words after “ That “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ the bill be referred to a select committee for inquiry and report, with power to send for persons and papers, and to move from place to place.”
If this amendment is carried, and if an inquiry is held as suggested, the Senate will be better informed as to the operations of the Tariff Board,’ and will be able to come to a sound decision on this question. I have no desire to injure any persons engaged in the commercial life of this country, but I strongly resent the exercise of authority by the Tariff Board, or of any other outside body appointed under an Act of Parliament, to confer benefits upon a section of the people at the expense of others.
– I can see no good purpose in the amendment, and I hope it will be rejected. Honorable senators are fully conversant with the opera, tions of the Tariff Board. The adoption of the amendment would make the administration of the Customs tariff the laughing stock of the community.
– Whilst I agree with a good deal of what Senator Grant said, I can hardly endorse the extravagant language he employed in. his references to the work of the Tariff Board. I am sure that in his’ calmer moments the honorable senator himself would not care to impute unworthy motives to members of that body. . In this bill we are asked to renew the life of the Tariff Board, which, in the ordinary course of events, would be brought to an end in March of next year. When the measure was being debated in another place three years ago the responsible Minister declared that it . was purely experimental, and that it was introduced in the hope that the board would be able to give a proper interpretation of tariff legislation, and assist in the development of Australian industries. When the bill came before the Senate for endorsement, this Chamber, in its wisdom, sought to put some limit to the life of the board, and it succeeded in carrying an amendment providing that the legislation should continue for two years, and no longer. It also sought to place a limit upon, the expenditure of the board. I am sorry to say that another place looked upon this ‘ proposal with an unfriendly eye, with the result that the board, instead of being limited in 1 the amount of expenditure which it may incur, has practically a free hand. I am aware that I am not entitled to express an opinion upon the legislative actions of another place, but I am at liberty to state my view3 concerning what is done in the Senate.
The Senate was perfectly “justified in fixing a limit to the expenditure incurred by the board. The reasons then advanced were, I believe, based on sound principles. The Senate’s amendment was to the effect that, since this was experimental legislation, the continuance of the life of the board must depend upon circumstances, and, as I have stated, the Senate’s amendment limiting the duration of the legislation to two years, and no longer, was accepted by another place. Subsequently a proposal to extend the life of the ‘board for a further twelve months was adopted, and in the ordinary course of events this act will expire by effluxion of time” in March next. Notwithstanding these two deliberatelyrecorded decisions, we are now asked to approach the question from the standpoint that experience warrants us in saying that this law should not be limited to two, three, or four years, but should be made permanent, and that the board should also be a permanent body. I do not think there is any necessity to come to such a decision. On the contrary, I believe that our experience is not of such a character to justify us in making this measure a permanent part of our legislation. By a permanent portion of our legislation I do not mean that it can remain in force for all time, because, while the people have the power of electing par liaments, succeeding governments will, of course, still retain the right to repeal any acts passed by previous administrations. Although we’ are asked to place the board on a permanent basis, it simply means that the legislation is not- to be limited in period of time, and that the board, until Parliament otherwise provides, shall have an unlimited career. I do not intend to’ accord my support to such a” proposal, and I shall be pleased later, when Senator Grant’s amendment has been dealt with, to move that the bill shall be operative for a period of two years from. March next.
If we were disposed to regard this proposition in the severe light in which it is viewed by some, we should be inclined to support the Acting Leader of the Opposition in another place (Mr. Anstey), who said that he would like to see the measure placed in the waste-paper basket, where it should remain for all time. I believe, however, that we need some authority to interpret our tariff legislation. If some such body is not operating, we shall have to fall back on the old expedient, which has stood the test of time, but under vastly different circumstances, and depend upon departmental officers to tender expert advice for the guidance df the Ministers of Trade and Customs. We have passed from that stage. America and Canada have in principle interpreting agencies which advise Ministers, apart. altogether from the advice received from the technical officers of the department, and this measure has, I believe, been largely copied from those in operation in the countries mentioned, and which have been administered with a tolerable amount of public advantage.
I have a somewhat shaky faith in the efficacy of this measure, owing to the extraordinarily erratic decisions reached by the Tariff Board. Side by side with such decisions, I object to the marked degree in which a pronounced protectionist complexion is - given to too many decisions of the hoard. Although I cannot submit any substantial -proof of this assertion,, I am guided and influenced by the fact that such decisions are made, and that they have a very important bearing upon the- industrial life of the country. We do not know what has happened behind closed doors. We do not know how an importer or manufacturer explains his case, but we have it on record on the unimpeachable authority of the board itself that the evidence of one manufacturer of wire netting was ,so unreliable that it had to be totally disregarded. Australia has departed from the practice of other protectionist countries which have built up their protective policies by degrees. The United States of America and Canada are examples, as in both those countries the tariff walls have been slowly constructed, and, during the process, such a solid industrial system has been established that they are not only effectively resisting all forms of external competition, but are able also to dispose of many of their products in overseas markets. That could be done in this country, but the policy of protection has been forced upon the people too suddenly. Instead of slowly increasing our protective duties from 20 per cent, and 25 per cent., we have in most instances increased the rates to an unnecessarily high degree. It is practically impossible, in a sense, to compel the people to turn from one direction and to proceed in another without a certain amount of rebellion. Tn consequence of the application, of unwarranted and excessive protective duties, there has been a great outcry from nearly every section of the community. As evidence has been given only by those engaged in manufacturing and importing, it is safe to assume that the Tariff Board has not acquitted itself quite as it should in the public interests. I do not wish to reflect in any way upon the members of the board. I believe I know only the chairman, and I would not think of saying that he or the other members of the board have at any time done ‘anything contrary to what they conscientiously believed to be right. I realize their difficult position. I blame the system under which the board is operating, and particularly that feature which provides that secrecy has to be observed. Nothing has a greater purifying effect than publicity,- particularly in matters of administration. If a person is endeavouring to gain some undue “advantage, and the full beam and flood of publicity is turned upon him’, he will naturally shrink from attempting to do that which is unjust.
I have already briefly referred to the erratic and peculiar decisions given not only by the board but also under the mini- sterial policy which was in force prior to the appointment of the board. _ For the information of the Senate I shall quote one or two instances to show how impossibleit is for the business of the country to besuccessfully conducted unless there is a. semblance of continuity in policy. At a meeting of the Chambers of Commerce in. Adelaide, Mr. W. J. Newbigin, of Sydney, stated -
The other day I told my shipping clerk toprepare a list showing variations in the tariff” covering a certain period with respect to particular items. He nearly wept when I gave him his instructions. On looking at the list for the week ending 15th September, 1923, I am. pleased to note that the Minister only changed, his mind, or that of his predecessor, 34 timesduring the preceding seven days.
Although I do’ not know Mr. Newbigin, ‘ I should imagine that he would not makesuch a statement unless it could beproved. He went on to say -
I shall deal now with the tariff affecting steam turbines. On 25th March, 1920, therates were 27$ per cent, and 40 per cent. On 28th August, 1920, they were free and 10 per cent. On 20th February, 1922, up to and including 055 h.p., the rates were 27$ per cent, and 40 per cent., while for over 655 h.p., they were free and 10 per cent. On 4th September, 1922, the rates were 27-J per cent, and 40 per cent.
Five different decisions were given in regard to this particular item. He proceeded -
Here are a few details in connexion, with the tariff on steam shovels. On 1st September, 1921, the rates were 27$ per cent, and 40 per cent. On 2nd September of the same year, they were altered to free and 10 per cent. On 14th May, 1923, they were the same, but on 19th July, 1923, they were altered to 27$ per cent, and 40 per cent.
I do not blame the board for all these extraordinarily sudden changes in policy, be- cause, as the dates will show, the board was not then in existence. I have, however, quoted sufficient to show how difficult it is for business, particularly on the industrial side, to be successfully conducted when decisions are so frequently and erratically made. As I have already stated, many of the decisions of the board have, a pronounced protectionist flavour. It is true that the board is charged with the responsibility of correctly expounding the principles of the act, but it is not entitled to strain the provisions of the statute in order to give a strongly- tinged fiscal colouring, flavour, or essence’ to its decisions. Although the board has been given authority to inquire into the action of any manufacturer who takes advantage of his position under the tariff, there is. no case on record where a manufacturer has been so charged. The straining of the law in- order to give certain industries a totally unnecessary measure of protection has had a very injurious effect. There is not, in Australia, any established ratio, any logical nexus, so to speak, between the value of the products that are extracted from the soil and marketed here and overseas and the value of the products that arc manufactured by our secondary industries.
I have gone into the question of wheatgrowing, about which I know something. I find that the average export price for wheat in the five years that preceded the war was 3s. lOd. a bushel. The price at which I sold wheat this year was 4s. Id. a bushel at the railway siding. That price, under f.o.b. conditions, would represent a little less than 5s a bushel. The difference between the average price for a bushel of wheat during the five years that preceded the war and the average price received at the beginning of this season was less than 80 per cent. I am. not considering, for the moment, the rise in value that was caused by the shortage of the crop in Canada at the present moment and the happenings in the Argentine. They were fortuitous circumstances which favoured the wheat-grower here. At the beginning of this season, and during last season, the export value was about one-third greater than it was in the five years that preceded the wai’. On the other hand, prices of the commodities required by a farmer who grows wheat have not been confined to a one-third increase. I believe I am safe in saying that the prices of those commodities increased by anything from 50 per cent, to 100 per cent. The inevitable result will be that thora who are now growing wheat will give up their holdings and return to the cities, intensifying the competition for employment there, and making still more acute the problem of unemployment. The position is. very much the same in regard to butter and fruit. No proper ratio is maintained between the prices of the products of the soil - with the exception of wool - and the prices charged for the requirements of those who work the land. While on the one hand the increase has been slight, on the other hand it has been great. The necessity to strike a balance has been thrown upon the men who till the soil; they have had to work harder and longer, and the extra amount necessary to offset the greater increase in the prices of the commodities they purchase has been obtained only by making greater calls upon their bone and sinew.
The Tariff Board has to some extent been responsible for existing conditions. Until it evinces a desire to give more .satisfaction to the people of this country^ its tenure of office, and that of the law under which it operates, should be restricted to as short a time as possible. The actions of the board and of the department are past understanding. For instance, action has been taken by the department, and gazettal of that action has been withheld for upwards of three years. I can quote a number of instances in which the practice has been adopted of gazetting a value long after it has commenced to operate. There is in that practice no semblance or suspicion of anything in the nature of orderly business. The Commonwealth Gazette of the 7th February, 1924, published a by-law lifting the duty on woodworking machinery. That by-law had operated from the 25th July to the 26th July, 1921. On the 28th June, 1923, numerous by-laws were gazetted, operating for one day only, those dates being a considerable time before the date of gazettal. In one case the by-law published on the 28th June, 1923, operated from the 28th June, 1920 - three years previously - and ceased to. operate on the 20th June, 1921. The administration of the tariff laws has been reduced to an absolute farce. A man wants to know the position in which he stands. Surely there should be some pretence to- order and system in the administration of our laws! What justification was there for lifting the duty on wood-working machinery for one day only? I do not say that any person gained an advantage from that action, but, at the same time, it is distinctly suspicious. On more than one occasion a duty has been lifted for one dayonly. These actions of the board warrant me in saying that until it furnishes substantial evidence that it realizes its sense of responsibility in administering the tariff laws, we are not entitled to give it a lease in perpetuity. Under the Tariff Act of the United States of America, alterations to classification ox rates of duty Lave first to be investigated by the Tariff Commission, and then be proclaimed by the president ; and. they do not become operative until the expiration of 30 days after that proclamation. That is exactly the reverse of what happens in Australia. Decisions that have been arrived at one, two, and three years prior to their gazettal have been clothed with all the validity of the law merely by the issue, of a Gazette notice. Under the practice observed in the United States of America, those who have dealings with a very important department like the Customs Department know exactly where they stand, and are assured that they will not be saddled with an extra impost on goods that have been obtained one, two, and three years previously.
A standard has been set up by the Minister, and by the Tariff Board, for estimating the wholesale manufacturing price in Australia, for comparison with the prices of goods introduced into this country. That practice is in operation to-day, and it has been used, not only by the Tariff Board, but also by the Minister. Where is the authority for it? I have gone through both the Tariff Act and the Australian Industries Preservation Act, and the only reference to it that I have been able to find is that which relates to countries whose currency has decreased to the extent of 12 per cent. Unfortunately, the practice has been applied to goods that come from other countries, even to imports from England. - According to a Gazette notice of the 24th January, 1924, that standard was applied to merchant bars from the United Kingdom. It was applied also to Indian pig iron, and to linseed oil from the United Kingdom, according to the Commonwealth Gazette of the 8th May, 1924. There is no suggestion that England’s currency has dropped to a level that would warrant the application of this standard to imports from that country. Its currency bias never been called in question, yet this false and unwarranted standard has been applied to its goods, thus crippling the industries that were in need of those goods. The imposition of a dumping duty on cement was one of the most amusing actions taken under the act. A shipment of cement was brought to Australia. It had been sold at a good price. It was .thought, however, that the freight was lowered to
Senator Lynch. such an extent that the producers of this country were at a disadvantage. This shipment of cement was coming to Australia by the Commonwealth Government line of steamers, which had reduced the rate of freight by 6d. a cask. But the Tariff Board immediately placed a dumping duty of 6d. a cask on that cement, in the fatuous hope of protecting the cement industries in Australia, notwithstanding the fact that the people engaged in the manufacture, of cement in New South Wales had over and over again told those who made inquiries that they were not in a position to put sufficient cement on the market to supply local requirements. The action of the Tariff Board was so ludicrous that it had to abandon the stand it took up and remove the dumping duty. The imposition of a dumping duty on wire netting was the most extraordinary of all the. actions of the Tariff Board, and reflected no credit on either the board or the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Sir Austin Chapman). Parliament had already granted “a very ample bounty to the’ Australian producers of’ wire netting, but immediately it was discovered that persons who required wire netting could bring it out from Great Britain, and were proceeding to do so, a dumping duty was placed upon it. Every one knows that this netting is employed to open up the interior. Every one knows that it is particularly required to protect people on the land from the perennial pests that attack them from all points of the compass. If it could be landed at a reasonable cost without the application of a dumping duty, it would certainly be the means of employing in Western Australia alone far more men than are employed in all the wire-netting factories of Australia. Thousands, of miles of netting would be erected to-morrow if it could be secured at a reasonable cost. I do not propose to put out of employment the men who are now engaged in manufacturing wire netting in Australia, but I would put them on an even mark so far as the other workers are concerned. I would allow them to enjoy the bounty they now receive; but I would not give them an additional advantage by means of an antidumping duty to the disadvantage of other workers who would otherwise be employed in the work of fencing areas now unprotected from pests. I understand that an effort has been made to ascertain what quantity of wire netting is used in Great Britain. The Western Australian Government has made inquiries in this direction through its agentgeneral in London, and has ascertained that the proportion of wire netting made in Great Britain and sold locally forms but a fractional part of the whole, and that the bulk of it is exported. Mr. W. H. Swanton, of Melbourne, speaking at the meeting of the Associated Chambers of Commerce held in Adelaide, said -
The average-size parcel sold in the United Kingdom for -home consumption is six rolls. The average shipment to Australia represents 30 miles, and some orders frequently amount to 200 miles. Enough said on that point.
I should think enough had been said on the point. It has been stated in this Parliament that wire netting is used extensively in Great Britain for reinforcing purposes. Surely if that be the’ case, larger orders would be given than six rolls at a time. There is one aspect of the wire-netting business I wish to bring under the notice of honorable senators. Among the manufacturers of this vital necessity for the development of Australia there is an understanding or “a gentleman’s agreement “ to the effect that they are not to supply people who they think are working against their interests; that is to say, people engaged in the business of selling imported wire netting for the people in the interior. Lysaght Brothers and MacDougall will not supply persons who are importing wire netting, a fact which we ought to keep in mind when we are considering the reappointment of a Tariff Board. A well-known Melbourne firm, whose name 1 have not the permission to give, communicated with Sir Joseph Cook, .the High Commissioner, and he replied, on the 2nd August last, to the effect that wire netting could be supplied to importers in Australia at the same price, and in the same volume, as it could be supplied to any local user in Great Britain. A littlelater, this firm was informed that the Australian prices, f.o.b., for galvanized wire netting were, approximately, 14 per cent, more -than for New Zealand, and that, in the absence of a dumping duty, they would be the same. Lysaght’s and MacDougall’s have been putting their heads together to very good purpose in their own interests, and when they combine, it necessarily follows that the local manufacturer’s price becomes a standard, to be applied to imported netting. At any rate, that was the standard which was adopted by the Tariff Board and the Minister for Trade and Customs, and their only warrant for so doing was the law relating to the importation of articles from a country with a depreciated currency, which, of course, could not apply in the case of wire notting which had como from Great Britain. Various communications which passed between a Queensland firm of merchants and the Tariff Board may have already found a place in the records of Parliament, but they are worthy of repeating, if only for the lesson, they teach. We find two persons who are making wire netting putting their heads together, and refusing to supply this firm. They may not have actually done anything in regard to the fixing of prices, but I believe I am safe in saying that the prices each charges are identical. At all events, in this case, they certainly combined- to. refuse to supply this firm, which is an importer of wire netting.
– Was there not a very good reason for that?.
– I shall give the reason which applied in this case. The Queensland Pastoral Supplies Company, which Senator Thompson seems to know something about, in the course of its business, required large quantities of wire netting for ite clients in the interior, and it was dealing, not only in imported wire netting, but also in locally manufactured wire netting, if it could be obtained. In a letter to the Acting Comptroller of Customs, written by the firm on the 10th June, 1924, this passage occurs -
We wish to .advise that we have in our possession letters from Lysaght Brothers Limited, stating that they could not supply us, and, further, we can bring evidence to bear that Lysaghts would not supply orders we had given to Brisbane houses, when they found out that the netting was intended ultimately for us. So their statement is not correct.
If we had anything in the shape of effective anti-trust legislation, these gentlemen who refused to supply wire netting to this particular firm would be made to answer for doing something in restraint of trade.
Sitting suspended from 6.80 to 8 p.m.
– I was pointing out the practice in the industrial life of this country under which certain manufacturing firms combine and refuse to supply their goods to the business people who are distributing such wares. The effect of that must be that the latter will also take a hand in fixing’ prices at the same level. In many of the manufacturing industries the prices ‘ coincide so monotonously that it is quite an extraordinary thing to find a variation. Take fertilizers, for instance. All the manufacturers charged the same price until the farmers themselves launched co-operative and competitive enterprises, and now the producers are able to buy an article of their own manufacture at a much more reasonable rate than obtained when the other manufacturers were supposed to be working in competition. That is the position in Queensland. First of all, there was a standard employed by the Customs Department for assessing the duty under the Anti-dumping Act, and that standard was the manufactured price in Australia. But one sees the fallacy of such a standard when real competition does not exist. I have before me a letter from the Queensland Pastoral Supplies Limited, dated the 25th July, 1924,, containing the following statements : -
There appeared in the Sydney Sun on Friday, the. 11th inst., an extract of parliamentary debates regarding wire netting. Evidently this was a mistake, as we replied to the Sun, but they would not publish our reply….. We feel sure that you will agree that the reasons given by Bylands Limited for not supplying us was a quibble, and that their real reason was because we will not join the Brisbane Merchants’ Wire Netting Convention, and advance our price to the level of others. . . . We were unable to wait any longer for the exemption, so we have been compelled to import, as several of our pastoralists were in urgent need of the netting; but, should any dumping duty be imposed, we will naturally claim exemption on arrival, which, we feel sure, you will, under the circumstances, permit. We have ordered approximately 100 miles of wire netting, and we will have to keep indenting, because the Australian manufacturers will not supply us.
– It is not quite” fair to use the letter in that way. One requires to hear both sides of the case.
– The company has been accused of working against the interests of the local wire-netting manufacturers, and its reply is that it referred to a type of barbed wire manufactured in Brisbane which did not suit its re quirements. It stated that it could not recommend this article on account of its faulty construction. I also have before me a letter from Lysaght Brothers and Company Limited, addressed to the Queensland Pastoral Supplies Limited, and it includes the following paragraph:
Whilst the information they appear to have given you is substantially correct, we, of course, reserve to ourselves the right of conducting our business as we see fit, and at present are not disposed to distribute through houses who run imported netting in competition with the Australian-made material.
That substantiates the charge that the only two wire-netting manufacturers in the ../—I….. …….. have combined in what, if we had a reasonable law on the subject, would be a most illegal way, and they are thereby hampering the trade and interior development of Australia. ‘
The practice of dealing with our imports under the anti-dumping law will soon, if it has not already done so, prove to be a two-edged sword. It is clear that we are disposing of our surplus products under precisely the same conditions as those to which we object when similar methods are employed by other countries. From recent inquiries I find that, although we are about to export some 50,000 tons of sugar, in the hope of disposing of it at some profit overseas, the position is that sugar is now quoted at £25 a ton in bond on the London market. On top of that there is a duty of £11, making, in all, £36 a ton. ‘
– There is a preference on dominion sugar to the extent of about £2 a ton.
– The freight, commission, and insurance amounts to about. £2. 10s. or £3 a ton, I understand, so that it is quite clear that by the time the commodity is placed on board ship it will cost about £22 a ton. This article is sold to the Australian consumers at £37 odd a ton.
– Do we not deserve it?
– We deserve it for our folly.
– The honorable senator is quoting, the price of refined sugar against the price of the raw article.
– The price of refined sugar under the agreement with the Federal Government is about £37 a ton in every capital city of the Common- wealth, but the same sugar that will have to compete in. the markets overseas will have to be put on board ship at £22 a ton. If that is not dumping, what is it? If the people in the Old Country see their interests cut into to the extent of 50,000 tons,- they will naturally say, “ You must not dump your surplus products here. We shall use against you the same measures that you are using against our wire netting, and then you will be brought to your senses.” The present policy of Australia is becoming a boomerang one. We have decided to give an export bounty of 6s. a gallon on surplus wine stocks to enable the holders of this wine to dispose of it profitably on the overseas markets. This is an anti-dumping measure against the producers overseas, just as much as the measures taken in regard to wire netting, and the chickens will come home to roost. The dried fruits industry is also to receive an export bounty. Just as surely as night follows day, the raising .of such artificial hamers to trade will prove, in the long run, to be a disastrous policy. The manufacturers in Australia have had a wonderfully good time in the past, sheltered as they have been by the tariff, although the primary producers have enjoyed no such assistance, but have had to dispose of their products on the open markets of the world. A commission was appointed recently” in New South Wales to inquire into the condition of the rural industries in that state. It has pointed, out that rural population in that state has shrunk by one-half, and the urban population has doubled in the space of 50 years.
– Is that not due to the improved methods of production? Is it not a fact that in some districts, whilst the population has decreased by 20 per cent., the local primary production has increased by 50 per cent.
– There should be no reason for such a falling off in a young country like Australia. The tendency to-day is for the people to drift to the cities. When I first came to this country I was given to understand that, if I wanted to make the most headway, I should go as far into the back country as possible, but today the further back one goes the worse one’s position becomes. ‘ The Tariff Board has much to do with the altered balance of population between city and country areas. This anti-dumping legislation known as the Industries Preservation Act will surely react upon Australian industries. ‘ I should not be surprised if the British Government imposed antidumping duties upon our sugar. When the measure is in committee I propose to submit an amendment limiting the duration of the act to two years and no longer.
– There is a tendency in this debate to discuss the economic side of the question, but it seems to me that the bill is a purely machinery measure, and I therefore propose to deal with it from that point of view. So long as Australia is pledged to protection it will be necessary to have some body, such as the Tariff Board, to advise the Minister. It would be impossible for the Minister unaided to deal with all the matters that arise under the tariff. Prior to the appointment of the Tariff Board a junior officer of the department would frequently be instructed to get information bearing on questions that had arisen, and the -result was not at all satisfactory. I venture to say that there is no better means of dealing with tariff variations and questions that arise under the Industries Preservation Act than that of a Tariff Board. The decisions of that body have not always been satisfactory j indeed, there has been a great deal of dissatisfaction, but we must bear in mind that frequently we hear only one side of the story. On several occasions I have brought before the Minister decisions of the board- which I thought were entirely wrong, but the board was able to show that I had been misinformed, and invariably I have accepted its decision. We have had an instance of ex parte statements to-night. Senator Lynch referred to the position of the Queensland Pastoral Supplies Limited in connexion with Lysaght’s, Newcastle. I have heard a different version of that story. It appears that the Queensland Pastoral Supplies Limited recommended their customers not to buy articles manufactured by Lysaght’s on the ground that they were not so good as the imported article. No selfrespecting manufacturing firm could be expected to sit down quietly under such treatment. Naturally, Lysaght’s declined to do business with the firm referred to, and political capital is now being made out of their attitude.
– Why did Rylands’ also refuse? .
– Lysaght’s and Rylands’, I understand, are one and the same firm. Quite a number of commercial people have urged that the Tariff Board should consist of only one man. I am afraid that one man could not do justice to the position. I prefer the board to be constituted as it is at present. If it does not do its- duty properly the appointment of its members may. be terminated before the expiration of the term of three years fixed in the bill; but I do not anticipate there will be any trouble in that connexion. I am satisfied that with an energetic Minister for Trade and Customs, such as we have at present in the person of Mr. Pratten, we shall not hear so many complaints about the operations of the board as have been made hitherto. Something has also been said about the publication of evidence taken by the board at tariff inquiries. I agree with that proposal, but there are times when itmay be necessary to take evidence in camera, otherwise trade secrets of great importance to business firms concerned may be disclosed to their competitors. It has been suggested by, I think, Senator Grant, that the cross-examination of witnesses before the board should be allowed by other people interested in the same line of business. That is just what we want to avoid, because it would involve the disclosure of trade secrets to rivals. The Minister made it quite clear that the board, and not witnesses before the board, would decide whether proceedings should be held in camera or in public, so I do not think that we need anticipate any trouble on that account. A suggestion made by the Associated Chambers of Commerce sitting in Adelaide is entitled to consideration. That body recommends that instead of the proposal that inquiries made by the board relating to- a any revision of the tariff, or 6 any proposal for a bounty, shall be held in public, and the evidence taken in public, the clause shall be amended to read -
Inquiries conducted by the board shall be held in public, and the evidence in such in quiries shall, subject to the next succeeding sub-section, be taken in public on oath.
The object is to have all tariff investigations and inquiries in connexion with dumping duties held in public. I agree with that proposal, and I hope that a
Kay will be found to give effect to it. Personally, I thought that the dumping duties would come under paragraph a of clause 3, but I am informed that that is not the case. Therefore, I should like some enabling machinery to be devised to meet that difficulty. If that is done I shall be quite satisfied with the bill.
– When the Minister (Senator Wilson) was delivering his second-reading speech I asked if the Minister for Trade and Customs invariably adopted the recommendations of the Tariff Board, and he answered in the negative. . I anticipated that answer, because it is obvious that the Minister could not always endorse the recommendations of the board; but I should like to know on what ground he bases his decision. At a later stage I intend to move to amend the bill to provide that all evidence taken in connexion with inquiries under the Industries Preservation Act shall be taken on oath, and filed with documents relating to the case. This will enable the Minister, if at any time he desires to alter the decisions of the Tariff Board, to have a full and complete record of the evidence on which to base his decision.
– The honorable senator’s suggested amendment does not necessarily mean that the evidence shall be taken in public.
– No. So long as it is taken on oath and filed that will be sufficient, because the department will then have a complete record of any requests that may be made to the board. It is obvious, of- course, that a good deal of the evidence could not be published broadcast. The Industries Preservation Act is causing a great deal of irritation. One case that was brought prominently under my notice was the duty charged on toilet paper. The evidence discloses that one firm has been able to get that class of paper in for a duty of £2 a ton whereas other firms” have been compelled to pay £10 a ton.
– What chance would they have?
– No chance whatever. Many of them have gone out of business. I should imagine that the recommendation of the Tariff Board in regard to that matter was made without the board being fully seised of the whole of the facts. I understand that the firm referred to has an order in perpetuity, so that whenever it requires this class of paper it can introduce it at the lower rate, and drive its competitors out of the market.
– Surely that position can be altered.
– I believe that the suggestion which I have made will meet the difficulty. I have had no dealings with the Tariff Board as a board, but I have had manydealings with its chairman, who has extended every courtesy to me. There is a strong feeling against the Industries Preservation Act, and I think the amendment which I have foreshadowed will have the effect of removing a great deal of the dissatisfaction, because if evidence is taken on oath, the persons interested will exercise greater care in the presentation of their case. I hope the Senate will accept the amendment of which I have given notice.
.- In common with other honorable senators, I have received requests concerning the necessity of restricting the powers of the Tariff Board, or of reducing its personnel. As many of the requests received are from persons interested in particular industries, they are apt to consider the work of the Tariff Board from only one aspect. I supported the original bill because I believed that it would be a means of expediting the work in the Trade and Customs Department, and I also intend to support this measure because I think a board to inquire into tariff matters is indispensable. Those opposed to its continuance should remember that investigations have to be made by some authority, and if the work is not done as at present, inquiries will have to be made by- officials of the Trade and Customs Department. Notwithstanding the ability displayed by officers of the department, I believe that a permanent board, on which different sections have representation, is likely to carry out the work more efficiently than officials whose knowledge may be confined to the work of the department. It would, I think, be impracticable to have only one member, as some suggest, particularly when we consider the numerous inquiries which have to be made into a variety of subjects. Some are of the opinion that the board should be dispensed with and the responsibility placed upon the Minister, but those conversant with the work involved and the present responsibility of the Minister must admit that that is impracticable. Although some who have not received favorable decisions from the board have complained of the manner in which its work is undertaken, I have found from experience that its members are always courteous, and exceedingly anxious to thoroughly investigate any subject which I have brought under their notice. They have a thorough grasp of the whole situation, and although it is said that their decisions have a strong protectionist flavour, I do not think it can be said that they have acted contrary to the will of Parliament. If the board was not in existence, the departmental officers or the Minister would be blamed. The opinion has been expressed,’ both in this chamber and in another place, that the board has the power to impose or to reduce duties, and even some members of the Chambers of Commerce who attended the recent conference in Adelaide asserted that the members of the board were assuming the responsibility of Parliament. When such misunderstandings prevail, it is easy to see how mistakes are made. Instead of making suggestions for improving the work of the board, its critics generally express personal opinions or oppose its continuance because of their freetrade tendencies.
– A good deal depends upon the action of the Minister.
– Yes. The Minister is responsible to Parliament, and I do not know of any Minister who has shirked his responsibilities in that regard. I trust that effect will be given to the opinions _ expressed in favour of all inquiries being held in public.
– That will not be agreed to.
– Because the board has the power to conduct its investigations in camera.
– The honorable member should not impute motives. The members of the board are capable, trustworthy men, and are merely giving effect to the will of Parliament.
– There are thousands of men who would not accept a position on the board.
– The members of the board are anxious to carry out their work without an injustice being done to any one. I trust that the Government will agree to an amendment providing that all evidence shall be taken in public, although there are instances, of course, when that would not be desirable.
– What has the honorable senator in his mind?
– It would be undesirable to disclose trade secrets.
– What are they!
– It would be undesirable for a manufacturer to disclose a trade secret to his competitors. The board is composed of men with extensive business training whose endeavour has always been to safeguard the protective policy of the Commonwealth, and to protect the interests of the whole community. If all investigations made under the Industries Preservation Act are held in public, a good deal of the friction and discontent which now exists will be removed. I was under the impression that the board kept a record of all the evidence, but according to Senator Millen that is not done.
– I understand that the evidence is filed, but Senator Millen suggests that sworn testimony should be recorded.
– As there .are some who would make inaccurate statements in their own interest, an amendment such as that mentioned by Senator Millen should be inserted. I think it would be best to make the board a permanent body, the Government reserving to itself the right to alter the personnel, if necessary, to meet the growing demands of the industries ‘ of Australia.
– Senator Gardiner referred to my attitude, in common with that of other honorable- senators, when the act was before the Senate three years ago. In: moving the motion for the second reading of the bill, I expressed the certainty that the honorable senator would justify my foresight on that occasion. I do not think that he has in any way cast a blemish upon it. He displayed his usual generosity by supplying an explanation of my present position for the benefit of the Senate. He said that he looked upon me as a loyal member of the team. As an experienced politician the honorable senator knows that, although one has his own opinions upon various matters, one must at all times be loyal to the team. In this case, however, there is more than that. Three years ago the matter was. entirely new to every honorable senator, and dangers were apprehended. Today both the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. . Pratten) and I have had more experience of public administration than we had when we took the stand referred to by the honorable senator. We realize that there must be some board to advise the Minister. I should like to have a little more experience before expressing a candid opinion as to whether this is- the best means for dealing with the matter. It must be admitted, however, that it is necessary to have some body that can make exhaustive inquiries into matters of state, and that it is advisable to- secure for that work the very best men who> are available. Senator Gardiner referred to my limitations. I have always believed that a new department, even if it commences its operations with only a chair and a box, does not take long to grow. Parliament, having had> two years’ experience of its operations, decided that the personnel of the board should be enlarged by the appointment of a fourth member. Senator Grant takes up the stand that one member should be sufficient.
– One is too many.
– I am sure that honorable senators realize that there is one matter about which Senator Grant knows something. I do not think, however, that that matter is the tariff.
– I believe I know more about it than the honorable senator does. I shall never be found backing up anything in the way in which the honorable senator is backing up this notorious board and its secret work.
– During his speech the honorable senator made some very severe remarks, but I felt certain that when he had thought the matter over quietly he would regret that he had used such strong terms in reference to gentlemen of the standing of members of this board.
– I shall make nastier and stronger remarks before I have done.
– I do not think that the honorable senator is doing himself justice, nor that he wishes to tackle the personnel of the board.
– I did not mean to do that.
– The honorable senator urges that Parliament is not the supreme authority, that the Tariff Board has the final decision in the raising or lowering of duties. That is not so.
– In effect that is the case.
– It is not so, even in effect. The Government of the day is responsible to Parliament, and the Minister is responsible to the Government. The Tariff Board has no rights and no privileges other than to make recommendations to the Minister in regard to the raising or lowering of duties.
– In the absence of that recommendation, the Minister does not move.
– The Minister would not submit a matter to the board if he did not desire to have its recommendation upon it. He submits to the board for its advice only those matters that arc of public interest, and which must be inquired into.
– Are we to understand that all matters with which the Tariff Board deals are referred to it by the Minister?
– Yes ; and the Governnent is responsible for the actions of the Minister.
– Docs the Government commission the board to hold conferences between buyers and sellers, and to enter into agreements?
– I do not understand what the honorable senator is driving at.
– In the report of the Tariff Board reference will be found to conferences that have been held at the instigation of the board, and agreements that have been drawn up as the result of those conferences.
– The Tariff Board has certain powers in relation to different matters. It may make inquiries, but it has no right to give effect to its findings. They must be submitted to the Minister.
– The Minister had nothing to do with these conferences.
– Senator Grant referred to by-laws that had operated for one day. A great deal has been made of that fact from time to time, in ignorance of the true position. When a machine that is to be used as a pattern is brought to Australia, a by-law is put in operation to allow the machine to come in free from duty, so that a pattern may be taken from it, and that type of machine may be manufactured in Australia. I am quite certain that nobody can take exception to thai,, because Ave hold that machinery that cannot be manufactured in Australia should come in free. T. certainly do not agree with the statement of Senator Gardiner that indignation is felt throughout the business world in regard to the operations of the Tariff Board. It is reasonable to assume that the correspondence which one receives in regard to tariff matters is sent by persons who have a grievance, or who want to obtain something through the medium of the Tariff Board’. Those who are satisfied with the board’s operations go on their way rejoicing, and do not send telegrams saying that they appreciate the work which the board is doing. The Master Printers, from whom correspondence was . read by Senator Gardiner, are a case in point. Perhaps they did. not get all that they thought they should get. Senator Lynch read a letter stating that the Queensland Pastoral Supplies Limited could not obtain necessary supplies from firms in Australia. I am informed that that company, in its advertising, made most objectionable references to Australian goods, and implied that the quality of those- goods was very inferior to the quality of imported goods. Its actions were prejudicial to Australian manufactures. The Tariff Board investigated the matter, and was informed that the company would ‘experience no difficulty in obtaining Australian goods if it would cease from doing those things which were unfair and unjust to Australian production.
– Isthat statement made on the authority of Mr. MacDougall, upon whose veracity the Tariff Board cast such reflections?
SenatorWILSON. - It is the result of the department’s own inquiries, not the result of inquiries made by Mr. MacDougall.
– Is the Minister of the opinion that if a buyer of goods criticizes the quality of those goods, he should not be allowed to obtain further supplies? Does the Minister consider that that would constitute a fair deal?
– I ask the honorable senator to take the bigger view. If a firm or an individual creates a prejudice against Australian articles, that is not playing the game.
– He is to be boycotted?
– I do not say that he is to be boycotted. The information furnished to me distinctly shows that this firm is not to be boycotted. It is asked to play the game. If it does so, it will be supplied with the Australian goods.
SenatorReid. - Were the statements made by the firm true?
– They were not true. Senator Lynch said that wire netting was not used extensively in England. I am informed by the department that England’s home consumption of wire netting is considerably greater than her exports to Australia.
– Of the same quality ?
– So I am given to understand, after a very exhaustive inquiry by the department. I know that Senator Lynch will be astonished. I admit that I am equally astonished. England exports more wire netting to countries other than Australia than she does to Australia. A rebate of 6¼ per cent. is allowed to home consumption buyers who purchase in lots of 140 miles. The fact that purchases are made on that scale shows that the people of England deal very largely in wire netting. In arriving at the home consumption value, the 6¼ per cent. allowance is, of course, taken into consideration. We also have price- lists showing the enormous quantities of wire netting sold in Great Britain, and the reductions made in prices for quantities.
– Is there any possibility of these quantities being sold in Great Britain to agents of foreign buyers ?
– The information of the department is that they are sold for home consumption. Senator Kingsmill said that the interests of the consumer were not considered in the appointment of the Tariff Board, but I remind him that when the original act was passed it was considered that the Government’s representative on the board, who would be chairman, would represent the interests of the consumer.
– I did not refer to the personnel of the board. I merely urged that the consumers should be considered by the board.
- Senator Kingsmill also asked us to decide whatwas commercial value.
– I asked for a definition of “ commercially made.”
– The definition given by the Minister for Trade and Customs in another place was as follows: - “ Articles which can be produced here in a reasonable time and in reasonable quantities of a quality and at a price which make competition possible with similar articles manufactured abroad and landed, duty paid, in Australia.” In committee I shall be delighted to furnish any other information honorable senators desire.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative;
Bill read a second time.
In committee -
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section eleven of the Principal Act is amended by inserting at the end thereof the following sub-sections : - “ (4.) Inquiries conducted by the Board relating to -
any proposal for improving the condition of any primary or secondary industry ; or
any complaints made under paragraph (h) of sub-section. (1.) of section fifteen, shall be held in public, and evidence in such inquiries shall, subject to the next succeeding sub-section, be taken in public on oath “ (5.) If any witness objects to giving any evidence in public which the Board is satisfied is of a confidential nature, the Board may take such evidence in private if it considers that it is desirable in the public interest to. do so. “ (6.) The Board shall, by advertisement published in two newspapers circulating in the State in which the inquiry is to be held, give reasonable notice of its intention to bold any inquiry under this section, the subject of the inquiry and the time and place at which the inquiry is to be held.”
– I move -
That paragraph (c), proposed new subsection (4), be left out.
I do not think that this paragraph should find a place in the clause, nor do I consider it the duty of a body such as the Tariff Board to take on so wide a scope of operations as would be thrust upon it by the necessity to inquire into any proposal for improving the conditions of any primary or secondary industry. As I have said already, this necessity would constitute it not a Tariff Board, but a royal commission on industry generally, whereas, the board will have quite enough to do to consider all the other matters that may be referredto it. I understand that this paragraph was inserted in the bill in another place as an after thought, which, in my opinion, should not have found expression.
– As Senator Kingsmill’s amendment does not go far enough, I shall, when the opportunity presents itself, move to add a hew sub-section to section 11 of the principal act, to read as follows : -
Inquiries conducted by the board shall be held in public.
– The clause already provides that they shall be held in public.
– It does not provide that inquiries under the Industries Preservation Act shall be held in public. Any one can see that the proposal of the Minister for Trade and Customs is put forward merely to deceive Parliament. Most of the investigations by the Tariff Board relate to matters arising out. of the administration of the Industries Preservation Act. If inquiries into the matters set out in the miserable amendment in the bill are to be held in public, why should we not go the whole length and provide that all inquiries by the board must be held in public ? I deny the accuracy of the statement that persons are likely to be injured by being compelled to give away secrets of trade if the Tariff Board inquiries are held in public. The only people likely to be injured are those who would be prevented from doing something to injure their fellow citizens, which they are now permitted to do, because they can get behind the closed doors of the Tariff Board and not even members of Parliament can learn what is happening. I fail to see why Senator Kingsmill should single out inquiries into the primary and secondary industries. The proposal that I have foreshadowed should be adopted. The Tariff Board has been in operation for about three years, but it has not given a fair dent to the business community. At least four firms, to my knowledge, have been compelled to discontinue their operations on account of the secret doings ofthe board.
– Protection is bound to affect a few persons adversely.
– All schemes of protection are designed to benefit a limited number at the expense of many. Senator Kingsmill’s proposal is not sufficiently far-reaching. I desire to eliminate the whole clause with a view to ensuring that all inquiries conducted by the board shall be held in public.
– I see no necessity for the inclusion of paragraph c. I doubt whether the board is doing the work that Parliament expected it to perform when its appointment was authorized. In addition to dealing with tariff matters it convenes conferences, and its members claim that they have been successful in bringing about agreements between buyers and sellers. A statement appears in the board’s last annual report that it got into touch with the brewing companies in the different states, and after arduous and protracted negotiation new arrangements were made between the brewers and the hop growers. We find further that the board recently called a conference of representatives of the tobacco growers in New South Wales and Victoria, and succeeded in bringing about an agreement. It also called a conference of those engaged in grape growing and in the business of distilling. Is thatwork that properly belongs to the board ?
– There is no statutory provision for it.
– If the board is clothed with powers to call conferences whenever it thinks they are necessary, and is empowered to draw up agreements between buyers and sellers, it will have a never ending job, and I should say that its personnel should be increased. In addition, the board has acted in a sense as a commercial agent. I read in a previous report that a certain firm desired to import goods, and a member of the board was deputed to interview the firm and see if it could not be induced to buy its machinery in Australia. According to the board’s reasoning, it would be better for the firm to purchase its requirements in this country. I admit that that was desirable, but I do not think it should be the business of any such board to act on behalf of private firms. Surely they should obtain their own markets. Apart from the interests of the protected manufacturers, there are the interests of the workers and the consumers, and I have not yet seen any statement by the Tariff Board bearing on exploitation and profiteering, although we well know that trusts, combines, and “honorable understandings” exist. If it is felt by the board that the manufacturers are not acting fairly towards the employees and the consumers, it should’ hesitate about recommending increased duties.
– What is the purpose of the Arbitration Court?
– That court is not open to all workers in all the states, for in some instances the employees are not so organized that they can approach the court. To what tribunal can the consumers appeal ? The Tariff Board could protect them, and yet I have seen no reference in its reports to the need for doing it. Honorable senators opposite who were formerly opposed to the appointment of the board are now its warmest supporters. We were told in the first instance that the cost of this tribunal would not exceed £1,000 a year, but we now find that it is costing seven or eight times that amount. Members of the board meet almost continuously. They receive £5 5s. per sitting, plus travelling expenses. They move about from place to place, to inquire into many matters which even the most ardent supporters of the bill never anticipated would be the subject of inquiry. Recently they went to a nearby town and took part in a semi-public function, which was attended by a member of this chamber, and at which political speeches were made. The board should be quite untrammelled in the discharge of its duties. Its members should keep away from semi-public functions when they are inquiring into tariff matters, because we know that sometimes influences not always in the best interest of the people of Australia may be brought to bear on them. Its work is increasing to a great extent because it is inquiring into, matters which Parliament never contemplated should be the subject of investigation. I never anticipated that the board would have authority to convene conferences between buyers and sellers, and have the power to draw up an agreement. I am satisfied that the Minister was in error when he stated that all matters that have been the subject of investigation by the board were, in the first place, referred to that body by the responsible Minister.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I have prepared an amendment which, I think, will meet Senator Findley’s objections, and do what Senator Kingsmill wishes, whilst it also satisfies myself. It reads -
Inquiries by the board shall be held in public, and evidence “in, such inquiries shall, subject to the next succeeding sub-section, be taken in public on oath.
– J have a prior amendment to move -
That all the words after “board,” proposed new sub-section (4), be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words - “ shall be held in public, and evidence in such inquiries shall be taken in public on oath. “ The board shall, by advertisements published in two newspapers circulating in the state in which the inquiry is to be held, give reasonable notice of its intention to hold an inquiry under this section, the subject of the inquiry, and the time and place at which the inquiry is to be held.”
In the proposal submitted to us from another place, no mention is made of inquiries to be held under the Industries Preservation Act, notwithstanding that most of the inquiries that have been held have been under that act.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that those inquiries should be held in public?
– Certainly I do. Why should people approach the board’ with a request that means virtually permission for them to dip their hands into the pockets of the taxpayers, and do it all in the dark ? Such requests should not be made behind closed doors. The manufacturers, if they seek the protection of the Industries Preservation Act, should be compelled to disclose to the board their costs of production.
– To the board, yes.
– And to the public also. I have given this matter most careful consideration. I am just as anxious as any honorable senator is to give every one a fair deal. Some time ago I read a book entitled “ Secret Remedies and their Cost.” It was a revelation. One statement made was to the effect that a bottle of 56 pills for which the public is charged 2s. 9d., cost for the ingredients not more than one-tenth of a penny. Why should a manufacturer be allowed to charge the public 2s. 9d. for commodities which cost such an infinitesimal sum ?
– What was the cost of packing and distribution?
– Not very much. As a matter of fact, the bulk of the expenditure usually goes in. advertisements in the daily press. I cannot understand why a manufacturer should wish to give evidence in private before the board unless it is his desire to continue to fleece the public for an indefinite period. As no valid reasons have been given for a continuance of the practice, it should be provided that all evidence shall be taken in public on oath. When the tariff was under consideration, there was a frank and free discussion on every item, and in consequence of the duties then imposed, many of which are fairly high, we are extracting from the people no less than £36,000,000 per annum in the form of Customs and excise duties. Apparently, that is inadequate, and some manufacturers “ now wish to obtain further assistance through the board, although they are not game enough to state their case at a public inquiry. I am entirely against such a proposal.
– We are all trying to help the honorable senator.
– If the amendment I have submitted is carried, the manufacturers will have to give their evidence in the presence of representatives of the people, instead of in camera, as has been the practice.
– As it is apparently the general desire of the committee that this clause should be amended to provide that all inquiries shall be held in public, I would suggest that .the Minister postpone its consideration until an amendment meeting the views of honorable senators has been properly framed. Many arrows have been shot ‘at this provision, and if they had been directly aimed hardly a fragment of it would be left. It is the duty of the Government to take some notice of the disagreement expressed, and to postpone the consideration of the provision until further inquiry has been made. It is, of course, agreed that there should be some reservations concerning subjects which the witness considers are of a confidential character.
– Senator Millen has an amendment to cover it, but he cannot get an opportunity of moving it.
– If that is the case, I shall not delay the committee further.
– I propose to move -
That the following new sub-clause be inserted: - “The board shall have all evidence taken in connexion with inquiries under the Industries Preservation Act taken on oath and filed with the documents relating to the case.”
– I have a prior amendment, of which I gave notice during my second-reading speech. I move -
That the words “ subject to the next succeeding sub-section “ lines, 13-14, he left out.
The next succeeding sub-section can be dealt with when we reach it; but I wish a vote to be taken on the question that all’ evidence shall be taken, in public on oath.
– The honorable senator is dispensing with the saving provision.
– In other* words, nothing shall be- confidential, although the subject may concern the private business of an individual or firm.
– I contend that if the evidence is of a confidential nature, the- individual or company will not approach the board. There is a strong feeling against secrecy in our courts. In New South “Wales there has been a demand by a certain section of the community that the evidence in divorce cases, which is often objectionable, shall be heard in secret, but public opinion is so strongly opposed to secrecy that such a suggestion is not likely to be tolerated. The business of a man may be ruined because he is unaware of the evidence given by another business, man, but if. all evidence is heard in open court,, he will not be at a- disadvantage. All our courts are thrown open to the public in the interests of liberty,, and it is undesirable to revert to star chamber methods, even in. the interests of big business. Notwithstanding to what extent we- go in. this hill in our endeavour to protect the people, we are sure to fail,, because the- principle, upon which, we are’ operating is- wrong. Although that principle is wrong. I wish, to safeguard the. public interest by providing that all evidence shall be taken in public on oath. If. that is done the board’s work- will be simplified.
.- If the question of what is confidential evidence had to be decided by the individual. I should support’ Senator Gardiner’s amendment. Proposed new subsection 5 reads -
If tiny witness- objects to giving evidence in public which the board is- satisfied is of a confidential nature, the board may take such evidence in private if it considers that it is desirable in the public interest to do so.
If the individual appearing before the board declares that his evidence is of a confidential nature, the board decides whether or not it is to be heard iu public. Owing to the manner in which the board treated the sugar industry - and I have not forgotten the remarks . of the Acting Postmaster-
General (Senator Crawford) on the Tariff Board - I have not too much faith in it.. If, however, the board is to continue its work it will have the power to decide whether or not, in the public interest, evidence shall be heard in- private.
, - I am entirely opposed to the proposed” sub-section, tinder which the board would be permitted” to hear evidence in camera. As I have failed to get an indication from honorable senators opposite as to the evidence which should be heard privately, I am still of the opinion that applications will only be made when there is a desire on the part of manufacturers to fleece the public. This they will continue to do until prevented by Parliament. As the board will have to consider the requests made by manufacturers of proprietary medicines, I submit a list from Secret TSem.edA.es showing the cost of certain preparations and’ their contents based on an analysis made for the British Medical Association, and ordered to be printed on the 21st November, 19.12.: - It reads: -
I can: very well understand’ why honorable senators are so anxious to have these inquiries held in secret. The proprietors of the Mexican hair restorer extract from the Australian public 5s. for- 7 fluid oz. of a mixture- that costs them 2d. Senator Reid is greatly concerned about the cost of manufacture.
– The honorable senator has quoted the cost of the ingredients. What are the handling- charges?
– It is important that the public should know the value of the preparations that they .buy. When these manufacturers appear before a secret tribunal they should be obliged, in the public interest, to disclose the value of the ingredients of their mixtures. “I do not suggest that they should be asked to explain the manner in which they manufacture their precious mixtures.
– Does the honorable senator think that the formulae should be confidential ?
– I have no objection to the formulae being treated as confidential, but in fairness to the .public the value of the ingredients should be disclosed. The public, in each of the cases that I have mentioned, is !being robbed annually of a huge sum of money.. It is bad enough to take down people who are in good health, but it is still worse to allow these mixtures to be palmed off on people “who are in indifferent health. I am prepared to go further and provide that the value of the ingredients and the other costs shall be stated on the outside of the bottle or the container.
-brockman. - Not one of those mixtures is manufactured in Australia.
– I am not prepared to admit that.
-brockman. - It is, nevertheless, .a fact. >The honorable senator is talking about something “that is not pertinent to the bill.
– I differ from the honorable senator. I think that a -good many .of these things are manufactured in Australia. Whether they are or not, the manufactures that I have mentioned .are typical of these that will come before the board. It would be to the advantage of the public if the facts were disclosed in relation to any ‘proposal into which the board inquired. I have asked in vain to be informed of the proposals which it is expected the board will be asked to consider in secret. I have shown that in the State of New South Wales four firms were obliged, because of the infamous work of this board, to close that section of their business. It is deplorable to see honorable senators lending themselves to proposals of that nature. 1 am prepared to support Senator Gardiner’s -amendment.
– This is ‘a very important amendment, and deserves to be taken seriously by -the committee. I speak as a protectionist. There are -honorable senators opposite who do not see eye to .eye with met in .fiscal matters. I am .not what in the vernacular is termed a “ one-eyed “ protectionist. J am -not mainly concerned with .giving protection to -the manufacturer, without considering the workers .and consumers. A few years ago we had a tariff commission, which took evidence in every part of Australia. That evidence -was taken on oath, and in ‘.public. We -would mot entertain any suggestion -from manufacturers or -persons interested in :an industry unless we were satisfied that their -requests deserved consideration, and we would not be a party to accepting their statements if -we were told that the information could be furnished, only in a confidential .way. What solid objection -can there be to the amendment by Senator Gardiner, that when evidence is taken on oath before the board the proceedings shall be open to the public land ‘the press. A manufacturer, .or .any person who desires increased protection, should not’ be allowed “to ^shelter behind ‘the board by asking that his evidence shall ‘-foe treated as confidential. If Senator Gardiner’s amendment is -not .carried, that -foreshadowed -hy Senator Millen will not be as effective as -he anticipates that it will be. If the information placed before the board is to e treated as secret, does any honorable senator consider that the files will be open to the inspection of a member of Parliament or of the press ? Certainly not ! I fail to see that there can be anything secret or confidential in relation to requests that are made by manufacturers for increased protection. They are not the only -persons who are interested. The consumers, the workers, the community generally, are interested. If the manufacturers have a good case, why should they look for secrecy? The board should not be above Parliament. Parliament should tell the board plainly that its sittings shall ‘be open to the press and the public. If a manufacturer’ has a good case, publicity will strengthen it.
– -“Supposing a man has a trade secret that he does not want -to divulge ?
– By stating hypothetical cases the honorable senator is only bolstering up the . board, and strengthening the case of those who ‘desire secrecy. I am pre-supposing that when the people of Australia declared in favour of protection, they desired to have a comprehensive form of protection; that, before duties are imposed, the manufacturer must show that with up-to-date machinery and up-to-date methods of production he is unable to compete against overseas manufacturers. Those who seek assistance from the board and from Parliament will advance their cause by advocating the open-door method of holding an inquiry, and saying, “ We have a good case, and we are not afraid to allow the public to understand our request.”
– Some government departments will not give this Parliament information that is desired.
– We sometimes find fault with departments that do not furnish us with information that we desire.
– The Shipping Board, for example.
– I objected in the first place to the creation of that board. I do not think that Senator Lynch did. If we had no board we would have no complaints in regard to it. I strongly support the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator Gardiner’s amendment) put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 9
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce), read a first time.
In committee (Consideration resumed) : Clause 3 -
.- I move-
That the following new sub-section be inserted : - “(7.) The board shall have all evidence taken in connexion with inquiries under the Industries Preservation Act taken on oath and filed with the documents relating to the case.”
The bill deals merely with the operations of the Tariff Board, but as I am anxious also to cover the work done by the board in administering the Industries Preservation Act, I am moving to insert this new sub-section in the only part of the bill where it is possible to insert it.
– I realize that my suggested amendment made no reference to the Industries Preservation Act, and, therefore, I accept Senator Millen’s amendment. I am sorry if the action that I took prevented Senator Kingsmill from an attempt to eliminate paragraph c, but probably he will have an opportunity of doing so on recommittal.
– Having had an opportunity to confer with officials of the Customs Department, I find that the amendment submitted by Senator Millen will meet many of the objections put forward by honorable senators, and as it will necessitate the department keeping an absolutely clear record of evidence taken by the Tariff Board, I accept it.
– During the course of the discussion to-day, the Minister (Senator Wilson) told us that all inquiries made by the Tariff Board were into matters referred to it by the Minister for Trade and Customs. Sub-section 1 of section 15 of the principal act compels the Minister to refer to the board for inquiry and report quite a number of matters, and under sub-section 2 of that section he may refer to it for their inquiry and report the following matters: -
I find, however, that under section 17 the board may on its own initiative inquire into and report on any matters referred to in sub-section 2 of section 15. In conducting these inquiries it will, no doubt, hold its meetings in secret, but Senator Millen’s amendment will have the effect of compelling it to hold its meetings in public when it is dealing with inquiries under the Industries Preservation Act. I shall take an opportunity at a later stage to test the feeling of the Committee as to whether inquiries by the board into matters covered by the bill shall also be held in public.
. It is clear that the new sub-section 5 provides that if any witness objects to giving evidence in public which the board is satisfied is of a confidential nature, the board may take such evidence in private if it considers that it is desirable in the public interest to do so. I want to know if that provision is not nullified by Senator Millen’s amendment ?
– The amendment deals with inquiries under the Industries Preservation Act. The new sub-section 5 does not.
– If it is essential that evidence should be taken on oath and filed in relation to inquiries under the Industries Preservation Act, why should it not also be necessary in connexion with inquiries to be held by the Tariff Board into the other matters specified in the bill?
– Such a record is now kept.
– Are the records filed?
– And are they presented to Parliament?
– Are we to understand that the evidence taken in all inquiries by the board is recorded in full ?
– I understand that is the case.
– That is news to me. Is it a fact that the evidence has been taken in extenso, and is available to honorable senators?
– Not in all cases.
– I thought not. If the committee agrees to the amendment, will all evidence be taken in full and filed by the board?
– That is so.
– I support the amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Section 37 of the principal act is repealed.
– I intimated previously that I would move to curtail the currency of this legislation, and I suggest that the appointment be for two years, dating from March of next year. The original bill was described by Senator Greene, when Minister for Trade and Customs, as an experiment. It was put into operation for two years, and at the expiration. of that period the Government, with the support of Parliament, thought it would be wise to extend the life of the board, not for all time, but for one year. What has happened in the meantime to justify the Government in proposing to extendi the board’s appointment for all time? Both by the manufacturing and the industrial sections, strong objection hasbeen expressed to the operations of the board. My objection is to the system under which it is working, and to the ultra-protectionist flavour that it gives to its decisions. In the circumstances, Parliament is not warranted in giving the board unlimited life. I therefore suggest that clause 5 be negatived and a new clause inserted providing that - “ Section thirty-seven of the principal act is amended by omitting therefrom the word two ‘ and inserting in its stead the word five.’ “
The effect of that would be that the board’s life would be extended two years from March next, which would give it an opportunity to acquit itself in a way that would give at least a fair measure of satisfaction to the people. I admit that much of the criticism levelled against the board has been unwarranted, but, on the other hand, a great deal of it has been amply justified. While I think the board is necessary for the interpretation of our Customs legislation,I do not think it has justified the granting to it of an unlimited lease of life.
– I ask Senator Lynch ‘ not to press his amendment. If we are to secure the services of the best men available, a reasonable tenure of office’, that members of the board are likely to accept, should be provided. The term of three years is a reasonable period. Clause 2 fixes the period of service of a member of the board at from one to three years, so that the next Parliament will have an opportunityof reviewing the matter.
– A section of the act which is amended by one of the clausesof this bill, provides that the appointment of the members, which has nothing to do with the duration of the act, may be for any time not less thanone, and not more than three years. The period of two years suggested by Senator Lynch is rather short. I shall support the amendment, but I would rather SenatorLynch had made it three years If the board is appointed for three years, and the act is made terminable in two years there would be a year’s salary for these gentlemen while they were doing nothing. Three years offers a more attractive appointment than two.
SenatorFOLL (Queensland) [10.43]. - I intend to support the suggested amendment, but, for the reasons submitted by Senator Kingsmill, 1 should rather see the period increased to three years. I think it was clearly understood that the board was more or less of a temporary nature. One of the strongest reasons for its appointment was the abnormal exchange position in other countries, and I understood that as exchange became normal - the board would automatically go out of existence. In order that Parliament may have an opportunity to review the matter, I shall support the amendment.
– The proposal to limit the duration of the act is, in many respects, a good one. I have listened attentively to the debate, and I know of no reason why the Tariff Board shouldcontinue for even five minutes longer. It has been a source of annoyance to the commercial and industrial life of Australia. I understand that the Associated Chambers of Commerce some time ago presented a memorandum, to the Minister, objecting to the board, but, for reasons best known to himself, the Minister carefully suppressed that document.
– Surely the honorable senator knows that the members of the Associated Chambers of Commerce are representative of the importing, interests.
SenatorGRANT. - I doubt that very much. Even if they are, there is no reason, why the document, to which I have referred should- not be made available to honorable senators.
– We have all received a copy of it.
Senator.GRANT. - I did not, and I should very much like to see it. The amendment should be accepted by the committee. We may be quite sure that, unless we limit the duration of the act, vested interests will see to it that it will not be repealedfor a very long time. Members of the board- must necessarily be under a cloud of suspicion. If they had any self-respect they would not allow any one to approach them behind closed doors,. away from the public gaze, with requests for tariff concessions. I welcome the amendment, because it will limit the existence of this nefarious- board to a further term of only two years. I am opposed to the Government proposal lock, stock, and barrel. The people of this country should be permitted to conduct their business without having to resort to the backstairs, underground, miserable, contemptible, and reprehensible methods rendered possible by this measure.
Question - That the clause stand as printed - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Senate adjourned at 10.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 September 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240910_senate_9_108/>.