10th Parliament · 1st Session
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received an intimation from the President (the Hon. T. Givens) that owing to illness he will be unable to take the chair to-day. Under the Standing Orders of the Senate the Chairman of Committees, as Deputy President, will preside.
The Deputy President (Senator Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Tasmanian Timber and Carbide Industries
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - 1.Is the Minister aware whether the Tasmanian timber industry is languishing because of huge imports into the Commonwealth of timber from foreign countries?
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are-
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendments) :
Clause 8 -
The commission shall not, without the consent of the Minister, sit elsewhere than at the Seat of Government of North Australia.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Leave out clause 8, and insert the following new clause : - “ The commission shall sit at such times and places in North Australia as the chairman determines.”
– The object of this amendment is to give the commission more freedom. Owing to the vastness of North Australia and its diversity of interests it may be highly desirable for the commission to sit elsewhere than at the Seat of Government. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– I had not seen this schedule of amendments until about five minutes ago, and I have had no opportunity to study it. I should like Senator Pearce to report progress so that honorable senators may have time to consider it.
– These are practically all drafting amendments, and are of minor consequence, as they involve no new principle. I shall explaineach one of them as we reach it, and if the honorable senator thinks that any one is of sufficient importance to require an adjournment to enable it to be further considered, I shall be willing to fall in with his wishes.
– I thank Senator Pearce for that undertaking, and I shall proceed on that basis. I regard this amendment as valuable. When speaking on the second reading of the bill in the Senate I pointed out that the obligation on the commission to sit always at the same place must necessarily lead to a certain amount of undesirable centralization. Approval of this amendment will render that unnecessary. I support the amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 13 - .
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After the word “ public “ second occurring, insert “ railway or other.”
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
The provision in the bill as it left the Senate was that the rights of public servants who might be appointed as commissioners should be safeguarded. But we have other services, the Commonwealth Railways Service and the Northern Territory Service, which are distinct from the Public Service, and the object of this amendment is to safeguard the rights of any member of those Services who might be appointed to the commission. If the amendment were not inserted, officers other than those in the Public Service would lose all their rights to superannuation, holiday and sick leave, and so on. As the Senate favoured preserving the rights of public servants, I feel sure that it will agree to this amendment. If this amendment is agreed to, consequential amendments, as made by another place, will be necessary to this and the next clause.
– The rights and privileges of the persons appointed will be safeguarded.
Motion agreed to.
Consequential amendments in clauses 13 and 14 agreed to.
Clause 16 - (1.) Subject to this act, the powers of the commission shall extend to the following matters in relation to the development of so much of the Territory as is situated north of the twentieth parallel of south latitude (in this act referred to as .”the prescribed part of the Territory”): -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “ railways “ insert “ subject to the terms of any arrangement made between the Minister “and the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
When the bill left the Senate, it was provided in section 16 that, subject to this act, the powers of the commission shall extend to the following matters . . . (a) the maintenance and operation of railways. The railway at present operating in the Northern Territory is under the control of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, and as some time may elapse before other lines are constructed there, it may be desirable that the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner shall remain in control of the railway. It is, of course, necessary and advisable that the commission shall have full and complete control over the operations of the railway. For instance, the commission should decide upon the number of trains, their frequency, and the freights and fares to be charged, otherwise, the developmental policy would not be in their hands. “Whilst that may be so, it is inadvisable that there should be a small railway staff in the Northern Territory entirely distinct from the Commonwealth railways staff. It is found sometimes to be advantageous to transfer an officer from Darwin to, say, Port Augusta, but if we were to take the control of the railway entirely out of the hands of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, we should have a small railway staff in the Northern Territory with no possibility of an interchange with other railway staffs of the Commonwealth. During that period in which the railways system in the Territory is small, and the staff limited in number, it is considered necessary that the Minister should have power to enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner so as to enable the running of the railway aud the control of the staff to be undertaken by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. The matter will be subject to an agreement under which the powers of the commission to control the policy of the Territory in order to ensure its proper development will remain in the hands of the commission, but the railway will be operated by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner.
– Is the Minister to act as agent between the commission and the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner?
– The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner will be the agent for the commission.
– He is to act between the Minister and the commission.
– The Minister has to administer this act, and the agreement must therefore be between him and the Railways Commissioner. The question of control is a matter for the Government to determine, and, having done so, it can give authority to the developmental commission and to the Railways Commissioner. The Government must determine the relative authority to be given to either of these bodies. The amendment does not in any way interfere wilh the powers of the commission. It is really a matter of convenience of control. For the first few years it may be found of the greatest advantage to have the railway under the control of the Commonwealth Railways
Commissioner, who will be responsible for the staff, the maintenance of the line and rolling-stock. If the commission reduces fares and freights in such a way that the railway is unprofitable, the loss will have to be met by the commission. This will give the commission absolute power to determine the policy, and to assist development, but, under the agreement, the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner will be responsible for the running of the railway.
– Whowill be responsible for alterations in the time-table?
– The frequency of the trains will be a “matter for the commission. If members of the commission say that it is necessary to have two trains a week, the Railways Commissioner will have to supply that number. It would be uneconomical, wasteful, and ineffective to have in the Territory a small railway staff separated from other Commonwealth railway staffs, with no opportunities of an interchange, or of obtaining the benefit of the skill of other officers under the control of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner. For instance, it might be necessary to obtain the services of an expert for two or three months, in which case an officer could be obtained from the staff of the Railways Commissioner, who, when his work was completed, could return to his former position. If the railway in the Territory was absolutely removed from the Commissioner, the commission would have to engage an expert.
– Members of the staff should have the right to be transferred.
– The rights which they now have will be retained.
– It practically means that the railways will become the property of the commission.
– Yes, but the Commissioner of Railways is continued as the agent, running the railways under an agreement made between the Minister and the Commissioner of Railways. That is the purpose of the amendment.
– It seems that instead of having dual control of the railways in the Northern Territory we shall havetriple control. Iam under the impression that any arrangement made between the Minister and the Commonwealth Commis sioner of Railways will entirely abrogate the power of the North Australian Commission.
– No,” it will have the effect of safeguarding the power of the commission.
– Will there be some collaboration between the Commissioner of Railways and the North Australia Commission when any arrangement is entered into between the Minister and the Commissioner of Railways ?
– Yes, and there will also be collaboration between the commission and the Minister.
– Will the arrangement between the Minister and the Commissioner of Railways be an arbitrary one in which the North Austratralia Commission will have no say 1
– In the drawing up of the agreement the commission will be consulted, but once the agreement is drawn up, for whatever period it is made, it will be an arbitrary one.
– What will be the position of the employees of the Commissioner of Railways who are to be moved backwards and forwards between the Seat of Government and Darwin ?
– They will remain as they are now - servants of the Commissioner of Railways.
Motion agreed to.
Verbal amendments to clauses 16 and 29 agreed to.
Clause 31 - (1.) For the purpose of the exercise of any of its powers under this act the commission may, in pursuance of a resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament, borrow moneys to such amount, in such manner, and on such terms, as the Treasurer approves.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After sub-clause (1.) insert the following subclauses : - (1a.) The Commission may, from time to time, in lieu of exercising the power conferred on it by the last preceding sub-section, request the Treasurer to borrow moneys on its behalf, and the Treasurer may thereupon, under the provisions of the Commonwealth Inscribed Stock Act 1911-1918 or under the provisions of any Act authorizing the issue of Treasury Bills, borrow, on behalf of the Commission, moneys not exceeding the amounts authorized, by any Act or in pursuanceof any resolution passed by both Houses ofthe Parliament, to be borrowed for the purpose of the exercise of any of the powers of the Commission. (1b.) The indebtedness of the Commission to the Commonwealth inrespect of moneys borrowed by the Treasurer on its behalf shall include such amounts as the Treasurer certifies are necessary to cover all costs and charges (including exchange) incurred in connexion with the relative loans and all discounts on the flotation of such loans. (lc.) Interest shall be payable by the Commission , to the Commonwealth, on such dates as the Treasurer determines, on the indebtedness of the Commission as determined in the last preceding sub-section at a rate sufficient to recoup the Commonwealth the interest paid by it in respect of that indebtedness and the terms and conditions of the repayment of the indebtedness of the Commission to the Commonwealth shall he as determined by the Treasurer. (1d.) The Commission shall in each year during which interest ispayable to the Commonwealth pay to the Treasurer such amounts as the Treasurer certifies are necessary to cover the cost of exchange on interest payments, commission for paying interest, stamp duty on loan transfers and charges (other than those referred to in sub-section (1b) of this section) payable by the Commonwealth in respect of the relative loans. (1e. ) In addition to any interest payable by the Commission on its indebtedness to the Commonwealth, the Commission shall, in each year during which interest is payable, and on the dates on which interest is payable, pay to the Treasurer a sinking fund contribution at the rate of Ten shillings per annum for every One hundred pounds or portion of One hundred pounds of its indebtedness until those moneys are repaid to the Commonwealth. (1f.) Each contribution received by the Treasurer under the last preceding sub-section shall be paid into the National Debt Sinking Fund established under the National Debt Sinking Fund Act1923-1925. (1g.) There may be issued and applied out of the proceeds of any loan raised . by the Treasurer under the authority of any Act, including this Act, any sum not exceeding the amounts authorized by the Act to be borrowed for the purpose of the exercise of any of the powers of the Commission and for the expenses of borrowing.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
This may appear a formidable addition to clause 31, but it is merely providing a number of machinery sub-clauses to strengthen the original provision, as agreed to by the Senate, giving power to the commission in pursuance of a resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament to borrow moneys to such amount, in such manner, and on such terms as the Treasurer approves. No new principle is involved in any of the additional subclauses. They have been inserted in another place at the instance of the Treasurer to determine the method by which money shall be borrowed by the commission with his consent, or by him on behalf of the commission. They accord with the general principles laid down in Commonwealth legislation dealing with the raising of loans. For instance, the provision in regard to sinking fund is identical with a provision in the National Debt Sinking Fund Act.
– I look upon this amendment as designed to tighten up clause 31, and place it on a more business-like footing. The effective machinery it provides for the raising of loans should be a greater safeguard to the public funds. For that reason I have no objection to offer to the motion.
– I have listened very carefully to the explanation of the Minister (Senator Pearce), and to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), but I have seen the effect of similar apparently water-tight provisions on the indebtedness of other Commonwealth activities to the Treasury. I notice that by these sub-clauses the Treasurer will have practically unlimited power to fix the rate of interest to be charged, the date at which interest is to be paid, and the amount to be charged to the commission for underwriting loans. A few days ago I had the opportunity of learning that another Commonwealth activity, controlled by a Board, has at no time paid interest to the Treasury, and that the Treasurer, without referring the matter to Parliament, has permitted this particular activity to waive the paying of interest. As a matter of fact, this has occurred in the case of two activities, and in respect of one of them, the interest unpaid amounts to over £650,000. Consequently the interest that should have been paid out of the revenues of this particular activity has not been paid, and the indebtedness has been allowed to accumulate. We may find ourselves in an exactly similar position in regard to the North Australia Commission.
– In the initial stages that is unavoidable.
– The position would have been -worse without these safeguards.
– Yes; but tlie honorable senator will agree with me that by these amendments we are’ telling the Treasurer that, if he desires to do so, he may exempt the commission from paying interest and contributions to the sinking fund for any period he may fix.
– But a sinking fund is provided for iu this amendment.
– The Treasurer, if he so desires, may, however, waive the payment of interest. It is provided that the interest shall be payable on such terms and at such times as are required by the Treasurer. It seems to me that it would be far better to fix a definite half-yearly period for the payment of interest. If that payment is to be waived, this Parliament should have some voice in the matter.
– What if the commission has no money to enable it to make the payment?
– The honorable senator is well aware of. a particular governmental activity which is now the subject of investigation, and in which the interest has been allowed to accumulate to such an extent that the debt has become most formidable, on account of the Treasurer having waived the halfyearly payments.
– The honorable senator is presumably referring to the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Line?
– Yes. We might find the North Australia Commission in a position similar to that of the Shipping Line, and its debts might exceed the value of its assets. The position should be safeguarded by definitely stipulating in the bill that the repayments shall be made half-yearly, unless Parliament grants an exemption.
– I am afraid that Senator Foll has not correctly read ‘ the new subclauses, because they provide for the payment of interest. The Treasurer is not given a free hand in the matter. Subclause 1 (c) states -
Interest shall be payable by the commission to the Commonwealth, on such dates us the Treasurer determines, on the indebtedness of the commission as determined in the last preceding sub-section at a rate sufficient to recoup the Commonwealth the interest paid by it in respect of that indebtedness and the terms and conditions of the repayment of the indebtedness of the commission to the Commonwealth shall be as determined by tlie Treasurer.
It is obvious that as we are now losing £250,000 or more per annum on the Northern Territory, the mere appointment of the commission will not convert that deficit into a surplus, or even enable it to pay its way in tlie first few years. The sub-clauses provide that interest shall be paid on any money borrowed; that is, it shall be debited to the commission, and that there shall also be debited to it the money paid into the sinking fund. Each year Parliament will be asked, as now, to pass a sum of money on the Estimates sufficient to make up the deficit. That will be the effect of the new provision, so that each year the Parliament will know the loss on the Territory. It is obvious that the commission will not be able to pay its interest, unless it has a revenue sufficient to enable it to meet that interest. We know that it will not have such a revenue at the outset, because the revenue is insufficient at the present time to meet the interest on existing loans. The position of the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Line is not analogous to that of this commission. We do not find similar clauses to these in the legislation governing that activity. If there were such provisions the Treasurer would have to go to Parliament each year for a vote to make up the loss. But under this bill there is a definite obligation on the Treasurer, and, therefore, the defect that Senator Foll deplores in regard to the legislation concerning the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Line is remedied. In regard to that line, let us be sure that we are notfighting shadows. What would happen if the Government insisted on the line paying interest on the capital invested e. The line has no funds other than the money that it makes in the course of business, or that is made available to it by the Treasurer. The answer by the management of the line would be, “ You give us the money and we shall be quite prepared to pay the interest. But we have no money of our own.” The Government would simply have to ask Parliament for a vote to pay the interest on the debentures, and it would be simply taking funds out the one pocket and putting them into the other.
– I could answer that argument, but the matter is sub judice.
– Whatever may be’ the defects in regard to the Shipping Line, they are overcome, so far as the North Australia Commission is concerned, by the present provisions, and that is a very good reason for their inclusion.
Motion agreed to.
House ofRepresentatives’ Amendment. - Leave out “ legally available for the purpose.”
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
This amendment is consequential.
– I am not sure that it is. The Treasurer cannot take money that is not “ legally available.” If we leave out the words “ legally available for the purpose,” the sub-clause will read “. . . the Treasurer may from time to time advance to the commission out of any moneys in the Commonwealth Public Account such sums as he thinks fit.” It seems to me that Senator Foil’s objection would have been appropriate in connexion with this amendment. I cannot see that the elimination of those words is a consequential amendment.
– Possibly I was wrong when I said that this was a consequential amendment. It is not anticipated that immediately the commission is appointed it will proceed to float a loan. The Federal Capital Commission has the same power, but public borrowing is regulated by the Loan Council, and the Commonwealth could not, without departing from an arrangement with the States, raise money by loan on a given date. Accordingly, the Treasurer has been financing the Federal Capital Commission’s activities out of the Treasurer’s Advance.
Probably the same course will be followed with respect to the Northern Territory Commission.’ Since money to the credit of the Treasurer’s Advance cannot be regarded as having been made “ legally available “ for Northern Territory purposes, it is desirable to accept the amendment from another place.
Motion agreed to.
Consequential amendments in clause 31 agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Leave out “ three “, insert “ two “.
– I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
The clause provides for the appointment of an advisory council to consist of four members, two to . be appointed by the Minister and two to be elected for a period of three years. It is obvious that Central Australia could not return “three” members; the number should be “two”.
Motion agreed to.
The revenues of North Australia and of Central Australia shall be paid into and form part of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “Australia” second occurring, insert “ (other than the revenue of the Commission) “.
. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
It is obvious that the moneys referred to, namely, the revenue of the commission, could not be paid into the Consolidated Revenue.
– Will the Minister inform us whether, in connexion with the circumlocutory method of collecting revenues that are expended by the States, it is intended to pay any of the Customs revenue or make per capita payments to the North Australia Commission ?
– If ever the day comes that we shall be able to meet our obligations in respect of the Northern Territory by a per capita payment of 25s. to the commission, we shall be very fortunate. In view of the fact that we have to meet a deficit of about £250,000 a year, for a population of slightly over 3,000 people in the Northern Territory, I do not think we need worry about tlie per capita payments or the revenue from Customs. In any case, it is not proposed to make per capita payments to the Northern Territory.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 26th May (vide page 2295), on motion by Senator Crawford -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I agree to a certain extent with the views expressed by Senator M’cLachlan yesterday, with regard to the probable danger of over-production in certain Australian industries, and the difficulty of exporting their surplus products owing to the high .cost of production. But every nation, with the exception of Great Britain, has adopted protection, and Australia, for very sound reasons, is obliged to do the same. The United States of America was not always such a highly organized or efficient nation as it is today. It has attained its present position amongst the nations of the world through the adoption of a sound protective policy, the application of science to industry, and a highly organized system of mass production, which enables the American workmen to receive the highest wages in the world. Germany also is indebted to protection for her position as a highly organized manufacturing country. When first Germany embarked upon protection, articles branded, “ Made in Germany “ were rejected with scorn, but as time went on, the brand came to be regarded as the hallmark of good quality and cheapness. By subsidizing its manufactures, and by the application of science to industry, the German Government, just prior to the war, had established for the manufactures of its people an enviable reputation. Germany had almost conquered the commercial world. What has been done in America and Germany can be done in Australia just aa effectively. There is, of course, the possibility that, as the result of high pro tective duties, we may have overproduction in certain lines of manufacture, but we ‘ have heard no such. complaint from the United States of America ‘ or from Germany. A population of 110,000,000 has been built up in the United States of America, and there has been no trouble through over-production. If we desire to consume all our manufactures here we must double our population. With a population of about 13,000,000 we should probably need to keep in Australia all that we produce here, even to our wheat.
– Then I take it that the honorable senator is in favour of increasing our population?’
– Certainly .1 am. I can see plainly that if we are not prepared to bring people of approved white races here, this country will be overrun by Southern Europeans. We should offer every encouragement to the British people, and also to the people of Norway and Sweden, to come to Australia. The Scandinavians are a law-abiding people, and make good Australian citizens.
– The honorable senator must remember that the Northern Italians are Nordics.
– I do not dispute that, but there are Nordics and Nordics. Some are undoubtedly superior to others. In my humble opinion the Scandinavians make much better Australian citizens than the Southern Europeans. Several honorable senators have complained that Australia is not progressing with satisfactory rapidity, and that our manufactures are not growing at a sufficiently fast rate. I have said before in this ch;am.ber that our policy of incessant oversea borrowing has a good deal to do with this. If we borrow £20,000,000 abroad, we must expect to have £20,000,000 worth of oversea goods dumped here, and they must necessarily enter into competition with Australian manufactures. I think that no one would be stupid enough to imagine that we could, with success, adopt a policy of prohibitive protection for Australia. We have surplus produce which we desire to export, and we must expect to import some of the surplus products of the countries which buy it from us to at least an equal value; but we could materially reduce our importations by borrowing locally instead of overseas. .Some people thought, before the war, that it would be impossible to raise a big loan in Australia, and they were inclined to sneer at the first efforts that were made during the war to do so. But the first loan of £10,000,000 that was floated was oversubscribed, and subsequently loans running into hundreds of millions were raised on the Australian market. I believe that that surprised, not only the Australian people, but also the financiers oversea, who probably thought that we had an insufficient knowledge of the intricacies of banking to undertake financial transactions of such magnitude. I do not suggest that we had hundreds of millions of pounds in Australia in hard cash. As a matter of fact, prior to the enormous increase in the note issue during the war, the total amount of our Australian notes issue, gold coin bullion, and silver was only £53,777,126; but this money was juggled and rejuggled and credit was transferred from one person to another until it was made to represent credit totalling nearly £300,000,000. If we could raise money like that for war purposes, I think we could do it to encourage Australian industry. Senator Ogden argued that our protective policy, insofar as it applied to agricultural implements, had operated unfairly on the primary producers. I deny that. In New Zealand, as honorable senators know, farming implements are admitted duty free, or practically so, but the farmers there do not get implements at a lower price that the Australian farmers. As a matter of fact, they pay a little more. The following figures will probably surprise some honorable senators : -
Mogul stationary engine, 1 h.p. - Australian price £26, duty 30 per cent. ; New Zealand price £35, duty 10 per cent.
Mogul stationary engine, 2J h.p. - Australian price £52 10s., duty 30 per cent.; New Zealand price £65, duty 10 per cent.
Mogul stationary engine, 6 h.p. - Australian price £125, duty 30 per cent.; New Zealand price £146 10s., duty 10 per cent.
– From what is the honorable senator quoting?
– From the Farmers’ Tools of Trade and the Tariff. Some figures given in a report of the Tariff
Board bear on the same point. The following details are interesting: -
Orchard disc harrow, 8 x 16. - Australian price £16 5s., duty 25 per cent. ; New Zealand price £17 1.0s., duty free.
Double furrow plough, No. 41. - Australian price £19 5s., duty 25 per cent.; New Zealand price £20, duty free.
The report of the Tariff Board also gives the prices charged for certain implements in the Argentine, which is a freetrade country, and in Australia. The following examples will show honorable senators that farmers in the Argentine are somewhat worse off under freetrade than the Australian farmers are under protection : -
Massey Harris reaper and binder, 6 ft. - Argentine price, £88 5s. 6d. ; Australian, £82. Sunshine harvester (made in Australia), £70.
Massey Harris reaper and binder, 8 ft. - Argentine price, £103 10s.; Australian, £102.
Mower, 3£ ft. - Argentine price, £29 14s.; Australian, £29 10s.
Mower, 5 ft. - Argentine price, £34 13s. ; Australian, £39 10s.
Disc plough, with three furrows. - Argentine price, £49 10s.; Australian, £44.
Disc harrow, 12 x 16. - Argentine price, £23 10s.; Australian, £18.
Diamond harrows, 3 sections. - Argentine price, £14 17s.; Australian, £13 5s.
In only one instance in those figures is the price in Australia higher than in the Argentine. We may take it that the figures given by the Tariff Board are fairly accurate. In the face of them I cannot see how it can be successfully argued that the removal of the Australian duty on imported farming implements will benefit the farming community. I hold that, if the duty were removed, the farmers would be at the mercy of the importers, just like the farmers of New Zealand and the Argentine. There is no competition whatever in farming implements in New Zealand and the Argentine. Before I shall agree to the removal of our duties on these implements I shall require convincing evidence that the farmers will benefit by it.
– There is keen competition among the importers, as well as among the manufacturers of farming implements.
– The New Zealand and Argentine experience does not bear out that statement. Our experience with black fencing wire will supplement my argument that the importers will exploit any class of people if they see the opportunity to do so. The farming community, as everybody knows, uses large quantities of black fencing wire. Before a start was made to manufacture it in Australia, the price was £46 a ton; but, immediately after manufacturing operations began here, it dropped to £22 10s. a ton. In the face of that I should not care to leave the farmer to the mercy of the importers, notwithstanding that it is said that there is competition among them.
– Before the war black fencing wire could be bought here for £9 or £10 a ton.
– That may be so; but in 1921 it was £46 a ton. I venture to say that if no move had been made to manufacture it in Australia the price would not be anything like as low as it is. Senator Payne argued that, as Great Britain has been our best customer for our wool clip, we should allow her to send her manufactures here duty free. Surely Senator Payne does not suggest that the commercial interests of Great Britain purchase our wool merely to benefit Australian wool-growers. They do so because it is the best obtainable, and they know that it is a product on which they can obtain a good profit. If satisfactory supplies of wool of a similar quality were obtainable in other countries at a cheaper rate, Australiawould not receive the business. The climatic conditions in Australia, and the care with which sheep are bred, are responsible for the excellent quality of Australian wool.
– Great Britain lost £25,000,000 over the purchase of zinc.
– A careful investigation into the whole of the facts surrounding the transaction would, I think, show that the amount is not so great. Senator Payne, who suggested that greater consideration should be shown to British manufacturers, forgot to mention the fact that when those engaged in the woollen manufacturing industry in Australia desired to purchase machinery for manufacturing textiles they appealed to British manufacturers with most unsatisfactory results. Later, they asked the Federal Government to take the matter up on their behalf, and it was ascertained that the British manufacturers had exported to other countries nearly £500,000 worth of the type of machinery they required. Did the British manufacturers say that because the Australian manufacturers were operating in the do minions they would give them preference over others? They did not do anything of the kind. Of the £500,000 worth of textile machinery exported from Great Britain Australia received only £78,000 worth, and Japan the balance. The British manufacturers showed preference bo Japan instead of Australia, which is a portion of the Empire. Senator Payne boasted about what we should do for Great Britain, but Great Britain should show how she is prepared to assist Australia.
– The honorable senator is referring to the action of certain British merchants, and not to any action on the part of the British Government.
– Yes. We are obliging British merchants by sending our wool to Great Britain.
– We are obliging ourselves by selling in the best market.
– What country takes the greatest portion of our surplus produce?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - Order! I ask the honorable senator not to reply to the question, as a discussion on that subject would be irrelevant. The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the bill now under consideration.
– Reference has been made to the high price of goods manufactured in Australia, which, in many cases, is due to the costs incurred in their distribution. Tweed manufactured in the Commonwealth Woollen Mills, and distributed by the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League, could be purchased at 30s. a suit length, which, when taken to a tailor could be made into a suit at a cost of from £4 10s. to £5. The total cost of such a suit would not be more than £6 to £6 10s. Similar material purchased from the private mills, and which passed through the wholesale houses, when made into a suit would cost from £11 to £12, which shows that the costs of distribution are largely responsible for high prices. In Australia there are importers who, when speaking of Australian materials, are decidedly untruthful, dishonest and unfair. I can quote, for instance, the experience of an inspector who visited two or three warehouses in New South Wales. When the inspector visited the firm of Robert Reid and Company he asked if they had any Australian tweeds, twills or serges in their stock, and he received a most emphatic reply in the negative. As the inspector was doubtful, he examined the stocks and found that tweed which was being sold as British tweed was manufactured in Australian mills. He went to another firm in Sydney, the name of whichI cannot at the moment recall, where the representative scorned the idea of having Australian-made material on the premises. He said,’ “No, we keep only the best imported article, so that we can meet the demand.”
– Was he a Government inspector?
– Yes; appointed by the New South Wales Government.
– Was his report published ?
– Yes, information was available in South Australia.
– What authority had the inspector to visit the warehouses?
– He was appointed by the New South Wales Government to ascertain if Australian importers were handling Australian tweeds. At the three warehouses he visited he discovered that Australian-made material was being passed on to the public as the best imported article.
– Where did the inspector obtain his authority to make these investigations?
– I wish the honorable senator would supply me with further particulars.
– I shall do so. Persons living in Ballarat, other than employees of the mills, could not obtain even 1 oz. of material produced in the Ballarat mills before it had been forwarded 75 miles to Melbourne, passed through the warehouses, and returned to Ballarat, which, of course, increased the cost enormously. The Returned Soldiers and Sailors’ League were satisfied with a profit of1s. 6d. a yard.
– Did it pay them to sell at that profit?
– Yes, it found that a profit of1s. a yard was insufficient, and the price was later increased so that a profit of1s. 6d. could be obtained. The representatives of the league said that that price paid well.
– Wages are the major factor in distribution, and the worker gets it all the time.
– I do not think so. If the league could sell at the profit I have mentioned, why could not other distributing agents do so?
– They had underpaid labour and free warehouses. No delivery costs were incurred.
– Senator McLach- lan referred to over-production, but in the matter of woollen goods we are manufacturing only about 25 per cent. of our requirements. Considerable expansion can occur in the woollen manufacturing industry before there is any possibility of over-production. We should manufacture the whole of our woollen requirements, even if we cannot produce them at a sufficiently cheap rate to enable us to enter the export trade. Possibly even that could be done. There is a possible danger of over-production in cotton tweeds, but there is no harm in manufacturing all that the Australian people require. Senator H. Hays said that Australian cotton tweeds cost 50 per cent. more than imported tweeds, but I was informed by a representative of Bond’s in Sydney, that the price of Australian cotton tweeds, which I saw them making, varied very little from that of the imported article. Bond’s are also manufacturing towelling, the price of which they have reduced, which has also been responsible for a reduction in the price of imported towelling. Increased duties, therefore, do not always mean increased prices. If the Australian manufacturer reduces his price the importer must do likewise. The employees of Bond and Co. enjoy ideal working conditions. They are. happy. On every floor in the factory I visited I questioned several of the girls engaged at their tasks, asking them quietly, so that the manager would not hear me, whether they were satisfied with the conditions under which they were working. Without any hesitation they all said that they were being well treated.
– Does the honorable senator know whether Bond and Co. are using Australian cotton?
– They are using about 80 per cent, of Australian-grown cotton. The honorable senator, who has several times in the Senate spoken of what the growing of cotton means to Australia, has now an opportunity to foster the cotton-growing industry by helping a firm like Bond and Co., which is using so large a proportion of Australian cotton in the goods it produces.
– We shall have to put a duty on cotton yarn.
– Bond and Co. do not want that.
– They are asking for a bounty, which is the same thing.
– No, it is not.
– There is not a great deal of difference. The bounty for which they are asking, they tell me, will tide them over their present difficulty; but as they go ahead they will ask for a duty.
– Yes, later on.
– If they used the whole of the cotton output of Australia, it would represent only 50 per cent, of their requirements, so that if a duty was placed on cotton yarn, the cost of the other 50 per cent, of their requirements would be materially increased.
– lt is inconsistent to ask for a bounty, and allow cotton yarn to come in at a low rate of duty.
– It is inconsistent; but perhaps, with the honorable senator’s assistance, we shall later on place a duty on cotton yarn, and thus enable the cotton-growers of Australia to increase their output. I paid a visit to a mill in Melbourne, where a commencement has been made with the manufacture of cotton tweed. There is a lot of machinery lying idle in that factory ; but I was told that, if the duty were increased, as they anticipated it would be, that machinery would be set in motion. This firm has told me, in all sincerity, I believe, that it is now waiting to start the machinery already installed, and that, as it makes progress, it will give the people of Australia a cheaper article. If Bond and Co. and other firms extend their operations in the manner indicated, we shall soon have far more people employed in Australia than we have now, and, perhaps, we may bring here from Great Britain people who have worked in the cotton industry all their lives, and provide immediate employment for them.
One very pleasing feature of the operations of Bond and Co., and other firms, is the fixation of prices. The man who buys two pairs of socks can get them from Bond and Co. at the same price as is paid by the man who may give an order for a thousand pairs.
– There is no chance of that being done. They cannot run their business on those lines, selling a pair of socks at the same price as is charged when an order is given for a thousand pairs.
– I was assured that a buyer could get one pair of socks at 4s. 6d., which was their fixed price.
– The man who is buying a thousand pairs makes a bargain with the firm, and secures a cheaper rate.
– He does not get them any cheaper than the man who buys half a dozen pairs. I know that the big establishments in various parts of Australia can generally buy huge quantities of goods from the manufacturers, and sell them at a price lower than a man buying smaller quantities is able to charge, but that cannot be done in the case of the output of Bond and Co. When I was in Adelaide recently I was asked why I did not seek to reduce the duty on the lines made by Bond and Co. and the Pelaco firm. I asked why I should do so, and was told that these firms fixed prices, and that although retailers could afford to sell them at lower prices, the manufacturers would not allow them to do so. When I was visiting Bond and Co.’s factory 1 asked the reason for this fixation of prices, and the manager told me that it was done so that the small buyer could be treated just as fairly as the big buyer. I think that is the right principle to adopt. Senator Barwell spoke as if the primary producers were to be regarded as absolutely apart from those engaged in secondary industries, and he claimed that a rural industry should receive special treatment. I should like to know how the honorable senator can draw a line of demarcation between secondary and primary industries. To my mind, the two are absolutely interwoven. They are part and parcel of each other. The plough used by the farmer is the output of a secondary industry, and the railway that conveys it from the manufacturer to the farmer is a secondary industry in so far as it is acting as a conveyor for a secondary industry. But immediately the plough reaches the farmer and touches the soil it becomes part and parcel of a primary industry, and when the railway conveys the farmer’s produce to the market, it becomes part and parcel of a primary industry, inasmuch as it is conveying the output of a primary industry to a market. As a matter of fact, the wharf labourers who receive wheat or wool from the railways and place them on board a vessel are part and parcel of a primary industry. Therefore, secondary and primary industries are so interwoven that I cannot see how any honorable senator can readily draw a line of demarcation between them. They are linked up, and it is our duty to do justice to both of them, and thus make Australia more progressive than it is to-day. Senator Barwell probably meant well when he predicted that in the near future the person who is asking for freetrade will get the confidence of the people of Australia, and that the man who is still standing out for protection will lose their confidence, and, likewise, his seat in this Parliament. But I do not think that the honorable senator’s forecast is likely to be fulfilled. I do not think there is likely to be any departure from the protective policy which has been adopted in this country, and which has really become a part of the lives of the Australian people. Can any one demonstrate clearly to me that we should bo better off as a nation under a freetrade policy? If we are to judge the greatness of a nation by the prosperity of the many and not by the richness or banking accounts of the few, we have in Great Britain an example of the folly of adopting freetrade. Great Britain ha? a freetrade policy, but it raises Customs taxation for revenue purposes. A revenue of over £11,500,000 was derived from tea in 1924. That amount was not paid by the rich people of the Old Country. It was the toiling masses who contributed the greater part of it. Purchasing better brands of tea, the rich people consumed smaller quantities of it. The toiling masses bought the rubbish, and consequently had to buy greater quantities in order to get the same result as was obtained by the richer people, who could afford to pay a high price for a better quality of tea. Are the working people of Great Britain any better off than the working people of the United States of America? They may be better off than the workers of Germany, but I do not think they are any better off than the workers of protected America, and I am sure that the people of Australia are the best fed and the best clothed people in the world. We have here, under a system of protection, attained a high standard of living, and, I claim, we should use every endeavour to maintain it. I can look back to the time when we had many thousands of unemployed throughout the Commonwealth, but, with the adoption of protection, factories began to spring up here and there, and unemployment became less acute. Protection has thus done much for the people of Australia. Last night Senator Ogden said that under a system of protection we work in a vicious circle, and that with every increase in the cost of production there comes an increase of wages, and so on. If the workmen are not better off so far as their wages are concerned, they are most assuredly better off in every other respect, and particularly in regard to employment. As a matter of fact the working people of Australia generally are now more prosperous than they were prior to the adoption of a protective policy. I am hoping that Australia will continue to grow under a system of protection, but I want that protection to be fair all round.. Duties should not be placed on articles that cannot be produced in Australia, and if such duties are imposed the object must be solely to raise revenue. That is a policy which, I think, should not be tolerated. On the other hand we should endeavour to manufacture in Australia all articles that can be produced here. We should endeavour to build up our industries. If those nations I quoted when I first began to speak became mighty under a system of protection, surely we can do the same in Australia. I think our people are just as efficient and equipped with the same amount of knowledge and intelligence as people in any other part of the world, and if given the opportunity will hold their own with the people of any other nation. I am hopeful, therefore, that the increased duties proposed will help them in every way and enable Australia to become the great nation it deserves to be.
.- I have listened to so many debates on protection and freetrade that I hesitate to join in a general discussion, which generally leads nowhere. But as one who has supported the tariff on two previous occasions, and baa noted its beneficial results, I desire to reply to the suggestion made by some honorable senators that the tariff is framed to offer a premium to inefficiency on the part of manufacturers and workers alike. Specific, instead of general, charges should be made, and the articles that are said to be manufactured under inefficient conditions should be enumerated. Reference has also been made to the work of the Tariff Board. Although the criticism has not been altogether favorable, I am prepared to support the board, because I know that increased duties are not proposed unless it has inquired thoroughly into the merits of the applications.
– I think that the board “ slipped “ over whisky.
– I am not troubling about that commodity at the present time; but it is highly desirable that general innuendoes should be replaced by definite charges. Having visited many of the manufactories built up in the Commonwealth under protection, I can bear testimony to their efficiency. A splendid spirit of enterprise and thoroughness is evident on every hand. Almost every factory I have visited has adopted the most improved methods, and I have always found them to be doing all that can be expected of them, having regard to the comparatively small market available in Australia for their commodities. I agree with those honorable senators who contend that this country will never be in a position to export manufactured articles to any considerable extent, owing to the high cost of production and the long distance between Australia and the principal markets of the world. The United States of America has been able to build up an enormous export trade in manufactures because of her huge population. She can produce cheaply, and her surplus is dumped in other countries. I recollect that, when the McKinley tariff was introduced, fear was expressed that America could never stand the burden. Since its application, however, that country has progressed by leaps and bounds in population and production, and it has nothing to regret. I am sanguine that the Australian tariff will be equally effective in building up our secondary industries. On account of th.e comparatively isolated position of this country, great difficulty has been experienced in establishing many of those industries ; but increased population will solve our difficulties. Until our local market is built up by this means, we shall not receive the full benefit of the tariff. A large body of consumers will be of the utmost advantage to both the employers and the workers. Our arbitration courts are reducing the hours of labour, and this is handicapping our secondary industries, which are unable to compete with the rest of the world. If it were not for the tariff, our market would be flooded with cheap European goods produced by factories in which longer hours are worked and lower wages paid than those obtaining in Australia, lt has been said that an industry that cannot pay a living wage should be wiped out of existence; but that would be an expensive way to build up a nation. Industries in Australia are handicapped by the fact that our courts, in fixing working conditions, start on the basis of a living wage for all industries.
– If every pioneer had proceeded on those lines, this country would never have been developed.
– That is so. If the arbitration courts insist on the maintenance of the wages that have been paid hitherto, many industries will be strangled. It is well to be candid. I have done hard work, and I do not wish to preach; but I say, from my own knowledge of industrial life, that there is too great a tendency on the part of the majority of the workers of Australia to go slow. All sides in politics desire to maintain the present high standard of living. It should be realized, however, that if the nation is to be built up on permanent lines, there must be an adequate return for the wages paid. I am not an advocate of huge profits for the employer at the expense of the workman. There must be efficiency on both sides, or the whole fabric of in dustry will crumble.
– Do not the employees give a fair return for the wages th.ey receive ?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - I am afraid that this discussion is extending beyond the ambit of the measure.
– The discussion of that subject may be beyond the ambit of this measure, but all occupations are involved. No one knows this better than Senator Grant.
– Give us one specific instance.
– Very well, I remind the honorable senator of the position in the bricklaying industry.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order ! The honorable senator may not refer to bricklaying in this debate.
– I bow to your ruling, sir, but Senator Grant knows, just as well as I do, how many bricks are laid daily by the average bricklayer as compared with the number laid a few years ago. It is difficult for honorable senators from Queensland to avoid clashing with conflicting interests in the debate on this measure. Maize-growing is an important industry in my State. Our maize-growers have benefited considerably from the imposition of the duty on African maize. But unfortunately the central and north-western portions of Queensland are suffering from a severe drought. Sheep are dying in large numbers owing to the absence of grass and water. Many station-owners are feeding their flocks on maize, and have to cart water to keep them alive. All these people are clamouring for the removal of the duty on maize.
– Only as a temporary measure.
– That is so. They have written to all Queensland representatives for assistance. Only those who have had experience of a drought in Queensland can realize what it means. I have known droughts to extend over many years, and have seen sheep dying month after month, so I can fully sympathize with the pastoralists in the drought-stricken areas of my State. I am also receiving letters from Queensland maize-growers demanding that no action be taken to remove the duty, so honorable senators from other States will, I hope, appreciate our difficulty in trying to deal fairly with all our primary producers.
The wool industry, which Senator Guthrie stated a few days ago was responsible for 75 per cent. of the wealth received from primary production, is in serious difficulty in Queensland, and I have no hesitation in urging the Government to remove the duty temporarily, until rains come and the situation is relieved. I am in favour of doing all that is possible to build up our primary as well as our secondary industries, because they are interdependent.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs should have the power to suspend the duty in the circumstances mentioned by the honorable senator.
– I agree that he should, because the situation is really very serious. I am, as I said, in favour of protection, and. I am pleased to know that it is helping to build up the cottontweed industry in Australia. We heard many lamentations in another place about the imposition of these duties, but from the samples which I have seen, I am satisfied that the Australian article is better than the imported.
Sen ator Payne. - Non sen se!
– Although it is some years since I had anything to do with the business, I have handled as much tweed in my time as Senator Payne has. I know quality, and I say that the Australian cotton tweed is equal to the imported material.
– At double the price, perhaps.
– I saw samples in the Queen’s Hall, and was able to compare the Australian article with the imported cotton tweed, which I was informed was being quoted at the same price.
– Then the honorable senator has been grossly misled.
– Did the honorable senator see samples of imported cotton tweeds in the warehouses?
– No ; I saw samples in the Queen’s Hall, and, in my opinion, the Australian article is more suited to Australian conditions, especially for a hot climate like that of Queensland. I am satisfied that the duty will be instrumental in building up another important secondary industry, and directly benefit a branch of primary production.
.- I have listened with a great deal of interest to the debate, and cannot help being impressed with the fact that, in the majority of instances, the fiscal views of honorable senators are largely governed by the particular item that may be under discussion. Many have at the outset strongly advocated protective duties, but before they have concluded their remarks have expressed the hope that certain duties would be reduced. I find myself in the same position, and I have come to the conclusion that, like many other honorable senators, I may regard myself as a scientific Protectionist. Necessarily one’s views must be influenced by the position of certain primary or secondary industries. A perusal of the speeches delivered in this chamber and in another place would almost lead one to the conclusion that protection for secondary industries is opposed to the interests of primary producers. I think that, generally speaking, assistance given to our manufacturing enterprises has materially helped in the development of primary production.
– Does the honorable senator think that protection has been of any assistance to the mining industry ?
– My colleague from Queensland has an intimate knowledge of the mining industry. He has taken a great interest in the activities of the Mount Morgan Company, and for what he has done he has justly earned a great deal of commendation from people connected with mining. But I doubt if he will seriously contend that the position of that company, or of the mines in the Cloncurry district, is due entirely to protection. Three or four years ago, Cloncurry was a flourishing mining centre, but, owing to the serious reduction in the price of copper and the increase in the cost of production, its fortunes have declined. Many other mining ventures in Queensland are in the same unfortunate position for the same reasons.
– My contention is that the tariff, which has had the effect of increasing the price of mining machinery, is not helping them.
– If Senator Thompson will take the trouble to go to Mount Kembla, where thousands of miles of copper wire for the use of the Postal Department and for other purposes are being produced annually, he will realize what protection has done for the coppermining industry. I cite that as an illustration of the benefits of a protective policy, and to prove that assistance given through the tariff to either a primary or a secondary industry does not necessarily do an injury to the other.
– If you assist the one and not the other, you do.
– As a representative of Queensland in this Senate for the last nine years, I have voted in favour of assisting many industries. I suppose that in that time there has not been a single Australian industry of any magnitude that has not been helped by the Government. I believe in rendering reasonable assistance to industries that deserve it. The primary producer plays a great part in developing Australia, and he has been protected. Our secondary industries also are of importance to us, and some of them deserve assistance either through the Customs tariff or by means of a bounty, and they have been helped. . Bounties have been provided for the manufacture of wire netting, galvanized-iron sheets, and so on.
– What about the sugar industry?
– Those engaged in the great sugar industry of Queensland are not unmindful of the assistance they have received from this Parliament. If Senator Elliott were to visit the northern coast of Queensland, he would see the wonderful development that has taken place there through the establishment of the sugar industry, and he would not begrudge the protection that has been afforded to it. The sugar-growers do not complain when support is given to other industries.
– No other industry has got prohibition.
– I suppose there is no other industry that can properly be compared with the sugar industry. By establishing it in North Queensland- we have protected one of the most vulnerable points in Australia; and we have, at the same time, opened up some very rich country. If that land had not been devoted to sugar-growing, I think it would have remained undeveloped.
– New settlers are not allowed to commence sugar-growing there now.
– That statement shows that the honorable senator is not quite conversant with the facts. On account of the surplus production of sugar, the growers are obliged to pool their product, so that they shall all bear their proportion of the loss incurred in the export of our surplus sugar.
– The honorable senator cannot have it both ways. If the surplus production has the result of preventing people from settling on the land there, it cannot be said that the industry is assisting to develop the country.
– I suppose that, even if I were to enter into a serious discussion with Senator Elliott on this subject, I should not be able to alter his view, and I do not think he would be able to alter mine, so we had better agree to differ. Senator Elliott is a big enough Australian to realize that the sugar industry has had a great deal to do with developing North Queensland. He has no desire, I am sure, to prevent development in any industry except those that are established in Victoria. He does not belong to the class that is referred to sometimes as narrowminded Victorians. Probably he is the only Victorian representative in the Senate who is bursting with eagerness to get to Canberra, and representatives of the other States admire him for it.
– Probably he is the only Victorian senator who has been to Canberra.
– I should not like to say that; but I am sure that he is a big enough Australian to realize the importance to the country of the Queensland sugar industry.
– From the honorable senator’s remarks, one would think that Queensland was the only State in which sugar is grown.
– A certain quantity of sugar is grown in New South Wales, and I know that we may, on that account, always look to the representatives of that State to assist in any move to improve the industry. I have no doubt that Senator Cox will agree that Queensland is the brightest jewel in the Imperial
Crown, and the greatest and richest Australian State. It has never come capinhand to the Commonwealth Government for assistance.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - I must ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the bill.
– I regret, Mr. Deputy President, that disorderly interjections have led me away from the beaten track, and also from the point I was striving to make. I agree with the view expressed by some honorable senators that it is stupid for us to impose duties on articles which are not manufactured in Australia, and the importation of which cannot adversely affect Australian industries. I agree with the policy of according ample protection to industries that are firmly established here, in order that their stability and prosperity may be assured, and that they may add to the production of the country. But I regret that under the first tariff schedule, and under all that have followed it, duties have been imposed on numerous articles which are not, and probably never will be, made in Australia, and which it would not pay us to establish factories to make. The motor industry is an illustration of this point. On account of the huge distances that have to be traversed in our out-back country, I am becoming more and more firmly convinced that in spite of our railway development, our people must depend more and more upon road transport, and the motor car, it can hardly be gainsaid, is of immense importance in that connexion. The sequence of unfortunate events in Great Britain recently illustrated how valuable motor transport may be to a nation.
– Coupled with good roads.
– In many parts of Queensland there are no roads at all; but for probably nine months in the year the bush tracks are almost as perfect to travel on as the wood-blocked roads of city streets.
– That is stretching it, anyway.
– If the honorable senator had ever travelled over the black-soil plains in Queensland in dry weather he would know that they are well nigh perfect, although I admit that in wet weather they become almost impassable.
– I have travelled over them in a motor car at the rate of almost 45 miles per hour.
SenatorReid. - And I, at 60 miles per hour.
– That is evidence of the accuracy of my statement. These roads are unquestionably quite suitable for motor transport in the dry season. Motor transport is most valuable not only to Queensland, but to every Australian State. In these days the motor car is used for business even more than for pleasure. There may be some justification in asking for a differentiation in the treatment of cars used for business purposes and those used solely for pleasure.
– There are very few people who do not use their cars for the dual purpose of business and pleasure.
– I suppose that not more than5 per cent. of the motor cars in general use are used solely forpleasure. Our great distances and our lack of railway communication in many parts of Australia make motor travelling a necessity.
– At any rate, motor cars are a great convenience.
– That is undoubtedly the case. The advent of the motor car has caused many subsidiary industries to spring up all over the Commonwealth. I refer to the spare parts, tire, petrol, and a hundred and one other businesses which are essential to meet the needs of motor car owners, who average a big mileage every year. But in spite of this, and of the fact that motor chassis are not made in Australia, a large sum is collected annually through Customs duties on motor cars.
– The figure, I think, runs into nearly £3,000,000 a year.
– That is a considerable sum. The imposition of these duties does not protect any industries in Australia.
– Oh yes, it does.
– At any rate motor car manufacturing here is not assisted, for it is not done. Possibly Senator Hoare has in mind the manufacture of tires and tubes. I agree that those industries should be protected, as long as the manufactures are maintained at the present standard. I suppose the tire at present being produced here is of a better quality than has ever been made in our history.
– Duty is imposed also to protect Australian motor body builders.
– That’ is so. In the State that my honorable friend represents there is a factory which produces motor bodies that are the equal of any produced in the world; and I believe they are made at a reasonable cost. First class motor bodies are also manufactured in my own State.
– One thing they can do in South Australia is build motor bodies.
– That is one thing among many. I think it unfair, however, that high duties should be imposed on motor chassis, for I am doubtful if it will be a payable proposition for us to embark on their manufacture until we have two or three times our present population. During recent years a number of big oversea motor manufacturers have established assembling; works in Australia, and this has meant additional employment forour people.
– Is not that due to the duty?
– I do not think the duty was a very important factor in assembling being undertaken here, neither do I think the position is affected by this schedule.
– The importers have been able to avoid some of the duty by having the assembling done here.
– The principal work is still done overseas, and the cars are merely assembled in Australia. The users of motor vehicles are being taxed to the extent of over £2,000,000 a year. Senator Millen said that the amount was nearer £3,000,000 - although chassis are not being manufactured in Australia. Notwithstanding the fact that the use of motor cars is assisting in the development of the outback portions of the country, and motor users are providing a substantial proportion of our Customs revenue, the State authorities are also collecting a large sum in the form of registration and licencefees. The whole of this burden is borne by one section of the community.
– How much of the £2,000,000 odd is collected on chassis?
– I cannot give the figures; but they could doubtless be obtained in detail from the Customs Department. Although the users of motor cars in Australia are contributing such large sums through the Customs Department, they are further imposed upon by having to pay taxation on every gallon of petrol they use. It is amusing to hear some honorable senators saying that certain industries are not sufficiently protected, and that others have received too much assistance. The Tasmanian representatives who have spoken commenced by complaining that the duties on most of the items are excessive; but concluded by asking for higher duties on dressed timber. Their attitude in this respect is most inconsistent. The Tariff Board was appointed not for the purpose of imposing duties, but to conduct thorough investigations into the operations of industries applying for further protection, and to report to Parliament. Honorable senators have been deluged with circulars concerning suggested reductions and increases in duties; but as those who have distributed these documents have had every opportunity of putting their case before the Tariff Board, there should not be any need for such communications. The amended schedule is, I believe, based on the recommendations of the Tariff Board, which has inquired into the operations of industries since the last schedule was adopted. It is futile for representatives of different industries to submit lengthy circulars to honorable senators when they have ample opportunities of putting their case before a properly constituted authority. The members of the Tariff Board have always been willing to listen to any representations I have desired to make concerning the duties imposed, and I am sure similar consideration is shown to others. We are not expected to blindly follow the recommendations of the Board, but as it is in an “ exceptionally fortunate position in being able to ascertain all the facts and is composed of unbiased men, its recommendations are worthy of our most careful consideration. Senator Findley referred to the position of the woollen mills, and said, I think, that during the last few months the shares of woollen manufacturing companies had increased to a remarkable extent.
– That is not so. I said that the shares of many companies that had received protection under the new schedule, including woollen mills, had risen appreciably, and that shares in some companies, but not woollen manufacturing companies, had increased by 100 per cent.
– I thought the honorable senator was referring particularly to woollen mills. The woollen mills producing blankets and flannels - not the worsted mills - have had a particularly uphill fight during the’ last few years. Knitting mills have also been in a precarious way for a long time, and the experience of the Lincoln mills and one or two others has been most discouraging. The worsted mills, which are producing cloth, have been more fortunate, because there has been a much greater demand for their product than there has been for the blankets and flannels produced by the woollen mills. Vickers Limited, of Sydney, and the Globe Worsted Mills, owned by Mr. Wilkinson, are turning out a product which is quite equal to that produced in other countries. The products of the Ipswich mills, in Queensland, are the equal of goods produced anywhere. I agree with other honorable senators who have said that these industries should receive every assistance, and who have expressed the hope that it will not be long before our own mills will be producing practically the whole qf the material used in Australia. There is always a certain amount of prejudice in the minds of some people against the products of their own land, and that prejudice is probably more pronounced in Australia than in other countries. If given the opportunity, I do not think that there is any reason why Australian manufacturers should not produce an article equal to the best manufactured in other countries. Senator Thompson, referring to whisky, said that others might drink the Australian product, but that he was satisfied with Scotch. The local distilleries benefited by the mistakes made probably in the initial stages of the industry, and there is no reason why the Australian whisky should not have as good a reputation as the Scotch product.
– Manufacturers in every part of the world have been trying without success to shift the Scotch whisky from its pedestal.
– There should be plenty of room in Australia for both the Scotch and local product. Before I support an additional duty on imported whiskies, I should like the Minister (Senator Crawford) to explain why an increased duty is necessary when the Australian whisky is being sold at 3s. to 4s. a bottle cheaper than imported whiskies. I am not a connoisseur, and possibly if I sampled the different brands I should not be able to detect the difference. Reverting to the question of woollen manufacturing, I may say that Senator Thompson and I have been associated in an attempt to establish woollen mills in Queensland, and I hope that the day is not far distant when the objective we have in view will be achieved. Quite recently there has been formed iu Queensland a company known as the North Australian Worsted Mills, and and this company has almost completed the erection of a wooltop making plant at Charters Towers. But for the fact that the wooltops making industry is more or less protected, and that Australia produces the finest quality of wool in the world, the outlook for the town of Charters Towers, which in days gone by was probably one of the most nourishing mining centres of North Queensland, would have been very serious indeed.
– The honorable senator might say that it was one of the most flourishing mining centres of Australia, because at one time it had a population of 33,000.
– On account of the unfortunate decline in the mining industry the population of Charters Towers is very much depleted; it is not the city it was in the heyday of its prosperity. This woollen mill, which, naturally, has been well supported by the local townspeople, if it succeeds and develops as I believe it will, will give a renewal of life to a decadent mining town. Charters Towers is well adapted to the manufacture of wooltops, and woollen and worsted goods, because there is an ample supply of fresh water available. While I agree with those honorable senators who claim that Australia must depend upon its primary industries and upon land settlement for its greatest development, I think the history of the world teaches us that no country can become truly great unless it develops its secondary industries along with its primary industries. No one who has taken the trouble to watch the development of various nations in recent periods can deny the fact that the countries which have made the greatest development during the last century are those which have devoted the greatest attention to their secondary industries. Perhaps Germany has developed its secondary industries, under a policy of protection, to a greater extent than has any other. Prior to the war it occupied practically the premier position in the output of its manufactures. When the opportunity came along Japan quickly followed the example of Germany by developing its secondary industries. America is another highly protected country which has made rapid progress by the development of its secondary industries. Honorable senators have spoken of the relation of primary to secondary industries. The manufacture of butter is a secondary industry. If the producers of butter could sell the whole of their produce in Australia, and were not obliged to export any of it, they would be much better off than they are.
– That remark would apply to any primary industry.
– It would. Senator Glasgow, who has large interests in the beef-producing industry, knows that if we had in Australia another centre with a population of 1,000,000 the chances are that the troubles of our beef growers would be overcome. As a matter of fact, the development of secondary industries hand in hand with primary industries, must result in our overcoming many of the difficulties that are now encountered in disposing of our surplus primary production. .We know the position of our dried fruits industry. Prior to the war and before the coming about of the huge settlement on the River Murray, the people who were producing dried fruits in Australia were on an extraordinarily good wicket, inasmuch as the supply was not equal to the demand for their product. But when there was a rush of others to the industry, and the output of dried fruits greatly exceeded the local demand, the growers were unable to get rid of their surplus, and there was a slump in prices.
– That difficulty will cure itself.
– It has not yet been cured, and the Commonwealth Government has been obliged to come to the assistance of the dried-fruits industry. No one begrudges the assistance given, because . we should all be pleased to see the settlement on the river Murray make progress. When it is claimed that primary production is the backbone of this country, we must also remember that secondary industries are its breastbone, and that both are necessary to make up the complete body. We have very little use in Australia for those narrow-minded fiscal bigots who in another place were ready with one stroke of the pen to wipe out every secondary industry because it costs a little more to produce some articles here than it does in another country. I thought the advocates of freetrade had disappeared many years ago. Unfortunately, there are a few of them still raising their heads; but happily very little regard is paid to them. As I said at the outset of my remarks, on account of the peculiar circumstances, of Australia, and particularly because of its long periods of dry weather, our tariff must be more or less elastic. SenatorReid has referred to the fact that although a duty on maize may be necessary at one particular period in order to protect the maize-growers of Australia, there are other times when it might be advisable in the interests of another section of primary producers to suspend that duty. For instance, Australia is subject to long periods of drought, when the woolgrowing industry in western Queensland suffers considerably, and sheep die by the thousand. If at such times the graziers could get cheap maize they could keep their stock alive. Therefore, occasionally it may be advisable to remove the duty on maize. But immediately that claim is made on behalf of the producers of wool, the maize-growers point out their side of the question. They claim that they have had bad times in. the past, and that when an opportunity is given to them to get a little more for their product it is not fair to them that maize should be allowed to come in free of duty to compete with their product and lower the price to the man out west, who has already done very well out of the big prices he has obtained for his wool. In the past governments have found it necessary to adopt a give-and-take fiscal policy, and for that reason Australia has framed a tariff which is more or less elastic, and has appointed tariff boards to advise Parliament just how it should act. As our existing industries develop, or as new industries spring up in our midst, I think it is a foregone conclusion that this Parliament will, almost every year, have before it for consideration a revised tariff schedule. Queensland is in the unique position of having a monopoly of the production of Australian softwoods. There is very little pine grown outside its borders. The Commonwealth Year-Book tells us that the percentage of forest land to the total area of Australia is almost the smallest of any country in the world. It is about third from the bottom of the list so far as percentage of forest land is concerned. For that reason, I do not think it is advisable for us to shut out the importations of softwoods and cut the timber out of our forests in order to supply the whole of our local requirements. To my mind, a policy of preserving our forests and adopting a scheme of re-afforestation will prove of more value to us in years to come than the imposition of a high rate of duty on sawn timber or timber in the log, which has the effect of considerably increasing the cost of building, making it almost impossible for a man on a small salary in Queensland, where houses are solely built of timber, to get a home for himself. Senator Thompson has pointed out that Queensland pine is expensive, not because of any duty or that the wages paid in the industry are high, but because about four-fifths of the pine forests now left uncut are the property of the Crown.
– Unoccupied Crown land?
– Principally Government forests. The high cost of our softwoods is due to the fact that the Forestry Department has been used by the State Labour Government as a taxing machine. In the old days a royalty of so much per 100 super, feet on the stump was charged to timber-getters.
– How much is now charged ?
– About 10s. or 12s. I cannot give the exact figures.
– But it is important to know what the royalty is.
– It is probably four times what it was a few years ago. A minimum royalty is fixed, and a notice is published in the Government Gazette that a certain quantity of timber will be made available at auction on a given date. The quantity offering is never equal to the demand by the millers, and the result is that there is the keenest competition, which naturally forces up the royalties. Owing to the courtesy of Senator Thompson, I am now in a position to quote the royalties. In 1918 the royalty on first class pine in the central district amounted to 2s. 6d. per 100 super, feet. It rose to 5s. 9d. at the end of that year, and it was gradually increased until, in February last, it amounted to 12s. 6d - an increase of 400 per cent. since 1918. The royalty on hardwood increased 200 per cent. during the same period, that is from 2s. 6d. to 7s 6d. Houses in Queensland are almost wholly built of pine, and the State Labour Government, by increasing the royalties, has forced up the price of sawn timber. First class wood for lining and ceiling is now in the neighbourhood of £3 per 100 super, feet.
– What is the price of hardwood?
– The honorable senator knows that a very small proportion of hardwood is used in the building of houses in Queensland. By using the Forestry Department purely as a taxing machine, the Labour Government in my State has placed a very unfair burden upon people who desire to build their own homes, and an even more unfortunate feature is that the ‘ exorbitant royalties levied have not been applied to any scheme of re-afforestation. The money has been paid into the Consolidated Revenue and then wasted on State cattle stations and butchers’ shops, and similar State enterprises. Such high prices rule, for timber that it is almost impossible for the unfortunate workers to purchase houses.
– Is there no Government housing scheme in Queensland 1
– Under the Workers’ Dwellings Act houses are built for those persons who can supply a portion of the total sum required. [Extension of time granted.] A house of four or five rooms that now costs £850 could have been built some years ago for £400.
– For £350.
– Yes, easily.
– But the increase is not entirely on account of the cost of the timber.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - Order! These interjections are leading the honorable senator away from the subject-matter of the measure.
– Owing to the royalties exacted by the State Government the worker has to pay a couple of hundred pounds more than he- would otherwise be charged for his house, and, allowing for repayments of interest and principal, his home costs him £300 or £400 more than it should. I have not received any request from Queensland for an alteration in the timber duties, but £ can see no justification for increasing them. When Senator Payne was discussing this subject, I suggested that in the interests of the local saw-millers aconcession might be made on timber imported undressed.
– What kind of hardwood grows in Queensland?
– We have a tremendous quantity of ironbark and stringybark. Only recently I had the unfortunate experience of investing in a hardwood proposition, and I am now poorer to the extent of a few hundred pounds; but I would not be so inconsiderate towards the workers of Queensland as to ask for an increased duty on timber.
– Why this sudden solicitude for the welfare of the Queensland workers?
– I have always adopted that attitude towards the workers. I was returned to this chamber to represent them, and I claim that honorable senators on this side more truly represent the workers than some of the carping hypocrites who sit on the other side.
– I ask that that remark should be withdrawn.
– I did not mention any honorable senator by name.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.-I ask the honorable senator to withdraw the remark.
– I do so readily. It was prompted by the satire at which Senator Needham is an adept. Whatever I may think about the matter, I have withdrawn the words. One honorable senator said yesterday that on account of the high duty on various kinds of electrical equipment, serious injury is being done to certain secondary industries. 1 think that it was Senator Ogden who raised the subject, and in committee I should like him to specify the electrical equipment that carries a high duty and cannot be made in this country. It was my privilege this week, whilst conducting another investigation with other honorable senators, to visit the Metropolitan- Vickers Company’s works in Melbourne, and last week to go through the English Electrical Company’s establishment atRyde, Sydney. Although I do not question the accuracy of statements made yesterday by Senator Ogden, it is only reasonable that he should be asked to mention the type of electrical equipment that cannot be made in Australia and is being kept out on account of the high tariff. At the Metropolitan- Vickers Company to-day I saw workmen engaged in the interesting process of manufacturing switches.
– House switches?
SenatorFOLL. - No; big switches up to 60,000 and 70,000 volts. The English Electrical Company, three or four years ago, erected immense works on the Parramattaroad, near Sydney, at a cost of many thousands of pounds, and installed a magnificent plant. That company was led to believe that it would enjoy a substantial measure of protection, and be able to secure the whole of the work in the manufacture of turbines, alternators, condensers, and other electrical machinery in Australia. We saw in these works last week a huge plant standing idle, owing, first of all, to the 44-hour week dispute, but also to the fact that it has been unable to get sufficient orders in Australia to keep the plant in full operation, although certain orders have been sent overseas. It is called the English Electric Company, but I am informed that 95 per cent. of the capital invested in it is Australian.
– Does the company manufacture the electrical machinery mentioned by the honorable senator?
– Yes. It manufactures all descriptions of electrical appliances, including turbines, alternators, and con densers. At present it is installing a huge plant for the Pyrmont Electrical Supply Company. Only the forgings are being imported, and I understand that their manufacture calls for a special type of machinery which it would not pay to install. One planing machine cost over £15,000, and, in addition, there is a considerable amount of winding machinery. The company is now manufacturing twoway insulated fine-drawn wire. Under normal conditions it gives employment to many hundreds of men.
– If the company was established under the protection of the 1920 tariff, why is it coming forward with the request for more protection?
– I do not know what measure of protection it is asking for, but I am sure that Senator Lynch, who at all times desires to give every interest a fair deal, will be prepared to vote for a reasonable duty. I do not know whether this industry is asking for any additional duty. Our primary and secondary industries are interdependent, so it is desirable that they should be assisted in every possible way. I am not in favour of fostering any industry that is likely to handicap other interests, primary or secondary, but I am certainly in favour of granting fair protection to every Australian enterprise that is worth encouraging. Senator Lynch, I am sure, will agree that the home market is the best market for our primary producers. If, by encouraging our secondary industries we can provide a larger home market for our primary products, we shall be on the high road to national greatness. I hope the day will come when not a pound of Australian greasy wool will be exported. I should like to see every pound of it treated here, at all events, up to the wooltop stage, and that would be one-third of the way towards the manufactured cloth. During the war the Colonial Combing Spinning and Weaving Company made huge ‘ profits from the manufacture of wool-tops, for which there was a keen demand in Japan, and the wool-tops factory at Charters Towers, in North Queensland, also is looking to the East as a market for its output. Senator Ogden will probably tell us that we cannot do this. My reply is tl] at the wool manufacturing business is a 90 per cent, machine industry, and there is no reason why Australian operatives should not become as efficient in this field of enterprise as are the operatives in the Mother Country or elsewhere.
– How can we balance our exchange if we do not export our wool, wheat, or other primary products?
– I hope it will not be long before we are in a position to export, our manufactured products. And as for balancing our exchanges, I point out to the .honorable senator that, if we export our wool in a semi-manufactured state, we shall receive about three times as much for it as we get for the raw material, and the probabilities are that exchange will be in our favour. At present we export our greasy wool to Britain, France, Germany, the United States . of America, and J apan. We should take steps to manufacture it into wool-tops instead of sending it away as raw material.
Tlie DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands) . - I understand that several honorable senators have an engagement this evening which they desire to attend, and, this being a convenient opportunity to suspend the sitting, I shall resume the chair at 8 o’clock.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I trust that the day is not far distant when not only wooltops but also yarn and cloth will be manufactured to a large extent in Australia. I believe in protecting from the competition of low-wage countries industries that are of value to the Cornwealth; but some of the industries that have been protected by tariff duties for a long while have failed to develop, and, therefore, do not deserve further consideration. As an illustration, I may mention the artificial flower-making industry. It may not be considered of very much importance; but many thousands of pounds are spent here annually in artificial flowers. “When the tariff schedule was before us some years ago, a firm in Sydney - known as the Flower Manufacturing Company- and several other companies in the Commonwealth were manufacturing artificial flowers. On behalf of these firms representations for a protective duty were doubtless made to the
Tariff Board, and, in consequence of its recommendation, the request was granted. Since that time, the Sydneyfirm has discontinued operations, and1 practically all the artificial flowers used in Australia at present are imported. The importers have been relieved of competition from locally-made flowers, but the duties are still enforced and the consumer has to suffer for it. It seems to me that, in the interests of the general public, that duty should be discontinued ; but unless representations are made by honorable members of this Parliament nothing is done in that direction. That single example indicates what I mean when I say that certain duties are retained which are not protecting industries; but are really only yielding revenue.
– They are anomalies. .
– That is so. Occasions like this give honorable senators an opportunity of bringing them definitely under the notice of the Minister. The Tariff Board was appointed by Parliament for the specific purpose of investigating and reporting to the Minister what industries merited protection, and not to recommend the imposition of merely revenue-producing duties. I trust that, in committee, the Minister will give us some substantial reason for supporting the duty on whisky. At present I cannot see why it is necessary to retain it, seeing that locally-manufactured whisky is being sold at considerably less than imported whisky. I have an open mind on the matter, and if the Minister can justify the duty I shall vote in favour of it; but not otherwise. The decision in matters of this kind may safely be left to the natural intelligence of honorable senators, who may, of course, be influenced by the persuasive eloquence of the Minister. I sincerely hope that the imposition of the duties in ‘this schedule will, as the Minister suggested, lead to the development of our industries and the progress of Australia.
– Because people generally are directly or indirectly concerned in tariff revision, I venture to say that there is no question that comes before Parliament in which they take so keen an interest. I disagree very largely with the views expressed by most of the honorable senators who have participated in this debate. To my mind this is 95 per cent, a question of how the national revenue shall be obtained. I know the usual orthodox arguments that are advanced in favour of the protectionist policy; but I also know, and have known for very many years, that a very shrewd type of citizen is most enthusiastic in his protectionist proclivities. I think I am doing him no injustice when I say that his principal object in advocating high tariff duties is to obtain national revenue. I shall advance some evidence presently in support of that contention. On the other hand, I realize that there are many straightforward, honest workers who regard the imposition of duties on goods made outside the Commonwealth as a means of developing industry here, and of providing continuous employment at satisfactory rates of wages. In consequence of the conflicting views that are expressed on this matter, it is difficult for some people to determine their attitude, but, to my mind, the position is as clear as noonday. It must be obvious to persons of even the meanest intelligence - and I do not use that term in any offensive sense - that to the extent that goods are imported into Australia they are not manufactured here. Almost ever since Victoria secured independent government, she has been strongly protectionist in her fiscal policy. I can well remember that in prefederation days Victoria was regarded as the most progressive colony in the Australian group. Many people supported federation because they believed that its consummation would lead to the adoption of a protectionist policy for the whole of Australia. As a matter of fact, that was one of the great levers that was used to secure federation.
– No bargain of that kind was either made or implied.
– The great majority of people who supported federation outside of New South Wales, which was freetrade, knew that if they attained their object, the Commonwealth would become protectionist, because all the States except New South Wales were in favour of it; and the fact is that since the achievement of federation until now a protectionist policy has been enforced. We are safe in assuming that high protection will be the policy of the Commonwealth for an indefinite number of years, and proposed amendments in the Commonwealth tariff will always be a matter of very grave concern to the persons who are directly or indirectly interested in this great question. To me it is a question of who is to pay the taxation of the country. I am personally acquainted with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), whom I regard as one of the most shrewd business men in the Commonwealth, and one who efficiently represents the class to which he belongs. He knows as well as, if not better than I do, that a policy of protection means a continually increasing revenue. I ask honorable senators opposite, and even those on this side of the chamber, if they cannot see quite clearly that although our Customs revenue is increasing yearly goods manufactured in foreign countries are still being imported in larger quantities. To the extent to which foreign goods come here, so is our policy of protection ineffective. The primary object of this socalled protective policy is to produce revenue.
– The objective is not to keep all importations out of Australia?
– No, it is to procure a maximum amount of revenue, and it ought to be clear, even to Senator Barwell, that to the extent to which foreign goods come into the country, so is our policy of protection a failure.
– I do not admit that for a moment.
– It is a fact, and would, I think, be admitted by any schoolboy. I am pointing out the practical, and not the theoretical, effect of protection, and can say, without fear of successful contradiction, even by Senator Barwell, that in consequence of the huge imports of foreign goods our protective policy is ineffective. The objective is to produce revenue, and not to encourage the investment of capital and the employment of labour in Australia. Notwithstanding the foolish interjection of Senator Barwell, we received last year in the form of Customs and excise no less than £36,000,000. Surely the learned gentleman must know that foreign goods are coming into Australia !
– Of course they are, and the intention is not to keep them out, but to collect revenue on those that do come in.
– I am glad to have that admission.
– But the Government denies that.
– Who believes the Government? It cannot be denied that the fundamental objective of protection is to secure revenue.
– The object of a protective tariff is to safeguard efficient industries.
– The facts are diametrically opposed to the views . expressed by the honorable senator. From the first revenue tariff under which duties on imported goods were collected up to the present, we find that, with very few exceptions, the amount received in Customs and excise has increased.
– That is merely incidental to a protective tariff.
– The honorable senator is quite right. It is part and parcel of a protective policy.
– Provision is made in the schedule for a number of reductions.
– Yes, totalling perhaps, £750,000, which is a mere trifle. Although I am not a prophet, I can safely assume, from returns up to date, that the income this year from Customs and excise will be approximately £4.0,000,000. Any one possessed of even an elementary education must conclude that foreign goods must be coming into the country in large quantities, and yet we are told by Senator Barwell and others, that this is only incidental to a protective policy. The objective of such a policy has always been, and is still today, to place the taxation of the country upon the shoulders of those least able to bear it. I have been informed on the most reliable authority that there are in nearly all the capital cities of the Commonwealth, a large number of men who are unable to secure employment. If, under protection, employment is provided for the Australian people, such a. condition of affairs should not exist.
– Is the honorable senator a freetrader?
– I am one of those who believe that the people who own this country should pay the taxation. That is the first article of my political creed. The policy of the honorable senator is that those who do the work should pay the taxation, and those who own the country should get off scot free.
– Is the honorable senator a freetrader?
– I should like to know what is meant by a freetrader. If it means a land values taxer, I am one.
– The honorable senator’s views are entirely at variance with those of the other members of his party.
– The honorable senator’s remarks remind me of the position in ancient Egypt, when the wiseacres imposed a tax upon those who grew fig trees, with the result that the fig trees were all destroyed.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - Order! I see no reference to fig trees in the bill.
– Senator Barwell knows very well that in any country where a protective policy is in operation there is always a lack of employment.
– Such a policy is in operation in every civilized country with one exception.
– You know very well-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I ask the honorable senator to address the Chair.
– The honorable senator was inviting a reply.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator will be in order in replying, provided that he complies with the Standing Orders by doing so through the Chair.
– It is practically impossible to say when this so-called national policy of protection was first introduced. We know, however, that in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the United States of America, and Great Britain, there are a number of honest men able and willing to work, who, despite the national policy of protection, cannot find employment. It is well for us to question whether this system which I am condemning is all that is claimed for it. We are told sometimes that Great Britain is supposed to be a freetrade country.
– There is plenty of unemployment there.
– Yes. According to the Estimates .of Great Britain for the years 1924-5, the estimated revenue from Customs and excise was £246,700,000.
– There is not a wholly freetrade country to which the honorable senator can go.
– Of course there is not. Great Britain has never had, and is never likely to have a freetrade policy. Those who term. Great Britain a freetrade country know full well that they are misrepresenting the position. It is not today, and never has been a freetrade country. It is a fairly high revenue tariff country. In Great Britain the income tax and super tax yields a revenue of £326,000,000. That is another tax upon industry. Any one who works for an income in Great Britain is pounced upon every year by the income tax collector just as he would be in any other country, and compelled to pay tax in proportion to the services he renders to the community.
– Does not the honorable senator regard the income tax as a fair tax ?
– I regard it as a most objectionable, out-of-date, and mischievous form of taxation. It is entirely wrong in its application, and the idea that it is a proper system was exploded long ago by Henry George in his book, Progress and Poverty. I recommend Senator Barwell to read that book and try to understand it, because evidently his views are entirely out of date. Income taxation is only one stage worse than taxation through the Customs house. I can imagine nothing more silly than taxing a man in proportion to the services he renders to the community, while taking very good care to permit the people who own the country to escape taxation. But that is the policy of honorable senators opposite, and it is my purpose to tear aside the veil and expose their hyprocisy.
– I thought that the honorable senator’s policy was socialism.
– The first article of my political creed is land values taxation, such as we now have in operation at Canberra. In Great Britain death duties bring in a revenue of £56,000,000. The authorities there are too cowardly to act while the husband lives, but the moment he dies they pounce on the widow, just as we do here, and compel ner to yield up a proportion of the estate left to her by her deceased husband.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - I must remind the honorable senator that he is not discussing the Customs Tariff Bill.
– A great deal of latitude is allowed on this debate, but I have no intention of coming into conflict with your ruling. Those who characterize Great Britain as a freetrade country know full well that they are wrong. The country’s balance-sheet shows most emphatically that it is not a freetrade country. As a matter of fact, it never has been, and, so far as I can see, it never will be freetrade because the protection policy is becoming more and more popular there, and soon we shall see repeated there over and over again the conditions that have existed in other countries. Having made these few preliminary remarks let me now remind honorable senators on the Government side of an incident which occurred in the State which I have the honour of .assisting to represent in this Senate. In prefederation days, when Sir John See was Premier of New South Wales, there was a very persistent agitation in favour of a complete alteration in the system of taxation. As a matter of fact, there was a very grave likelihood of the taxation being imposed on the owners of the colony until, to a very large and representative meeting of the citizens, Sir John See made this very remarkable statement: “If we only had a 10 per cent, ad valorem duty on imported goods we should hear no more of land values taxation.” That one sentence of his brought more tangible support for a policy of protection in New South Wales than any other statement he could possibly have made, and from that date until the present time that policy has been in force, as no doubt it will be for quite a number of years to come, because the wealthy people know full well that by our national policy of protection they are relieved of much taxation, while at the same time the poorer people are obliged to pay an extraordinarily high proportion of the revenue derived through the Customs House. In fact, that is the basic reason for the existence of our national policy of protection; otherwise we should see even on the Government side of the chamber honorable senators advocating views I advocate. They do not do so because they know that so long as the Treasury can be kept full by means of our present system of taxation there is no possible chance of altering it. Within the last few days the Premiers of the various States have met in Melbourne to confer with the Prime Minister. Why are they here? It is an old saying that, where the carcass is, there the eagles are gathered together. The Premiers are gathered here for the express purpose of deciding how to divide the money collected at the Customs House. Being men of considerable foresight, otherwise they would not be holding their positions, they know very well that no matter what the present Commonwealth Government may Bay about imposing duties for the purpose of protecting Australian industries, foreign goods will still be imported, and consequently an ever-increasing amount of revenue will be derived from the Customs duties. Therefore, like eagles gathered around the carcass, they, are here for the purpose of ascertaining what share of the carcass they will get. If our policy of protection were effective and these hated foreign goods were excluded, no revenue would be derived through the Customs House. But of course there is no idea of excluding them. If a Minister for Trade and Customs were asked to bring in a bill to prohibit the importation of foreign-made goods, he would not entertain the idea for one moment. Neither would honorable senators on the Government side. Their objective is to get the maximum amount of revenue through the Customs House in order to save the owners of this country from paying their just share of taxation. I could understand ‘ a man in favour of making certain commodities in Australia asking that the duty on those goods should be heavy enough to exclude foreign manufactures, but that is not the policy enunciated by honorable senators who support the Government. They want their so-called protection policy solely for the purpose of getting revenue and avoiding the necessity for direct taxation. No one on the Government side can dispute the accuracy of my statement in that regard.
– Not to the satisfaction of the honorable senator.
– If I were to tell honorable senators of a system of national taxation which would fall evenly on all members of the community I suppose I should be out of order, but I have done so recently, and at the first opportunity again, when I am in order, I shall do so, because honorable senators opposite are so stiff-necked and so hard to convince that they require to be told a thing quite a number of times. If an honorable senator is satisfied that a certain reform is necessary, he is justified in drawing attention to it on every possible occasion.
– But not always before the same audience.
– That does not matter. I am reminded of a clergyman who was accused by one of his parishioners of repeating the same sermon on many occasions. The clergyman’s reply was that the advice given was good, and that he intended to continue to give it until his parishioners acted upon it. It is my intention to remind honorable senators at reasonable intervals of the correct method of taxation in the hope that they will eventually see the wisdom of adopting it.
Some years ago the Parliament decided to impose a duty of 35 per cent, on imported bells, despite the vigorous protests voiced at the time. However, it was soon realized that the impost was a ridiculous one, since musical bells were not manufactured in the Commonwealth, and eventually the duty was abandoned. When the bill reaches the committee stage it is my intention to submit an amendment to the effect that the fittings necessary for such bells shall also be admitted duty free.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - The honorable senator is not in order in discussing an item that does not appeal” in the schedule.
– While bowing to your ruling, Mr. Deputy President, I point out that item 366 deals with musical instruments, including bells, and I wish to make casual reference to the fact that bells require fittings, since they cannot be rung properly without them. A chime of bells is to be imported at no distant date for the University of Sydney, and I am sure that the citizens of Sydney will be delighted when the chimes are heard for the first time - probably when the Sydney Harbour bridge is opened.
For a number of years the most popular form of entertainment in Australia has been the moving picture show, and honorable senators are well aware of the fact that American films are almost exclusively screened. Australian pictures are rarely shown, although the scenic beauties of this country are at least equal to those of the United States of America. The universal presentation of American films in Australia is but a sly method of carrying out undesirable American propaganda. Scenery such as that in The Gorge, near Launceston, and in the timber districts of Tasmania, is very fine. Western Australia, with its splendid timber areas and magnificent beaches, should be made better known to Australians by means of the cinematograph. Victorian scenery is even superior, in some respects, to that of Tasmania, and the mountain and coastal scenery of New South Wales is unsurpassed. Why should Australians have inflicted upon them, night after night, thousands of feet of films dealing with the “skyscrapers” of New York, and the lake and mountain scenery of the United States of America, until they are sick and tired of them? Under our so-called protectionist policy, we have allowed the American picture producers to immortalize their country at our expense.
– The honorable senator might mention the scenic attractions of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea.
– -Yes. The scenery of Australia and New Guinea may well be compared with that of America and Switzerland. The following table indicates the large quantity of American films imported into the Commonwealth during the year ended 30th June, 1925, as compared with those obtained from other countries : -
I invite the Senate to return .the bill to the House of Representatives, and ask it to take such steps as will enable Australian picture producers to present scenes from the farming, mining, and dairying districts of this country. It was an American economist who stated that all industries in the nature of monopolies should be controlled by the State or the municipality, and I regard the picture-film industry as one that might fairly be termed a monopoly. Although I am not prepared to say that it should be a State monopoly, I should be very glad if American films were shut out, and Australian films took their place. It may be said that private individuals in Australia are at liberty to enter into the business. They know very well that, confronted as they would be by a very powerful combine, they would have no chance of surviving unless they received substantial assistance from the Commonwealth Parliament. When we reach the committee stage of the bill, I intend to show how this business is manipulated, and how Australian producers are handicapped by the stranglehold of the American film-producing companies.
– And yet the honorable senator frequently asks us to accept the views of an American economist !
– I have suggested that a statue of Henry George should be erected at Canberra; but I suppose that, just as visitors to St. Paul’s are expected to regard the great cathedral as a monument to Christopher Wren, so will visitors to Canberra, be invited to look around and see, in the working of the leasehold system there, a fitting monument to the principles so ably enunciated by Henry George.
I propose now to direct attention to the increase in the duty on whisky. The proposal is enough to cause a rebellion. As a matter of fact, shortly after the War of Independence grave trouble occurred in the United States of America, because a misguided government interfered with those who resolved to supply their own requirements. The increase in the whisky duties is the most ridiculous and most mischievous proposal that has ever come before this chamber. In the good old days, the import duty was only about 14s. a gallon. This Government, by the increase of 5s. a gallon, has brought it up to 35s. a gallon, with, a corresponding increase in the excise duty. No one has any sympathy with excisemen who go round poking their noses where they are not wanted, to find out if people are endeavouring to make and enjoy the good things in life. It is almost unnecessary for me to state that this proposal will not have my support. It should bring about the downfall of any government that dares to suggest it. A good whisky, mellowed in the wood, is the best drink ever made.
– Has the honorable senator tried Queensland rum?
– I have. I have tasted vodka, also the Japanese national saka, and many other beverages; but, in my judgment, there is nothing to compare with a good mellow whisky. Honorable senators opposite dare to deny the truth of this statement, and yet we find them supporting a government that proposes to increase the duty by 5s. a gallon. [Extension of time granted.] It had been said that whiskies manufactured in the Commonwealth are equal to the imported article. All whiskies are good.
– It is apparent that the; honorable senator has not been to Egypt.
– I have no objection to the encouragement of the distillation of whisky in Australia, provided the people who produce it retail it at a reasonable price. If, however, they increase the price, other distilleries will engage in the business, and ultimately consumers will get a reasonably fair deal. This Government professes to be anxious to give encouragement to Australian industries. Ministers and their supporters have a magnificent opportunity to give a practical demonstration of their fiscal faith. It is evident that the Government is not “ game “ to give effect to its views with regard to the encouragement of Australian industries, because it proposes also to increase the excise duty by 5s. a gallon. When these duties are before us, I shall move for their deletion. There might then be a chance to buy a good Australian whisky at 3s. 6d. a bottle.
– Does the honorable senator drink Australian whisky ?
– I drink any whisky, although for certain reasons I have not done so of late. Other items in the bill are worthy of serious consideration. When we are considering the details of the measure, I shall have something to say about them. I do not subscribe altogether to the view expressed by Senator
Ogden that all Customs duties are in the nature of a subsidy to inefficiency; but 1 do not disguise from myself the fact that, sheltered behind a high tariff wall, manufacturers may possibly ‘ be a trifle slow in bringing their machinery up to date. I entirely disagree with Senator Ogden with regard to piece-work. Applied to certain industries, it may be all right; but as a general principle it is in the nature of sweating, and for that reason I am opposed to it.
I was surprised at the figures, supplied this evening concerning the timber industry. If they are correct, it would appear that the Queensland Government is charging excessively high royalties for the cutting of soft woods. I can quite understand any Government admitting Douglas pine and
Oregon almost free when a royalty of 12s. 6d. per 100 super, feet is demanded for local timber. That should not be tolerated.
SenatorFoll. - That is the minimum; it goes higher than that.
– Such a royalty should not be countenanced. Twelve shillings and sixpence a 100 super. ‘ feet is about 33 l-3rd more than the price at which we could buy Australian hardwood and imported oregon in 1914. No wonder houses are dear.
SenatorFoll. - Ready-dressed pine boards are 57s. to 60s. a 100 feet nowadays.
– I was amused to hear Senator H. Hays say last night that 2,000 men could be employed in the Tasmanian timber industry, but that only 700 were actually working in it. He told us the same thing two years ago. I suppose the other 1,300 men have been out of work ever since. In my opinion there is no timber in this country that can be compared withoregon for certain purposes. Oregon is light, can be handled easily, and does not warp. We could get on withoutoregon, of course, but it seems to me that we shall not do so as long as a royalty of 12s. 6d. per 100 super, feet is demanded for Australian timber.
I listened very carefully to Senator Barwell’s speech, for I look upon him as a man who should be able to throw some light on a dark subject?
He told us that the Government policy, as enunciated by the Prime Minister, was sane and reasonable protection for efficient Australian industries. He also said that the incidence of the tariff was unfair to the primary producers, and that he wanted reasonable protection for them. He and his colleagues are cunning gentlemen. You cannot knock them out. What is sane and reasonable protection ? They know what they are about in using a phrase like that. You cannot nail them down to a single definite statement. They are undoubtedly a cunning crew. Is Senator Barwell prepared to admit duty free all the machinery and commodities that the primary producers need ? If he were, and tried to give effect to that policy, he would be turned out of the Nationalist Party. I realize where Senator Barwell stands. He and others like him want a big revenue from the Customs Department so that the wealthy landowners of Australia who, according to the last return, were worth £445,000,000, may escape paying a reasonable amount of taxation.
SenatorFoll. - How would the honorable senator raise our revenue?
– By straight-out land values taxation without exemptions in accordance with the principle laid down by the immortal Henry George in Progress and Poverty. I know that that does not meet the wishes of all the members of my party. Some of my colleagues, like Senator Findley, are up-to-the-hilt, protectionists. Senator Findley related last night the benefits that the primary producer had derived from a policy of protection. He told us about the local market and a lot of other things. But he omitted to tellus one important thing about this great and glorious policy, so I shall tell it. This policy keeps our national exchequer full to overflowing by levying tariff duties on the manufactures of foreign low wage countries, and so enables our wealthy land-owners to escape taxation. That is why Senator Barwell and his colleagues support the policy. Senator J. B. Hayes and Senator H. Hays, apparently have an ardent desire to protect the Tasmanian timber industry, but I cannot understand why they do not force the Government that they support to exclude Canadian
Douglas pine and Baltic pine from the Commonwealth. If I were as strong on any matter as they appear to be on protection for the Tasmanian timber industry, and the Government which I supported would not yield to my wishes, I should cross over to the Opposition side of the chamber.
– The honorable senator’s party does not do all that he wishes, but he does not cross over to this side of the chamber.
– There are some differences among honorable members of the Opposition, but we are solid enough when the occasion requires it. I listened carefully to the remarks made by Senator Foll on the motor car industry. In my opinion motor cars are an absolute necessity in these days, and life in Australia without them would be hardly worth living. But, in spite of that, every State Government, and every local governing authority which has the power to do so, imposes taxes on them. A tax of £60 or £70 is levied on every complete motor body that is imported, and it is a wonder that we do not impose a heavy duty on imported chassis. To my mind it is absolutely wrong to tax motor cars. The only justification for it is that it adds to our revenue. The adoption of this schedule is a foregone conclusion. The Government has an absolute majority behind it and can do as it likes. Nothing that honorable members on this side of the chamber may say will have any effect.
– If anything sensible is said, we will listen to it. .
– And that is all you will do.
– It is sensible to ask Senator Drake-Brockman to assist in abolishing the excise duty on locally manufactured whisky, but I do not think he will do so. I propose later to ask him to assist me to remove the duties on a number of articles, but I do not think that he will fall in with my views. My opinion of this protectionist policy is that it is designed by a few of our intelligent men, in order to protect certain wealthy citizens from reasonable taxation, by throwing the chief burden of taxation upon the poorer classes of our community; but I realize that it will be continued, no matter what I may say in opposition to it.
– Measures designed to amend our tariff laws are no strangers in this chamber. They have so constantly made their reappearance here during the last 20 years, that I am afraid they are confirmed in the habit. Of course every amending measure is surrounded by a different set of conditions. The Government has not supplied “us with anything like as much information as we ought to have to enable us to deal intelligently with this by no means unimportant bill. On previous occasions when similar measures have been introduced, it has been the custom to supply honorable senators with printed matter giving, in concise form, something pf the history of the items under consideration. We have b°en told the volume of the imports, th? countries from which they come, the amount of revenue derived from them, and the extent to which the rate of duty on them has varied. Something like that would be invaluable to us. As things are, we have to do the best we can with the official documents, blue books, yearbooks, and other information that is within our range, whereas a few Customs department clerks, skilled in the matter, could easily prepare a concise statement, giving information that is really necessary for our guidance. I have already said that measures of this kind are not strangers here. They have a habit of appearing fairly frequently, and even when they do not actually appear we hear rumblings of their approach within the precincts of this chamber or read of them in the public journals of this country. If my recollection serves me aright, our tariff legislation has been amended on five occasions. The first tariff, which was introduced in 1901-2, was followed by amending tariff legislation in 1908, again in 1914, which was ratified later, and also in 1920. We now have the present amending measure, which makes in all five separate attempts to place our tariff laws on a satisfactory footing. It is suggested that our position is economically unsound, and that something which is unwholesome has crept into our industrial life. We are led to believe that a screw in the industrial mechanism needs tightening up, and that if adjustments are not made we shall be courting disaster. I propose to subject this schedule to a fairly close scrutiny, and in order to do so have gathered together a few notes, publications, and authorities to fortify me in case I may be questioned by some honorable senators concerning the opinions I hold on this most important subject. It is a very important matter to amend any law, and particularly so when the amendment involves, as this does, a radical and unprecedented attempt to raise certain tariff duties higher than they have ever been before. Those who are supporting this proposal must furnish chapter and verse for the faith that is in them, otherwise their efforts will be fruitless. In the first place, I do not support for a moment the views expressed by some unkind crities of the supplicants on the present occasion. Some say that the measure provides for higher and still higher duties, which are the natural outcome of requests made by a certain set of people. There are other critics who compare the actions of a certain section to the inebriate who calls for a reviver, in the form of an additional supply of a poisonous drink, in order to overcome his weakness. Certain persons in the community who have been receiving the benefit of high duties are still coming to the Government and asking for more. I do not see anything wrong with protection; I have no objection to it as a principle. As a matter of fact the first time I appeared on the floor of this chamber I was, as I am to-day, a protectionist. But, of course, when it comes to a definition of protection, and I have, in common with other honorable senators, the right to define my position, I trust I shall have sufficient latitude to state exactly where I stand. Senator Grant, who, by the way, delivered a very illuminating speech, left us in a state of uncertainty as to where he actually stands on fiscal questions. He gave a very clear exposition of his attitude on the importation of American films. He coquetted with the principle of protection, swung off to timber duties and licences in Queensland, and then on to land taxation, but left us in such doubt that the only effect of his speech was to stimulate our imagination. I wish to declare at the outset that I shall vote for some of the increased duties, for reasons which I shall give later.- Some I shall oppose with all the vigour and strength at my command. As regards others, I shall be guided by the explanations given by the Minister. The imposition of duties is of serious import in any community. Duties affect the section selling goods in order to earn a livelihood, as well as the section engaged in their manufacture, whom we are now asked to assist and who apparently are about to succeed. It is about time that we put on our considering caps and definitely decided whether the claims which the latter put forward with such persistency should be granted. If we artificially raise the cost of commodities, which, of course, this proposal, if adopted, will do, there will be a corresponding effect throughout the whole ramifications of industry. If we automatically raise the price of certain commodities, we alter the whole industrial relationship, and bring about changes that even honorable senators with their wisdom and experience cannot foretell or outline. I was not present when the Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) moved the second reading of the bill, but I read the speech of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), in another place, who, by the way, informed us in a rather reassuring tone that there is nothing very much wrong with the proposals of the Government, that those seeking increased advantages are entitled to them, and that the increases will not have any ill effect upon any one else. We have been informed that increased duties are to be imposed on only 53 items, and that on 47 decreases are proposed. What are the facts? Increased duties are to be imposed on metals and machinery, and woollen and other fabrics, which will, of course, increase the cost, but the articles on which duties are to be decreased are of minor importance, including, for instance, shaving-set brushes and calves’ rennet and fancy carpets. I do not intend to record my vote without examining the proposals most carefully, and ascertaining what justification there is for any increase. In view of what I have said, and the repeatedly successful demands which have been made to Parliament for increased duties, one naturally asks when this process is to cease.
– Is it never likely to stop? Are the duties to be made higher and higher? We need, of course, a standard to guide us in this matter.
Those who went through the first Federal struggle will remember that Victoria was held up as the one State in which the policy of protection had been successfully tried out. It cannot be denied that protection in Victoria was of the approved order, and of a kind that made for the success and prosperity of the State. I have in my possession the Victorian tariff under which we were told that Victoria prospered when New South Wales languished, and, without unduly delaying honorable senators, I shall quote a few examples to show how duties have been increased. I am endeavouring to seek a standard for our guidance in fixing rates, and to hold the scales evenly between the rival sections. Under the old Victorian tariff tobacco was protected to the extent of1s. per lb., but under the Commonwealth tariff of 1917-18, which, by the way, has since been increased, tobacco was protected to the extent of 4s. per lb.
– What is the date of the Victorian tariff?
– It was in operation in pre-federation days.
– There were three or four different tariffs in operation prior to the inception of federation.
– If I state that I am quoting from the pre-federation Victorian tariff, as published in Mr. Ambrose Pratt’s work, I am sure the honorable senator will be satisfied that I am not striving to falsify the position. The Commonwealth tariff of 4s., as against the old Victorian tariff of1s., has since been increased. Under the Victorian tariff fruits were free. Under the Commonwealth tariff the duty is1s. 6d. per cental. On potted and concentrated meats, including extracts of meat and meat jellies, the Victorian tariff was 20 per cent. The Commonwealth tariff of 1917-18 was 30 per cent., and it has since been increased. Under the Victorian tariff the duties on woollen goods ranged as high as 25 per cent. The Commonwealth tariff of 1917-18 imposed duties ranging up to 35 per cent., and to-day the range is up to 60 per cent. Victorian woollen mills prospered under a duty of 25 per cent.
– Has not everything altered since those days?
– I shall deal with that aspect later on, but all too soon for the honorable senator. Under that allsalutary Victorian tariff, productive of so much good to the colony, the duty on apparel was 35 per cent., as against 4.5 per cent. under the Commonwealth . 1917-18 tariff, which is still going higher. On certain hats and bonnets the Victorian duty was 20 per cent.; under the Commonwealth 1917-18 tariff it was 40 per cent., and it is still being made higher.
– Under the Victorian tariff the duty on apparel was 40 per cent.
– Under the Victorian tariff iron, plate and sheet, was free. Under the Commonwealth 1917-18 tariff it was 30s. per ton. Such important necessities in the development of the country as pipes, tubes, and rods of any metal were admitted free under the Victorian tariff. In 1917-18 the Commonwealth rate was 20 per cent., and it is still being made higher. Iron pipes, cast and wrought, and cast-iron fittings for pipes were charged a duty of £3 a ton under the Victorian tariff. The Commonwealth tariff under the present proposal is up to sky level; it is something in the neighbourhood of 40 or 45 per cent. Kails, fish-plates, and fishbolts, required for the development of Victoria, were admitted free. The Commonwealth duty under the 1917-18 tariff was 25 per cent., and it is also being increased. I could continue this comparison, but I would weary honorable senators. I come now to the agricultural section. Agricultural machines generally paid a duty not exceeding15 per cent. under the Victorian tariff. The Commonwealth tariff of 1917-18 was 30 per cent., and under the present proposals is still higher. Earth and rock-cutting machines and ore-dressing machines paid a duty of 25 per cent. under the Victorian tariff, as against 30 per cent. under the Commonwealth tariff. On the one hand we are told that protection was the means of making Victoria more self-reliant and more self-dependent than any other Australian colony, and the lesson to be derived from these figures is that it made its great progress under a tariff which very rarely exceeded 25 per cent. “What justification is there on the present occasion for asking for rates ranging up to 60 per cent? The only justification that Senator Findley can offer is that “ times have changed.” But will the honorable senator contend that the altered social conditions of Victoria, which now call for higher rates of duty, do not also obtain in those other countries of the world whose products Victoria sought to keep out in the days when a rate of duty not exceeding 25 per cent. was thought a sufficient protection for its industries? The honorable senator knows full well that the social conditions of every country have moved forward, just as they have in Australia. The kernel of the whole contention is that, if Victoria could make progress under a lower tariff, we ought not to be asked to adopt a tariff of 50 per cent. And we are only asked to do so because of the brazen effrontery of people who, ‘ having already been successful in asking an indulgent Parliament for increased duties are now asking for more, and still more. The result to Australia, as I shall presently show, is anything but favorable from an industrial and economic stand-point. So far I have been putting forward the opinion of a protectionist Parliament and a Victorian Government at a time when the late David Syme was lord of all he surveyed. As Senator Findley knows, David Syme politically at that time owned Victoria. There was not an office in the State that he could not fill if he chose. It was he who framed this Victorian tariff and made it the success it was, but not under duties of 30 or 40 per cent. He was quitesatisfied with duties of 25 per cent. or less. Now wo shall shift the scene from Victoria to the wider area of the Commonwealth, and ask what was the opinion held at a precise date as to the rates of duty that should obtain after federation became established. The means adopted by this Parliament to ascertain that opinion was the appointment in- 1906 of a royal commission on the tariff. It was comprised of members of different shades of political thought. There were on it freetraders, protectionists, and men of no pronounced views on either side. There was on it a solid protectionist element, which, under the chairmanship of Sir John Quick, made certain proposals to this Parliament as to the rates of duty that should be imposed; and I shall quote their recommendations to support, sustain, and buttress the opinion held in Victoria in pre-federation days as to what rates of duty were sufficient to protect the industries of this country at that time. It is just as well that we have these records to guide us, and that we are not called upon to look at the big imports and say almost in the words of the Book of Genesis, “ Let there be a higher tariff, even up to 100 per cent., and lo, there will be prosperity throughout- the land.” What perfect nonsense and hog-wash that is! It is time we asked ourselves whether we are sane men doing justice to our trust. To keep Senator Findley up to the scratch, I shall give the personnel of the protectionist element on the Tariff Commission. Is there any doubt about the fiscal faith of Sir John Quick, the chairman Mr. (then Senator) Higgs, or the late Senator MacGregor ? They were all protectionists to the backbone.
– And so was Senator Lynch in days gone by.
– I was not a protectionist with blinkers on.
– The honorable senator voted for every kind of protection introduced by the Labour Government in days gone by, but since joining the Nationalists the blinkers are well on him.
– Page 661 of the report of the Tariff Commission contains the recommendations of the protectionist section of the commission. On brasswork they recommended an import duty of 40 per cent. It is almost the highwater mark of their recommendations. On galvanized iron, plate and sheet, tanks, invaluable accessories to the men who take part in the development of this country, and who because of their isolation are not in a position to waylay honorable senators in the corridors, the protectionist section of the commission recommended a duty of 15 per cent. On engines - gas and oil - high-speed engines, turbines - water and steam - they considered that a duty of 12½ per cent. would be sufficient. They came to that conclusion after ransacking the Commonwealth for everything they could get in the shape of an opinion as to what would be a sufficient rate of duty to protect the manufacturers of these articles. These particulars, which can be found in the parliamentary papers for 1907-8, are more convincing than anything elseI can quote in support of my plea as to what should be sufficient rates of duty to maintain and encourage the industries of this country. The gentlemen who made these recommendations belonged to the Protectionist party, and they were well known to Senator Findley. They recommended a duty of 20 per cent. on camp ovens. The rate to-day is probably in the neighbourhood of 40 per cent. They thought that a duty of 25 per cent. would be sufficient on blankets. Every one recognizes that protectionists would leave an ample margin of protection on the manufacture of such a staple product as wool into blankets. To-day the rate is somewhere sky high, but seventeen years ago a rate of 25 per cent. was thought sufficient by the protectionist element on the Tariff Commission. On “piece goods, woollen and containing wool,” the duty was 30 per cent. I have made a mistake, and I apologize to Senator Findley. I have found another instance of a 30 per cent. tariff. I believe the duty on woollens is now 60 per cent.
– It will be higher still.
– Of course it will. I hand this report of the Tariff Commission to Senator Findley with my compliments.
– And I shall have pleasure in handing to the honorable senator, with my compliments, the volumes of Hansard containing the views that he expressed some years ago.
– Since there are a few more matters to which I desire to refer, I ask leave to continue my remarks to-morrow.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 May 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260527_senate_10_113/>.