2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Acting Postmaster-General if the allegation contained in the following statement, published in the Melbourne Argus on the 23rd inst., is true -
Contrary to the postal regulations, if not to the law, a political publication has been distributed through the Postal Department with the words, “ On His Majesty’s Service,” printed on the covering wrapper in large type.
The paper,which has been brought under our notice, is entitled the “ Dairy Farmer and Agricultural News,” and the latest number was published on June 8. Letters of complaint which we have receivedfrom different parts of the State indicate that copies were specially addressed to all the farmers of the State. “ But it is far from being a journal devoted to matters generally of interest to the primary producers. From cover to cover it is manifest that itis a political publication of the most partisan character. The articles, many of which are reprints, and especially the cartoons, are obviously designed to promote the interests of not only protection, but of prohibition. Practically the only break in the electioneering letterpress is a ‘” market report” hidden away in an odd corner, and most of the matter is in advocacy of the Anti-Trust Bill and of the exclusion of imported harvesters.
If that allegation is true, by whose authority was a private publication of the character referred to, bearing on its wrapper the words “On His Majesty’s Service,” accepted and transmitted through the post? What action does the Minister propose to take in regard to the matter?
– The same consideration is given by the Postal Department to all publications sent through the post, whatever may be the political opinions which they advocate. 1 am aware of the incident to which the honorable member refers, and I shall endeavour to give him full information on the matter to-morrow.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister of Defence been drawn to the dismissal, for not attending camp, of fourteen of the best men in the Warrnambool Field Artillery ? Do not the regulations provide for men who do not attend camp being excused and classed as efficient, where there are special circumstances to justify that action? Will he cause an inquiry to be made as to whether such special circumstances do not exist in this case, and, if they are found to exist, will he have the discharges cancelled ?
– I have seen the statement in the press, but as the head office is unable to give any information on the subject, the Commandant will be required to furnish a report, and, when it is received, the fullest information will be afforded.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister whether there is any truth in the paragraph appearing in the morning newspapers of Saturday last, to the effect that a fresh contract has been entered into by the Commonwealth Government and Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Company for the conveyance of mails between Australia and Papua. If there is, I should like to know whether tenders were called for the service in the ordinary way, and whether the Prime Minister will place all the papers on the table for the information of honorable members?
– Tenders were invited in the ordinary way. Only two were received; and they, as the honorable member will see from the papers, which I shall lay on the table, differed greatly. We propose to accept the tender of Messrs. Burns,
Philp, and Company, which will give us a far better service than we have had before, without increasing the cost.
– Has an offer been made to Sir William MacGregor of the governorship of Papua? If such an offer has been made, is the Prime Minister compelled to go on with the negotiations, or can he, in view of the generally expressed desire to have an Australian appointed to the position, afford the House an opportunity toConsider the matter?
– Nothing will be donein connexion with such an appointment until the House has had a full opportunity to consider the matter.
– On ‘the 21st June the Acting Postmaster-General informed the honorable member for Canobolas that subordinates check weekly the postmasters’ cash accounts. Does not the honorable gentleman consider that a very unsatisfactory system? Will he have it abandoned in favour of a better one ?
– The system was suggested by the Auditor-General, and approved by the Secretary to the Postal Department. If the honorable member desires any further information on. the subject, I can give it to him.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister of Defence know what has been done in the direction of providing long service medals for members of the Commonwealth Naval Brigade? I asked’, several questions on the subject at the beginning of last session, and was informed’ that the matter had been referred to theAttorneyGeneral, to see if what was suggested could be done. I wish to know if anything has been done?
– I shall endeavour to inform the honorable member to-morrow, after consultation with the Minister.
– Has the Prime Minister received a reply to his recent cablegram to the British authorities in connexion with the New Hebrides? If so, can he give the House any information on the subject?
– I intended to mention at a later stage that a reply has been received’, calling attention to the fact that the representations made on behalf of New Zealand and the Commonwealth have not yat arrived in Great Britain. It is correctly supposed there that we have asked for certain alterations in the proposed agreement, and it is suggested - I think with reason - that it would impede any attempt to give effect to those representations if the full text of the proposed agreement were published. Therefore, subject to the approval of the House, I do not, under the circumstances, propose to press for its publication.
– Does the Minister representing the . Minister of Defence know any good reason why the men in the Naval Department should not, like those in the Military Department, be paid fortnightly, as it would be a great convenience to them to be so paid ? I ask if he will see that the same facilities are given to the two branches of the service?
– I see noi objection to that being done, but I shall inform the honorable member of’ the intention of the Minister later on.
– Does the Minister of Defence intend to adhere to his announcement that all appointments to the Australian forces shall be made from amongst Australian officers?
– I shall endeavour to give the honorable and learned member an answer in a day or two.
MINISTERS laid upon the table ,the following papers: -
Treasury regulations, Statutory Rules, igo6, No. ig.
Summary of the report of the Secretary to the Department of External Affairs on the case of Mr. J. R. Craig.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Will this House be given an opportunity of discussing any changes in the -personnel of the Inspecting Staff and the Military Board before the Government definitely makes them or commits itself to making them?
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s question is as follows : -
Yes. The whole subject can be discussed when the Estimates are before the House. The retirement of Major-General Finn does not take place until December next.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether the Government will see its way to grant a pension to Driver Fay, who has been crippled for life in the exercise of his duty?
– I have been informed -
Driver Fay has been granted the .sum of £278 14s. 3d., which is the full amount of compensation allowable under the Regulations. The Defence Act makes no provision for pensions.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What is the reason that, while the report of the Naval Board for 1905 is signed by the senior Naval Officer on the Board, the report of the Military Board for 1905 is signed by the Minister, and not by either the Secretary or the senior Military member of the Board ?
– I have been informed -
Paragraph 8 of the Naval Regulations provides that, the Director of the Naval Forces “ shall furnish an annual report on the 1st of January.” The report referred to by the honorable and learned member as the “ Naval Board’s Report “ is the annual report so submitted by the Director of Naval Forces. The report of the Military Board was signed by the Minister as President of the Military Board, and no other signature was considered necessary.
Debate resumed from 22nd June (vide page 683), on motion by Sir William
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Whatever may be the ultimate fate of the Bill - and so far as I can see no sufficient cause has been shown for its introduction - its consideration has given rise to one of the most interesting and instructive debates that we have had in this Chamber. The honorable members for North Sydney and Mernda have contributed speeches of great educational value; speeches which, coming as they did from men of their com- mercial experience, must be as highly regarded as would be addresses upon a constitutional question by the AttorneyGeneral, the honorable and’ learned members for Angas and Northern Melbourne, or other leading lawyers. Those honorable gentlemen ha.ve intimate knowledge of the business transactions which the Bill is intended to regulate, but, apparently, they are unable to find a sufficient justification for its introduction. Australia, with a population of 4,000,000, is a small community in comparison with the United States of America, with a population of 84,000,000, and it seems strange that we should so soon in our history require a measure of this kind. The probity of the business men of the British race has always been claimed to be greater than that of any other business men in the world. The reputation of the business men of the United’ States of America is not so good. But it seems to me that, by introducing a Bill of this kind, the Government are, to some extent, countenancing the party which has been said to decry the country we live in. How will people abroad view the matter? Will it not appear to them that we have to depend upon drastic measures of the kind which have been adopted only in such countries as the United States, where great evils are known to exist ?
– I am sorry to have to call attention to the numerous conversations now proceeding; but there are five or six groups of honorable members conversing in somewhat loud’ tones, so that it is not surprising that the honorable member for Grampians finds it difficult to make himself heard, and that it is almost impossible for me to follow what he is saying. I ask the House, in courtesy to him, and to the 22,000 or 23,000 electors whom he represents, to listen to his speech in silence.
– The general impression seems to be that this Bill is intended to protect certain industries against evils which have not been shown to exist. I was pleased to notice that in the GovernorGeneral’s speech, Ministers did not put into His Excellency’s mouth words which they so frequently use themselves - the “alleged “ tobacco monopoly was spoken of. I have looked into the evidence in regard to the supposed monopoly, and I have heard a great deal with reference to the combine associated with it. So far as I have been able to gather the facts, there is no absolute proof that a monopoly exists, or that the combine has been other than a beneficent, one. The tobacco manufacturers have joined forces with the view of lessening the cost of distribution, and not with the object of increasing the price to the consumer or reducing the price to the grower of the leaf. That is the position in which the matter stands at present. We have heard a great deal with regard to the harvester trust, which has been indicted on the evidence of interested persons. Some time ago a combination was entered into between the importers of harvesters and the local manufacturers. That was not what I would call a beneficent combine, because so far from having been entered upon for the purpose of. reducing the cost of putting the harvesters upon the market, it aimed at keeping up the price. So long ‘ as that combination existed the local manufacturers made no complaint, but when it came to an end they made loud complaints with regard to the injury that was being done by the sale of imported harvesters at low prices. It was stated by the local manufacturers last year that some 1,800 machines were on their way to the Commonwealth, but we now know that only about 1,300 harvesters have been imported. The honorable and learned member for Angas told us that between 5,000 and 6,000 harvesters were sold to farmers last year, and in view of the fact that only 1,300 harvesters were imported - we have no evidence as to how many, were sold - and that over 400 were exported, our manufacturers appear to have been doing remarkably well.
– This Bill will put an end to any dumping.
– The local manufacturers can scarcely complain of clumping as affecting them, when only 1,300 harvesters are imported as against the 5,000 or 6,000 sold to farmers. We have had no proof that dumping has taken place. The Minister was challenged by the honorable and learned member for Corinella to mention cases in point, but he deferred his reply until some other time. When the Minister was questioned on the subject, I remembered that I had heard that boots were dumped upon this market, and it occurred to me that the cry against dumping might have been raised by interested persons with a view to their own advantage. Upon one occasion a lady of my acquaintance went to a bootmaker, who made footwear for her, and told him that she was wearing a pair of American boots. He looked at the boots and said that they had never been out of Melbourne. Then, again, when I was in Sydney recently, I was told by a gentleman well known to the Minister of Trade and Customs, and of the same political persuasion as himself, that a boot manufacturer there noticed in a shop window a pair of boots marked “ Best Parisian make, 32s. 6d.” He entered the shop, and said, “Isn’t this coming it a little too strong? You bought those boots from me for 8s. 6d.” The shopkeeper replied, “That is perfectly true, but if I were to .offer them as Australian-made boots for 12s. 6d. a pair, I should not be able to find a purchaser, whereas I can sell them readily as Parisian boots at a much higher price.” There is the greatest difficulty in distinguishing between dumping and dishonest trading. No doubt the prejudice on the part of the public is largely responsible for the deceptions that are practised. A traveller in the boot trade told me recently that the local manufacturers were doing very fairly under the present Tariff. The honorable member for Moira spoke of the indebtedness of the farmers to Australian inventors. I admit that the farmers have been, to a considerable extent, indebted to local inventors, but, on the other hand, the American manufacturers have some claim to our consideration. I do not know whether the honorable member is old enough to remember, as I do, the English implements that were in use before American tools and implements came to this country. I can remember when we discarded the old No. 2 British axe in favour of the American axe, and also when we did away with the British pitchfork, with a great clumsy handle, and enough steel to make four American tools. In the same way the American hay rake was a great improvement upon the English tool.
– But of what use would be the hay rake or the fork to the farmer who had no crop to harvest?
– The use of an English pitchfork would not insure to the farmer a bigger harvest.
– No. but my point is that the ploughs and the cultivators came before the forks and the hay rakes.
– I admit that many improvements have been made in agricultural implements owing to the opportunities which our manufacturers have had to study the necessities of the farmers. I am sure that if our local manufacturers were to rely more upon their own pluck and skill and good workmanship, instead of squealing out that they are being killed by the importer, they would stand a much better prospect of securing the market. I was glad to hear the honorable member for Moira state that he would not apply the proposed restrictions against dumping to importations from any portions of the British Empire. I would point out, however, that the greater part of the alleged dumping takes place in connexion with goods manufactured in the Empire. The Massey-Harris Company are the strongest competitors of our local manufacturers in regard to agricultural implements. If our manufacturers would combine to cheapen the cost of putting their articles upon the market they would act very wisely. Some time ago I interviewed the managers of both the Sunshine Harvester Company and the Massey-Harris Company, and they made no secret of the fact that they had entered into a combine with a view to maintaining a certain price for their harvesters. Mr. McKay told me that if every one would do as I had done, and buy direct from the manufacturers instead of’ putting them to the expense of sending travellers round the country, they would be able to sell their machines much more cheaply. A combination among the manufacturers, or even between importers, and manufacturers, with a view to lessening the cost of distribution, would be beneficial to the farmers. I think that we might try to get ‘along with some measures less drastic than those proposed in the Bill. The Minister claims that he has succeeded in breaking up the harvester combine. I presume that he means that he has succeeded in restricting their operations by increasing the valuation of the machines for the purpose of assessing the amount of duty. If he can succeed in breaking down outside competition in this way, he can still more easily regulate local combines. He admitted that protection in Australia would have the effect of producing rings, trusts, and combines. High duties are bound to produce undue competition, and w’hen that takes place, either profits must be reduced, wages decreased, or increased prices be charged to the consumer. The manufacturers are hardly likely to submit to a reduction in their profits. There is a much greater chance of their reducing the wages of their employes, or increasing the price to the consumer. A very sensible protectionist friend of mine who is engaged in the metal trade, was asked, some time ago, whether he wanted’ a higher duty to be imposed on the goods he manufactured - the duties had been reduced under the Tariff as compared with those prevailing under the Victorian Tariff. He said that he did not require any higher duties, because he was doing fairly well, and he realized that a higher duty would result in. more competition. He said that he would prefer to go on as at present, rather than run the risk of any change in the direction indicated. There can be no question that in a limited market, such as we have, an industry, which requires more than a reasonable degree of protection is likely to become the subject of undue competition. I think that the Minister is on the right track so far as local combines are concerned, but if reasonable protection were granted there would be no necessity for a Bill of this kind. If the local combines engaged in any practice to the detriment of the public we could then allow the influences of free-trade to operate more freely. If the Minister contends that he will’ be able to break down a foreign combine in, the way he has mentioned he may, with a great deal more reason, believe that he will be in a position to destroy any internal combine. But if the Tariff is to be made the governor of the industrial machine, one thing is necessary, namely, that its revision should be taken wholly out of the fighting line of party politics: No fiscal truce will suffice. It must be made a business, and not a political question. Prior to Federation, the States had arrived at some sort of settled policy in regard to this matter. New South .Wales had adopted a policy of free-trade, whereas the electors of Victoria Had supported a system of protection. Having arrived at some settled view upon this particular question, the States were afforded an opportunity for development, which the country will not have, so long as we continue quarrelling over it. Unless the Commonwealth arrives at some settled policy in this connexion. I believe that our progress will be retarded. Although I hope for much from the Tariff Commission’s reports, I think that the recommendations of that body will, probably touch only the fringe of the subject. I well remember that Sir William McMillan, speaking in this very Chamber, pointed out the inequality of the incidence of taxation in respect of cotton goods. The right honorable member for Balaclava also referred to certain other disabilities in regard to this matter. If the Tariff is to be made a means of governing the industrial machine, I hold that the fiscal question should be taken entirely out of the fighting-line of politics, and some other method of dealing with it should be devised.
– Will the honorable member agree to the taking of a referendum upon the subject?
– I am not prepared to do that. What is in my mind is something in the nature of a Board of Trade, a permanent body which would report to this House upon any anomalies that may exist in the Tariff, upon any evidence of dumping that may be discovered, and upon the existence of combines, &c. That step, however, can never be taken if we are to make the Tariff a political question, and if its revision can only be effected by a fight between the two fiscal parties. Whilst I regard the Tariff Commission as a body which has done exceedingly useful work, and whilst I entertain great hope of good results from its reports, still, some other method of Tariff adjustment requires to be adopted. The right honorable member for Balaclava, in speaking upon this matter, said -
Every one admits Lhat there should be an inquiry into the working of the Tariff, and if it is to be conducted on right lines, no industry, whether it be small or large, should be shut out….. My experience teaches me that the moment a Tariff Commission touches one line, it is impossible to say where its labours will terminate. Take, for example, the item of “ Woollens,” which is subject to an import duty of 15 per cent., and in respect of which it may be urged that a duty of 25 per cent, should be imposed. If that duty were so increased, it would necessarily follow that an additional duty of io per cent, must be imposed on article’s made up from the raw material, otherwise we should handicap those who are making up the raw material in Australia.
In that connexion I feel that there is some necessity for dealing with this matter in a totally different way from that in which it has hitherto been dealt with. It is necessary that it should! be taken altogether from the arena of party politics.
– It is impossible to do that.
– Take what out of the arena of party politics?
– The question of the revision of the Tariff.
– I know that such a step would not suit the Minister, and I am not in the least surprised at his attitude towards my suggestion.
– The honorable member had better take every question out of the arena of party politics if he would take the Tariff out of it.
– In Australia the control of the railways has been taken out of the arena of party politics, and in Victoria that system has proved of very great advantage to ourselves, seeing that we have converted a deficiency of ,£300,000 or £400,000 into a surplus of ,£200,000.
– By “squeezing” the workers.
– Not wholly.
– The greater portion of the railway surplus has been made up in that way - by violating the eight hours’ system.
– And by employing women as stationmasters.
– I do not know what truth there may be in the honorable member’s statement. But there are various reasons why the conditions in this State, so far as the railways are concerned, have improved very much. We all know that when the present Commissioners took office things had already been cut almost to the bone, and consequently I hold that the Commissioners have done exceedingly well.
– Deficits occurred in the Railway Department under the management of Commissioners.
– But those Commissioners had not the same staff as have the present Commissioners.
– We have enjoyed good seasons since the appointment of the present Commissioners.
M.r. SKENE. - I do not attribute the railway surplus in Victoria entirely to the present management of the lines, but certainly their management would not have been better had it been liable to be upset by political interests. In this connexion the leader of the Labour Party trotted out his universal cure of nationalization. I need scarcely say that I am very strongly opposed to that system, and I should like to advance a few reasons why his plan would not work. The honorable member affirmed that nationalization was not Socialism. I am quite prepared to admit that it is not.
I think that we may call it State control, and wherever State control occurs political influence inevitably creeps in.
– The honorable member has just quoted a splendid illustration tothe contrary.
– I say that I am wholly in favour of the present system of running, our railways. All those Who spoke upon this Bill the other day showed how different things might have ‘been in the United States had the railways there been Stateowned. I am quite sure that the system of State-ownership of railways is much, cheaper for the community than is the system of private ownership. The railways of the United States are owned by persons- in all parts of the world - shares are held in places like Edinburgh and Glasgow - and I remember seeing it stated that the sum of £600,000,000 had been lost there by reason of the cut- throat competition which existed between the various railway companies. I do not for a moment question that there may ba cases in which State control of particular undertakings, is beneficial. I think that one may have a small fire to warm him and a big fire to burn him. Personally, I merely want the small fire to warm me. The leader of the Labour Party in speaking upon the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, with a certain amount of prescience, declared that if he thought the nationalization of the industry would lead to the exercise of political influence, he would prefer that it should be left to private enterprise. I hold that State control can only be used within strict limitations. Whilst it might be extented to certain undertakings, the very greatest amount of caution would require to be exercised, because, with its extension, the risk of the introduction of political influence would be increased. We have experienced some trouble in eliminating political influence from the control of our railways. If I may be permitted to make one reference to the speech delivered by the Premier of Victoria on Saturday night, I would say that I am verv glad he has been able to revert to the old condition of things in that connexion.
– Politicians have always been a bad lot.
– I do not know whether it is the fault of politicians that they are a little too much amenable to the interests of their friends at times. We may all be tarred with the same brush in that respect.
But if we adopt a system of regimentation in all departments, those departments will be as sure to quarrel as will individuals, and there is one department only which can eventually come out on top. At present, it is known as the Defence Department, but it may assume a very different form.. In history, the only cure for democracy run mad has been the use of a military force.
– We have never had an educated democracy in the history of the world un511 the present time.
– Education, I think, is a relative term. We may not proceed to the extremes of the Pretorian Guards, who put an Empire up to auction, but as certain as we institute a system of regimentation within departments, there will be a big cataclysm, arid a reversal to some other system - probably to a system of military despotism.
– Does the honorable member think that) his remarks have any relevance to tha Bill under consideration ?
– I am replying to the observations of the leader of the Labour Party, in which he contended that nationalization would be a cure for any of the evils of unfair competition, &c. I am endeavouring to show where such a system would land us. However, I do not wish to pursue the subject further. I merely desire to say that ‘this Bill goes a long way beyond the question of the State control of industries. It introduces what may well be called a system of State interference or meddling. If we should avoid one thing more than another, it is a meddler, especially a political meddler. It does not initiate any system of general control, but it is apparently intended to enable an inquiry to be made into people’s business. It is inquisitorial in its character, and covers ground which, as British subjects, we have hitherto regarded as sacred.
– Every law necessarily implies meddling by the State.
– I do not think so.
– They say that of the income tax.
– The statement is perfectly true in regard to the income tax.
– Whether a law is meddling or not depends upon whom it hits.
– Even the simple matter of taxation has ruined nations before to-day.
– I have always been surprised that the income tax should be productive of such a small revenue. I hope that the Government will regard this discussion in the light of a preliminary canter, so far as the Bill is concerned. I agree with those who urge that we ought to wait until the Tariff Commission’s report in regard to machinery is available before we proceed further with it. I believe that the report of that body on machinery and metals is now ready for presentation, and it is only a matter of a few. days when” it can be placed before us. The Government ought to recognise from the tone of the debate that if in the future it is shown that there is really some evil to combat, it will be easy to pass this measure. I do not exactly know whether - if we agree to its second reading - we shall be prevented from coercing or inducing the Government to bring f forward the Tariff Commission’s report. At the present moment my position is that I should like to see the second reading of the Bill passed, with a view to its provisions being threshed out in Committee in the light of the information that we are able to obtain from honorable members generally, even if it were then dropped. The adoption of that course would have the effect of putting upon record very useful information for future reference. When the time arrives, if evils are really shown to exist, I feel sure that the Government of the day will have no trouble whatever in persuading Parliament to adopt measures to combat them.
– - This House is under an obligation to the Attorney-General for his lucid exposition of the Bill. I have read it, and it has thrown light upon a number of matters I found some difficulty in understanding. I cannot help thinking that, in several respects, this is ‘ one of the most difficult Bills that has yet been before this Parliament - difficult to understand, difficult to see how far its application goes, and how far the general fundamental movement of human society is consistent with the measure. When understood, however, the clauses of the Bill become rather crude and almost laughably simple. If you see some goods being dumped on Australia, stop them if you can if you find a combination in restraint of trade, fine or imprison the man if you can find him. As to the dumping matter,’ I think this House will, by a great majority, gladly try this experiment. It is quite time to take some action when the representative of ail outside manufacturer of great wealth and power boldly says that he is going to drive out of the Australian market an Australian machine. I do not know but that I should be willing to have a good deal of experimental legislation, if it were necessary, to pull ourselves together, and see if we are not able to deal with this insolence. As to Part II. of the Bill, dealing with the repression of monopolies, I doubt very much whether the clauses in this part will do much practical, good. I say so simply because monopolies are produced by the very same forces as produce economy, efficiency, and cheapness. As the honorable member for Grampians has rightly said, they largely prevent the waste of competition in the pushing of the wares of a business by means of commercial travellers and advertising, and otherwise. I wish to speak first with respect to a remarkable distinction drawn in clause 5 between corporations and individuals. Honorable members will no doubt have perceived that under clause 4 the individual who has a monopoly is not amenable to the Bill unless he a a acting in relation to trade or commerce between the States and with other countries.
– It does not apply to a monopoly within a State.
– It does not apply to the monopoly of an individual within a State. Clause 5 says with regard* to corporations, whether foreign or domestic, that it is .to be a penal act for a corporation to be in a monopoly, whether its monopoly is confined to one State or extends to operations between the States or with other countries.
– By “ domestic” the honorable and learned gentleman means “ local.”
– Bv a “ domestic corporation “ I mean a corporation formed in Australia. I understand that the very important distinction to which I have directed attention is based’ upon sub-section xx. of section 51 of the ‘Constitution. Under this section we have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to, amongst other things -
Foreign corporations and trading or financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth.
It seems to be assumed that because we can make laws as to corporations, we can trench upon the powers of the States in any mat ter affecting corporations. I doubt that very strongly. Let us just see how far this assumption will carry us. It will mean that, although we have not the power to make factory laws, because that/ is a subject of legislation retained by the States, still we can make a factory law which will apply to companies and not to individuals. If that is so, let us know where we are. The position will be really curious. If we can legislate in any way for corporations, whether it be in regard to factories, lands, bicycles, or anything else, I should like to know it. I have very strong doubts that we have this power. So far as regards factory laws, suppose we had a law dealing with the hours and wages in factories passed by a State Parliament, and that the Federal power is competent to pass a law with regard to companies, is the Federal Parliament competent to make a factory law ‘applicable to companies, although it be not competent to make a f actory law applicable to individuals? Under section 107 of the Constitution, it is clearly enacted that the: States still retain their powers, in so fatas they are not expressly given to the Commonwealth. Suppose a law were passed by this Parliament for the compulsory sale of land, provided it belonged to a company, what then ? Suppose there is a restriction of the area, of the lands of a State, which may be occupied by a company ? Is it so, that we can take over the subjects with which the States have retained the power to deal, in so far as they relate to companies ? Take the case of newspapers. I understand that the Daily Telegraph, of Sydney, is owned by a company, and that the Agc, of Melbourne, is not owned by a company. Is it so, that this Parliament can pass any law it pleases as to newspapers and their conduct if thev are owned by a company, and may not do so in respect of newspapers that are owned by individuals? I fear that we are going too far in clause 5 of this Bill. Although it is very hard’ to define the limits, I do think that one may roughly say that what was meant bv sub-section xx. of section 51 of the Constitution, was the whole bulk of company law, as it was known under that title before the Federal Constitution was. enacted. I am speaking now with, great reserve, and without being dogmatic, because I feel sure that .the matter has been looked into, and that very likely there are good reasons for what is proposed. But I am one who does not like to promote any friction between the States and the
Commonwealth. It is our business, so far as we can, to see that we do not exceed our powers, and to see that the exercise of Federal power, especially in these early years of Federation, is not made obnoxious to the feelings of the States Parliaments. It certainly is very startling to me, if, because we are given the right to legislate as to corporations we can encroach on the powers of the States in respect of every matter concerning corporations.
– The honorable and learned gentleman’s contention is that sub-section xx. of section 51 of the Constitution covers only company law as interpreted before Federation?
– Nearly, so.
– And does not relate to the operations of a company.
– I do not say that. It affects a company’s operations no doubt, but I want to find out where is the limit.
– Is it so, that in reference to bicycles, because we have power to deal with the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth we may pass a law to say what roads may be properly traversed by him on a bicycle? Just fancy a State Parliament enacting that a local authority may prescribe what particular portions of a road mav be ridden over by ordinary, bicyclists, and then the Federal Parliament coming in and saying that so long as a bicycle is ridden by a Prime Minister it is all right. I do not think that the Constitution intended to make such distinctions.
– Really the question is whether this is company law as interpreted before the enactment of the Constitution.
– I would not say that it is so limited as that. I think that the powers of legislation given in section 51 to the Federal Parliament must be read liberally and broadly, but at the same time section 107 must be read equally liberally and broadly. Under that section the States Parliaments retain all the powers they had before Federation, so far as they have not been expressly taken away by the Federal Constitution. I think it is very doubtful, to say the very least, that there is power given us to make one monopoly law for a company and another for an individual. Perhaps I ought not to put it in that form ; I ought rather to say that if we are given no power to make a monopoly law for individuals acting within a State, then we are given no power to make a monopoly law applicable to companies acting within a State.
– Does the honorable and learned gentleman think that this Parliament can, in its company law, forbid corporations from holding land in fee simple?
– That is a very difficult question. The honorable and learned gentleman has just hit a case upon the line, and I should not like to express an opinion upon it. I am taking the broad and extreme case before us, and I say that I cannot conceive of this Parliament admitting that the State, and the State alone, can deal with monopolies by individuals within the State, and at the same time claiming that we have the right to deal with monopolies by companies.
– The honorable and learned gentleman means that we can only deal with companies in the respects in which they differ from individuals, and not in the respects in which thev are like individuals.
– That may be.
– That would be a clear dividing line.
– I admit that it is very hard to draw the line, but this is, roughly speaking, what is meant: That, the States having a power to deal with company law before the enactment of the Federal Constitution, that power has passed to the Federal Parliament. There have been books upon books exclusively devoted to company law, but no one ever thought of there being anything in those books about the law of monopoly, because there is no distinction between companies and individuals with regard to monopolies in British or American law. Let us take another instance, sub-section xix. of section 51 gives the Federal Parliament power to legislate as to aliens. Would that mean that this Parliament might prescribe one factory law for aliens and another factory law for British subjects?
– Could not the Federal Parliament provide for the admission of aliens subject to various restrictions?
– That might be done, but, at the same time, the admission would not relate to their working here. Before they come, here this Parliament can legislate for them, but, they being here, it would be a most unnatural state of things for a State to provide factory laws, local government laws, and other domestic laws, and then for the Federal Parliament to come in and say, “ Oh, yes, but this man is an alien, and he is to be under a different factorv law.”
– The States have distinguished between aliens and the rest of their citizens, both in their mining and factory laws.
– And in their land laws.
– They have, and they were fully competent to do so, as long as they were open to legislate with regard to aliens, because all the reins were in one hand, so to speak. But under the Federal Constitution the case is different. I submit that point to Ministers, and, of course, especially to the Attorney-General, who, I have no doubt, will look into it with great care. I now pass to the effects of this Bill. Suppose there were a conflict as to how the Bill was to apply. Let us take the case of a brewery which supplies beer to different States - say, a brewery in New South Wales or Victoria, or one of the excellent breweries which, I understand, exist in Tasmania. It is a common thing for breweries to have covenants for exclusive dealing, providing that a hotelkeeper shall not deal with any other than a particular brewery. That is a case of entering into a contract “in restraint of trade.” A hotelkeeper is not to deal with anybody but a certain brewery. The only question which stands between the brewery company or its manager and the Criminal Court is, then: Are its contracts “ to the detriment of the public ?”
– They are, in so far as the public can get only one particular brand of beer from a particular hotel.
– The honorable member may be right. That is one view. But there are other people who have other views. It is a matter of opinion, and very largely of economic and social opinion. I do not like to see a man’s liberty dependent upon the economic or social opinion of any jury. In the case of a brewery, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie says that he is quite sure that it is a bad thing to have any restriction.
– I do not say that; I simply say that such an agreement does restrict purchasers from getting a choice of ales in certain hotels. It may, of course, have the effect of giving them a good ale and of preventing their getting many bad ones.
– Suppose it appeared in evidence that the beer sold at a particular hotel under such an agreement as I have described was the best beer produced in Australia. Suppose it also’ appeared that there were other beers which were sold at a lower price, and that the hotelkeeper in question would be likely to keep lower priced inferior beers in his hotel if he were not restricted. It is quite possible that, at least to some members of the jury, it would appear to be a good and beneficial thing for the public to have trade restricted in that way. But I should not by any means like, if I were charged as a brewery manager with an offence under this measure, to appear before a teetotal jury. It all depends upon the jury’s view of what is “ to the detriment of the public.”
– The word “ wilfully “ is used.
– With all respect, “ wilfully” does not refer to intention to damage the public ; it reads, “ Wilfully. . enters into a contract.”
– Does the honorable member contend that “ wilfully “ belongs to the words, ‘ ‘ detriment of the public “ ?
– I think it governs the whole of the words.
– I do not.
– At any rate, the AttorneyGeneral will look into the matter. I understand that the intention of the Government is that the word “ wilfully “ shall apply. But as the Bill stands there appears to me to be no element of intention at .all. It means where a person “wilfully,” and qf deliberate purpose, makes a contract, or enters into a combination which, in fact, is “ in restraint of trade and commerce,” and is “to the detriment of the public.” I think the honorable member for Corinella agrees with me as to that.
– That is the way I read the Bill.
– Apparently it is a mere question of drafting, but I have an old-fashioned prejudice against discrediting a man unless he has a guilty intention.
– I think we are all agreed upon that.
– I am sure that we are. But there is a power to imprison, as well as a power to fine ; and, strong as would be my views upon some economic and social matters, I should not like 1 to see a man who differs from me put in gaol because he happens to entertain a different view of what is to the detriment of the public and what is for the benefit of the public.
– Unless he “ squares “ the Attorney-General or the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– The honorable member for Werriwa sinks below the ordinary level of debate when he speaks of any such conduct on the part of a Minister. I think that all his f riends regret the extreme words which he uses on occasions. I do not think that he has had the least ground for such insinuations.
– Every ground.
– I am very glad to hear there is a desire to make it clear that there must be an intention to produce damage to the public before this clause will operate.
– I said as much in my speech.
– I did not understand that.
– If the honorable and” learned member will look at clause 10 he will see that the Attorney-General can prosecute just as he likes.
– I think that I must not attend to the honorable and learned member’s interjections if he will speak of other honorable members as he has done. There is another instance which I may mention. Suppose there is a cablegram association which obtains cablegrams from abroad, pooling the expense, and thereby getting more cablegrams for less money. Suppose that the members of such an association have an agreement that they will supply one another, and certain other newspapers, but that thev will exclude the greater number of smaller newspapers, and that, in fact, they will not supply any one unless it is agreed by a certain majority of the members of the association that they shall do so. As that is a combination - as that is a “ restraint of trade “ - I want to know whether that is to be regarded as being “ to the detriment of the public “ ?
– Does not the honorable and learned member think that it ought to be?
– The honorable member must not ask me. Let us look at it from this point of view. Some may saythat it is a good thing that there should be such an association, because thereby more telegrams are obtained for less money, and bv such means more information is cabled for the benefit of the people of . Australia.
– Suppose that others who want the information are not able to get it?
– On the other hand, it would be pointed out that it is not to the advantage of the people of Australia to have new enterprises stifled as they are by refusing them permission to share in these cablegrams. I have known cases where newspaper enterprises which have had good capital behind them have been refused permission to obtain these cablegrams, even on full payment, and those newspaper enterprises were consequently squelched and crushed. The question is : As this cablegram association extends beyond one State,, and is clearly within the operation of clause 4 of this Bill, if the agreement be proved to be to the damage of the public, are we to accept the Bill as it stands, which will have the effect perhaps of putting im gaol the members of this newspaper combine? It may be right, or it may be wrong, but I want to know what the effect will be.
– The honorable and learned member tempts me to support the measure !
– That may be; but I’ am sure that the honorable member for Perth wishes to be just as well as generous. All that I say is, that these clauses must be carefully looked at in several of their applications before they are adopted. Weought to adopt them with our eyes open. I am quite sure of this - that they will have an application which some of those whohave been recklessly speaking about this Bill can hardly have dreamt of. It would’ be serious if a newspaper proprietor who is in the combination which I have mentioned, were liable to be hauled before a jury, and! being found .guilty of monopoly, or of being a party to monopoly, were thereby liable to imprisonment, and put at the mercy of a ‘jury, who would probably be disposed to vote under social or economic prejudice.
– It would have to be proved that the newspaper proprietor “wilfully”’ acted in the way described.
– I address these remarks to the present? position of the Bill. I do not recognise in the Bill, as at present framed, that the act in question shall” be wilfully or intentionally damaging rathe public.
– Is it not the case that the Bill will not apply unless it can be proved that the members of the combine are doing the acts complained of “wilfully”?
– I have already said that as the Bill stands at present my view is that there isi no need to prove a wilful intention to damage the public, but I am assured by the Attorney-General that he will see to it that that is put right.
– I think the Bill does provide that at present, but should there be any doubt it is only a matter of wording.
– I am very glad to have that from the Minister. I think that honorable members all round the House are honestly desirous to join in putting down monopoly, in so far as it is injurious. I am quite sure that we shall be very glad to adopt any proposal which will enable us to deal with the evil of monopoly. But the truth is that, while this detriment ‘to the public is a good logical test, it is not a good practical test. The detriment of the public is a matter of such infinite difference of opinion that I do not think it is safe to hang a man’s deprivation of liberty on so flexible an expression. There are some monopolies that work every ill, and are a danger to society. It is a danger to society that private persons, working for gain, should have such power over human beings as have the Standard Oil Trust, the beef trusts, or the steel trusts. But the worst culprits are never hit by the monopoly law. I have had a little experience, and read a little of the subject, and especially the book of the late Henry Demarest Lloyd. That author gives the result of examinations made by Commissions in the United States, and it appears that when there is a distinct combine, as they call it- a distinct trust, which shows a clear ca9e - and the directors are haled before the Commission - there is found to be no agreement at all. The Commission are told by those charged, “ Oh, we have nothing in writing, and nothing verbal.” These men deny point blank on oath that there is any agreement. The truth is that men who are trying to do a dirty thing to the public always do it bv a wink of the eve, or in some similar way - a mere understanding is quite enough. There is no agreement, and there is nothing in writing - at least, nothing in writing can ever be found. The class of men. I find, who are most puzzled and most distressed bv this monopoly legislation are men who want to
Live honest, clean lives, and obey the law. In connexion with the Secret Commissions Act, I have found a number of people in great perplexity as to whether they are doing right or wrong. I have found that they are cruelly puzzled.
– Surely they know whether they are receiving two commissions ?
– These are hot cases of receiving two commissions ; that Act applies to much more. I find that when there is really a dirty thing being done, it is always done most secretly. Where there is a thing being done that is not dirty - an act which men are riot afraid to avow - it is not done so secretly; still, there are people who are puzzled to. know whether what they do is legal or illegal. Our life is complex enough, without making honest men apprehensive for their liberty, or uncertain as to what they should do. As I said before, I do not like to have a man’s liberty depending on the whim or belief of a jury. We all have our prejudices ; but when it comes to a matter of political, economical, or social opinion, I do not think that these prejudices should form the crux of the decision as to a man’s liberty. It is more important, to my mind, not to degrade honest men than it is even to punish dishonest men. At this stage I suggest as, perhaps, .worthy of the Minister’s consideration, that, in order to prevent honorable men being embarrassed - men who have an agreement which . they believe to be a good one and not damaging to the public - they should be allowed, under the Bill, to submit the agreement to the Minister, who, after getting the advice of such experts in the trade, and others as he thinks fit, should have power to give a certificate that the agreement is not, in his opinion, detrimental to the public.
– An agreement might not be detrimental to the public at present, but might become so afterwards.
– I was going on to say that this certificate, so long as it stands, should exonerate a man acting under it.
– Would the honorable member give the Minister power to say what is a monopoly?
– Leave it to the Minister, of course.
-The position is that the Minister is responsible for the administration of this Act. I think I have the Minister with me when I say that it is not advisable to have men, who want to act honestly, under any uncertainty as to- whether or not they are acting legally. All I suggest is that there should be some responsible authority - -if honorable members can suggest any better authority than the Minister, I, of course, shall accept their suggestion - so that, a man may feel that, so long as he possesses a certificate, he is free from any consequences.
– But if we provide that the combination must be wilfully detrimental to the public?
– I do not think that such a provision would be sufficient. It is very hard for a jury co know on what lines to arrive at a conclusion that a man is wilfully damaging the public.
– Hear, hear; we found that in connexion with the Employers Liability Act.
– That is so. I do not dogmatize about this matter, but I give Mie best suggestion that occurs to me, namely, that, first of all, it should be made perfectly clear that to be an offender and liable to imprisonment, a man must be acting wilfully to the damage of the public; and, secondly, that there might be some means by which a man, without going into Court, or waiting until he is haled there, may know whether he is acting, according to tha law.
– Would the fact of a man not submitting an agreement to the Minister, not be taken as evidence that he is acting wrongly?
– I do not think that that would be taken as conclusive evidence.
– I understand what the honorable member means, but would his suggestion not throw great responsibility upon the Minister?
– I never knew the present Minister to refuse responsibility ; he is strong enough to take anything on his shoulders, and I am sure he is sufficiently courageous. In this, as in hosts of other matters, the Minister has to take great responsibility ; but he has at his beck the best expert advice. The Minister need not act in haste ; and what a tremendous relief it would be to a man, who is in an arrangement, with the object of saving expense and so forth, to feel that, so long as he possessed a certificate, he was all right. Of course, if the Minister afterwards found that an agreement was working to the hurt of the public, he could interfere and-
– Withdraw his consent.
– Withdraw his consent. Of course, this is a matter which has to be thought out, and I would not ask the Minister to give a reply at once. I say that this Bill will not stop monopoly. You might as well, by putting a stone in the mountain torrent, try to stop that torrent - it will simply go round the stone. It is a mere deflection. There is a tendency to monopoly and concentration.
– Then this is sham legislation ?
– I did not use that expression, and I do not think the legislation is meant to be a sham. It is, no doubt, an honest attempt.
– It is merely a sham, according to the honorable and learned member.
– I feel that it will be ineffective legislation as regards monopoly. In my opinion the anti-dumping provisions will not be ineffective if the administration of the Act is properly carried out.
– - The criminal law does not stop crime.
– It ought to ; it is by punishing A that we stop B from committing crime.
– It is the same tiling.
– In the United ‘ States we find this tendency to concentration in connexion with railways, oil, steel, and the cotton trade. I find that there are two or three companies that supply all the cotton to Great Britain and the United States. We cannot by penalties stop a tendency that is fundamental to our civilization ; the same forces that produce monopoly, produce cheapness, economy, and the rest. The whole of this anti-trust movement arises from the danger of leaving in the hands of private persons, working for gain, such tremendous powers over the livelihood of millions, as some monopolies give. This feeling of danger is at the root of the movement all over the civilized world at the present time - it may be right or it may be wrong - in favour of giving public control, by State or municipal action, over all matters that tend to monopoly. But looking back, I do not think we always realize how in the western States of America we have the best example of how things are going. Those growing communities began with private roads, private bridges with tolls, private fire brigades, private transport of goods, private education, and private grave-yards. Now all these matters are publicly managed, and, further, we find that municipalities possess oil fields and) produce oil, salt fields and produce salt, coal fields and produce coal ; and they have legislation with regard to the extirpation of wild cats and grasshoppers’ eggs, and also as to providing people with seed wheat, libraries, and hearses. It is remarkable that in the last fifty years there is not one case where an industry has got under public control in which it has been given back to private control .
– There are a great many cases in which public control has failed.
– Not one tithe as many as those in which private control has failed. However, I do not intend to go into that large question, which, no doubt, opens out a tremendous vista of difficulty. I do not say that all public control would be a success. As to dumping, I have only a few words to say. The desire is to prevent the dumping of goods from abroad on Australian soil, with the intention of destroying any Australian industry. It will be observed that the object is not to prevent any effort to destroy a rival in an industry ; the old principles of competition, good or bad, will remain. You may take such steps as you like to destroy or ruin your rival, but you must not destroy an industry in Australia. You may, for instance, have a device by which you can destroy the maker of a certain harvester, but you must not have a device by which you can destroy the whole industry, in Australia. We should do the same thing if we were able to do it. At any rate, I have heard of men saying how they would like to dish the Danes in the English market, meaning that they would like to supplant the Danish butter by exported Australian butter. Therefore, we cannot claim to possess any particular virtue in this matter. But the destruction of an industry must not be by unfair competition. I do not suppose that it would be an offence to destroy an industry by giving better stuff, or cheaper stuff, on better methods. But there is the third condition that the industry must be worthy of Australian support. The essential principle, and the great difficulty, lies in the expression “ unfair com petition.” In America they might discover a substitute for butter which, though not derived from the cream of cows’ milk, was, nevertheless, a wholesome food, and that substitute might be sent to Australia in such quantities and at such a price that its importation would be likely to destroy our butter industry. What chance would the defendant in such a case have before a jury composed of men coming from Werriwa, from Illawarra, or from Warrnambool, to decide as to the fairness of the competition ? The term “ unfair competition “ is a very elastic one.
– A jury is not employed in an investigation relating to dumping.
– I understand that the Minister is to call a Board together.
– It is proposed to substitute a Judge for the Board.
– The important thing is that the Minister has to act in the first instance.
– Only to refer the matter to the Judge.
– I think that these antidumping provisions are well worth a trial, especially as we are not likely to do anything drastic until we have patched up the flaws that we have. These regulative laws must be tried and tested, and it is only when they are found insufficient that the public will see that something more drastic is required. There are two kinds of dumping - dumping of surplus stock, trusting to the home market for a profit, or to prevent a bigger loss ; and dumping for the express purpose of destroying an industry in the country to which the goods are exported, by undercutting until a monopoly is obtained which will permit of the raising of prices again. I hold that John Stuart Mill was on sound lines when he said, in regard to the temporary cheapness produced by dumping, that cheapness of goods is desirable only when it is produced without the lowering of the wages of those working at the industry. I ask the Attorney-General to consider a few alterations in Part III. of the measure, which, it seems to me, would make it more effective. In the first place, I think that paragraph a of subclause 1 of clause 14, which provides that competition shall be deemed to be unfair if-
Under ordinary circumstances of trade, it would probably lead to the Australian goods being either withdrawn from the market or sold at a loss, would be improved if it were made to read -
Either no longer produced or withdrawn from the market.
I understand that the word “produced” is intended to include “manufactured.” As the clause stands, ‘there may be a doubt as to meaning of the words “ withdrawn from the market.”
– I think that it would be an improvement to insert the words “no longer produced.”
– I think, too, that the word “excessively” should be used in place of the word “ disproportionately,” in paragraphf of sub-clause 2 of clause 14.
– The idea was to express some relation between the remuneration to the agent and the ultimate price.
– Clause 15, which is really the central pivotal clause, does not deal with such a case as that on which the Minister, no doubt, bases this part of the Bill; the case where the agent of a foreign manufacturing firm actually says that he will drive the Australian industry out of the market. I think that if a man, by his agent, or a firm or company by its agent, expresses the intention to drive an industry out of the market, that ought to be sufficient, without having to go to proof.
– Would the honorable and learned member deal in that way with all firms, or with foreign firms only ?
– I am speaking only of the prevention of dumping. The dumping provisions of the Bill are applicable only to importations ; and the Attorney-General rightly says that the provisions of the Bill will apply to Australians, as well as to foreigners, who are importers.
– They are meant to be applicable only to importations.
– I am very glad that no penalty has been provided for in this part. Dumping is to be prevented by the stoppage of importations.
– Without confiscation, though the Americans confiscate.
– The alteration which I have to propose is the insertion in sub-clause 1 of clause 15 of the words “ with the intention of destroying any Australian industry.” Sub-clause 2 of clause 18 provides that the Governor-General may prohibit the importation of imported goods, either absolutely, or under such conditions and restrictions as he deems just. Does the Minister think that the word “ restrictions “ as there used covers restrictions as to the maker? The most important matter of all is to be able to stop importation by a certain maker. If the restrictions could apply to the goods of a certain maker, the clause is all right as it stands.
– The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has given us an analysis of the Bill that one might have expected to be delivered in Committee; but his speech was nevertheless very valuable, inasmuch as it showed that the Bill will, in alll probability, prove to be sham legislation. That is how I interpreted his arguments. But, as the honorable and learned gentleman is now leaving the Chamber, I shall not refer to his remarks at greater length.
– The honorable and learned member said that he would vote for the Bill, so that he cannot think that it will prove to be sham legislation.
– Although he may vote for it; he does not think that it will accomplish all that it is desired to accomplish.
– The legislation of the. United States does not accomplish all that it is desired to accomplish, but it is a great check.
– The honorable and learned member also proved that the Bill would do a great deal of harm, because innocent persons would be injured by prosecutions. He gave instances of the manner in which innocent men might be brought before the Court, and he is evidently of opinion that the measure has been imperfectly drafted. But whatever his views may be, we know that legislation of a similar character, though not so drastic, has been enacted in other parts of the world. As recently as Saturday last, it was recorded in the public journals that a number of persons representing trusts and combines had been brought before American Courts, and heavily fined, while others were sent to prison for a number of years.
– Does not the honorable member consider the American legislation fairly effective?
– The Minister assumes that I am opposed to anti-trust legislation. I say that the American legislation is effective; but this measure is still more drastic, because it goes further than the American Acts go. As the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has pointed out, innocent people will be brought within its provision, and branded as criminals, although they have no criminal intent, and may be men who, instead of wishing to injure the public, desire to benefit the public as well as themselves. Under the Bill, such persons may be prosecuted and severely fined, and, in some cases, sent to prison. The Minister did not take the advice offered to him during the second reading discussion of a similar Bill last session, when it was suggested that, during the recess he should redraft the measure, with a view to making it less drastic and more effective.
– I said at the time that if I did anything I should alter the Bill to make its provisions more drastic.
– The honorable gentleman has done so. He was advised to make the Bill less drastic and more effective ; but his desire has been to make it more drastic, and, as the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has shown, he has made it less effective. The Bill has bean introduced with the idea of preventing the destruction of Australian industries, but, as the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has pointed out, it is a very dangerous instrument. It would have been preferable for the Minister to wait until the report of the Tariff Commission was before us, so that we might have been fully informed as to the disabilities under which our manufacturers labour, and the hardships that are being inflicted upon consumers. Possibly, when that report is before us, we may find that we can achieve our object more effectively by removing Tariff anomalies, than by legislation such as that) now proposed. It seems to me that the introduction of the Bill is premature. We cannot expect to make such a measure effective without having, the fullest information before us. The Minister has not adduced sufficient reasons to justify the hurried passing of the Bill. He has shown that certain evils exist in the. United States and Canada, but he has not been able to satisfy us that similar conditions are to be found here. Canada had copied the legislation of tha United States, and New Zealand has, to some extent, followed suit; but we have not sufficient information before us to justify us in adopting the very drastic steps now proposed. Before thi? Bill was introduced, the Government should have fully assured them selves of the necessity for such a farreaching measure. The conditions in America are very different from those which- prevail here. The people of the United States are a self-contained community. As Mr. Chamberlain has pointed out in some of his addresses on Preferential Trade, the importations into the United States are infinitesimal as compared with the local production and the exports. The United States have developed their manufactures to such an extent under an almost prohibitive Tariff, that they are now able to produce practically all that they require. In such a country, there is a wider field for the operation of trusts, and such combinations are capable of more destructive work than would be possible in Australia. The introduction of legislation of this kind would probably have effects directly opposite to those which would be brought about in the United States. We cannot possibly produce all that we require, and through the operation of a measure of this kind, the cost of goods which have to be imported in order to meet the daily necessities of the people will probably be increased. I approve, with certain modifications, of the provisions contained in Parts II. and III. of the Bill, which are intended to repress monopolies, and prevent the dumping of goods upon our market, because I believe that legislation intended to operate in the directions indicated would prove beneficial to the consumers. Monopoly, whether of the sources of production or of distribution, is essentially pernicious and injurious to the community. According to the newspapers, the Beef Trust in America has recently been fined for having obtained certain concessions by way of rebates and preferential rates from the railway companies in that country. We know that preferential rates have been in existence upon some of our States railways. As these rates, however, were intended to benefit one State as against another, and to bring traffic to certain lines of railway, they were regarded as legitimate. In the United States, the railway rates are arranged in such a manner as to enable the trusts to sweep all competitors from their path. Then, when the trusts have established a monopoly, they raise the prices to the consumer. The Shipping Combine might operate to the detriment of the people here in much the same way. If the associated shipowners are adopting the practice of granting rebates to certain persons who give them the whole of their patronage, and of withholding similar concessions from other persons who occasionally ship their goods by other steamers, some act:on should be taken to restrict their operations. Then, again, we are told that the tobacco combine is endeavouring to secure a monopoly. A number of persons with a large amount of capital may form a combination or trust capable of controlling the means of exchange, of crippling industry, strangling opposition, tyrannizing; over the retail traders, and reducing the free people of a State to pay tribute to the millionaire class. It is common talk that the tobacco combine are tyrannizing over the small retailers. All the evils that are (known to exist in America in connexion with the tobacco trade are now arising, although perhaps in a less objectionable form, in Australia. It is only a matter of time, however, when this combine will be as pernicious and destructive in Australia and as capable of monopolizing the whole trade, of raising, prices, and of, at the same time, foisting on the public an inferior article, as it has proved iri the United States. The reasons put forward by the Minister for the proposed legislation are not altogether clear and satisfactory. They must be viewed with a certain amount of suspicion, because the Bill is being hurried through, the House before honorable members have had an opportunity of considering the conclusions of the Tariff Commission, which has sat for a very long time, and has incurred an expenditure of £10,000 in collecting much valuable evidence. The Commission have obtained verv striking testimony from persons who went before them reluctant to give the fullest information. If we had their conclusions before us we should be in a much better position to frame an effective measure. The Minister of Trade and Customs is not to be absolved from blame, if his only reason for expending public time and treasure at this stage in connexion with this measure is derived from the experience of the United States. At present we have no such evils as are to be found there. With us, trusts are in their infancy, and we must be fortified with the fullest information before we can expect to deal effectively with such a complex subject. The Minister has made out a prima facie case against the American Tobacco Company of Australia, which has a capital of ^3,700,000. and is seeking to monopolize the tobacco trade. As a representative of the people, I regard it as my duty to cut the tentacles of this octupus, but, whilst I hold that we are here to deal with the abuses of trusts and combines, it does not, in my opinion, follow that we should nationalize an industry that can be successfully controlled under legislation such as has been passed in other parts of the world. When a country is invaded by an enemy, or if its agents or emissaries are within the gates insidiously mining and sapping, with a view to capturing the citadel - the markets which should be available to the honest manufacturer - the Parliament should immediately legislate as against a common enemy.
– Who expresses that opinion ?
– That is my deliberate opinion, after looking into this matter thoroughly. I have not arrived at my conclusion off-hand, but after having considered the whole subject as one’ who desires to legislate for the benefit of the country. The party, of which I am a member, has always brought forward legislation for the frood of the people. The Minister of Trade and Customs laughs, but I would challenge him to mention any legislation of a democratic character that has not had the support of the majority of. honorable members on this side of the House. If any concessions are granted, they should be granted to the masses of the community, whose interests require to be safeguarded more than do those of the sharp, unscrupulous business men, whose chief mission in life is to filch the earnings of the unprotected. May I go further, and affirm that if the oppressor is of our own citizenship he must be stripped of his disguise as the wolf of its sheep’s clothing. In this connexion, I desire -to refer particularly to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– That company has opposition to face now.
– I am very glad to hear it. No concern in our midst is a safe one - so far as the community generally are concerned - unless fair competition is assured. Human nature is the same in all of us. As soon as a man secures control of a market), he will fleece the public right and left. The Minister has intimated that he has asked for. a report from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company as to the charges which they are levying upon the public for the sugar which, they are distributing. I say that he should thoroughly satisfy himself that the company are dealing fairly with the ^people. He should ascertain whether the greater portion of the large bonus which Australia is paying, for the maintenance of the sugar industry - ostensibly for the preservation of a White Australia - is not finding its way into the coffers of that company, thus enabling it to make larger profits than would otherwise be the case.. I should like to know whether the Minister has received such a report, and whether he is satisfied that the public are not being injured. The Australian shipping combine is also under suspicion, having been charged before the Shipping Commission, in Brisbane, with a clandestine attempt to interfere with freedom of commerce. That is a very serious charge. The evidence given before the Commission was to the effect that the shipping combine conferred certain privileges upon those persons who shipped their goods exclusively by its steamers. Individuals who occasionally shipped merchandise by their vessels were not granted the same concessions.
– Every Government railway in Australia does the same thing.
– No. I have already stated that differential and preferential railway rates in Australia have been imposed for the purpose of protecting the capital which hag been invested in lines that run a long distance from the seaboard towards a neighbouring State line that is nearer to the seaboard.
– Does not tha shipping combine prevent a person who does not conform to its regulations from shipping goods by its steamers again?
– I believe so. Further, the combine ordered a line of steamers off the Australian coast, and the vessels had to be withdrawn. It is our duty, as legislators, to deal with that combine, and, upon this side of the Chamber, I have not heard a single voice raised against the enactment of legislation which will prevent the public from being robbed by such an organization. Then there is the tobacco combine.
– The tobacco combine in America is possessed of ^57,000,000 or ^38. 000.000
– The Minister is not referring to the Australian combine.
– I am speaking of the trust with which the Australian combine is associated.
– These three trusts would not suffer financial loss or be injured in any way - if their business methods were honest - by being subjected to the provisions of Part II. of the Bill. The speech of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne only served to strengthen my conviction that these combines should be specified in the Bill, and that the Governor-General in Council should be empowered to specify by regulation any other combine which is carrying on business to the detriment of the public, with a view to bringing it under this portion of the measure. No injury whatever could befall these companies as the result of such legislation, but a large measure of protection would be conferred upon the public, and a great deal of scandal would be avoided. There are trusts whose businesses cannot be controlled as can those of the three combines which I have mentioned without injury to the consumers. .There are other trusts which are capable of doing damage to our industries and our commercial interests if they are passed unnoticed. Included in the latter category are the Massey-Harris Company, the International Harvester Company, and, so far as a great deal of the trade of Australia is concerned, the steel trust. If the goods manufactured by the agricultural implement makers, and bv the steel trust - which controls the output of steel rails and metals used in railway construction - were specified in a schedule published in the Commonwealth Gazette, as is provided for in the New Zealand Act, and if another schedule were gazetted showing the selling price of such goods in the country whence they were shipped, as compared with their selling price in Australia, much good would result. In New Zealand this experimental legislation will terminate within a month, but in my opinion we might permanently copy it here with advantage, it having been conclusively proved in that Colony that it is beneficial to the public interest. It would protect the consumer against the operations of the trust. It would also enable the manufacturer to utilize all the inventive genius of Australia in a particular machine. The ideas of Australians have already been copied irc America, so far as harvesters are concerned. It might be possible to improve upon them locally to such an extent that ultimately we should command the whole trade of Australia, because we ought to be able to produce a machine quite equal to the American article. I think that the local manufacturers of agricultural implements might, with advantage, be brought under this Bill. Railway requisites, steel rails, galvanized iron, and wire netting might also be subjected to restrictive legislation. Should such legislation not operate beneficially, it could easily be repealed. The manufactures I have mentioned might lae dealt with separately, and not under indiscriminate dumping provisions. The Minister in his speech dealt very fairly with the provisions of the Canadian and New Zealand Acts. He clearly showed how they could be brought into operation, and how the public could be protected in a similar way to that in which they are protected in NewZealand. In my opinion, it would be a mistake to pass a comprehensive Bill which could be applied indiscriminately. In the hands of an extreme fiscalist it might be used for party purposes, even if it were not used - as. it could be - dishonestly. Socially, I regard the Minister as a most excellent citizen, and as a party man he is a rabid protectionist. He is an excellent reader of human nature, and I fear that he might be tempted to administer this Bill in the interests of his party. Even against the promptings of his better self he would lean towards the interests of the manufacturer rather than towards those of the consumer, who should be his first consideration.
– I should lean towards the interests of the consumer rather than towards those of the importer.
– On the other hand, if the measure were being administered by a free-trader he would probably lean just as much in the other direction, and in that case a great deal of injury would be done to the manufacturer. It is not a good thing to place in the hands of a Minister an instrument which he can use for party purposes, against the best interests of the community, and against the general progress of the Commonwealth. The interjection of the Minister leads me to believe that he intends to amend the provision relating to the appointment of a Board of three persons to determine what is unfair competition, by substituting for that body a Justice of the High Court. Is that correct?
– I do not see how it would be possible for a lawyer to determine such a question “ satisfactorily.
If he possessed the same instincts as does the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I do not think he would be competent to .satisfactorily solve a matter of that kind. But if the Minister appointed a high-principled commercial man, and placed him above party considerations, it would be possible to secure satisfaction.
– What salary would he be worth ?
– If we desired to secure a first-class man we should have to give him ^2,000 a year.
– Does the honorable member think that he would perform his work satisfactorily for that sum?
– I do. I desire to legislate against abuses. The honorable gentleman said that this was not a question of free-trade or protection, but of legislation for the benefit of the people. If it be the object of this legislation to protect the people against abuses brought about by the dishonest operations of trusts and combines, its consideration should not be affected by party views based upon a belief in either free-trade or protection. The American Steel Trust has already operated, and it is shown by our Customs returns that we import from abroad steel and iron articles of all kinds to. the value of ,£7,000,000. These imports are to be dealt with under the dumping provisions of this Bill. They comprise electrical appliances, anchors, arms for army and navy, revolvers and pistols, rifles, bicycles, cutlery, chains, bar, rod, angle, and tee iron and steel, galvanized plate and sheet, girders, beams, hoop iron, ingots, pig and scrap iron, rails and railway material, wire rope, sewing machines, and all other kinds of machines, axles and springs, bolts and nuts, mixed metalware, horse-shoe and other nails, manufactures of metals, pipes, and tubes, plated-ware and plated cutlery, tanks, iron and steel wire, barbed wire, wire netting, tin plates, machine tools, and tools of trade. It seems to me that if any attempt is made to prevent the importation of these articles which, for many years to come, cannot possibly be manufactured here, the effect must be to raise their price to the consumer. At the present time the farmer pays highly for everything he uses, but the Minister of Trade and Customs now proposes to add from 10 to 50 per cent, to the cost of all these articles, which are required by the primary producers of the country. He is going to make a special effort, on behalf of Australian manufacturers, to have these goods produced in Australia, although we know that they cannot for many years be manufactured here.
– I said that I would get as many as possible of them manufactured here.
– The honorable gentleman has given us another list of articles, many of which are required by .the primary producers, comprising wire nails, galvanized wire ropes, table knives, farm waggons, sewing machines, steel rails, lead, shovels, wash-boards, tin plates, typewriters, and lawn mowers. He gave the American prices of these goods; and the lower prices at which they are sold in foreign lands, specially mentioning Australia.
– Is not that dumping?
– The honorable gentleman assumes that that is the result of dumping, but, as a matter of fact, it is the result of a prohibitive Tariff. In the country in which these articles are made there are very high protective duties imposed, under which manufacturers are able to get very high prices for their wares in their own country^ and are thus enabled to sell their surplus manufactures abroad at lower prices than those prevailing in their home market. They sell their goods abroad at prices which they would be willing to accept in their home market but for the opportunities afforded them to rob the people under a high protective Tariff.
– The honorable member is going to make a Tariff question of it.
– I am not, but I have the Minister’s figures before me. The list supplied bv the honorable gentleman is an example of what happens under high protective duties, and the Minister now proposes to raise the prices of these articles to the primary producers of Australia.
– ‘I did not say anything of the kind; that is a misinterpretation of my words.
– I do noi wish to quote long passages from the honorable gentleman’s speech, but he submitted a list, which I have in ray hand, of articles to which I have referred as being sold in America at one price, and in foreign lands at a lower price. We have always contended that that is the effect of a protective Tariff. If you can rob people by taking, from them more than you are justly Entitled to demand for ,your wares, you are thus enabled to take your surplus manufactures and dump them, if honorable members please, in a foreign country for sale at cost price, and yet secure sufficient profit on capital invested to amass a large fortune as the result of opportunities afforded by high protective Tariffs. If the Minister desires to bring the importation of these goods under the dumping provisions of this Bill, he desires to raise their price to the primary producer.
– I have read the list, and honorable members know that it comprises’ articles required by the primary producer. The Minister desires thai imports of these goods shall pay duty to the extent of 50 per cent, more than they are now paying, because that will be the effect of bringing them under the dumping provisions of this Bill. These matters can be very much better dealt with in a Tariff Bill than in an anti-dumping measure. It is not fair to the House and the country that in his position as Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable gentleman’. should attempt to bring all these wares required, by the primary producer under the provisions of this Bill, when he knows that they can be more effectively and appropriately dealt with in a Tariff Bill. What is more, the honorable, gentleman says that under the provisions of the Commonwealth Customs Act, and the Tariff Act, he has power to deal with every one of these articles at the present time. The honorable gentleman has taken legal advice upon that -matter, but his reason for not acting as the Minister of Trade and Customs, is that he wishes tha House to give him encouragement, and to confirm the suggestion he has made in order that he may to-morrow, if he pleases, operate in Mie direction hera indicated, and add to the burden of every farmer and producer in the Commonwealth, by from 1.5 to 50 per cent, on the present selling price of the articles he uses.
– That is very unfair.
– I think honorable members will agree that I am dealing fairly with this Bill. Part II. of the measure can be used to deal with the Sugar
Trust, the Tobacco Trust, and the Shipping Trust. I am prepared to operate against those trusts, against which I say the Minister has made out a prima facie case. Under Part III. of the Bill, I should be prepared to deal with the Steel Trust, and other trusts mentioned, such as the Massey-Harris and International Harvester Trust.
– No dreadful calamity happened when I dealt with the Massey-Harris harvester.
– It appeared that there was collusion in our midst in that particular line of business.
– I was going to ruin the farmer then, according to some honorable members.
– If the Minister did good on that occasion, I am glad to know it. I am not speaking as one having a grievance against the Minister of Trade and Customs, but as an unbiased citizen, and Member of Parliament. I say that it is a most unwarrantable act on the part of the Minister to propose to bring the long list of articles to which I have referred, and which, even with the progress we are making, we cannot hope to manufacture in Australia for another thirty or forty years, under the dumping provisions of this measure, so as to raise their price to the primary producer.
– It will not raise the price.
– The honorable gentleman has stated that these articles are sold at a certain price in the country in which they are manufactured, and in Australia at a lesser price.
– If they were manufactured here the prices would be lower than they are.
– If I had known that the Minister would try to repudiate his own figures, I should have worked out the prices he gave in English money, because it is not satisfactory to speak in dollars to the electors of Australia. We must consider some articles which are not included in the list presented by the Minister. Let us take kerosene oil, for instance. The honorable gentleman says that there is a company prepared to spend something like £80,000 in the construction of a railway to certain shale mines.
– They are at it now.
– And that they have a capital of £60,000 or £70,000.
– From £600,000 to £700,000.
– I suppose that honorable members are aware that to produce oil from shale the shale requires to be baked, and the crude oil obtained from the shale kilns cannot be compared with the well oil which we get from America. The Minister’s proposal in this connexion is to make kerosene oil expensive, to tax: the consumer and the poor man again - not the poor man who lives in large centres, but the poor man in the country.
– To tax the farmer’s illuminant.
– Yes, the farmer is to be taxed again. The Minister proposes to protect the product ofthe kerosene shale industry against the well oil of America.
– That is a deliberate misstatement. When did I say I was going to protect the shale industry ?
– How is the Minister to protect the industry unless he keeps the American well oil out? If the American oil is allowed to come in. then the honorable gentleman’s friends will be madmen if they try to compete with it with oil derived from kerosene shale.
– They are not my friends.
– We know very well that these men have not put £600,000 or £700,000 into a venture of this kind nor would they put down £80,000 for the construction of a railway line, which can be used for no other purpose than the transport of oil or of shale for use in gasmaking, without some shrewd idea that they will be given protection which will enable them to keep their industry going. It would therefore appear that the Minister is desirous of putting up the price of well oil, under the operation of Part III. of this Bill, to that ruling in Australia for shale oil. If I am making an inaccurate statement, it will do me no good.
– The honorable member is making a misstatement - an absolute misstatement ! .
– The pick and shovel have to be used in taking out the shale in the mine, just as coal is taken out. Then it has to be trucked, put into kilns, and baked) so that the oil may be extracted from it. Does the Minister mean to say that oil so produced can be sold at the same price as oil which is obtained as easily as water can be taken out of the sea? That is the case in America, whence we get our kerosene. Yet the Minister proposes to protect this shale industry.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– The Minister intends to attack the Oil Trust of America. He went into details, and told us what his friends had told him. He is not an innocent. He knows what these men have in their minds, and they know that the Minister wishes to see their industry established, and that he will go to the length he has stated in his speech of preventing the importation of the oil sold by the American Oil Trust.
– I did not say so.
– He intends to stop the dumping of kerosene oil on Australia.
– The honorable member has a very imaginative brain.
– I am quoting from the Minister’s own speech. Is. he going to exempt this Oil Trust ? The Minister himself said that he was astounded in looking into the matters placed before him by his officers. But in America they talk of millions as if they were merely blackberries. But if the trust is not to operate here the price of oil . will be put up by the producers of the local oil. The Minister will come to Parliament, give the figures at which the oil is sold in America, and will then say, “ Here is an industry whose operations throw our men out of employment. It is conducted by workmen who are employed for longer hours per day, and at lower pay than are the men engaged in a similar industry in this country. Unless we keep out this imported oil our own works must be closed up.” He will say, under the provisions of this Bill, “ This imported oil must be kept out.” But away out in the back blocks the primary producers take the crude oil to use in their oil engines. It can be taken cheaply into the back country, whereas coal cannot possibly be taken up, because of the expense. The Minister will not allow this crude oil to come in. When the Tariff was before Parliament I dealt with this particular subject, and I remember the right honorable member for Balaclava, who was then Treasurer, saying, “We must give Dave Watkins something to protect the coal industry.”
A high duty was placed on crude oil, because it is used as fuel in the oil engines, and in producing steam power. There is another industry which the Minister will injure by prohibiting the importation of oil. . Motors are coming into use in Australia. In Sydney one maysee hundreds of motors at work on the harbor. If this dumping provision is enforced, and the oil which they use is made too expensive, they must go out of use. The “cost of imported oil will be too great ; ar::l it will cost too much to produce ‘ naphtha or benzine in Australia, although it is quite possible to produce it. The Minister, to encourage the industry of his friends who are investing ,£600,000 or £700,000, will keep out all the refined oils which are supplied by the Oil Trust of America. Various kinds of engines can be, and are manufactured well in Australia. They are manufactured as well as they are, because of competition from abroad. The Minister is going to prevent improvements in the manufacture of our engines and boilers, because under these dumping provisions he will prohibit the importation of Tangye engines, or of the magnificent American engines, which conduce to the improvement of Australian manufactures. It will be said that these imported engines are dumped into Australia, and that therefore they must be excluded in the interests of Australian industry. Then, again, we import leather. We get Krons leather from America, and other excellent leathers from England and Europe. We must import heavy sole leather ; sufficient for our requirements cannot be produced within the Commonwealth. It is impossible to continue our boot and shoe-making industry successfully unless we import the superior kinds of leather. Firstclass sole leathers must be made from hides that are stout in the shoulder, as well as in the butt. Not one in fifty Australian hides has the quality necessary to make first class sole leather. New Zealand and other cold countries, however, produce thick hides which make excellent sole leather.
– Home buyers are very anxious to obtain Queensland hides.
– Queensland hides are the worse in the world for thinness. They fall away in the shoulder They are, however, suitable for light sole leather. 0
– They bring the best prices..
– The butt is stout, but the shoulder is thin, and it is not suitable for heavy sole leather. I repeat that it is impossible to produce in this country the highest class of boots and shoes to the extent of our requirements, unless our manufacturers import superior sole leather for the purpose. The Minister by his policy would encourage the putting of inferior leather into what ought to be first class boots, and our manufacturers would turn out Loots with first-class upper leathers and inferior soles.
– The honorable member would like us to wear buffalo hide.
– Evidently the Minister knows nothing about buffalo hide. If he did, he would be aware that it is spongy and unsuitable for the best class of boots.
– The honorable member says that Queensland hides are of no ‘use, although as a matter of fact they are the best in Australia
– I know something about this subject. I have shipped thousands and thousands of pounds worth of these goods. I tell the Minister that he will injure the boot and shoe industry of Australia if he shuts out imported leathers. We produce here upper leather that is very good as far as it goes, but we need also to import the best upper leathers. This Bill would lead to the use of shoddy leather, and would promote the utilization for splits, tweeds, and other kinds of upper leather with destroyed fibre. It would lead to the use of such leather, and would keep out French, German, and English calf, English sole leather, and American Krons. I appeal to the Minister to allow these dumping clauses to be struck out, and not to permit the Bill to operate except in regard to the trusts which I have mentioned, and which might be enumerated in a list proclaimed by the Governor-General in Council. Any trust that became a menace to the public, and to the best interest of the community, might be placed upon that list. By such means we might accomplish something useful ; but, as tha Bill is now framed, it would simply lead to extorting from the public, through the manufacturers, higher prices for inferior articles. I hope the Minister will think the matter over.
– The honorable member has uttered so many stories about my speech that I could not think of doing what he wants.
– It does not matter to me personally. I have accurately quoted from the Minister’s speech, which is in my hand. I am speaking on behalf of a very large constituency.
– I have a bigger one than the honorable member has.
– I am speaking on behalf of the people of this country. If the Minister will do justice to himself, he will act in the interests of the people; but he is not doing so by insisting upon every letter of this Bill, and bringing so many industries under the operation of the third part of it. Clearing sales held by storekeepers, when they wish to raise the wind to meet their monthly bills, or to make their quarterly payments to their financiers, will not be permitted, if this Bill is carried out in its entirety. These tradesmen, having, perhaps, made a big profit on their early sales, are able to share with the public the ordinary profit on the balance of the stock. They sell out at what they call a sacrifice, and I believe that such is often the case. The sales are for the benefit of the masses of the people, and they tend to the stability of the credit of our tradesmen abroad. But, if this Bill ‘ passes, a shopkeeper will not be at liberty to Have his auction sale, or to dispose of his softgoods at a sacrifice at the end of the > season. Consequently, the mother with a large family will not be able to get good clothes and shoes for her children at a low figure, as she has hitherto done.
– We shall not have any more paper shoes.
– In Australia we produce some of the verv best boots and shoes, but not in great quantities. The very finest leather in the world is to be made of the wallaby skin of Tasmania and Kangaroo Island, and from New Zeland hides.
– Just now, the honorable member said that Australian leathers .were of no use.
– What I said was that we must go to cold countries if we want the best hides for producing sole leather; and Queensland is not a cold country. The very best of boots and shoes can be made in Australia, and some of the very worst are made here. They will, I suppose, continue to be made. What is done with the shavings and the splits from our currying factories? They are all made up and sold in our midst. If there were more competition from abroad the shavings from the currying shops would not be pressed into sole leather and made into boots and shoes. Under the provisions of this Bill a premium will be given to the dishonest manufacturer, who, in the sight of the Minister of Trade and Customs, will be regarded as a public benefactor.
.- I had not the advantage of listening to the speech of the Minister of Trade and Customs when he introduced this Bill, but I have read and re-read the speech, and do not think that I have overlooked many of his points. The question of trusts has evoked an enormous amount of literature in the United States, and, like the honorable member for Mernda, I have spent part of the recess, at any rate, in studying that literature. Two books have been specially referred to in the course of the debate, one entitled Wealth versus Commonwealth, bv Henry Demarest Lloyd ; and the other the History of the Standard Oil Trust, by Miss Tarbell, the latter of which was quoted very largely by the honorable member for Mernda. These books and other literature on the subject show verv clearly what is the main cause of the growth of trusts in America - what has been the factor above all others which has made trusts the powerful bodies they are in that country. I do not think the statement can be gainsaid that the private ownership of the means of transport is the main cause. Every writer who deal’s with the question lays stress on that aspect, and many means have been urged for properly dealing with the problem. Some- of the writers who have given great attention to this question advocate the immediate Government ownership of the railways in America. Of course, that would be such a stupendous undertaking, involving hundreds, and possibly of thousands, of millions of money, for the purchase of the railways, that there are many sober-minded individuals who fear that such an operation cannot be successfully carried out. Accordingly, other writers have advocated such regulation of privately-owned railways as will secure to the public freedom from oppressive and monopolistic acts on the part of those who have control of these means of transport. T propose to read a few extracts from various writers On the problem, in order to show what means have been advocated in
America for dealing with trusts. It is in America that the problem is more living and real’ than in any other part of the world. In the United States there are more trusts than elsewhere, and it is there that we can trace their operations far more effectively than we can in any other country ; and, therefore, writers on the spot, who have studied the question, can, if they are sincere, aid us very materially in discussing the measure before us. I have here a book by Professor J. W. Jenks, of Cornell University, and it is an edition published as lately as 1905. Professor Jenks was secretary of an industrial commission of the United States Congress, appointed to investigate the matter of trusts, and he obtained a vast amount of information, which, after he had ceased to act as secretary, he embodied in one or two books. The book I have here is his latest, and it contains his opinions on the best way of dealing with trusts. It will be found, when we examine the various remedies proposed by all writers on trusts, that we arrive at a position at which we can eliminate a number of their proposals as not being germane to a discussion in Australia, and consider other proposals which should be a guide to us in framing legislation of this kind. Professor Jenks advocates a few remedies by legislation, and, first and foremost, like every other writer on the subject, he points out the necessity for the prevention of discrimination in railway freights. There can be no doubt that discrimination, secret rebates, and do forth, have been the great cause of building up certain manufacturers or traders at the expense of their rivals; and every writer on the subject starts off with the declaration that discrimination in railway freights must be prevented. Then we find, on reference to Professor Jenks and other writers, that the American patent laws, which have been held up to us as so much superior to the English and Australian patent laws, are regarded with a certain amount of suspicion. It is felt that these laws safeguard the patentee a little too much, while not giving adequate consideration to the interests of the public; and it is thought that the amendment of those laws on the lines observed in England, and, possibly, Germany, would be advantageous to the people of the United States, and have some effect in checking monopolies. Mr. Jenks also points out that in some cases the Tariff has been a means of creating trusts. I should like here to say that Professor Jenks is by no means a fanatical free-trader. He does not advocate the wholesale revision of the Tariff, nor a wholesale abolition of the duties. He says -
It is in all probability true that by such removal of the tarin the evil effects of the higher price would, for the time being at any rate, be materially lessened, and the suggestion of this remedy is certainly good, provided the remedy were applied with reasonable discretion and a reasonable judgment regarding present industrial conditions.
That is what Professor Jenks confined himself to in regard to the’ Tariff. If it be found that the Tariff does in certain instances create monopoly, it should’, according to him, be modified, reduced, or dealt with in some way so as to protect the consumer. Next Professor Jenks refers to such amendments and alterations of the law relating to corporations, or, as we call them, companies, as will make directors and promotors responsible for statements made in prospectuses, and for the proper carrying out of a company’s operations. On reading books on trusts in America, one is absolutely amazed at the lax state of the company legislation there. ‘Contrary to all Australian and’ English ideas, we find practices going on in regard to the formation and operations of companies which stagger us. In America an efficient (Companies Act does not seem to obtain, and most, if not all, writers on trusts, urge that an Act, such as would fix responsibility on promoters and) directors, is urgently needed. As to that branch of the subject, Professor Jenks advocates that companies should be required to furnish further particulars, much as is done in Australia and the United Kingdom, to the RegistrarGeneral, those particulars to be open to inspection by the public on payment of a small fee. He further points out that the public right, or governmental right, of taxing people and corporations is one which could be advantageously exercised in some cases in the settlement of this question, and which, if discreetly used, would probably have a checking effect on the operations of trusts. In a supplementary chapter, Professor Jenks discusses with great caution the effect of anti-trust legislation in America. We have had a lengthy and able speech from the Attorney-General dealing with that point, and the operation of the Act known as Sherman’s Act; and I think that our Bill does not go as far as that Act. In some respects I think our Bill is a distinct improvement. I would like to express that opinion to the credit of the Attorney-General. It is pointed out by Professor Jenks that under the Sherman Act it has been decided that combinations in restraint of Inter-State commerce, whether reasonable or unreasonable, are illegal and punishable. Under the Bill before us, a combination in restraint of trade is not illegal and’ punishable unless it be to the detriment of the public ; and I venture to say that the introduction of the words “ to the detriment of the public “ is a safeguard which it would be well to have embodied in the Sherman Act.
– Who is to judge whether a combination is to the detriment of the public ?
– That is a somewhat difficult question, but one, I take it, which may be decided on the merits of each particular case. As cases have to go before a jury, and we are told the Minister is determined to have as high-class a jury as possible, I think we can say that the introduction of these words is a safeguard which those engaged in business likely to come within the operation of the Bill should’ not oppose, but should rather welcome. Professor Jenks makes a point - a point which has been referred to by other speakers - that discriminations by trusts should be abolished. That is to say, a trust must sell to all purchasers at the same rate ; a trust must not sell in some localities at a specially low rate for the purpose of killing competition, or sell to some favoured individual at a specially low rate for the purpose of killing out other individuals who may handle good’s not made by the trust. To bring about such a state of affairs as Professor Jenks advocates is extremely difficult. Though I believe this last proposition is one which, if properly carried out, would be of great advantage, yet I have not seen any way in which the prohibition of discrimination could be effectively brought about without at the same time creating a great many worse evils. Another well-known work on trusts in America, which is, perhaps, the most popular, judging by its circulation, is by Mr. William Miller Collier, some time a New York State Civil Service Commissioner, and also a lawyer, seeing that he is the author of Collier on Bankruptcy. Mr. Collier is a well-known member of the Republican Party in New York, and a staunch protectionist. The book he has written is a very able one, and in it he points out that there are many reasons for trusts - -that the operations of trusts have on many occasions enabled America to produce very cheaply, increase production and employment to the people, and to compete in foreign markets. Mr. Collier admits, however, that the monopolies the trusts have secured in many places are of a very dangerous character, and he suggests a number of methods of dealing with them. In the first place, he, like Professor Jenks and other writers’, declares that railway freight discrimination must be stopped. He is at one with all other writers on the question, in declaring that the first and foremost evil is improper, illegal, and dishonest discrimination in railway freights, and that the first remedy is the abolition or prevention of such discrimination. Though, as I say, a strong protectionist and a leading member of the Republican Party, Mb. Collier is of opinion that in certain limited cases the Tariff might be dealt with’. On page 365 of his book he says : -
Abolish all special privileges; prohibit and absolutely prevent railroad discriminations; lower the tariff - not whenever we can obtain our goods from abroad at a lower rate, but whenever the prices exacted by any trust or any corporation or any individual are in excess of a fair profit, after paying American wages. The establishment of an export trade in any article should be treated as presumptive evidence of the lack of need of a tariff, and the tariff upon such article should be continued only when it has been clearly shown that sales abroad are the result of exceptional circumstances.
In that connexion, I may say that the Customs law of Canada has a provision for allowing the Tariff to be reduced when it is shown that goods for export are sold by Canadian manufacturers at a lower price than goods for home consumption. Mr. Collier also advocates that the patent law should be modified whenever necessary, because he fears that the patent laws of America go too far in the direction of studying the interests of the patentees, and not far enough in the direction of studying the interests of the public. He is in favour of company reform, and of compelling corporations to pay their fair share of taxation. But, having carried all these reforms, and, so to speak, cleared the ring, he says that there must be a fair fight. As the conditions with which he deals so largely do not exist in Australia, we are interested chiefly in what he has to say about the necessity for allowing a fair fight when the ring is cleared. We must deal very stringently with attempts to cut prices in particular localities. No doubt, in tha United States of America, prices have been cut in particular localities to crush competition, and Mr. Collier thinks that that practice ought to be made punishable by law. It is feltby this very able writer, and member of the Protectionist Party in the United States, that by dealing with the problem on these lines, trusts will be kept within proper bounds, and the interests pf the public will be duly safeguarded. Another writer on trusts is Professor Ely, a gentleman of world-wide reputation, and one of the newer school of political economists, who advocates Government or municipal ownership of public utilities, and Government or municipal control of all undertakings which- are necessarily monopolies, and in which competition is not practicable or possible. He is of opinion that the taxation of trusts is one way to deal with the problem, but that it is a method which must be handled very cautiously, because, very frequently, monopolies are created by improper Government- taxation. If the condition of entering into a trade or undertaking of any kind is that, to meet the Government taxation, a very large amount of capital will be necessary, competitors may be driven out of the field for want of the requisite money.. Hence the remedy of taxation should be applied very cautiously, and care should be taken to see that the taxation applied is not likely to produce monopoly. Under the Victorian insurance legislation, before a new insurance company can commence operations, it must invest £5,000 in Government stock, to be held in the name of the Treasurer for the time being, so that new companies practically find it impossible to start in the same way as the Australian Mutual Provident Society, the National Mutual Life Assurance Society, and others of the present companies commenced. That legislation, therefore, though intended only . to safeguard the public interests, has had the probably unforeseen, effect of limiting competition. Professor Ely is of -opinion that natural monopolies and public utilities should be regulated or controlled bv the Government, or by municipal bodies, in regard to such things as hours of labour, rates of pay, fares, freights, and so forth, or should be wholly undertaken by municipalities or the Government. He thinks, however, that in Americas the difficulty of securing, a satisfactory Government control would be so great that, in the first, instance, Government regulation and ownership would be more satisfactory. He points out that, by the proper application of the power of taxation, as by probate duties, the accumulation of huge fortunes can be substantially checked. In the United Kingdom, when rich estates are left to strangers in blood, the duties range up to as much as 18 per cent., which is a much hig;her rate than we have in Australia. This taxation has a very distinct and marked effect in reducing accumulations. Professor Ely points out that there are cases in which, where the Tariff is a distinct and unmistakable cause of the existence of a monopoly, it might be dealt with. He says -
To confine ourselves to a single illustration, the reader may be reminded that, according to the statement of the President, the sugar trust has been aided by the tariff.
He would deal with trusts by reducing the duty on an article when that duty was found to be one of the prime: causes of the trust. He also advocates the reform of the patent and company laws ; but the discussion of his proposals in that direction is not very germane to the subject at hand, because the Victorian company law is, if anything, a little too drastic. It certainly does not err on the side of leniency. Our patent Jaws, too, are fairly adequate for the protection of the public. The first to write about trusts in a noncontroversial manner was a German, Ernst von Haile, who went from Germany to America to make some investigations there. He gives many examples of what the trusts have done, and of the agreements which they have made in restraint of trade; but he does not deal with the subject in a partisan spirit, and does not advocate many reforms. He confines himself to two propositions. He says, first, that there should be a uniform company law throughout the United States of America, so that all corporations and companies might be placed on the same footing, and, secondly, that the whole of the anti-trust legislation there should be repealed. That is rather a commentary upon the legislation we are now considering, as well as’ upon the American legislation. His tendencies are of a democratic, and, possibly, of a collectivist character, but he thinks that the anti-trust legislation of the United States, instead of helping the public to deal with the trusts, has aided the trusts. I do not think that the American legislation is likely to be repealed. It is more likely to be strength ened, because the evils of trusts are apparent, and, undoubtedly, steps must be taken there to deal with them. One of the latest writers on trusts is Professor John Bates Clark, of Columbia University, who last year wrote a little book on curbing the power of monopoly by natural methods. He writes, first, of what not to do, and, secondly, of what to do, and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, if he were here, would be glad to know that he says that one of the things that we should not do is to make a sweeping abolition of all protective duties; but he follows the example of most of the writers on the subject, who urge that, when it is shown that the Tariff is the cause of a monopoly, it should be altered1.
– Does a Tariff ever cause a monopoly?
– In some cases duties have been the causes of monopolies. It is a pity that the Bill does not contain a clause similar to the provision of the Canadian Act, which enacts, that, when a company or firm sells its goods beyond the borders of the country from which it exports at a lower price than that at which it sells within that country, the Tariff protecting its operations should be reduced or modified in some way. That provision attempts to- deal with the injustice pointed out by the honorable member for Grey, and I hope that he will draft an amendment on similar lines.
– If he drafts such a clause we will support him.
- Mr. Clark is of the opinion that some of the remedies which have been suggested are reactionary and unnecessary, as, for instance, proposals to limit the size of companies, to systematically break up large companies, to regulate prices by law, and to tax profits out of existence. He concludes by beseeching his readers not to accept Socialism as the true remedy for trusts, because what is needed is rather the creation than the abolition of competition. His book, so far as it goes, is an excellent one; but he does not pretend to give the results of an exhaustive inquiry into the subject. Professor Clark, like others, advocates the protection of investors by effective company legislation. He also says that it is necessary to keep the independent competitor in the field. That is his method of dealing with the trusts. He says that the trusts should not be allowed to club their competitors out of existence, but that competition should be maintained, and everything should be done to prevent trusts, corporations, or individuals from securing a monopoly of trade in any particular spot or throughout the country. In order to keep the independent competitor in the field, it is necessary to secure for him fair treatment by the railways, and to prevent him from being placed at a disadvantage by secret arrangements between the trusts and the railway companies. He points out that there are three ways in which a trust may seek to crush out an efficient competitor. He says -
It may make use of the factors’ agreement by which it .gives a special rebate to those merchants who handle only its own goods. It may resort, secondly, to the local cutting of prices whereby the trust enters its rivals’ special territory, and sells goods there below the cost of producing them, while sustaining itself by means of higher prices charged in other portions of its field. Again, the trust may depend on the cutting of the price of some one variety of goods which a rival producer makes, in order to ruin him, while it .sustains itself by means of the high prices which it gets for goods of other kinds.
Professor Clark urges that these three methods should be made illegal. At page 76 of the work from, which I have been quoting, he says -
Then factors’ agreement, the local cutting of prices, and the predatory breaking of a scale of prices must be forbidden, and there must be a real force behind the prohibition.
Then he discusses the difficulties of enforcing such legislation. Whilst I agree with Professor Clark that it is advisable, as far as possible, to enforce legislation of that kind, I see the greatest difficulties in the way. Take the case of tied houses in the brewing trade, mentioned bv the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. The tied houses are worked in such a way that we are powerless to apply a remedy. If the hotelkeeper complies with a certain number of conditions, including those relating to the purchase of beer, he receives certain advantages, and if he does not adhere to these terms he is denied the benefits of the arrangement. The tied-house system can thus be worked in such a way that all legislation intended to crush it out is rendered powerless. Merchants, traders, and manufacturers will try to push their business in certain ways, and if we prevent a manufacturer from giving special favour to those who handle his goods only, he will establish retail shops, and the independent trader on his own account will be driven out of the field. His business will be destroyed by a man who is practically an employe” of the manufacturer. Hence it appears to me that the remedies suggested for keeping the independent competitor in the field, whilst, no doubt, very good in theory, are unworkable. Now I should like to summarize the methods which these five writers advocate. In the first place, they say that railway discrimination should be prevented. That suggestion is not applicable to our conditions, because the .railways are in the hands of the States Governments. At the same time, a most grievous system of discrimination is carried out in Victoria. The Railways Commissioners discriminate to the disadvantage of Portland, Port Fairy, and Warrnambool, and also against Bairnsdale and Sale, in the most grievous manner, and do their best to prevent trade from flowing in its natural channels.
– The Minister says that this measure will not apply to such cases.
– No; it does not attempt to deal with the Railways Commissioners. The Commissioners have sent special officers1 out to certain stations, and have offered to carry the wool by rail at almost any price with a view to prevent it from being shipped by steamer. They have offered to carry wool from stations 230 or 240 miles from Melbourne at rates which could not be secured bv station-owners whose properties were 120 or 130 miles from Melbourne. This system of preference appears to be bound up in railway systems, and instructions have been given by the Railways Commissioners that freight is to be obtained, no matter what has to be conceded. A special officer is sent out, and if he meets a stationowner who says that he can get his wool carried via Portland at a certain price per ton, he will offer to convey it by rail at 6d. per ton less. By hook or by crook the railway authorities secure the traffic, and harbors which have been constructed at great public expense are being made little or no use of. The traffic that should go to build up country towns on the seaboard such as I have mentioned is centralized hi Melbourne, merely because of the discriminating policy adopted by the Railways Commissioners. The fault does not lie at the door of the present Commissioners, because the same policy has been persistently pursued ever since we have had railways. Then, again, the writers to whom I have referred advocate the reform of the company law. That recommendation is not applicable to Victoria, because we have the most up-to-date law dealing with that matter. In fact, our law is a little bit beyond date. In many respects it bears the impress of the Attorney-General, and, like all the measures framed by him, is so full of wire netting, ten-barred gates, and steel bullet-proof doors, that it is very difficult to transact business.
– It makes the path of the wrong-doer more difficult.
– I do not object to that, but I contend that the present law contains provisions that, while they do not check wrong-doing in the slightest degree, add very greatly to the cost of forming companies, and hamper the operations of small corporations. I have no hesitation in saying that the law costs in connexion with the formation of companies in Victoria have been at least doubled since the present Act was passed at the instance of the present Attorney-General in 1897, and that there are very few trading companies that do not consult their solicitor before taking any important step. Of course, as a member of the legal profession I do not object to that, because I find that it is to my advantage.
– Previously some of the company promoters robbed the public without consulting their solicitors.
– I am entirely in agreement with, the honorable member that schemes for robbing the ‘public should be discouraged, and that those who take part in them should be punished; but I think that I could show the honorable member that, if he undertook to form three or four small companies, he would find himself hedged about by vexatious restrictions that do not benefit any one, but largely increase the cost. The Victorian Companies Act has had one good result, from my point of view. Before it was passed,’ the members of the legal profession, used to suffer from the competition of unlicensed persons, such as accountants and others’, who formed companies on their own account. Under the operation of the present beneficent Act, such persons are absolutely prevented from adopting that course. If they undertook to form a company they would soon find themselves in a hopeless muddle, and no company can now be formed with safety without the assistance of a solicitor. From one point of view, such legislation is desirable, but from the public stand-point it might very well be liberalized in some respects, whilst the most stringent provisions against dishonesty on the part of directors or company promoters might be retained. The American writers to whom I have referred also advocate the amendment of the patent laws. The points they have raised in this connexion have all been met by English and Australian legislation, which I think adequately safeguards the interests of the public. There is a consensus of opinion amongst protectionists and freetraders that in certain cases - such, for example, as that of the steel industry in the United States- the Tariff should be amended when an industry has reached’ the point of large exportation, and the protective duties no longer operate with any advantage to the public, but are used bv the manufacturers to enable them to extort an extra price for their goods. I would urge that the provision- in the Canadian Customs legislation to which I have referred should be embodied in this measure. The Canadian legislation admits of the reduction of the Tariff being brought about by a Minister of the Crown without reference^ to Parliament. I could not agree to that, because I think that Parliament is the proper body to deal with the Tariff, and that it would not be wise or proper for us to give up our control of the Tariff to any Minister, even though he might be as impeccable as the present Minister of Trade and Customs. All the American writers conclude by urging the necessity of what we may call fair competition. They insist that the trusts should not be permitted to club their competitors out of existence. I am not quite sure whether the provisions of this Bill would carry us far enough. I am inclined to believe that the cutting of prices in a particular locality would be regarded as an attempt to monopolize trade, and would be punishable under the Bill. Therefore, probably the views of the writers to whom I have referred would to some extent be met. Many of the writers have pointed out that centralization is an ordinary development of business at the present time, and that no attempt should be made to check it. I presume that the words in the Bill, “ to the detriment of the public,” are intended to protect centralized industry, and to hit out at monopolized industry. The only provisions in the American legislation which are germane to this Bill are those which aim at securing fair competition, and, speaking subject to modification in the light of further discussion, I think that the general principle underlying some of the clauses in Part II. of the Bill might be accepted - the principle that a combine in restraint of trade or commerce to the detriment of the public should be repressed.
– Who is to decide whether the operations of a combine are to the detriment of the public?
– That is a matter of fact, upon which we must trust a jury. The Minister has promised that that body shall be of an exceptional nature - that it shall consist of first-class men, so far as we can get them. We can only hope that the best men available will be chosen. It is admitted ‘ that some steps must be taken to check the growth of destructive monopolies. The only question which now arises is, ‘ What is the best way in which to accomplish the desired result”? Though I think that much of the wording of these clauses ought to be amended, their underlying principle that a monopoly to the detriment of the public is an injurious thing, is a sound one. Consequently, we ought to endeavour to punish that sort of thing, always provided that in so acting we do not injure the ordinary operations of business people. In this Bill, I do not see any overt attempt to give effect to the suggestions of Mr. Collier, Mr. Clark, and. others, against what is called “ clubbing competition.” I presume that that is intended to be covered by the words “ combining or conspiring to monopolize trade.” There are several provisions in this portion of the Bill which I regard as most objectionable. For instance, clause n offers about as big a premium for blackmailing, as it is possible for any legislation to confer. It provides -
Any person who is injured in his person or property by any other person, by reason of any act or thing done by that person in contravention of this part of the Act, may, in any competent Court exercising Federal jurisdiction, sue for and recover treble damages for the injury.
That is a very drastic provision for a. start. The clause goes on to say - and this I contend offers an absolute premium to blackmail -
No person shall, in any proceeding under this section, be excused from answering any question put, either vivd voce or by interrogatory or from making any discovery of documents, on the ground tha’t the answer or discovery may criminate or tend to criminate him ; but his answer shall not be admissible in evidence against him in any criminal proceeding other than a prosecution for perjury.
That seems to me to permit of action being taken against an individual upon tha most flimsy ground, and - by an alteration of the Common Law of England - to deprive him of a means of defence, that from timeimmemorial he has been allowed. I am really astonished that such a provision should be contained in the measure. It shows that there is a disposition on thepart of some of those who are more intimately connected with it to serve up everything hot, rather than to ascertain what isthe best means of dealing with this very important and very intricate question. I now wish to say a few words in regard to’ the Minister. I have carefully read thespeech which he made in moving the second reading of the Bill, two or three times. It , possesses all that grace of inconsequence which is so characteristic of his deliverances. He flies from China to Peru, from tobacco to iron, and then to kerosene—
– And is equally unreliableupon them all.
– Exactly. For instance, I find that he stated that the Massey-Harris Company is an off-shoot of the great American Steel Trust. No more absolutely futile and inaccurate remark wasever made to any Legislative Chamber. As a matter of fact, the MasseyHarrisCompany is one of the greatest competitors of the Steel Trust. Yet the Minister says that it is practically the same body. I suppose that somebody met him in the street, and told him that it was so, and he did not even take the trouble to “verify his informant’s statement. I might tell him that the Massey-Harris Company wasestablished in 1891, and the great Steel Trust in 1902. Yet, according to the statement of the Minister, 1891 comes after 1902. His extraordinary arithmetic haslead him into many a trap before. The honorable gentleman then dealt with thetobacco combine. I have read most of theevidence taken before the Tobacco Commission - I do not think that anybody h asread all of it - and I have carefully perused the majority and minority reports of” that Body.
– The honorable and learned member must excuse the Minister’s statements. They are based upon an affidavit made bv Mr. McKay.
– I do npt think that even Mr. McKay would make such a statement. In referring to the operations of” the Tobacco Trust - as will be seen bv re- terence to Hansard of the present session, page 249 - I find this extraordinary statement by the Minister -
At one time, tobacco was grown to a consider- . able extent around about Tumut and the Upper Murray, but, at present, very little is being cultivated. I cannot ascertain the quantity that U produced now in comparison with that grown a few years ago, but I believe that the operations of the trust are proving injurious to the industry in Australia, and that they will utterly destroy it.
That statement evidences such an absolute want of knowledge of the Minister’s own Department as to be absolutely appalling. The import duty upon tobacco leaf is is. 6d. per lb., whilst that upon manufactured tobacco is 3s. 3d. per lb. There is no Excise duty upon Victorian leaf. The Excise upon tobacco that is locally manufactured is is. per lb. Consequently, if 1 the tobacco combine used Australian leaf for the manufacture of their tobacco, they would save is. 6d. per, lb. According to the Minister, they are deliberately wasting is. 6d. per lb. for the purpose of killing off a few growers in the neighbourhood of Tumut. Was ever a more ridiculous statement made by a responsible Minister? If the combine could supplant imported manufactured tobacco by the use of Australian leaf, they would save from is. 6d. to -2s. 2d. per lb., or, roughly speaking, nearly £500,000 a year. Yet, with this enormous advantage in their favour, they are compelled to use a certain quantity of the imported leaf. The Minister thus argues that the combine actually pays away £500,000 annually for the purpose of abolishing the local growth of tobacco.
– It is a fact, too.
– A man has only to apply his common sense to such a statement to ascertain the fallacy of it. Would any combine, however grasping, throw away £480,000 annually for the purpose of .insuring that the product of . certain lands in New South “Wales shall not be tobacco, but something else? Is not the idea opposed to every consideration of common sense, and to ordinary business experience ? That is the Minister’s statement in speaking of the Tobacco Trust, which he declares this Bill ought to deal with. Whether it will do so must, of course, be a matter for evidence. If it is a combine, whose operations result in restraint of trade to the detriment of the public, of course it will be affected by the measure. By the use of the words “ detriment of the public,” I assume that the framer of the Bill meant either that the combine improperly increased prices, that it lowered wages, impaired the general conditions of employment/ or that it did not reduce the price of the manufactured article when its cheaper raw material and new machinery enabled it to turn out goods at a verv much lower rate. A failure to do any one of these things would probably be held to be to the detriment of the public. I understand that it is the intention of the Minister that a combine which cannot be convicted of pillaging the public in some way, ought not to be punished. A combination per se is not necessarily objectionable. If a combination of itself were an objectionable thing, we ought to punish all trade unions, and every other union of individuals who combine to strengthen their particular cause or to advocate any special measure, either of a social or business character. A combination ought to Le punished only when it is shown that it is something which will injure the public, either by taking away from them some benefit which they ought to enjoy, or bv inflicting upon them some burden which they ought not to be asked to bear. I favour Part1 II. of the Bill, with certain amendments, which will have the effect of protecting persons who may be engaged in business from being black-mailed, and of securing the determination of cases which may arise by, as nearly as possible, a skilled jury. I also favour certain amendments which will protect in our Courts of Law any agreement made by a combination, which is not detrimental to the public interest. I come now to Part III. of the measure, which relates to dumping. I admit that this is a question which is surrounded by a considerable amount of difficulty. There are some instances in which it cannot be denied that a particular industry has been built up bv the dumping of its raw material. But there can be no doubt that other industries have been very much injured by dumping, and by having to compete with goods1 which have been sold without profit. Dumping does strike the average man as being something which is unfair. It does not permit of- that fair competition which Parliament ought to see brought about as far as possible. From that point of view we are entitled to enact legislation which will have the effect of securing the fairest competition to those who are engaged in any industry in Australia. There is no doubt that some industries have been greatly strengthened by dumping operations. I hold in my hand an extract from the report for 1904 of the British Consul-General at Frankfort. In it he shows that the German cartels in iron have been selling pig-iron to Belgium and Holland at a lower price than that at which it could be purchased by German manufacturers. The result is that large orders for finished goods have been completed in Belgium, Holland, and’ Great Britain, and the German finishing manufacturers have had to lose those orders. He says -
Among all the syndicates those controlling raw material and half-finished goods proved themselves the most powerful and the hardest masters. They sold raw material and halffinished goods abroad at low prices, so that the home industries, which worked off such raw material, &c, were severely handicapped. These asserted (and not without reason) that the consumers of German material in foreign countries, especially in Holland and Belgium, were by these prices placed in such an advantageous position that it was most difficult, if at all possible, to compete against their prices. The syndicates themselves admitted the seriousness of their position by expressing their willingness to grant certain export bonuses, which, however, the industries concerned pronounced inadequate. Some cases actually transpired in which German “finishing” manufacturers “had to decline” orders owing to the exorbitant prices of raw material, which- orders subsequently passed to Holland, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.
There is proof in an official document, and if honorable members were to turn to the report of the British Board of Trade presented to the House of Commons, about eighteen, months ago, they would find some very valuable evidence upon the same matter, showing that while it is a fact that certain industries have been injured by dumping, is is also an undoubted fact that certain other industries have been aided by it. However, I feel that the competition of a man who admittedly sells without profit is a class of competition with which a Parliament may be expected to deal. We are, therefore, in my opinion, entitled to consider any measure brought forward for that purpose. In Canada, and in New Zealand, special legislation has been passed to deal with it, and I venture to say that the legislation passed in those countries is decidedly of a higher character than that proposed in the measure before us. According, to the pamphlet issued to us, and which I personally wish had been issued earlier, under the Canadian legislation, if it appears to the Minister that articles are being imported for sale at a price less than the fair market value thereof, he may make such articles subject to a special duty. The amount of that special, duty is strictly limited under the Canadian Act, but under this Bill the amount by which the Minister may raise the Tariff upon such articles is left to his own discretion, and honorable members will agree that that means an illimitable amount. In the New Zealand Parliament, under the leadership of the late Mr. Seddon, an Act was passed dealing with dumping, which, I believe, supplies by far the best suggestion yet made for dealing with importations of farming implements. It is one .which I would support unreservedly, because I believe that it would give to the manufacturers of Australia all they can reasonably ask for, whilst it would secure to the farmers of this country the whole of the benefits of foreign competition. The New Zealand provision is that if the price of an article is reduced below what a Board considers a fair price, and New Zealand manufacturers agree; to reduce their price, they are to get a bonus for every reduction they make. The importer can continue to send his goods intoNew Zealand, whilst the New Zealand manufacturer will get a bonus on every reduction he makes upon the price of similar goods. As the result of the New Zealand legislation, which I may say deals only with farming implements, the men who have to use them are able to secure them at the lowest possible price, whilst id is impossible for the importer to crush out the local industry for their manufacture, because of the bonus given to the local manufacturer every time he lowers his price. Legislation of that kind would, it seems to me, completely meet all the complaints that have been made, and in a way which would not be unjust to any primary industry. It must not be forgotten t that those engaged in the primary industries of Australia must take the world’s price for the goods they sell. They therefore deserve, in legislation of this kind, as much consideration as does any other class in the community. By legislating on the lines adopted by the lateMr. Seddon, it seems to me that we should: be able to secure to our farmers and producers generally the whole of the benefits which may be secured through internal and foreign competition, and we should at thesame time place our manufacturers in such a position that they would be enabled to- stand any shock to which they might be subjected by foreign competitors. After perusing the correspondence with which I have been deluged from the time this proposal was under discussion last year up to the present, I have no hesitation in saying that the great bulk of the farmers in the electorate I represent do not believe in the imposition of extra duties on farming implements. I am also quite certain that they would offer no objection whatever to legislation on the New Zealand plan. They do not wish to see extra duties imposed upon the implements they use, because they know that they must compete in the markets of the world with their produce, and they are unable tosee why they should be asked to take the world’s price for their produce whilst some one else is permitted to take a strictly artificial price for his. On the harvester question we hadsome very tall statements from the Minister. At page 251 of Han sard, I find that the honorable gentleman quoted a declaration made by a Mr. Edward Coxon. The way in which this declaration is introduced shows that the Minister cut the clipping out of the Age newspaper, and crammed it into Hansard. It was most unfair to quote that declaration without any reference to the fact that it has been denied point blank by a gentleman who, Mr. Coxon alleges, had made a certain statement, or to the fact that evidence in reply to it was given to the Tariff Commission, who have yet to decide which of the two statements is the more reliable. The Minister has shown the judicial position which he takes up by absolutely ignoring every statement which maybe made in contradiction of Mr. Coxon’s declaration. When the honorable gentleman has heard one side, he says that that must be true, and he refuses to listen to the other side.
– Did the Minister say anything about there being another side ?
– The honorable gentleman never mentioned the fact that there was another side. In dealing in his judicial capacity with matters of this kind, the Minister should hear both sides. If Part III. of the Bill be passed in its present form, we must rely for the effects of its operation upon the discretion of the Minister, whose action, so far, does not encourage us in the belief that such discretion will be very impartially exercised. In connexion with the dumping proposals, I find in the honorable gentleman’s speech some cryptic references to the Standard Oil Trust. He said -
In a few minutes I shall tell honorable members how I propose to deal with the Standard Oil Trust- and, speaking of the Standard Oil Trust and the Steel Trust, thehonorable gentleman said -
We shall, however, under theBill, be able to prevent themfrom bringing their manufactures here to unduly interfere with our own industries.
The honorable gentleman then went on to speak of a company in New South Wales with a nominal capital of £600,000 that proposes to erect works for the extraction of oil from shale. It must not be forgotten that there are two competitors at the present time in the Australian market for kerosene. There is the Shell Transport and Trading Company, a British-owned concern, which sells a large amount of kerosene oil in Melbourne andin the country towns of Victoria.
– And in New South Wales also.
– I cannot speak as to its business in New South Wales. We have also the “ White Rose “ and other brands of kerosene, put up by the Standard Oil Company. If the Minister is; going to deal with these trusts by shutting out these goods in this way, our largest supplies of kerosene, which is the universal illuminant throughout the country districts, will be cut off, and we shall have to rely on the costly oils taken from shale in New South Wales. The honorable member for Barrier is aware that some years ago a duty was imposed in New South Wales on shale and kerosene oil, with the result that those using these oils had to pay a higher price for them.
– Does not protection make things cheaper ?
– The honorable member should’ ask the Minister of Trade and Customs. Kerosene is one of the most useful illuminants yet discovered, and to prevent its importation because a large portion of the supply of the article is controlled by a trust would be equivalent to cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. It would be carrying the rigid protectionist principles of the Minister of Trade and Customs to an extreme, at other people’s expense, to which I think they should not be carried.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m.
– My electorate is peculiarly an agricultural one, andI have received many requests to oppose any increase of duties, whether by Act of Parliament or regulation, .upon implements used by the farming population. I believe that steps are being taken in that district to bring the protest of the people under the notice of the Government, especially in connexion with one farming implement, which has been the subject of much discussion, both in Parliament and in the newspapers for some time past. I refer to the well-known machine called the harvester. Under this Bill - and I cannot help thinking that, but for the very skilfully engineered agitation of Mr. H. V. McKay, of Ballarat, we should never have seen the measure - it is within the power of the Minister to stop the importation of harvesters from abroad, or, in effect, to levy a high duty upon them. He may increase their value for Customs purposes to £60, £600, or even to £6,000 if he pleases ; or he may prohibit their importation absolutely. I should like to call the Minister’s attention, if it is not too much trouble for him to listen to me, to the evidence given by Mr. McKay before the Tariff Commission. Mr. McKay strongly advocated the imposition of a fixed duty on harvesters. He. stated that it would be better to have a fixed duty than to rely upon the exercise of Ministerial discretion. The subject has been dealt with by the Tariff Commission, and, if I may say so, I think that it shows rather indecent haste for the Government to introduce legislation dealing with the matter until we have had the advantage of the deliberations of the Commission, and before the whole of the evidence taken upon the subject has been circulated amongst honorable members. At present the only evidence that has been circulated amongst us is that of those who argue for a higher duty. The evidence of those who oppose higher duties - not merely the importers, but the farming representatives, who came at their own expense to Melbourne to lay their views before the Tariff Commission - is being withheld. An attempt is being made to rush this Bill through, it seems to me, for the purpose of covering up the Minister’s tracks in the very arbitrary action which he took in raising the valuation of harvesters. Some extraordinary allegations have been made on this question. One or two of them I was somewhat astonished at hearing honorable members repeat. It has been- said that the Americans have been guilty of the heinous offence of buying an Australian machine, copying it, and sending the ‘ copies here.
I cannot say whether the Americans have or have not done so. I think it probable that they. have. But no invention, whether it be. of a machine or any other product, and no new discovery, can have its benefits diffused over the earth unless people do copy them. Take every article that we wear - hats, clothes, boots, and so on. Those articles of attire in their present form were discovered by somebody, and were copied by other people. It is not disgraceful for any manufacturer to copy the inventions of another person, provided that in- doing so he keeps within the law. These harvesters were entitled to be copied, and any manufacturer was distinctly within his rights in copying them, and in manufacturing them at the lowest possible cost for the purpose of finding buyers, for them. But this heinous practice of copying machines and other articles is not limited to American manufacturers. The very Australian manufacturers who have been loudest in their complaints about the copying bv Americans of Australian machines, have themselves adopted the very same practice. Take disc ploughs, which were referred to the other night by the honorable member for Moira. The disc plough is an American invention. It was patented in America, and the patent rights in Australia were sold to a man named Peacock. Disc ploughs have been manufactured here by various firms, some under licences from Peacock, and some without licences ; because some of the Australian manufacturers considered that the patent was open to attack in Australia. An action has taken place recently in our law courts, the result Of which shows that the patent was open to attack in Australia; but the idea, so far from being Australian, was an American idea, and our manufacturers were absolutely entitled to copy it, no matter whether it originated in America, Timbuctoo, or anywhere else. They were entitled to make the machine and sell it at the lowest possible cost. Take next the case of grain drills. No implement ever produced and used in Australia has done so much to improve farming in this country as the grain drill. Tt is purely an American invention. It was never attempted to be made by any manufacturer out here for many years. Now, however, it is made in Australia. How is it being made? We will take the case of Mr. McKay - the real author of a portion of this Bill ; for he is the man whose clamour originated it. Mr. McKay was the confidential agent of an American firm of drill makers, and he now manufactures grain drills himself. They are all copied from the drills of the firm for which - ais “well as for one or two other American firms - he was agent.
– He accuses the Americans of copying the harvester !
– And he does exactly the same thing himself. Mr. John Mitchell was the confidential agent of an American firm of drill makers. He copied the American drill to such an extent, and so closely, that he even copied private numbers on various portions of the machine, of which he did not know the meaning, but which were put on by the American manufacturers for some purpose connected with the working of their own factory. He copied the machine so closely that he even reproduced non-essential details. And this is one of “the men who now clamour against the Americans for having copied the harvester ! These men, having been the confidential agents of American firms, and having obtained .confidential information, copied their goods - as legally and morally thev were entitled to do; because, as I said before, if they were not copied the benefits produced by new inventions and’ discoveries would not become diffused over the globe as they are to-day.
– It is pretty rough on the inventor, though.
– The inventor has his fourteen years under the patent laws, within which he must make his “ pile.” If a man breaks the patent laws he should be punished for it. But if an article is not patented it is within the province of any manufacturer to copy it, whether he be an American, an Australian, or a British maker. To attack the Americans because they copied al non-patented article, and were quite within their rights in doing so, whilst the very men who call them pirates have clone the same thing themselves- only in so doing they were not quite so reputable - shows a very diseased frame of mind. I have no doubt that some attacks can be made, and ought to be made, upon the American manufacturers. But let them be made on lines of justice and reason, and let not attacks be made upon them simply because thev are doing something which makes an article that is largely used amongst our farmers a bit cheaper, and distributes the benefits of that article amongst a larger section than would otherwise, get it. _ The outcry about copying articles of this de scription is one which is based: not upon any fact, but upon an entirely erroneous view of the rights of manufacturers, and an entirely erroneous statement of what actually took place. It is rather alarming, however, to think that these people who have the hardihood to come to Parliament, and make a claim of this kind, have themselves been guilty of the very practice which they condemn. In this connexion I may refer to a remark made in the course of this debate bv the honorable member for Perth, and to an interjection by the Attorney-General. I quote this to show that the Attorney-General is influenced by the same idea - that ‘we ought to prevent the introduction of new machinery and new ° methods if we can.
– He did not make that statement.
– The honorable member will see what I mean when I read’ the interjection. The honorable member for Perth assumed a case where a machine was introduced into America, and resulted in certain products being sold in Australia at a reduced price -
The Australian manufacturer who wants to compete is placed in this position : that he has either to get the new machine or to reduce the wages of his employes. I regret that I am unable to go into details of evidence given before the Tariff Commission, but I may say, incidentally, that frequently it has been told that the demand for a certain class of goods is so limited in Australia that to put in the best and most up-to-date machinery would not be justified.
Therefore, the honorable member pointed out .that in a case of that kind’, where a new invention came out, which would greatly lessen the cost of a particular article, and which it would not pay a manufacturer to utilize here, it was quite competent for the manufacturer who was following obsolete methods in this country to say, “ I am being unfairly competed with; these Americans can sell their goods at one-half my price, and I must ask for a prohibitory Tariff.” Thereupon, , the Attorney-General interjected -
Does the honorable member assume that the Australian industry is one advantageous to be preserved or not?
What does that mean? That, according to the Attorney-General, the industry must be preserved, even if it is one which is absolutely prejudicial to the interests of the ‘people of this country, and even though it be an industry which does not employ up-to-date methods that will result in lowering the cost of production. The one object of the Attorney-General is the protection of the man engaged in the particular industry, but to give the benefits of a new invention to the whole people is a proposition that would strike him as practically not worth considering. Carry his idea to its logical issue, and! we find that it means that wherever a new machine is made in some other part of the world, which results in lowering the cost of production, and the cheapening of goods, if it will interfere with an Australian industry which has not adopted the new methods, we are entitled to stop those goods from coming into this country. If we are going to adopt that principle, the sooner we build a Chinese wall round Australia the better. We ought to aim at our consumers getting the fullest possible benefit from invention, and to assume that the output of a new invention is unfair competition hi to put up a bar in the path of progress, which we ought not to permit. A question was mentioned to-da,y as to the methods which have been urged in support of this Bill. A constituent of mine, residing at Cape Bridgewater, which is about 270 miles from Melbourne, has sent to me the precious production which I hold in my hand. It is a production called1 the Dairy Farming and Agricultural News. I think it ought to be called the Fairy Farming News, because there are more “ fairies ‘ ‘ in it than I have seen in any similar production. On the wrapper in which the publication was enclosed, is, as large as life, “On His Majesty’s Service.” The object of that is to convey to the farmers that this is a Government publication, with the purpose of disseminating knowledge on this question.
– Who issued the publication ?
– I do not know, but I would take a large shade of odds that Mr. McKay, the manufacturer of the Sunshine Harvester in Australia, has more interest in the publication than any other individual. Starting on page 65, there is an article headed “ On the Trail of the Trusts,” and references to Mr. Deakin’s speech. and Mr. Deakin’s policy. Then on page 71, there are two pieces of slangwhanging of the honorable member for East Sydney.
– What does the honorable member mean by “slang-whanging”?
– If the honorable member does- not know what “ slang- whanging” means, he ought to go back to school. On several pages there are cartoons reprinted from the Bulletin, and articles against free-trade, with further reference to trusts. Then there is an article on “ Nations and their industries,” full of talk about combines, and gentle insinuations that the Deakin Government is the only possible body of men to save the country from going to the dogs. Then there are more cartoons from the Bulletin, and another attack on the honorable member for East Sydney.
– How many shares has the honorable member in that publication?
– The honorable member, who is the Government Whip, can earn his salary much better than by making stupid interjections. All through, this publication is purely partisan, and for the pur-pose of supporting two things - one the protectionist policy of the Deakin Government, and the other the distribution of Mr. McKay’s very excellent machinery. This publication is sent through the post ^marked “On His Majesty’s Service” for the purpose, as I have said, of deluding and bluffing farmers into the belief that it is a Government publication.
– That is no worse than was done by the Reid Government, who ran two special trains to carry the Age and &r%us representatives.
– I am not aware that the Reid Government ran special trains for that purpose, but if so, the proprietors of those newspapers ought to be pleased. I object to partisan publications being sent through the post marked “ On His Majesty’s Service,” and if such a practice be allowed to. go on, it, in my opinion, shows very lax administration on. the part of the Post and Telegraph Department. The following is a letter which I received from a farmer im my district in reference to this publication : -
My excuse for writing is to call your attention ti a so-called newspaper which I am sending under .separate cover. It is the. current number of the Dairy and Agricultural News. You will see that it is supposed to be “ paid at Melbourne,” but on the cover is printed “ On His Majesty’s Service.” It seems to me to be playing the game very low down, to use this imprint to give seeming authority to literature of a party nature.
I thought, perhaps, you may not have a chance of seeing this paper.
The view I take of this may be wrong. Perhaps it is only another sample of the Deakinized rar:r atmosphere, which it seems we must get used to.
I think the complaint of this farmer is very justifiable. Here we have people who have been “ pulling the strings,” in a parliamentary sense, more effectively than have any persons with whom we have had to deal since the start of the Commonwealth, and they have brought their methods to such a pitch that they send partisan publications through the post so marked. The tactics of some of the American trusts I have read about are “ pretty steep,” but I do not think these trusts have anything to teach to some of the people who seek to imitate therm in Australia. It is evident that one or two of our manufacturers have taken as a lesson some of the worst features of the American trusts, because their methods are. of a most distinctly up-to-date character. The means proposed in the Bill for checking dumping are, in my opinion, a great reflection upon Parliament. If we consent to give up the power of taxation, and of dealing with imports and exports to the Minister for the time being, whoever he may be, we may as well close up Parliament. I am glad to see that the Minister has agreed to the improvement suggested of appointing a Judge to conduct investigations under this part of the Bill.
– Why a Judge?
– For the reason that any board of experts that might be appointed would probably have amongst its number a trade competitor of the man whose goods it was sought to stop.
– Could we not get for the position a man, outside the Supreme Court, of the same status as a Judge?
– I should have no objection to that, so long as we got a man of independent character not engaged in trade. In fact, for some reasons I would prefer a Judge not to be employed, because he would be asked to decide, not questions of law or of fact, but questions of opinion as to whether in the interests of workers, consumers, and producers, certain goods should or should not be admitted. If the Judge appointed was of one way of thinking he might say that, in the experience of the United Kingdom, certain industries had been built up on the dumping of its raw material ; if he was of another way of thinking, he might seek to stop dumping at all hazards. For the time being., such a Judge would exercise a political sway that he ought not to exercise ; and from that point of view I regard such an appointment as most objectionable. But the man secured ought to be absolutely impartial. In thinking the matter over, I do not believe that we could do better than fall back on a method which, though not a perfect one by any means, is freer from some of the objections that have been urged than are other tribunals. I refer to the method suggested by the Attorney-General on one occasion when he occupied a seat in the Opposition corner, namely, to appoint a Standing Committee on Trade, which would report every year or every three or six months on questions of this kind’. . Once we place this power in the hands of a Judge, that Judge will be in a very awkward position. If the power is placed in the hand’s of a tribunal appointed by the Minister, we may have trade competitors deciding on a matter which vitally affects their own pockets. The old expedient of a parliamentary Committee, much knocked about and deplored as that expedient has been on occasions, has much to recommend it. After all, I believe that the majority of honorable members would, in a matter of this kind, endeavour to bring the facts before their fellow members. Such a Committee would also have the great advantage that it would be a body appointed by, and composed of, Members of Parliament, so that parliamentary control would be to some extent secured. If. we give the power of controlling the Customs duties and imports solely to. the Minister, we shall as a Parliament abrogate one of our chief functions. The honorable member for Mernda the other day declared that Parliament had not the respect it once had, and that parliamentary debates did not excite the public attention that was earned for them in the past.
– Where is the honorable member for Mernda to-night?
– The honorable member must ask me an easier question. There is something, to be said for the attitude of the honorable member for Mernda ; but if there is one thing more than another that is likely to injure the standing of Parliament in the eyes of the people of Australia, it is the fact that we shirk our responsibility by every day legislating more and more by regulation - more and more bv proclamation - and less and less by Parliament. It is the duty of Parliament to legislate, and decide what taxes shall be imposed or removed. The Ministry should not be left to do this work; they are, or ought to be, so to speak, the officers and servants of the House, and should not be intrusted with the exercise of a Czarlike power at their own sweet will. The decision of the Ministry can only be reversed by their dislodgment from office; and there comes a time in every man’s political life when, though he would like to vote against some action of the Government, he cannot do so, because it would mean that the whole Ministry must go out of office. There is thus put on a man’s party loyalty a strain which there ought not to be, and the best results are not obtained from our deliberations.
– That does not trouble the honorable member at present !
– In what way?
– I mean about putting the Government out of office.
– I do not want the Government to go out of office just now. I may say that I prefer to be always in opposition.
– Not always !
– Mostly always. In dealing with local trusts the Bill relies on the jury system, because that is something
Ave are all used to, and because it means a combination of men like ourselves - men of the same sentiments and feelings. A jury is a collective body, and we believe that any decision of such a body will1, on the whole, be a fair. one. In dealing with the matter of duties on imports, we should’ rely on a well-tried and well-known method, namely, that of Parliament deciding what dutv is to be imposed. The whole of this class of legislation, by which we voluntarily give up our power to a Minister, who mav or may not be any better than any. individual member, is a great mistake, which must lower the esteem of the people for Parliament. The sole power of taxing goods was acquired by Parliament only after a very severe struggle, and it seems to me to be putting the clock back when we give up this mighty engine to a Minister who can be checked only on condition that, not alone he, but the whole of his colleagues, must be turned out. I do not believe in such legislation, and I would not on any account support, a clause which gave such a power into the hands of any one individual member. The whole of this part of the Bill ought to be deferred until we have further information from the Tariff Commission. That Com mission has heard evidence in support of, and also against, higher duties on ironwork and machinery, and we have had statements read to the House by the Minister, and we have heard the contradictions to those statements. It seems to me to be verging on farce when, having a Tariff Commission which has already cost the country £7,000 or £8,000, we deal wilh one of the most important subjects relegated to that body before we have read or considered the evidence, and before we have heard the opinions of the Commission. I certainly think that aspect of the question ought to be considered, and that the third part of the Bill should not be dealt with until we have had an opportunity of weighing the evidence and conclusions arrived at bv the Tariff Commission. As to the second part of the Bill, I shall, generally, support it, with the amendments and suggestions I have indicated ; and as to the dumping, I can agree with the provisions forthwith if the Government adopt the New Zealand plan, which does not involve interference with the Tariff in any way. But to place this power solely in the hands of the Minister, is a proposal to which I hope no honorable member will agree.
.- This Bill has caused at least a very interesting debate, extending over nearly a week. What strikes me most is the faint-hearted manner in which the measure has been supported. Beyond the Minister himself, whose bantling this Bill is, and the AttorneyGeneral, the only approval of the Bill has been that expressed bv the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Moira. Both these honorable members defend the Bill because it gives, as they say, full force to protection.
– We say that this Bill is wanted, plus protection.
– Those honorable members say that the Bill will give full effect to the system of protection, and, on that ground, they give it their support. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who is an ardent supporter of the Government, and a capable lawyer, tore the Bill to tatters to-day, when he said that, from a constitutional stand-point, he questioned very much whether the provisions dealing with monopolies could be carried out.
– But the honorable member for Northern Melbourne is going to vote for the Bill all the same.
– Member after member addresses the House and the country, admitting that the Bill is faulty - that the draftsmanship is not complete - and, still, in the words of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, they are “going to vote for the Bill all the same.” That is evidence of absolute make-believe to the public.
– Nonsense !
– That applies all round the House.
– It does not. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said that, although it has been pointed out that what is proposed to be done by this Bill is constitutionally impossible of achievement, lie will vote for the measure. Is he prepared to tell the country later on that he voted’ for a measure which was really only so much waste paper?
– Every member of the Opposition has said the same thing.
– No. No member of the Opposition has said that he is satisfied with the Bill.
– Then why do they not fight it, anc! vote against it? They have not the pluck.
– I- shall answer the honorable member’s question presently. The Bill has had a most interesting history. Last session it was introduced under a much less attractive title than it now possesses. Today, this is the placard at the head of it -
A Bill for an Act for the Preservation of Australian Industries and for the Repression of Destructive Monopolies.
The Minister of Trade and Customs has obeyed his instructions, and altered the original title. The Bill introduced last session dealt with all combines and trusts. But, as the honorable member for Newcastle knows, there are combines which are beneficial, and, in his electorate, there is a combination of colliery-owners which has had the effect ‘of increasing the wages of the coal miners. The objection that the Bill introduced last session would apply to all combinations, was pressed so insistently by the members of the Opposition, that the Minister has now introduced a Bill to deal with “ destructive monopolies “ only. That is one gain which has resulted from the attitude of the Opposition, and we shall teach the Minister the advisability of making other alterations before we have finished.
– This is very thin.
– The honorable member would not vote against the combination ‘n the Newcastle district to which I have referred.
– Neither this Bill nor the last would affect it.
– The honorable member is a trade unionist, and he, therefore, would not apply the provisions of a Bill such as this to a combination which has had the effect of increasing wages- I shall not deal exhaustively with the trust legislation of America, because honorable members are very well acquainted with the various works on the subject which have been issued within the last two or three years, lt is well known that the American trusts owe their existence largely to the protective policy of that country. The leader of the Labour Party, however, has stampeded from his official declaration in ‘regard to the proper treatment of monopolies. Speaking from the public platform as the mouthpiece of the Labour Party of Australia, he said, less than four months ago, that he believed, not in the regulation and control of monopolies, but in the State ownership or nationalization of Ohern’. I took an opportunity, when in another State, to answer his arguments, and to point out that the party to which I belong is in favour of applying State regulation and control to monopolies which are inimical to the public interest. But although the honorable member for Bland said that the Labour Party would be satisfied only with the nationalization of monopolies, and instanced the shipping combine and the sugar trust as two with which he would deal, he said the other night that he is prepared^ to support this Bill, notwithstanding that it provides only for the control and regulation of certain monopolies. But, while lie promised to vote for it, he gave it the faintest of praise, and said he believed that it would not be effective. Was not his, speech so much make-believe? The honorable member for’ Melbourne Ports says that honorable members on this side are prepared to vote for the Bill, although they know that it will be inoperative ; but the honorable member for Bland has specifically stated that he will do so. Personally, I believe in State interference for the crushing of monopolies. But the present Bill seems to be altogether too drastic. I could understand a protectionist openly supporting it, on the ground that it would further the protectionist, or rather, the prohibitionist, policy. Its object cannot be described as an attempt to sneak in protection, because it aims at much more than that, and if successfully administered by a protectionist would mean the deluging of the Commonwealth with protection. If the Bill is carried into force as it stands, the Minister of Trade and Customs will be able to do everything that he has been trying to accomplish for years past. There will be no need for an alteration of the Tariff, because he will, by his own act, be able to increase the protection given to local manufacturers as much as he likes. Even the honorable member for Perth, who is a member of the Labour Party, a supporter of the Government, and a member of the Tariff Commission, has stated openly that the Bill is an instance of protection run stark, staring mad.
– The honorable member for Perth is a free-trader run mad.
– The Government are very glad’ to get his support. The statement which I have quoted was not that of an irresponsible partisan, but of one who believes in the nationalization of certain monopolies, and has spent eighteen months in listening to evidence upon the operation of the existing Tariff. I was elected as a free trader, and shall not allow, so far as I can prevent it, the carrying out of protection such as the Bill seeks to provide for. It is a curious thing that the gigantic monopolies of which we have heard so much all exist in protectionist America, and it has been only with the advent of protection in Australia that the fear of monopolies has arisen here. Monopolies can be based only upon legislative privileges. The Government party are responsible for the protective Tariff, which alone can be made the basis of any monopolies that may be established here, and, having created a condition of things which makes the existence of monopolies to foe feared, they now ask for power to regulate and control them. I can understand a protectionist like the AttorneyGeneral, who thinks that openings have been made in the Tariff wall which enable foreign companies to invade Australia, voting for the Bill ; but I cannot understand why other honorable members should vote for a measure whose practical effect will be to provide for prohibition, if a protectionist Minister of Trade and Customs cares to apply its provisions to that end. The Minister, speaking in December last, said that it would* be useless to bring in a Bill for the amendment of the Tariff, because the Opposition would prevent it from becoming la.w. If we are strong enough to prevent the raising of duties, why should we De , a party to the passing of a prohibitive measure such as this? As a free-trader, I am prepared to acknowledge that in the fiscal battle we were defeated, and I am therefore ready to respect the Tariff which Parliament has passed. I wish to see that Tariff properly enforced, and to prevent its evasion by outside corporations ; but I certainly shall not vote for prohibition. One effect of the Bill is that, while it deals with monopolies controlled by associations, it neglects those controlled bv an individual, a co-partnership, or a voluntary association. Moreover, so long as a monopoly confines its operations to any one State, the Commonwealth legislation cannot, apply to it. As an illustration of what I think justifiable State interference with private enterprise, I would refer to the early closing legislation which a short time ago was forced upon many of the States Parliaments. It was never suggested, when that legislation was being advocated, that the Government should run the shops whose employes were appealing for shorter hours; but it was found’ necessary, since a voluntary movement! for early closing had failed, to declare by legislation that, after certain hours, no business should foe done in the shops to which it applied. That was an instance of State interference, and we, on this side, stoutly advocate State control and regulation of hurtful monopolies. The honorable member for Bland and his party, however, seem to have forgotten the most important plank of their platform. They had only two planks, namely, the progressive land tax and the nationalization of monopolies. They have given up the latter of these, and have adopted, in its stead, the principle of the regulation and control of monopolies. I would point out that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are not free from competition. I am pleased ‘to be able to inform honorable members that land has been purchased, and buildings are in process of erection, in the electorate which I represent, with the object of establishing a rival sugar refinery. Mr. Poolman, who carries on a sugar refinery in Melbourne, is establishing a branch in Svdney. When we asked the Minister of Trade and Customs to point to one example of a destructive or oppressive monopoly in Australia,. he was unable to give us the desired information. We are now being asked to legislate, not against an existing evil, but in anticipation of certain destructive monopolies arising in the future.
– Prevention is better than cure.
– The honorable member is scared by what has taken place in America, where gigantic combinations are rearing their heads and becoming a menace to the whole community- We find that, notwithstanding all the efforts that have been made in the United States to pass effective, legislation, the trusts are able to work their own sweet will, and to go on their way rejoicing. We should not hasten to pass legislation of this kind merely because evils of a certain character have arisen in other countries. As a free-trader, I might point out that large combines and trusts find the most suitable fields for their operations in protectionist countries, where large legislative privileges have been conferred upon local producers by a high Tariff system. I know ot only two combines in Great Britain, where there is free competition so far as the outside world is concerned. Even these monopolies rest upon privileges, in the form of certain patent rights, conferred by legislation. After having looked through the Bill very carefully, and having listened with attention to the debate, I have arrived at the conclusion that the measure provides protection for large business concerns, but affords none to those who are operating in a small way.
– The honorable member admits that the measure will confer some advantages.
– It will confer an advantage upon those who are interested in the larger undertakings, because it will remove all competition. Whilst free competition is encouraged, there need be no fear of dangerous monopolies. Last session, Ministers appeared to think that all monopolies were dangerous and detrimental to the public interest, but the present measure is intended to apply only to monopolies that are detrimental to the public. Further consideration has led to a change in the attitude of the Government in this and other respects. The present measure was presented by the Minister of Trade and Customs, in a speech which consisted mainly of a recital of the marginal notes, and it rested with the Attorney-General to explain the principles Qf the measure, and to acknowledge that it would be effective as against corporations, but not as against individuals. The Government have changed their attitude also with regard to another matter. When the former Bill was introduced, the Minister of Trade and Customs stated that he was in favour of the appointment of a permanent Board. When introducing the present measure, he stated that he thought it preferable that Boards should be appointed as required. On the very next day, the Attorney-General expressed the opinion that it would be better to refer all matters to a Judge, instead of to a Board. These changes of front indicate, to mv mind, that Ministers are not agreed upon the best course to pursue.
– We have been quite consistent, so far as that is concerned, because from the outset we endeavoured to secure the services of a Judge.
– I do not know what Ministers have been doing in Cabinet. I only know what has been publicly announced by them. Nothing whatever was said about the appointment of a Judge when the Minister of Trade and Customs introduced the Bill. On the very next day, however, after the honorable member for Bland had suggested that a Judge should be substituted for the proposed Board, the AttorneyGeneral said he thought there would be no difficulty in making the change, and that that would be a better arrangement.
– I stated that we had all along endeavoured to secure the services of a Judge.
– Last year the first attempt was to secure the services of a Judge.
– It is a peculiar thing that the difficulty should have disappeared within about five minutes. Immediately after the honorable member for Bland had urged that a Judge should be appointed, the Minister of Trade and Customs said that such an appointment would be provided for.
– I did not say that a Judge would be appointed, but that it would be much better if we could secure the services of a Judge.
– I do not see what is to prevent the Government from appointing a Judge. The provisions of the Bill which relate to dumping partake more of a fiscal character than those aimed at the repression of monopolies, and must be viewed with extreme suspicion by honorable members on this side of the House, because they may be twisted in such a way as to entirely take the control of fiscal matters ^ out of the hands of Parliament. The Minister told us that the principal importations of manufactures of steel and iron came, not from Great Britain!, as I asserted by way of interjection, but from Belgium. I have taken the trouble to look up the statistics, and I find that three-fourths of our importations of steel and iron goods come from Great Britain.
– A great proportion of the goods entered as coming from Great Britain are really of Belgian origin.
– A few days before he made his second-reading speech the Minister of Trade and Customs was beating the drum on behalf of preferential trade in Great Britain, and, on the grounds of loyalty to the Empire, was advocating that we should import British goods upon better terms than those accorded to foreigners. He now tells us that, owing to the extent to which goods - which come mainly from Great Britain - are being dumped upon our markets, legislative action must be taken to restrict such importations. I find that last year the value of the iron and steel goods imported into the Commonwealth from Belgium, was £190,000, whilst the importations of similar goods from Great Britain were valued at £3,480,000.
– If the honorable member had followed the history of the bridges erected in New South Wales he would have found that a great part of the iron of which they were constructed came from Belgium, although the bridges were supplied under contract bv Scotch firms.
– I want to establish the fact that this so-called dumping is being done with goods which come for the most part from Great Britain. We are not told that these goods are being sold at less than cost price, and I think that we should be supplied with some information upon this very important point. Surely it is only right that we should ask for evidence of the necessity for passing such legislation im the interests of the Australian producer. In the United States the Commissioner of the Bureau of Corporations was called upon to report upon the operations of the trusts, and the Hon. W. J. Bryan, one of the ablest of American politicians, and an advanced democrat, introduced what is called the licensing system, which has proved highly effective in connexion with certain monopolies. I believe that the object which it is sought to attain by means of the measure now before us could be partly secured by an amendment of the Companies Act. Whilst I am anxious that Australia should escape from the evils attendant upon the unrestricted’ operation of huge foreign monopolies, I am not prepared to assist in making the buttresses of protection stronger, and thus render it possible for internal monopolies to work still greater harm to the community. I should like to know Mr. Poolman, owing to his carrying on a sugar refinery in Sydney, as well as in Melbourne, will be regarded as a monopolist, and as coming within the scope of the measure. .
– -He is doing good to the community. It must be proved that he is doing harm before we can interfere with him.
– The Attorney-General has told us that the Bill does not deal with individuals.
– The Bill does not say anything as to that, but the Constitution does.
– If an individual had branches of his business all over Australia, and was able to bring about a monopoly in a certain line of industry, would he come within the scope of the measure?
– If the monopolywere injurious it would be brought within the scope of the Bill.
– Then the mere fact that Mr. Poolman is an individual will not enable him to escape if he establishes a monopoly.
– I do not think so, but the Attorney-General could speak more authoritatively on that point.
– What I wish to know is whether the Minister would1 have power to suspend a man’s business whilst he investigated a complaint against him ?
– The Minister would have no power in regard to the repression of monopolies - that is all left to the Court.
– It is another case of “trust the Court.”
– We have heard that suggested previously, but it is not our duty as a Parliament to trust too much to the Court. We must make our legislation express our intentions as clear.lv as possible, and. not leave the Court to set matters right by placing its own interpretation on the Statutes. I think it will be most difficult to define what is destructive to industry or detrimental to the community. I know of two monopolies in Victoria which the Attorney-General doubtless considers are of a beneficial character - I refer to the Age newspaper and Mr. “ Jack” Wren. The Age has a monopoly of the political thought of Australia, and frightens the very life out of all the Victorian representatives both in this Parliament and in the State Parliament.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about.
– I have watched the course of events very closely since I have been in this House, and it appears to me that the Age has a monopoly of the political thought of Victoria. Mr. “ Jack “ Wren enjoys a monopoly of the “tote” business. Both these monopolies are harmful, and yet they would doubtless escape the provisions of the Bill. So successful are the proprietors of both these monopolies that I believe they are struggling to see who shall pay the highest amount of income tax. I am also credibly informed that one of these gentlemen is very much interested in a sugar refinery in New South Wales. That is why I desire to ascertain whether, in the event of that company being held to constitute a monopoly, it would come under the provisions of this measure. I would further point out that in the Bill three distinct terms are used, the first two of which designate the same thing, namely, producer, worker, and consumer. I was under the impression that all producers were workers, and I cannot understand how those terms can be” differentiated. The title of the Bill is a very attractive one. It is a measure “ for the preservation of Australian industries, and for the repression of destructive monopolies.” What freetrader or protectionist is not pleased to see Australian industries preserved? It does not follow, because a man is a free-trader, that he does not wish to see a single industry established within the Commonwealth. It does follow, however, that he wants to see only those industries established which are natural to the soil, and which can stand without any adventitious aids. I am not prepared to see industries established at the expense of the general public.
– Nor is anybody else.
– That is what the honorable member is after all the time, and he knows it.
– I believe that what the honorable member for New England has interjected is correct.
– What about the foreigner?
– He can very well look after himself. In the course of the discussion upon this measure, repeated refer- «ences have been made to the operations of the Standard Oil Trust.’ That company enjoys a monopoly not only in America, but in most European countries. Where it does not enjoy a monopoly in European countries, there are free ports. It is estimated’ that the earnings of the Oil Trust aggregate from $50,000,000 to $75,000,000 annually. But in their advocacy of this Bill, most honorable members have admitted that the reason underlying the strength of that combination is that it has captured the means of transport in America, and has thus secured enormous rebates. That condition of affairs cannot be realized in Australia, because here the railways are State owned. The Minister has said that the shipping combine grants certain rebates to individuals who ship exclusively by its vessels. We have had no evidence to that effect, so far..
– The honorable member had better read the report of the Navigation Commission.
– He should peruse the reports of two Roval Commissions.
– That is exactly what I wish to do. The reports of these Commissions should be laid upon the table of the House, before the measure is passed. The report of tha Shipping Commission ought to show whether the shipping; companies are exercising the power of making rebates, and of discriminating.
– The honorable member desires delay.
– The honorable member’s own leader - I refer to the honorable member for Bland - said that the Bill is scarcely worth the paper upon which it is printed.
– The honorable member does not understand what he said.
– He certainly said that it will not be effective. If the honorable member for Melbourne believes in the nationalization of industries, he ought to pray that it will be ineffective.
– We want to do something.
– The honorable member wishes to carry a placard - a headline; - to the people. The Minister, in an inspired paragraph, has told us that he will amend the Bill in certain directions. I venture to say that if it should ever emerge from Committee, nobody will recognise it. Of course, its title will remain unchanged, and’ that will satisfy the Minister. I think that the Opposition are performing a great service in pointing out the deficiencies of the measure. Before it is passed I should like to be afforded an opportunity to peruse the report of the Tariff Commission, so far as metals and machinery are concerned. The Minister will not care a fig for that report when once the measure has been passed.
– Yes, I will. I want an improved Tariff.
– The Tariff Commission, which consists of an equal number of freetraders and protectionists, has been sifting continuously for eighteen months. It has conducted a most exhaustive investigation, which has cost the country £10,000. Here is a Bill presented for our consideration, which the report of that body may cut right into, and the Minister will not delay its passage to allow of the Commission’s recommendations being placed before us. The honorable member for Perth regard’s the measure as a sham.
– He is a free-trader.
– He is the representative of the Labour Party upon the Tariff Commission.
– Oh, no.
– He is the representative of the free-traders, but not of the Labour Part v.
– The free-traders entertain respect for the honorable member for Perth, even if the honorable member for Melbourne Ports does not.
– I did not say that I did not respect him.
– The honorable member for Perth, as a labour representative, declares that the provisions of this Bill are a sham. The Tariff Commission has been inquiring into certain matters, with a view to demonstrating whether monopolies exist in Australia, whether the Tariff has been over-ridden, and whether there has been dumping. The Minister has refused’ to give us an illustration of the existence of any destructive monopoly, or of dumping operations. As the Tariff Commission has been unable to present the official report of the evidence which it has taken upon these matters, I can only rely upon the news paper reports of that evidence. Those reports, so far as I can recollect,” do not disclose a single case, either of the existence of a monopoly or of dumping operations in Australia.
– If I show the honorable member one, will he support the Bill?
– The mere fact of the honorable member showing me one would not suffice. During the course of the debate frequent reference has been made to Socialism, and it has occurred* to me that Socialism is a trust writ large. All the evils associated with trusts attach to Socialism. I am in favour of this Bill up- to a certain point, but I will not record a vote which will assist, not merely in sneaking in protection, but in drowning protection by a prohibitive Tariff.
– Does the honorable member know where he is?
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports knows where he is when he is attending a meeting of those patriots of Australia - the protectionists - at 66 Bourke-street, and when they are forwarding pamphlets through the post on His Majesty’s Service. He knows where he is when he is booming protection and indicting epistles on behalf of the manufacturers. The usual method of dealing with measures of this character is to refer them to a Select Committee. But the best tribunal to investigate the questions involved in the Bill is the Tariff Commission. So far the evidence taken bv that body has not disclosed the existence of a single monopoly.
– Then the Bill will not touch them.
– Then why is the honorable member so anxious to pass it?
– We want to have it upon the statute-book for an emergency.
– Only the other day the honorable member was one of the most cheerful in declaring his belief in the nationalization of industry.
– I believe that monopolies do exist in Australia.
– Then why does not the honorable member cite a single illustration of them? Personally I am in favour of the repression of inimical monopolies.
– The shipping and tobacco combines are quite enough, to begin with.
– The honorable member for Fremantle holds that the producers in
Western Australia are suffering from the effects of the rebate system.
– The producers suffer all over Australia.
– We may be able to deal with the Australian shipping companies, but I should like to know from the AttorneyGeneral how we are to deal with shipping combines whose headquarters are in Great Britain. It should not be forgotten that the operations of foreign shipping combines are very much more injurious to Australia than are those, of the local shipping combinations. While I arn prepared to vote for the repression of destructive monopolies, I find that this Bill is a sham whichever way it is looked at. I believe that we have a right to ask for further information before proceeding with the Bill, and I therefore move -
That all the words after the word “ be “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “not further proceeded with until after the Tariff Commission has presented its report on metals and machinery.”
– What has that to do with it?
– I will be able to show the Prime Minister that this measure has a good deal to do with metals and machinery.
– The Tariff Commission’s report has nothing to do with this Bill.
– I think that it has much to do with it. The members of the Tariff Commission have been inquiring into the conditions of industries using metals and machinery, and they comprise the largest manufacturing industries in Australia. There is no necessity to adopt the usual course of referring the Bill to a Select Committee, because, as I have said, the Tariff Commission have now before them, the information which a Select Committee on the Bill might be expected to obtain. Two members of the Commission, one a member of the Opposition, and the other a member of the Labour Party, have pleaded with the Government to allow the consideration of the Bill to be postponed until the riff Commission has reported, and only last week one of those honorable members gave us the assurance that the presentation of the Commission’s report was within measurable distance. I cannot understand the anxiety of Ministers to force this measure through. We are not blocking the measure.
– Honorable members opposite are trying to block it.
– The evidence given before the Tariff Commission will show that the Bill is not needed.
– How can that evidence show anything about monopolies ?
– It does.
– No action is being taken to try to block the measure. Honorable members on this side have said that they are in favour of some of’ the general principles of the measure.
– What has the Tariff Commission’s report to do with destructive monopolies ?
– It may not have so much to do with destructive monopolies as with dumping.
– Only one part of this Bill deals with dumping.
– The Tariff Commission’s report will affect Part III. of the Bill, and may to some extent deal with the question of monopolies.
– It will affect no part of the Bill.
– The Tariff Commission was specifically appointed to find out whether there were anomalies in the Tariff, and whether its effects were injurious to what were described by the Attorney-General as the “ languishing industries “ of Australia. We do not hear that phrase from the honorable and learned gentleman now, but last session the Attorney-General waxed eloquent in asserting that the languishing industries of Victoria called for an inquiry by a Royal Commission. We have had such an inquiry, and I desire to know if the members qf the Commission have gathered evidence to show whether the in- ‘dustries of Australia are languishing, and, if they are, whether they are languishing as the result of any destructive monopolies. The Prime Minister has admitted that the reports of the Tariff Commission will have a bearing upon this measure, in so far as it deals with dumping.
– Only as regards normal conditions. The Tariff Commission have endeavoured to discover the normal conditions of Australian industries.
– What abnormal conditions would render this Bill necessary?
– I wish to know from the Minister what abnormal conditions exist to warrant the passing of such a Bill.- The returns show that of the total value of our imports of goods under the Tariff division “ Metals and Machinery,” the products of
Great Britain are answerable for £4,000,000. In view of that fact, are we to understand that this measure is a slap in the face for the preferential trade with Great Britain, of which we have heard so much?
– The honorable member said £3,000,000 last time.
– I said £3^80,000, and in round numbers I may say that British manufactures, under the division “ Metals and Machinery,” represent £4,000,000. We do not ask for economic teaching in connexion with this matter.
– Honorable members opposite need it.
– We have read the American authorities on the subject, and the Prime Minister need not be so conceited. He is not the only man who can read, nor is he the only man who can remember what he has read. We know the evils that exist in America, and if they existed here, or were likely to arise here, we should be prepared to vote for a measure to prevent destructive monopolies. I can say, on the subject of dumping, that, while I am prepared to fight Tariff battles as a freetrader, when a Tariff has been passed into law I am, as an Australian^ prepared to see that it is given effect to. But we are asked, in this matter, to shut our eyes and swallow the Bill as it is presented. Perhaps the Prime Minister will not accept the statement that destructive monopolies are caused by people taking advantage of the privileges given them under high protective Tariffs. I submit my amendment, not as one who is an enemy of the Bill, but that we mav be placed in possession of further information on which to deal with it. Apart from the speeches of the two Ministers who are most strongly interested in the Bill, the discussion upon it has only had the effect of damning it with faint praise. Those who have spoken strongly in favour of it have admitted that they do not believe that it will be effective. I wish to see such a measure made effective. I believe in State interference in these matters to the extent of control and regulation, and I say that if this Bill passes in its present form, and proves to be a failure, the honorable members of the Labour Party will accept no responsibility for it, and will blame both the Ministry and the Opposition for carrying an ineffective measure. They will say that there will still be mon opolies, and that we must try their panacea, which is State Socialism. As one who opposes their views on that subject, I should like to see this measure made effective, and, in order to do so, we must have further information. I am fortunate in having, in one portion of my electorate, the largest engineering establishment in Australia, and it is natural that I should like to see that industry progress. In spite of that, I have on no occasion voted for protection. When I hear people speaking of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company as a monopoly because it happens to be a successful concern, I ask to be shown that its operations are hurtful, before I vote for legislation which may injuriously affect it. I know that Mori’s Dock and Engineering Company have, in certain classes of work, a kind of monopoly, but it is not a hurtful monopoly. By their use of the word “ destructive “ in this Bill, Ministers admit that some combinations may be beneficial. I believe that the operations of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are beneficial. This measure, as it stands, will provide absolute protection, not for the workmen nor the small men controlling Australian industries, but for the big men. It will be no disgrace to the Ministry to delay the further consideration of this Bill. I have heard it said on the best authority this evening that the report of the Tariff Commission on metals and machinery will probably be in the hands of the Prime Minister in less than a week, and surely we cannot be accused of desiring to delay the consideration of the Bill, when we ask that we shall first be supplied with the information which will be contained in that report. I point out that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne doubts whether this measure is constitutional, and he intends to move an amendment. Other amendments have been promised from honorable members on the Opposition side, and if the Bill is proceeded wish before the Tariff Commission’s report on metals and machinery is presented, the consideration of those amendments in Committee may give rise to greater delay than that which might be occasioned by the amendment I have moved.
.- I beg to second the amendment which has been proposed by the honorable member for Dalley. I very much regret that the Bill has been brought before this House. I think that it is extremely necessary that it should be postponed. We must remember that when this Bill was first brought before us, it was introduced by the present Minister of Trade and Customs simply and solely at the dictation of a manufacturer of harvesters in Victoria. But he was unable to .succeed in persuading the House that that man ought to be allowed to exploit the farmers of this country. From the very moment when the Minister was foiled in his attempt to rob the farmers - from that very moment threats were issued to this House-
– The honorable member must not charge the Minister, or anyother member of the House, with attempts to rob the farmers or any one else. The honorable member must withdraw the remark.
– I wish I could say- “ in his attempt to plunder the farmers.” However, I will withdraw the remark. The Minister himself then uttered a threat that he would1 take special steps that would have the effect of enabling a certain manufacturer to impose what price he liked.
– The honorable member knows that the remark to which I have called attention must be absolutely withdrawn. If I understand him, he is now proceeding with his speech, although he has not absolutely withdrawn the remark.
– I have withdrawn it, sir.
– I am afraid that the honorable member substituted the word “ plunder.” That is not a withdrawal.
– I withdraw the remark absolutely. Putting it in a different form, a threat was uttered that such legislation would be brought forward as would allow a manufacturer of that particular form of goods to exploit the farmers for his own benefit. This is the first attempt to carry out that threat on the part of the Minister It is therefore somewhat surprising to me that when the Minister was making his statement in introducing the Bill, he said that he was the cause of the price of harvesters being brought down. I took the trouble to look up what the same Minister said when he took action and increased the valuation of certain harvesters. He said then that the goods of another man were being undersold ; but we found, out - in fact, I’ informed the House at the time-
– What he said was that the imported goods were not honestly invoiced.
– Yes, he said that they were not honestly invoiced, but on inquiry made at the time, it was found that they were honestly invoiced’. But I can further say, on the evidence of this man. McKay himself, that he obtained capital for his business by swearing to the person, or to the corporation from whom he obtained the capital, that he could make the machines at from ^28 to £29 a piece, and sell them at the import price of j£8o to £90. That was his statement, which showed that there was no undervaluation whatever, because at that time harvesters from America were invoiced by the Massey-Harris Company at between ^30 and ^40 a piece. The Minister of Trade and Customs, who had been in communication with the Canadian Minister of Trade and Customs on this subject, was well aware of those facts. He found1 out from his own inquiries that there was no under-valuation. But he, on his own initiative - at his own sweet will - and without any evidence to support his’ action, raised the Tariff on these particular articles to the extent of something like double the duty previously levied upon them. Three years before, speaking in this very House, I pointed out that if that power of valuation were given to the Minister, he - and I especially referred to the present Minister of Trade and Customs, saying that if such a man as he were in charge of the Department, he would without any evidence whatever, do exactly what he has since done. And I have no hesitation in saying that, if a power like that contained in this Bill is to be given to this man, we do not know where we shall stand. This is not a Bill for the preservation of Australian industries ; it is a Bill for the preservation of Australian corrupt politicians. It is nothing more nor less than that.
– I think the honorable member will see, on consideration, that, while it is bad enough to attack any individual member, it is still worse - it is intolerable - to make a general aspersion upon the character of politicians at large. I ask the honorable member not only to withdraw that remark, but. to avoid repeating it in any shape or form.
– I will withdraw the remark. Although we may say that what I have described is not intended at the present time - and no one supposes1 that anyone is going to be venturesome enough to bring in a Bill with that sole object in view - we cannot help considering that legislation, unless it is well thought out and wisely framed, usually has the very opposite effect from what is intended. A strictly honorable politician ought to decline to exercise the powers cast upon him by a Bill such as this in its present form. Not only do I wonder that it should be sought to intrust any one with such power, but I am amazed that any politician.’ should seek to have it for himself. If the provisions to which I have referred have crept in by mistake, the sooner they are knocked out by design the better. This is a Bill, not for the restraint of destructive monopolies, but for the repression of all sound and legitimate trading in Australia. The more I study this Bill, the more clearly I see that, supposing it to be prepared with an entirely honest purpose, the result would be entirely different from that which is intended. The measure would be destructive of all honest government, with such powers as it proposes to give to the Minister to do what he likes in determining whether trading is sound or unsound. It would be unjust to the Parliament itself to do such a thing, and would be absolutely destructive of all confidence throughout the mercantile community. No man would be safe from his neighbour if such a Bill as this were to pass. Any man having found out something about the business of another might send along to the Minister of Trade and Customs, and say that such and such a thing was being done, and then the precious Minister would appoint his precious Board - would appoint whom he pleased, remark ! We will suppose that there is an honest Minister in office. He, however, mav be succeeded by another Minister of a different character, when there may happen in this Commonwealth what has happened in America, in Canada, in New South Wales, and- in Victoria - a Minister who is amenable to “argument,” and who of his own sweet will could levy blackmail on every large trading concern throughout the country.
– What Minister in Victoria did anything of that sort?
– I am referring especially to an incident which happened in connexion with the land laws in New South Wales seven or eight years ago. I was, I may say, one of those who- took extremely strong exception to the powers given to the Minister in New South Wales to override the various _ Acts which had been passed by Parliament in relation to the administration of the lands. I was not in Parliament at the time, but, by writings and by conversations with various Members of Parliament - one of whom is a member of this House, and may remember the conversation very well - I prophesied that within the course of the next eight or ten years it was extremely likely that the result would be that, even if the Minister were not corrupt, the system would tend to corruption amongst the officials in charge of it. I pointed out that it would be almost impossible to escape from corruption, because men would pay a good deal for the sake of peace. Once we allow that sort of thing to be started, we never know where it will stop, nor what state of affairs will result. There is no question that in New South Wales the sort of thing to which I have referred has resulted ; and the very Minister who selected the men against whom the gravest charges have been made was the Minister who is in charge of this Bill to-day. If you have a system of that kind, how can you expect anything but corruption ?
– The honorable member referred fo what a Minister in Victoria did, and said that he black-mailed the commercial community.
– I was speaking with regard to lands in particular, and I said that under this Bill -there would be an opportunity to black-mail the mercantile community just as under the New South Wales lands system there has. been an opportunity to black-mail the land-owning part of the community. The principle is the same. In New South Wales a power was given outside that which ought to have been given. In fact, the Minister was set above Parliament. What happened was exactly what was prophesied by men who took the trouble to think. In our Customs Act we inserted a provision under which the Minister actually raised the duty on an article without any evidence to support his action, and even refused to allow the question to be brought Before the Courts, where it could be determined, when he himself must know that the evidence of the men who are manufacturing harvesters would show that the valuation placed on imported harvesters was greater than the price for which they themselves could manufacture them. He must know that, if he knows anything at all. But the Minister has been set above the law. What can we expect to happen under this Bill? Look at the Minister in charge of it ! We all know that the Bill was brought in at the dictation of Mr. McKay. We were threatened that another Bill would be brought in, and it has been. Nothing has surprised me more than that the Attorney-General should allow himself to countenance a Bill like this after such threats as we have had. He is able enough to know what the Bill means. None knows better than he the dangers that lie beneath such a measure, and none knows better than he the improper uses to which it can be put. Instead of efforts being made to put an end to monopolies, we actually seek to create them. How? Merely bv blocking competition. In all other cases it was always said that to block competition tended to create monopolies. When a former Minister of Customs, the right honorable member for Adelaide, brought in a Bill for the repression of destructive monopolies, how did he proceed 1 He proceeded to lower Customs duties so that fuller competition should” be allowed to take place. That, at all events was an honest attempt to deal with the evil. It was the method which has been proposed in America, though it has never been brought into full play there. The same method Has been adopter! in Canada. At all events., some reasonable effort was there made to deal with monopolies. But in this Bill we have legislation of an absolutely novel character. One would have thought that, before something entirely new was introduced into the arena of politics, some effort would have been made to read up the history of monopolies. One of the bitterest fights in English parliamentary history took place about the year 1600, and the half-dozen years preceding, when Parliament had become strong enough to assert itself against the granting of monopolies which went on under Queen Elizabeth. The fight became so fierce that eventually Elizabeth, had to make what was termed the “ gracious concession “ to Parliament that for the future those monopolies should not be granted. What happened then may happen under the Bill. The Minister may do just as he pleases, and all the damage may be inflicted when Parliament is not sitting. Just observe what has been provided in some of the later clauses of the Bill. From the date of a simple Gazette notice it is provided that goods which are the subject of investigation shall not be imported except on such security, and subject to such conditions, as the Minister approves. The Minister will have decided the whole matter beforehand, he already having acted, or shown his willingness to act, on the advice of some party interested. According to clause 18, subclause 2, if the Board report that the imported goods do, or probably will, compete unfairly with Australian goods, the GovernorGeneral, under the powers of the Customs Act 1 00 1, may prohibit their importation, either absolutely or under such conditions and restrictions as he deems just. Really there may be a total and complete prohibition of the whole of the goods. The manner in which the Prime Minister, at the end of last session, sought to hurry through this measure, acting at the dictation of the Minister of Trade and Customs - who had been disappointed of a higher Tariff on some goods - was unworthy of any Minister who has ever been in power in Australia. Such a procedure is- only worthy of a Minister who would go to Sydney and deny statements that every one of us in this House knew to be true, though we did not care to give evidence in the matter, not desiring to be mixed up in the proceedings involving what had taken place within these walls. Every one knew that what the Prime Minister was stating was not true, but that the words complained of had been used. Under the circumstances, what chance is there of a legitimate administration of a measure of this kind? It is proposed to prohibit trading; and, after all, what is trading? Trading may not add directly to the production of wealth, but it allows the fullest possible use to be made of wealth that is produced. If we did away with trading in Australia, I venture to say that half the peop’le in the country would sink to a condition of poverty and misery without parallel except in parts of Russia - a condition in which half the comforts of civilized life would disappear. When we reflect on trade, and how slowly, and with what infinite pains, it has been developed, it should be the last institution in the world to suffer any interference. From the time when the country was peopled with savages, who, after cutting rough paths through the forests or traversing the rivers in their rude craft, exchanged little weapons and other articles, trade has grown and developed, until now great vessels traverse the ocean engaged in the work of the exchange of commodities. Some of us welcome every extension in ship building, and of machinery to propel vessels across the waters at greater speeds, and less expense, so that our products may be carried to the markets of the world, and that we, in turn, may receive goods from elsewhere. Unless there is mutual exchange there is no trade. If we were compelled to export all and receive nothing we should be in t’he position of a people paying tribute which would be bitterly felt by us all. It is precisely because for every £1,000,000 worth of goods sent out, goods to the value of £1,000,000 must come back that we prosper as we do. Here we have a measure which is not framed in the interests of the great bulk of t’he producers. Out of all the products of Australia, roughly valued at £120,000,000, there are only £29,000,000 worth, or a little less than one-fourth, that will be affected by this Bill. If we take the value of the manufactures in New South Wales, which did not enjoy any duties, and were,, therefore, in a natural state, and extend that average throughout the Commonwealth, we find that the value of the unaided manufactures is about £25,000,000 or £26,000,000, and that not more than £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 worth of manufactured goods can be affected in any way by duties. Yet the interests of the manufacturers of these goods, which represent, say, one-fiftieth or onesixtieth of the products of Australia, are so paramount that their representations to the Minister are at once listened to. This House is asked to introduce legislation specially in their interest, and to hurry on that legislation before even we have had the reports of the Tariff Commission. That is a disgraceful state of affairs, and absolutely unworthy of any Minister, except, as I have said, a Minister “who would go to Sydney and make the statements he did in one of the Courts. In the Sherman Act, of which we have heard a good deal, there was no proposal to do away with competition, and no contention that the way to repress a monopoly was to give another monopoly the field to itself. When the Wilson Act was introduced, it set out that a monopoly was any combination which tried to increase prices. That is entirely different to the proposed legislation before us, which seeks to prevent persons doing anything to lower prices. The lowering of prices in our case is to be the evil, and one competitor may accuse another of underselling him. We- know that this lowering of prices goes on all over the world, and is a legitimate way of carrying on business. How can business be carried on unless men try to produce at the lowest possible price? I ask those who are allied with the Labour Party, in what better way can labour be benefited, considering that workers have to sell their labour at the market price according to the law of supply and demand, than by getting full advantage of any lowering of the prices of commodities? If a man has to work only half-an-hour in order to obtain a certain commodity that is certainly better than if he had to work one hour. Yet, according to this Bill, if there is any endeavour made to lower prices, the worker, who has to sell his labour according to the law of supply and demand, is not to be allowed any advantage, whereas the wealthy manufacturer, I presume, will have his demands .heard. We could get no better proof of the correctness of the latter supposition than the statement of the Minister of Trade and Customs himself, when introducing the Bill, that he had’ already consulted Mr. McKay, at whose instigation he acts, in reference to the harvester. Mr. McKay represents ‘a fairly large combination, and has done so uncommonly well out of his machines, that he should not be allowed to obtain any more advantage than he can legitimately claim as the reward of his industry. The Minister of Trade and Customs next interviewed the manager for Sir George Newnes and Co., who represent a capital of some £600,000 or £800,000 ; and I hope that honorable members will note how solicitous the Minister of Trade and Customs is to interview only men like that. ‘ The Minister did not think there was anything peculiar in his interviewing those gentlemen, but regarded it as a very natural course for any one in charge of a ‘Bill of this kind to take. But is it not only human nature on the part of persons interested to get the Bill so framed as to squeeze what they can out of the public? As if they, considering the large sum of money invested, were not already squeezing a good many of the small men out ! As if the appropriation of practically the whole of the land which contains shale is not in itself a sufficient monopoly ! Yet the Minister interviews such men, anr! then asks us to support! him in what he is doing in their interests. To my mind, the Labour Party has never occupied a more unenviable position than at present. Fully one-half of the Labour Party know that the Bill is not in the interests of the workers - that everything that tends to render it difficult for people of small means to get along, plays into the hands of the large combination. With that knowledge, it is dreadful that those members of the Labour Party should be controlled and led about, as they are, by men like the present Prime Minister. Many revilings, insults, and opprobious epithets1 have been heaped on the Prime Minister; but it cannot be doubted that he to-day sways the Labour Party, and that they dance as he whistles. They follow him with a fortitude and devotion worthy of a better cause. . .However a Labour member may deride a Ministerialist, the latter has always the retort, “ You were three to two against us, and yet you could no.t find amongst you a man to fill Mr. Deakin’s position, and now you have to do exactly what he tells you to do.” I do not wonder that the Labour Leagues outside, seeing the anomalous position of the labour representatives here, are raising their voices in protest against it. Whatever those representatives may say, we know what their actions will be, and, as the Government have said that they intend to put this Bill through, the Labour Party will see that it is put through, although they must know that its provisions will injure the interests of the workers. Does the measure contain a clause providing for the maintenance of the wages of the workers? There is not a word in it which relates to that subject. Is there anything in the Bill to provide for the safeguarding of the interests of the workers? Not a syllable. Everything is to be given to the men who already have a big enough fortune. The Labour Partyis supporting the Bil) because the man who framed it had the artfulness, or the cleverness, to name it a Bill for the preservation of Australian industries, and for the repression of destructive monopolies. We are told that the title describes its true object and intention, but we know that its effect will be very) different. Nearly four years ago, when the Customs Bill was being considered, I said that if the honorable member for Hume ever became Minister of Trade and Customs, he would take advantage of one of its provisions to prevent men from having a remedy at law for action taken by the Department, and my words have come true. Are we going to give the honorable gentleman still further powers? I pity many members of the Labour Party for the position in which they are placed. Ministers have them by the nose until the end of this Parliament, and do as they like with them. They may go through the country declaring what they will do; but we know that, no matter how’ largely they may talk about dictating to the Government, they will not vote against a Government proposal. Inferior as the Ministerial Party is to the Labour Party in point of numbers - and we are told in point of ability, too - the members of the Labour Party have humbly to obey the commands of the Ministry.
– Is the honorable and learned member discussing the amendment ?
– I have departed a little from the question before the Chair. According to paragraph b of clause 6, competition shall be deemed to be unfair if it “would probably, or does, in fact, result in a lower remuneration for labour.” Is there any new invention whose introduction will not, for a time, at any rate, result in a lower remuneration for the labour engaged in the industry to which it is applied? I could name a thousand instances in support of that statement. Does not the House remember the history of cotton spinning? Do not honorable members know that the cotton jenny displaced thousands, and1 resulted in lower rates of wages until new trades came to be established? But the advantage to the public of the discovery of better means of making cotton and linen has been incontestable. Similarly, the introduction of machinery for the spinning of yarns threw hundreds of unfortunate weavers and others out of employment. If it were proposed to introduce machinery which would have the effect of saving labour, the provisions of the Bill, supposing it to be in force, could be used to absolutely prohibit its importation.
– I ask the honorable and learned member to connect his remarks with the amendment. That, and not the main question, is now before the Chair.
– I wish to point out that the consideration of this measure should be postponed until we have the report of the Tariff Commission on the effect of the present duties on manufactures of metals and machinery. We do not know what evidence is being taken by the Commission. It may be that machinery is now being introduced which will have the effect of displacing labour in certain Australian industries, but will ultimately benefit the public as greatly as the spinning jenny has done. We know how great an advance motor traction has made, and it may be that motor waggons are now being introduced which will supersede horse waggons, and greatly reduce the earnings of harness-makers and others. The provisions of the Bill are drawn so loosely that any man whose business is affected by these importations could, if the Bill became law, ask for their prohibition, although motor waggons may prove the salvation of many of our farmers, and may make available for cultivation thousands of acres of land which now, for lack of railway communication, cannot be profitably used. If there is one thing to which we can usefully turn our attention it is, surely the helping of the people on the land. The best help we can give them is by seeing that they are allowed to obtain the up-to-date machinery as cheaply as possible, and by informing them as to the most approved methods of production. Any other interference will probably result in evil. What is necessary for the production of wealth? Is it not land, labour, and capital? Without capital men cannot maintain themselves and their families while they are awaiting their first harvests. We have plenty of land in Australia. Let us see if we cannot give our people full and free access to it by abolishing the laws which allow the dead to bind the living, and restrict the area of land which comes into the market. We have also labour, and I am satisfied that we have capital, while more capital can be introduced in the shape of machinery for the development of the country. Having land, labour, and capital, we have everything necessary for the production of wealth, and all that can be asked for is that each man shall be allowed to obtain the full results of his labour. No man has a right to ask for the passing of repressive laws intended to protect him, so that, at the expense of his neighbours, he may be shielded from competition.
– Is the honorable and learned member going to vote for the second reading of the Bill?
– I am not. If the honorable member has not gathered so much from my remarks I have spoken to very- little purpose. I shall not vote for a measure whose effects will be entirely different from its professed intentions. Does the honorable member think that I am out vote hunting, and, to secure votes, would support a measure which is merely empty verbiage? It would be more difficult for me to explain the provisions of this measure to uninterested voters than to say right out that I opposed it because they were worthless.
– The honorable and learned member is a splendid exception on the Opposition side.
– I. hope not.
– He will not be alone.
– A number of honorable members hold the view which I hold, and will have the courage to do as I shall do.
– The speeches do not indicate it.
– A severe attack of in< fluenza prevented me from attending last week, but I was sorry to read some of the statements made here, because of the need for instruction which they disclosed. I can think of no improvement in machinery which has not caused suffering to those engaged in the industry to which it has been applied. The fact that the introduction of improvements displaces labour, and causes misery and depression, has been so obvious to human intelligence that, in times past, desperate efforts have been made to restrict competition. To such a degree have these efforts been carried that, in France, even after that kingdom had been under one sovereignty for more than 200 years, and much of it for 350 years, trade was still restricted to certain towns, and , whole provinces were not allowed to trade with other provinces. There might be peace and plenty in one province, and absolute starvation in another, and yet, under the laws, no amelioration was possible, and, in fact, the French Revolution had to take place before all these terrible barriers between province and province could be broken down.
– I think the honorable and learned member is now utterly disregarding the amendment.
– I have been giving reasons for postponing the consideration of this Bill. If the amendment were carried, it would have two effects. In the first place, we should have the opportunity of discussing the provisions of the measure in the light of the evidence given before the
Tariff Commission, with respect to the importations of metals and machinery. I need not go so far as France for an instance such as I have been citing. I could show how we absolutely prevented one of the great States, whilst suffering from the effects of an extreme drought, from obtaining its supplies of provisions except from the other States of the Commonwealth. If those honorable members who are responsible for the introduction of this Bill had, on a previous occasion, acknowledged that an increase of prices would injure the consumer, what a fine thing it would have been. They would then have immediately lowered the Tariff in order to enable those who were suffering, from the drought to retain some money in their pockets, instead of leaving them without a sixpence with which to’ bless themselves.
– The honorable member knows that the majority of the squatters had no money with which to buy food for their stock.
– Then their stock died, and they are. now paying the penalty. A Bill of this kind would only have tended to intensify the evil of which I have been speaking. I do not suppose that that is the purpose of the Bill, but I am merely showing how far the measure departs from the lines of sound legislation. Let me put a case. If, during a drought in New South Wales, certain men in Queensland and Tasmania entered into a combination with a view to selling potatoes at a lower price than they could be placed on the New South Wales market by the local producers, a complaint might be made that, they were lowering prices, and should be punished under the terms of this Bill. It may be urged that no such case would arise, but we have had such things as, what I may call, food combines. We certainly had a combine of that character in New South Wales during the last severe drought, when all the hay and maize was bought up in advance. Do I not remember very well that the late Premier of New South Wales expressed his indignation in the strongest terms at the suggestion that the duties upon fodder should be suspended in consequence of the drought, and that it afterwards transpired that he was interested as a produce merchant with others in buying up all the wheat and other produce that he could possibly lay his hands on. This kind of legislation would merely promote that kind of thing. The Tariff
Commission was appointed to inquire into a number of matters that in some way or other bear upon this point, and there is abundant reason why we should wait until we have before us the whole of theinformation that they have been able togather. It may have been ascertained by the Commission that the man in whose interest this measure was framed has made a. profit of .£30,000 or £40,000, owing to the higher prices that he has been able to> charge the farmers. It may also have been-, ascertained that he has sold machines for export at a lower price than he receives for those “which are purchased locally. I cannot say, because I do not know. But I have been told on the very best authority that when he was endeavouring to induce certain persons to put capital into his business, he stated that the machines could be produced for about £28 each.
– For less than that.
– I do not know that. Yet we have a Bill framed practically in the interests of the one person referred to, and perhaps two or three others. It is not for a moment to be supposed that the measure will confer benefit upon many others. It is partial legislation of the very worst kind. Surely the manufacturer to whom I have referred does not pay his men more than they are worth - he is not running a charitable establishment. Why should we not wait until we can read the evidence of the Tariff Commission, and ascertain the exact position ? It may be shown that some trades are enjoying protection to a larger amount than is represented by the whole of the wages paid by them in carrying on their operations, or that the cost of bringing machinery from other countries is more than equivalent to the outlay for wages in the production of similar machinery in Australia. I know of half-a-dozen cases to which such statements would apply, and there may be other instances of which I am not aware. At any rate, there is every reason why we should wait, and why we should refrain from rushing through a Bill of this character.
– Does the honorable and learned member propose to vote against it?
– The honorable and learned member knows me too well to dream that I could vote for it. Even if an honest name is attached to a dishonest Bill I shall not be induced to vote for it. I regard this measure as a public “ take-down.” Is the honorable and learned member going to support it?
– Yes. I have read t’he measure, and I do not think that the honorable and learned member has done so.
– If the honorable and learned member reads, marks, and inwardly digests the Bill he will certainly vote against it. As I have already pointed out, nothing new could be introduced into Australia if the provisions of the Bill were strictly carried out. Suppose, for instance, that we had no Wireless Telegraphy Act such as is now embodied in our statute-book, that our telegraph lines were under private control, and that it were proposed to introduce wireless telegraphy into Australia. That system of transmission would undoubtedly have become a commercial success long before this if it had not been for the hindrances placed in the way of experiments, because of the telegraph systems being so largely in the hands of the various Governments. It is because of this fact that the development of the invention has been much slower than would have been the case if those interested in it had been afforded fuller opportunities for testing it. If, as I say, our telegraph systems were in the hands of private companies, and it were proposed to introduce wireless telegraphy, we should find the telegraph companies going to the Minister and saying : “ It is proposed to introduce a system of telegraphy which will do away with the thousands of poles that are used under present . conditions. These poles have to be cut in the forests, and if it becomes no longer necessary to use them hundreds of men will be thrown out of work. It will also be possible to dispense with the wire which now has to be manufactured out of iron and afterwards to be galvanized. If this is done thousands of men who are now engaged in digging the ore out of the ground and in providing the coal that is necessary for smelting the ore and producing the iron, will be thrown out of work. The new system should be excluded, because it would result in lowering the remuneration of our workers.” Such a condition of affairs would naturally arise under the provisions of the measure. Then, again, it is provided that if competition would result in the disorganization of Australian industry, and in throwing workers out of employment, it could be dealt with under the Bril. No consideration would be paid to the additional number of men that might obtain employment under the new conditions. It seems to me that an attempt is being made to build a Chinese wall of restriction round the Commonwealth, and to render it ‘absolutely dead to all progress. Who would suffer from such a state of things? Which class has advanced most as the result of free competition? If it had not been for the operation of the law of competition, how many honorable members of the Labour Party; would now be occupying their places in this House today ? I do not know that any of them are of high birth, that they can boast of long lines ‘of ancestors which should entitle them to popular favour, or that they can claim that they possess any great wealth. The law nf competition has asserted itself and broken down the law of caste, and honorable members of the Labour Party ought to acknowledge that the verv best thing that could happen would be to allow competition to have free play. Of course, competition has its hard and cruel side, as everything else has, but it has minimized the great mass of evils which afflict the public. When we say that this measure will restrict advancement wc may be told that Ministers would not do this, or that, or the other. But I would’ ask whether all politicians are to be regarded as wise? Have they such a name for wisdom that it is not to be supposed that they will make an unwise use of the laws? Do we not hear remarks on every hand with regard to the want of commonsense on the part of the representatives of the people ? . That, of course, is the fault of the electors. If they cannot make a proper estimate of the value of one set of brains as against another, they must pay the penalty. I cannot understand why members of the Labour Party should suppose that a law of this kind would operate for the benefit of. the workers. If .they desire that the workers should be protected, they should insist that those who receive the benefit of the measure shall be called upon to show that they pay not only the ruling rate of wages, but the ruling rate plus the amount of the dutv of which they receive the protection. If there is to be prohibition, let the worker receive the full benefit. I do not believe in the nationalization of industry as a general principle, but I can quite conceive that the results, though, bad in many cases, would be better than those which would follow from the operation of a measure such as this. At all events, there would be an attempt made to secure justice. This Bill is ad- mittedly introduced to benefit a very small section of the community - the section which is already so wealthy that it practically control certain manufactures.
– The Crimes Act is aimed only at one section of the community.
– Surely the honorable and’ learned member does not place labouring men and criminals upon the same footing ? It is manifest that the Bill will create trusts. We are asked to listen only to the complaints of the wealthy manufacturer. To the small men we are not asked to extend any consideration. I venture to say that when the reports of the Tariff Commission are presented, we shall find scores of instances in which the sacrifice made by the rest of the community in bearing this load of taxation does not benefit the worker, but only the individual who is possessed of the greatest amount of capital.
– The Minister is afraid to allow us to see the reports of the Tariff Commission before we pass the Bill.
– We are not to be allowed to see the reports of that body lest it should be shown that the Minister’s solicitude for the welfare of these wealthy gentlemen has been misplaced. Could there be anything worse? Doubtless the reports of the Tariff Commission will show that there is a growing tendency on the part of trades to consolidate, and for their control to pass either into the hands of a combine or of some organization of individuals. In Germany the various trades seem to be passing into the hands of syndicates who are controlling them.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that is a good thing?
– I do not.
– What would’ the honorable and learned member do in regard to such combinations?
– I would allow them a little more freedom. The evil effects of trusts are infinitely worse in countries in which restrictive method’s have been employed to cope with them, than they are elsewhere. Therefore I say, “As all our restrictive efforts having failed, let us try the effect of a little freedom.” As Members of Parliament, what are we but trustees for the whole of the people? Why should we say to one set of beneficiaries, “ If you do such and such a thing, we will keep you going at the expense of other citizens, whose interests ought to be equally dear to us.” Few honorable members understand a simple proposition of this kind better than does’ the Attorney-General, and I am sorry indeed that he has not seen fit to espouse the cause of the struggling masses: His abilities would have enabled him to achieve a great deal in that direction. Who have they to plead their cause now tha°t the majority of the Labour Party are deserting them? I think it is Chateaubriand, . in his Memoirs, > who says -
Depend upon it that any legislation introduced except it is founded upon morality and justice will always have a directly contrary effect to that intended.
Can it be urged that this legislation is founded upon a . spirit of justice, seeing . that we are singling out one class for preservation at the expense of the rest of the community? Can it be said that, as a Parliament, we are working upon lines of morality when we are considering only the interests of those who are well able to take care of themselves? I submit that it cannot.* By so much as we depart from the great principles of morality and justice, by so much will the legislative result of our efforts be exactly contrary to our intentions. All history teaches us that that is so. How dare honorable members call any undertaking an industry if it is not selfsupporting?
– To what industries is the honorable and learned member referring as being self-supporting?
– The agricultural, the pastoral, the mining, and a great portion of the manufacturing industries of Australia are in themselves self-supporting, [f they are not, does the honorable member suggest that they are kept alive by the wisdom of Parliament - by the sagacity of a lot of men who do not know how to successfully conduct even their own affairs?
– They are kept alive by means of State assistance.
– Then State assistance must call down something from heaven. What a remarkable confusion of ideas must exist when an honorable member, who is in a position to legislate in this House, does not understand that a Parliament is merely a committee chosen from the people of the country ? Just as a <oTlection of farmers cannot double the wealth of any district, so we cannot help anybody unless we take from other citizens. What fund have we upon which we can draw except that which has already been earne-1 by citizens in their private capacity ?
– That is not the point that I raised.
– In New South Wales the State takes from the people £12,000,090 annually, and returns them £5,000,000. Then it says, “ Look, how good I am to you !” °In Victoria it takes about ^7,000,000 from the people, and gives them back work which is worth about ^£2,000,000.
– That is not correct.
– It does not give them back more than one-half of the amount that it takes.
– It does not collect ^£7, 000, 000 from the people in Victoria. It does not collect more than £2,000,000 in taxation.
– Then of that £2,000,000 I will say that it does not return them anything. No Parliament can hand anything back to anybody unless it has first collected it from somebody who has earned it.
– Which are the selfsustaining, industries, the honorable and learned member refers to?
– I mentioned the pastoral, the agricultural, and the mining industries. I might add also the bulk of the manufacturing industries.
– All of which get large assistance from the State.
– Might I ask the honorable member where the State derives the means to give them assistance?
– That is not the question.
– If the honorable mem, ber waits until we receive the report of the Tariff Commission, he will probably find out how it is that the State is enabled to give the assistance of which he speaks. It is done by taking from the citizens the means of that assistance. I suppose that every person in this Commonwealth! is paying his contribution to the fund. How many get their share back. We are all, including women and children, taxed to the extent of from £2 to £3 per head. Will the honorable member for Moira tell me how many (.ret their share of that taxation back ? If he desires some enlightenment on the subject, he has only to wait for the report of the Tariff Commission to find out how many citizens are despoiled of their share, and to find also that it does not go always to the State, but often directly into the pockets of certain interested individuals. It is against that spoliation that I protest.
I protest against this Parliament being asked to use all its powers in the interests of one section only.
– Then the honorable and learned member should support this Bill.
– If the honorable member for Gwydir has not gathered that this Bill will have exactly the opposite result to that intended, I cannot help it.
– I say that the honorable and learned member misunderstands the Bill.
– I made a prophecy three or four years ago as to the effect of the Customs Act, which has turned out to be correct, though we have not seen its full effects, yet. I have no hesitation in making a prophecy in connexion with this measure. I am certain that still more evil results will follow it. By. a regulation under the Commerce Act, cornsacks of an inferior nature were required to be branded as such. The farmer requires a cornsack only to hold his corn until it gets to the market. He gets no return for the sack, and is only so much out of pocket in having to provide it. He does ,not, therefore, desire ito give one farthing more for it than he need. So long as if will carry his corn to the market, or to the ship’s hold, he is satisfied. The cheaper he can get cornsacks, the better for him. I point out to honorable members that the legislation, intended to benefit him has had the direct result of raising the price of cornsacks by one shilling a dozen.
– What was clone was not done bv legislation, but by a regulation, of the Reid-McLean Government, and it had no effect whatever on t’he price of cornsacks.
– I do not care where, or by whom, it was done, but it is only another instance of the stupid legislation which is being continually passed by this Parliament.
– And the .farmers of Australia are clamouring to have it more strictly enforced than it is at the present time.
– Because cornsacks are now 7s. 3d. a dozen, the honorable member for Moira wishes us to believe that the farmers are clamouring that thev should be 9s. 3d. I know two men who are delighted with what has taken place, because they have done very well out of it. I have no doubt th’at they are ready to make more out of the business.
– What was done had no influence upon the value of the sacks.
– Then I say the honorable member must be absolutely unaware of what has taken place. I know to the contrary. I know two men who speculated in the matter, and who have done very well. One man, knowing that our sacks were not the same as those of the rest of the world, managed to get a corner in them, and so reaped a big profit, and when it was subsequently provided that other sacks could be used, he made extra money out of the alteration.
– Will the honorable and learned member explain how it is that the rise in price occurred before the regulation was put into force?
– I am afraid I could not allow the honorable member to do that. It .is as well that the House should understand the position. At the present time we are not discussing the Bill on its merits at all, but simply the desirability or otherwise of postponing the further consideration of the Bill until after the Tariff Commission has reported on metals and machinery. I ask that honorable . members in their interjections, as well as the honorable member who may happen to be speaking, shall not consider that occasional references, which are dragged in. to the Tariff Commission, satisfy the needs of the case. There must be a constant connexion between the remarks of the speaker and the proposal that the further consideration of this measure should’ be delayed until the Tariff Commission has reported on metals and machinery.
– It is my firm resolve to vote against the Bill. I shall vote against the name given to it, because, having looked through the measure. I know it will have the directly opposite result to that proclaimed by its name. In fact, to name the measure in this way is merely to dupe the public. Very few of us are able to estimate the dangerous and evil effects it will yet have. We are being asked to place a power in the hands of the Minister, which was only wrested from the King in times past by infinite trouble on the part of the people. It was only when the spirit of freedom began to be awakened in the minds of the people that they began the struggle to wrest that power from kings, princes, and nobles, who fought zeal ously to retain it. Those persons, however, gave it no untrue name, and consequently they were unable to dupe the whole of the community. I trust that the spread of education amongst us is such that there will be thousands of people in Australi’a able to recognise the dangers of this measure; that fair words butter no parsnips, and that they consequently will not swallow a thing like this, simply because of the name given to it. We have the statement of the Prime Minister that the measure is introduced only to deal with an abnormal condition of affairs. If that be the purpose of the Bill, where is the necessity for haste in passing it? Why can it not be delayed’ until after the presentation of the report of the Tariff Commission on metals and machinery, and we are given some opportunity to consider the evidence obtained by the Commission? If this Bill is to deal only with abnormal conditions, no honest reason can be given for the haste shown in proceeding with it. If it is being passed to placate some individual, if it is in fulfilment of a promise given to him when the Minister of Trade and Customs found that he was unable to override the Customs Act altogether, and could not shut out all competition in the matter of harvesters, then we can understand the reason for this haste. But it is a terrible state of affairs if a number qf Members of Parliament allow themselves to be at the beck and call of any individual outside. Let us have the report of the Tariff Commission on metals and machinery, and postpone the further consideration of this measure for a week or ten days. Even now, though it is six months since last December, when we were told there was a crying necessity for that measure, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Trade and Customs are not able to name one industry in which danger has arisen, or is likely to arise. After having had six months in which to collect evidence from the various people interested, they are not able to bring forward one case and say, “ Here is evidence on which we can act.” If there is one case, I have never heard of it.
– Has the honorable and learned member read the Minister’s speech ?
– I heard it all, and I will not say what I thought of it, except that it was exactly in keeping with the Minister’s history, conduct, and past career. We heard from the honorable gentleman how he waited on individuals representing wealthy companies here and there to find out what he should do on their behalf. That was deplorable to listen to. There are a number of Labour members supporting this measure who are faithless to their name. However they may deride and spurn the Prime Minister, it is clear that he is their leader, and has them all under control. I trust that a Bill like this may be the means of bringing about a revolt on the part of those members of the party who are anxious to put an end to this state of affairs, and to the control exercised by a man whom they hold up to derision and yet slavishly follow on every measure he brings before the House. This Bill is in itself a sufficient justification for every member of the Labour Party to break away from every promise of support given to the Prime Minister. If they understood rightly their duty to the people, they would consider the introduction of this measure a sufficient warrant for going round the country uttering maledictions upon the Ministry who bring in such a measure.
– Would not the honorable and learned member advise benedictions?
– I shall be prepared to give the honorable member for Gwydir my benediction when I find that he deserves it. The honorable member will show me that he deserves it by waking up to some sense of the enormity of this measure. Whatever his Opinion of it may be now, let him wait until we are given an opportunity to see the evidence placed before the Tariff Com-‘ mission. It is true that the bulk of it is the evidence of interested parties who desire that higher duties shall be forced upon the country, of people who are anxious to see Parliament use its power to help them, but who would be the first to squeal if Parliament should say, “ You have demanded profit for yourselves, and we shall now demand profit for the workers.” I believe that the perpetration of injustice upon any class can never advance the interests of the country. That, is why I am against the whole of this business. In this case we are advocating the interests of the great bulk of the workers. They have to sell their labour in the mar.[ ket, and there is not a single provision in this measure to safeguard their interests. There is nothing in the Bill about raising their wages or helping them. There is everything in it about raising the profits of the manufacturer which might otherwise be interfered with. Everything is to depend simply and solely on the wealth one has and the power with which he can make representations to the Minister. And the very man who refuses to distribute his profits amongst his workmen is the man who, under this system, will have most authority in making such representations. It is a pretty state of affairs, indeed. In times past people bowed down to landlords, and now they bow down to manufacturing lords. The spirit of serfdom seems to be so implanted in many persons that they are unable to get off their knees and to cease cringing and crying to wealth, in whatever form it takes. They talk loudly, but where are their actions? By every effort and means in their power they should resist these measures to give unjust advantages to the man who already hath, and from him who hath not, take away even that which he hath.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
– I move -
That the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for to-morrow.
I wish to say that I had a conversation with the deputy leader of the Opposition, and I understand that the debate will be concluded to-morrow.
– This stage.
– Otherwise, I should wish to continue the debate later to-night. In the circumstances, I have no objection to the adjournment of the debate, but, whilst I do not wish to rush the measure, I do not desire that its passing should be delayed too long.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to direct the attention of the Government to a practice which has grown up of late in furnishing answers to questions, and especially to questions put by members on the Opposition side of the House, of using language which is almost discourteous, and of answering some questions, which should be answered fully, with a curt “ Yes “ or “ No.” Many of the questions which are asked demand a fuller answer than a direct negative or an affirmative. I should like the Government to request their officers, when furnishing information in answer to questions by honorable members, to be as courteous as possible, and not to confine the answers to a curt “ Yes “ or “ No,” unless that is a complete answer to the question put.
– Would it not be better for honorable members on the Opposition side to give notice of the questions, in order that they may be completely answered ?
– I am speaking of questions of which notice has been given. I have put several questions on the businesspaper, and have found it necessary to follow them up later on with others, because of the incompleteness of the answers given to them, and sometimes because of direct evasions. The matter is one which affects, not honorable members on this side alone, but in every part of the House, and it also concerns the privileges of honorable members.
– Perhaps if Ministers, instead of saying “yes” or “no,” said “ yes-no.” the honorable member would be satisfied I
– I am speaking in the interest of all honorable members in bringing this matter forward.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir) [10.31 1- I desire to bring under your notice, Mr. Speaker, a matter which seems to require attention, and that is the editing of the speeches of honorable members before they are published in Hansard. A striking illustration of that occurs in the last number of Hansard, wherein is published the speech of the honorable member for Parramatta, delivered in this House last week on the Supply Bill. He said, in reply to an interjection,- that he had never signed any pledge to any party. That reply was definite and distinct - that he did not sign any pledge to any party. It was made on two occasions, and reported in the daily press. But I find that that reply is not recorded in the Hansard report, and that the method of Mr. Close, in New South Wales, has been adopted here - that the honorable member has no recollection, and that his memory fails. I think that Hansard should be a true record of what is said by the members of this House;- and whatever honorable members may do with regard to altering the verbiage of their remarks, they should not be allowed to take out of a report essential matters that have been openly stated and amplified in speeches in this House.
-33j- - The honorable member for Gwydir has made some references of a grossly insulting character - of an odious character, so far as I am concerned.
– What ?
– The honorable member did so, in making references to Mr. Close, of New South Wales, and applying them to circumstances like these. The honorable member must have a mind which thinks upon an extremely low level, when he will drag in a reference of that kind here.
– lt is only the system adopted’ That I referred to.
– The honorable member ought to be a good judge of what is right and proper, as I have no doubt he is. Allow me to say, Mr. Speaker, that I deny altogether the statement which the honorable member has made to-night.
– It is true.
– It is not true in any particular.
– I am rather surprised at the action of the honorable member for Gwydir in this connexion, because I have the keenest recollection of that honorable member having approached me last week and asked me to leave out of my proofs front Hansard an . interjection of his own which appeared in a speech of mine.
– That was not an important matter. It related merely to a misunderstanding.
– I wish to do the honorable member justice. He said that he had misunderstood some remarks of mine.
– That is right.
– I at once accepted the honorable member’s statement, and on his request that my remarks on that interjection should not appear in Hansard, I put a note against the report of my speech, and informed Hansard that the honorable member wished those remarks to be omitted, leaving it to the discretion of Hansard as to whether they should be omitted or not.
– If they were of a personal nature that is right.
– But I do say that it appears to me to be singular that such remarks as those to which we have just listened should emanate from an honorable member who only last week connived at the editing of Hansard.
.- In reference to the matter which the honorable member for Gwydir has just brought up, I should like to say-
– The honorable member for Lang has already spoken to this question.
– I merely wish to say that I heard the honorable member for Parramatta qualify theremark to which the honorable member for Gwydir has called attention.
– As the first remarks of the honorable member for Gwydir were addressed to me, I should like to inform the House what the position really is. No alterations of Hansard are permissible, but corrections are allowed. That is to say, any honorable member is at liberty, as he goes through his Hansard proofs, to make any corrections which will bring the report into closer agreement with what he actually said. But alterations of Hansard - that is to say, changes in the sense of what has been said, so that the Hansard report makes an honorable member say something which he did not say, or something of a different tenor - such changes as that, ‘ which I deem alterations, and not corrections, are not permissible, and ought not to be attempted by any honorable member.
– Or the elimination of remarks.
– I neither eliminated nor altered.
– I am quite sure that the Hansard reporters, in pursuance of their duty, would not accept any alterations, except such as were in accordance with the rule I have just stated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 June 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060626_reps_2_31/>.