8th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Elliot Johnson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. GREGORY presented the report of the Public Works Committee, together with the Minutes of Evidence, on the proposal to erect an additional telegraph line between Perth and Eucla.
Ordered to be printed.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs if it is true that the Bureau of Science and Industry inquired into the possibility of making power alcohol in Australia, and reported favorably on it to him, and that he referred the project to the Board of Trade, which turned it down. If those are not the facts, will the Minister state what has happened in regard to the production of power alcohol in Australia?
– The Institute of Science and Industry, after an. investigation, reported to me that if a certain denaturant which they suggested were used, power alcohol for commercial purposes could be made in Australia. The matter was subsequently investigated by the Board of Trade, and investigations are still in progress, with a view to determining what denaturantcan be safely adopted, so that the revenue of the country may not be prejudiced.
– His Excellency the Earl of Stradbroke, Governor of Victoria, is within the precincts, and I shall, with the concurrence of honorable members, invite him to occupy a chair on the floor of the chamber.
His Excellency thereupon entered, and was seated accordingly.
Mr.CHARLTON.- Will the Treasurer consider the advisability of exempting cooperative societies from the war-time profits tax, and take into consideration the refunding of the tax already collected?
– I shall take the matter into consideration, and I promise the honorable member that before refunds are made the matter will be considered very carefully.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral, before consenting to any variation of the Tasmanian mail contract that would give the State a service inferior to that now provided for, acquaint the House with the negotiations between himself and the shipping companies concerned ?
– The matter is now being considered, and as soon as I am in a position to make a statement about it to the Bouse, I shall do so.
Mr. Gullett’s Report
– Has the Prime Minister any objection to laying on the table of the House, and having printed, Mr. H. S. Gullett’s report on theBurnett lands?
– I shall arrange for the report to be laid on the table.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a statement recently made by Mr. W. L. Baillieu about the sale of zinc concentrates at a flat rate for the next nine or ten. years, and has it any connexion with the agreement which I understand the right honorable gentleman had come to with Great Britain concerning the sale of sine concentrates? If so, will he lay a copy of the agreement on the table?
– I have not seen the statement made by Mr. W. L. Baillieu, but the arrangement with the British Government was confined to the sale of spelter and of zinc concentrates, and contains no provision concerning freights. I have not yet received a copy of the com- pleted contract, but as soon as it has been received it willbe laid on the table.
The following papers were presented : -
Fruit -Returnshowing the Exports ofFresh Fruit from each State of the Commonwealth to Great Britain from 1st Novem ber, 1920, to 16th April, 1921.
Northern Territory - Ordinance of 1921 -
No. 3.- Darwin Town Council.
– As in the iron trade there are many artisans unable and unlikely to obtain work for some time to come, will the Prime Minister promise to have removed the disabilities which prevent them from going to some other country where they can get work? Theyar e not allowed to travel to Russia or other places where they believe theycan get work.
– I shall be very pleased to help any one who wishes to go to Russia to get there, though it is to be understood that I do not promise to pay his fare. Certainly I shall not stop any one from going. The difficulties of this country are sufficient with the ordinary Australian citizens.
– In view of the Prime Minister’s statement last week that injury was done to this country by the exportation of bad wheat to South Africa, will the right honorable gentleman, before he leaves for England, publish the names of the persons responsible?
– I have not yet obtained the names of those to whom I referred, but I have communicated with the Premiers of the wheat-producing States, and have also asked for a statement from the Central Wheat Board. My right honorable colleague the Treasurer, who, during my absence, will act as Prime Minister, will make this information public as soon as it comes to hand.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that recently the names of certain persons in Tasmania have been placed on the prohibited list, and that neither parcels nor letters addressed to them will be delivered to them by the Postmaster-General’s Department, and yet the Commissioner of Taxation receives thorough the post from the managers of Tattersall’s sweeps letters containing money. In view of this anomaly will the right honorable gentleman see that regulations are made which will permit the carriage by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, not only of letters from Tattersall’s to the Taxation Department, hut also of applications for tickets in sweeps made to other persons in Tasmania?
– As the matter does not relate to my Department, I should have notice of such a lengthy question, so that I might give it a considered answer.
Mr.WEST.- I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether it is correct, as reported, that the Honorable A. S. Rodgers, Assistant Minister for Repatriation, is to act as Assistant Treasurer during the Prime Minister’s absence in London. If that is the intention of the Government, will they consider the desirableness of making some other arrangement, in view of the fact that the honorable gentleman’s duties as Assistant Minister for Repatriation are so heavy as to’ cause delay in dealing with Repatriation cases, in respect of which expedition is urgently needed in the interests of the soldiers and the general public.
– It is not true that my honorable colleague, Mr. Rodgers, is to act as Assistant to the Treasurer during my absence. He is to remain in that Department in which he has done such excellent work, and which, more than any other, calls for the closest attention of the Government.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether, in view of certain large and unexpected expenditure incurred this year, but not included in the Estimates, and having regard also to other new proposed expenditures, not provided for, he will submit additional Estimates for the present financial year.
– I shall have either to bring down additional Estimates or to ask for a substantial increase to the
Treasurer’s Advance Account. I hope such action will be taken very shortly. I shall then avail myself of the opportunity to make a full explanation of the present state of the finances of the country.
Lack of Material
– In view of the thousands of applications for telephone connexions that are being made from all parts of Australia, and the invariable reply of the Department that there is a great shortage of cables, I desire to ask the Postmaster-General what prospect there is of immediate relief being granted to those who are so anxious to obtain these business and other connexions.
– As I said in this House last year, we sent away, in August last, orders for material representing a total expenditure of over £1,000,000. Included in these were orders for some 626 miles of cables ; but the material has been coming to hand very slowly. We are doing all we can to expedite delivery, but with the enormous arrears existing in Americaand the Old Country, we cannot expect to obtain delivery as quickly as do those at the doors of the manufacturers.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether the Government has taken into consideration the advisableness of participating in the Wheat Pool for 1922, and, if so,what decision has been arrived at?
– I intend to make a statement to-morrow regarding some aspects of the major problems that confront this country. In that statement I shall refer to wheat, and the attitude of the Government towards the Pool, as well as to wool and finance.
– In view of an assurance given recently by the Minister for Works and Railways, on behalf of the Leader of the Government, that a Bill providing for a superannuation scheme would be introduced immediately, although he was unable to say whether it wouldbe introduced in this House or another place until after the next meeting of the Cabinet, I would ask the Prime Minister whether any decision has been come to as to the House in which the Bill shall be introduced.
– The position, as I understand it, is that a Bill was drafted, considered by the Government, and, after it had been referred to a Committee, was redrafted. It is now in the hands of the Treasurer, and as soon as myright honorable colleague has considered it it will be introduced in the Senate.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has not made an error in regard to the Public Service Superannuation Bill, inasmuch as I understand the course he proposes to take in regard to this measure is unconstitutional. All money Bills, or Bills which create expenditure, should be introduced in this House, and not in the Senate.
– As to that, every man has his moods and his days on which he is bright or dull - his days when he is a fountain of information on different subjects. This is not my day for exuding information on constitutional points, and so I must ask the honorable gentleman to console himself as best he may.
Reported Offer from Russia.
– In view of the published statement in the daily press of Australia that M. Krassin, the Russian Trade Representative in Britain, had stated, in an interview, that the Russian Government were prepared to take the whole of the lead and zinc output of Australia, and to pay cash for it, I desire to know whether the Prime Minister has taken steps to get into communication with that gentleman by cable. If he has not done so, will he, on his visit to Great Britain, get into communication with him, with the object of facilitating such a sale?
– We have not received any communication from Great Britain in regard to this matter;but I desire to say that I can appreciate the position of the base metal industry of this country. It is not for us to pick and choose as to buyers. We must sell our goods to whomsoever will buy them. I certainly shall not allow any prejudices that I may have conceived, rightly or wrongly, against the Soviet Government to interfere with any proposition that the Government of Russia may make for the purchase of our base metals or any other commodity.
Employment of Returned Soldiers
– Is it the intention of the Post and Telegraph Department to dispense with the services of all returned soldiers holding temporary positions ?
– Not that I am aware of.
Commission Paid to Agents - Winding up of Earlier Pools.
– In the interests of the wheat-growers of my electorate, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that “ the amount paid in com- mission to the selling agents of the Wheat Pools is equal to the whole profits made by the merchants before the war?”
– While I understood perfectly the first part of the honorable gentleman’s question, whenhe was seeking no inspiration from the little document he holds in his hand, I have to say that if he will hand that document to me I shall endeavour to answer the question; otherwise, I cannot. The material part of the newspaper extract which the honorable member has handed to ‘me is to the effect that the amount now drawn in commission by the selling agents is equal to the whole of the profits made by the merchants before the war. I am not in a position to make any statement whatever in regard to the matter. Ido not believe the statement is true; but I shall ascertain what the commission is, and what it amounts to in the aggregate. If, as the honorable member suggests, the selling agents are making more by wayof commission than they made before the war, that provides this Governmentand this House with an unanswerable argument for not renewing the Pool.
– In view of the fact that the Prime Minister has promised to make a statement to-morrow concerning our wheat, wool, and other primary products, I desire to ask him whether he will endeavour to ascertain what is causing the delay in the winding up of the earlier Wheat Pools? Will the right honorable gentleman state definitely to-morrow what is causing the delay, and when the Pools will be wound up?
– I quite appreciate the importance of the matter to which the honorable member directs my attention. I, of course, do not profess to be in possession of the information myself. I shall endeavour, however, to obtain it before to-morrow, and, if I do, I shall place the House in possession of it. If not, I shall ask my right honorable colleague (Sir Joseph Cook) to announce the information to the House when it comes to hand.
– When the Prime Minister isat Home, will he inquire whether the Anglo-Persian Oil Company has sent out thoroughly competent oil experts to develop the industry in Papua? Will the right honorable gentleman satisfy himself that the intention is really to produce oil within the Commonwealth territories ?
– There was an arrangement, the details of which I placed before the House, some considerable time back, made between the British Government and ourselves to each pay half the expenses of prospecting for oil in Papua. As the result of that arrangement, experts were sent to the Possession. They have been at work for a considerable time, and they have supplied, and are supplying, us with progress reports of their operations. I can assure the House that it is the opinion of this Government, and of the British Government,that we have secured the services of the best available experts in the world. If there is oil in New Guinea I feel certain that the men whose services have been placed at our disposal will find it.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister in charge of Shipbuilding, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The reply to the honorable member’s questions are: -
The factors of disqualification in the case of Italians are the same as in the case of other aliens, and include -
I may add that during the war period, and prior to the ratification of the Treaty of. Peace, men of military age were not accepted for naturalization.
Court of Appeal
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers tothehonorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– I am not yet in a position to answer these questions, but the information I have gathered so far is to the effect that Mr. Kennedy was not a delegate to the conference; he was a visitor, and made a speech on the lines indicated in the question, but it was repudiated bymembers of the conference.
– On the 21st April the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse)asked how much the Basic Wage Commission’s investigations had cost, and how long the Commission was to continue. I promised to obtain the information. I now desireto state that the Basic Wage Commission has completed its investigations. The cost to date is £21,041 4s. 7d., but accounts amounting to approximately £1,000 have yet to be paid.
Application to Arbitration Court
– On the 26th November, 1920, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) asked - 1.Is it a fact that the representative of the Government in the Arbitration Court (Mr. Skewes) has stated his intention of applying for an amendment of the proviso to clause 1 of the award of the Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association for the purpose of depriving senior fifth class officers, certified to be efficient by the Public Service Commissioner, of the benefits granted by such proviso?
It was then intimated that inquiries would be made in the matter, and I now desire to inform the honorable member -
– On the 13th April the honorablemember for Lilley (Mr. Mackay) asked the following questions : -
I am now in a position to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
Profit on Services.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Consideration resumed from 8th April (vide page 7336), on motion by Mr. Greene -
That duties of Custom and duties of Excise (vide page 726), first item, be imposed.
SirROBERT BEST (Kooyong) [3.34]. - I hope that now that the preliminary business has been disposed of we shall have an opportunity of giving continuous attention to this Tariff, Already it has been in operation for aperiod of upwards of twelve months, and that has been a very anxious time for the manufacturers, traders, commercial men and consumers by reason of the uncertainty as to the duties. May I say inthis regard that we might take a lesson from America and their hurricane methods? As soon as a revision of the Tariff was mentioned a few weeks ago, a committee representative of Congress was appointed for the purpose of a close investigation of the subject; that committee has been busily at work, and I read in recent cables that it is contemplated that Congress will be in a position to deal with the Tariff early in the month of July. So Ear as any information can be gathered in regard to the proposed new Tariff it is important to remember that, even though America has already a very high Customs Schedule, the object and intention of the revision is not to decrease the duties, but to further increase those which have been found ineffective. The last twelve months has been a very disturbing period for those engaged in trade and commerce in Australia, and particularly for the manufacturers, and these delays for that reason should not take place. The Tariff should be disposed of as soon as possible after its introduction. However,- we have had the advantage of twelve months’ experience of the working of the Tariff, and, speaking generally, I am justified in saying that I do not remember any previous Tariff which was so generally accepted by the community as has been the one we are now considering.
– I admit that on the part of a percentage of the people the new duties were accepted only with resignation ; but by the great majority of the people this Tariff is regarded as a fair and genuine effort on the part of the Government to stimulate the industrial life of Australia.
– At the expense of the primary producer.
– I shall come to that point later, and endeavour to disillusionize the honorable member. There is nothing in this Tariff which justifies his t interjection. The general community, after an experience of upwards of twelve months, has practically settled down to these duties, and they and I are hopeful that it will be ultimately confirmed substantially in its present form, except in so far as mistakes have occurred. The Government has set out particularly to recognise those industries which came into existence during the war under conditions of great difficulty, stress, and. strain. They have given special consideration to key or basic industries with a view to their further development. At the same time they have sought to extend existing industries, and to give all reasonable encouragement to the creation of new ones. Of course, the Tariff is a very inexact instrument, and there is no doubt that the utmost difficulty obtains in adjusting a Tariff to the immediate economic conditions of the. country; but I think the Government have made a reasonably successful effort to do that. I may have another opportunity at a later stage, of indicating developments which have occurred in other countries, and ideas that are held regarding: the nature of some of the duties that have been imposed. The Committee has to rely to a large extent upon information which has been officially obtained. We have been told a good deal in regard to various industries, and as to certain of them which are alleged to be favoured at the expense of others.
I hope all honorable members are conscientiously anxious to develop all industries in any way native to the country and entitled to our encouragement and consideration. Therefore, I am very disappointed at the attitude assumed by the Country party towards this Tariff. They have not, I believe, given full consideration to the operation of previous Tariffs, and it shall be. my endeavour to prove to them that the protective duties upon agricultural, implements have been of substantial benefit to the farmers, and that those who , are engaged iri the farming industry ought to be especially interested in the stabilization and expansion of the agricultural implement industry.
I wish to demonstrate that the imposition of duties on agricultural implements has never been a source of disadvantage to the farmers, but, on the contrary, has distinctly benefited them by reason of the fact that it has led to the establishment of factories in Australia for the manufacture of these implements. I can readily show that the farmers have not paid the increased duty levied from time to time on this class of machinery. Indeed, a close study of the operation of the various Tariffs from 1906 onwards will conclusively establish this contention. As a matter of fact the stimulation which was given to the manufacture of agricultural implements locally by the imposition of the 1906 Tariff resulted in a decrease in the price of these implements, which began to take effect almost from the year following the imposition of the duty.
– Agricultural implements are dearer to-day than they have ever been before.
– They are cheaper to-day in Australia than they are in Free Trade countries. No more legitimate comparison can be made than between the prices in Australia and those in New Zealand. The Minister (Mr. Greene) has conclusively proved that, although we have a duty of 25 per cent, and 30 per cent, on agricultural implements, this class of machinery is cheaper in Australia than it is in New Zealand, where in many respects no duty is imposed, and where the maximum impost upon agricultural implements is 10 per cent. A. little while ago New Zealand imposed a duty on imported agricultural implements, and under the stimulus of that protection certain establishments were started for the manufacture of this class of machinery; but subsequently a Free Trade Government removed the protection, with the result that the agricultural implement manufacturing industry gradually dwindled. The New Zealand farmer being thus placed absolutely at his mercy, the importer thereupon commenced to exploit him. I could quote a dozen instances to supplement those given by the Minister to show that agricultural implements are cheaper in Australia today than they are in New Zealand.
The Country party ought to be specially interested in the local manufacture of agricultural implements, because it affords to the farmer the surest guarantee that the price of the machinery he uses will be reasonable. A significant statement was recently made by Mr. Massey, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. He deplored the fact that, although the Dominion was practically Free Trade in regard to agricultural implements, the production of wheat was gradually diminishing, whereas in Australia it was materially increasing.
– Does the honorable . member maintain that the higher the duty is the cheaper the article will become?
– No; I am endeavouring to prove that where the market is made subject to the exploitation of importers, the farmer suffers most materially; whereas, when the importers are obliged to compete with well-established local industries the farmer gets the benefit of that competition.
– Of course, there is such a thing as exploitation by the local manufacturer !
– If that is so, it should be subject to regulation by the local Parliament; but the operations of importers cannot be regulated in the same way. I lay down definitely two propositions, the first of which is that the imposition of Customs duties, so far as they have ^established local agricultural implement industries, have materially benefited and helped the farmer; and the second proposition I lay down is that the farmer has not, speaking generally, paid the increase in duty placed upon his machinery. No increase of price followed the imposition of the 1906 Tariff. On the contrary, as a result of the operation of the -duties, then imposed, there was a gradual reduction in the price of agricultural implements. I have never concealed my view that high Protection is necessary, as regards many of our industries, yet when I stood for the Senate the vote of the farming community went overwhelmingly in my favour. Of course, I speak only for Victoria; but I say of this State that I have never known the farmers to be Free Traders. On the contrary, they realize that their interest is in the encouragement of the secondary industries, by which they substantially benefit.
– Each Tariff is higher than the last. When is the increase of duties going to stop.’’
– I should say that it ought not to stop, until we -have evened up our conditions here, and our local industry is strong enough to fight the world on even terms. A legitimate competition between the importer and the local manufacturer would then take place. The honorable member who has just interjected represents Mildura. That settlement is a product of- Protection. No duties were too high for the settlers there, and by reason of the encouragement it has received it is one of the most flourishing settlements in the Commonwealth, and a credit to Australia.
The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse.) stated that these duties are calculated to kill the farming industry. I have now dealt with that statement. But he surprised me by describing the Tariff as prohibitive. To show that it is not so,. I have only to mention that, according to official figures, the total importation of merchandise into Australia for the eleven months ending 28th February, 1920, was valued at, roughly, £77,700,000, whereas that for the year ended 28th February, 1921, it was valued at £152,500,000. As this Tariff has been in operation slightly over twelve months, it will be seen that it is so little prohibitive that the importations under it have been nearly twice what they were in the preceding year under the last Tariff.
I wish to point out that the imposition of import duties is only one way of encouraging industries,- and “ that there are other methods of encouraging them. For instance, last year the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse)- introduced the Westralian Farmers’ Agreement Bill, which was passed into law as “ An Act to approve the agreement made between His Majesty’s Government of the Commonwealth of Australia and Basil Lathrop Murray, of Perth, in the State of Western Australia, Managing Director of the Westralian Farmers’ Limited,and for other purposes.” That Act legalizes the advance of a sum not exceeding £500,000 by the Commonwealth of Australia to encourage the farming industry of Western Australia. Another means of encouraging industries is the granting of a subsidy; yet another, the making of concessions. We are all, I take it, interested in the encouragement of our local industries, and in their progress and prosperity. I urge, therefore, that we dare not take a limited view of this matter. We must regard our industries as a whole, and, whether by subsidy, bonuses, loans or the imposition of Customs duties, we must help them wherever the opportunity offers. Some little time ago I read an excellent little book; by ai well-known political economist, Mr. Ian D. Colvin, which was entitled Take Cover. Its argument was that the Mother Country had been so neglectful of its own interests in various directions that the more astute German had taken advantage of, and profited by, this neglect. The book contains many striking sentences, and the writer, I think, legitimately describes the position when he says -
There seems to be this difference between the Free Trade and the Protectionist Government: The Protectionist Government exploits the other nation; the Free Trade Government betrays -its own.
Free Trade arguments are somewhat novel, and perhaps out of date and of place in Parliament now, and they have not been justified by our experience; and I would remind my honorable friends that the adoption of Free Trade by the Mother Country resulted in the ruin of her agriculture and the throwing out of cultivation of some millions of acres. It would be futile, at this time of day, for any one to suggest that Protection is not the acknowledged national policy of Australia. It has been so proclaimed at many general elections, and- there could be no more significant evidence of the fact than the introduction of the present Tariff by a Government which numbers among its members the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the Treasurer (Sir Joseph . Cook), the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen), .and the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr. Poynton), who, with the late Sir George Reid; were the. great champions of Free Trade in the early days of this Parliament. But they all came to acknowledge that the people of Australia, benefited by the object lesson and the experience of nearly every nation, had made Protection the national policy of the country. America introduced Protection to establish the manufacture of iron and steel and other great industries. At the time, her industries were in danger of being, swamped by the importations from the Mother Country. As a result of the adoption of Protection by the United States of America, the iron and steel industry has been developed there to a colossal extent, and a vast number of other industries have been established; and whereas iron and. steel were at one time very dear, of late years, because of competition between the manufacturers of America, Great Britain, and Germany, they ha~ve been obtainable at comparatively low prices. The vast expansion of industry and trade which took place in America as the result of the adoption of Protection by that country was followed’ by a similar expansion of industry and trade in Germany under the same policy. ‘ Neither country has ever attempted to go back on that policy, but, on the contrary, both have not ‘ hesitated to give it fuller application.’ The diversion of trade and industry brought about by Protection in every country has resulted in the increase of population, and the creation of home markets which have benefited the fanners as well as’ the workers in secondary industries. It cannot fairly be suggested by my honorable friends- of the Country party that , the home market is not of very great advantage to the primary producers, nor that an increase of population is not also of the greatest moment to them. An increase of population means an increase in primary production.
None of us is justified in attempting to exalt any particular industry at the expense of another. I will go’ further, and say that’ the history of the world teaches us that no nation can advance without the fullest inter-relationship between its primary and secondary industries. The two need to go hand in hand. The field and the factory must be brought together. That is what we have successfully achieved in Australia, and we are seeking to-day to continue the same policy. I have never attempted to exalt a secondary industry at the expense of a primary industry, and an examination of the operation and experience of previous Tariffs will show that, as in this case, their outstanding objective has been to bring about the harmonious working together of our primary and secondary industries. In that way only can we have a guarantee of progress. Once we have full and harmonious co-operation on the part of our primary and secondary industries, the progress of Australia will make rapid strides.
– Does not the honorable member think that a Tariff schedule such as that we are now discussing should be approved by a Committee or Board, as is the practice in the. United States of America, before it is submitted to Parliament ?
– The honorable member will recollect that when the Minister for Trade and Customs was introducing this Tariff I asked whether he intended to provide for the creation of a Board to deal with it. My views in that regard are in complete accord with those of my honorable friend. There should be a Board of experts charged with the duty of watching the operation of every item in the Tariff, as well as the movements of trade machinery abroad. After a close consideration of our imports and our local production, that Board should be required to report to the Parliament the result of its investigations and experience. Parliament would then be able to act with greater knowledge, and thus to do greater justice to both primary and secondary industries. I have . always strongly advocated the creation of such a Board, and I hope we shall have from the Minister an assurance that something in that direction will be done. Honorable members are undoubtedly at a great disadvantage in dealing with a Tariff unless they have the benefit of expert advice. It is true that an investigation was made by the Inter-State Commission
– Whose reports were completely ignored in the preparation of this Tariff.
– They were ignored because conditions in the meantime had been revolutionized. What obtained in 1914, or thereabouts, when the investigations of the Commission were made, does not obtain now, so that the InterState Commission’s recommendations, as submitted at that time, would not be of any great value to us to-day.
A self-contained Australia is a legitimate aspiration. Australia may well look to its own preservation. Selfpreservation is the first law of individuals as well as of nations, and the war drew our attention more and more to the necessity of industrial independence. The idea of a self-contained Australia is one which we can only hope to work up to, but.it is a very legitimate one, and our legislation for the encouragement of industry should undoubtedly be in that direction. Every nation recognises that its -internal trade is the most valuable that it has, and .by the recognised process to which I have referred - by the imposition of duties for the establishment of industries - :we can materially and substantially increase our internal trade. Primary and secondary industries are alike entitled to the home market, which, particularly in regard, to the secondary industries, is of the very greatest value. I would remind the Committee of an apt and cogent statement made on this subject by President Lincoln -
If you purchase from .the foreigner you get the goods but the foreigner gets the work, the wages and the profits. But if you purchase at home you. got the goods and also the work, the wages and the profits.
– Does not that, apply to wheat ?
– It undoubtedly does, so far as our local consumption is concerned, and the farmer has received th© .most material encouragement, help, and protection that the Government could extend to his industry. The wheat production of Australia, after the local consumption had been provided for, would have been absolutely valueless to us during the war but for the interposition of the Government to secure the necessary freightage.
– Then the wheat industry does need .protection ?
– Yes, and that is the character of the protection it has received at the hands of the Government. The Government relieved the farmer - and also, I admit, Australia - from bankruptcy, by their interposition when they secured the requisite freights for the removal of our grain to other countries. Without such action on the part of. the Government every farmer would have become bankrupt. The Government went even further on behalf of the farmer, they sold to the Mother Country some £300,000,000 worth of primary products which would otherwise have been valueless.
– It would have been a bad lookout for the Mother Country if those primary products had not been available for her to buy.
– She was the only cash purchaser, and she paid her money for produce of which she could not obtain delivery for two years. In the circumstances, therefore, the honorable member’s remark is ungenerous. The Mother Country undoubtedly endeavoured to utilize the primary products which she purchased from us, but by reason of the shortage of shipping could turn to account only a limited portion of them. The outstanding fact is that as the result of the action taken by the Government to encourage and protect our farmers bv taking possession of their products and subsequently selling them-
– Without such action where would Australia’s credit have been ?
– I admit that it was a national movement on the part of the Government, and it met with our unanimous approval. The only point I am endeavouring to make is that the Government have never failed to recognise the claims of the farming community, and to take action for their encouragement and stability. I would also point out that Australia is especially interested in the development of secondary industries by reason of the fact that she is a producer of enormous quantities of raw material. The wool, wheat, metal, and other kindred industries are basic and key industries of the greatest value and moment to Australia, and there is ample room for their practically unlimited development. The wool industry, no doubt, is suffering seriously, but only temporarily, and needs the assistance and encouragement of the Government; there is ample room for action on the part of the Government towards its fuller development. Our production normally is something like 700,000,,000 lbs. of wool per annum; whereas our home consumption of wool is only some 10 per cent, or 12 per cent. An ideal which we may reasonably work up’ to is that, instead of so much of our wool being exported in a greasy state, it should be worked up here. Even if it were only converted into wool tops, employment would thus be found for a vast number in many industries. I am. not so idealistic, however, as to think that this can be done in three, four, or five years.
– How did the woollen manufacturers of Australia treat the community when it was impossible to obtain supplies from abroad? They exploited the. public for all they were worth.
– Our woollen manufacturers manufactured at a price which, was fixed by the Government.
– And that price gave them profits which returned to them the whole of their capital within three years.
– They may have had a good time, but they were working under strict Government regulation. The Government fixed the price.
– They made a profit of 95 per cent.
– They had a glorious time under this “ strict Government supervision” of which the” honorable member speaks.
– The fact remains that they worked under the supervision and control of the Government. The Government fixed the price, and said to the woollen manufacturers, “We will take all the cloth you can manufacture at that price.” The manufacturers at once set to work as far as possible to increase their plants and kept them running twenty-four hours a day in order to- meet the demand that was made upon them. If those operations resulted in profits, then the woollen manufacturers were entitled to them. Do not let us asperse them unfairly. I repeat that what they did was done under Government control. They were working under disadvantageous ‘ conditions, at a time of great stress and strain. The farmers should be® the last to cast reproaches; for they themselves were equally benefited by war conditions, and were recipients of higher prices than they had ever obtained before, all by reason of actionon the part of the Government, so that the remark made by the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) does not come well from him. I repeat that the producers of wool, wheat, and other primary products obtained higher prices than they had ever secured before during the same period. It is not reasonable for my honorable friends to heatedly attack the secondary industries because they happened to benefit under war, conditions by manufacturing, at the request of the Government, at prices fixed by the Government. In the same little book to which I have referred, there is another striking sentence -
The woollen industry was recognised as the foundation of English power.
Later on, the writer says -
England was weak when she produced only wool. She grew stronger when she produced cloth. She added still further to her strength when she was able to build ships, and found cannon and forged swords, and then alone was she able to secure her independence.
Then, in yesterday’s Age there appeared an excellent article onthe subject of Australia’s lost wealth. This article dealt with the woollen industry, and what its development means, and summarizes the position as follows:-
Perhaps a more definite idea of what the conversion of Australia’s wool clip into textiles would mean will be conveyed by the accompanying table: -
– What has that to do with Protection?
– Everything. I am dealing with the necessity of as far as possible multiplying our woollen mills, and vigorously developing the woollen industry.
– Why do we require Protection ?
– For the reasons I have already explained - that it is going to be Australia’s strength. As I pointed out, there is a vast opportunity open to us. I have here a most significant return, which will be of interest to honorable members. It is an official return which I received only yesterday from the Commonwealth Statistician, and it contains the following: -
A comparison of the imports of apparel and of woollen piece goods duringthe eleven months ended 28th February of the years 1920) and 1921:-
I previously dealt with the last line, viz., total- all merchandise. Remember, all these importations are under the operation of thenew Tariff.
– Why should Australia not manufacture these goods?
– I agree that she should do so; but Australia requires the protection the Tariff is affording; that is the very object of the Tariff, and there is a vast field for the expansion of our industries. It is within our power to capture a’ large part of this trade, and the Tariff is formulated with that particular object. I am dealing only very shortly with these matters; but, apart altogether from what I have said, we must remember the associated trades of wool scouring, fellmongering, tanning, and soap, glue, and candle manufacturing, and the corresponding expansion which would follow. We should give the metal industries substantial encouragement. During the war efforts were made towards the establishment of those industries, and vast sums of money have been expended to that end. Apart from being able to produce various alloyed steels, we are able to manufacture steel rails, steel plates, boiler plates, sheet metal generally, and steel castings.
– We cannot buy steel rails at Newcastle now.
– ‘Hitherto we have been unable to purchase in Australia the particular articles T have referred to, and have been entirely dependent on imports from abroad.
There is one point I desire to emphasize, and it is in connexion with dumping. The Minister for Trade and Customs has stated his intention . to introduce some legislation in this connexion, and it is a precaution that has been taken in other Protectionist countries as absolutely essential. Dumping, in these times, is scientifically organized, and the object of the dumper is to preserve his home price. The home market is that which is most valued by the manufacturer, and, as there is bound to be a surplus, the manufacturer, in order to maintain the home price, . can afford to dump abroad, and, perhaps, ultimately secure the foreign market by the extinction of foreign industries. Our industries here cannot, stand up against dumping, and it is essential that the amplest provision should be made in this connexion. In Germany, matters are so organized that the State joins with the great financial and manufacturing houses and corporations for the purpose of granting subsidies or concessions of various kinds, and gives other financial assistance. In this way, the German manufacturers’ get their prices in the valuable home market, and then are able to sell their surplus goods abroad infinitely cheaper than they did in the home market. In the United States of America there has been passed what is known as the Webb Act, the object of which is the exploitation of foreign markets; and all the laws for the prevention of Trusts and other monopolies’ are held not to apply to corporations formed under that Act for this exploitation. The Webb Act deals with the export trade only, and expressly exempts corporations formed for the purposes of that trade; in fact, monopolies are legalized and encouraged. The object, of course, is to secure the world’s markets, and we know that, if once local industries here or elsewhere can be annihilated in this way, the American manufacturer can capture the market, and then dictate his own prices.
– Do you know that in the United States of America Protection is given to the primary industries?
– In precisely the same way as we are doing here by increasing the duties.
– By removing duties from the primary producers’ implements.
– Not at all; that is only a phase of the AmericanCanadian Constitution. Only the other . day, in the United States of America, a duty was imposed on wool.
– Would the honorable member agree to increase all the import duties on all primary products ?
– So far as the importation of primary products inter. feres with our primary production, yes. Another proposal that I welcome, and one in which I have been greatly interested, is that for British preference. I had the pleasure, when, as Leader in the Senate of the Deakin Government, of introducing and passing the necessary legislation providing for the first time for preference of the kind. In 1907-8 it was provided that the preference to Britain should be a voluntary offering so far as Australia was concerned; it was a voluntary gift to the Mother Country, with the hope, but without any stipulation, that there would ultimately be a reciprocal arrangement. The object aimed at was Intra-Imperial trade, so that our efforts should not go towards building up the wealth and strength of a possible enemy, but to building up our own Empire. I am desirous that every British Dominion should be included; and we have been told by the Minister that that is the intention of the Government. When British preference was originally introduced, I think the imports from the Mother Country represented something like £40,000,000, and the preference extended to about 61 per cent, of that amount.
– Why not make a proper job of it, and have Free Trade within the Empire?
– I do not think that Australia is sufficiently advanced for that to be done, nor do I think it desirable in our interests. But we desire to divert all the external trade of Australia in the direction of the Mother Country -that is the object of British preference. We originally provided for a 5 per cent. remission of duties amounting to something like £10,000,000, and by a Bill introduced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor) when in office, the preference was made to apply to some £32,000,000 of importations from the Mother Country, representing 79½ per cent., and the remission thereby provided for was about 6 per cent., representing, approximately, £2,000,000. That was a very substantial remission; but I do not pretend to say, nor do I think it desirable, that our industries should be sacrificed. There is, of course, greater competition between the local productions and those of the Mother Country. I congratulate the Minister for Trade and Customs on the fact that he has increased the preference substantially. Never at any time was the Mother Country entitled to greater consideration than she is now, having regard to her colossal war services for the protection of the Empire. She is burdened with £8,000,000,000 of debt, and during the war her export trade was annihilated, her factories were turned into munition works, the whole country became a vast arsenal ; and she made all those mighty sacrifices whilst America, Japan, and other countries were vastly increasing their production andwealth. Under the circumstances we are justified in awarding a substantial preference to Britain, and I welcome the fact that the Government have seen fit to do that. I feel sure that the Committee will readily recognise the claims of the Mother Country, and that the result will ultimately be, without making any condition or stipulation, the establishment of a reciprocal arrangement between the Mother Country and the Dominions, with the aim and object of developing inter-Imperial trade, and further building up the British. Empire.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Kooyong on his concluding remarks, although to my mind there was in them a little too much of Britain and not enough of Australia. Whilst I am a Protec tionist, and am prepared to support most of the duties mentioned in the schedule, I object to this Tariff on the grounds that it is designed purely for the production of revenue. It was not conceived for the purpose of building up the industries of Australia so much as for the purpose of gathering in money. That is proved by the increased revenue which the Customs Department has collected during the last twelve months. I think that the figures of Customs revenue to the end of March showed an excess of about £2,000,000 over the Minister’s estimate for the whole year.
– The Department collected £321,700,000 during the twelve months ended 31st March.
– As a means of raising revenue or imposing taxation the Tariff is the most immoral system of all. There are in this schedule many items against which I shall vote. I have no objection to the granting of a moderate preference to the Mother Country; but I think I recollect the Minister saying that, although the British Government had been approached in regard to a reciprocal preference to Australian products, up to the present time no such arrangement had been made.
– That is not quite correct. Britain does give a preference; but it does not affect many Australian items. I said, however, that that preference was an earnest of what might happen in the future.
– It should happen in the future. Any preference that we give should be reciprocated. If it is good for the Empire that Australia should give preference to the products of Great Britain, it must be equally good for Britain to give preference to the products of Australia. I notice that the preferential duty on bananas is1s. 6d., and the general duty 2s. I suppose that British Crown Colonies also get the benefit of the preferential Tariff.
– That preference was given with the idea that it might be possible to arrange a reciprocal Tariff with other parts of the Empire.
– This means that bananas grownin other parts of the Empire by black labour can be imported under a Tariff too low to give protection to bananas grown in Australia by white labour. The preference is given to the United Kingdom, and as no bananas are grown there the preferential duty on that fruit should be struck out. Amongst other items to which I object is the high duty on cotton hosiery. The quantity of this article manufactured in Australia to-day is comparatively insignificant; I do not think it is sufficient to supply the wants of the community for a week. By requiring theconsumers, most of whom are amongst the working classes, to pay a 40 per cent. duty on this article we are giving an opportunity to some manufacturer in one corner of the Commonwealth to get rich quickly. The principle is altogether wrong.
– And it applies to dozens of other articles in the schedule.
– It does apply to other articles, and I shall vote against them. We are simply allowing a couple of Australian manufacturers to follow the principle, which has invariably been adopted by the Australian manufacturers, of getting rich quickly. These duties are too high, and they play into the hands of those gentlemen. My experience is that the textile manufacturers have not used the Tariff for the purpose for which we were told it was instituted, namely, to build up industries in this country, but rather as a means of rapidly increasing their own wealth. They should be made to understand that if they continue that policy the protection will be withdrawn. Of course, I know that the duties will not be reduced, because the national exchequer is empty. The Government are not sufficiently courageous to go to the sources that should be exploited when they want revenue; instead of tapping the accumulated wealth of the nation, as they should in a time like the present, they impose what is mainly a revenue Tariff. For that reason I shall oppose many of the items on the schedule.
.- The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) spoke of the necessity for the creation of a Board to report in connexion with Tariff matters, and he referred to the system adopted in the United States of America Congress, where Committees deal with the Tariff, but we have heard no protest in regard to the manner in which this Tariff schedule has been prepared. It involves an enormous tax upon the people, and surely we are justified in asking whose conception it is. We are satisfied as to the integrity of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene), but we have reason to doubt his inexperience. The InterState Commission travelled throughout the Commonwealth and took evidence over a period of many months, but the recommendations of that body have never been taken into consideration.
– They were considered in regard to every item on which the Commission reported.
– If they were considered, at any rate, effect was not given to them.
– For very good reasons, which I shall state whenthe individual items are reached.
– If the Minister can show good reason for the proposed ad valorem duty on copper, in face of the recommendations of the Commission, he will be a very clever man indeed, particularly if he can convince us that that duty is in the interest of Australia. I ascribe that duty and others to the Minister’s inexperience.
– I think I can justfy it.
– The Minister will have a difficulty in justifying an ad valorem duty of 45 per cent. on copper when the Commissionrecommended a bonus of £3per ton. Recently the price of copper was £160 per ton, and honorable members will realize what an ad valorem duty of 45 per cent. would mean. It is time that Parliament took some action in these matters. During the 1917 election campaign the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) said -
We propose to deal with the Tariff in the same way as does almost every other civilized country in the world. It must no longer be the tool of parties. . . Its proper and reasonable adjustment should be suggested by experts who are absolutely disinterested - not by a Board of Trade composed of manufacturers and others who are interested - and with due and proper regard to all the interests concerned.
The late Lord Forrest, speaking during the same campaign, said -
The Tariff is an important and practical question, and must be dealt with on broad and national lines.
I think that in the past we have, to a large extent, been groping in the dark, having as our guides on this question very often partisans and enthusiasts. The Liberal party proposes to have a permanent Board to study continually production and trade, and to advise Parliament upon .the matter.
When complaints were made in regard to the Tariff, and when reference was made by members of the Country party to the many grave anomalies contained in it, they were immediately made the subject of all sorts of imputations, and were branded as a “ foreign “ party. In this connexion I shall call attention to a paragraph which appeared in the Age a little while ago. The Chamber of Mines of ‘ Western Australia had prepared a great deal of information in connexion with the effect the Tariff was likely to have upon the mining industry, and prior to the recent by-election campaign in the Kalgoorlie division they asked me to look after their interests in this House. 1 brought this request under the notice of my fellow members of the Country party, and they then asked me to represent their interests in the House, and specialize upon the effect the Tariff was likely to have upon the primary% producers of Australia. In these circumstances, if any representations had been made to the Country party, or to those opposed to the protective nature of. the Tariff, I would be likely to hear of them. I would certainly have had some knowledge of any funds which had been collected for the purpose of influencing members of Parliament. The article in the Age to which I have referred appeared on the 27th February. In my opinion, it emanated from the editor of the Industrial Australian and Mining Standard. It pointed out that no one would be surprised to learn of the creation of a huge Free Trade campaign fund, which would probably total ^ £150,000, and that the money would be used for the purpose of rendering nugatory the schedule of duties brought down by the Minister. The veiled insinuation was that this huge sum of money was to be used improperly. I ask the Minister (Mr. Greene) to institute an inquiry into the funds collected by any party interested in this Tariff, in order to ascertain how they have been spent. Here is one letter circulated in Sydney in connexion with the Australian Industrial Protection League, drawing attention to the necessity for funds -
It is confidently hoped that you will respond to the appeal now being made for funds, in a manner not only commensurate with the present magnitude of your business, but with that which you hope to extend it to in the near future.
On the other side of the sheet is a list of New South Wales manufacturers who have contributed large sums of money in connexion with the propaganda work of the league. I shall not read out their names, but I would be only too pleased if the inquiry I suggest were undertaken in order to ascertain how the money collected for any party, Free Trade, Country, or otherwise, has been utilized.
– I have had none of it.
– It is not likely that any of the money would go to the honorable member, or to myself, or, indeed, to any honorable member of this Parliament; but it might be utilized by blackmailers who pretend that it does reach the pockets of honorable members.
The Country party has not declared itself to be a Free Trade party. At the same time, it is hopeful that many of its requests for the free entry of goods will find support from honorable members on the other side of the chamber particularly, and if it can be proved that the protection asked for is not required for the purpose of developing an industry, but will merely serve to build up a monopoly, I very much doubt whether honorable members opposite would dare- to vote for increased duties in such circumstances.
The Industrial Australian and Mining Standard of the 14th April contains a very bitter and dirty attack on the Country ‘ party. The members of that party have always realized what the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) says, namely, that the industries of a country must be interdependent, and they are prepared to contribute towards the development of other industries ; but while they are willing that other industries should be created, they do not want to be robbed by assisting in the establishment of a monopoly. AH’ they ask for is a fair deal all round, and that they should get the same consideration as is given to any other section of the community.
– Which is the worst form of monopoly, one formed through Protection or one established through Free Trade?
– It would be a grave mistake for Australia tohave absolute Free Trade and let the people of other countries manufacture the goods we require, while not contributing 6d. towards the cost of the government of our country. It would be foolish to ask for the adoption of such a policy. In 1894, when the honorable member for Kooyong was president’ of the Protectionist Association in Victoria, he said -
The greatestinjury which has been done to the Protectionist cause in this country has been the ravings of the prohibitionists.
I remember the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) saying that there were enough people in Australia to manufacture all the machinery required in Australia.
– I said that if we were to manufacture all our own requirements, we would not have enough people here to do so, but wouldneed to get workers from other parts of the world to help us.
– The honorable member is a prohibitionist, who would put a wall of China around this country and prevent the importation of goods from any other country.
– “Australia first” is my policy all the time.
– Some people donot recognise that they are killing the goose that lays the golden egg. By error, we often destroy instead of building up.
Referring to the Country party, the Industrial Australian and Mining Standard says - and one grain of honesty would compel the party to name itself outright the Foreign Country party. . . . As . . . As if to accentuate its treason, this miscalled party has the audacity to posture as the mouthpiece of the farmers of Australia. In their opening speeches the Free Traders boldly claimed authority to speak for and on behalf ofour primary producers; and thus they insidiously maligned scores of thousands of men and women whose patriotism has no flaw. There are, of course, individual Cobdenists to be found in every country district in Australia. It is no less true, however, that the vast bulk of our farmers are sincere Protectionists. To suppose otherwise, indeed, would be to insult most outrageously and undeservedly the intelligence of our rural population. The Foreign Country party, therefore, merits universal obloquy for. its mean attempt to make it appear that it has for partners in its antiAustralianism that huge body of splendid citizens who, ever since Federation, had voted more and more strongly for Protection at every successive election,and who during the war proved their patriotism so magnificently on the battlefields of Europe. . . .
But it is too late in the day for such shallow but malignant methods to succeed.
Ours are evidently shallow and malignant efforts because we dare to question the schedule brought down to this chamber. Let me point out that this Parliament has not given detailed consideration to any Tariff since 1908. The article continues -
We dare to prophesy that the Foreign Country party will machinate in vain against the Tariff. It has already shown us that it is possessed of limitless effrontery. We are informed that it is supported by a secret organization endowed with enormous fighting funds - doubtless foreign.
I have already quoted the Age paragraph which declared that a sum of £150,000 had been collected by the Free Trade party. The Industrial Australian and Mining Standard now says -
We also hear that it will be assisted inthe campaign by professional foreign lobbyists of great experience and monumental astuteness.
In other words, we are said to be receiving money from outside organizations for the purpose of helping to build up foreign industries -
But all these combined forces will strike harmlessly on a Tariff which accurately images the honesty of purpose and common sense of the Australian people.
This article is just on the verge of being libellous,, but I protest against the grave insinuations cast upon honorable members who dare to question in the slightest degree the schedule of duties submitted by the Minister.
– I do not claim that the schedule is perfect. I merely stand for the principle which it reflects.
– I am afraid it reflects a want of principle, and for that reason I propose to fight it. In regard to the suggestions in the press that immoral and illegal methods have been adopted in order to secure Tariff reform, here is an article which appeared in the Age in regard to the duty on explosives., which I propose to fight very hard to have removed -
The union, besides arranging to make representations to Parliament, has decided to urge coal miners and other workers who are the principal users of explosives to refuse to handle any but Australian-made explosives.
The insinuation is that the union should endeavour to have all explosives other than those made in Australia declared “black” by the various miners throughout the Commonwealth. If we are to be threatened with such action, the Minister ought to take a hand in the matter. The Minister has told us that the investigations made by the Inter-State Commission had been given serious consideration in the framing of the Tariff. In this regard, I want to get to “holts” with him straightway. The Commissioners made no recommendation for the imposition of a duty on explosives. The following evidence was given before them by Mr. G. A. Evans, the manager of the Australian Explosives and Chemical Company, Deer Park : -
It might naturally occur to the Commissioners that the imposition of a duty on imported explosives might receive their considerationif asked. We recognise at once the hopelessness and the impropriety of making such a request. Apart from the Government Cordite Factory, we are the only manufacturers of nitro-glycerine and nitro-glycerine explosives generally in the Commonwealth. On the other hand, we have a languishing mining industrywhich could not stand, and would not stand, the increased prices for explosives which the imposition ofa duty would entail.
He recognised not only the hopelessness, but also the impropriety, of submitting a request for the imposition of a duty on imported explosives. The Coal Miners Union, the Australian Coal and Shale Employees Federation, the members of which provide their own explosives, and are, therefore, interested in this matter, hearing of the duty, sent the following protest against it to the Minister. Their letter is signed by the president, vicepresident, and secretary of the federation. They say -
As the miner has to purchase the explosives, it will affect him, and not the coal-owners. Consequently the miner is not disposed to bear the increase. We may state that explosives and fuse have increased in some instances since 1914 fully 120 per cent., and the wages of the miner have only increased on an average 39½ per cent. You will, therefore, understand, in the first place, why we resent any further increase on explosives. We recognise the Government’s policy to encourage and protect local industry, to which we agree, subject, of course, to the burden being shouldered by the community; but in this case the miner is asked to carry the burden. We raise no objection to testing stations being erected, or against the manufacture of explosives in this Commonwealth, but we regard it as quite improper to prevent outside competition, when we have not got suitable explosives at a reasonable price. Our coal seams in all States of the Commonwealth vary. An explosive that is suitable in one mine may not suit another in view of the nature of the seam. Another point we desire to impress is the fact that if the Tariff is accepted, it will be regarded as a prohibitive cause and obviate competition, in which the miner will be left to the explosive combine, who would have a monopoly, and, in support of our contention, we refer you to the findings of the Inter-State Commission, Tariff investigation, miscellaneous groups No. 7.
They say further -
Whilst the interests of enemy ownership may now have disappeared, the combination known as the High Explosive Trade Association remains, and it must be obvious from the evidence taken in this investigation that any Tariff encouragement which will tend to benefit and strengthen their monopoly must be accompanied by corresponding loss and injury to the Australian mining industry. The lever which has been used up to the present time in opposing the extension of British preference of 5 per cent. to South Africa is the “ black labour “ question. It would appear that only a proportion of the labour employed is coloured labour. But even so, the question is one in which the decision should be guided by the best interests of Australian industry. We want cheap explosives for the purpose of developing our mineral resources, and also desire to extend a preference to everybonâ fide industry conducted in the United Kingdom. If, however, such preference, as it appears to have been in the present case, has been utilized by means of a Combine for the purpose of unduly inflating prices to the advantage of an Australian industry, then there appears to be no justification for its continuance in its present form.
There was a Combine formed by Nobel of Hamburg, and Nobel of Glasgow, and we then started to get explosives from South Africa.
– Cannot the honorable member deal with these matters when we come to the particular item? Otherwise he will have to repeat then everything that he says now.
– I am afraid that a combination of circumstances will enable the Minister to have his own way in regard to the schedule, though I hope that he may compromise a little realizing that many of the duties are excessive, and likely to prejudice the primary producers. My object in speaking now is to inform the residents of every pastoral, farming, and mining district of what the Government are doing by this Tariff to destroy the primary industries. Honorable members know how the mining industry has suffered of late years. Mine after mine has been closed, and hundreds and thousands of persons have lost their employment. Railways which previously were worked at a profit are now being worked at a loss, and the country has suffered an enormous diminution of wealth and revenue. Therefore, we should not put an impost on any of the requirements of the mining industry unless fully satisfied that it can bear it.
– How much do the farmers pay annually for explosives ?
– The farmer is not interested in this matter to anything like the same extent as the miner, although a large quantity of explosives is used in clearing heavily-timbered country and in other agricultural operations. My desire is to do all I can for our primary industries and render reasonable assistance for our secondary industries, too. I have here samples of paper made in Western Australia of wood pulp from Australian timber, the trees used being the silky oak of Queensland, the mountain gum of New South Wales, the mountain ash of Victoria, and the karri of Western Australia. These samples are of bleached and unbleached paper, and are of first class quality. They were made in a laboratory, but they show what can be done.
– Would you put a duty on paper ?
-That depends. I would sooner see a bonus given, so that every person in the community would have to contribute his share.
– The samples referred to were made by the Bureau of Science and Industry ?
– Yes, in its Perth laboratory. The paper is 100 per cent. wood pulp. At first, only silky oak fibre could be used without the addition of other substances, varying percentages of rag pulp being used in connexion with wood pulp; but the fourteen or fifteen samples which I have here were made wholly of wood pulp.
– Do you not think that we should encourage the industry?
– Decidedly. It may become a big industry, and, I think, should be encouraged by a bonus, and by assisting those interesting themselves in it to obtain the necessary machinery. At present, however, the process is merely at the laboratory stage.
The Western Australian Chamber of Mines has pointed out that the proposed duty on explosives will increase the expenditure on the mines of Western Australia by £23,162 annually. This is what it says -
On the present price of explosives the duty to be imposed on 1st January, 1922, will tax the gold mining industry of Western Australia to the extent of £23,162 annually. This calculation is based on the tonnage treated in 1914, the last year when it may be said the industry was working under normal conditions. The imposition of this tax was strongly resented by all connected with the gold mining industry. No compensating advantage can accrue to Western Australia in any shape or form, and it is clearly understood that the object of its imposition is merely to create a breach of the Explosives Combine in Western Australia, who will operate somewhere in the Eastern States, employ a small amount of labour, principally junior and female, and find directors’ fees for a local board whose duties will be nominal. For this trifling advantage to one of the Eastern States, although the benefits to a few individuals may be considerable, the gold mining industry of Western Australia is to be taxed to the extent of over £20,000 a year.
The impost probably means, in many cases, the difference between profit and loss. I feel sure that we shall be able to show, when we come to the item itself, that the Minister was ill-advised in proposing this duty on explosives.
I have a complaint from the Chamber of Mines that while the war was in progress gelignite of a low grade was being supplied, and that when representation on the subject was made to the Imperial Government, a higher grade of explosive was sent out; but when it came to hand the Commonwealth Government refused to allow it to be used. This is what the Chamber of Mines says on the subject -
During the war the Imperial Government did everything possible to maintain the supply, and when representations were made to it to the effect that the grade supply was not economical in use, it immediately shipped the required quantity of higher grade. But this offended the Commonwealth authorities, and they actually forbade its use, and insisted on its remaining in the magazines during many months, where it naturally deteriorated, despite all appeals made to them to allow it to be used, and so increase production.
– I know nothing of the matter; but I doubt whether the Commonwealth Government had anything to do with it.
– I have a high respect for the Minister’s integrity; but gravely doubt his wisdom in adopting this schedule. He told us that he believed that it would prove satisfactory to the manufacturers of Australia. If it is not considered satisfactory by them, the only thing that would give them’ satisfaction would- be a wall like the Great Wall of China, shutting us in entirely, with an absolute prohibition against importation. Honorable members must bear in mind that imports have not only to pay the high duties imposed by this Tariff, but also freights,, insurance, and handling charges, which constitute a natural protection to local manufacturers of anything from 20 to 100 per cent.
– Does the honorable member believe that?
– I can give the Minister many instances. A circular-from the Auto Club, which was sent to honorable members to-day, mentions a case in which the Protection thus given amounts to 100 per cent. Why should such a duty be imposed? Are not motor cars and motor trucks largely used ? Are not traction engines necessary in primary industries, and do we not want to reduce as much as possible the cost of production? We certainly desire to build up industries in Australia;, but we should ‘ build them up by fair and honest means. I shall quote later on figures showing the natural protection which the manufacturers of machinery receive in addition to the protection afforded them under this - Tariff. The party of which I am a member has never asked for Free Trade; but we are justified in urging that industries in Australia shall be so built up that they may- be self-supporting and self-reliant. When the 1908 Tariff was submitted, the Protectionists were fairly well satisfied. In 19l4 a Tariff which gave to our manufacturers a much higher protection was introduced and carried, and we now have this further increase of duties proposed. Are we going in this way to make our manufacturers more self-reliant , than they have Been? I have a profound belief in the Australian workman. We know him to be assertive and self-reliant. He is usually possessed of sound judgment. He has more than the average intelligence, and all that he needs to make him the master tradesman of the world is good, sound, technical training. If we destroy competition, and lead the workers lb believe that in each and every circumstance the Government are prepared to build up a huge Tariff wall, we shall destroy that individuality and personality, as well as that trait of originality, which during the late war won for our people their claim for nationhood.
There is no doubt that if the Australian, workman is led to believe that he must rely upon his own resources - if our manufacturers and our workers are taught to realize that it is only by reason of their work, and the methods they employ in building up their industries,, that they can hope to secure success - we shall have . great industries established in Australia. But if we induce them to believe that Parliament is prepared, year after year, to build the Tariff wall higher and higher, our secondary industries will never be successful. Our party desires fair conditions for every class. Competition, however, is the very life and soul of progress, and rivalry that is subject to fair conditions must conduce to self-preservation and national efficiency. If, on the other hand, we destroy competition and honest rivalry, we shall destroy the individuality of our people, and tend to make them careless, effete, and impotent.
In the speech which he made when introducing the Tariff, the Minister for Trade, and Customs seemed to have, more concern for the interests of the manufacturer than for those of the worker. He certainly said that he regretted the refusal of .the people of the Commonwealth to grant us wider constitutional powers- He wanted them, he said, to give this Parliament greater constitutional powers so that he might bring in a more scientific Tariff, and one that would enable him, to use his own words, to give the workers in all industries their full share of the benefits of Protection. Was that a mere political sop’, or did the Minister honestly believe in what he said ? Has he any desire to bring in what he terms a more scientific Tariff, which will give .the workers in all industries their full share of the benefits of Protection 1 The honorable gentleman did not tell us whether or not he favoured the so-called New Protection. In no other way of which I can conceive could the Minister give the workers the full benefit of these duties.
– Is that .an admission on the part of the honorable member that the workers would get .the full benefits of these duties under the policy of New Protection?
– No. . I think that all restrictions of the kind make more difficult the position of the worker. In every instance where Parliament interferes in matters of this kind, the conditions of the people are madeworse instead of better. The Minister might very well tell us whether he is in favour of the New Protection. And, sincehe has spoken of a desire to give all workers the benefit of these high protective duties, will he be good enough to show us what provision is made in the Tariff to give the dairy farmer, the potato grower, the onion grower, the miner, and the general farmer their full share of the benefits?
– it is a very simple proposition, and I will try to tell the honorable member later on, if he does not know already, how that can be done.
– We have heard many statements of the kind.
– I say that the primary producer reaps more benefit from the Tariff than any other section of the community. That is why 1 believe in it.
– Our viewof the Minister’s contention is that it is absurd. The honorable gentleman says that he wants to give the full benefit of Protection to all the workers, and the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), in discussing this subject, said he wanted no cheap labour. May I ask whether, in connexion with the agricultural industry of New South Wales, either the Minister or the honorable member for West Sydney, during the last few years, did nothing to secure for the labourer in that industry something like value for the labour he put into his farm? Was any attempt made by either of them to see that the farmers in New South Wales got something like a fair return for their labour ?
– Yes, they got good prices. The Government is always spoon-feeding them.
– Let me quote a few figures. In 1916, the farmers of New South Wales put under wheat 4,188,865 acres, for which they received a return of £12,382,000, or approximately £3 per acre. In 1917, they put under wheat 3,806,604 acres, and received a return of £5,002,000, or an average of £1 6s. per acre. Did that pay them? In 1918, they put under cultivation 3,329,371acres, for which they received a return of £6,080,000, or £1 16s. per acre. In 1919, they put under wheat 2,409,669 acres, and received in return £2,934,000, or £1 4s. per acre. I invite the special attention of honorable members to these figures, in view of the assertion made this afternoon by the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) that production in Australia is increasing. In 1920, farmers in New South Wales put 1,450,540 acres under wheat and received a return of £139,000, or less than 2s. per acre. Was there any effort on the part of the Minister to see that those people received something like a fair return for their labour? I question it. The Minister, especially when framing his Tariff, failed to consider the interests of the farmers.
No Tariff schedule hitherto introduced in this Parliament has affected the worker so heavily as does that now under consideration. The Tariff of 1914 made a very big increase in the cost of all clothing to the worker; but this Tariff has made an exceptional increase in the cost of all his requirements. The Minister went out of his way to point out that increased duties were imposed on such things as soaps, potted meats, pickles, confectionery, sauces, and such like commodities. He might very well have said, when introducing the Tariff, that on everything that the worker wears, and indeed needs, he was imposing heavy duties. At a time when prices were soaring, this huge Tariff wall was made even higher ; but the honorable gentleman gave the Parliament and the country the comforting assurance that a reduction was being made in the Excise duties on brandy and whisky !
– Does not the honorable member think it better to put a duty on pickles, and so encourage the production of pickles made from Australian-grown products, than to encourage the introduction of such commodities from abroad ?
– It was simply a question of increasing the duties, and giving to those who were in these industries even greater profits than they were enjoying.
– That does not answer my question.
– I shall answer the honorable gentleman’s question by putting another to him. Will he tell the Committee why, when by the imposition of the import duties he increased the cost of all those things which the worker requires, he reduced the Excise duty on brandy and whisky? The reduction was’ not sought, nor was it expected. It was a most extraordinary and unfair action to take.
– When I reply I shall deal with that matter, and show that primary producers have far more to gain as the result of that action than have any other section of the community. The reduction was made in the interests of the vignerons of this country.
– Then I am afraid that the distillers alone will benefit by it The honorable gentleman, when giving encouragement to our manufacturers, has never made the least effort to see that that which they produce shall go to the public by the cheapest possible means. He knows perfectly well that there are many Combines in Australia. He knows that there are manufacturers here who will not sell direct to the retailer, but insist upon all their goods reaching him through the Flinders-lane warehousemen.
– The honorable member knows that we have no constitutional power to deal with that matter.
– During the war the Government had full power to deal with all such matters. In many instances they exercised a far greater power.
– And we never attempted to exercise it without opposition on your part.
– Will the Minister tell us how he dares to insist, or why he insists, on all metals going out of this country being sold through a member of the Metal Exchange?
– That is not so; the honorable member is wrong.
– The Minister must know that that has been done within the past few days. Where does the Minister get the power to do it?
– Address that question to the Attorney-General?
– I shall not; it was done through the Customs Department under the Commerce Act. I have for a long time been fighting against these embargoes. When I inquired about them at the Customs Department, I found they were in charge of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. Is it in the Attorney-General’s Department that we are to find the expert on mining who advises whether or not an embargo shall be placed on metals?
– You had a chance to alter that the other day, but you did not do so.
– Theresult would have been too awful !
– That is just the point; it is the Labour party you have a “ set “ on.
– Let us get back to the question. We ought to have been told by the Government whether this Tariff was intended to be a protectionist or a revenue Tariff.
– I think it is both.
– It is mainly a revenue Tariff, and we have as a result of Government interference the fact that mining is destroyed, and the pastoral industry will have a wretched market. I do not like to appear as a pessimist, but I do not think we are going to get good prices for our primary products for many years.
– And the honorable member wishes to send more money out of the country in order to buy overseas !
– How are we going to send our products out of this country? Will ships come specially to take it away for us ? Have farmers to produce simply for the purpose of keeping the city people of Australia fed ? How long will the farmer take all the risks of production to enable city dwellers to live in conditions superior to his own? The result can only be a cessation of production, with the consequent unemployment and destitution. The Minister appears to have been given instructions to introduce a Tariff that would bring in revenue; and, so far as I can judge, the reports of the Tariff Commission have been almost wholly ignored. This is a departmental Tariff, and undoubtedly a revenue Tariff, while at the same time, the Minister has made himself “all right” with the big manufacturers - and damn the rest!
– It isa little difficult to Understand how a Tariff can suit the manufacturers, and at the same time be a revenue Tariff,.
– It has become a revenue Tariff. I suppose the Minister was advised of the enormous orders that have been sent Home and of the large quantities of goods on the way here.
– The honorable member is getting a hit mixed, is he not ?
– I think the Minister must have been very much “mixed” when he prepared this schedule.
– It seems a little mixed when the honorable member suggests that this is a revenue Tariff, and, at the same time, a manufacturer’s Tariff.
– Not necessarily. I think it could be shown that large revenue isreceived on many textile goods that cannot be made in this country.
– Perhaps the honorable member would like the land tax in- creased?
– Is that a threat to facilitate the passing of the schedule? The Minister has tried to help the big monopolists ; and I do not call this a Protectionist Tariff in the true sense atall. The duties on iron, steel, and copper are merely placed on the schedule for the purpose of aiding one or two monopolist concerns, and the cost of everything required in general manufacture will be increased. The Government are building up the big concerns, and giving little assistance to the small ones. In the matter of soap, surely we all know the enormous profits made by the manufacturers of that commodity, not only, in the Old Country, but in Australia. However, I shall not weary the House bydealing with these matters, but will quote the following communication which appeared in the Australian Motorist: -
Some months ago motor-body builders asked for a section under the banner of the Chamber of Automotive Industries (formerly the Motor Traders’ Associationof Victoria) . Evidently the rules of the Chamber of Auto- motive Industries, which prevent price fixing, did not meet the approval of many bodybuilders, who formed an association under the banner of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (formerlythe Retail Motor Dealers’ Association). The members have how drawnup a schedule of prices to be charged for motor bodies, and the figures are interesting.The Australian Motorist is always suspicious of combinations of traders who fix prices, because, as a rule, the consumer suffers, and in this case the motor importer, as well as the consumer, runs a good chance of having a pistol placed at his head.
No information is available concerning the names of members of this new combine, but it should be fought before it can take root. There is a prohibitive duty on motor bodies, and if this combine becomes firmly established, then the car importer and consumerwillbe the nut in the jaws of the cracker.
Under this precious combination the price of a Ford body is to be £165, or £160 if six bodies are ordered at one time. Before the body embargo, the imported Ford body was invoiced at £15, so our readers can realize the “ slugging up “ process planned,now that the Government has given the Australian motor-body builder a monopoly.
Then, in the Industrial Australian, page 690, there is the following: -
Out of the fierce competition of the Chamber of Automotive Industries of Australia (formerly the Motor Traders’ Association), and the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (formerlytheRetail Motor Dealers Association), some sparks are being struck that will entertain the motor-buying public. On behalf of “ automotive industries,” it is alleged that the Automobile Chamber of Commerce has allied with the body-builders, and has encouraged the latter to combine and fix pricesat an extraordinarily high figure. The price of Ford bodies, it is alleged, has been fixed at £165, or £160 if six bodies are ordered at one time, and this is contrasted with the fact that before the embargo was placed on imported bodies the Ford body was invoiced at £15. Further revelations are awaited with interest.
It is strange that these occurrences are not watched by the Government, for they show how combines are built up. Is this to be the result of the Tariff ? Are we to impose these enormous duties merely for the purpose of creating oneor two great monopolies, and enabling certain conditions to be given to the city workers that cannot be given to workers generally throughout Australia? It is apparently outside the knowledgeof the Minister for Trade and Customs how the bindertwine industry is handled in this country and a monopoly has been created. Then, again, the position of the cigar industry has been ventilated a good deal of late in the. newspapers. In. this connexion, a deputation of cigar manufacturers waited on the Minister, who was sympathetic, and favorably considered a decrease in the Excise duties.
– I am sympathetic with everybody who comes to see me, including the honorable member himself.
– The Minister has always been fair to me; but in the case of the cigar manufacturers he showed his sympathy by his action in making the conditions better for them. It is said that all the tobacco used in the manufacture of these cigars comes from a blacklabour country;
– Not all.
– I donot think any Australian tobacco is used in the manufacture of cigars.
– Yes, quite a lot.
– Then, only smokers like the honorable member himself must smoke the cigars, for I am sure no one with a weak stomach could. However,, monopolies are being createdin the cigar trade; and my great point is that the Tariff will; to a great extent, induce people to. leave their country homes for the cities. We know the danger of this city concentration; and there is no doubt that such action as that taken in the case of the cigar industry will mean an extraordinary state of affairs. The other day I asked some questions in connexion with the cigar industry, and I should say there would have been little difficulty in supplying me with departmental figures. However, I understand that at the 30th June, 1920, there were 733,328 lbs. of cigars being made in this country, with a duty on the leaf of 2s. 6d., Excise 2s. 8d., and an actualrevenue received of £153,759. If those cigars had been imported, on a duty of 12s., the revenue collected wouldhave amounted to £439,996; in other words, a special bonus of £296,237 is given to a few people engaged here in making cigars. As a writer in the press has pointed out, we could afford to pension all those employed in the industry, and then show a better financial position. Is this the sort of industry we propose to build up, with a view to developing the country?.
– Are you in favour of having no duty on cigars and tobacco?
– I desire that there shall be a duty in order to produce revenue. I approved of the action of the Government in September, when they increased the duties on wines, spirits, and cigars. This is the time when we ought to’ raise money; and every person who can afford luxuries ought to be taxed on those luxuries. That is why I object to the Minister reducing the Excise on brandy and whisky, although he later increased both duties and Excise, leaving a margin of1s. still to the advantage of the distiller. I object to special concessions to the Tobacco Combine of Australia, which consist of a few manufacturers; who, with two imported machines, which can be worked by a few boys and girls, turn out huge quantities of cigars. I desired figures from the Minister the other day, in order to ascertain the enormous profits which these people are making out of the public of Australia. The duty on every item of children’s clothing has been increased; yet at the same time, bigger Protection is being given to the local woollen mills. I would like to see those mills increase ; but did the companies play the game during the war? Regardless of whether or not the Government were responsible for fixing prices, it was simply monstrous that an industry with a capital of a little over £1,000,000 should, in a little under three years, make profits exceeding that capital. The local manufacturers took every advantage of the market.
– So did the importer.
– But we are not subsidizing the importers by the imposition of high duties.
– What does the honorable member propose in regard to motor bodies ?
– I would be prepared to place a reasonable duty upon them. But is £165 a fair price to-day for a motor body which, before the embargo onimports, was selling at£15 in America?
– We should be able to make all of the bodies we require.
– Yes ; and in Adelaide there is a magnificent factory operating on a large scale. The manager told me that he was exporting motor bodies to Singapore, and I believe that when this establishment gets properly going, it will be able to supply a good deal of Australia’s requirements. But if there is truth in the statement that has been made in regard to the existence of a combine amongst the manufacturers and those who sell motor cars to fix huge prices so that bigger commissions and profits may be made, we must put our foot down so that the people may get a fair deal.We know perfectly well that 70 per cent. or 80per cent. of the motor cars imported into Australia are intended for the development of the country. We need to extend motor transport; and a large proportion of the work on the farms ought to be done by motor power.
– We ought to be able to make motor bodies in competition with the world.
– We should be able to do so. If I were once satisfied that there existed a combination on the. part of manufacturers to regulate the price of their products, I would remove the duty at once. When these people pat their heads together to make huge profits with the aid of the Protection which Parliament gives them in order to foster their industry, they become parasites on the rest of the community, and their whole business is immoral. I would make it a criminal offence for manufacturers or salesmen in combination to fix the selling price of their articles.
– What about wheat ?
– I say the same of the producers of wheat. But the farmers have never asked for a combine of that sort. These “ gentlemanly agreements “ by which the selling price of an article is fixed should be made a criminal offence. Moreover, there is not an item in the Tariff that should continue to receive protection for a single day if the manufacturers will not agree to sell their goods direct to the retailers. We know what happens in the boot trade, for instance. A pair of boots is produced at the factory for, say, 14s. or 15s. They are then sent into Flinders-lane, and from the warehouse they are sold to the retailer at an advance. There are about 50 per cent. too many boot shops in Melbourne and Sydney, and they have to make a profit of about 50 per cent. in order to keep going. The consequence is that a pair of boots manufactured for 15s. is retailed at 30s. or 32s.
– The honorable member’s objection applies equally to all imported goods. We cannot discriminate. The same conditions are found to an even greater extent amongst the importers.
-When I was in business in Victoria, about thirty years ago, I was able to indent goods direct from England. The agents of English houses used to call upon me and other business men throughout the country, and we could indent our requirements direct from the manufacturer.
– A great many of the manufacturers whose goods are imported into Australia will not sell except to their duly-appointed agents.
– There are other firms that are only too glad to selldirect to the retailer.
– A great many of the Australian manufacturers will sell directly to the retailers.
– Very few of them.
– I know quite a number of them who do that.
– Before I was interrupted I was speaking about the woollen industry. I have received from the Sydney Chamber of Commerce a letter in reference to blankets. The Minister was asked to make a special reduction in the duty on blankets in order to enable cheap blankets to be imported for the coming winter. He was reminded of the enormous increase in the price of blankets in Australia.
– The people who made that request knew perfectly well that it was not within my power to grant it. It was simply part of a campaign.
– I cannot understand the Minister saying that it was not within his power to grant the request, because if there is one thing against which we might reasonably protest it is the power that has been assumed by the Minister. I have been pointing out how the Tariff has increased the cost of living and clothing. Even the price of kiddies’ foods has been increased. In 1914 a duty was imposed on Glaxo. In 1917 the Minister decidedthat Horlick’s Malted Milk should no longer he allowed to enter free as an infant’s food, although the Tariff distinctly and clearly states that infants’ foods shall be admitted free of duty.
– Is the honorable member quite sure of that? Item 55 refers to “Infants’ and invalids’ foods as prescribed by departmental by-laws.” That means that until I, by Ministerial act, include a particular article amongst the infants’ foods, it does not become an infants’food, and is dutiable.
– Horlick’s malted milk has been imported to Australia for many years, and hitherto had always been admitted as an infants’ food.
– But the same power that put it amongst the infants’ foods can take it out.
– Are we to understand from the Minister that Horlick’s malted milk is no longer an infants’ food ?
– It is not so described by departmental by-laws. Parliament has deliberatelyput that power into the hands of the Minister.
– Apparently the Minister considers that this article, which is undoubtedly an infants’ and invalids’ food, should be dutiable in future.
– This particular action was taken in the interests of the dairying industry.
-Not in the interests of the children?
– Messrs.Fink, Best, and Miller, the lawyers for Horlick’s, state, in a letter -
The Minister and Comptroller have sought to justify the departmental action, but we were ultimately able to convince them that Horlick’s was primarily and commercially an infants’ food.
Apparently the Minister was quite satisfied upon that point at that time;but when pressure was brought to bear upon him, and it was found by the Department that Horlick’s malted milk was used by some of the tea-rooms and shops, it was removed from the free list. The agents were advised by a representative, who made inquiries for them -
I am informed by the Department that the refusal to place Horlick’s malted milk on the free list is not’ caused on account of their being dissatisfied with the analysis made, nor from the fact of its being used in shops, but owing to the fact that Horlick’s has been found to be exactly the same as a local product, and the decision of the Minister is that any local product shall receive preference through the Tariff.
Here is an infants’ food prescribed by the medical faculty, but because the Minister is satisfied that similar foods are made in Australia the imported article is transferred to the dutiable list.
– Is the honorable member satisfied with the duty on condensed milk, which is often prescribed as a food for infants?
– We do not need that duty.
– What I desire to know is whether the members of the Country party are Protectionists?
– We are moderate Protectionists; but we are quite satisfied that the demand of some honorable members for Protection will extend until they get absolute prohibition.Nothing short of that will satisfy them. The farmers are quite prepared to pay their share of Customs duties, but what hurts me is that whilst the worker believes that the Tariff is designed for his good, I do not think the poor devil was even thought of when the schedule was prepared. The whole thing was drafted in favour of the
Broken Hill Proprietary Company, Port Kembla, Lysaght’s, Hoskins, Dunlop, and McKay. During the twelve months ended 31st March, the Customs revenue amounted to £32,074,408, representing an average of £6 3s. per head of the population. Thus a man with a wife and three children pays, during the year, Customs taxation amounting to £30 15s. But that is not all that the people pay. We must realize that the selling price includes, not only the indent price plus the duty, but also interest and profit on the capital involved. The people of Australia pay, in duties, £32,074,408. But as an importer, particularly in war time, when trade is disorganized, will ask for at least 20 per cent. upon his outlay in the payment of duties, we must add £6,414,881 to the amount which the Australian consumers are asked to pay upon imported goods, On top of this amount also must be added the retailers’ profit, which I estimate at 33 per cent. In other words, a further amount of £12,829,763 must be added to cover retailers’ profits, so that actually the consumers pay, not £33,074,408, but £51,319,052. But that is not all the price we pay for Protection. Despite what has been said by the Minister (Mr. Greene) and the honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best), every time the price of an imported article is increased the price of the article locally manufactured is correspondingly . increased.
– If we agree to drop that £32,000,000, in what way can we make good the shortage of revenue? By taxing land?
– We would need to economize; but, as I said a little while ago, it is not my duty to point to avenues in which we could increase our revenue!. I want a heavy duty on all luxuries, and I have always been a strong supporter of the proposal to impose a duty by means of a stamp or otherwise upon the person who cares to purchase expensive goods, and I can see no reason why there should not besome revenue derived from an impost on tea. The total value of goods manufactured in Australia in 1918 was £225,000,000, and I estimate that at least £150,000,000 would be the value of the goods protected by duties. And as the manufacturers’ extra charge upon the people, owing to the operation of the protective Tariff, is at least 25 per cent., the consumers are called upon to pay another £37,500,000 in the shape of local manufacturers’ extra charges.Furthermore, we all know that a portion of the locally manufactured goods passes through many hands before reaching the consumers. The product of the Denton Hat Mills and of boot factories goes into Flinderslane, and then from Flinders-lane out to the retailers. The profit on an articlepassing through so many hands in this way would amount to at least 50 per cent. I propose to allow notmore than 33 per cent.; but even that would cause the Australian consumers to pay at least another £25,000,000 in the shape of wholesale and retail profits on locally manufactured articles.. Thus I arrive at the following figures: -
Customs duties collected, £32,074,408.
Wholesale profits, £6,414,881.
Retail profits, £12,829,763;
Local manufacturers’ extra charge under Tariff, £37,500,000.
Wholesale and retail profits on local manufactures, £25,000,000.
Thus £113,500,000 is paid directly and. indirectly by a little over 5,000,000 people. We are, no doubt, buildingup many important industries in this country, but we are being specially taxed, by the imposition of duties, for the purpose of building up some wretched little industries to turn out articles for which the demand is so slight that it cannot possibly pay to make them here except at extortionate prices.
Our Tariff hits theconsumers very hard. In Canada, in 1919, the Customs and Excise revenue was £4 9s. per head. Here we pay £63s. per head. In New Zealand, in the years 1917-18, the Customs and Excise revenue was £3 12s. per head. In the United States, in 1919, the revenue from this source was £11s. 6d. per head. The Minister in his speech made frequent reference to the operation of the United States Tariff. It might be well for him to learn that agricultural machinery is allowed into the United States of America free of duty.
– That is because they had already built up their industries by good Protection.
– But the manufacturers of agricultural implements in the United States of America have far more competition from Canada than have the manufacturers of other parts of the world.
– Would the honorable member be willing to accept the United States Tariff?
- Mr. Knibbs, on page 616 of the 1919Year-Book mentions the proportion of free goods to the total importations of Australia as compared with other countries. He shows that in 1919 the percentage of free goods imported into Australia was 38.30. The list of free goods has since been considerably reduced by the Tariff now before us. The percentage of free goods imported into Canada in the same year was 42.45 ; into New Zealand, 54.57 ; and into the United States of America, 73.91. Thus, although the United States of America have a Protective Tariff a far greater proportion of goods is admitted free to that country than is admitted here.
– Because the United States of America have built up large industries on Protection.
– But I have pointed out that agricultural machinery is admitted free. The American Government has realized more than has any other Government the necessity of building up agriculture. When the war started they voted £7,000,000 annually for the purpose of building roads, not only to increase settlement, but also to decrease the cost of living. They are spending enormous sums of money in establishing agricultural universities, and quite recently, in view of the decline in production, they have imposed import duties on agricultural and other primary products in order to give greater assistance to the man on the land,
If we told the workers of Australia that we were proposing to put a direct taxation on them of £6 3s. per head of the population we would have a revolution. We can tax. the worker’s food, clothes, and boots, and there is no complaint in any shape or form, because Protection is his fetish. He simply goes blindly along cursing the profiteer and the high cost of living, and with the most sublime faith awaits the Minister’s promise to bring in a more scientific Tariff, which will produce the happy millennium of short hours, high wages, and cheap living.
– If he did not pay that £6 3s. he would lose it in the shape o£ wages.
– Prior to Federation the people of Victoria preached the policy of Protection, and adopted a high protective Tariff, whereas the people of New South Wales adopted a Free Trade policy. Which colony made the tetter progress? Our statistics show that there never was graver destitution in Australia than occurred in Victoria about the year 1892, and for many years afterwards.
– Did the Protection policy cause it?
– To a great extent it did.
– No; financial chicanery was the cause.
– Honorable members know of the destitution and awful conditions that prevailed in America for many years after the_ McKinley Tariff came into force, and they also know that the result of that Tariff was the building up of huge monopolies, which I am satisfied the schedule now before us will also tend to create here.
The Minister referred to the necessity for developing this great country. -He spoke of our undeveloped resources, and said that we had not one-quarter developed our primary industries. I agree with him, and in dealing with this Tariff I consider that our first consideration should be the building up of our primary industries. We have 3,000,000 square miles of territory peopled by just over 5,000,000 persons. The United States of America has 111,000,000 people in an area which is not so large as Australia. Our continent is fourteen times greater than Germany, which has a population of 68,000,000. We have twenty-seven times the area of Italy, which has a population of 36,000,000. Australia has an area equal to two-fifths of the whole area of South America, yet there are 59,000,000 people in South America. It should be the ambition of every honorable member to try to build up industries here, which our population can support. Particularly every effort should be made to build up primary production.
– The first thing you ought to do is to give decent working conditions to the workers of this country.
– The honorable member forgets that the primary producer has to comply with the world’s conditions. We certainly have better conditions than apply in other parts of the world, but our farmer, or pastoralist, has to sell his wheat or wool in the markets of the world. The price he gets is what he can get in the Old Country.
– Let us turn our wheat into flour here and manufacture our own wool.
– But others may not buy our flour. They will only buy our wheat. If they cannot get wheat from us they will buy it elsewhere. Which is the more progressive policy to adopt : that which will still further increase the drift of population from the country to the cities, or that which will give full and generous encouragement to the man on the land ? In Sydney there is now congregated about one-half of the population of New South Wales, as in Melbourne we have half the population *>f Victoria. The production of our city populations bears no comparison with that of the country. Which, then, is the better policy, to give a subsidy paid for by the sweat of the worker and the producer to big octopus corporations, or to encourage immigration, fill up the empty spaces to which the Minister refers so glibly, and double or treble our production; to promote the interests of fawning, greedy monopolists who may respond faithfully to the party’s call for funds, or ‘to build up a nation of hardy, resolute, and selfreliant people, whose industry and toil would bring back to us our old financial prosperity, and enable us to meet our war obligations ?
– What is the difference between a manufacturing monopolist and a grazing monopolist? <
– The graziers of- the country have to compete in the markets, of the world. To-day, the Sydney Trades Hall is cabling to the Old Country to urge men not to come here, while the honorable member and others are saying that our artisans would do better by go-‘ ing to Russia. That seems to suggest something wrong. This is a wonderful country, possessing marvellous powers of recuperation, so that ‘after a drought or a set-back of some other kind it quickly recovers, its prosperity; Our only sane policy is to encourage our primary producers.
– They cannot sell the primary products of Broken Hill. Is that the fault of the men there?
– At Broken Hill two rival organizations, which had no quarrel with the employers, had a dispute, which has resulted in the crippling of industry, and has brought about starvation at Broken Hill. Those responsible can well be described as the starvers of little children and the beaters of wives. As every honorable member must recognise, there has been during the past few years a migration from the country to the cities, and this has been largely the result of artificial conditions. Mr. Carmichael, at one time a member of the New South Wales Parliament, has recently called attention to the fact that since 1910 the rural population of New South Wales has decreased by about 15,000, while the population of the metropolis has increased by about 170,000, and that in the same period the number of sheep carried has dropped from 45,000,000 to 38,000,000.
Then Mr.Frazer, the Chief Railway Commissioner of the State, pointed out about twelve months ago that, although the mileage of its railways had been largely increased, there had been no corresponding increase in goods traffic to the ports. I have taken the trouble to consult the Commonwealth Year-Book on the subject, and find that, whereas in 1914 12,901,000 tons of merchandise was carried on the railways, the quantity socarried decreased, in 1915, to 11,666,000 tons; in 1916, to 11,600,000; in 1917, to 11,400,000; and in 1918, to 11,000,000; while in 1919, with an increase of 700 miles of railway, it was only 12,469,000 tons. The area under wheat inNew South Wales was 3,200,000 acres in 1914, 4,188,000 acres in 1916, 3,329,000 acres in 1918, 2,409,000 acres in 1919, and 1,450,000 acres in 1920. Last year, because of the guaranteeand the special effort made by the Government, there was a big increase.
– Those figures are very largely seasonal.
-Soldier settlement has had a great deal to do with the increase.
– Ithas had something to do with it.
– In 1916, the area under crop in Australia was 18,528,000 acres, and in 1919, when we might have been expecting to get back to normal conditions, it was only 13,332,000.
– The year before was so dry that the land could not be fallowed.
– The figures relating to the Federal Capital Territory are not an advertisement for Government control, the area under crop there decreasing from 4,870 acres in 1914-15 to 1,779 acres in 1918-19.
– I thought that your party favoured a Government-controlled Wheat Pool?
– Not in any shape or form. We are asking ourselves whether the Tariff will help the farmer, the pastoralist, and the miner, and whether it will increase production. The honorable member for Kooyong (Sir Robert Best) referred to a speech in which the Prime Minister of New Zealand stated that the cost of agricultural implements was now so high that farmers could not afford to buy machinery. If that be so, is this the time to make the cost of reapers and binders and other requirements of the farmer still higher by increasing the Customs duties?
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– I have pointed out that one of the effects of this Tariff must be to accentuate the present drift of population from the country districts to our cities, and so to create an industrial, political, and social menace. There has been a huge increase of the population of Sydney and Melbourne as against a decrease in the agricultural districts of New South Wales and Victoria. In a memorandum that I received from Mr. Knibbs, the Government Statistician, some five or six months ago, the following paragraph occurred -
But from recent indications it appears probable that the proportion has increased since the last census, and that not less than 50 per cent. of the present population of Australia is urban in its character.
I feel satisfied that when the figures of the census taken at the beginning of this month are available, it will be found that considerably more than 50 per cent. of the population of Australia is urban in character. Our progress and future development depend wholly on primary production, and any cause or action likely to stifle or retard that development will bring upon this country ruin, destitution, and chaos. Tomy mind, this Tariff, as submitted to us, will have a most serious effect on primary production.
I repeat that the Country party is not asking for Free Trade. We have always looked with pleasure to the creation of a home market, and we arequite prepared to pay our share of the cost. We recognise that many of those who have been brought up in the country prefer to go into trades and similar callings in our cities, and we are prepared, under fair conditions, to give the fullest assistance to the building up and development of secondary industries. No complaint was made by the primary producers with regard to the Tariff of 1908, which produced from £9,500,000 to £10,000,000 of revenue per annum, and was pronounced to be sound Protection by stronger Protectionists than we have in this Parliament to-day. All the old Protectionists of Australia were here at the time and they had demanded a protective policy for this country. That Tariff, however, was denounced by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), the present Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), and other occupants of the Treasury bench to-day.
– But they haveseen the light since then.
– On the contrary, they are entering into utter darkness. No man who’ is alive to the facts can fail to realize that a Tariff which is causing a drift of population to our cities must be dangerous to the country.
– The same thing has happened in Free Trade countries.
– I am not advocating Free Trade. That being so, why does the honorable member make such an absurd interjection? The Tariff of 1908 was approved by the Protectionists. In 1914 there was introduced another Tariff which gave us still greater protection, and increased the Customs revenue to the extent of from £12,000,000 to £15,000,000 per annum. Again we were told that the Protectionists were satisfied, but in 1920 yet another Tariff, that now before us, was introduced, and in it still further demands are made in the interests of the manufacturers.
– The honorable member knows that it is the fault of our. economic system.
– And the honorable member knows that it is impossible to satisfy the manufacturers. They lead the workers to believe that an increased Tariff means increased wages and better conditions, but they overlook the danger of such a Tariff to the country. We are prepared to give a reasonable bonus for the encouragement of our secondary industries. The primary producers desire that our manufacturers shall be just as self-contained, so to speak, as they are. But what proportion of the revenue derived from the Tariff is paid by the manufacturer or the professional man? I venture to say - notone sixpence. The burden falls on the shoulders of the working man and the primary producer.
Machinery is essential to every industry, and new inventions should be encouraged. But how can we hope to have new inventions brought into the country under such a Tariff as this? There might be a new labour -saving machinewhich would lead to increased production-
– New machines are invented in this country.
– There may be some, but the bulk of the machines employed in our big factoriescome from all parts of the world. Surely if we areto build up in Australia, not only secondary, but primary industries, we should take advantage of the brains of the world. We find, however, that heavy duties are imposed upon all the requirements of the agricultural and mining industries. The machinery used in those industries is but short lived. The reaper and binder and the plough of the farmer, the mining battery of the miner, have a life of from five to eight years, whereas the machinery used by the average manufacturer has, in most cases, a life of fifty years. Under this Tariff, the Minister is assuming that he has the absolute right to reduce the duty on machinery or any other goods whensoever he pleases to do so, and he has used this power most inequitably. That is a preposterous claim.
– He claims that under certain conditions he may do so.
– I am going to show that the Minister, in removing certain duties, has acted most unjustly to some industries compared with the treatment extended to others. Item 175 in the Tariff Schedule of 1914 has been omitted from the present schedule. It provided that -
Any dutiable machinery or machine tools or any part thereof specified in any proclamation issued by the Governor-General in pursuance of a joint address passed on the motion of Ministers by both Houses of the Parliament, stating that such machinery, machine tool, or, part cannot be reasonably manufactured within the Commonwealth, and that it should be admitted free, shall be free. That provision was a recognition of the fact that the Parliament, and not the Minister, should have control of all such matters. It has been omitted from this schedule, and the Minister claims that he has the power to remove the duties on any machinery or other articles now dutiable under the Tariff.
– It is only right to say that I do not make that claim.
– I shall quote the honorable gentleman. Before doing so, I would stress the point that there should be the strongest possible protest from honorable members generally with regard to the delay in dealing with this Tariff. The Tariff of 1914 was passed without any discussion whatever. I admit that it was allowed to go through in that way because, at the time, we wereat war.
– It was a picaninny Tariff.
– It was not; it provided for a big increase of duties. It was introduced by a Labour Minister of Trade and Customs (Mr. Tudor), who realized his obligations honestly and fairly, and brought it in as a protective, policy which he believed would aid in the building up of our secondary industries. I have not looked up the speech which the honorable member made in introducing it, but I believe he told us that it was designed to protect the industries of the Commonwealth. I want this Parliament to reassert its position. We have hadtoo much of the practice of making importantappointments and spending public money without the authority of this Parliament, and in absolute disregard of constitutional methods. We should insist that in regard, not only to the Tariff, but other matters, the Parliament shall be supreme. I have spoken again and again in this House of embargoes placed by the Minister on the importation of certain goods and the power of the Minister in that way, to destroy the business of any outside man. God knows what would happen if such a power were in the hands of a dishonest Minister. I have absolute confidence in the integrity of the present Minister for Trade and Customs, but, because of information I have received since the introduction of the Tariff, I have not the same confidence in his judgment. Parliament has no right to give to any Minister the power to which I have referred. Such a power should be exercised by Parliament itself. The action of the Minister in placing an embargo on the importation of sheep dip was a most grievous one. We were told at the time that it was taken at the instance of the British Government, but, from my reading of the paper, I am satisfied that it was taken at the instance, not of the British Government, but of certain traders in Australia.
– The British Government were anxious to help the sheep dip people.
– And they did try to help them. The Prime Minister, when in England, gave, through Colonel Amory, a written promise to the manufacturers of sheep dip in the Old Country, that they would be allowed to land it here subject to their entering into a bond to pay any duty which the Parliament might thereafter impose on it. Notwithstanding that written promise, however, the Government refused to allow it to come in until the whole matter had been fully ventilated in this House, and pressure had been brought to bear upon them.
– And now they are making it here.
– As they were before.
– They were not.
– The honorable member has not the remotest idea of what he is talking about. At the time there was a co-operative firm in New South Wales, which had been making sheep dip for years. At the instance of Mr. Leggo and Sir John Higgins, they came over here to discuss the question of making Australia’s requirements. They had a big trade in New South Wales, where they advertised that they did not want a protective duty, nor did they want an embargo on importations of sheep dip. They were induced, however, to make large quantities of sheep dip on the understanding that in that way they would be helping the nation at a time of stress. They were told that an embargo would be placed on the importation of sheep dip; but the Minister knows that that solid little firm was absolutely ruined through governmental action.
– I was referring to Cooper’s sheep dip when I said it was now being made here.
– Cooper’s sheep dip was not made here before the war, and the embargo was aimed against the introduction of that particular brand of sheep dip. If the Minister is to have this power, it is bound to end in Tammany methods. No such power ought to be given to a Minister. I ought to say that it was not the present Minister who put the embargo on.
– The honorable member is wrong; I was the Minister who put the embargo on, but I was not the Minister who was responsible for the promise that there would be an embargo.
– I am glad of that correction. The Minister discussed at some length the Tariff Bill he proposes to introduce; and it is unfortunate that it has not been laid on the table. We cannot debate the measure, for the simple reason that we do not know what it contains; but when it does come beforeus, Parliament should insist on a provision that any general Tariff schedule which comes before us, and is not approved by Parliament within six months, shall then become inoperative.
– Will the honorable member’s colleagues vote for that?
– Most decidedly.
– As a party?
– I never speak for anybody but myself. Does anyone imagine that the honorable member could pledge his party?
– Yes; Iwill say for the Labour party that, if you submit such a proposal, we shall support you.
– Then, I say that minor amendments of the Tariff should become inoperative if not approved by Parliament within three months. I have referred to the embargo on sheep-dip, and to the action of the Government in refusing to permit the explosives provided by the Imperial Government to be used in Western Australia. The Minister, in the final sentence of his speech, said that he hoped, without yielding to influence or pressure, to be able to control his Department in a way that would commend itself to the public and Parliament; but that has, not been the result so faras these embargoes are concerned, for they have been in the interests of individuals, and are certainly not in the interests of the country. I have also referred to the embargo on the export of metals and the pressure that was exerted on the big mining companies to absolutely coerce them into entering the Zinc Producers Association, which had absolute control of all output for fifty years.
– What about the “ little fellow “ ?
– The Government have ruined him. All this was done under the Commerce sections.
– Was it not under the War Precautions Act?
– It was done during war-time, but there was nothing in the War Precautions Act to permit it. While I have every confidence in the Minister, I have no confidence in his judgment, or in the judgment of his Department. Some time ago the importation of rennet was forbidden. We all know how important the cheese industry is; but the Minister, owing to pressure, or recommendations made, put an embargo on the importation of this commodity, although the circumstances are such that it cannot be properly made in Australia. It was not long, however, before the Minister removed that embargo, for he began to realize that if he did not do so the cheesemaking industry would be ruined. I have letters here from over 100 manufacturers dealing with this matter, and every one bears out the contention that locally made rennet has never been found of any value. One letter says -
In response to your circular of the 8th, we beg to inform you that we have used the locally made rennet, but the manager of our cheese factory instructed us not to send same any more unless the imported article was unprocurable.
He complained of the slow action of the locally made rennet, and that almost twice the quantity was necessary as compared with the imported article.
In reply to your letter inquiring about the prohibition of imported rennet, we beg to state we have used Australian rennet, and find it much inferior in strength and reliability to the imported article. It would be well if those responsible for the prohibition were brought to their senses. It is only last year that the Government expert was writing in the papers against the use of local rennet.
There is case after case of the kind, showing the results of the action of the Minister. Then we had the Minister putting a special duty on navvy shovels. The war had made such articles dear enough, the cost rising from 4s. 6d. or 5s. to 16s. 6d. each. The Minister discovered, however, that somebody was making shovels in Australia, and he immediately removed them from one class into another, and made them liable to a duty of 35 per cent. Thenthere were the steps taken in regard to hosiery yarn. We all know how great the need for hosiery yarn was amongst our women for making socks and mending stockings, and so forth; but what was next door to an embargo was placed on its importation. This is a circular letter that was sent out in this connexion -
In connexion withyour application of 13th January, 1920, for a licence to import hosiery yarn, the necessary licence is inclosed herewith.
With regard to future importations of proclaimed goods, you are recommended to procure the licence before ordering same, as the issue of future licences will depend upon your inability to obtain supplies from Australian manufacturers.
There wasnothing said about a fair price for this yarn.
– It was almost impossible to obtain it, even in the Old Country. There was no restriction, as I say. in regard to the price, and the Minister for Trade and Customs told the importers that they would not be permitted to introduce hosiery yarn unless they made a declaration that supplies were not obtainable locally.
– That was not done to help the industry, but for another purpose.
– What purpose ?
– Theydid not want it brought from abroad.
Mr.GREGORY.- Why prevent it from being brought from abroad ? Why did the Customs Department say a licence was necessary ? My wife at that time was always telling me how thecost was increasing three-hundred fold.
– And the importers , were making 1,000,000 per cent. on it!
– The local manufacturers took every advantage of the war conditions. The capital invested in the woollen industry was a little over £1,000,000, and in three years the profits amounted to more than the total capital invested. It was an abominable shame - they took every advantage of the war and robbed the people.
– Will the honorable member believe that there is afirm in Flinders-lane, who, before the war were worth £10,000, whereas now they have imported stock valued at £120,000, and paid for?
– The Government ought to have got that money from them under the War-time Profits Act; There is no doubt that during the war one section of the community was giving their all while another section was waving flags and robbing the community; and if I had my way I should endeavour to extract some of those profitsfrom those people.
I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to a circular letter sent to him by the Sydney Chamber of Commercein October last, having reference to the scarcity of blankets. That letter contains the following : -
We desire to bring under your notice certain features of the Customs Tariff as they affect the general public, and, by way of example, would, at present writing, draw your attention toblankets.
Prior to the war, a satisfactory pair of bouble-bed blankets was sold by the Australian manufacturer at about 13s6d. per pair delivered. The lowest grade English double-bed blankets could, at the sameperiod, be landed, duty of 25 per cent. paid, for about11s.6d. (duty 2s. 3d.), but these were very rough, and so obviously inferior to the local article that the Australian blankets always sold in preference. We believe the local mills sold then whole output without trouble, and if they had been able to supply unlimited quantities, practically no English blankets would have sold in competition.
The first phase of the present position regarding blankets is that there are not enough blankets now in Sydney to equal the demand of one week, and none are expected to come forward before next winter. That being so, no blankets will be sold during the next six or seven months, and when winter comes round again the demand will be acute. We believe the position is identically the same throughout Australia.
The second phase is that local blanket manufacturers have informed the wholesale and retail traders of Australia that they will not receive more than one-fifth or one-fourth of their orders for next winter, and the cost price will be 37s. 6d. per pair. Therefore, the natural thing would be to endeavour to import the remaining four-fifths of the blankets estimated to he required; but English prices, coupled with the duty, present serious difficulties.
I shall not read the rest of the communication, but merely point out that the woollen manufacturers had magnificent contracts with the Defence Department. They got the best wool at the appraised price, on the1s. 3½d. average; they did not have to pay the high prices that were paid in England. They were supplying the blankets at 13s. 6d. per pair before the war; but after the war they not only advised short supplies for the future, but raised the price to the figure I have mentioned.
– How much wool was there in the blankets?
– I do not know; I can only quote from the lettersent to the Minister; but I should say that the wool in the blankets will be the same this year as last year.
– You ought, in fairness, to say that the English price was a little more than double that.
– I mentioned the price being charged for the English blanket; but the English manufacturer was carrying on under difficulties, namely, those of war conditions. What did Australia do in regard to the making of munitions? Nothing. The Ministerhas stated that I was incorrect in my statement concerning rebates being granted on machinery imported into this country, in regard to which I protested against the remission of duty from certain special lines while it was allowed to remain on others. Perhaps the Minister will recall a deputation which waited on him from the Shepparton Fruit Preserving Company. On that occasion he pointed out that item 174 of the Tariff was specially framed to enable dutiesto be remitted for the encouragement of Australian industries. I noticed some little while ago that the Minister had put machines for the making ofbarbed wire on the free list. It is not so long since he actually put coal-cutting machines also on the free list.
– What does the honorable member suggest?
– That the Minister should not have the power, except upon resolution of this House, to do such a thing. I do not believe that interested parties who may have the opportunity to get the ear of the Minister, or of the Department, should benefit by getting their goods in free, while others, less fortunately situated, should be compelled to continue to pay duty.
– You want the “ lobbying “ distributed ?
– I do not want “ lobbying “ at all”. I do not wish to secure from the Minister, for any interest or industry which I may represent, a concession which any other interest or industry may not also have.
The Government havebrought in a Tariff schedule which, as I have pointed out, means not only the placing of a heavy penalty on the people of Australia, but the creation of hardship throughout our primary industries at the most inopportune time imaginable. The world has but recently emerged from the greatest of all conflicts, in which more than 20,000,000 men were deflected for several years from their ordinary avocations into the making of war or of warlike materials. The ordinary operations of industry practically ceased.
– Not in Germany. The manufacturing plants are all intact.They remained in good order throughout.
– The honorable member surely remembers that during the years of the war Germany was receiving no raw materials.
– But her factories were unharmed, and were ready to begin producing immediately.
– I am speaking of the time when this Tariff was introduced. I invite the honorable member to read the speech of the Minister for Trade and Customs. He will notice that the quotation in regard to wire revealed an increase of 300 per cent., and that there were other increases mentioned even up to 400 per cent. The Minister quoted galvanized iron and other goods which, during the war period, had risen in cost to enormous heights. No time could have been chosen for the introduction of the Tariff which would have been more certain to create industrial chaos. The immediate effect was to gravely increase the cost of living. In view of the extraordinary prices ruling everywhere, one would have expected that the imposition of increased duties would have been the very last thought in the minds of the Government. I desire to show the effect so far as the primary producer was, concerned. Fencing wire prior to the war cost £8 10s. per ton. The Minister quoted £50 as the price ruling when he made his speech. The duty was raised from 8s. 4d. to £4 10s. per ton. Freight was £1 ls. 6d.j it is now £5. Who has to pay all that? The ‘.’ poor cocky.” Barbed wire increased by 250 per cent, to 300 per cent. Although there was a great increase, both in freight and insurance, and in other handling charges, the duty was also increased from £2 12s. 6d. to £5 5s. Prior to the war, sheep netting was £7 lis. 6d. a mile. Its quotation rose to £40 5s. per mile; and then, whereas it had been duty free, a duty of £1 15s. 6d. was imposed. We have instituted numbers of soldier settlements in different parts of Australia. I know personally of many instances where new settlers went out into virgin country and, without fencing, cleared a little bit of land and put in a crop. Then, in came the rabbits; and, because there was nothing to stop them, they ate up everything. Those poor fellows, struggling to get a start, are to-day paying tremendous prices for wire netting, plus duty. Rabbit netting cost £17 4s. 6d. before the war. It went up to £92 10s. a mile during the war. Freight increased from £2 12s. 6d. to £9 12s. 6d. ; and, instead pf this essential commodity being free, as hitherto, a duty of £2 ls. per ton was imposed. Is this a time, in all our history - just when we are doing our best to encourage new settlers, most of them returned soldiers - to enforce such severe additional burdens? The Minister has come forward with a proposal to impose in the near future an enormous duty on galvanized iron. Is there anything .more essential for the building up of our outside country and for the .general purposes of the poorer people in our community? Yet, in order to foster some big monopoly in New South Wales, a heavy duty is 4o be put on galvanized iron. There have been great increases on steel bars and steel rails, and even on wire nails. In the last mentioned, a machine has been invented in connexion with which all one has to do, in, order to manufacture nails, i3 to feed a roll of wire into the machine. The whole of its operations are automatic, right down to the packing of the nails in the case. The man who imports this machine has been given a remission of duty in connexion with its importation in. order that this wonderful nail-making industry may be established in this country; and, then, further to bolster him, a special duty is imposed. Thus, instead of the country getting the benefit of this invention, the man who has bought and so favorably imported the machine secures the whole gain.
Now I desire to turn to the main items in the Tariff. They have to do with what I describe as the key industries of this country. I refer to iron, steel, and copper. There is no honorable member present who would not wish to do everything possible to build up iron and steel works in Australia. Apart from the encouragement of primary production, the best way in which to advance Australia is to assist in the establishment of iron and steel manufactories. Honorable members would rather confer an advantage upon a small manufacturer than on an extensive operation. If the Minister for Trade and Customs could prove that it is essential that a duty be placed on iron and steel, I think this House would be justified in concurring in the imposition of some small measure of duty. But it should not be forgotten that iron and steel will be sold through the merchants, and that every manufacturer in Australia must pay an increased price, plus the duty, before he can manufacture the material. We must take the greatest care before imposing any duty upon any one of our key industries. We should concur in such an imposition only upon being absolutely assured that such a course is essential for the encouragement of our industries.
I have had statistics prepared showing what the effect of the Tariff is going to be. All these figures have been based upon importations for 1913; that is, assuming that this year we shall be importing into Australia the same quantity of steel and iron goods as then. I want honorable members to realize what this duty means. It is the subsidy which we are giving to the local manufacturer. If honorable members will look at item 136 of the Tariff it will be appreciated just what we are giving to the manufacturers of iron and steel in Australia. On that one_ item alone, assuming that we shall be importing as much this year as in 1913, the duty imposed under the 1920
Tariff will amount to £1,026,233. On Item 136, using the 1913 figures as the basis of the 1920 imports, I find that the duty payable can be set down as follows :’ -
– If conditions were favorable we would be importing a great deal more at the present time.
– In deciding whether a Tariff is necessary, honorable members ought to consider the price the manufacturers are likely to receive for their goods in comparison with pre-war prices. Taking -1913 as the base period, and bringing the figures up to the 1918T19 period, the, last for which I have statistics, the following increases have come about: - Item 136 A,’ 231 per cent.; B., 366 per cent. ; C, 302 per cent. ; D, 323 per cent. ; E, 288 per cent. ; F, 313 per cent.
– If we have another seven years like the seven years that have elapsed since 1913 we might have none of these goods in Australia if we do not have our own manufacturers here.
– I think that I shall be able to show that Protection is not necessary for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. As these duties are at fixed rates they are not affected by the price of the article. The total value of these imports in 1913 was £1,958,700. But as the price has risen from a base of 100 in 1913 to 293 on the average in 1819, the corresponding value of the imports of -these goods under Item 136 would be £5,739,000. The duty would be equivalent to an ad valorem rate of 52 per cent, on the 1913 values, and 18 per cent, on the 1918-19 values. But, as a matter of fact, all these items were free in 1913. The increased duty on girders is £47,462, and the duty on tubes shows that, assuming that half the pipes and tubes imported come from the United Kingdom, and half from other countries, the duty would amount to £794,000, so we can easily realize what we are paying, for the purpose of promoting that particular industry.
– What is the honorable member trying to point out? ‘
– The enormous amount of protection which will be given to these few articles under item 136. Prices all over the world have increased. We cannot import articles now at anything like the price at which they would be imported in pre-war days. Consequently, the local manufacturers are receiving higher values than they would be receiving prior to the war. When this Tariff was- introduced coal Was about £4 per ton in England. Just prior to the present strike ‘it was about £2 13s. per ton. At the same time, the price of coal in Australia was 17s. 9d.. per ton.
– It is now £1 0s. 9d. per ton.
– Three tons of coal are required to make 1 ton of steel. Last year, wages in the steel trade were actually higher in England than they were here. According to the Daily Chronicle of 1st March, 1920, wages of steel workers ranged from £8 to £25 per week.
– We in Australia are still suffering from the aftermath of the war. We are not yet back to normal conditions. Does the honorable member know that the Broken Hill Proprietary works at Newcastle are dispensing with the services of 1,000 men because Belgium and other countries, with which they ,are in competition, can produce steel so much cheaper than they can?
– Does the honorable member assert that Belgium and othercountries can get coal cheaper than the works, a’t Newcastle?
– What are we to do with our coal if we shut up our. industries ?
– We are not going to shut up our industries; but I am not prepared to give a duty where it is not asked for. The Broken Hill Proprietary people did not ask for these duties. ‘ What I am endeavouring to point out is that, under present-day conditions, our manufacturers at Newcastle can get their coal at a price which is 250 per cent, less than the price paid for coal’ in England. Furthermore, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company boast of the fact that at Iron Knob, in South Australia,- they have the greatest deposits of iron ore in the world.
It contains from 68 to 69 per cent. of iron; whereas the averageore in Great Britain contains from 35 to 36 per cent. of iron; in Germany from 30 to 32 per cent. ; and in America from 35 to 36 per cent. No other country can boast of such huge and magnificent deposits of iron ore as we have at Iron Knob, in South Australia. I glory in the magnificent worts established at Newcastle, and I want to see them continue; hut I do not believe that a protective duty is essential for them. Mr.Delprat, the Managing Director of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, speaking recently at a function, pointed out that the company’s works at Newcastle had produced 786,000 tons of pigiron, and 823,000 tons of steel. He said that since the establishment of the works, the company had spent £12,000,000 in plant.
– The actual figures are in my possession, but they are nothing approaching the amount which the honorable member has mentioned.
– I am quoting from a press report of Mr. Delprat’s speech. I think it appears in the Industrial Australian and Mining Standard. At any rate, prior to the war, Mr. Delprat gave evidence before the Inter-State Commission, and said that his company did not want a duty. Here is an extract from the evidence given by him : -
I presume you are going into these works believing that yon can compete successfully, so far as iron and steel are concerned, with the markets of the outside world? - Yes.
I suppose you will not ask that any import duty he put on iron and steel to assist you in your industry? - No, we have decided that if we cannot carry on without Government support or assistance we shall not proceed with the works at all.
– Did the Government run after them and give them this assistance?
– Probably there were outside firms who had subscribed well to the Protection League. If necessary, I am prepared to proceed a good deal further in regard to this matter of funds to assist the Protection League.
– If the honorable member alleges that this Tariff is the outcome of funds collected for the purpose, we ought to have the evidence placed before us.
– The grossly offensive statements made in the press ought to be sheeted home to those who made them or justified. I have asked the Minister to institute an inquiry. In 1914-15 the dividends paid by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company amounted to £177,000, in 1915-16 to £236,000, and in 1916-17 to £177,000.
– On what capital?
– To some extent on watered capital. When I am endeavouring to quote figures, it is very unfair of the honorable member to interrupt me for the purpose of trying to throw me off the track. Theprofits for 1914-15 were £321,000; for the next year, £486,000; for the next £426,000; for the next, £650,000 ; and for 1918-19, £652,000.
– Were they made out of milling operations or in the steel works ?
– Of recent years very little has been made out of mining. For thepast two years mining has been a dead letter.
– The steel works have not been established long.
– They were established before the war.
– They were not making profits then.
– I have a letter here which says -
The company is not very anxious to inform the Government and the community of the heap of profits capitalized in the past twelve months, and the danger of its not being able to regain the old 50 per cent. dividend level unless “ adequate “ aid wore forthcoming. Thus, when the company decided to establish steel works it increased its share register from 060,000 of 8s. each to 1,500,000 shares of the same denomination. Of the new scrip 221.000 were placed for over £350,000, and debentures for £1,000,000 were subsequently issued. Later still, the company placed 318,944 of its 8s. shares in reserve at 40s. each among the shareholders. Next, without calling upon shareholders for any cash, it not only converted shares of 8s. each into those of 20s. each, but it gave to holders, as a bonus, 600,000 of 20s. each. Now, sad to say, it is only paying dividends at the rate of 3s. per share yearly on the 20s. scrip, as against 4s. on8s. shares in pre-war days.
– Are the profits shown plus or minus the war profits tax?
– I do not know. Let me now draw attention to a table which compares this Tariff with that which protects the Canadian iron industry-
It must be remembered that the Canadian iron and steel industry has close to it the great steel works of the United States of America, yet it is able to compete against them with the comparatively small amount of protection that I have mentioned, and the country has built up a wonderful business in agricultural machinery, which it sends all over the world.
– Does the honorable member know the duties under which Canada and America established the iron and steel industry?
– No; and probably the Minister does not.
– They were a great deal higher than ours. I have all the figures here.
– That part of the Tariff which reflects least credit on the Minister is the item imposing duties on copper wire and copper sheets at 30 per cent. British, and 45 per cent. foreign, ad valorem. The value of electrolytic copper varies. It has been as high as £165 per ton, and, at present, is between £71 and £74 per ton. Yet the duties on imported copper wire and copper sheets are the same ad valorem, whether electrolytic copper is high or low. Telephone communication is anurgent need throughout the country, yet, recently, when I asked for 8 miles of light double telephone wire for a line for which the posts are already erected, I was informed by the Postmaster-General’s Department that it would cost £400.
– Why did you not accept galvanized wire?
– It would not have done, and surely it is preposterous that we cannot get copper even at a fair price. Recently the Public Works Committee was informed that prior to the war it was estimated that copper wire cost from £15 to £17 per ton more than the price of electrolytic copper - that manufacture, freight, commission charges, and handling were covered by the figures I have given. Now, the Government have entered into some arrangement with the Port Kembla works, fixing the price of wire at £57 10s. per ton,abovethe price of electrolytic copper, and the Deputy PostmasterGeneral for Queensland told the Committee, on the 7th March last, that he had received word that the price of copper wire was £154 per ton. I have not ascertained what electrolytic copper cost at that date, but on the 14th March, its price was from £71 to £74 per ton, so that the Department is now giving for copper wire £80 more than the price per ton of electrolytic copper.
– I suppose the honorable member knows why?
– Because the Government has entered into some special arrangement with the Port Kembla Company.
– It is because we are trying to keep the copper mines going.
– The action of the Government in interfering with mining has led to the closing down of a number of mines.
– When we get to the item we can discuss the reasons for what has been done.
– This impost is one of the most discreditable in the Tariff. The Inter-State Commissioners recommended a bonus of £3 per ton on all copper and brass plates, and a bonus of £5 per ton on all copper and brass pipes, tubes and wires, yet the Minister has put a duty of 45 per cent. ad valoremon all copper wire and copper sheets imported from the United States of America, the big copper producing country of the world. He thought that £4 per ton would be a fair duty, but the Minister has imposed a duty of 45 per cent. ad valorem. If any one will compare the prices of the Colonial Ammunition Company with those of the British, American, and Japanese importers, he will find that the local concern charges the purchaser with the full amount of the duty.
In conclusion, I wish to show how the Tariff prejudices the primary producer. We have to consider the risks taken by the farmers and the miners, and the short life of the machinery which they use compared with that of machinery used in factories. Regard must also be had to the millions of pounds that their industry puts into circulation, and to the fact that Were it» not for our primary production, there would be no manufacturing at all in this country. I hope, therefore, that members generally will assist in considerably reducing the duties on machinery. The Minister has removed the duty on coal-cutting machinery, although coal mining is on a much safer footing than other mining and than farming. Given anything like a decent seam, in coal mining a profit is certain, but in other mining, everything depends on the fluctuating value of the ore, just as in agriculture everything depends on the season. According to the Western Australian Chamber of Mines, the Tariff has increased the costs of machinery, stores and material 59 per cent, over the costs of 1914, and only two of the big mines in that State are making a profit to-day. The mines employ thousands of workmen, and they in their turn carry four or five times as many in other occupations. The number of persons that the producer carries on his shoulders is wonderful. According to the Chamber of Mines, on a tonnage basis the duties now in force impose an additional burden of £36,103 per annum. The duties coming into force in January, 1922, impose an additional tax of £34,286 .per ‘annum, making a total of £70,389, or 6.21 pence per ton on every ton of ore treated. No one can say that the farmer had a good time during the war. The Age, in a special article published recently, shows that during the war the Australian farmer, received on an average 4s. 9d. for our wheat, whereas the United States of America farmer received 9s. 5d., and the Argentine farmer 7s. 9d.
– A very wicked and misleading statement. We had to contend with rot of that kind throughout the war.
– The statement was made by the Age. The figures were used for quite another purpose. They were dealing with the war period, and they, may not be quite absolutely correct.
– If they are not more reliable than the Age’s figures generally are, they are not worth quoting. I believe, however, that in this instance they are right.
– According to the Age the average price which the Australian farmer received for his wheat during the war was 4s. 9d. per bushel, whereas farmers in the United States received 9s. . 5d., and farmers in the Argentine 7s. 9d. per bushel. I do not know, and have no means of ascertaining, what price was actually obtained in America; but I would stress the point that farmers in the United States of America and Canada have a better market than we have for our produce. They are nearer the markets of the world, and their position in every respect is superior to that of the farmers of Australia. Nevertheless, primary producers here are compelled to pay enormous duties on all the machinery they require, and at the same time have, to sell their produce at world’s parity when . they can get it. Unlike the manufacturer, the farmer cannot say that the price paid for his product shall be, not the world’s parity, but the price at which it can be obtained from another country. That is what happens in regard to all the machinery required by the farmer. If he wants an oil engine from the United States of America or a reaper and binder, from Canada, he has to pay freight charges, commission, and insurance, plus the duties on such pieces of machinery. On the other hand, when he wants to sell his wheat he has to accept the price ruling in home markets less all those costs and charges. Why should the agriculturist or the miner have to pay these duties? If we prevent machinery coming into Australia we shall lose the value of great inventions and labour-saving appliances. Which is the better policy? The policy of fair competition or the policy ‘of monopoly and restriction ? The one applies a constant stimulus to improved methods of construction, and safeguards the quality and prices of our commodities. The other opens the door to the worst of Tammany methods. We pay a dear price indeed when we destroy the former, and there are few here who openly dare to state that they support legislation in favour of the monopolist.
I do not propose to give the figures relating to the value of primary production in this country. They have often been quoted and need not be repeated. I desire, however, to show the natural Protection which local manufacturers of machinery enjoy. Let us take, for instance, item 162- disc ploughs. This is a distinctly American line introduced and popularized by the importers before the Australian maker commenced copying it a few years ago.- Under the 1911 Tariff the duty was . 20 per cent. ; under this Tariff it is 35 per cent. In 1913 the natural Protection on a three-furrow set disc plough was 31.03 per cent. It is now 47.84 per cent. Mr. McKay’s retail price for the light three-furrow size is £40. The price of his heavy three-furrow size is £47. The present price of the Massey-Harris three-furrow plough, which in weight comes between Mr. McKay’s light and heavy plough, is £57. Evidently no Protection is required on this line. Coming to the four-furrow stumpjump mouldboard ploughs, the duty in 1911 was 25 per cent., whereas under the present Tariff it is 40 per cent. In 1913 the natural protection on the four-furrow size was 32 per cent. It is now 49.79 per c.nt. The present natural protection on the four-furrow size amounts to £13 ls. lid. The present duty on the same size is £11 13s. ‘2d., without taking into account the cost of exchange. Then, again, we have the reaper-thresher, which is dealt with in item 165 (a). According to a paper which I have before me, this machine was invented and developed in Australia by the Massey-Harris Company as an improvement on the stripperharvester. Several local makers have been experimenting with ‘ similar machines in recent years, but until the last harvest none of them made more than experimental or introductory sales. It is reported that Mr. McKay built and sold about 1,000 of them for last harvest. As this machine was a combination of a reaping machine - cutting, instead of stripping - and a thresher, and as both of those machines were on the free list when the reaper-thresher was introduced, the importers attempted to have it classified as duty free. The Department, however, held that as it did the same kind of work as a stripper -harvester, it should carry the same duty as that machine. Under the 1911 Tariff the duty was £12; under the new Tariff it is 40 per cent. The Massey-Harris Company ceased importing stripper -harvesters in 1908. The International Harvester Company continues to import 200 to 300 annually. The Australian manufacturer has still 90 per .cent, of the trade in this class of harvester machine. In 1913 this machine had a natural protection of 29.19 per cent. In 1920 it had a natural protection of 38.05 per cent. The duty in 1913 was £14; the present duty is £50 ls. 5d. at Mint par rate of exchange. As the exchange rate varies from day to day, it is not possible to give the exact rate, except on an individual importation. The retail price in Australia for the 8-ft. reaper-thresher has always been from £20 to £25 higher than’ for the 8-ft. stripper-harvester ; consequently, the reaper-thresher has been introduced at a substantial disadvantage in price, and ho claims for unfair competition with the Australian machine can be advanced. The natural protection in 1913 on this machine amounted to £16 9s. lOd. It is not likely to be as little as that again for very many years. It is now more* than- three times that amount, and if the Australian maker cannot compete with such a substantial natural advantage, he should net ask for Customs House protection. I would also direct attention to the duties in regard to hay rakes, reapers and binders, and mowers, which are dealt with in items 171 (a), 171 (6), and 171 (c). These, according to the paper before me, are all machines that were introduced from America and England and established by the importers, and were always on the free list until made dutiable at 5 ner cent, under the 1914 war Tariff. Under the Tariff now before us, it is proposed to ‘make rakes dutiable at £3, or 45 per cent., whichever is the higher, and honorable members may rest assured that the duty collected will always be 45 per cent. Binders and mowers are also !made dutiable at £10 and £4 respectively, or 45 per cent., whichever is the higher. Coal-cutting machinery and ‘ that used for the manufacture of ‘barbed wire as well as in connexion with many other manufactories come in free of duty; but hay rakes, reapers and binders, and mowers are subject to a duty of 45 per cent.. None of these machines has ever been produced for sale by Australian makers. I have here a statement that -
After the 1920 Tariff was brought down,’ McKay made a few experimental counterfeits of the Massey-Harris binder, and, evidently with the object of impressing the Ministry, has been booking orders for them subject to the following condition: - “ I “agree that the attached order is subject to the Federal Parliament confirming the duty on reapers and binders as per clause 171 of Tariff.” The announcement he made to his sales staff by circular letter issued on 20th September. 1920, was as follows: - “ The first Australian reaper and binder. The Sunshine Harvester Works have embarked on the manufacture of reapers and binders. Comparatively few machines will be available this year, but if Parliament confirms the proposed new Customs duty mass production will be commenced forthwith. With this proviso the price for delivery in time for 1921 harvest is as follows :” The grice for Victoria was £98; for Now South Wales, £103. The insincerity of McKay’s statement that he intends to give the Australian farmers a fair deal is evidenced by the fact that he is asking £98 in the State of production for his machine, the farmer to pay all outward freight, while the original machine was sold at retail, with freight prepaid to the farmer’s nearest railway station, during the last Canadian harvest in the State of production in Canada at £53. McKay is only asking Aha Australian farmer £45 more for his machine than the Canadian farmer pays for the original.
The natural protection on a binder in 1913 was 30.29 per cent.; it is now 60.99 per cent. In 1913 it was’ 39.24 per cent, on a mower; it ls now 62.01 per cent. In 1913 it was 32.45 per cent, on a hay rake; it is now 55.72 per cent.
– The price quoted here for the imported reaper and binder was £130, but as soon as Mr. McKay quoted £100 for his machine the price of the imported article dropped.
– The figures quoted by the honorable member are not in keeping with those in the printed pricelists.
– I have not the official list at which these machines are being quoted here. I am simply pointing out that Mr. McKay is asking £98 in the State of production, and £103 in New South “Wales, for a machine which can be purchased in Canada for £53, so that the Australian farmer is asked to pay for his machine £45 more than the Canadian farmer pays for the original.
– Will the honorable member give the price at which that Canadian machine is being offered to the Australian farmer?
– Then I shall do so. It was quoted first of all at £130, but was subsequently reduced “to the price asked to-day for the McKay machine.
– The honorable member would lead honorable members to believe that Mr. McKay was producing these reapers and binders for sale last year. That is not correct. His firm doubtless will manufacture a great many, but only one such machine was manufactured by him last year. The figures quoted by the Age show that the Canadian farmer, who is much nearer the world’s markets than we are, gets a better price for his products, and we are justified, therefore, in expecting our manufacturers to supply our farmers with machinery at something like the prices at which that machinery can be obtained in Canada. If we are, to build up these secondary industries, surely we can expect them to give us something like the position obtaining in other countries. In 1913 the natural protection on binders, without any duty, was 36.29 per cent., whereas now it is 60.99 per cent., and on mowers it was 39 per cent, as against 62 per cent. now. The newspaper gives all details of the natural protection on agricultural machines; and if, to a natural protection of 60 per cent., we add duties amounting to 45 per cent., it is not fair to our farmers and general producers. According to Kelly’s Customs Tariffs of the World, a standard work, some sixtyeight countries out of 109 admit agricultural machinery free. This is done by the United States of America, although that country is alongside the big Canadian manufacturers. The cost of such machinery has increased, I should say, by 250 per cent., in addition to increased charges for freight. In the United States of America the Tariff not only gives special protection to primary industries, but adds the additional advantage I have just mentioned. We in Australia have to compete in the markets cf the world. The men who are going back, and further back, and building up this country, have to pay increased railway rates, increased cartage charges, and increased, prices for everything they require. Every action and utterance of the Government show that the Ministry realize that the future of Australia depends wholly and solely upon the building up of the primary industries. Whenever it is desired to raise a peace or other loan, the Government protest to the people about the necessity ‘for the production of wealth, and for immigration; and that is for the one purpose of inducing people to go into the country and produce wealth. We have an enormous area and must increase our population, and this can only be done by developing our resources; yet we find the representative of the Labour party in New South Wales proclaiming to the people of Great Britain that there are thousands of unemployed in that State. This is wholly due to pandering to the crowd, and destroying the life blood of the country. I am prepared, and, I believe, the party to which I* belong, and the public generally, are prepared to accept a moderate Tariff. Extreme duties, more particularly on agricultural machinery, I am not prepared .to accept; and I am satisfied that, unless Parliament considerably alters the schedule, the Tariff will bring ruin and destruction upon the country. I hope that when we come to consider the items we shall have the assistance of honorable members of all sides in making the Tariff equitable, not only to the manufacturers, but also to the producer.
.- I shall not attempt to go deeply into the question of Protection versus Free Trade, a question more, perhaps, than any others in regard to which it may be said” that “ doctors disagree.” I think it can “be taken that this is a strongly Protectionist House, and I willingly admit that, at the present time, at any rate, Australian sentiment is to a very great extent in favour of a Protectionist policy. Foi myself, T do not believe that high Protection, which tends to become higher and still higher, is, in itself, by any means the cure and solution of our industrial and commercial troubles. Nor do I see that it is quite logical for any one who complains about the high cost of living to advocate extremely high Protection; that seems to me a somewhat anomalous position to take up. A few days ago the Prime Minister, Mr. Hughes, made an important and interesting speech, which had a world-wide influence, and was taken’* notice of in many countries.
The whole of that speech was an explanation of how dependent we are for our national safety on the possession by Great Britain of an ‘adequately strong fleet. I do not believe I should be in order in quoting the exact words of the Prime Minister, but throughout his remarks he impressed on us strongly that Great Britain has built up her Empire by sea power, and by sea power alone can it be kept. He told us how important her fleet is to the safety of the people of Australia; and I think every one of us agrees with him. I do not say that the right honorable gentleman told us anything new, but he urged that Great Britain should not allow herself to drop behind, and, in Naval matters, become a second or third-rate power. If I may quote just one phrase, the Prime Minister, speaking of Great Britain, said, “She is exposed now to the fiercest industrial and commercial competition.” He explained the troubles Great Britain is going through - the huge war debt she has to face, and how it may become impossible for her now to keep up an adequately large Navy on which, not only her safety, but the safety of the Dominions depends. I understand that the Prime Minister is going Home to point out and urge on the British people that, although .the British taxpayer is struggling under an. enormous war debt, Australia looks to her for our protection. It seems to me that when we are discussing the Tariff we have an opportunity to help Great Britain to raise funds for the maintenance of the fleet which we believe so necessary. Now is the time to show in a practical form the interest we have in England remaining prosperous - in her keeping her people at work, and her finances sound.
I do not consider that we are giving sufficient preference to British goods in this Tariff we are shortly to discuss. I saw from the newspapers this morning that the Prime Minister’s stolen motor car had been recovered, and also that it is a Hudson, an. American car. If we go into the streets of any Australian city we see American care swarming. I think that better even than additional preference by means of the Tariff would be the education of our people as to the necessity, and advantage, of wherever possible buying British as against foreign goods. That I believe is not only a right instinct, but a good business instinct - to give preference in buying to British made goods. I know that honorable gentlemen opposite especially, and, I believe, all here, vote moneys for military and Defence purposes, to a certain extent grudgingly, although these purposes must of course be provided for. Personally, I feel there is something about defence expenditure that no one likes. But it is quite certain that if Great Britain drops behind in this regard, we shall have to increase our own expenditure on defence. Very much better, then, than that increased expenditure, would be for us, as part of our duty, to give a much bigger preference in every way, right through the Tariff, to British goods of every kind.
.- I have listened with close attention to the remarks of honorable members, and particularly to those of the honorable members for Swan (Mr. Prowse) and West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), and of my deputy leader, the honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory). I have been a Protectionist all my life. I have always recognised that Australia is so remote that we must preserve to ourselves our own identity and must secure ourselves in the event of any disturbance from outside. As one reads criticisms in the press which to-day are hurled against the Government, and, indeed, against many in high places, one is reminded of the words of Byron -
Oh ! Nature’s noblest gift - my gray goose quill !
Slave of my thoughts, obedient to my will,
Torn from thy parent-bird to form a pen,
That mighty instrument of little men.
We have to think to-day not in terms of party or corners or sections. We have to consider not so much what is coming into this country as how to get rid of what this country is producing. We are bound to recognise not only the laws which we have created, but those also that were created for us. We must eventually perceive and take into account this important factor, namely, the earning power of the world, for the earning power of the world is the consuming and purchasing power of the world; and until we restore the position of earning we can not discover the point of spending. We have been told by many, and rightly, that the home market is our greatest market. Duringthe unhappy period of industrial trouble at Broken Hill between £11,000,000 and £12,000,000 worth of products was not sold into the world’s markets for the reason that those ordinarily engaged in production at the Barrier had ceased from producing. If that £11,000,000 to £12,000,008 worth had been sold to the world and consumed, the earning power involved’ would have been, probably, £7,000,000, which would havebeen so much purchasing power in our own market. During the shipping strike between £1,250,000 and £1,500,000 was lost in wages to those engaged in that particular industry. In addition, thousands of others were thrown out of employment, and there was a huge loss of earning power for the consuming of our products. I believe in a policy of self-preservation, which is said to be the first law of nature. As an individual I insure myself for my own safety and for the protection of those who may be dependent on me. This country must insure itself similarly, especially in regard to defence. We have our great coastline extending for 13,000 miles, and we have on the mainland about 5,000,000 people. The problem is how best to employ 5,000,000 people in the task of defending 13,000 miles of coastline. This is simplified by the reduction of those miles to yards. Thus we get a divisible quantity. If every man, woman, and child in this land were placed around the seaboard fishing, or surf bathing, or in any other way comporting themselves, the distance between each would amount to about 4½ yards. Our defence, therefore, is and must be a problem in regard to which we are bound to rely on some higher measure of insurance than that of personal guardianship. Every day we are importing a product which is one of the basic products in our undertakings. I refer to sulphuric acid. If we will not engage ourselves in establishing this basic undertaking we render ourselves, liable to be cut off from supplies. All our chemicals and agricultural fertilizers are produced from sulphuric acid. It has been truly said that the next war will be a chemical war. It will be a war of science. I believe that we should take for our first principle the motto, “ Peace on earth, and good-will toward men.” Here, we are living in the lap of plenty, and still we cannot find the necessary finance with which to carry on our undertakings. No one oan convince me that any artificial undertakings can undo the universal law of supply and demand. We must restore to the ruined countries a condition of credit. We must discover nome way of restoring people to industry, and to the undertakings in which they were engaged before the war. It is our duty, as units in the greatest of fill Empires, to repair the damage which others have inflicted ; and I see no hope of artificially doing that. I have been engaged in many of the undertakings with which human endeavour has linked itself. I have gone to Papua in order to produce vegetable oil. I have gone out into the Gulf country to raise cattle. I have produced wool, and I have been in undertakings to produce metals. Thus, I have been engaged in almost all the primary undertakings, because I felt that if one should fail the others would succour me. But, in all our primary undertakings we at present find it difficult to finance ourselves in order to carry on. This is not the time for contesting political advantages and opportunities. We should all put our shoulders to the wheel and endeavour to seek salvation from our joint efforts.
I am not going into the details of the Tariff schedule at this stage. -Such an opportunity will be afforded later. The situation confronting lis is very grave. We must resolve ourselves into a committee ‘in order that the best of our common tense shall bs employed for the safety of our country. Buskin, the greatest peace-lover the world has known,, said, “ I regret but I must acknowledge the fact that war is the foundation of all the arts and sciences known to mankind. We degenerate in peace.” It is the difficulties of life that make us strong. If war be the foundation of all our arts and sciences, surely we have had enough of war to establish all the arts and sciences that may be required for the present day. Our duty is to relieve the burden of human toil. We oan only do that by applying our efforts to the establishment of better conditions in Australia. On the sea-board of New South Wales we have some 300,000 horse-power rushing to the sea every day, and yet nothing has been done to harness it. Are we to continue allowing this power to go to waste when we ought to apply it to the relief of mankind? I have seen much of this country, I love it, it is my country; but it is useless to talk about increasing the population unless we make Australia attractive to people from other countries. Our burden of responsibility can only be relieved by millions of immigrants. We are at the nethermost part of the world, and we have to pay heavily to deliver the goods we produce in the markets of the world. The other day, on a motion submitted by the honorable member for Grampians (Mr. Jowett) the House discussed the question of oversea freights. We are paying heavy freights because our population is bo small. With a larger population Australia would not have ships coming here with empty bottoms to take away our produce. If ships come here in ballast we shall be obliged to pay double freights in - order to send away bur goods to the world’s market. This is a country where science ought to be employed, and - where the very best thought-out methods should be applied to our undertakings. ‘ If we fail in this respect we are not doing out duty to our people. Though I have a great belief in Australia I recognise that its prosperity cannot be created by narrow mindedness or the pursuit of personal ambitions. I belong to no party. I belong to the country. As representatives of the people, we ought to have great thoughts, and should view our responsibilities in a becoming way, putting aside all personal and party feeling and directing our minds towards the bettering of the condition of our people. If we’ do this I have no doubt as to the future; because the more attractive we can make the country the more prosperous it will become. The people we acknowledge ob fit to come here will only come when we make our country prosperous. We certainly have the power available to give relief to our workers, but it must first be harnessed and applied. To harness the 300,000 horse-power going ta waste daily on the sea-board of New South Wales would give great relief to all those who have access to it. The drudgery of the people on the land to-day can only be reduced by the application of scientific means of. production. In the centre of
New South Wales the climate is of the best, the soil is fertile, and all the conditions exist there to make men, women, and children happy if we could only give them some relief from the burden of human toil. The great benefits enjoyed by the consumers of Australia to-day are derived from the sacrifice and industry of the producers. If those who are engaged in dairy production were paid time and a half for the hours worked after five o’clock in the afternoon and before eight o’clock in the morning, I am afraid that the consumers would be obliged to pay about 5s. per lb. for butter. Yet the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) says that the Australian consumer should not be called upon to pay more than 4s. per bushel for wheat, leaving the farmer to get the best price he can for his surplus. The primary producers can only carry on at existing prices, because of their industry, determination, sacrifice, and frugality. If they were to insist on having applied to them the conditions which are exacted by those who are engaged in other undertakings controlled by Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards, their position would be very different. However, I recognise that we live upon our primary undertakings and exist upon our secondary industries, and that sacrifices must be made by all sections of the community. I am prepared to meet every item in a fair spirit, and I hope that this Parliament will do the same. I do not wish to be misconstrued. The position of Australia is very grave, and we must be careful in regard to what we do, because later on we shall be judged by our present actions. I have already quoted some words from Byron. I shall quote a few more lines from that poet. He says -
What Athens was in science, Borne in power,
What Tyre appear’d in her meridianhour,
Earth’s chief dictatress, ocean’s lovely queen;
But Rome docay’d and Athensstrew’dthe plain,
And Tyre’s proud piers lie shattered in the main;
Like these, thy strength may sink, in ruin hurl’d,
And Britain fall, the bulwark of the world.
We have to play our part wherever we may be in the British Empire in order that the bulwark of the world to which Byron referred shall continue to be what it has been in the past.
House adjourned at 10.16 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 April 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1921/19210427_reps_8_95/>.