9th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Rt. Hon. W. A. Watt) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Conference at Geneva.
-Is the Prime
Minister yet able to make a statement with regard to the position at Geneva?
– I do not anticipate being able to make a statement to-day.
Position of the Staff.
– I understand, Mr.
Speaker, that during the recent late sittings of this House the members of the staff, including the typistsof the Hansard staff, have been required to work very long hours without relief or assistance, or without any proper provision being made for them to take their meals. Will you ascertain whether this is so, and, if so, will you take steps to remedy the position ?
– I am not aware of the exact conditions under which the staff outside the chamber has been working during recent weeks, but I shall have inquiries made, and, if necessary, see that substantial relief is afforded . During the last two months the Clerk and Second Clerk Assistant have been absent on account of illness, and the staff within the chamber has, consequently, been working at very great pressure, and, I think, with substantial effect.
– Some time ago the Prime Minister stated that it was the intention of the Governmont to appoint a
Cabinet Minister to deal exclusively with repatriation matters. I wish to know whether a Minister has been appointed for that purpose.
– Senator Crawford was appointed to undertake that work, but on account of the absence of several Ministers, and because he was acting as deputy for the Postmaster-General, he was not atfirst able to give the whole of his time to it. The Postmaster-General has now returned, and Senator Crawford has taken over the repatriation work.His services are available to any honorable member who wishes to bring repatriation matters under His notice.
– Does the Prime Minister contemplate making any alterations in the sitting days next week ?
– I haveno announcement to make on the matter at the moment, but if it suits the convenience of the House to sit on Monday the Government will be quite prepared to consider that arrangement.
Advance to New South Wales Importations
-Is the Minister for Trade and Customs able to inform me whether any of the money for wire netting that was made available to the New South Wales Government under the agreement entered into with the Minister of Lands has been paid, and, if not, will he endeavour to accelerate matters?
– Some weeks ago the New South Wales Government applied for an advance of £20,000 in order to begin distributing wire netting, and that advance was made. I have no other information on the matter, and if the honorable member desires anything further he will need to put his questions on the notice-paper.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Proposed Dismissal of Employees
– On Tuesdaylast I drew the attention ofthe Prime Minister to a statement that there was a likelihood of some hundreds of men being dismissed from their employment at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. He promised to investigate the matter and see whether anything could be done to prevent such a calamity from happening. Is he able to give me any information on the matter ?
– I have called fora report on the subject from the Shipping Board,but Ihave not yet received it.
The following papers were presented : -
River Murray Waters Act-RiverMurray Commission - Report for year 1923-4.
Seamen - Return showing nationalities of seamen engaged on Britishships in Australian ports during the yearended 30th June, 1924.
Ordered to be printed.
Position of Dominions
Mr. MANN aked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table, or make available to honorable members, the following information with regard to the proposed alteration of thebasisof British preference -
Any report by the Tariff Board on the proposal ?
Therepresentationsmade by any Association of British Manufacturers- (a) infavour of, (b) in opposition to the proposed change?
Particulars of the classes at goods, and the total value of each class imported duringthe last twelve months, to which 25 per cent.,50 per cent., and 75 per cent., respectively, of their value has been added by British labouror materials?
Particulars of goods imported into Australia as foreign goods, in connexion with which only25 per cent. of value has been added by foreign labour to goods originally of British origin ?
Which of the dominionswas communicated with on this matter, and what replies were received from each dominion in addition to that already notified as received from New Zealand. Was the New Zealand Government in favour of the 75 per cent. standardwithout qualification?
Has the British Government been communicated with to ascertainits views as to the effecton British trade of the proposed alteration?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister forTrade ; and Customs, upon notice -
– The revenue figures desired by the honorablemember are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Works and Railways, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member ‘s questions are as follow: -
Dr. Wade’s Reports
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
– On the 16th September the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) asked the following questions : -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following additional information : -
In Committee of Ways and Means:
.- I move -
That a tax be imposed on income derived from sources in Australia at the following amounts and rates, namely: -
– Rate of Tax upon Income Derived from Personal Exertion.
For so much ofthe whole taxable income as does not exceed £7,600 the average rate of tax per pound sterling shall be threepence and three eight-hundredths of one penny where the taxable income is one pound sterling, and shall increase uniformly with each increase of one pound sterling of the taxable income by three eight-hundredths of one penny.
The average rate of tax per pound sterling for so much of the taxable income as does not exceed £7,600 may be calculated from the following formula: -
R= average rate of tax in pence per pound sterling.
I = taxable income in pounds sterling.
For every pound sterling of taxable income in excess of £7,600 the rate of tax shall be sixty pence.
-Rate of Tax upon Income Derived from Property.
R = average rate of tax in pence per pound sterling.
I = taxable income in pounds sterling.
For every pound sterling of taxable income in excess of £6,500 the rate of tax shall be sixty pence.
For every pound sterling of taxable income derived from property, the rate of tax shall be ascertained by dividing the total amount of the tax that would be payable under Subdivision B. if the total taxable income of the taxpayer were derived exclusively from property by the amount of the total taxable income.
In addition to the tax payable under the preceding provisions, there shall be payable, in the case of incomes in respect of which the tax is calculated under Subdivisions A, B, or C, an additional tax equal to 38 per centum of the amount of the tax so calculated.
Notwithstanding anything contained in the preceding provisions, where a person would, apart from this provision, be liable to pay income tax of an amount less than one pound, the tax payable by that person shall be one pound.
There shall be payable in respect of a prize in a lottery paid in cash or by means of inscribed stock or bonds or other negotiable instruments, and won prior to a date to be fixed by Proclamation, income tax to the amount of twelve and one half per centum of the gross prize money, or of the face value of the stock, bonds or instruments, and, in respect of any such prize won on or after the date so fixed, no income tax shall be payable.
-Rates of Tax payable by a Company.
This resolution is to enable a bill to be introduced to provide for the collection of income tax; the annual measure that Parliament must pass in order that income taxation for the current year may be collected by the Taxation Department. As in previous income tax bills, the schedule will set out the rates of tax imposed for the purpose of the first income tax assessment in 1915-16. Clause 5 of the bill indicates the tax that has to be added to that to give effect to the decision of the Government to reduce the 1923-24 rates by 10 per cent. In this regard, the bill follows the precedent created in previous Rates Acts that have provided for reductions of the rates of past years, by imposing an additional tax at a reduced percentage of the basic rates set out in the schedule to the bill. The 1923-24 rates were the basic rates set out in the schedule plus 53-J per cent., and the rates for this year will be the basic rates set out in the schedule plus 38 per cent. This year’s rates will represent a reduction of, as nearly as possible, 10 per cent, on the 1923-24 rates. No reduction is proposed in the rate of tax payable by companies. The bill re-imposes the tax of 12^ per cent, on all prizes in lotteries, and provides that that tax shall .continue to be collected until a date to be fixed by proclamation. The object of that provision is to enable the Parliament of Tasmania to impose on lottery prizes in its state a super tax equal to the present Commonwealth tax. When the Tasmanian Parliament takes that action the collection of the Commonwealth tax will cease by proclamation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Dr. Earle Page and Mr. Bruce do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Pace, and road a first time.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) proposed -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The schedule to the bill shows that the average man, in attempting to calculate his income tax, is faced with a puzzle. I wish to make to the Treasurer a request which, I think, will be endorsed by every taxpayer. When the first land tax was imposed, and afterwards in connexion with the income tax, books were issued setting out the rates of tax in simple form. I suggest that similar books should be issued now. They would cost very little, and for the want of them many taxpayers are compelled to go to agents to obtain assistance in making up their returns. The assistance of accountants and expert financiers is unavoidable in some cases, but many taxpayers who now pay for expert advice could make out their returns with the assistance of such a book as I suggest. The taxpayers would not object to the expense of issuing the books if they could be saved the cost of professional assistance in making out their returns.
– I shall bring the suggestion under the notice of the Commissioner, and discuss with him the feasibility of its adoption.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 26th September (vide page 4856), on motion by Mr. Pratten, for the application of certain preferential duties to Canada (vide page 4847).
.- The Melbourne correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald has stated that the proposed treaty is the most notable achievement of the present Composite Ministry. Other correspondents of the Sydney press also highly commend the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), and some of them have suggested that these proposals show the Minister to be the first really notable statesman that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has been able to get within his net. My view of the treaty is entirely different from that expressed by the Minister. I consider that the proposed reciprocal arrangement will be absolutely valueless to Australia, and, so far as it means the importation of Canadian products into this country, it will be a menace to us.
Without further comment I shall consider one by one the items which form the subject of the proposed treaty. I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the Minister made no reference whatever to many of the fourteen items specified in the motion. He did not even think them worthy of mention. The essence of the matter is that Canada imports none of those articles, and does not desire them, while Australia either does not export them or exports them to such a small extent that we already have an ample market for our exportation. Roughly, there are four classes of products dealt with in the motion. First let me deal with the proposals as they affect our wines and spirits. France is probably Australia’s main competitor in the brandy trade, though we export very little brandy, and that all goes to New Zealand. If we exported to Canada then, apart from the proposed preference, we should be on the same level there as France, which would be our chief competitor. The duty is 10 dollars a gallon, or 15 dollars on 11/2 gallons, which would amount to 5s. on every bottle of brandy exported. Practically the same duty operates in the case of wines. We export hardly any sparkling wine. What is sent away goes to New Zealand, but Canada takes none of it.
– Canada’s imports are very small.
– I thank the honorable member for that interjection. As. a matter of fact, Canada consumes very little wine or brandy; so far as spirits are concerned, its people drink rum and whisky, so that the proposed preference can be of no benefit to Australia. That remark includes the proposed preference on still wines. Sweet wines must be heavily fortified to enable them to pass through the tropics, and beyond 26 degrees of proof spirit the duty is at a higher rate. Great Britain takes 88 per cent. of the wine Australia exports, while Canada takes none of it.
Coming to meat and fish and their products - lard, tallow, glue, &c. - Canada is a great exporter of these commodities. She sends out meat in all forms, dead and alive. She exports 250,000 head of live cattle every year and over 100,000 sheep, and her meat - frozen, chilled, canned, pickled, and dry-salted - is exported to all parts of the world. Canada need not look to Australia for a market for these commodities; and we cannot hope to send such goods into that country: The Minister stated that Canada desired no preference with regard to primary products, because it would be of no value to it I want to know how such a preference can be of value to Australia. Canada supplies all her own needs in meat and meat products and has a surplus to export. Australia practically does the same. Therefore the preference will mean nothing to either country.
– I said that a preference to Canada’s secondary manufactures would be of no value, not primary products.
– The Minister now tells us that a preference on Canada’s secondary products would be of no value to her. As a matter of fact the only practicable preference that Canada will get will be on her secondary products. Canada does not require our primary products, and our secondary products on which it is proposed to grant preference are not imported by her. Canada, like other countries,has a free market in Great Britain so far as meat products are concerned. What advantage will there be to Australia in paying toll to the Customs House in Canada in order to compete with her in her own markets? The proposal, particularly in regard to meat products, is a joke, an absurdity, and a delusion, and everybody connected with the meat industry recognizes it to be so. The other day Mr. Edmund Jowett, in the course of comments reported in the Melbourne Herald, admitted that we could not export meat products to advantage under the proposed preference. He said that in periods of slackness of trade, or. during droughts, there might be an interchange of such products, hut under normal circumstances Australia had no opportunity of disposing of its meat products on the Canadian market. The United Kingdom takes 80 per cent.. of our exports of meat, and Canada imported, last year, less than one-tenth of 1 per cent. Our market for meat is not in Canada, but in other parts of the world .
What is true of meat is equally true of vegetable and dairy products. The United Kingdom takes 85 per cent. of our exports, and Canada none at all. As a matter of fact, Canada is. economically a part of the United States of America, and, following the same policy as that country,sells wherever it can, and buys nothing that it can produce or do without. Certainly, it buys ‘practically nothing from Australia, but whatever it .sells in our market furnishes it with a London credit with which it .can buy ‘the (products .of Asiatic countries. We have been told that Canada imports butter, cheese, .and eggs to the value of X600,000 a year. Australia, too, imports .those commodities at .times.; whenever the .local production is short of -our requirements we have to make good the shortage by .importing; but, normally, Canada, like Australia, is a vast exporter of dairy .produce. We were not told that last year it sent abroad over 22,000,000 lb. of butter, and over
I, 000,000 lb. of cheese. How then can Australia ‘sell futter and cheese in ‘the Canadian -market, ‘except when the dominion production is below (requirements? And this, we are told, is preference ! ‘The same argument applies to eggs, and although there is available to us a free “London market, im which Canada is handicapped by the freight across the Atlantic Ocean, we, are told that we can pay freight across the Pacific Ocean, and still -compete sucessfully in the .Canadian market against the local producer. It is said that we can build up a trade with ‘Canada in canned vegetables, yet that country exports annually
II, 000,000 lb. of canned vegetables. Our products -cannot enter the Canadian market without paying duty, but we can send them free of duty into the United Kingdom., which already buys the bulk of our exports of fruit also. Canada is a great producer, and exports vast quantities to a’l-l the markets of the world. Oi apples, fresh and dried, -she sends -abroad 200,000,000 1’b. per annum, and Australia is ‘offered an -opportunity to -compete in the Canadian market after paying a duty of 12- ‘.per cent.., when it can sell du the markets of Great Britain free of duty Of Australia’s annual export of canned fruit, SO per cent. :goes to the United Kingdom,. Canada exports $1,000,000 worth of this commodity. We cam sell our products in London tax free, but if we desire to sell in Canada we must pay an impost of fd. per lb. Similar conditions obtain in regard to pears, quinces, nectarines, and apricots, of which the dominion imports 30,000,000 lb. from America. I -flunk the duty against America is 2 /8d. per lb. Australia can enter that market upon payment of a duty of &d., and we are told that -with an advantage of A. -we can compete against America.
Honorable members will see that for our surplus production -of meat, dairy produce and -orchard produce, our main markets are Great Britain and Europe. Canada produces most of its own requirements, and its policy is io buy little or .nothing abroad. Since the war the -dominion, like Australia, has enormously extended its orchards, and because there -is now over-production, fruit is rotting on the ground. Mr. O. C. Beale, upon his return from a trip to America last week, stated in an raterview published in the Sydney Morning Herald -
Canada has made many of the same mistakes ns we have made. For instance, numbers of the settlers, especially returned soldiers, were set up in fruit-growing, -and, last year, there was “more fruit than could T)e sold. A large quantity of it was being pulped, and even then there was a glut.
An immense orchard settlement has been established in. -the Okanagan Valley, and the orchardists have to be maintained toy the Government because there is .a ,glut of fruit, .and they cannot find an .adequate market. This over-production, combined with the diminishing consuming power of the public, means a decrease in prices.
Now I come to raisins .and currants. This item is said to be the saving grace of the agreement. The Tariff Board in its report to the Minister stated - “ Raisins and currants are the only lines in which -we can ‘expect to -do an extensive business.” We have ‘been told that these negotiations have been in progress since November, 1-922, and that Canada .imports currants
Bead raisins to a value of £777,iQ00 .per annum. I submit, for the information of honorable members, statistics of Canadian imports of currants for the years 1921, 1922, and .1923, .taken from the Canadian Year-Book; and for 1924, taken from the speech .by the Minister for Trade and Customs -
According to those figures, the average import price of currants in Canada in 1921 was 8d., in 1922 7d., in 1923 6d., and in 1924 5d. We are asked to believe that our fruit-growers can pay freight across the ‘Pacific, and duty, and sell in Canada at 5d. per lb., in competition with American producers.
– Is the honorable member quoting the retail price I
– No, the import price. Of Canada’s requirements oF currants, 85 per cent, is supplied by Greece, and the balance by the West Indies and the southern states of America. From Australia, Canada imported no currants last year. To South Africa we sent 12,000,000 lb., and to New Zealand 2,500,000 lb., and of the balance of our exports Great Britain took about 95 per cent. For this product, also, the United Kingdom is Australia’s best market The figures in regard to the Canadian importations of raisins are even less encouraging. They were as follows : -
I ask the House to notice that in 1923 32,000,000 lb. of raisins realized £729,000, or 5Ad. per lb. In the following year, according to the figures supplied by the Minister for Trade and Customs, the average price was only 4d. per lb. During the last four years the price has decreased from 10£d. to 4d. per lb. It is absolutely impossible for the fruitgrowers of this country to find a market for their products in Canada. Canada consumes mostly the dried fruits . of the United States of America, which are grown with cheap negro labour along the Mississippi Valley, in the southern states. The United States of America supplies 90 per cent, of the raisins and currants consumed in Canada. That country also sends to Australia dried fruits to the amount of 1,000,000 lb. per annum - apples, raisins, prunes, &c. - and pays 3d. and 4d. a lb. to place them in our markets. If America can compete with us under those circumstances, what hope is there of Australia, with a preference of 14d. per lb., competing with her in Canada? There is no possibility of our dried fruits getting into the Canadian market at all. These preferences can be likened to Dead Sea fruit, which pleases the eye, but turns to ashes in the mouth. To secure them this Government offers Canada preference on twelve items, but to the majority of these I intend to make no reference because they are practically of as little value to Canada as what she offers to us.
In brief, the treaty boils down to two things. Australia is asked to exchange her raisins for Canadian paper. This effort to introduce Canadian paper into this country is part of (he great struggle for this market between the American and the British paper trusts. In this matter I am the voice of the British capitalist and his interests, and the Minister is the voice of the American paper combination. It may be asked why I, a Labour man, should support any trust or combination. My reply will be that I do so, first, because the British trust is the more humane. It stands for better conditions for its employees; and an eight-hour day instead of ten hours; it stands for collective bargaining and the rights of workmen; whereas the American trust imposes crushing conditions upon its workmen. Further, the British trust carries out its obligations and contracts, but the American trust does not. The British trust has never been condemned in this House by a Minister of the Crown as was an agency of the American trust. The British trust has never been condemned in the press of this country for breaking its contracts, and the American trust has. It has never sought to evade the obligations of foreign domicile as has the American trust. The British trust has never been condemned for deliberately attempting to act in restraint of trade and in a manner inimical to public interest. It has never attempted to bribe the courts as has the American trust. The Canadian trust is part of the American trust, which has been condemned under the Sherman Act of the United States of America, The British trust treats its workmen more humanely, and by trading with it there is greater hope of developing the kindred interests of both countries. The employment of Englishmen by the British trust gives greater opportunity to the fruit-growers and other primary producers of Australia to increase their exports to Great Britain, and by doing so they will benefit more than under the proposed treaty with Canada.
I propose to tell again a little history that may have faded from the memory of honorable members. I wish to carry their minds back to the period of the war, when these two great paper combinations were operating in Australia. When the war broke out the British paper mills were used for the manufacture of warlike material, and many of them went out of the paper-making industry altogether. Some remained in the industry for the manufacture of cartridges, &c, but the mills were all used for the purposes of Empire defence. The American trust was in an entirely different position. It seized the markets that Britain lost, and its immense business increased tenfold, until to-day its output is 100,000,000 tons per annum. It then Ifad Australia at its mercy, and how did it use its power ? The Commonwealth Government gave special facilities for the importation of newsprint, and in return the trust exacted cruel conditions. The users here petitioned a Minister of the Crown for relief, but he was unable to grant their request. There was then a high tariff upon the products of Scandinavia, and it was proposed to abolish it in order that relief might be given from the operations of the American trust by securing newsprint from Scandinavia. Senator Massy Greene, who was then Minister for Trade and Customs, promised to give that relief. The American trust raised the price of paper in this country to £80 a ton. After the war the British manufacturers sought to recover their market in Australia. They pointed out that there were thousands of unemployed in Britain, and if those people were employed they would consume much of the primary products of Australia, and thus increase our markets. They promised to give better conditions to their workmen, and offered to ship all their paper on the steamers of the Commonwealth Government Line instead of on vessels owned by private shipping companies. They also said that if at any time Australia wished to establish the paper-making industry they would furnish half the capital, send out the necessary experts and technicians, give access to their sources of supply, and assist in every possible way. Every reduction in paper made by the British trust was reflected in the prices of the Yankee trust. The British price fell to £75, £70, £65, and £60, and the Yankee price followed suit. The British trust entered into a contract that the price for paper should not exceed £30, and that obligation has been honorably kept. What undertaking have they entered into which they have not kept 1 They undertook to assist to establish the paper-making industry in this country, and to give us free access to their sources of supply, and to supply all our needs until the industry was established. Canada was regarded as foreign territory at the time that matter was under consideration.
The present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), who was then a senator, strongly supported the proposal. Unfortunately, he was not able to remain in his place and vote for it, but he took every means in his power to show that he favoured it. Yet it is the very thing which he is now endeavouring to sweep away. We may well ask why he is so anxious now to undo the work which he was so anxious to do at that time. He said in those days that the undertaking that had been given by the British paper manufacturers was an absolute guarantee that the paper-making industry would be established in. Australia in the immediate future. He was so anxious to do his utmost to see that the amendment was agreed to that, even after he had left Melbourne he wrote letters to some of his colleagues, urging them to vote for it. He was acting, not merely in the interests of Great Britain, but as a good protectionist. He saw the possibility of developing a big industry in Australia. He realized, that it was essential that we should have big industries here in time of peace as well as in time of war. For that reason he used his influence, if not his vote, to urge his colleagues to support the amendment. In one letter that he wrote from Sydney he said that he waa very strongly in favour of the proposed amendment, for it was full of assurance that the paper-making industry would be established in Australia. He concluded the letter as follows: - “ I hope you will see your way clear to support the amendment.” His arguments were so strong that the gentleman to whom he addressed them accepted them, and did as he wished. Three years have elapsed since then, and I ask again : What undertaking that the British paper-makers made have they failed to honour? What has transpired in those three years to cause the Minister to alter the opinion that he then held so strongly? Perhaps he will be able to tell us later. Is his mere transformation from a senator to a Minister of the Crown to be considered a sufficient reason, or has he been led to alter his opinion by the report of the Tariff Board, or has he been influenced by his colleagues in the Ministry? There is need for explanation of his changed attitude.
I turu aside for a moment to’ another aspect- of the subject which merits consideration. For a considerable time- every ounce of British paper that was brought to Australia was carried’ on the Commonwealth Government, steamers,, but lately I discovered, as- a member of then Navigation’ Commission, that a decision of the< Government to dispose of certain Commonwealth vessels, or to hand them over to the British shipping combine, had not been made irc the desire to effect economy. The Government has practically handed over complete control of its ships to the British shipping combine’, and entered into an arrangement the result of which is that instead of all the paper importations to Australia being brought here in Commonwealth vessels, a considerable- proportion of that cargo comes in the Inchcape liners. While- the Commonwealth ships were carrying the cargo; £3- a ton of” the price of the paper was returned to the revenue of this country. That is a matter worth consideration.
The British paper manufacturers have established gigantic works on the Thames at Kemsly There they have made a garden village to house their employees. This must result in developing in- them a higher sense of self-respect and decency, a greater- love for home, and a deeper appreciation of the beautiful. It is more than probable that the employers who look after the housing of their workpeople do- so for the reason that they believe that the giving of. better conditions makes for higher efficiency, and a larger return ; bub, nevertheless, the establishment of these employees in beautiful surroundings and comfortable homes must make a notable contribution to national efficiency and nobler living. They are helping towards the .attainment of a better order of society, and so deserve credit,, and we can give our endorsement to such efforts.
Has the American Trust quietly accepted the .altered conditions effected by the tariff, amendment adopted by this Parliament three years ago? It will be remembered that in. 1921 I pointed out that the American Combine would, leaveno stone unturned to’ cut off the British manufacturers from their sources of supply. That is- what has happened. The British, manufacturers had spent millions of money in securing timber reserves .in Canada, and they had been forced right into the backwoods. But having’ secured these- sources of supply they informed us that they would be able to meet aLL outneeds. Unfortunately for them, however, things) did not work smoothly. The Canadian and American trusts saw to that. Notwithstanding that the British, manufacturers had spent immense sums of money in establishing 20 or 30 mills in the Chicoutima district, and had subscribed the whole of the capital required’, they found, that the Yankees were too smart for them, for they discovered that a clause in the deed of trust held by a local bank provided, although they furnished practically the whole of the capital for the enterprise, that they were only entitled to four seats on the directorate of nine, and that a certain subsidiary company which had been- interested iu the property had the right to five seats. That meant,, of course, that the British manufacturers were unable to control the enterprise. They discovered that the longer they continued their attempts’ to obtain supplies of wood for pulp making the greater became their liabilities-. Large quantities of timber disappeared from the territory. On one occasion they discovered that 40,000’ cord’s of wood, the bulk of which was as great as that of the dome, of St. Paul’s Cathedral, had entirely disappeared. In addition,, the workmen were left unpaid, so< that- they struck,, and it was. impossible- to get supplies. The British interests Had on. one occasion to pro-vide 150,000 dollars to pay wages. The outcome of all this was that industrial troubles, effectively dislocated the whole business. The? CanadianAmerican interests, which earlier had refused to complete their undertakings with this country, were again taking steps which prevented the British- paper manufacturers from obtaining supplies of timber to enable them to- meet’ their obligations to the Australian’ paper purchasers. To put it plainly, the Yankee capitalists- had entered into a conspiracy to- prevent the British paper manufacturers1 from supplying Australia’s- needs, and the British manufacturers had no alternative but. to get their pulp requirements from Scandinavia. They, therefore, ap>preached the Commonwealth- Government to reckoner the duty on Scandinavian paper,, and that waa what was. done.
We were- told by the Minister for Trade and Customs- (Mr. Pratten) that not much importance could be attached to the proposal contained in this motion respecting the importation of newsprint from Canada for the reason that the British manufacturers had practically complete control of the market here. The position is that in 1921 British interests were supplying Australia with. 29,000 tons of newsprint annually,, and the supply from Canada was 22,000 tons. The position was practically the same in 1923, but this year the Canadian importations have slumped to 2,000 tons. So much of the history of this matter is public property; but there is more to be told. What has been the reason for the sudden slump in Canadian supplies of newsprint to Australia ? I shall tell honorable members. The Canadian and American interests have made up their mind to force the British manufacturers into an admission that they are not able to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements, and that, therefore, the Government should alter the existing tariff provisions. As a means to that end, they suddenly ceased their importations to Australia, and so forced the British interests last year to increase their supplies to Australia to 40,000 tons, and this year 60,000 tons will have to be supplied by the British interests in. order to supply our markets. This struggle between the British and American combiines has been going on for a. considerable time, and although the Government appeals to be ignorant of it, information is to be obtained from other sources. I have some quotations from an article which appeared in the Paper Trade Journal, of New York, in July, 1924. The Montreal correspondent of the. journal wrote that the defeat of Imperial preference meant a win for American paper interests. It will thus be seen that it was not the Labour party of this country which prevented the enactment of Imperial preference. Other influences were at work which had a paralyzing effect on the proposal. The article also stated that the representatives of American paper interests in Australia would be able to bring off a successful deal through the defeat of Imperial preference. It added that their agents, Mr. A. L. Dawe and Sir John Willison, had been in close consultation with the Australian Government; thatcables from Australia to Canada indicated that the result of the omission had been favorable; and that the Australian Go vernment would not delay working out a commercial treaty with Canada. Since 1921, when Senator Pearce went there as a Minister, and was associated with Mr: Robb, insidious work has been going on to bring this treaty about. The Minister for Trade and Customs has said that the treaty has the full endorsement of the Tariff Board. I have already said that I am acting as the spokesman of, and am stating the case for the paper interests of Great Britain. They can be supported from the Labour point of view, the imperial point of view, and the Australian primary producers’ point of view. This document, which was prepared by people who look at the question as it concerns their own financial position, says: -
The provisions of the Customs Act require as a preliminary to any treaty, of reciprocity in other lands that there shall he a full inquiry and report by the Tariff Board.
Repeatedly the Tariff Board and the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs have said that due notice of inquiries will be given, and that all interested parties will he heard.
– Is the honorable member referring to the Canadian reciprocal tariff?
– When was the statement made?
– It has been handed to me, so that I may make it known to the Government. It proceeds -
The proposed Treaty of Reciprocity with Canada will affect the English newsprint, printing paper, and writing paper makers most seriously.
We, the undersigned representatives of English paper mills, desire to point out that no opportunity has been given us to appear before the Tariff Board, and that, in our opinion, the. inquiry required under the act has not been made.
The Treaty, if carried, will add largely to unemployment in England, and affect her trade most seriously.
Our houses represent £10,000,000 of capital.
It is the first time in my life that I have been able to talk for so much money. And my justification is the wider interests behind this matter that need to be served.
Now I come to a consideration of some of the statements of the Minister for. Trade and Customs. He has said that the United Kingdom competes where she has no preference; so do we. He has said that the preference to Great. Britain gives a premium to the employment of foreign products. But every industry established in this country gives a premium to the employment of some form of oversea product. There is hardly an industry that can be carried on in this country without using products from overseas. Does the Minister say that industries should not be established because they have to use products from overseas? We have paper mills which, although they do not make newsprint, make large quantities of other classes of paper. They purchase pulp from overseas. Would the Minister wipe out this local industry because it has to obtain pulp from overseas? He would not doso; but would say that the industry should be supported until it could produce or obtain local supplies of pulp. We could not send a tin of jam out of Australia unless we obtained tin plate from overseas. There is nothing in the Minister’s argument.
My reference to the local paper mills and their pulp supply, reminds me of the support that the British paper-makers promised to give for the establishment of a local industry. They have given assistance to every one willing to take action. The Amalgamated Zinc Corporation has taken over the Van Diemen’s Land Company’s property in Tasmania, and is making experiments to see whether the local timber can be pulped. Mr. Avery, of the Institute of Science and Industry, has been assisting the investigations to ascertain the extent to which we can produce paper pulp in this country. Mr. Corney, managing director of the local pulp mills, with a powerful corporation behind him, is also taking active steps in that direction. Investigation has been made, too, on the northern rivers of New South Wales. The English companies are bringing into Great Britain timber for making pulp in that ceuntry. These various agencies in Australia and other parts of the world are working together to a common end. Plenty of capital is available as well as machinery of which the British companies have the exclusive patent rights throughout the world. It is self evident that the Americans will show us no more mercy if they again get control of our markets than they did before the war. If they are as exacting when they regain their former power as they were before they lost it, we shallhavevery little opportunity of developing these industries. The Miuister has said that the treaty can be cancelled by giving six months’ notice, but what will be the use of that afterour trade with Great Britain has been destroyed? The treaty will mean the paralyzing of the British industry, and after that has happened, what advantage shall we get by giving six months’ notice to cancel the treaty? The Minister has further said -
The British have decreased importation of pulp from Canada, and given preference to Scandinavia.
I have stated the reason for that, and the Minister is as conversant with the facts as I am. As a matter of fact, Canada wants to oustScandinavian products from this market. I am opposed to this treaty, lock, stock, and barrel. I deny that it will do any good to any one in Australia. I deny that it will assist the primary industries.
– That statement is not correct.
– I am only expressing my opinion, and I suppose I am entitled to do that. Canada is a primary producing country, and the bulk of her exports are primary products. In that respect she is in a similar position to Australia. We have no hope of going into the Canadian market, where we are subject to a duty, and competing with the local produce, if we cannot compete with it in the British market.
The giving of a preference to Canadian paper will be inimical to the best interests of Australia. It will injure and tend to destroy an important British industry. That it will tend to injure that British industry is the reason why there has been so much clamour for it. It was pointed out that a demand for 40,000 or 50,000 tons of Canadian paper would place the industry on a solid basis, would reduce overhead costs, and would mean lower rates of production, and would enable the Americans to recover their markets in continental countries. To a very large extent that has happened. A decrease of 20,000 or 30,000 tons in the consumption of British products in Australia will not only mean a decrease in the earnings of the Commonwealth steamers, which are the property of the people of Australia, but will mean that the British overhead charges and costs of production will be correspondingly increased. The work that has been done to supply the growing trade in Australia will be lost.
Our tariff, by promoting the paper industry in Great Britain, has resulted in the employment of thousands of workmen there, who buy, not only Australian raisins, but all Australian products in increasing quantities. We have found employment for English workmen, who supply a market for our meat, wheat, leather, and everything that they require for the clothing of their bodies, and the sustenance of themselves and their families. Remove the tariff preference to Great Britain and these men will be thrown out of employment. The amount of trade the British paper mills do in Australia may bo regarded as comparatively little, but to an Australian there is a selfish side to the matter. When we deprive 1,000, 2,000, or 3,000 men of employment in Great Britain, we lessen the market for our own products. These people furnish us with a market that Canada can never furnish. Our paper trade is, in itself, infinitesimal, but the control of it would enable America to compete more successfully with Great Britain in the markets of Europe - markets that are now controlled by Great Britain. America wants the earth in the matter of newsprint just as she wants the earth in the motor car business. We know that the representatives of American motor manufacturers tell Australian agents that if they sell English motor cars they will receive no supplies or financial assistance from American houses..
If I, as a Labour man, take this attitude, realizing that the Australian workers have a common interest with the workers of Great Britain, if I hold that this treaty is undesirable when viewed in the light of the narrow sectional interests of Australia, how * should those view it who say that this country cannot live without the protection of British guns? I have said that I believe that within Australia we have the power to maintain this country and defend ourselves, and that the first step to that end is economic preparedness. Because I believe that economic preparedness is the first step in defence, and because I believe that no nation can prosper unless it is inspired by faith and enthusiasm - the faith and enthusiasm that have often inspired nations and individuals to accomplish things deemed impossible - I cannot endorse this treaty. If I believed that the treaty would make us a stronger nation, economically I would support it. If I oppose the treaty on these grounds, how can any man in this House who believesthat we cannot live except with the support of Great Britain endorse it when he knows that it must paralyze .the economicresources of the very nation that he expects to defend him? There is no justification for it. It will not help the primary producers of this country. It will strike away all the prospect we have of establishing a great secondary industry in this country, and it will be of no advantage ‘to us. This Government has given its decision in favour of those who are linked up with the Americans, who are absolutely unscrupulous, relentless, have no bowels of compassion and no consideration for the workers. Between the two groups of capitalists I vote for those who are nearest to ourselves, and nearest to our ideals, and who, because of the way in which they have carried out their obliga-tions, ought to be supported by this House. I hope that every honorable member will oppose the treaty, for it offers no hope to the primary producers. On the contrary, it will do much harm to them” since it will diminish the number of consumers, and little benefit will be derived from the trade that may be developed.
.- While I congratulate the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey) on his remarkable powers of rhetoric, there are two points on which I should like some information from him. I refer, in the first place, to his grave objection to what he described as bringing the conditions of the Australian workers down to those obtaining in Canada, and I also have in mind his apparent desire to conserve the interests of the capitalistic manufacturers of Great Britain. In what way, I ask, would it be possible for us to “ lower ‘’ the conditions of the Australian workman to the level of those of Canada? Although I have never visited that dominion, I have read a good deal of the conditions of life there: and, as far as I can judge, the Canadian worker is in a far better position both financially and socially than is his fellow-worker in Australia. A working week of from 45 to 48 hours is generally observed in Canada, and the average employee has .his own motor car. It is surprising that a country like Canada, is able to build up a huge export trade to Australia in all classes of machinery and other goods, even though we impose on those goods duties which, inclusive of the natural protection, range from 80 to 100 per cent. The honorable member for Bourke referred to the effect that the proposed treaty would have on the conditions of the British workers; but let me remind him .of the speeches he made in this chamber three years ago, when the tariff was under consideration. He then told us of the awful conditions under which the British workers were employed, and he uttered not one good word on behalf of the British manufacturers.. Has he forgotten that the Canadians, like the people of the Old Country, are of our own kith and kin? Why his sudden conversion to an attitude of sympathy with the British manufacturers? I congratulate the Government on having entered into this treaty, for it will be a good thing to the producers of this country. Probably it will not be of very great value at the outset, except to the growers of currants’ and raisins, but even this preference is of the utmost importance in view of the large expenditure incurred in damming the Murray, and establishing along its valley numerous irrigation settlements, where great development is expected to take place. Similar progress is being made in the west. Every intelligent person must realize that on account of our increased production of fruits, markets outside Australia will have to be found for them. I had .expected the Government to tell the House how it is that the proposed treaty with Canada was not drawn up .two years ago. In common with other members, I have been asking for the last two years what it was that Canada desired. The House was entitled to have that information. Last year tons ‘ of raisins were being sold to the distilleries in Australia at the price of 1 1/2d. per lb., because markets could not be found for the fruit; and yet the Customs Department allowed this to continue. The arrangement with Canada ‘seems so -simple that one wonders why it was not arrived at long ago. Was the position as simple at the outset of the negotiations 1 What was it that the people of Canada -desired ? What were the difficulties in the way ? I suppose that the ‘Comptroller-General of
Customs was anxious that nothing should be done to affect his pet manufacturers in Australia, and that ultimately he decided that commodities such as paper should be admitted into Australia from Canada under a preferential arrangement. Why did he not favour a similar preference to agricultural machinery, so that help would be afforded to the primary producers of this country ? It is time that the position of the Country party in this matter was explained. In the Cabinet are Ministers who profess to be strong advocates of the cherished principles of the Country party. Here was an opportunity for them to do something of real benefit to the man on the land. Nobody will’ deny the difficulties of opening up virgin country, and there is ample room for increased settlement in Victoria, Western Australia, .and Queensland. Should we make the conditions so fictitious as the honorable member for Bourke suggests, and pander either to the manufacturers or those employed in the highly protected industries ? Does the honorable member realize that the huge impost on Canadian machinery is for the protection of only a small section of the workers? It must be admitted that the number of workers in the protected industries is small in proportion to the whole.
– The honorable member had better look up the facts.
– I am sure that my statement is correct; in fact, there are about ‘four workers in unprotected industries to one in protected industries. It is time that we came to an understanding on another matter. In connexion with the imposts on articles of British production, the Government did not even consider it worth while to frame a regulation and place it on the table of the House, so that it might be discussed. The. Minister for Trade and Customs tells us that he proposes, during the recess, to change the conditions under which goods from the United Kingdom may enter this country under the preferential rates. Hitherto, if British labour or materials constituted 25 per cent, of their factory or works cost, they could come in under the preferential rates:; but the proportion is now to be increased from 25 per cent, to 75 per cent. It was pointed out that the British manufacturer had to buy his raw materials as cheaply as he could, that if Great Britain was to control the trade of the world, in the face of keen competition from ‘ Germany and the United States of America, its manufacturers must increase their trade, and that that could only be done by their purchasing the raw materials in the cheapest market. There has been a great expansion in the last twelve months, and it must go on. in order that Britain may continue to maintain the remarkable proportion of workers employed in manufacturing industries. But if British manufacturers are to be compelled to pay increased prices for their raw material, how is this to be done? And so with Australia. Everything that the man on the land requires is to be made as costly as possible, and the cost of production will be so great that it will be impossible for the man on the land to carry on in the future. In spite of our fiscal policy, our primary producers can compete with the world’s markets at the present time, because there has been a wonderful market for wool, butter, and wheat, and the producers, particularly the pastoralists, have been doing very well for the last few years. But when normal conditions return, as they must very soon, the producers will be in a difficulty. Does any honorable member imagine that wheat will remain at 5s. a bushel ? I predict that, in the next few years, the price will drop considerably, especially when Russia, Austria, and Germany begin to produce at a normal rate. The price of wool, also, is likely to fall. However, I am satisfied that this reciprocal treaty will result in a fairly good market being opened up in Canada for Australian currants and raisins. We cannot export much wine and brandy to Canada, because its importations of these commodities is not large. A considerable quantity of onions is imported by her, and, in certain seasons of the year, Australia may also be able to dispose of some butter in Canada.
– Only in bad seasons.
– Probably, as time goes on, the trade with Canada will increase. I strongly complain that when the opportunity was afforded to this Government, following strong representations by members of the Country party, desperate efforts were not made to provide for something in the nature of a remission of the duties on agricultural machinery. The duty on a reaper or binder amounts to about 54 per cent., and with the natural protection, it amounts to about 94 to 96 per cent. - a monstrous impost. The Canadian manufacturer can compete in the Australian market in spite of the high tariff, and despite the fact that he has to import to a large extent, his coal, iron and steel. Seeing that he pays wages on a high scale, compared with those earned in Australia, why can we not obtain machinery for our farmers at the same price that is paid in the United States of America and Canada?
– How does the honorable member account for the difference?
– It is due to better methods of manufacture in Canada, and to the piece-work system under which the workers there earn high wages. A gentleman informed me that he visited a factory in Canada, and saw half a dozen motor cars in a corner of the yard. He remarked to the manager, “You have a very expensive staff here; look at those cars.” The manager replied, “They do not belong to the staff, but the workmen. On Saturday morning you will see 40 or 50 cars. The men motor down to the seaside with their wives and families for the week end.”
– Does not Canada manufacture motor cars, and is not the fact mentioned by the honorable member a good argument in favour of a country manufacturing its own requirements?
– Why should not Australia do the same? There is in this country a big market for agricultural machinery. Our product of wheat is not much less than- that of Canada, our farmers are almost as numerous, and why cannot we produce agricultural implements and machinery at prices approximating those of Canadian origin? There is no reason why iron and steel should not be as cheap in Australia, as they are in Canada. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company boasts of its magnificent works adjacent to the great coal mines of New South Wales, and so situated that steamers can load almost alongside the mills. The company has also a tremendous advantage in the rich deposit of ore at Iron Knob, which averages from 66 to 68 per cent, of iron. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company states that one ton of this crude ore will give the same result as will 2 tons of British ore. Surely that company should be able to supply to our manufacturers iron and steel at prices lower than obtain in any other part of the world, and so enable agricultural machinery to , be sold to the farmers as cheaply as in other countries. I welcome the agreement and hope that there will be no opposition to it. I am sorry that it does not go further. Honorable members are perfectly aware of the conditions of the new settlers along the Murray River, who are engaged in the production of currants and raisins. In Western Australia also many returned soldiers have recently started orchards for the production of dried fruits. We must find a market for them, and in this agreement we have an opportunity of getting access to a good market at no cost. All that we are asked to give away to Canada we already give to Great Britain. I think that the proposal to extend the British preference on newsprint to Canada was defeated by only one vote in this Chamber. The desire of a number of honorable members was that the preference should be imperial in its scope. We recognized that the British manufacturers of newsprint import pulp from other countries, and that Canada should be allowed to export to Australia at the same rate of duty as applied to Great Britain. The Government is to be congratulated upon conceding to the newspaper proprietors, who of course, did no profiteering during the war, the right to import newsprint free of duty. Linotypes and other printing machinery also are to be admitted free, in order that the wealthy newspaper proprietors may carry on their industry, but if a poor fellow in the country who is putting in a first crop on his un fenced block in order to provide “ tucker “ for his family, has a chance of getting some wire netting or farming implements cheaply, the Minister for Trade and Customs imemdiately imposes a dumping duty. His consideration and help are reserved for a few fortunate people in the cities, and the man upon the land may go to the devil.
– I always listen with interest to the honorable member for Swan, when he speaks on Tariff matters. The honorable member certainly never leaves us in doubt as to bis fiscal views.
– He has the heart of a lion.
– I give him credit for having political courage. I am entirely opposed to the agreement for the very reason that the honorable member is in favour of it. To my mind it embodies a preference not only to Canada, but to the whole of the American people.
– If Ford came to Australia to start a factory, would not the honorable member welcome him?
– I would, and the object of the tariff is to encourage manufacturers to start industries in this country. When I was in Canada I visited many factories that were mere branches of large establishments in the United States. They had come within the Canadian tariff border in order to be able to compete more successfully in thelocal market. The agreement contains no provision to ensure that the genuine Canadian manufacturer will get the advantage of this preference; and I am afraid that Americans who have established branches in Canada will be afforded an opportunity to send their surplus to Australia with the help of low duties. I was glad to hear the honorable member for Swan say that he understood that wages are higher in Canadathan in Australia, and I hope that when next honorable members on this side endeavour to get a little more consideration for the Australian workers, the honorable member will help us to raise them to the level of their competitors in Canada.
– The Canadian workers have attained their position without the aid of protection.
– Canada has always had protection.
– The industry of which the honorable member for Swan was speaking does not enjoy any protection.
– There are some industries that are still in need of protection. But Canada has protected some of its industries to an extent never attempted in Australia.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member stressed the fact that many Canadian artisans travel to and from their work in motor cars. The explanation is that the cars are manufactured in Canada, and it tells against his contention that local production means expensive commodities. I have always endeavoured to help the man on the land, but we shall not assist him by removing duties, ruining factories, causing unemployment, and thereby destroying the local market for the produce of the primary producer. In New Zealand, which does not impose duties on agricultural machinery, the prices of farming implements are higher than in Australia.
– Why cannot Australia manufacture agricultural machinery as cheaply as Canada ?
– Our higher prices may be due to lack of organization in Australia, or to the fact that Canada is “able to engage in mass production. I do not know whether implements are cheaper in Canada than in Australia; but, in any case, a young country must make a commencement with manufacturing, and it may be that Canada has been engaged longer than Australia in organizing its secondary industries. We are constantly told- that excessive wages prevent Australian manufacturers from producing cheaply, but we have heard an admission to-day that in a country which does produce more cheaply,- the wages are higher. As a matter of fact, wages are the smallest factor in the cost of production. If we are to compete successfully against other countries, we must reduce the overhead charges and organize our industries more thoroughly. The Country party should be very proud of its achievement during this session, because the business of this Parliament has related almost exclusively to country interests. This agreement represents another demand upon the Government for a further instalment of freetrade. The honorable member for Swan mentioned the needs of the returned soldiers who have started to produce dried fruits. In some of the factories that will be subjected to competition under this agreement, many returned soldiers are employed.
– Name the factories.
– Burfords and the manufacturers of rubber goods. In regard to iron and steel products, certain honorable members did not rest until they induced the Government to reduce the duties on those articles and substitute a system of bonuses. I have always been opposed to bonuses, and when that form of help was substituted for tariff protection, the expansion of the iron and steel industry stopped. One big factory in my electorate would have been duplicated if the old duties had been retained. At no other time in the history of this country have more iron-workers and engineers, been out of employment. Although there is considerable unemployment in Australia, yet the Government is opening up. avenues for further competition with certain articles that are manufactured here.
– To what articles does, the honorable member refer ?
– Cannot iron and steel tubes be made in this country?
– Not of the descriptionset out in this schedule.
– Is there a reason why they should not be made in this country ?
– A deferred duty will be imposed when they are made here.
– I object to the treaty because I fear that it will open the door to Canadian factories financed by American capitalists. .The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) referred to the regulations announced by the Minister for Trade and Customs the other day, requiring that goods coming under British preferential tariff shall be 75 per cent, of British manufacture, instead of 25 per cent, as before. He said that this regulation would place a hardship upon the British manufacturers, who, in some cases, paid for their raw material a price equal to 75 per cent, of the value of the finished product. I cannot understand such a foolish argument. Surely 25 per cent, of the value of the finished article is sufficient to purchase the raw material. If a larger percentage were required to buy raw material, it is doubtful whether the industry could be run at a profit. It has been stated that the increase in the preferential tariff will injure the British manufacturers. It will certainly not benefit those who have evaded British manufacture by purchasing goods from Germany and other countries that were opposed to the allies during the war. Some of these countries have been getting the benefit of the British preference. Under this regulation the position will be changed. The British manufacturers have for some considerable time been asking for an increased preferential tariff. They have stated openly that the existing preference to Britain is of no use, because it is taken advantage of by manufacturers who purchase steel blooms and pig iron from other countries, and expend in manufacture 25 per cent, of the cost of the finished article. The principle is wrong. We initiated this scheme of preference because we wanted to trade with our own kith and kin, but we find that people outside Britain are receiving the benefit of the preference. The proposed regulation will benefit not only our own, but also the truly British manufacturers. The treaty with Canada will permit of the same loophole as now exists in the British preferential tariff. It will confer a great benefit upon Canadian factories financed by capitalists of the United States of America, a country, which has imposed the highest duties in the world, and has refused to take Australian productions. To-day the imports of Canadian goods into Australia far exceed Australian exports to Canada, and this treaty will not alter that position one iota. No guarantee is given by Canada that Australian goods will be purchased, and, if Canada can buy goods cheaper from America, it will certainly trade with that country. The time has come when we . should encourage the making of newsprint in Australia. I have with me a few samples of paper manufactured here, and, although they may not be quite up to the standard of imported printing paper, they are very good, and can, no doubt, be improved. When this Government came into office, it stated that its one aim was to encourage existing industries, and assist in the establishment of new industries. It has now a splendid opportunity to assist the newsprint industry.
.- I congratulate the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) on making the best possible use of a very bad case. T am reminded that on. one occasion when the late Mr. Gladstone, for many years the Prime Minister of England, was suddenly called upon to take over the reins of office after a long period of opposition, he is reported to have Bald: “Well, thank goodness it will no longer be necessary to oppose everything.” It appears to mc that the Acting Leader of .the Opposition has opposed this motion, solely from a sense of duty required of one in his position, and not because there is anything wrong with the principle of the treaty. There is. an old Scotch pro verb, that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. As a rule, in the realms of fiscal controversy, anything that satisfies the protectionist is anathema to the freetrader. What is food for one is poison to the other. In introducing this motion, the Minister has succeeded iu the unusual achievement of framing a treaty which cannot be objected to either by the protectionist or the freetrader. It is regarded as advantageous by one, and as beneficial by the other. There is indeed ample room, in Canada, for our primary products, in spite of- the fact that that country is itself a great producer. The Acting Leader of the Opposition dwelt on the point that it was ridiculous for us to suppose that we could find a marketin Canada when she was already growing most of her own foodstuffs; but he entirely forgot that on this earth there are alternating seasons, and that Canada has a winter of seven months. Although she ia a large exporter of many lands of primary products during the summer months, she is nevertheless an importer of no mean degree during her long winter, lb is of great advantage to us that our producing season occurs at the time of the Canadian winter. The fact has been stressed by the Acting Leader of the Opposition that the United States America can far more easily send foodstuffs to Canada than we can, but he must remember that the seasons of the United States of America coincide with those of Canada, and that their season of scarcity is our season of plenty. Of course, the Argentine is in a better position, geographically, than we are to supply Canada with foodstuffs. That country, being south of the equator, enjoys the same seasons that we do; but surely this proposed tariff preference should enable us successfully to compete with her for the Canadian market. 0» meat we shall have a preference of 3 cents, or 1 1/2d. per lb. ; on raisins, currants, cheese, and butter, an advantage of 3 cento per lb. over the Argentine, and on canned fruit, 2 cents per lb. The Acting Leader of the Opposition said that this proposal was a chimera and a sham, and that it would not improve the Canadian markets for our producers. I propose to quote a few figures to show the value of foodstuff which Canada imports.
– Very little of it cornea from Australia.
– That is all the more reason why we should be able to improve our market there. Under the old tariff we had to pay 3 cents on fresh meat sent to Canada, and in the last twelve months the value of the fresh meat we sent there was only £44,000, whereas her total importations were valued at £649,000, or, roughly, two-thirds of a million. Undoubtedly there is a big market for imported fresh meat in Canada.While I believe that we could not successfully compete with the Argentine in Canada under equal conditions, I certainly think that a preference of 3 cents, or11/2d. a lb., as against the Argentine, should enable us to develop a big trade in Canada for11/2d. per lb. on meat is a big thing. The Canadian tariff on Argentine canned meats is 271/2 per cent., and under the proposed new arrangement it will be 15 per cent. on Australian canned meat. In the last twelve months Australian canned meats sent to Canada were worth only £1,300, although her total imports were valued at £83,000. There does not appear so be a very big market for canned meats in Canada, but a much more hopeful position suggests itself in respect to lard. The total Canadian imports of lard last year were valued at £245,000. Australia’s exports were valued at £38,000. Canada, therefore, could absorb six times as much lard as Australia exports. Under this proposed tariff we shall enjoy an advantage of1d. per lb. as against our American competitors, for the respective tariffs are 21/2 cents and1/2 cent per lb. It may seem rather ridiculous to suggest sending eggs from Australia to Canada, for Canada, like Australia, is a primary producing country, but during the last twelve months Canada imported eggs valued at over £406,000. The Australian exportation of eggs was valued at £103,000, so that Canada has a market for nearly four times the quantity of eggs that Australia exports. This, of course, is due to the fact that the Canadian winter is so protracted that she must import eggs during that period. We have a very great advantage over other countries in that respect, and under the preferential arrangement we are now considering, it should be possible to export a large quantity of eggs to Canada. We shall only have to pay a duty of 1 cent a dozen as against 4 cents which other countries will have to pay. Although Canada exports a large quantity of cheese, she is also an importer. In the last twelve months she imported cheese valued at £111,000. Australia’s total exports of that commodity were valued at £232,000. Canada, therefore, could absorb nearly half the cheese that we export. This proposed new tariff will give Australia an advantage of 3 cents or11/2d. per lb. on cheese, so that the Canadian market should be useful to us. There does not appear to be a big market available for butter, for the Canadian importations of that commodity in the last twelve months were valued at only £126,000, but it is possible that the proposed advantage of 3 cents per lb. will enable us to send some of our butter to Canada. The sister dominion imported no onions from Australia last year, but she imported £81,000 worth from othercountries. Australia’s exportation of onions was valued at £39,000 for the last year for which we have complete figures, so that Canada could absorb twice the quantity of onions that we are exporting. It has to be remembered that in the case of every item I have mentioned so far, Canada’s period of shortage is our period of exportation. The tariff on Australian dried apples and those of other countries is 15 per cent. in our favour. Canada imported £103,000 worth of dried apples last year, and our total exports were valued at £104,000, so that Canada could absorb practically all the dried apples that we have hitherto exported. No doubt the most important items in this proposed reciprocal arrangement are raisins a.nd dried currants on the one hand, and paper on the other. In the last twelve months Canada imported only £1,000 worth of raisins from Australia-, although her imports from other countries were valued at £663,000. In the twelve months 1922-3, Australian exportations of raisins were valued at £404,000. It will be seen, therefore, that Canada has a market for one and a-half times the quantity of raisins that we exported in the last year for which we have complete records. Last year Canada obtained £5,376 worth of dried currants from Australia.
– What is the price of currants in Canada at present?
– I believe they are 5d. per lb. The Canadian imports of currants last year were valued- at £114,000, of which Australia supplied only £5,000 worth. Our total exports for 1922-3 were valued at £615,000. It is certain, therefore, that a big market is available in Canada for Australian raisins and currants. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) said that the Canadians grew their own currants and raisins, but that does not hold good, unless America is counted as part and parcel of Canada. Undoubtedly the Canadians secure large supplies of raisins and currants from America and Greece, but we shall have a substantial preference of 1 1/2d. per lb., or £14. per ton over those countries. We shall also have an advantage in wines and canned fruits. In the last year for which we have records, we sent to Canada only £254 worth of canned fruits, although her total imports were valued at £254,000. She therefore has a market- for more than £1,000 worth of this commodity for every £1 worth that she imported last year from Australia. She has a market for two and a-half times our total exports of canned fruits. The Canadian general tariff on canned fruits is 3£ cents, and the reciprocal tariff lj cents, so that Australia will have an advantage of 2 cents, or Id. a lb., on canned fruits, which should make it possible for us to develop a big market there. This proposed arrangement will give us very great possibilities of overcoming the difficulties which we now face in connexion with our dried and canned fruit industry. I disagree with the view of the Acting Leader of the Opposition that under this proposed agreement we shall give more than we shall get. I do not know that he used those exact words, but that was what I gathered to be the effect of his argument. As a matter of fact, we are receiving a preference on fourteen main and six minor items, and we are giving preference on twelve items, in respect to seven of which Canada will be placed in the same position as Great Britain, and in respect to the other five of which she will be given the advantage of the intermediate tariff. The Acting Leader of the Opposition suggested that the adoption of this agreement would favour Canada as against Great Britain, but the fact that I wish to emphasize is that we are giving to Canada nothing that we have not given to Great Britain. We are only giving her a small proportion of the preferences we have given to Great Britain. It has been computed that the value of our preferences to Great Britain is £8,750,000 a year, whereas the preferences which will be given to Canada under this proposed arrangement will amount to only £200,000. It may be said, therefore, that, compared with Britain, Canada is getting only the crumbs which fall from the rich man’s table A great deal bas been said about the paper-making industry, and it has been suggested that we shall deal unfairly with the British paper manufacturers if we give to Canada the same treatment which we are giving to Britain. In the six months ended 30th June, 1924, Great Britain exported 73,000 tons of paper, but imported 85,000 tons, so that she imports more than she exports. I believe that the importations were largely newsprint.
– I do not think so.
– The bulk of it was.
– What does the honorable member mean by “ the bulk of it “?
– The greater proportion of it.
– That does not get us anywhere.
– Great Britain imports more paper than she exports. If we agree to this proposal we shall really’ be giving the Canadian workman a preference at the expense of the Scandinavian, and not the British workman. If we import some of our ‘ paper supplies from Canada instead of from Great Britain, the British paper mills can still be kept busy supplying their home market if they import less from Scandinavia. So long as Great Britain imports more paper than she exports, I do not think that it can be said that by giving to Canada the preference that Great Britain now enjoys, we shall be giving the Canadian workman an advantage over the British workman. It has been objected that the Canadian paper mills are worked by American capital, and that, therefore, by adopting this proposal, we shall be giving preference to the American capitalists. That view has been stressed by both the Acting Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Newcastle. But even if the Canadian paper mills are operated by American capital, they employ Canadian work- men. The “honorable member for Swan, by interjection, reminded honorable members opposite that they would welcome the prospect of getting Mr. Henry Ford to establish a motor-building enterprise in Australia. If he did so he would use American capital, but the capital would give employment to Australian labour. A case like that would be analogous to that of the employment of American capital in Canada to provide work for Canadian workmen. Towards the end of the list of items on which we propose to give Canada a preference, certain provisions are made in respect to motor chassis. It is proposed that the existing tariff shall be reduced by 1 per cent. We do not manufacture motor chassis in Australia, and I understand that the present duty is based on the domestic value of chassis in the United States of America and Canada. As a Ford chassis sells at a higher price in Canada than in the United States, this 2£ per cent, advantage does little more than offset the disadvantage. The Canadian had to pay a slightly higher duty than the American builder of motor chassis, although it was the same percentage, for the simple reason that the domestic price in Canada was slightly higher, and the duty was based on that domestic price. To my mind there is room for a much larger reduction in duties on the cheaper class of motor car. I know that some people are still sufficiently antiquated to look upon the motor car as a luxury, but I believe that although a motor car may be a luxury to a man who lives within easy reach of train, tram, and other means of rapid transportation, it may be a tremendous advantage to the man who lives outback. It helps to keep on the land men who at. present are inclined to flock to the cities. I should like to see every outback home equipped with a telephone and a cheap motor car. I have lived for many years S miles from the nearest township, the nearest railway station, and the nearest doctor. Many men in the country live far greater distances than that from townships. To men who live 10 or 12 miles from the nearest township a motor car is a great boon, for it cuts that distance in half.
– Could the price of motor cars in Australia be reduced.
– I believe it could. The duty on a Ford motor car, which sells at £185, is about £83. Surely no one can regard that as reasonable. So far as I know no complete American Ford cars are now sold in this country; the bodies are all built here. It is possible that these cars imported complete, and paying the duty imposed, could not be sold at £185. It is certainly extraordinary that on an article that sells in this country for £185, duty amounting to £83 should be charged, especially as these cars sell in the American market at between £60 and £70. The duty on the body imported into Australia is equal to the total price of the car in America. I commend this agreement to honorable members because I see in it a means of opening up a splendid market for some of our primary products, and especially for our dried fruits. It is good from the protectionist viewpoint. It will stand the closest examination from that viewpoint, because it has been so framed that no injury will be done to any of our industries. It is a distinct advantage when looked at from the viewpoint of the freetrader, because, on the whole, it lowers rather than increases duties. From the business viewpoint it is a good measure, and even from the sentimental viewpoint it is a step towards the attainment of the ideal that the crimson thread of kinship should be in the future a more potent factor in determining our trade relationships than it has been in the past. I support the motion in its entirety.
.- I thought there would be an extended discussion on this motion, but there seems to be, instead, a conspiracy of silence. I should very much like to hear the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) on this subject, for he has had experience both in Great Britain and in Australia. A few days ago I said that the boasted Dairy Produce Export Control Bill would benefit the producer very little. I say the same about the preferential trade arrangement with Canada. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) is always decrying the benefits of our great secondary industries. I marvel that he can still retain his old freetrade views although he is surrounded by men who at one time made “freetrade their hobby, but who have been compelled by the force of circumstances to abandon their previous fiscal faith. They now believe that Australia should, and can, establish its own industries, and that only by doing so can it attain prosperity. The honorable member is ever ready to throw cold water upon our industries. He said to-day that very few people are engaged in the protected industries of Australia. I have consulted the small book of statistics supplied to honorable members by the Commonwealth Statistician, and it informs me that there are nearly 20,000 factories in Australia, that they employ 412,000 people, and that their annual wage bill is about £75,000,000. These figures are not tinged with either the protectionist or the freetrade viewpoint.
– For all practical purposes, one-fifth of the people of this country get their living in the secondary industries.
– And they and their families provide a very valuable market for Australian primary produce. They are the best customers of the primary producers. Sixty per cent, of the earnings of the working man is spent on foodstuffs, and at least one-half of this annual wage bill of £75,000,000 is spent on the purchase of foodstuffs. I should say that at least £40,000,000 out of the £75,000,000 finds its way directly or indirectly into the pockets of the primary producers. I have compared the business done by Australia in Great Britain with that done in Canada. In dealing with Britain we are dealing with a country with a population of 45,000,000 whereas Canada has a population not exceeding 9,000,000.
– The faster the people go into Canada the faster they go out.
– Canada lost population last year, for more people emigrated from that country to the United States of America than came into it from overseas. I admit that the honorable member for Gippsland ‘ (Mr. Paterson) is partly correct when he says that for six or seven months of the year Canada is almost snow-bound. During those months primary production is almost at a stand-still, and outside markets may have to be drawn upon to meet local requirements. Eggs, cheese, and butter are referred to in the schedule. Eggs can be preserved during the season when they are prolific, and cheese is produced in such quantities in Canada that none- of it is likely to be required from Australia. Our butter sales to the United Kingdom in 1923-4 amounted to nearly £4,000,000, whereas our butter sales to Canada in the same year amounted to only £90. Great Britain will remain for a long time a better market than Canada for Australian butter. In the same year we sent just over £1,000,000 worth of flour to Great Britain, but sent none to Canada. Naturally, Canada does not want our wheat, but in 1923-4 the United Kingdom purchased from us nearly £6,000,000 worth. Great Britain in 1923-24 purchased from Australia greasy wool to the value of over £16,000,000, and although Australia excels in the quality of this product, Canada only took £64,000 worth. The imports of .Australian scoured wool into the United Kingdom amounted to £3,500,000 as against £90,000 worth purchased by Canada. While Great Britain took Australian beef to the value of £735,000, Canada purchased none. The mutton and lamb imported by Great Britain from this country Was valued at over £10,000,000, and Canada’s importations were valued at only £6,000. Great Britain purchased £76,000 worth against Canada’s £2,000 worth of meat preserved in tins. I might go on making similar comparisons. Seeing that Great Britain imports £300,000,000 worth of foodstuffs every year, she offers Australia the best market. It will be well to continue to deal with Great Britain, instead of Canada, in obtaining our paper requirements. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) said that Great Britain, for the twelve months ended the 30th June last, exported 73,000 tons of paper and imported 85,000 tons. That is quite natural, seeing that the Scandinavian people not only have extensive forests but also factories in which paper is made. The employees work longer hours and receive lower wages than elsewhere, and it is natural that there should be large exportations of paper to a freetrade country like Great Britain. Taking everything into consideration, this Parliament made an exceptionally desirable tariff arrangement in 1921, and it would be unwise to depart from it to allow competition with Great Britain in the paper trade by people in Canada who fleeced the Australian buyers of newsprint during the war period. When it was decided to give a preferential rate to the manufacturers of newsprint in the Old Country, they loyally stood to a solemn arrangement that was made, and they have supplied pulp to some of the paper-mills in Australia. I have before me some samples of paper made in Australia, and some of it is superior to newsprint imported from abroad. With the happy co-operation of the British manufacturers, many tons of good quality paper are being produced here, with great benefit to the local factories and to their employees. The assistance which has been given by British companies in facilitating local manufacture should not be forgotten. Although Canada is one of the dominions of the Empire, I am afraid* that the benefit of much of the preference proposed to be granted to it will find its way into the pockets of people who belong more to the United States of America than to the British Empire. Speaking in the House of Commons on the 13th May last, the ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Baldwin, stated -
The Dominion of Canada had benefited by the preference given her under the McKenna duties, and they had seen an increase in the production of motor cars in that country, largely aided by American capital which had come into that country to get the benefit of the preference.
Many of the employers and employees in Canadian factories retain their citizenship of the United States of America, and they are not, in the true sense, people of the British Empire. The benefit of the preference to Canada will largely go to the United States of America, and the money may be re-invested there in other businesses that may compete with British manufacturers. No doubt, however, Canada will derive some benefit from the arrangement. The honorable member for Bourke said that while he was supporting, the combines of Great Britain, the Minister for Trade and Customs was acting in the interests of the combines of the United States of America. On this side of the House, of course, we have no sympathy with combines, but if I had to make a choice I would unhesitatingly favour the combines in the British Isles, for while they may be bad. enough, they have not gone to the extremes in their so-called business killing methods as have the trusts of America. The Industrial Australian and Mining Standard employs writers who are well acquainted with the topics with which they deal, and one of its principal writers has been a leading journalist in this country for a number of years. An article on trade reciprocity with Canada appears in the issue of the 2nd October, at page 498, and it states -
As a result of negotiations extending over several years, and which on various occasions were thought to have- broken down altogether, an agreement has been arrived at by the Governments of the Commonwealth and the Dominion of Canada, for the exchange of tariff preferences on various commodities. Australia proposes to grant a substantial preference to a number of manufactures from Canada, while the Dominion in return will facilitate through the tariff the export there of primary produce we in this country are anxious to find markets for. There is little doubt that with the adoption of the agreement Canada’s trade with the Commonwealth will immediately increase to -a substantial extent, but it will probably be found that even with the preferences granted our products, Australia will have to fight hard to secure a sound footing in the Dominion. No doubt present suppliers will make a determined effort to retain their trade, and they enjoy a decided advantage in being much nearer to Canada than are the producers of this country, they are better organized, and, generally speaking, their methods of production are more up to date. While an endeavour has been made to ensure that the concessions to Canada will not interfere with Great Britain, it is inevitable that, as regards certain items, imports from the United Kingdom will be affected, but to what extent remains to be seen. In its present form, the agreement is certainly more favorable to Canada than Australia. It has yet to be ratified by. the Commonwealth and Canadian Parliaments, and vigorous opposition, is expected from certain quarters here.
No doubt the writer examined the schedule of duties submitted to the House by the Minister. He is an expert in analysing the advantages and disadtages that accrue from tariffs.
– He did not condemn the agreement.
– He condemned it with faint praise, and he stated emphatically that the advantage will be with Canada. I endorse that view. Consider what will happen in regard to dried fruits, for instance. ‘ The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) was able to show that this item affords the greatest opportunity for the expansion of our trade with Canada. The dominion. imports annually £600,000 worth, of dried fruits, and it appears to offer a market which will absorb a big proportion of Australia’s exportable surplus; but we must never underrate our opponents. In the production of canned fruit Australia has fully attained the standard of the Califfornian canners, but I doubt if our marketing methods will compare favorably with theirs. I recollect that when the late Mr. Alfred Deakin was Minister of Agriculture in the Service-Berry Government, over 30 years ago, he was sent on an official visit to America. He visited California in order to study the irrigation schemes and the methods of fruit culture, packing, and marketing. As a compositor in the Government Printing Office I helped to put into type the reports he submitted upon his return, and I have still a vivid recollection of how in his own picturesque and inimitable style - for he was both an orator and a writer - he described the organization of the Californian growers. In the last 30 years that organization has been improved, and we are well aware of how thoroughly the Americans market their products to-day. I do not say that our producers will not have a chance in the Canadian market, but they will encounter serious competition from the growers and canners in the southern states of America. We must remember, also, that the shipping services between Australia and America are not nearly as good as are those between this country and Europe. Three weeks of steamer carriage across the Pacific Ocean will mean a -fairly substantial freight. I admit that the products of the’ southern states of America have to be carried long distances by rail to Canada, but I feel confident that our competitors will not lightly slacken their hold upon that market. We must remember that for many years they have been organizing their reserves in order to be able to fight competition, and if at the present time the Californian fruit-growers supply half the Canadian requirements of canned and dried fruits they will not surrender that business without a struggle. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) spoke of the high price of agricultural implements; but does he not know what is happening in Australia today? The International Harvester Trust is selling its machines at a “ cut “ price which is not profitable.
– Is not that good for the purchaser?
– Is not the company’s object to destroy competition, so that in the end it may fleece the farmer as it chooses ?
– How do the prices today compare with those obtaining before this underselling commenced?
– I am not prepared to go into those details now, but I know that the International Harvester Company is underselling in the Victorian market in the hope of destroying the local industry. If it is successful in that aim it will have command of the market and will then be able to demand its pound of flesh from the farmers.
– Why should that company be able to destroy the local industry? Why cannot Australia produce as cheaply as Canada? Mr. FENTON.- I had seven years’ experience dealing with the agriculturist and I know something of the methods that are adopted. In the butter industry, for instance, a Tooley-street representative, who has to compete with a co-operative factory, will pay 14s. or £1 per cwt. more than the factory offers.
– With whom has the farmer to compete?
– As a boy, I lived on a farm, and I remember that the farmers complained that they always had to pay through the nose for the imported reaper and binder and binder twine. But by and by local rope works - the factories of Donaghy and Sons, Miller’s, and Kinnear’s - commenced to produce, and down came the price of the imported twine. Destroy the local manufacturer so that the importer has full sway, and the purchaser will again pay through the nose. I desire to protect the primary producer against exploitation of that kind. Even if there are manufacturing combines in Australia, I would sooner submit to exactions by a trust within our own borders, than by an overseas concern over which we have no control. I have always held strongly to the protectionist faith. The honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) was at one time one of the most ardent freetraders in this Parliament, but to-day he joins with me in preaching the gospel of new protection. In respect of the production of agricultural machinery, my constituency is the Birmingham of
Australia, but, nevertheless, I will not support any manufacturing monopoly that attempts to fleece the primary producer. Whilst I believe in protecting the manufacturer, I insist upon protecting also the worker in the shop and the consumer. That is the sort of protection that is needed in this country to guard against the evils that must inevitably develop under an ordinary fiscal system. I have been drawn by interjections from the subject of currants and raisins, but the point I started to’ emphasize was that the growers in Greece and California, who at present control the Canadian market, will fight tooth and nail to retain it. When the preference proposals were before the Imperial Conference, the currant and raisin growers of Southern Europe said, “Even though preference is given to the fruit-growers of Australia, they cannot successfully compete with us.” There has been formulated recently a new and better method of marketing Australian produce, under which the Governments of the Commonwealth and Great Britain will act in unity. When speaking the other day in this House, I quoted from official documents to show that Mr. Baldwin, the present Leader of the Opposition in the British House of Commons, Mr. Asquith, the Leader of the Liberal party, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, the Prime Minister, Mr. Thomas, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, and Mr. Snowden, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, are unanimous in their opinion that a scheme should be evolved whereby Australia’s surplus products may be shipped to England, and handled and marketed by the British Government itself. Mr. Baldwin said that such a scheme should last for the better part of a generation. To bring it about, we must have proper organization in Australia, reasonable snipping freights, and quick transport to Britain. The organization in England, with the British Government behind it, would then sell our produce to the consumer at cost price. I know that our butter industry suffers in comparison with similar industries in other parts of the world that have a financial backing of millions of pounds. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson) has recently returned from Europe, and he knows the difficulties confronting this industry. The Leader of the British Opposition (Mr. Baldwin), speaking of the suggestion of Mr. Snowden, said, “ Using parliamentary language, I might tell the right honorable gentleman that the Government are with him in his proposal.” When I quoted that statement in this House the Prime Minister interjected, “ And so are we.” Another honorable member said, “ That is what we want,” or words to that effect. We must have the cooperation of -Great Britain if we are to place our products on the British market. Very little good can come of a preferential tariff with Canada. The Minister will have an exceedingly difficult task to dissipate tUe objections taken to the proposed treaty this afternoon. Facts and figures are against many of the contentions that he submitted to this House. There is no need for this treaty when such a splendid opportunity is offered to us to market our surplus products in Great Britain. That market is some distance from the United States, and therefore we would not have to compete with her or her possessions, such as the island of Cuba, the Philippines, and other islands in which black labour is largely used. The value of the foodstuffs imported annually into the United Kingdom is £300,000,000. Wool, wheat, flour, butter, cheese, eggs, bacon, lamb, mutton, beef, and dried fruits are imported into Great Britain, and all these we produce in Australia. It is the best market in the world. In Canada, we shall have to compete against organizations with a huge financial backing, and, therefore, this preference will be of no use to us.
– Our products will have, a better chance with a preference than without it.
– That is so. In what condition is the dried fruit industry today ? I do not believe in parading our weaknesses. Only a few days ago, great publicity was given to an error in packing butter in unseasoned timber boxes. Instead of publishing this defect to the whole of our competitors abroad, we should punish the culprit. These boxes, whether of New Zealand white pine or of Queensland pine, should all be treated with paraffin wax. The legislation that was passed in this House the other day displayed to the whole world that our fruit industry was in a very precarious condition. We should not give unnecessary publicity to the fact that our primary industries are badly organized. The American fruitpackers are highly organized, and we cannot hope to compete with them in Canada.
– The position looks hopeless.
– It does. It has taken 30 years to build up those organizations, and they are close to the Canadian market. We shall have to compete with them, and we have little or no capital with which to fight them.
– What is the remedy?
– The British Government have fortunately made known their views on Australian preference. The Leader of the Opposition in the British House of Commons has propounded a scheme which has been characterized as socialistic, and the British Prime Minister has agreed with his view. If I were the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth I should immediately cable to Britain intimating my agreement with the proposal, and enter into negotiations to facilitate, by governmental aid, the marketing of Australian produce in Great Britain.
– What about tariff reciprocity ?
– The preference proposals discussed at the Imperial Conference are not worth a snap of the finger. Our greatest competitor in the meat industry is the British capitalist in the Argentine. He has millions of pounds invested in that country. What applies to the meat industry applies to dried fruits, because British capitalists are interested in the currant and raisin industries of Greece and Italy. There is only one way to relieve the Australian producers, and that is financial backing by the Commonwealth and British Governments. The members of the British Labour party have said that they have no desire to encourage the products of cheap labour. The leaders of all parties in the British House of Commons are unanimous that our surplus products should be marketed in Great Britain. What insuperable difficulty is there in the way of such a scheme? The Prime Minister has practically said “ Amen “ to it. The most effective “ Amen “ would be the dispatching of a cablegram to the Prime Minister of Great Britain urging its adoption. The scheme would provide the Australian producer with a better market, and the British consumer with a better class of food al; possibly a lower price. The solution of the problems which face our primary producers depends upon improved overseas marketing. I am neither a doubting Thomas nor a Jeremiah; and though I hesitate to claim, rank with the optimistic Isaiah, I think I may say with justice, that my political outlook is optimistic. I have been in some very tight corners during my life, and I have never “ caved in “; but I do not anticipate that the producers will benefit to an appreciable extent from this proposal.
– Does not the honorable member think that one of the great troubles of our primary producers is overcapitalization ?
-That may be so; but I believe that we are under-capitalized in respect of the overseas marketing of our products. Government assistance is the only thing which offers any prospect of substantial benefit to our dried-fruit growers and other producers. The measures with which we have been occupied during the greater part of this session have been palliative. They will not afford permanent relief to our producers. Unless the Government takes a bold step forward, and adopts a vigorous policy of Government assistance, the producers in twelve months’ time will find themselves in quite as unsatisfactory a position . as they are in now. I do not expect great results from the proposed preference of 11/2d. per lb. on dried fruits.
– It is a preference of 30 per cent.
– That sounds a lot; but the cheap-labour countries which have been supplying the Canadian market in the past will not allow us to displace them without a big struggle. Our producers will have to face competition from shipping combines and other financial interests which engage in the Canadian trade.
– The producers would be much worse off without a preference than with it.
– That may be so, but I cannot get away from the belief that only Government assistance in marketing their products will be of permanent benefit to them.
– That is a great admission.
– It is the view I have consistently taken. The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) made a strenuous fight in this chamber about two years ago on behalf of the canned fruit producers, but he knows full well that only temporary benefits resulted from his efforts. Honorable members opposite may say that it is futile to expect that Government assistance will get the producers out of their difficulties, but I can see nothing else for it. Tariff adjustments such as are now proposed cannot be effective; and we cannot hope, without the aid of considerable capital, successfully to assail the position of the people who are now supplying Canada with dried fruits, for they have an abundance of capital at their command. My proposal for Government assistance to the producers will probably be met .by the statement that the Government cannot agree to such a, course, for to do so would establish a precedent; but what would that matter, so long as the producers were assisted ? 1 had a conversation yesterday with one of the biggest Melbourne importers of Canadian motor cars respecting the proposed 2i per cent, reduction in the existing tariff on motor “chassis. I asked him what he thought would be the effect of the reduction. He replied, “ It may seem strange to you, but the proposal has had a slightly depressing effect upon our business. Although we do not anticipate that this will last, we do not think that very much good will come from the reduction.” The adjustment will mean only £5 at the most on a Ford touring ‘car. The capital behind the Canadian Ford enterprise is American. Mr. Henry Ford is an American citizen, but he has done great things for himself and for humanity. No vehicle has done so much to develop Australian resources as the so-called “ Tin Lizzie.” I do not regard the proposed reduction in the tariff on motor chassis as important. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. “Watkins) has just put a letter into my hand which deals with the newsprint situation. It bears the signature of Mr. T. M. Shakespeare, the secretary of the New South Wales Country Press Association, a gentleman who has had a great deal to do with supplying newsprint to country newspapers in New South Wales, and probably in the other states as well. May I say, in passing, that I have a great deal of sympathy with the country newspaper proprietors. They have a hard struggle in many cases. I have had something to do with the country press in my time, and I know that it is not unusual for provincial editors to be so pushed for time that they compose their leading articles at the type cases instead of in their editorial chairs. -Mr. Shakespeare’s opinion is specially valuable just now, for he has recently returned from a visit to England, where, no doubt, he made a thorough investigation into the produc tion of paper. His letter reads as follows : -
The Federal Government has submitted au agreement for Parliamentary sanction granting preference to Canada. This includes paper, and to that extent is opposed to the oftrepeated decisions of members of every Country Press Association in Australia. It means wiping out the British newsprint industry in Australia, because Canada can produce paper at £2 per ton less, and has a shorter freight bill to pay. Also reduction in Commonwealth Customs and freight on the Commonwealth Line - all in favour of Canadian mills, 91 per cent, of which are owned or financed by American capital, while the Pacific coast mills, which supply all Australian requirements, aru 100 per cent. American.
While it would ‘adversely n fleet both Australia and Britain, there would be no advantage to Australian consumers, the Canadian newsprint industry being in the hands of a ring known as the Canadian Export Association.
The Federal Government set off those admitted disadvantages with preference by Canada for our primary products. There are 2,000,000 citizens of American extraction in Canada, while there is an abundance of primary products, especially dried fruits, across the border. Any one here who .thinks Australia will gain anything from preference under these circumstances is credulous indeed. On the other hand, Britain can, and will, consume all our primary products the hour that we organize and advertise to that end.
As the matter will be discussed in the House of Representatives and the Senate this week, I would thank you to wire your Federal representative and any senator you know urging that preference to Canadian newsprint be deleted from the agreement.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I believe that it is the duty of the Government to try to find markets for our surplus production, and I am quite sure that the Prime Minister did his utmost when he was in England last year to secure preference for our products in the British market. I was very sorry that his efforts were not crowned with greater success. As a result, we have to look for other markets to which to send our commodities, particularly those of which we have a surplus. While I am in accord with the sentiments that have been expressed in favour of encouraging trade with the dominions of the Empire, I recognize that there has been in’ recent years a definite understanding that we should, as far as possible, give Great Britain all the help we can. Although we endeavoured to do that, Great Britain practically closed the door, and made it. very hard for us to reach an understanding. I do not say that the door has been permanently closed, and I should be very sorry to learn that the Government is of that view. I do not suggest that the Government has not given very weighty consideration to this important matter. I am not very much concerned about the combine that has been mentioned, but I repeat what I said in the last tariff debate, that if there are combines, and I believe there always will be, I would rather they existed in Australia than outside, if they benefit our industries. I have been particularly impressed with the items relating to paper. Newsprint is not made in Australia, and in the recent tariff debate, the conclusion was reached that it was necessary to give a preference on newsprint to Great Britain. We should not have placed a duty on newsprint from Canada, and allowed newsprint from Great Britain to come in free, if we had not had a reason for it. The reason, I should say, was that Great Britain was able to supply the requirements of this country at that time, and was in need of all the help we could give her. She undertook to keep her factories going if we gave her some concession. I do not say that we should not have a treaty with Canada, but we should make sure that we do not injure Australian industries. It may be that the growers of currants and other dried fruits will obtain an advantage, but I assume that the people of the United States of America, with their keen competitive sense, will make sure that Australia does not have it all her own way. I hope the Government will make certain that no break-down in the arrangements deprives the growers of dried fruits and other produce mentioned in the schedule of the benefits they should derive from this treaty. I leave the question of the dried fruits industry to those honorable members who know more than I do about it. If they say that the treaty is good for them, I am prepared to support them. If it does not do what we expect it will do, it will not be the first time we have been disappointed. In the recent’ tariff debate an honorable understanding was reached with the British newsprint makers that if we gave them an open market, they would co-operate with the Australian industry for the extension of that industry in this country. I know that they are doing that.
– After much delay.
– ‘Yes ; but it is a big job, and if it took ten years to establish the newsprint industry in this country, I should be satisfied. The men who are controlling the industry are sound, hard-headed business men. The Minister knows quite well that experiments in the manufacture of newsprint in Australia have been carried out, and that a beginning has been made. The general manager of the Australian Paper Mills, who knows the paper industry thoroughly, went overseas about a week ago. He has not gone abroad for the sake of the trip, but on a business mission in connexion with the development of the paper industry. While he is on the water, we are cutting away his chances of success in that direction. The white printing papers made in this country are quite good enough for the printing of parliamentary papers. We have given a lot of encouragement to the meat, wheat, wool, dried fruits, and other large industries, but we have not given sufficient encouragement to the paper industry. I agree with the policy of assisting industries, especially when they are struggling. The paper industry, because it does not come cap in hand to the Government, is neglected. All it asks for is a reasonably protective tariff. The Government could use more Australian paper in its various departments. No one can say that the men engaged in this enterprise do not know their work. I am concerned about the effect of the treaty on Australian industries. I am confident that it will interfere with the British paper-making industry, for it will practically close the door to the importation of newsprint from Great Britain.
– It will not.
– It must . do so. I want the Minister to give the House an assurance that it will not prejudice or hamper industries. that are being established in Australia. 1 recognize that we cannot alter the treaty. but must either accept or reject it as a whole. If the treaty is ratified, as no doubt it will be,
Great Britain will have to cease supplying Australia with newsprint, because Canada, with the raw materials at hand, and with advantages in regard to freights, produces paper more cheaply than Britain. I am sure that the Minister is anxious to do his best in the interests of the industries of Australia, but I should like him to try to arrive at some understanding with Canada that, a3 a sister dominion, she will assist to build up the newsprint industry in this country. Great Britain has promised to do it. The Minister remarked that she has been a long time in doing so. Even if ifr takes ten or twenty years to establish the industry on a sound basis, I shall not complain if there is evidence of a commencement being made. I believe in protecting the industries of Australia, but I am afraid that the proposed treaty will have the effect of damaging the papermaking industry of this country. When the tariff was under consideration the exMinister for Trade and Customs, Senator Greene, said that it was necessary to place a duty of 15 per cent, on Canadian writing paper. I and others agreed with him, but now the Government contends that a 5 per cent, duty is sufficient. It may be said .that 5 per cent, is not worth talking about, but what, I ask, is the tariff for ? . Surely, if there is a duty against an item, it suggests that that article is made in Australia. Let me tell honorable members that writing and typewriting papers are made here.
– To what extent?
– Perhaps not to the extent necessary to meet the whole of Australia’s requirements, but every industry has to make a beginning, and under sympathetic administration expansion will take place.
– Where in Australia is writing paper made?
– I have a sample of all classes of writing paper, and in Victoria it is made in Melbourne, Broadford, Fairfield, and Geelong. Will the Minister give an assurance that the paper manufacturing industry will not be affected to any great extent by the treaty ?
Sitting suspended from 6. SO to 8 p.m.
.- Generally speaking, I regard preferential duties as likely to prove detrimental to the interests of Australian industries as a whole. If we consider all our industries, instead of selecting two or three which are surrounded by exceptional circumstances, Australia would fare better without preference than with it. I am confirmed in that impression after carefully weighing all the speeches on this subject that have been delivered by honorable members on both sides of the House. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) said this afternoon that the outstanding item in the schedule of Canadian preferences is dried fruits, and in the schedule of Australian preferences, newsprint. Australia is giving to Canada a greater advantage in respect of newsprint than upon any other item in the schedule, and will receive in return from Canada more benefit from the preference on dried fruits than from any other preference. The Commonwealth exported last year dried fruits to the value of £1,237,902, and fruits preserved in liquid to the value of £496,S31, or a total of £1,734,733. The value of newsprint imported from all parts of the world last year was, £2,440,391, and of stationery, books, &c, £2,387,194, or a total of £4,827,585.
– Stationery, books, &c, will not be affected by this agreement.
– Not immediately; but many of us believe that one day a very big paper industry will be established in Australia. Comparing the value of the newsprint imported with the value of the -dried and canned fruits exported, there is’ a balance of £705,658 against Australia. It would be a great pity if this< agreement had the result of postponing the time when Australia will be self-contained in regard to the production of newsprint. For some years experts in Australia have been investigating the possibility of establishing a huge industry for the manufacture of paper, and I fear that this arrangement may help to defer indefinitely the commencement of that very important enterprise. Of course, we all like to take the “broad national view,” of which we have heard so much lately, but I agree with the statement of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) . last night, that a member’s broad national view is “tinged with the subordinate principle of protective coloration “ ; in other words, he must keep an eye on his constituency. Whilst primarily we legislate for Australia as a whole, our secondary duty is to protect, the states we represent, and I may he pardoned for quoting the opinion of the Premier of Tasmania, as expressed in an interview published in the Hobart Mercury, of the 30th September -
Commenting yesterday upon the trade treaty between the Commonwealth and Canada, the Premier (Hon. J. A. Lyons) said that, although he had not followed the subject closely, and could not judge of its merits or demerits in the absence of details of the reciprocity arrangement, speaking on the matter as it appeared to him, he was rather dubious as to the effect it would have on Australian trade. “ If preference is going to be given to Canadian newsprint, for instance, what becomes of the possibility of establishing paper manufacturing industry in Australia?” said the Premier. “ It is right enough to grant preference to other parts of the Empire on products which cannot be produced in Australia, but we have got to be very careful that we do not do serious injustices to our industries.”
Mr. Lyons is a very enthusiastic Australian, and has done more than any other man to get Tasmania out of the financial muddle into which it has been dragged by successive non-Labour Governments during the last seven years. I appreciate his sentiments and understand his fears, because the advent of a big paper pulp’ industry in Tasmania seemed imminent. Honorable members may have read recently a statement that a property belonging to the Van Diemen’s Land Company, which has owned real estate in Tasmania since a date preceding the grant of autonomy to that state, had- been sold for, approximately, £300,000. One of the objects of the syndicate is to establish, in Tasmania, an industry for the manufacture of wood pulp. There are various native woods in that state, and they will be primarily used in this industry. It may be that other woods will be brought from other parts of Australia, if a proportion of softwoods is necessary in the manufacture of wood pulp. There is a fair quantity of softwoods of various varieties in Tasmania, such as native pine, which I believe is suitable for wood pulp. There are also vast quantities of other timber covering an area equal to practically onethird of that state. A portion of that area is covered by almost impenetrable forests- of myrtle, and red and white woods, which may be suitable for the manufacture of wood pulp, as well as of furniture. It is not very likely that this syndicate will continue its operations
Mr. O’Keefe and invest a large amount of capital in this industry if we agree to a preferential tariff on newsprint. Under such circumstances, the continuation of the industry would be a risky proceeding. As a representative of Tasmania, I do not welcome this treaty. I have also the opinion of Sir Henry Jones on the preference proposals. He does not hold the same opinion as the producers of dried fruits, although he has many dealings with them. In his operations, throughout Australia and elsewhere, he has had a lot to .do with the canning of fruits. He has established an enormous industry in Hobart, the ramifications of which extend all over Australia. I believe he has interests in South Africa and America.
– He has a factory in San Francisco.
– In South Africa he controls 90 per cent, of the trade in jams and preserved fruits.
– The same journal published the following interview with Sir Henry Jones : -
When asked for his opinion of the advantages of the treaty, Sir Henry Jones said that he had not yet gone into the matter fully, but it appeared to him that the chief benefit would be to the importer, who might be able to obtain cheaper machinery.
According to the cablegram published in yesterday’s Mercury, Australia “ will receive valuable preference on fresh and canned meats, lard, cheese, tallow, eggs, butter, fresh onions, dried, desiccated or evaporated apples, and other fruits, raisins, and dried currants, canned fruits, wines of all kinds, beeswax, canned vegetables, pears, quinces and apricots, honey, eucalyptus, and brandy.” In regard to this, Sir Henry Jones said that under present labour conditions, he could not see Australia competing in any outside markets, and he thought that even with valuable preference the export of the classes of canned fruits indicated would not be affected.
That is a strong argument against the contention of the Minister that there i3 a large market for Australian canned fruits in Canada.
– Is that the man who said that combines were no good unless one was interested in them ?
– He is the biggest business man - in Australia. The paragraph continues -
Canada now imports annually 20,000 tons of dried fruits, and it has been stated that Australia’s proportion will be materially increased. Sir Henry Jones agreed that the treaty would be beneficial to growers of currants and raisins, for Australia, being a mors tropical country, was in a position to supplythem to Canada. He did not think, however, that Australian evaporated apples, for instance, would compete with the home product, and it appeared to him that whatever benefit there was would be gained by the importer rather than the exporter.
I quote his opinion to show that all those interested inAustralian industries are not of the same opinion as the Minister, who seems to be very optimistic about the advantages to be reaped from the treaty.
– Is not the buyer to be considered as well as the seller?
– I admit that. These preference proposals, as a whole, are of no use to the present and future industries of Australia. They might benefit a certain section of the producers for a yearor two. It is very unlikely that Australia will greatly benefit in view of American competition in Canada. On the other hand, Canada must benefit under the reciprocal treaty. These proposals will throw cold water upon the intentions of those who wish Australia to supply her own requirements in newsprint. Last year the value of our imports of newsprint was £2,444,000. The Australian industry is too valuable an asset to destroy, and for that reason I oppose the motion.
.- I support the motion for a reciprocal tariff with Canada. I should have been more ardent in my support if more items had been covered by the treaty, and still more so if they had been on a freetradebasis. It is advisable on broad national lines, and in the interests of the producers, to take advantage of the benefit to be derived from these proposals. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton). when speaking this afternoon, bolstered up the protectionist principle by quoting the fact that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) was at one time an ardent freetrader, and is now an ardent protectionist. He was a little unfortunate in making those remarks, because it is difficult to understand exactly where the right honorable member for North Sydney stands. He made a memorable speech in Sydney, at a time when complaints were being made by certain persons about the cost of commodities generally. He said, in effect,” Well, I think you gentlemen should pray in two ways; when you have commodities to sell you should pray for an increased price, and when you are buying commodities you should pray for adecreased price.” The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) suggested that the right honorable member for North Sydney had seen the light when he changed from freetrade to protection I do not know whether that predicates that he had seen the light. I am credibly informed that this right honorable gentleman has made other changes. He was at one time an ardent Labourite, and upheld the principles of the Labour party generally. Did he see the light when he left that party? However, there have since been changes in public opinion, and they seem to serve a purpose. I feel that if we had more trade relations with other dominions, we should be able to develop this country much more rapidly, and with greater advantage to our people than at present. Thehonorable member for Maribyrnong said that he was not a Jeremiah, but was more of the type of Isaiah. Had he remained on a farm he would have been a Jeremiah. Only since he has been sheltered under the wing of the Australian combines has he “ put a cheerful courage on.” If he were a producer, he would not be able to regard the present situation philosophically. He says that he would rather be “ taken down “ by an Australian combine than by a foreign one. I lost my watch the other day, and I believe that a white man stole it. I felt more annoyed than if a black man had stolen it.
– I do not see watches in the schedule.
– I did not think we were considering the schedule in detail, sir. The point is that it makes no difference whether the combine be Australian or foreign if its effect is deleterious to the country. The honorable member for Maribyrnong recalled the days when he used the mower and the reaper. He knew when to forsake agriculture for a city calling. I have been unfortunate enough to be associated with agriculture in one way or another all my life, and I know a good deal about the fluctuations in the price of farm machinery. I can remember taking the crop off our farm with a reaping hook. Since the duty was put on binders in January, 1921, they have reached prices which have exceeded even the inflated figures of the war period. The honorable member can afford to be an Isaiah, for he does not have to buy these machines. If he were a farmer, he would not be so optimistic.
– What about the prices in New Zealand?
– I have seen the statement to which the honorable member refers. The man who made it should be required to spend two years in jail for doing so. Not a single agriculturist could “be brought to the bar of this chamber who would not protest against the tariff on binders, and say that the binder has been dearer since it was protected than when it was imported free. We who have to purchase these machines know how foolish and incorrect some of the statements made concerning them really are. While some of the members of this Parliament have been touring South Africa as guests of that dominion, one has seen something of the South African newspapers. Lately I read a report in the Natal Advertiser of a speech on fiscal issues in that country, delivered at Port Elizabeth, South Africa, by the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. J. S. Young. It was as follows: -
Must be Able to Stand Alone.
Port Elizabeth, August 22
In the course of his speech at the quarterly meeting of the Chamber of Commerce yesterday afternoon, the president (Mr. J. S. Young) dealt at some length with the question of the protection of the industry in this country.
He -pointed out that while farmers produced some of the finest agricultural products in the world, and had to be satisfied with world prices when they exported, they were not allowed to buy their requirements at world’s prices. They had to pay 17s. 6d. per ton on their fertilisers instead of lis. Their wire netting waa threatened with further taxation, and the clothing worn by themselves and their families was taxed at 17 per cent. - just to mention some of the lines.
They were told that by little sacrifices now in developing South African industries’, they would have a big market in the future, but that, he declared, was not the way markets were built up. He could not think of any country in the world that had attained industrial greatness which did not have a big population tilling the soil. “ There is a school in South Africa,” continued Mr. Young, “ which holds the view that we should not export our ‘ raw material, but should work it up and export it in its manufactured state. It is quite possible to do so, provided we are willing to sell the manufactured article in the world’s markets for nothing, for we cannot accept payment in gold. As a matter of fact, the development of this policy would mean the shutting down of all the gold mines on the Rand, because having nothing to import there would be no need to dig in the bowels of the earth to pay for our products. Trade is barter, and you cannot export unless you import, and I will go to the length of saying that the more you artificially encourage export by charging, as in the case of sugar and coal, a higher price to South Africans than to foreigners, the more you artificially encourage imports to pay for them. “ There is no doubt that unless our industries can stand alone without heavy protective duties, they will not be able to take their rightful place, as we hope they will do, when they will meet the full blast of world competition, even in the markets adjacent to South Africa. This leads to the view that it is had for any South African industry to be altogether free from the whiff of overseas competition.”
The complaints made by Mr. Young are similar to those made in Australia. He referred to the sugar industry. Honorable members know that the sugar industry in Australia has been bolstered up for many years. The imposition of the existing duty of £9 6s. 8d.. a ton has greatly prospered the sugar-growers of Queensland. To-day they are exporting sugar which we protect at a dead loss to our own people, and selling it to foreigners at a lower price than they accept from people of Australia. While I was in Cairns, a few days ago, seated under the shade of a tree, I heard a conversation between two men, who seemed to me to be Labour supporters. The Governor rode past, and one of the men said to the other, “ There are four Labour governments in this country. T wonder why we still have Governors?” The other said, “Oh, the Labour party is the same as all other parties.” The first man observed, “ My word, this town has gone ahead in the last thirteen or fourteen years.” The other replied, “ Thirteen or fourteen years? Why it has doubled in the last three years.” His companion answered, “ Yes, the people here are making fortunes out of sugar.” The other said, “ That is so, and the people down south are beginning to squeal about it. I do not blame them. I believe in people making a fair living and a decent profit, but I do not believe that such big fortunes should be made, out of an industry like this.” I noticed in the Cairns real estate advertisements that thousands of pounds are asked for very small pieces of land. When one returns to the small dairy towns and fruit-growing districts in this and other southern states, he does not find that extraordinary changes occur in three years.
-Order! I suppose the honorable member will apply his argument to the motion before the House?
– I have referred to these matters, sir, to show how necessary it is that the Government should hold the balance fairly between the different sections of our people. There is something wrong when foreigners in the north can make big fortunes at the expense of native-born Australians in the south. If the honorable member for Maribyrnong were engaged in the fruit-growing Industry, he would be a Jeremiah.
– I am engaged in the industry.
– He admitted that the industry was in a parlous condition, but said that the proposed preference of lid. per lb. on dried fruits would be of very little value to the producers, and that what was needed was cheap shipping freights. He suggested sending a cablegram to London endorsing a proposal that had been made there that shipping freights should be reduced; but he must know that if ships are run at a loss some one will have to pay for it. It will be found, in the final analysis, that all taxation falls upon the primary producers. That has often been proved by actuaries and professors of economics. Although the burden of taxation may be shifted from one shoulder to another, ultimately the primary producer must bear it. There is no short cut to prosperity for Australia. We must enter into reasonable competition with other countries. If we are to keep this country white, we must show a white efficiency. Australia is capable of supporting fifty times as many people as are here to-day. We ought to double, and even treble, our exports, for there are markets available for our produce, but on account of the high cost of production in Australia, foreign markets are closed to us. I admit, with the honorable member for Maribyrnong, that in this instance the preference of 1 1/2d. is not much. We are accustoming ourselves to big figures, and are suffering for it. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony) to-day, as on previous occasions, wailed to the Prime Minister about the number of people who are out of employment, and told the Government that it must create employment. To tackle the problem in that way is to do it artificially, whereas Ave ought to endeavour to apply practical methods. Australia can grow fruit as well as Canada or California, and we have the means of competing with any country in the world. Therefore we ought seriously to consider the problem with a view to producing on a basis that at least will compete with white countries. New Zealand has been mentioned. Both Australia and New Zealand ought to be ashamed of themselves for framing retaliatory tariffs. In 1921, when we were considering the tariff schedule, we placed a high duty on boots, and New Zealand imposed a reprisal duty, with serious consequences to the Australian industry. Before, imposing that tariff we sold £1,300,000 worth of boots to New Zealand, but by forcing the position we do not now sell £13,000 worth of boots outside Australia. Employment in the boot and shoe industry has come to a standstill. It should be obvious to honorable members that such a policy is not conducive to the progress of Australia. I thoroughly endorse the reciprocal arrangement with Canada. I am sorry that it does not contain 400 instead of only five or six items.
.- When submitting this motion, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) said that it would not require much attention from honorable members. I remind the House that any proposal relating to trade reciprocity is of serious moment, and requires more than ordinary consideration. Personally, I think that the proposals are detrimental to Australia. Honorable members in the corner - the corner of gloom, sorrow, sand, and sin - have applied themselves to the consideration of this motion. Their attitude is the same on every proposal affecting the progress and development of Australia. I thought some years ago that when Australia got a national Parliament we should hear no more of the freetraders, who would become extinct and be regarded as curiosities fit for a museum rather than a national Parliament. The question of Canadian reciprocity has been discussed for two and a half or three years. The agreement has been brought about in ah insidious way. Canada made some sort of a move, and members of the Australian Government, to show what great statesmen they are, fell into line. I do not think they have given a moment’s consideration to the outcome of it. The speech of the honorable member for Denison (Mr. O’Keefe) expressed my views of Australian progress. We have the raw materials necessary to produce everything required for a happy and contented population. - The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey) explained what will happen to a company that is exporting paper from Great Britain to Australia. It was prepared to start operations in Australia for the manufacture of newsprint. I do not know whether honorable members looked deeply, or only superficially, into this question. I want to look at it more deeply than the average member. During the war, newsprint increased in price from £20 to £80 per ton. The company then thought that it would start operations for the manufacture of the paper in Australia. I hope that honorable members will not dismiss from their minds the statement of the Acting Leader of the Opposition regarding the condition of those engaged in the industry. When we find that those who make the paper in Great Britain have the same humanitarian ideals as members of the Australian Labour party, it is our duty to do everything in our power to encourage them. Does any one believe that we shall send large quantities of cheese to Canada? Canada can obtain all her requirements from the United States of America and California. Twenty-eight or 30 years ago, with a view to assist production, we sent one of our brilliant Australians to California to study irrigation. The world to-day is overproducing everything required for human food, and yet we pretend to believe that we are going to do a large trade in currants, grapes, and little articles of that kind with a country like Canada. Oan we run a line of steamers to carry- currants and raisins to Canada? Even if we did, to obtain freight they would have to bring back manufactured articles to compete with our local manufactures. Have honorable members lost their common sense 1 I appeal to them to deal with this question in a common-sense way. We should think of Australia first - that should be our safety valve. I keep myself well informed on what is happening in Canada, and I have ascertained that, while 133,000 immigrants went there last year, 183,000 left for the United States of America. Honorable members should give more than a passing glance at those figures. One journal that I read gave as an illustration the condition of the boot industry in Canada. They have started, in a quiet way, to send boots across the border into the United States of America, but they dare not open up an extensive trade, because, as soon as they did so, the Americans, who believe in giving employment to their own people, would place a prohibition upon them. Some of the commodities with respect to which we are giving Canada a preference are produced- in Australia. I do not believe that the Customs officials are in accord with the Minister’s proposal, for they must see the danger of checking progress in our own country. I have studied this subjectfairly closely, and I find that business people in the United States of America are investing capital in Canada and opening up factories there, where parts of machinery manufactured in the United States of America are assembled in order to get the benefit of the preferential tariff granted by Britain to Canada. As soon as the Americans know that preference is to be granted to Canadian goods by Australia, this country will be flooded with articles of Yankee origin. I feel sure that the House does not. desire to encourage competition of that Mature. I know that some honorable members who claim to take a broad national view of public matters imagine that reciprocal trade with Canada will be the salvation of the Australian primary producers, but I am afraid that it will do more harm than good. I have always endeavoured to say and do what I regard as strictly honest, and I am forced to the conclusion that the proposal will be detrimental to this country. The high standard of living that has been established here as a result of the efforts of the Labour party will have to be maintained in order to enable our manufacturers to dispose of their goods. It puzzles me to know how a working man manages to bring up a family on a weekly wage of about £3 15s. The wife of such a workman certainly deserves the Victoria Cross.
– Will the honorable member return to the motion?
– If the standard of living in Australia had not been raised to its present level the workers would not be able to pay the present high prices for boots and shoes. To develop a trade between Canada and Australia in goods that have to be shipped in refrigerated chambers will practically mean running a line of steamers for thatparticular trade; but I am not sufficiently optimistic regarding the prospects to imagine that this would be justified. The only period during which Australia can hope to supply Canada with such commodities as eggs, cheese, and bacon would be during the Canadian winter. Scientists have shown our primary producers how to improve their methods of production, and the problem of the future will be to find markets for our surplus products. Australia’s only hope lies in returning the Labour party to power. It would immediately proceed to socialize the means of distribution, which is the only practical way of dealing with the problem. When the motion was introduced by the Minister I did not think it was of much consequence, but having studied it closely I regard it as worthy of honorable members’ careful scrutiny. It is not the innocent-looking motion that the Minister would have us believe. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) spoke of the preference to be granted by Canada on our lard, but I point out that we do not produce enough of it for our own requirements.I recognize that it is necessary to do something in the interests of our fruit-growers, and to that extent the proposal is to be commended. As a practical business man I think the Government would be well advised to withdraw the motion. I am sure that if further consideration were given to it the proposal would never be revived. My father belonged to the “ Manchester school “ of political economy, and he used to teach me the advantages that would accrue from freetrade between all nations. Those who held those views believed that when freetrade was adopted by Great
Britain it would become universal, but to-day it is practically unknown outside the United Kingdom. All the dominions have adopted some form of protective tariff. But still we hear some honorable members talking the same fiscal nonsense as I heard in. my youth. Of course, if all people could be Christians the world would be a much better place, and the freetraders hold that advantages would likewise follow the universal adoption of their fiscal faith; but that is not practicable. We must have a protective tariff, or some other means of conserving the means of employment. The United States of America adopted protection over 100 years ago, with the result that it is the wealthiest country in the world, and has to adopt stringent methods to stem the flow of immigration. I should like to see the agreement amended, but, unfortunately, we cannot do that. We have been asked to shut our eyes and open our mouths and receive the lolly which the Government offers. But this agreement is not a lolly. It is more likely to prove a blister on the industries of Australia. Once we adopt this scheme of concessions to other countries, vested trading interests will be created, and we shall find it difficult to rectify our mistakes. The House could reject the agreement now without doing injury to anybody. I urge it to do so, and to take a firm stand for a self-contained and prosperous Australia.
.- I welcome the agreement, because it means a further instalment of trade within the. Empire, which I think has the general support of honorable members, and because, also, it will give valuable assistance to some of our industries. Some honorable members have said that these proposals have no value for Australia, but I consider that the agreement will be of great advantage to the raisin and currant producers, who are in a. bad way through the lack of a market for their products. I listened with a considerable amount of interest to the speech of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey). I always envy the honorable member his frenzied eloquence and apparent earnestness. He works up his feelings to such a pitch as would persuade any one who did not hear him as often as we do of his absolute sincerity. The honorable member contended that this preference will be of no benefit to Australia, but will handicap trade with Great
Britain, and increase unemployment in that country. I have as much sympathy with the unemployment in the Mother Country as has any other honorable member, but recently I visited Mildura, and having seen the homes of the orchardists, their healthy young families, the high state of production attained in what was formerly a semi-arid region, the value of the dried fruits industry, and the desperate straits of the producers through the lack of markets, I was convinced of the necessity to do something to assist them, even at the risk of throwing out of employment some people now engaged in the factories of Great Britain. My reply to the honorable member for Bourke is that the men employed in the marketing of these products declare that this preference will be of great value to them. They can see the possibility of developing a very fine market for a big proportion of Australia’s production of dried fruits. This year the Commonwealth will export 27,000 tons of raisins, sultanas, and currants, and that quantity is likely to increase as the vines recently planted come into full bearing. The Canadian consumption is about 15,000 tons per annum, and if we can get a fair share of that market it will be well worth exploiting. When speaking on the Dried Fruits Export Control Bill, I expressed the opinion that we can solve the present troubles of the industry only by exploiting all avenues which will lead to more extensive markets. This is one of those avenues. Unfortunately, we must either accept or reject the agreement as a whole, and we have to consider whether generally it will be sufficiently advantageous to make it acceptable, despite some items which do not appeal to us. In regard to newsprint, some honorable members have stated that Canada is being put upon ‘the same fiscal basis as Great Britain; but that is not so, because the natural facilities enjoyed by the Dominion in the production of newsprint give it an advantage over the Mother Country of about £2 per ton. Our past experience with Canadian manufacturers of newsprint was such as to make us chary of becoming absolutely dependent upon them in the future. When we were relying upon Canada a few years ago for our supplies of newsprint, the exporters did not hesitate to raise the prices or break agreements when it suited them so to do. One of the redeeming features of this agreement is that if the privileges it confers are abused, it can be amended or cancelled upon six months’ notice being given. We are forewarned in this matter by our previous experience, and I am quite sure that the Minister for Trade and Customs will be alive to the necessity for watching carefully this trade, in order to ensure that those who will be helped by the preference do not abuse their opportunities as they did a few years ago. The honorable member for Bourke stated that large quantities of fruits have been imported from California to compete with Australian products, and therefore it was not likely that our producers would be able to compete against the Californians in the Canadian market. The honorable member’s argument is not sound. This is, I think, the only instance in which the primary producer gets the advantage of a protective duty. The rate on imports of currants and raisins is 3d. per lb., and the grower takes full advantage of that protection. Consequently, the price in Australia is considerably higher than in the outside market. It is well that it is so, because only 20 per cent, of our production is consumed locally, and if our growers were compelled to sell that proportion on an export parity basis, their position would be much worse than it is to-day. But under the conditions that’ exist in this industry, there is always a chance that if the local price becomes too high fruit will be imported. I have inquired into the statement made by the honorable member for Bourke, and, so far as I can ascertain, the only importations of dried fruits from Canada were the 3d. packets of raisins and sultanas that were retailed by fruiterers and confectioners. Since we have realized the value of putting up our fruits in small packets, we have practically ousted the Californian product. At least, the trade in Californian fruits has shrunk considerably. I trust that a close watch will be kept to see that this preference is not abused.
.- The agreement having been concluded, we can do nothing more than state our opinion of the preference proposals. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning) expressed the hope that Canada would not in future act in the way that she did during the war. Canada was not singular in the action which she took. There are people in Australia who seized the opportunity to make as much profit as they possibly could out of the commodities that they had to sell. Newsprint at the outbreak of the war was bringing from £19 to £20 a ton, and the price rose to £80 a ton. Galvanized iron, 24-gauge, increased in price from £19 10s. a ton to over £80 a ton. That increase could not be excused on the ground that importers were obliged to pay a higher price for their supplies, as the Minister for Trade and Customs at the time (Mr. Tudor) on one occasion said that not a single case of galvanized iron had up to that time entered the Commonwealth. This practice is not peculiar to commercial men. The man on the land will act similarly if the opportunity presents itself. There is no sentiment in business. A spirit of commercialism and capitalism actuates everybody. So soon as a trader becomes sentimental and softhearted, he takes the first step on the path that leads to the bankruptcy court. I am inclined to think that the Government, by these proposals, will not solve the difficulties that are pressing upon the dried-fruits industry. We have been over-producing in certain lines, and we have not been able to find a market for our surplus production. I recently, in the course of my travels, met a man who said, “I should not care if Australia did hot produce a surplus of wheat, fruits, or wool. What we want is a self-contained, manufacturing Australia, so that we can in our own markets dispose of our own products.” He is a big Australian, and he has the opportunity to create a big Australian sentiment, because he is connected with a newspaper that has a large circulation. I cannot say that I disagree with his views. ~I believe, with Dr. Stefansson, that we should see and know our own country first, and I am” prepared to do that. I am afraid that in this matter we are grasping at the shadow and losing the substance. The honorable member for Macquarie said that the growers of sultanas and currants will under this preference be provided with a big market for their products. He did not quote statistics in support of his view. The value of the dried fruits imported by Canada from Australia last year was £700,000. If we increased our sales to the extent suggested by the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), our trade with Canada in dried fruits would amount to only £1,000,000 annually. We must admit, however, that we shall not be able to capture the whole of the trade that is offering. We have not, so far, been able to fully hold our own market; the foreign prune and currant continue to come to Australia in large quantities. Whilst the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) was speaking, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) asked why our dried-fruits industry is in such a bad condition. He answered the question himself when he later spoke upon the matter. I do not think that this proposal will assist the dried-fruits industry. I suggest that it is necessary to enlist the aid of somebody who has a knowledge, not of the growing of the fruit, but of the marketing end of the business.
– The whole business.
– No. We know all there is to know about the producing side, but we do not know the manner in which we should educate our people and induce them to purchase our fruits. I shall endeavour to show where the fault lies. Three years ago Sir Henry Barwell visited Great Britain. Honorable members are well aware that the object of such visits invariably is to meet all the “ nobs “ and to have as good a time as possible. He went into Australia House and was shown the method in which the dried fruits were marketed. He brought samples back to Australia, and exhibited them in the Adelaide Town Hall. They were not graded; the quality was not first class; nothing had been done to put them up attractively. “We had a similar experience with tinned fruits that were exported to the East. Tins labelled “ Peaches “ were found to contain plums or cherries, and purchasers became disgusted and thought that they were being taken down. As the honorable member for Bourke has stated, it would have been better if the Government had first given Great Britain another trial in the matter of preference. I am not opposed to imperial preference. It is natural that we should endeavour to foster trade within the Empire. It may be said that Canada is within the Empire, and that its people have sprung from the same stock as ours. That is all very well. The circumstances of Canada, however, are altogether different from ours, because of the proximity of the United States of America. In. my opinion, the United
States of America will reap a greater benefit from this preferential tariff than will Australia. The .statement that has been placed before us is very lucid. It sets out what is being offered by Australia to Canada and what Canada is offering to Australia. It appears to me that Canada will receive greater concessions than she will give to Australia. We know that the preference proposed in regard to fish is only an extension of that which Canada is now given. At the present time, a great deal of tinned fish is imported from Canada by Australia. Canada will make its greatest gain on machinery. Canada will obtain a big advantage in respect of machinery and newsprint. In return we are to get an advantage in respect of dried fruits. No honorable member has given definite information that Australia will gain any other benefit. I should be only too pleased if the dried fruits industry could bo made a profitable business. But it devolves upon honorable members supporting this motion to show in what manner we shall reap an advantage under the treaty in respect of dried fruits. Personally, I am a rabid protectionist. I believe that we can manufacture everything we require in Australia. In setting about this task we may have to suffer inconvenience and make some sacrifice, but we shall,- in the long run, receive a great benefit if Australia is made self-contained. I cannot see that a preference on iron and steel will be of any advantage to us. We have iron and coal deposits here and capital has been invested in the steel industry, which is now in its infancy. Men are being trained in this industry, and if they have the opportunity to extend their knowledge and skill I am satisfied that in future Australia will be able to supply her iron and steel requirements. If we allow Canadian iron and steel to enter Australia under a preferential tariff, the industry here will suffer a serious setback. We should shut out these Canadian products from Australia. A preferential tariff on vehicle parts will give Canada, a great opportunity to exploit Australia.
– The star picture is corsets.
– They come under the heading of “ textiles.” I believe that Canada specializes in P.D. corsets. Her intention may be to introduce some other variety into Australia. I do not think that Australia will derive much advantage from a preference on fresh meats, although some little benefit , may be obtained in respect of canned meats. It was ridiculous . to place the item “ lard “ in the schedule. If the Minister had to depend for his salary upon the duties on lard he would abandon politics for ever. The same remark applies to tallow, eggs, cheese, butter, and onions. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) truly said that the item “ onions “ would bring tears to one’s eyes. The star items relate to apples - dried, desiccated or evaporated - and raisins, and dried currants. It is doubtful whether any benefit will be derived from a preference on these fruits. No advantage will be obtained from the item “ wine,” because, as pointed out by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Anstey), rum and whisky is mostly consumed in that country. Australia will not derive sufficient benefit from this treaty. The Acting Leader of the Opposition pointed out that the value of our trade with Canada was £300,000, while the value of her trade with u3 was £5,000,000. If we supply the whole of Canada’s dried fruit requirements, the value of our trade with her will probably be £1,000,000. If that country’s trade increases in the same ratio, its trade with us will be worth £9,000,000 or £10,000,000. This will mean less employment for our people. The Acting Leader of the Opposition said that the acceptance of the treaty would enable Canada to displace Great Britain in our markets, and thus throw British workmen out of employment. I go further and say that the effect of the treaty will be to throw our own people out of work. The general taxpayers should not be called upon to bear the whole burden of any proposal to assist the primary producers. I know that the primary ‘ producer plays an important part in our welfare, but the worker also plays an important part in the prosperity of the farmer. There is not a railway in Australia that pays working expenses. The majority of the developmental lines do not pay the interest on the capital cost. This loss falls on the general community in the form of taxes and payments for services in the metropolitan area. It, therefore, falls mostly on the industri.il section of the community. If the avenues of employment of the worker ure curtailed because of an influx of goods from Canada under a preferential treaty, a grave injustice will be done to the general community. The Labour party is not ungenerous in its treatment of the primary producer. Labour members in this chamber have never failed to support any proposal for the construction of a developmental railway. The principle of payment of bounties to industries has been criticized and opposed in some instances by us. In times of drought and slackness of trade the Parliaments of Australia have always been willing to assist the primary producers. This treaty is merely an attempt to assist them at the expense of the workers. It is certainly a left-handed bargain. A lot has been said about a preference on newsprint and paper generally. I am inclined to think that the suggestion that this preference will largely benefit America is correct. I shall try to amplify by a few facts the statement made by the honorable member for Bourke respecting a firm of newsprint manufacturers which has been accused of being controlled by a combination of millers or paper producers. The firm referred to is ‘ Messrs. Edward Lloyd Limited. I am authoritatively informed that there is no combine in the English newsprint trade;, that there is free competition among English makers for the Australian trade; and that the firm of Messrs. Edward Lloyd Limited, trie biggest newsprint makers in Great Britain, is controlled by Mr. Lloyd himself, and is not subject to any combine. The World’s Paper Trade Review, published in London, in its issue of the 15th August, 1924, contains the following paragraph referring to the head of this firm, which runs its business on lines similar to those followed by the Rowntrees, Cadburys, and Lord Leverhulme -
Mr. Frank Lloyd is well known for his munificence in the interests of the employees of Messrs. Edward Lloyd Limited. He has recently given a donation of £10,000 on l,elm lf of the social welfare of those who will live in the new Kemsley village, and also a sum of £5,000 to provide a library and increased facilities for recreation at Sittingbourne.
These are the places where the Lloyd mills are situated. It is evidence of the fact that the firm pays some regard to the comfort and well-being of those who are helping to produce its profits. It- is also evidence of the manner in which British newsprint is manufactured, and of the type of employer engaged in manufacturing newsprint in Great Britain. I do not propose to criticize American manufacturers, but although I am of Australian birth, I am sufficiently British to extend consideration to the industries of the country from which Australians have sprung. The same publication gives an enlightening paragraph dealing with Australia’s importation of newsprint. It may be illuminating to some honorable members to know where we get it. The paragraph is as follows: -
Statistics of Imports for the March Quarter.
The total value of imports of paper into the Australian Commonwealth during the first quarter of this year amounted to £1,103,206, against £1,008,456 recorded in the corresponding three months last year. The Mother Country, however, has considerably improved her position. The value of the paper imports from this country during the March quarter, amounting to £653,653, not only represents by far the largest figure amongst the countries of supply, but is a considerable advance compared with the £493,615 in the corresponding period of 1923. The second important source of paper supply to the Australian Commonwealth is the United States, whose consignments amounted to £57,341, against £55,626 during the March quarter last year. The third position is occupied by Canada, whose shipments in the March quarter reached a value of £56,246, contrasted with the much higher figure of £124,971 in the corresponding period last year. Paper imports from Germany during January to March stood at £5.554, against £2,273 a year before; whilst Japan’s figure (£566) was lower than the £739 registered in thu three months last year.
I believe that, as the result of entering into this reciprocal arrangement with Canada, although we shall get our newsprint from Canada, American capitalists will benefit. Canada may benefit by having the mills, but American capital will derive the benefit from the remission of the duty. In proof of my statement, I shall quote another paragraph from the World’s Paper Trade Review. We have recently been engaged in framing legislation to check the activities of persons who, in order to dodge the payment of income tax, form what are called holding companies. If such things can take place in Australia, where the ramifications of’ capital are not extensive, and where the morality of the business community is supposed to be better than it is reported to be in America, what is there to prevent American capitalists from making full use of the opportunity that will be afforded to them by the remission of the duty on newsprint exported from Canada to Australia? The paragraph to which I refer speaks of the extension of the papermilling industry in Canada, and says -
To these projects must be added the significant statement of Mr. Philip T. Dodge, president of the International Paper Company, who declares that he is looking forward to the gradual removal of the company’s entire newsprint manufacturing interests, to Canada from the United States, where, he states, business Mouses are unable, under present conditions, to compete with those on Dominion soil.
At least one American firm is engaged in shifting its plant in order to meet the Canadian millers on equal terms in their own country. I have already shown in another paragraph that the United States of America is the second biggest exporter of newsprint to Australia, and with the inducement given by the remission of the duty on newsprint, many other firms will no doubt cross the frontier, and commence operations in Canada. This remission of duty is subversive of the protective policy adopted by the people of Australia. A remission of duties may be justified in the case of Great Britain, with which country we are on fairly equal terms so far as the balance of trade is concerned, but the position is by no means the same so far as the trade between Canada and Australia is concerned. The Minister might tell us how long it is since the Tariff Board has been reconciled to this reciprocal arrangement. I am led to understand that it has been opposed to it for quite a long time, and that it has only expressed its agreement to it in its latest report. This arrangement may be an endeavour on the part of the Government to find a market for the surplus products of soldiers settled in our fruitgrowing districts, but we shall make a bad deal if we give Canada the preferences that are provided for in the motion. Australia will live to rue the day that this is done. Before, long we shall have to reconsider the matter. We are grasping at the shadow and losing the substance.
.- The Government has been pleased at the general approval given outside of this House to this proposed treaty by those concerned in our primary and secondary industries. Many representative men have agreed, that, after exceedingly and necessarily difficult and complicated negotiations, the Government has submitted for endorsement a well-balanced treaty. Among those who have expressed approval of it is the secretary of the Australian Industries Preservation League. This gentleman, who is closely associated with all the secondary industries of Australia, hasstated that the treaty, on the whole, is reasonably satisfactory from the point of view of Australian industries. Otherfavorable pronouncements have been made by the secretary of the Australian Winegrowers’ Association, a representative of the Australian Dried Fruits Association,, and several gentlemen connected with the meat trade. Disapproval of the proposals has been voiced by the officiate of the Country Press Association of New South Wales. The views of that body have been stated in this chamber to-day, principally by the Acting Leader of the Opposition. I have carefully perused therein arks that he made on this aspect of the matter during the tariff debates of over three years ago. He has repeated to-day many of the statements that he then made. His somewhat illogical opposition to these proposals has been coloured by the representations made to him by the New South Wales Country Press Association . On the evidence that I have before me it seems that the cause of the complaint of the association is a quarrel, and probably a just quarrel, with the Canadian representatives of the paper trade during or shortly after the war. I have received a copy of their plaint. It begins with incidents that happened on the 6th June, 1918, and ends in the liquidation of the company about 1922. It appears that a vendetta has been created, and, although it may be justified, it certainly should not be taken into account by this House in considering this proposed treaty. The two questions which honorable members have to face are - “ Will the adoption of the treaty be good or bad for Australia?” and “ Will its adoption be good or bad for inter-imperial trade?” The Acting Leader of the Opposition always makes a good speech. The two points he made in his eloquent delivery of this afternoon were that the proposed treaty would be of no value to Australia, and that it would seriously injure the British paper trade. His views were endorsed by other honorable members on his side of the chamber. I point out that the total preferences that will be given to Canadian importations will amount immediately to something like £200,000, and if we can capture the markets available in Canada for the commodities on which she is giving us preferences, our trade, with her will be considerably increased. The average preference that she is giving us. is 20 per cent, for a moderate trade, and the average preference, that we are giving her for a larger one is 1 per cent. We have been assured by the secretary of the Australian Industries Preservation League that, no injury will be done to the secondary industries of Australia by an increase in the importations of Canadian products on which preferences are to be given. Only two days ago a city manufacturer assured me that the preference on one commodity mentioned in this treaty, but which has not been mentioned in this debate, would enable him to increase his trade with Canada during this year by £30,000. The mixed arguments that honorable members opposite have submitted to us to-day have not appealed to me at all. One honorable member said that it would b«i impossible for us to sell our goods in Canada for the reason that we. should have to face competition from the United States of America.. ‘ Another said that our natural market is England, and that »o could do better in England than in Canada. I point out that.,, when we trade- with England, we have to face the competition of the whole world,, whereas if we trade with Canada we shall get substantial preferences. The dried fruit preference, for instance, amounts, to £14 per ton, or from 30 to 36 per cent. It has also been suggested by honorable members opposite that the preferences that we propose to give to Canada will be beneficial to American capitalists chiefly. I am willing to grant that a considerable amount of American capital has been invested’ in Canada, but it has been welcomed by the Canadians, for it has resulted in the development of that country. Should we not welcome an influx of American capital into Aus tralia which would result in the establishment of, say, a Ford motor factory here ? Should not we welcome the introduction’ of American capital to establish a Massey^ Harris factory in Australia, for the manufacture of agricultural implements? An attempt, has been made to belittle the value of the agreement to Australia. When submitting the motion I admitted that until our trade develops, the immediate i benefits would be in favour- of Canada. The report of the Tariff Board tabled yesterday, which has been published fairly fully in the newspapers, shows thatthe advantage to Canada will’ be equal to about £200,000 a year in duty, whilst the advantage to Australia in dried fruits if we do one-half of that trade made possible, may be valued at £150,000. I do not agree with the. suggestion that the preference on die remainder of the items is worth to Australia only about £5,000 annually, because I mentioned a minor commodity, the sales of which- in Canada, it is hoped, will amount to £30,000. within the next twelve months. Reciprocal trade arrangements between the Commonwealth and Canada have been discussed in this Parliament for a number of years. Even as long ago as the Fisher administration, Sir George Foster, of Canada, visited Australia to conduct negotiations. This Government has at last concluded the long anticipated inter-imperial agreement. It is generally admitted by all representatives- of the commercial’ and producing, interests that, the agreement will be of advantage to both dominions. A good deal of the controversy during the. debate has been centred on the question, of” newsprint, with which I dealt fairly, fully when submitting the. motion last. week. I should be the last to deliberately harm any British industry, but there is: a. considerable amount ©f misconception concerning the British paper industry. According to the British Whit& Book, which, contains the official figures relating to exports and imports, the importation of newsprint alone- in to Great Britain for- the- six months ended 30th June-, 1924, was 85,000 tons, which quantity came principally, from Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Germany. The importation of paper pulp into Great Britain over the same period totalled 428,000 tons, practically all of which came from- Scandinavian countries. The importations into Great Britain of paper and cardboard for the last six months for which the figures are available totalled 313,000 tons, in addition to paper pulp, the value of which was £6,500,000. In view of these figures, is it likely that the diversion of 25,000 or 30,000 tons of newsprint from British to Canadian manufacturers is likely to vitally affect the British paper trade? The export of printing paper from the United Kingdom for the six months ended 30th June, 1924, totalled 68,500 tons.
– What were the figures for the previous year?
– I have not them before me. Of the 68,500 tons of printing paper exported from Great Britain, Australia purchased somewhat more than one-half. Great Britain therefore actually imported in newsprint alone from Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Germany, apart from wood pulp, nearly 25 per cent. more than she exported. The f.o.b. price of newsprint is £18 a ton, and the estimated value of the raw material required in the manufacture of paper is £11 15s. per ton, so that in the newsprint exported to Australia there is approximately 40 per cent. of British workmanship and finish, and 60 per cent. of raw foreign material. In any calculations made in connexion with it, it must be remembered that Great Britain depends almost entirely upon Scandinavian pulp. Whilst the preference to Great Britain will be maintained, it would be wrong to base any possible loss of Britain’s trade upon the total value of her exports to Australia. The net result of this agreement if adopted will be an accretion of trade between Canada and Australia, almost entirely at the expense of the United States and Scandinavia. Great Britain’s trade in paper may be slightly affected. In order to make the position perfectly clear it should be stated that the proposal means that in the matter of newsprint, Canada is to be placed on exactly the same basis as Great Britain. We shall, of course, retain the right to adequately protect any Australian paper making industry which may be established. The statements made three years ago are being repeated to-day, and, so far as I can ascertain after close and careful investigation, whatever is done in connexion with tha development of the newsprint trade in Tasmania, nothing can materialize during the next three years. It will be the duty of this Government to see that any Australian paper industry established is adequately protected, from importations from Great Britain, Canada, Scandinavia, or other countries.
There is an impression in the minds of some honorable members that the United States of America exports a fairly large quantity of currants and raisins to Australia. Of currants and raisins from the United States of America we actually imported during the last financial year only £514 worth, while we exported a total of 15,000 tons, of a value of £1,250,000. The importations of prunes and one or two other lines of dried fruits from the United States of America are considerably larger. I realize that it is the business of the Opposition to oppose, and that just as we on this side are His Majesty’s Government, so honorable members opposite are His Majesty’s opposition. It is their duty to criticize every proposal made by the Government. The debate has shown that the Governmenthas produced, after delicate and complicated negotiations, a treaty that will be of great benefit to Australia and Canada, and will mark a red-letter day in the history of inter-imperial trade. Some honorable members have complained that the treaty is one-sided. I have already quoted facts and figures to show the real position, and surely, even if Canadian trade is one-sided, and even if we import ten or fifteen times as much from Canada as we export to that country, the Government is not blameworthy for trying to improve that condition. Surely we must not sit idly by and not attempt to do anything. As a responsible Government we cannot do that. We have taken up the task, and shall bend our energies to the development of inter-imperial trade relationships, not only with Canada, but also with the other sister dominions, and we hope that in the not very distant future our brothers across the sea will realize that it will be to their benefit to join us in this great imperial work. Our preference to the Motherland to-day is worth over £8,000,000 a year. By this treaty with Canada we are not giving that dominion a greater preference, but are letting her in on the British preference to the immediate extent of £200,000. For that we are getting reciprocal advantages. We are opening up markets that it is our duty to open up for the primary producers of this country. We do not desire to dictate the policy of the Mother Country, but we should value a close reciprocal trade with her. As a Government, we shall continue with what we think is the good work of binding more closely in ties of trade, as well as of sentiment and racial unity and ideals, the far-flung -Empire to which we are proud to belong.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided.
Majority . 28
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or request: -
Dairy Produce Export Charges Bill.
Dried Fruits Export Charges Bill.
Income Tax Assessment (Live Stock) Bill.
Appropriation Bill (1924-25).
Bill returned, from the Senate with amendments.
Motion (by Dr Earle Page), by leave, agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend section 5 of the Land Taxation Assessment Act 1910-23.
Bill presented by Dr. Earle Page, and read a first time.
– I move - .
That the bill be now read a second time.
The necessity for this bill has arisen from the fact that a royal commission is inquiring into certain statements made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) in relation to the administration of the land tax, and to the other- fact, which probably is not known- to honorable members, that the period of appointment of the present Commissioner of Land Tax is lapsing. The Government had decided to appoint Mr. Ewing as Acting Commissioner of Land Tax and Commissioner of Taxation, pending the report of the royal commission, as it seemed scarcely proper, in the circumstances, to make a permanent appointment whilst the royal commission was actually investigating the administration of the Land , Tax Department. The Government has no doubt that the administration of the Commissioner will be vindicated in the findings of the royal commission, and its confidence in the Commissioner is unabated. The course now proposed to be taken is due only to the fact that the administration of the Land Tax Department is the subject of inquiry. The Government had received advice that it could make the appointment of Mr. Ewing as Acting Commissioner of Land Tax and Commissioner of Taxation under the terms of the existing law, but doubts have been cast on the validity of the position which Mr. Ewing would then occupy, and, therefore, to make absolutely certain that everything connected with Commonwealth taxation would be perfectly in order, and that Mr. Ewing’s authority may be placed beyond dispute, the Government has brought down this bill, because Mr. Ewing’s term of appointment will have expired to-morrow. To enable honorable members to more clearly understand the position, I may state that the Commissioner of Taxation, who administers the Income Tax Assessment Act, derives his power from section 6 of that act, which reads-
The Commissioner of Taxation shall have the general administration of this act.
The Estate Duty Assessment Act provides, in section 4 -
There shall be a Commissioner of Taxation who shall, subject to the control of the Minister, have the general administration of this act.
The Commissioner of Land Tax shall bc the Commissioner.
The Land Tax Assessment Act also provides, in section 4 -
There shall be a Commissioner of Land Tax, who shall, subject to the control of the Minister, have the general administration of this act.
In sub-section 4 of section 5, there is this provision -
In cue of the illness, absence, suspension, removal, or death of the Commissioner, or the Assistant Commissioner, the Governor-General may appoint a person to be Acting Commissioner or acting Assistant Commissioner, as the case may be, during the illness, absence, or suspension, or until the appointment of a successor, and no longer; and the Acting Commissioner, or the Acting Assistant Commissioner, shall have all the powers and perform all the duties of the Commissioner, or the Assistant Commissioner, as the case may be.
All that this bill proposes to do is to insert after the words Assistant Commissioner “, first occurring, the words “or in case of a vacancy in the office of the Commissioner, or the Assistant. Commissioner.”
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Standing Orders suspended, and bill passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. .
House adjourned at 10.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 October 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1924/19241002_reps_9_109/>.