House of Representatives
5 March 1926

10th Parliament · 1st Session

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TheClerk announced that in the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom), the Chairman of Committees would, under Standing Order No. 22, take the chair as Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bayley) thereupon took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.

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– This morning’s news papers report a proposal that no permanent addition to the Council of the League of Nations shall be made pending the appointment of a commission in accordance with the British suggestion for the purpose of studying the reorganization of the Council and reporting on it to the Assembly in September next. We are informed also that the appointment of this commission is supported by the various dominions of the Empire. Will the Prime Minister tell the House whether the Commonwealth Government has made any representations to the Imperial authorities in regard to this matter?

Minister for External Affairs · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · NAT

– Arising out of the application of Germany for a permanent seat on the Council of the League of Nations, the subject of additions to the Council has been receiving consideration during the last few weeks. This matter was debated in the House of Commons yesterday, and general principles for the guidance of the British representative on the Council were laid down, but no hard and fast line of action was prescribed. I assure the honorable member that the Commonwealth Government has been fully consulted in regard to this matter, and has represented its views to the Imperial Government. At the present moment, however, it is most undesirable to make any fuller statement than has been already published.

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– Will the Prime Minister say whether the Government has come to any decision regarding the suggestion that a bounty shall be paid to New South Wales millet-growersin respect of the 1924 crop?


– No decision has been reached.

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Mr.FENTON. - Can the Minister for Trade and Customs give any further information to the House regarding the prospect of motor cars being wholly manufactured in Australia?


– My obse rvations upon this matter in the course of my speech upon the tariff motion were in the nature of a pious aspiration rather than a definite prediction, but I have been confidentially advised that it is possible, and almost probable, that within the next twelve months a factory for the making of a motor chassis,at least, will be established in Australia.

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asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

What action has been taken towards the completion, on the banks of the Suez Canal, of the memorial which was subscribed to by a great majority of Light Horsemen whilst on active service ?


– The reply is as follows: -

An amount of £5,400 was subscribed for the proposed memorial by the troops in the field and this was subsequently increased by a grant of £9,600 from the Commonwealth Government and by a contribution of £2,000 by the New Zealand Government, making available in all a sum of £17,000. During 1922-23 a competition for designs was held, and that submitted by the late Mr. C. Webb Gilbert, in collaboration with Stephenson and Meldrum, architects, of Mel- bourne, was selected. The sculptor proceeded with work on this design until his death in October, 1925;he had almost completed in clay on that date about one-half of the group of statuary. In order that this portion of the work should not be lost, arrangements were made with Mr. Paul R. Montford, a sculptor, of Melbourne, to complete in plaster this portion of the group. Arrangements for the completion of the remainder of the group are at present receiving consideration. Negotiations for the site have been completed with the Egyptian authorities, and preliminary work in connexion with the foundations is in hand.

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asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that promises have been made for the last three years that better accommodation for cargo and passengers between Sydney and the New Hebrides will he provided?
  2. Is it a, fact that intending passengers hooking on 1st March, 1926, fora passage on 8th April, 1926, were informed that already there were fifteen “ shake-downs “ issued ?
Honorary Minister · PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. The honorable member was informed, in reply to representations madeby him respecting the inadequacy of the passenger accommodation on the vessel with which this service is now being carried out. that, upon the entry into the island trade of a new vessel which the contractors were obtaining, it should be possible to place a more suitable vessel in the New Hebrides service. Upon expiry of the contract on the 31stJanuary last, the contractors stipulated that the subsidy for the trunk-line service to the New Hebrides bo increased from £.12,000 per annum to £22,000 per annum if a larger vessel were put on the run. The contract for the whole of the Pacific Island shipping services was renewed for a further period of six months, commencing on the 1st February last, to enable fuller consideration to he given to certain features of the services. The desirableness of providing more extensive passenger accommodation for the New Hebrides service is being borne in mind.
  2. The Government is not in a position to say whether this is so.

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Steel and Ironwood Sleepers


asked the Minister for

Works and Railways, upon notice -

  1. What is the estimated cost of each steel sleeper landed at Darwin railway yards?
  2. What will be the length and the surface space of each sleeper?
  3. How many sleepers will be required for the Emungalan to Daly Waters railway extension ?
  4. Is it the intention of the Department to use any ironwood sleepers on the above construction,
  5. If so, what price per sleeper is the Department offering?
Minister for Works and Railways · ECHUCA, VICTORIA · CP

– The information will he obtained and supplied at a later date.

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asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

Is it a fact that complaintshave been made by the proprietors of small fruit-canning factories that the Sugar Board declines to allow the usual rebate of £6 5s. per ton unless parcels of 12 tons of sugar are purchased?


– I have no information on the point,but the matter has been referred to the Queensland Sugar Board.

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Marble Industry


asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. When did the Tariff Board make its last inquiries into the need for greater protection for the Australian marble industry?
  2. Where wore the inquiries conducted?
  3. How many witnesses were examined, and what quarriesdid they represent?
  4. What was the value of marble imported (a)in 1914; (b) in 1925?

– The information is being obtained.

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The following paper was presented : -

Export Guarantee Act - Return showing Reports, Recommendations, and Assistance granted, up to 31st December, 1925.

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Customs and Excise Duties

In committee of Ways and Means : Consideration resumed from 4th March (vide page 1364), on motion by Mr. Pratten -

  1. That the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1921.-4 be amended as hereunder set out, and that on and after the fourth day of March. One thousand nine hundred and twenty six. at nine o’clock in the forenoon, Victorian time, duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the Customs tariff as so amended.

That, excepting by mutual agreement, or until after six months’ notice hasbeen given to the Government of the Dominion of New Zealand, nothing in this resolution shall affect any goods entering the Commonwealth of Australia from the Dominion of New Zealand (vide page 1228)


Last night I was speaking of the difficulties of the fanner, and replying to the argument of some honorable members that the man upon the land has no cause for complaint. The farmer, I repeat, is entitled to rest in the evening of Ms life after long years of strenuous work and hardship. So far as the community’s relations with the primary producer are concerned, a new era has dawned. The time- has gone by when the farmer tilled the soil in a’ haphazard primitive fashion and reaped his crop with a scythe or sickle. There must be increasing co-operation between agricultural experts and the farmers. Already the various agricultural departments have been of great assistance in this way . The fact is often overlooked that many of the improvements in agricultural machinery originated in the brain of the practical farmer, whose crude ideas were later developed by scientists and made applicable to industry. During my election campaign I was afforded the opportunity of inspecting the experimental plots under the control of Mr. Saunders, of Karoonda, iu the South Australian mallee. Mr. Saunders is a successful practical fanner, but he is also an enthusiast, and has made a hobby of experimentation. His wheat tests in the mallee are conducted under the supervision and direction of the Department of Agriculture of South Australia. What I saw on these plots was a revelation to me. In white sandy country having a very light rainfall he was obtaining wheat crops yielding upwards of 20 bushels to the acre. Pie was experimenting with at least a dozen varieties of wheat and fertilizers, and notwithstanding that the district was experiencing a very dry- spell, the crops we>re as high as the fence, and were looking particularly well. There was not one bad patch, amongst them. The place was a striking demonstration of the value of the application of science to primary production. Mr. Saunders, in conjunction with the State Agricultural Department, is doing valuable work. He is experimenting with fodders and different grasses, and also with manures, to ascertain the amount required to give the best results. These experiments are taking place over a series of years. Lucerne was planted at the time of plant ing the crop, and also after the crop was taken oft’. The results were contrary to expectations, because the lucerne planted with the crop proved to be the better proposition. The planting of the two seeds at the one time will undoubtedly be a great saving. Mr. Saunders is trying in that sandy country to grow subterranean clover, souci, grass, various rye grasses, and other fodders. It was interesting to me to fmd that he was experimenting with buffalo grass as a fodder. “What impressed me was the fact that cooperation was necessary between the Government and practical farmers. The man. in charge of the experiments had to be an enthusiast. It was a matter not of paying a man to do the job, but of getting a man who was prepared to work in the interests of his country, not for any monetary gain, but to enable his fellowAustralians to reap the advantage of his experiments. I admit that there is room for improvement in farming. It would be ridiculous to say that we had reached the limit of the possibilities of science as applied to farming. Some time ago I had the pleasure of listening to a very interesting address given by Mr. W. S. Kelly, who was at one time chairman of the Advisory Board of Agriculture in South Australia. Mr. Kelly is an enthusiast who- has done an immense service to South Australia, and, incidentally, I may say that he has received scant courtesy and bad treatment from the present State Government. Mr. Kelly is not an egotist ; he is prepared to glean information from any source to further the progress of the country. He has studied agriculture very closely, not only here, but in the Old Country, and in the report of his address occurs the following statement by Dr. Richardson, respecting agricultural education in America: - “ They hold the view that an efficient system of agricultural education is an absolute necessity for national progress. They contend, too, that money spent on agricultural education and development is a wise national investment, which is repaid to the nation many times over in the form of increased material prosperity.”

Mr. Kelly’s address continued: ;

They back this opinion to the extent of investing ?12,000,000 annually on agricultural education.

They have magnificently equipped agricultural colleges in every State. These colleges are of University standard. Four thousand county agents act as local agricultural advisers and organizers for the farmers.

The Canadian Federal Government disburses ?1,000,000 per year to the States for agricultural work, This is in addition to the work carried on by the State Departments.

There are over 4,000 Agricultural High Schools in U.S.A. and Canada.

Lord Lee, who was lately Minister for Agriculture in Great Britain, says, “ We are now spending eight times as much on agricultural education and research as we did before the war.”

Denmark has increased the average yield per acre of crops by 24 per cent, during the last 20 years, and the average production per cow by 100 pet’ cent, during the last 27 years. Sir Daniel Hall (Secretary of the British Board of Agriculture) says, “ This .remarkable advance has been achieved deliberately by educational activity in the widest sense.”

During .1920 the N.S.W. Government appointed a Select Committee to report on the agricultural industry and the methods of improving the same. A large amount of evidence was taken, much of it of a startling nature. I would particularly recommend a p’erusal of it to our members of Parliament. Something of a like nature must be done here to make the public understand bow we lag behind in this essential matter of agricultural education and research. We have passed quickly over the amount spent in other lands. Now let this Select Committee speak as to the value of some of this work. I quote from the final report issued 1922.: - “It is not realized, except ‘by a few, the extraordinary economic value of the organized work performed in connexion with agriculture in other advanced countries. Mr. Valder cited instances, viz. : The Department of Agriculture of TJ.S.A spent 250,000 dollars in establishing Durum wheat in that country. The Durum wheat now produced there is worth 50,000,000 dollars per year. They spent less than 200,000 dollars in selecting and introducing a suitable variety of rice, and in establishing it in California. The rice crop in that State is now worth 20,000,000 dollars per year. They spent 40.000 dollars on a selected variety of Egyptian cotton to suit the arid regions of the South-West; the crop therefrom is now worth another 20,000,000 dollars per year.”

It is computed that the work of Dr. W. H. Saunders, the Canadian wheat breeder, is worth not less than ?4,000,000 per year to the wheat-growers of that country.

No more convincing figures can be quoted than those drawn up by Professor Richardson as to the relative production in Kansas and Victoria. After submitting a table comparing the production of the two countries, Professor Richardson says: “Here are two States alike in size, population, rainfall, and material resources. Both are cereal and dairying States. The climate of Western Kansas is even drier and more uncertain than that of North-Western Victoria. Yet Kansas produces approximately six times as much wheat, several hundred times more maize, five times as much oats, three times as much hay, and raises 1,500,000 acres of dry land crops, such as grain sorghums.”

That statement shows that we have a long way to go along the road of science as applied to agriculture.

Mr Stewart:

– The “Wimmera and north-western farmers have nothing to learn from the Kansas farmers so far as dry-f arming is concerned.


– I stated earlier that I thought our farmers were second to none in the world, but it is said that two heads are better than one, even if one is a sheep’s head. There is always something to learn from the other fellow, even although he may be a failure. Does the honorable member say that we can learn nothing from the Kansas farmers?

Mr Stewart:

– No ; but I say that they can also learn something from ours, too. ‘


– That is so, but I submit that we have a lot to learn from other countries. If we dispute that we are not likely to improve our methods of farming. Mr. Kelly added that since Professor Richardson furnished his report upon his return from America, Victoria had developed her Agricultural Department remarkably. Mr. Kelly in his very interesting pamphlet respecting the need for a Veterinary Institute, says -

Another great need is the establishment oi a Veterinary Institute. We simply cannot afford the great uncounted losses that are yearly taking place, particularly amongst our sheep. Our stock department are fully aware of the need for investigation of the causes of sheep diseases, but these officers are fully engaged in their present duties. Men should be set apart to study these matters. A laboratory is required where the work can be effectively done. A movement is already on foot amongst public minded men towards raising funds for this great need. The whole State would appreciate the munificence of any body of men who might make an institute available. But the onus lies on the State to see that this matter is not neglected. We simply cannot afford to be the only State that is practically doing nothing in reference to the study of sheep diseases. There are many other needs, but we can only afford to meet the most urgent.

Mr. Kelly’s pamphlet continues ;

Every student of breeding and feeding is convinced that we can raise the standard of our dairy herds to such an extent that would place the dairy industry on a very sound footing.

A good deal has been done in a practical way to improve our grasses and grazing lands generally. On this point the pamphlet states -

  1. Mr. Leslie Cowan lias been top-dressing subterranean clover land in the Mount Barker district for 12 or 14 years. The result is that he has magnificent fields of fodder that -are able to carry quite five times as much stock as formerly
  2. Messrs. Shepherd and Shinkel, of Kybybolite, have also established clover. The result is hard to exaggerate. Land that was formerly of very poor feeding value is now heavily clothed with the nutritious fodder. The stock are improving by leaps and bounds. The carrying capacity of the country has Deen raised quite as much as has been the case around Mount Barker.
  3. The Yalkurie Pastoral Co. property, situate between the Coorong and Lake Alexandrina, is comprised partly of land that was formerly covered Yalkurie reeds and other unedible bush. This is now being ploughed, and lucerne being established which almost rivals the wonderful Booborowie Flats.

A little later Mr. Kelly observes -

I could have quoted other men almost equally as successful. But think of the thousands that are not developing their country. The potentiality of this country is marvellous if it were fully developed in its grazing capacity. . . . Test first, then carry the fact to the farmer in such a way that it. will lie taken up by all land owners living within adequate rainfall.

Yes, the room for improvement is very great. In increased wheat yields, in improved pastures, and in the improvement of our live stock. Is it any wonder then, that many of us feel that one of the most essential needs of the day is a progressive agricultural policy ?

My object iri referring to these developments in our wheat, dairying, and driedfruits production is to emphasize that the Commonwealth should help the States to help the primary producers to develop Australia. Just as we cannot afford to send overseas for all that we require, and therefore place a duty on importations to stimulate local manufactures, so we cannot allow our farmers to continue indefinitely their great struggle to make ends meet. The high cost of living has increased their burdens tremendously. I have no objection to the high cost of living in itself, for it is indicative of our high standard of living, and nobody admires Australia’s high standard of living more than I do; but we must realize that primary production needs encouragement as well as secondary production. It is regrettable and wrong that there should be such a big difference between the price the consumer pays for our primary products, and the price the producer gets for them. I speak with feeling, for I was engaged solely in primary production for two years. The margin is altogether too great, and something should be done to reduce it. The cost of distribution should be given close attention. It is very well known that one man has in hand the delivery of our daily newspapers in a given district, but in the same area, perhaps even in the same street, we may find half-a-dozen milk carts delivering, from half-a-pint to 2 pints of milk twice daily to each consumer.


– I rise to a point of order. I draw attention to the fact that the. Government benches are empty.

The CHAIRMAN” (Mr Bayley:

– The honorable member is distinctly out of order.

Mr West:

– ‘But may I not call for a quorum?


– The .honorable member is in order in doing that.

Mr West:

– Then I draw attention to the state of the committee. [Quorum formed.’)


– I am once more indebted to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West) for causing honorable members to be in attendance to hear my remarks ; but I have no desire to adopt the role of the previous member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), who, I am told, was chiefly noted in this chamber, for calling for quorums.


– I must ask the honorable member to resume his discussion of the tariff.


– I was referring to the unsatisfactory methods that are adopted in distributing our primary products to consumers, particularly in our metropolitan areas. It is ridiculous that half a dozen greengrocers and butchers, as well as milkmen, should serve customers in the same street. That means altogether unnecessary expense which must be added to the cost of the goods delivered. One buteller, from whom I made inquiries on this point, told me that Id. per lb. was added to the price of meat to cover the cost of delivery. I asked him why so much as a penny need be added, and he told me that the wages of the employees who deliver the meat are very high. I do not object to high wages for useful and necessary work, but I do object to them for unnecessary and wasteful work. I feel sure that if a proper inquiry were made into the matter it would be possible to devise more economical methods of distribution, and yet not interfere with private enterprise, or even -with the fads and fancies of the consuming public. If the cost of distribution could be reduced the primary producers would get a better price for their products, and would sell more, because the purchasing power of the public would be increased. Reverting for a moment to the question of the adoption of scientific methods in our primary and secondary industries I wish to say that I can see no reason why some of our manufactures should not he exported. Australian -worsteds, for instance, are rapidly obtaining a good name overseas; and it should not be long before we build up a good export trade in this line. There is a class of person in both Great Britain and the United States of America who will pay any price for the best quality of goods. When Lord Burnham was in Australia he said it was necessary for us to cultivate, in Great Britain, a healthy imperial trading sentiment. I believe that i: we send the right quality of goods abroad we shall find a good market for them. A famous essayist once said that if a man produced a better article than any one else, though he buried his workshop in the forest, the world would make a beaten track to his door. It will be useless for us to think of building up an export trade in cotton tweeds, but seeing that some of the best wool produced in the world is grown here there should be no obstacle whatever to us manufacturing, at marketable prices,- the be3t of woollen tweeds and worsteds. Not so long ago I was speaking to a life-long friend who is now the manager of the warehouse of a big woollen mill. I questioned him about the duty on cotton tweeds. He said, “ So far as we are concerned we do not want it. We are busily engaged in producing good tweeds and high-class woollen goods. We do not consider that cotton tweed interferes with our business in any way.” I asked him, “ Could you produce woollen trousering that would wear as well as cotton tweed?” He replied, “We could produce a pair of woollen trousers to retail at £3 but to sell them would be impossible. Even if we produced an article to sell at £3 retail it would not be equal - and I say it with experience behind me - to cotton tweed, engineers’ twist, or nap. It would not wash without shrinking, and would be too hot.” We have heard from the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), aud the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), a great deal about freetrader I disagree with both of them. Freetrade and protection as an issue in Australia is as dead as Julius Caesar. It was settled many years ago in an argument between the late Sir George Reid, Sir Edmund Barton, and Mr. Deakin. I believe in protection, and every Australian should believe in it. The alternative to protection is to throw down all our tariff barriers. What would then become of our secondary industries, and even of our primary industries? Many thousands of persons would be thrown out of employment, and the effect on the country would be worse than the worst drought, and even more disastrous than our experience during the war, when we had a drought and the war.

Mr Prowse:

– How does New Zealand prosper ?


– That is not the question. We have to consider the stage we have reached in Australia. Freetrade is beyond the region of practical politics. It would be all right if there were international freetrade. If we returned to freetrade our position would be the same as that of Great Britain, which, owing to freetrade, is unable to compete with the rest of the world. She is, as it were, out in the cold, while others are working behind cosy, protecting barriers. The home market is the best market for our primary producers. The workers in our secondary industries are the most highly paid workers in the world. The market gardeners depend very largely upon them. Although I believe in protecting secondary industries, I do not approve of prohibitive tariffs. The Parliaments of this country have decided that we shall have protective tariffs for the development of our secondary industries; but we must recognize an obligation also to our primary producers. If we raise the standard of living in furtherance of our protective policy - and I. do not complain about that being done - when the primary producer asks for assistance we must, as true protectionists, grant it to him. If we raise millions of pounds by tariffs for the benefit of secondary industries, it is fair to say to the primary producer, when he asks for protection by bounties, “ Yes, that is the policy of the country.” If that is not done, the primary producer will be starved, and if Parliament will not do it, I, for one, must seriously reconsider my attitude .to the policy of protection for - the secondary industries. In the long run protection for the second* arv industries, without corresponding assistance to the primary industries, will mean the ruin of the primary industries. Without primary industries this country would be as nothing, and without secondary industries, it would not . be what it. ought to be. The policy of the Commonwealth Parliament should be to apply a sound, comprehensive, protection policy - a policy of protection all round, for the primary as well’ as the secondary producers. The primary producer will not always be worrying the Government for help. In his out-back home he is too busy even to think of his own troubles. Just as persons go to a picture-show and forget their headaches, so. the primary producer who is busy forgets the troubles, worries, and the difficulties of life. I hope that I have made it clear that I am a protectionist, an all-round protectionist, but not a one-eyed protectionist. I do not want to protect one section of the community while neglecting another section. I commend to the Government my contention that the primary producer, under a system of protection, is’ entitled to assistance in the form of bounties. All sections of the people of this country should work together for the good of the country. It seems to me, as a life-long student of politics - although I do not say it dogmatically - that politicians are as much to blame as any one else. In Parliament there is too much party bantering, strife, and turmoil, which cause us sometimes to lose sight of the reason why we are here. We are here as a Parliament, not as parties, to advance the true interests of Australia. It is our first duty to govern this country, which is without doubt the brightest jewel in the crown of “the British Empire, and we should take care that by our acts in this Parliament we advance its true interests, as well as those of the Empire as a whole.


.- My first complaint is of the delay that has taken place in submitting this tariff schedule for the consideration of Parliament. Never before in the history of this Parliament has taxation been collected and so much time been allowed to elapse before Parliament has been given an opportunity of considering the Government’s proposals. The Government may have had reasons for delaying parliamentary consideration of the schedule, but I am not aware of them. The procedure has been most unusual. It is necessary to emphasize the fact that the right to impose Customs duties does not rest with governments. Parliament is the final arbiter. When duties have been imposed they should be considered by Parliament at .the earliest possible moment. These duties have been collected for many months, and to-day industries that are not included in the schedule are languishing.


– The Government had to restore law and order.


– And that appeared to be more important than the national policy of protection. To-day no one is satisfied. The Minister is much like the owner of the donkey who, after many struggles with that animal, emerged from the conflict without satisfying any one. From Western Australia we have heard complaints about industries being injured by duties, and from elsewhere we have heard complaints about want of duties. I- have supported the policy of protection from my infancy, but this schedule fails to satisfy me because it does not protect the secondary industries. The industries protected under it can be viewed from the Post Office towers of every capital city, and from nowhere else. An industry beyond that range of vision receives no consideration, no matter bow many thousands of people it may employ. I have no- objection to protecting every industry in this country, whether primary or secondary. While I do not object to any industry receiving its share of protection, I protest against the liquor trade being singled out for special preference, while other industries employing thousands of work people are neglected. I wish to’ see the manufacture of Australian whisky encouraged, but it is unfair to single out one trade for special treatment. I shall now deal with my honorable friends from Western Australia.


– Only with some of them.


– I refer to the trio in the corner. I thought that the last freetrader in Australia was politically dead, but there are two or three who remain with us like hardy annuals. While I admit that Western Australia is handicapped by the long length of our coast line and the- cost of freight from the Eastern States, there is nothing to prevent secondary industries from being established in that State. I know of one industry that is about to be established there. The advocates of freetrade iti Western Australia prefer to place their orders outside this country, even when the Australian -tenderers quote a price as favorable as that “ of the foreign tenderer. Some time ago the Western. Australian Government called for tenders for railway wheels and axles. A firm on the east coast submitted a tender at ls. a pair of wheels and axles ever the foreign price. The Western Australian Government placed the order overseas because of that one-hundredth part of 1 percent, difference in price, and yet the freetraders say that they are willing to give secondary industries a reasonable chance. They have had something to say about the cost of Australian railway rails. They should remember that, during the war period, when the transcontinental railway was under construction, it would have been impossible to complete the line had we not been making steel rails in Australia. Rails were supplied for that railway at less than half the world’s price at the time. Now, although, in common with other industries, this industry has cut prices to bedrock to keep the business in Australia, orders for hundreds of miles of steel rails have been sent overseas owing to a lack of adequate protection. Looking to the history of the past I challenge any one to point to any country which has attained to a high degree of civilization that is not a producer of iron and steel. We are in the iron age, and the sooner we realize it the better. Most of the means adopted for the development of this vast continent depend upon the basic industry for the production of iron and steel, and the sooner that is realized the better it will be for the people of Australia. Whilst I admit the difficulties of the farmer, let me tell him, through his representatives in this chamber, that he is much safer in the hands of the Australian manufacturer than he would he in the hands of any foreign manufacturer.

Those who desire that the fanner should use imported machinery contend that, under the system of protection, the price of the local article is raised to that of the imported machine, phi3 the duty. I do not admit that, but even if it were so it i3 quite unreasonable to reckon the increased price of the local article attributed to the duty as having to be paid by the farmer out of the first year’s life of the local machine he uses. No one will contend that a reaper, or binder, or other agricultural machine lasts only for one year. If it has a life of five or ten years is it not fair that the increase of price in the local machine, attributed to the duty on such a machine, should bo spread over the life of the implement? If a farmer happens to break one of the parts of an imported machine he cannot get a new part from America, or any foreign country as readily as he could obtain, from a local workshop, a new part of a locally-manufactured machine. Farmers and other primary producers should recognize that it is the secondary industries, through the people to whom they give employment, that provide the best markets for those engaged in primary production. This country is too rich in resources, and too bountiful for the operation of any tariff to retard its development. Where its progress is retarded we must look to other causes. We shall find them in the over -government from which Australia, is suffering, and in the conflict between Federal and State rights. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) proclaimed himself a protectionist, but he complained that some newlyestablished firms recently failed to supply orders for cotton tweeds.

Mr Jackson:

– The importer sending orders abroad may have to wait for nine months before the goods he requires are supplied, but it never occurs to him to give the Australian producer the same time in which to supply his orders.


– That is so. When America, with a population of about 4,000,000, had the . quarrel with ‘ the United Kingdom which led to American independence, and the prohibition of the importation of British goods, the people of the United States of America were prepared to put up with what could be manufactured in their own country until its industries were thoroughly established.

I have had some figures supplied to me which show that the statement made by the honorable member for Angas in regard to the failure of Australian firms to supply orders for cotton tweeds, is not correct. These figures will illustrate the progress which this young industry has made since its inception. One firm is now making 50,000 yards of cotton tweeds per annum. Another firm is making 750,000 yards per annum. Over 10,000 yards of cotton tweed arc being manufactured per week at the present time by a single firm in Australia. One firm recently received an order from Western Australia. It took some time to fix up prices and other details, and yet 9,000 yards of cloth were shipped on board a vessel within four days from the time of the first inquiry from Western Australia. There was not much delay in supplying that order; yet we have some persons continually wailing that things cannot be done in this country. I am not concerned with, the political creed, of State Governments, but it is essential that they should give, at least, fair play to Australian industries. Some little time ago an Australian firm tendered for about £1,000,000 of railway material required by the South Australian Government. Its tender was the lowest sent in, but after the tenders were opened an American firm represented that the business should be dealt with in some other way, and as the Australian tenderer resented the course that was adopted, the order was sent to America. If in the course of any transaction between private persons a tenderer was permitted to lower his price after tenders previously sent iu had been opened that would be considered dishonest business, and would not be tolerated ; but that kind of thing may happen under a government in this country. I wish to refer to a particular item in the tariff affecting the galvanized iron industry. I do not know who is to blame in this matter. The industry for the production of galvanized iron sheets was started after the war under a. promise by the then Prime Minister that it would be looked after. A reference to the tariff schedule will show the measure of assistance that is proposed to be given to it. There is .”in increase of duty proposed in the general tariff, but as there are no imports of galvanized iron under that tariff there is no competition against the Australian industry under it, and the increase of duty proposed will have no effect. Under the British preferential tariff covering importations from Great Britain, the local industry has to meet competition, but the duty under that tariff is left as it was before. This may be an oversight, but the fact remains that the necessary assistance has not been given to this industry in fulfilment of the promise that it would be looked after. I wish now to refer to the attacks made upon the Tariff Board by the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), and the honorable member for Swan. (Mr. Gregory). I was never enamoured of the proposal to establish this board, but I remember that it was brought into being because of .the pressure exerted by members of the Country party. Now, because it does not obey their every wish, they attack it in this chamber. By this flogging of their joss they make themselves ridiculous.


– Country interests have a representative on the board.


– Yes ; an extra member was appointed to the board in order to give representation to country interests. I sec nothing wrong in members of Parliament appearing as witu esses before the board, but although no protectionist members have dared to ask to , be heard as witnesses, certain members of the Country party have given evidence on behalf of the people they represent.

Mr Thompson:

– Who were they?


– The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse). Certainly the freetrade advocates have received every consideration from the board, and they have no right to attack it because it does not report just as they wish it to do. Such onslaughts are most unfair, for the members of the board are unable to defend themselves. The board has only a recommendatory power; action is taken only on the authority of the Minister. If Parliament does not approve of any report it can deal with it on its merits, but the individual members of the board who are trying to do their best in the interest of all classes, should not be subjected to these unfair charges and insinuations. I have not been satisfied with all the recommendations of the board, but I have not had an opportunity to examine witnesses or read the evidence upon which the reports were based, and merely because they do not fit my convictions I do not charge the board with not having done its duty thoroughly and conscientiously. There has been much talk of the high cost of production in Australia, and our workmen have been maligned. The freetrade representatives are continually telling us that before we can hope to compete with other countries in the manufacturing industries wages must be reduced and the efficiency of the workers increased. Last night the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) quoted statistics which proved conclusively that the workmen of this country are, at least, as efficient as the workers of other parts of the world. Big employers and managers of industry who are not Australian born have declared that our workers are more efficient than those in other countries of which they have had experience. I have in mind particularly one American manager who said repeatedly that the Australian workmen are the most capable and intelligent that he had ever been privileged to control. In wire works the production per man. employed is 100 per cent. more than in similar establishments in England. Yet our workers are declared to bo inefficient! The fact is that they are intelligent, adaptable, and easily taught, and they do their job well. Honorable members must recognize that all industries are interdependent. Ultimately the primary producer must find his principal market in the large centres of population within Australia. Each section of the community must assist the other. Only by co-operation and a recognition of the fact that the welfare of one industry is dependent upon the welfare of other industries shall we be able to developthis country and fill it with a prosperous and contented people. Because of the natural richness of our country we can expect to live upon a higher plane than can the people of other countries; that and the greater efficiency of our workers will enable us to hold our own against all competitors. I am not satisfied with this schedule, and I hope the Minister will agree to many amendments.

Mr Mann:

– To increase the duties?


– To increase some and re-adjust others.. I certainly hope that he will not accede to the demands of the honorable member and those who think with him that the secondary industries shall be practically wiped out. This amending schedule has been delayed too long; it is far from satisfactory, and I hope that the committee will agree to make it more effective.


.- On Friday last the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) moved the adjournment of the House in order to urge the substitution of bounties for Customs duties as a means of stimulating the local manufacture of the tools employed in primary production. The attitude of honorable members who supported the motionhas been criticized by the press and some members of this committee. Let me say at once that I stand definitely for the granting of bounties in lieu of the imposition of duties upon the farmers’ tools of trade. That is a plank of the Country party’s platform ; I fought my election on that platform, and was returned with an overwhelming majority. Therefore, I am entitled to claim that my electors have endorsed the bounties proposal. The primary industries are the most important in Australia, and were responsible for 96 per cent. of the country’s total exports last year. As our exports pay for ourpurchases abroad and the interest on foreign loans, and also bring fresh credits to the Commonwealth, the primary industries are helping every man, woman, and child in the community. If bounties are a justifiable means of encouraging the local manufacture of wire netting, which is already a fairly well established industry, they are surely equally applicable to the implements of primary production. At a meeting of the Federal Country party last week the following motion was carried unanimously: -

That in the opinion of the Australian Country party, the prosperity of Australia depends on the proper fostering of its primary industries and the economic development of its secondary industries. It is of .vital moment to the Commonwealth development, and especially to the true progress of the country side, that the location of our secondary industries should be determined from the points of view of assembling raw materials close to their source, and of most advantageously distributing the finished article.

The Australian Country party urges ‘ the fullest independent inquiry to determine what constitutes the natural and essential industries of the Commonwealth, and the order in which such industries should be developed.

The Government should arrange for au independent and impartial inquiry into the great problem of rural development. This is the greatest of all industries, and we should encourage it to the fullest extent. I claim to have had a life time’s experience in primary industries, and I say without fear of successful contradiction that the lot of the primary producer generally is very different from that described by certain honorable members of the Opposition. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Yates) delivered a speech which appeared to me to be ridiculous in the main. He quoted statistics from the Year-Booh to show the expansion of the herds ana industries of this country, but I wish to inform him that they are not an indication of actual prosperity. He referred to dairying, pig raising, the meat industry, and the combines in the country, particularly Kidman’s, which really are subsidiary matters. I have just returned from the dry parts of South Australia. I was there informed that a large number of the growers, particularly in Central Australia, would incur very heavy losses. That applies, I regret to say, in our own State and throughout Australia generally. I have travelled Australia as much as, if not more than, most honorable members, and I believe that before the winter is over there will be a’ lamentable devastation of our pastoral areas owing to drought. The mining industry is in a similar position. The value of the gold output in 1915 was approximately £8,270,000, and .in 1924, £3,144,000. For 1925 the approximate estimate was £2,500,000. I claim that we should apply a bounty and not a duty to the manufacture of the tools of trade used in the mining industry. The cost of machinery is considerable, and while the amount of duty paid by one mine might be infinitesimal, the tax, taken as a whole, is an enormous drain upon the mining’ industry. It is well known that the mining industry led to the opening up and development of Australia. I have had some experience in mining, having worked in mines and invested money in them, and I have been advised by mining experts that there are in Australia valuable deposits of gold and precious metals still awaiting development. Every encouragement should he given to that industry and .also to the pastoral and agricultural industries. Concerning the duty on farming implements, the Minister, in reply to the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) last Friday, made a statement that I think hardly conveyed facts. He referred to the duty as representing something like 2s. a week to the farmer. I recently settled one of my sons on the land, and the machinery that he required cost £1,020.


– The honorable member was lucky to have had that sum of money.


– The banks are charging up to 7^ per cent. interest on that money. The ‘ duty on a farmer’s implements amounts to at least £100. and 7^ per cent, on that sum represents a great deal more than the figure given by the Minister. Besides, his £100 is lying idle. I admit that there are a number of prosperous farmers, but they are in a vast minority. If the farmers were restricted to working 44 hours a week, and had to pay union rates and observe factory conditions, few indeed would make both ends meet. With the exception of wool, no primary industry could’ exist under conditions enjoyed. by secondary industries. While I am not here to condemn the tariff or to interfere unduly with the fiscal policy, I do claim that the primary industries should receive some relief. The farmers have not the slightest chance of passing on the increased cost of production. We should not only encourage those who are already settled on the land, but also give heart to intending settlers. The British Government has entered into an agreement with the Commonwealth to provide £34,000,000 for immigration purposes. Several States have signed the agreement, and we are hopeful that the others will fall into line. Without assistance any settlement scheme will be a huge failure.


– To what State is the honorable member referring?


– To the States generally.


– That condition does not apply to Queensland.


– It does. I refer tho honorable member to the soldier settlement in that State. .1 claim to know as much as any one else of the lot of the returned soldier. I am on the repatriation committee in the shire that I represent, and acted as land valuer, and I know that the conditions prevailing in that shire are characteristic of those prevailing elsewhere in Australia.


– Too much waa paid for the land.


– Nearly every block that was purchased in the shire that I represent, if put up for auction to-morrow, would bring fi or £2 an acre more than wa3 paid for it. That applies generally throughout Australia, although I admit that there are exceptions. What is hampering the soldier settler is the repayment of the money advanced for his land and implements, totalling from £2,600 to £3,000. The interest on this money has to be met before any profit is made. I know something of fanning, and I candidly admit that I could not make a success on a holding under such conditions. The settlement of returned soldiers has. up to date, shown a loss of £20,000,000. The Commonwealth Government has already contributed its share of £10,000,000 to that loss, and it will have to contribute a great deal more. There has been an influx of people into the capital cities of Australia. We want our cities to grow, but not at the expense of the country. The overcrowded capital cities contain over half the population of the Commonwealth. This is ‘ a grave reflection on the various governments of Australia, which for years past have made no attempt to encourage decentralization. On the contrary, they have encouraged people to desert the country for the city. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) wisely remarked some little time ago in this chamber that if primary industries had been given the same encouragement as secondary industries, Australia’s position would be vastly better than it is. It must be expected that the young people in the country will seek the city, for the rates of pay, recreation, and every element of social life is better here than in the country. It is most regrettable that the sons of farmers, who have such a capital stock of experience to carry on our primary industries, are, in many cases, migrating to the city when they reach the age of 20 or 22 years. They should be given every possible encouragement to remain on the land. We should be showing far more sense if we -assisted them to stay on the land than we are showing by encouraging what may- be termed raw new chums to take up agricultural pursuits. This Government, however, has done a great deal to foster rural development. In the first place, -it has established a rurals credits branch of the Commonwealth Bank, which I trust will have the effect of reducing the rate. of interest on money loaned to primary producers. At. present the rate varies from 6f to 8^ per cent., but it ought to be no higher than per cent. If reasonable advances were available to enable farmers’ sous to establish themselves on the land, the drift to the city would be stemmed to some degree. Private financial institutions will not lend money except on gilt-edged security. I speak from considerable experience of their methods, for, whatever may be my position now, I have, in the past, been very heavily in debt. I know how reluctant the private financial institutions are . to help a man in those circumstances. Without assistance it is almost impossible for even an ambitious young man of limited means to take up farming, for he is involved at the outset in an expense of £2,000 for land, and I suppose that his implements, house, and other necessaries would cost him not less than £3,000. He would need not less than £3,000 at his back; and if he has £6,000, so much the better. Interest on £3,000 at 7 per cent, per annum is a heavy burden on a man just making a start on the land. Interest payments alone have .crippled many ex-soldiers who tried to take up farming after they returned from the war. If the rural credits branch of the

Commonwealth Bank does not make advances on liberal terms to our primary producers Parliament should amend the act to enable it to do so. At present farmers are able to get advances from it for co-operative operations, and for marketing purposes. Nevertheless, the Government has done something substantial to assist general farming operations.- It has also considerably improved the outlook of the dairying industry. For one thing it has prevented the export of inferior butter. The Kangaroo brand of butter, which is of ‘superfine manufacture, and is compulsorily pasteurized, has lifted the standard of Australian butter very high. Before very long our butter will be equal, if not superior,” to Danish butter. The Government has also helped the sugar industry in a remarkably successful way. I have been right through the Queensland sugar fields, and have watched sugarproducing operations from the planting of the cane, to the cutting and crushing of it; down to the refining of the raw sugar: and I have no hesitation whatever in saying that the sugar industry is most valuable to the Commonwealth. The Government has also clone a good deal to develop the meat industry, particularly in Queensland. I speak with some personal experience on this point also, for I am the vice-chairman of a company with an annual turnover of about £200,000. I have been through the five meat works in Brisbane, and also the works at Gladstone, Townsville, and Atherton. The provision of an amount of £50,000 to enable investigations to be ‘ made, the subsequent voting of a bounty, and the arrangement with the shippers for reasonable freights for meat, have improved the conditions in the industry wonderfully. The class of meat that was sold abroad for l£d. per lb. a few years’ ago, is now selling at 2-Jd. in some places, and at 2-id. in others, although 2d. per lb. would be a payable price. “ As Queensland contains half of the 14.000,000 cattle in Australia, it will be seen that the Government has done a great deal to help her. The honorable member for Angas had a good deal to say about Australia’s vintage. In my opinion the Government saved this industry from strangulation. A little while ago there were many wine cellars in the country stacked full of wine for which there was no market; and the producers were working on bank overdrafts. Some of them were not able to get within 2s. a gallon, and others not within ls. a gallon, of the cost of production. The Government, after investigating the position exhaustively, caine to the assistance of these producers by opening up markets in England. Now we have as good a name in England for port wine as any other country. I received a letter the other day from a leading wine exporter who told me that we are making a port better than that made in any other part of the world. This satisfactory result has been achieved under the Government policy of protection. Recently a deputation waited upon the Government to a(sk that the existing conditions in this industry should be continued. It has been decided to refer the matter to the Tariff Board. If the board recommends a continuation of the present degree of protection I feel sure that the Government will adopt that course. Assistance to the extent of about £1,000,000 has been granted to the Australian canned fruit industry, with the result that instead of factories being closed down and the orchardists being forced off their land, factories are being extended and production inr -eased. Even in the Goulburn Valley, where the water rates are so high, the industry is in a flourishing condition. The small orchardists particularly have been wonderfully helped. This pleasing result has only been achieved by protecting the industry from unfair competition. Had the orchardists been forced off their gardens they would have come to the city to swell the ranks of the unemployed, and the machinery in the canning factories would have ‘ seriously deteriorated. Honorable members who oppose our protectionist policy should seriously consider what would happen to all the workers in our. primary and secondary industries if the existing duties were withdrawn.

Satiny suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.


– The Government has given the broom millet industry the same generous consideration that it has given to many other industries. I submit for the consideration of honorable members a statement by an expert regarding the prospects of success in this industry -

Statement of costs in growing, cultivation, harvesting, threshing-shed work, and cartage, and estimated rail freight on crop of 48 bales (about 5 tons) from 15 acres of land on river flats at King Valley, grown on shares by Les. Beer: -

The above costs do not include any interest on cash outlay provided by land-owners during growing period and until returns are received from sales, nor does it include shed work, trimming bales, and placing extra longitudinal wires to keep ring wires in position, or for gratuitous labour given by land-owner during operations, thinning, hoeing, weedy places, and assisting at threshing.

The people engaged in this industry require protection, above everything, against the corn borer, or the root borer, as it is termed in. the United States of America and Canada, where it has done an enormous amount of harm. We have enough pests in Australia without risking the importation of more,. That deadly weed St. John’s wort, the prickly pear, the rabbit, the sparrow, and many other pests have been imported. The root borer is as bad as any of them. After exhaustive inquiries the Government made certain proposals to exporting countries, but as those proposals were not acceded to, the embargo has remained. That embargo has done much to safeguard the industry. Immediately the growers were assured that the corn borer would not be given an opportunity to ruin the industry, they met together in the various States and formed the Broom-Growers’ Association of Australia. Notwithstanding the allegations by manufacturers that there was not sufficient of the right kind of broom in Australia to meet Australian requirements, we find that broom rejected a short time ago is now selling at a reasonable price. The Government last year provided a bounty of £1,000 for the broom growers, who sold their product at less than the cost of production, and in that way the industry was greatly strengthened. In the future the broom-growers will be able to supply a first class product, good enough in every way for Australian households. The Government has taken in hand the promotion of the tobacco-growing industry, and the Minister has submitted the matter for inquiry by the Tariff Board. The industry is in a very poor state at present. Here is an official statement supplied to me by the Customs Department-

The Tariff protects the tobacco-growing industry, by a duty of 2s. per lb. on unstemmed leaf and a duty of 2s.6d. on leaf stemmed, partly stemmed, or in strips. Under the excise tariff the following’ duties are payable on tobacco made in Australia from any leaf whether imported or grown in Australia:-

Practically all the tobacco made in Australia pays the rate of 2s. 4d. per lb. The production of tobacco leaf in Australia for the years specified was as follows: -

The production in Victoria for 1924-25 has been estimated roughly by the Victorian Tobacco Expert at . 250 tons, equalling 560,000 lb.

The importations of tobacco leaf were as follows: -

It is recognized that the decrease in the quantity of Australian leaf produced indicates the necessity of a thorough inquiry by the Tar iff Board with a view to ascertaining whether this unsatisfactory position is due to insufficient tariff protection or to other remediable causes. The Government proposes to refer the whole matter to the board immediately for an exhaustive inquiry and report with a view to the consideration of such measures &3 will place the industry in a more satisfactory position.

Last year we imported about £3,000,000 worth of leaf. Importations could be very greatly reduced under a proper system of encouragement by the Government. A reward should be offered for a remedy for blue mould. In addition to the inquiry being made by the Tariff Board, import duties, if necessary,’ should be imposed, and excise duties reduced. By such, means this industry would be extended to supply the whole of Australia’s requirements. I agree with statements made by members of the Opposition that Australia can manufacture goods of a satisfactory quality. If. the people of this country would smoke only Waratah tobacco or other tobacco’ of Australian manufacture they would render a great service to the tobacco-growing industry in this country.

Mr Fenton:

– Does the honorable member smoke it?


– Yes, and as it is good enough for me it should be good enough for the honorable member. This is an industry in which a family can make a living on ten acres of land. We have large areas of some of the most suitable land iu the world for tobacco culture employed only for fattening cattle. If the services of trained experts were available, and if the Government would take steps to settle people on land where there is a reasonable prospect of success the industry could be greatly extended. The £3,000,000 worth of tobacco leaf that we buy annually from America we could grow equally well ourselves, with a little scientific teaching and the encouragement which I am pleased to say the Minister for Trade and Customs has promised. During the last three years £1,750,000 has been advanced by the Commonwealth for main road construction. This is a comparatively small amount in view of the work to be undertaken, but its expenditure has proved very beneficial. I can speak on this subject with the experience of one who .has been a member of a municipal council for twenty years. The Government has been requested on every hand to continue to make advances of this kind, and it is very pleasing to know that it is its intention to bring down a bil1 to provide for an advance of £20,000,000 to cover a continuous roads construction policy over a period of ten years. With the advent of the motor vehicle good roads have become more important than railways for the opening up and development of the country. Objection is sometimes taken to a motor, tax, but motorists have said to me, “Give us good roads which will prevent the wrecking of our cars, and we shall not mind paying a substantially increased tax.” The same thing will be said by any man who has a knowledge of the difference between good and bad roads for motor traffic. If the policy announced by the Government is given effect, municipalities throughout the Commonwealth will be able to adopt a co-ordinated programme of work, and road-making contractors, instead of looking for a job here and there, with all the difficulty of securing good men for temporary jobs, will be able, under a continuous policy, to secure contracts for twelve months which will enable them to obtain the services of the best men for their work, and we shall, no doubt, have roads constructed very much more cheaply than has been possible under the policy of spending money on this most important work in dribs and drabs. I have referred to these matters to convince persons outside who will read this debate that, during the past three years, the Federal Government has assisted the primary producers to a very large extent. Bv all accounts it is its intention to assist them even to a greater extent in the future. In opposition to the argument of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann’) and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory)., I have endeavoured to show that the primary industries of the Commonwealth have received a very substantial instalment of protection. Good roads, assistance in the opening up of markets, and bounties on unpayable exports is the assistance needed for primary industries. If such assistance is not true protection, I fail to understand the meaning of the word. The production of the agricultural industry represents 90 per cent, of the wealth produced in Australia. This is therefore a national industry, and each and every individual in the community should contribute to its upkeep.Whilst I should like to see the greatest protection possible for our secondary industries, I do not forget that the surplus products of our primary industries must compete in the world’s markets against similar products produced in other countries by all kinds of coloured and sweated labour. Those concerned in the secondary industries are in an infinitely better position than the primary producers. The workers have the protection of arbitration court and wages board awards, and enjoy equal, if not better, industrial conditions than are enjoyed by the workers of any other part of the world. The number of artisans employed in our secondary industries is, roughly, 500.000. The manufacturers have to pay these workers, but they are in the fortunate position of being able to pass that payment on to the consumers of the articles they manufacture. Only 4 per cent. of our manufactures were exported last year, and the export markets are not at present profitable for the productions of our secondary industries. They, however, enjoy the benefit of Australia’s trade and are in a position to put a price on their manufactures which it is impossible for our primary producers to put on the products of their industries which are exported. I agree with moderate members of the committee that the very gravest consideration needs to be given to the tendency to continually increase duties imposed by our tariff. In New South Wales the Government at present in power has reduced the hours of labour by four per week. This reduction may become general throughout the Commonwealth, and, if it does, it appears to me that our output must be reduced. It should be clear that our manufacturers must suffer from the reduction of the hours of labour, and if they do we shall have them coming along for an increase in the duties imposed by the tariff for their protection. The settlement of the matter is largely in the hands of the manufacturers and the Trades Hall Councils of Australia.

YARRA, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

– What does the honorable member suggest should be done?


– That is a very pertinent question. I noticed that yesterday, in Melbourne, Mr. Deputy President Webb was engaged in the settlement of a dispute which reflected very great credit on the parties to it. With the display of a little more of the spirit that characterized the parties to that dispute, we would have much greater efficiency. My answer to the honorable member is that a more friendly spirit between employer and employee should be cultivated. Whilst I am prepared to give to the worker the last ounce of protection we can possibly afford to give him, and to encourage to the fullest extent our secondary industries which must work hand in hand with our primary industries, I want both in return togive a fair deal to the consuming public. They can do so, but not by reducine the hours of the worker or by increases in the duties imposed by the tariff and in the prices charged to consumers. What we really want is a thorough investigation of the conditions of industries by a scientific body representative of all parties and independent of political considerations. An investigation by such a body would be far more effective than any which can be conducted by the Tariff Board. Such an investigation should be in the hands of an independent, unbiased, non-political body of experts.

Mr Watt:

– The only persons who could answer that description are in the cemeteries.


– The right honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Watt) is not yet in a cemetery and as a member of such a committee he would give entire satisfaction.

Mr Watt:

– I am not in the market.


– The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) is another gentleman who would give satisfaction in such a position. I am sorry that the Tariff Board has made no recommendation for an increase in the duties on timber. At page 12 of its report the board says -

In Canada and America no holidays are paid for, whilst nine holidays are paid for in Australia, also travelling time, &c. In Sweden there is no overtime, holiday pay, or travelling time. In America, of the 45,068 employees in the timber industry, 25,316 are classed as labourers. Under Australian awards all that we can classify as labourers is between 10 and 15 per cent. The average daily output of sawn timber in Canada and America is 830 super feet per man, whilst the Australian average is 150 super feet per man per day.

Mr Watt:

– I thought that the honorable member said that the Tariff Board gave no information that was of any use.


– No; I said that I was sorry the board did not recommend some slight increase in the timber duties. The conditions of the timber industry in other countries are so different from ours that it is imperative, if we are to keep up our standards - and I want to see them kept up - that we should give greater consideration to the Australian timber industry. The hardwood timbers of Victoria differ, to some extent, from those of New South Wales, and the New South Wales timbers differ from those of Queensland. I understand that in Queensland the royalty amounts to about 7s. to Ins. per 100 super, feet. In the circumstances, before deciding what increase in the timber duties is necessary, an investigation requires to be made into the circumstances in each State. In Victoria the royalties are very much lower than in Queensland, and, speaking generally, the hardwoods are inferior to those of New South Wales and Queensland. I do not suppose that 33 per cent, of our hardwoods are up to the quality of the New South Wales hardwoods, which grow more slowly and take longer to mature. We, of course, have timbers in Victoria that are equal to any to be found in any other part of the world. If the consideration of adequate timber duties is carefully undertaken by men with a full knowledge of the subject, there should be no great difficulty in deciding upon duties which will be in keeping with the requirements of the Australian timber industry.


– In Queensland the Government raises the royalties, on timber every time this Parliament increases the timber duties.


– I have said that the duties to be imposed on timber require very careful investigation, and I claim that the industry in Victoria, at any rate, is entitled to a reasonable increase in the duties. The honorable member for Adelaide said that the poultry and pig-raising industries were in a flourishing condition. Perhaps he is not aware that the hold-up of shipping by the seamen’s strike prevented the export of two consignments of eggs, with the result that the price in the local market slumped from ls. 2d. to 8d. a dozen. The market has never recovered. There is a similar slump in connexion with poultry, which is. now realizing in Melbourne, ls. 6d. to ls. 9d. per head. With wheat at 6s. per bushel, and pollard at a correspondingly high price, what profit can there be in .the poultry industry ? In regard to swine, if the honorable member for Adelaide would like to stock a little farm, I can secure for him young pigs of a. very good breed at 3s. 6d. each - pigs that could not be bred for less than 10s. per head. Up to last week prime baconers were selling at 8d. per lb., dressed weight. Having had a long experience of pig-raising I know that the farmer cannot make ends meet unless he receives at least lOd. per lb. for baconers. At the present time he is losing 2d. a lb. on every pig that is fattened” In conclusion, I assure the committee that my desire is that every section of the community shall be treated equitably. “ Workers, manufacturers, and primary producers alike are entitled to a fair deal, but under existing conditions the last named are getting by far the worst of the deal.


– I am loth to allow this debate’ to conclude without saying a few words about the tariff generally, particularly as none of the speakers to date have represented my point of view. I wish to distinguish my fiscal faith from the beliefs expressed by the Minister for Trade and Customs and the right honorable member for North Sydnev. on the one side, and the honorable .member for Perth and the honorable member for Forrest, on the other side. None of those honorable members dealt with the tariff from the point of view of a member who, without being an extremist, believes, in protection. I have been a protectionist ever since the late Mr. “Joseph Chamberlain commenced to advocate tariff reform. I believe in reasonable protection. The honorable member for Perth suggested that it is impossible for any man to be a moderate protectionist - that he must be either a freetrader or a prohibitionist, a wholehogger on one side or the other. A logical extension of his argument is that there is no mean between the teetotaller and the drunkard ; that the man who takes an interest in sport can have time for nothing else ; that a supporter of a limited monarchy, such as that of Great Britain, must believe in an absolute despotism; in other words, that iu whatever views a man holds he must be a fanatic, for moderation is impossible. In dissenting entirely from that argument, I am not criticising the honorable member for Perth personally. Although a protectionist, I am ready, to listen to any honorable member who advocates freetrade, and one may say of the honorable member for Perth and others who think as he does, that they at least pay the committee the compliment of putting before it a prepared and reasoned case to the best of their abilities, which are not to be despised. The honorable member argued that it is almost impossible to decide at what point in a protective tariff the bounds of moderation are exceeded. But every political question involves matters of opinion, and each member has the duty of deciding for himself that any proposal has gone far enough and a halt should be called. In advocating moderation, I lay myself open to the charge of not being a “ true-blue protectionist.” I take the words “ true blue “ in relation to protection to connote prohibition. I am not a prohibitionist.

Mr Stewart:

– The honorable member lays himself open to the graver charge of being anti-Australian.


– That charge is frequently made against those honorable members who do not see eye to eye with extreme protectionists, but I do not think it cuts any ice with the thinking public. The true-blue protectionist is prepared to concede any increase of duties for which manufacturers ask, and I do not admit that- the people of South Australia or of the Commonwealth as a whole believe that a man who declares that the tariff wall has already been built high enough is necessarily a bad Australian. Some criticism has been directed against the Tariff Board. I believe that the members of the Board, according to their lights, perform conscientiously a very difficult and heavy task, for which they receive very little thanks and a great deal of criticism. At ally rate, I have no desire to be a member of the board.

Mr Gregory:

– Would not an independent board reporting directly to Parliament be preferable to a departmental board answerable only to the Minister?


– I do not go so far as that. The responsibility should be accepted by the Minister: The work of framing and administering a tariff is detailed and involved, and it is desirable that the Minister should have the assistance of men who have both the time and ability to carefully investigate all questions, and submit to him reasoned recommendations which he may adopt, reject, or vary. The honorable member for Perth said that at the 2’ublic sittings of the board questions which appeared to tell in favour of low duties or freetrade were curtly brushed aside, and that the freetrade advocates did not get from the board a fair opportunity to express their views. In the amending Tariff Board - Act this Parliament deliberately provided that both sides should be afforded an opportunity to present their case to the board, and that neither party should be allowed to advance arguments and evidence without the opposing party having a chance to rebut them. It is most desirable that equal opportunty should be given to both sides.

Mr Prowse:

– What opportunity has the man in the Never-Never country to avail himself of that right ?


– Of course distance does impose great disabilities upon people in different parts of our great continent, and last year I suggested to the Treasurer that three months, instead of only one month, should be allowed the people living in distant parts to lodge their taxation appeals. I understand that some hardship has been caused by the short notice given to people residing in the more distant States to appear before the Tariff Board, and we have been told that the notice given in some cases was so short that the people concerned could not attend the inquiry unless they travelled by aeroplane: That is probably true, but this is a. fallible world; accidents will happen, and honorable members should not be in a hurry to believe that because an injustice was done in a few cases through the dilatory sending out of notices, such instances are common. I suggest that the hardship of which complaint has been made was merely a regrettable incident and is not indicative of the general rule. I do not think that it is. It has been suggested to me, and I think there is a great deal in the suggestion, that later on, if possible, thi- Tariff Board should include a member who is accustomed to court work, and to putting legal questions. I do not say this with any desire to get any particular position for any member of the legal profession. Honorable members opposite who have had a good deal of experience of arbitration work will realize the desirability of having on the Tariff Board one member with legal experience, so that, if for nothing else, he may ask questions which bring out both sides of the case. I take it that at present this is not done, and that the curtness about which the honorable member for Perth made complaint was probably due to the fact that the members of the board are not trained lawyers, are not accustomed to asking questions so as to elicit the merits of both sides of the case, and probably put their questions in a way that was not acceptable to one side. I make that suggestion, and I leave the matter. Returning to the question of protection, I believe in a form of protection, and I believe in preferential treatment to the Homeland. The aim of protection has been described as “ the greatest possible diversification of home products,” and it has- been said, and rightly so, that “ if the productive energy of a nation has but a few outlets as in exploiting natural advantages, there is a great danger that the nation’s economic life may become stagnant. If, however, protection he diversified, even by an artificial process - and I suppose we shall agree that protection is an artificial process - it is much easier to keep the current of protective energy in motion, allowing it to be turned in whatever direction new advantages may open up.”” I call attention to these words, “ the greatest possible diversification of home products,”’’ and I qualify that by saying, in conformity with common sense,and with the real benefit of the . nation, which things, I presume, are intended. It will be interesting to honorable members to know not only what Parliament is thinking of the tariff, but also what is being said of it by people outside, and particularly by the university professor. The first number of the Australian Economic Record, published in November last year, contains au article on the present tariff. There may be honorable members here who do not think that the opinion of a university professor on such a matter is of much weight, but I dissent from that view, because his opinion may be of some assist- ance to us in making up our minds on the tariff. Of course, it will be generally known to honorable members that the university professor, for a great number of years, has tended towards the freetrade school. One may almost go so far as to sa.y that from the very beginning he has a freetrade bias.

Mr West:

– Most of our university men are tories..


– If the honorable member had been educated at a university, as I had the good fortune to be, he would know that there are to be found very radical men at the universities, and even at the most conservative of them. Often wisdom comes with increasing years, but during the period of university training there are a great many men, even in the biggest and oldest English universities, who have radical leanings. *This article on the tariff is by Mr, J. B. Brigden, Professor of Economics at the Hobart University. He is quite unknown to me. I found his article interesting, and I propose to read a few quotations from it, to give honorable members an idea of the conclusion arrived at by him. He begins by saying that the general feeling of economists has usually been, in favour of freetrade, and he ends by admitting that there is a distinct trend at present amongst professors in the opposite direction. I shall give one of his conclusions, with which I do not think that the honorable member for East Sydney will greatly disagree. He says -

The economy of regulation or of no regulation, it must he repeated, is never determined by generalizations, but is relative to particular circumstances. The economy of protection or freetrade is relative to three very important circumstances- to the growth of population, to’ diminishing returns (a smaller return per unit invested), especially from land, and to the effects upon the equation of international demand. The criterion by which it must bo judged is that of general welfare, which can most simply be described as the standard of living in a community.

He. then says -

From this point of view, it appears that protection has been as beneficial to Australia as freetrade has been to Great Britain.

That statement is at the end of the article, which the writer began by admitting that he did not like even to open ur the question. He started as a theoretical freetrader, hut, notwithstanding that, he considered the merits of the case.

Mr West:

– According to the professor, circumstances ought to govern us.


– When he talks about circumstances, he is simply laying down the law - with which the honorable member for Perth would notagree - that we cannot accept freetrade or protection as being necessarily right for every country. In fact, he says so in another part of his article, which I shall read later. I have heard a great deal of argument in this chamber, on the one hand, that, because Great Britain has freetrade, we should follow her, and, on the other hand, that because America, has protection, we should follow her. The professor takes a different line of argument when he says that the circumstances of each case should govern the country concerned. He is not prepared to concede that, in every circumstance and in every country, freetrade or protection is necessarily’ right. America has been much used by honorable members as an argument for prohibition in Australia. Professor Brigden contends that that is no argument at all so far as Australia is concerned. He returns to his view that we should consider the particular circumstances of each and every country. He says-

But what of the United States of America? Tariff policy has there been ‘a bone of contention since its early history, and it is associated with the Declaration of Independence. In the eighteenth century, Alexander Hamilton, and others before .him, propounded the doctrine of protection to “ infant industries.” But, as a real factor in the national economy, the tariff dates from the Civil War. and from the necessities of the Federal Government. As in our own Federation, the need of revenue determined the policy of customs taxation. During and after the Civil War, manufacturing interests expanded, and established the tariff as intentionally a protective instrument. But the tremendous growth of farming in the Wes- tern States developed after that tariff policy was established,, and manufactures were in no sense necessary to employ population. There is every reason to suppose that the main body of manufacturing industry would, although leas rapidly, have expanded in the United States of America without a tariff, and that with its extraordinary natural resources, both primary arid secondary production were natural. ‘ Both were subject to increasing returns. A growing home market of great size and prosperity offered itself to the possibilities of manufacturing production. Extraordinary natural advantages were possessed to balance the initial disadvantages of ‘ technique and marketing, without requiring the payment of lower wages. It is more than probable that to the main body of the United States of America manufactures protection has been irrelevant. The United States of America owes much to its “ Yankee ingenuity,” especially in the maas production of machinery, ‘but it owes more to its natural endowments, with which no community could fail to prosper. Australia has no such degree of advantage conferred by nature. Beyond the partially developed coastal fringe, we have neither the magnificent river .systems, nor the rainfall, nor the accessible minerals..

He ends this portion of the article by saying - .

There is therefore no analogy to be drawn cither from British or American experience,’ and Australians must think out their tariff problem for themselves.


– So far as minerals are concerned.


– All Australians hope, and most of them believe, that there are in this country great untapped sources of mineral wealth. Certainly those that have been tapped have, to a great extent, lost their productivity. Many of them have closed down, and we now await the discovery of others. The professor is talking not of possibilities or probabilities, but of facts, and I think that if the honorable member will test the professors facts, he will find that they are not far from the truth. The first point is this, that the standard of living has been kept up as well by protection in Australia as by freetrade in England. The circumstances of a country and not theoretical considerations should determine its fiscal policy. He also says -

There is …. no escape from the fact that the tariff involves a cost which, in the absence of the strictest care,, is likely to be greater than necessary.

He adds -

One of the unnecessary costs is overprotection.

On page 44 he says -

Protection’s unavoidable costs have been those of over-protection and the shelter of inefficiency.

That view is sound on both points, I believe. On page 45 he says -

The question of how far particular industries, supported by bounties or Customs duties, aro economical for Australia, is another problem, and it is hoped that enough has been said at the beginning to show that it is one demanding very serious consideration. Nothing can justify an unnecessary burden of Customs taxation or unnecessarily high local costs. Nothing can justify the creation of permanent properly in protected interests, similar to property in land.

I am sorry that the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Maim) is not present, for I should like to commend . the next sentence to him particularly. It is as follows : -

Nothing can justify the unmitigated operalion of either free trade or protection, sans phrase.

That is without qualification, and that one sentence appears to me to be a sufficient answer to the statement of the honorable member that there was no sound or consistent course, except absolute free trade or prohibitive protection. I wish to be fair to the honorable member. I believe that he is an absolute freetrader in theory and in practice. Professor Brigden goes on as follows: -

Our duty is to face the details in the same spirit as a business manager, who incurs one cost to avoid a larger one, but who bends his energies to the fullest economy and imposes upon that cost a resolute mid unremitting censorship.

We expect this unremitted censorship to be exercised by the Tariff Board in the first case, but even after it has carefully considered the matters submitted to it and made its recommendations to the Government, I consider it to be the distinct and definite duty of the Minister for Trade and Customs to tell us all the facts, and of. honorable members to give their earnest consideration to the ‘consideration of them, so that any wrong item in the schedule may be corrected. At the very least, we should hear the Minister before we determine to oppose any particular item. The responsibility rests upon us to say -whether the recommendations of the Tariff Board are sound or not. There is the possibility that they mav make a mistake. I trust that we shall all exercise the duty that rests upon us. Apart altogether from my being a moderate protectionist, I agree with a good deal that Mr. Lloyd George said in the House of Commons on the 16th of February, 1925. The following are his exact words : -

Once you adopt one system, whether it is protectionist or freetrade, industry adapts itself to that particular system. If it is a protectionist system, and it has been in a country for 50 years, you cannot change it without a. complete dislocation of the whole of the industry in that particular country. The industries that fit into tariffs, the industries that build on tariffs, they arc the industries that prosper. lt is equally the case with freetrade. For 75- years the industries have adapted themselvestU freetrade conditions.

Some honorable members may think that that begs the question ; but, in my opinion, it is a sound statement of the case. It would be foolish for a country that had been under a system of protection for 25 years to, in one act, change to a system of freetrade, and it would be just as foolish for a country that had been under freetrade for 75 years, and whose whole business practice had been developed under that policy to change, in a day, to a system of protection. Such conduct would dislocate the whole social aud economic structure of the country.

Mr West:

Mr. Lloyd-George has lived in Great Britain all his life, and he does not understand Australian conditions.


– Is the honorable member for East Sydney prepared to say the view of Mr. LloydGeorge is wrong? Would he, in a day, abandon our whole system of- heavy prolection, or would he expect a country that had developed for many years under a system of freetrade to become highly protectionist in a day? Mr. Lloyd-George stated the case concisely and clearly. In dealing with a matter like this, one should, give consideration to the whole of the surrounding facts. Of course, one’s judgment in dealing with such a matter would depend upon his view of the object of a tariff. If he were of the opinion that its object was to protect industries until they were able to fend for themselves, his view would be different from that of a man who considered that industries should be permanently protected. Unfortunately, the tendency in many of our industries is to seek higher protection as the years go by, rather than to try to get on without any duties. I have by me the original tariff of 1901, and I shall have, reason to refer to it casually as I proceed.

Mr Fenton:

– It was a very poor thing.


– It was thought at the time to be a good tariff. In looking through it, one sees frequent references to ad valorem duties of 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent. ; but in the present tariff schedule duties of 30 per cent., 40 per cent., 50 per cent, and 60 per cent, are quite as frequent.

Mr Fenton:

– And why not?


– Of course, a true-blue protectionist like the honorable member for Maribyrnong would ask “why not? “ for he considers the tariff as an end in itself, and not the means to an end. The. tariff has constantly increased during the last 25 years, until now it is three times as high as it was originally. What are the reasons for the great increase? I think that the famous dictum of Mr. Justice Higgins, in giving judgment in the Arbitration Court in the Broken Hill Proprietary case, has a great deal to do with it. I do not propose to criticize adversely a judgment of the Arbi-4- ration Court. I wish merely to point out ihe effect of Mr. Justice. Higgins’ judgment. He not only laid down the doctrine that industry ought to pay a living wage, but he added, to that declaration of new law the corollary that an industry which could not comply with the obligation to pay a living wage ought not to exist. In my opinion, that is not a sound economic view, and I entirely disagree with it. I have always held that it is preferable that a man should have “half a loaf rather than no bread. If a full loaf is available, of course, it is preferable, but if it is not, surely ;it is better for a man to have half a loaf than to go hungry The pronouncement by Mr. Justice Higgins has had much to do with advancing our customs duties. Because certain industries cannot comply with the obligation to pay the wages stipulated by the Arbitration Court, they have been forced out of existence.


– Can the honorable member name any of those industries?


– I mentioned one in this chamber a few weeks ago, when we were discussing the bill to provide a bounty for the discovery of metals. I referred on that occasion to a copper mine that had been closed, and there are many other mines which have been similarly closed, because their working expenses, including not only Arbitration Court wages, but also the cost of supplies, particularly of coal, made it im possible for them to be worked at a profit. If we force out of existence a number of industries which supply a great many persons with work, because they cannot comply with the legal conditions prescribed by this Parliament, directly or through Arbitration Courts to what extent are we justified in keeping alive secondary industries by the constant increase of the tariff ? Surely the principle, if we want to be fair, ought to bc made to apply both ways. If a primary industry is to be forced out of existence, is it justifiable to foster a secondary industry by constantly increasing the tariff? There is only one answer to that, and it is that certainly we must keep the secondary industry alive if it is vital to the country, if it is essential to our wellbeing, and if it is, in fact, the more important; of the two ,: but otherwise I cannot see that constant increases iu the tariff, amounting eventually to prohibition, are justifiable unless we do at least something for the primary industries. In saying that, I. am not suggesting that we should give unlimited bounties to the primary industries. I shall say something on that subject later. Itmay be said, with perfect fairness, that the large manufacturer cannot help himself, that we are putting him in an impossible position, that he is employing large numbers of workmen, that he is running his business as well as possible, and that it is simply the high C03t of wages prescribed under awards that make it essential for him ‘to come to the Government and ask . for increased duties. I agree that that is so, and the large manufacturer who is forced out of existence by the weight of circumstances such as these, over which he has no control, and which he does his best to overcome, has my sympathy, just as has the primary producer or the company that runs a primary industry aud suffers a similar fate. But the answer is, surely, that it cannot be helped ; that we cannot make fish of one and flesh of another. I make, however, an exception, and I wish to emphasize it. What I have said so far appears to me to be logical ; what I am about to say may be illogical. I must make an exception of industries which are vital to defence, or which may be classed as key industries. We cannot afford to let them go out of, existence, and we must protect them, whether we want to or not. But there are other industries, and many of them, that are not in that category. In answer to the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), who asked, “Where would you stop?” my view, which is held by many people in Australia, and by large numbers in my State, is that the 1921 tariff, when it was passed, was generally regarded as being high enough for the present. We must have some line of cleavage, and I suggest that we should regard that tariff as fixed, and review with great care any proposals for increasing or reducing it. The comparisons that I made between the original tariff and the present tariff show a sufficiently rapid increase to justify one in saying that any further considerable increase should be very carefully scrutinized not only by the Tariff Board, but also by the Parliament. The Minister turned, rather hastily I thought, on Western Australia, which, we all know, has suffered great drawbacks under federation. I must state, in fairness to Western Australia, and in justice, also, to my own State, that I believe the feeling in that State is that the lasttariff was quite high enough, and that further increases ought to be substantially justified. Some of the items of the schedule are so petty, so small, and so unnecessary as to be hardly worth criticizing. Can any honorable member suggest that it is necessary to Australia’s salvation to protect the manufacture of artificial flowers here? The duty on artificial flowers is being increased to 35 per cent., 40 per cent., and 45 per cent., British preferential, intermediate, and general respectively. I suppose that, in the first place, artificial flowers were a luxury, but they are now so generally used that they have become almost a necessity to most women. But I cannot for the life of me see that there is any value to Australia in having an artificial flower manufactory, or that we should increase the price of artificial flowers to all the women in the land in order to have one or two factories manufacturing them

Mr West:

– It is very congenial employment for women.


– Perhaps the honorable member can inform me how many artificial flower factories there are in Australia. Several years ago I was told, and the statement stuck in my mind, that there was only one. I hope that when we come to consider this item, the Minister will supply this information. The manufacture of artificial flowers cannot in any way be regarded as essential to the future development of Australia. It is not necessary that we should impose a tariff ranging from 35 to 45 per. cent. to protect that industry unless, indeed, this duty is not a protective, but a revenue duty. If it is meant to be a revenue duty, the surplus which the Treasurer has been showing on his customs receipts for the last year or two does not justify any increase. In addition to telling us how many manufactories of artificial flowers there are in Australia, perhaps the Minister will also inform us how many employees there are in the industry. There will be an opportunity later to discuss the various items in the schedule.I am not speaking either as a freetrader or as a prohibitionist, but if I see anomalies in the tariff schedule, I feel justified in acquainting the committee so that they may be dealt with. Another matter to which I wish to direct attention is the increased duty on children’s toys. In the original tariff of 1901 children’s toys were dutiable at 20 per cent. Under this schedule toys are listed ad valorem 30 per cent. British, 50 per cent. intermediate, and 60 per cent. general tariff. I do not know if there are many manufacturers of toys in Australia. If there are, I have nothing to say against them, but theoretically we all like children’s toys to be procurable as cheaply as possible, and it seems to me that strong argument will be required to support the new duties. The manufacture of children’s toys in Australia may provide work for a certain number of people, but, on the other hand, the price of toys will probably be increased to hundreds of thousands of children. I ask leave to continue my remarks.

Leave granted ; progress reported.

page 1410


Compulsory Military Training : Action of Trainees at Seacliff Camp - Navigation Act : Suspensionof Coastal Provisions - The Callaghan Case - New States - Export Guarantee Act.

Motion (by Mr. Bruce) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.


– I direct the attention of the Minister for Defence (Sir Neville Howse) to the following paragraph which appeared in this morning’s Melbourne Age-. -

Adelaide, Thursday. - About 108 members of the 43rd Battalion in camp at Seacliff to-day left camp and caine to the city for meals, declaring that the food supplied at the camp was poor and insufficient. The trouble has been simmering since they had the first meal. When they lined up for the midday meal to-day one said they found the food consisted of a piece of mutton the size of a cotton reel and enough potato to fill a spoon. They went to the company commander, who tried in vain to get them an adequate supply. They then held a meeting and decided to come to town for tea. They intend to .return to-night.

This clearly indicates that something is wrong at that camp. It is no new complaint. I speak from personal experience. In war time, many complaints were made against the quality of the food supplied to the men and invariably little notice was taken of them. On one occasion I was bold enough to speak on behalf of the men at Maribyrnong about a shortage of vegetables. The officer commanding the camp knew a thing or two. He paraded the men, asked all those who supported my complaint to step out from the ranks. Only one man stood out, and I am proud to think that he was a South Australian. A day or two later vegetables appeared in the daily rations, and when the men asked what had happened, my friend reminded them that while they were glad to get the vegetables they were not game enough to support me when I made a complaint. I know what happens in these camps. Frequently the commanding officers exert their authority pretty soli’dly. There is something more than the smoke- which presages fire in this complaint from Seacliff camp. I hope the Minister will order an inquiry and, if necessary deal with the responsible officers as severely as the men would be dealt with if they had made a complaint- on active service.

I come now to another matter, and I invite the attention of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), and the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) to what I have to say. During the debate which took place on the recently passed Navigation Bill, when I dilated upon the fact that no reason had been shown for the passing of such a measure, the honorable member for Fawkner tried to pin me down by asking, “ Were there any times when tha service to Tasmania was inadequate?” I had to admit that there were. The honorable member then said, “ You surely do not accuse the Government of desiring to put the bill into operation unless it is necessary. If any Government dared to do such a thing, it would be hurled from office.” It was then urged that the measure would be used only when a necessity for its use arose. I went lengthily into the evidence given before the Navigation Commission, and quoted a long letter by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), when he was Prime Minister, in which he said that he would not alter the Navigation Act at the behest of Tasmanians, to meet the requirements of a “ fastidious few.” I do not accuse the Government .in this matter, because it knew what it intended to do; hut the honorable member for Fawkner tried to bluff this House into the belief that the Navigation Bill would be put into operation only in case of serious necessity. We are in a posi tion now to judge the real motive of the Government for the introduction of the measure. The following appeared in this morning’s Argus: -

By Order in Council published in the Commonwealth Gazette, issued yesterday, the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act between the ports of Hobart and the ports of Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, are suspended from 0th March until 31st May.

Mr Prowse:

– Hear, hear !


– I should like the honorable member for Fawkner to say “ Hear, hear!” to that, because of his assertion that the Navigation Bill would not be put into operation until an urgent necessity for it arose.

Mr Foster:

– It has arisen.


– -The honorable member is talking out of his turn. He should wait until I have concluded my quotation. The Argus paragraph goes on to say -

Unlicensed British ships of not less than 10,000 tons gross register, and of « speed of not less than 15 knots per hour, will be allowed during that interval to engage in the carriage of passengers between Hobart and Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne.

This gives effect to the amendment recently made in the Navigation Act to enable advantage to be taken of what is known as the apple season to promote holiday traffic ‘between the mainland and Tasmania.

The first overseas steamer to leave Hobart after the suspension of the act will be the Otranto, which will arrive at Hobart to-day from Sydney, and sail to-morrow for Melbourne. The Otranto, so far as is known by the Melbourne agents, will not carry any interstate passengers on this trip,

There are no interstate passengers on the Otranto. Now. what have honorable members opposite to say about it? It is not a question of the apple trade. Oversea boats have carried apples from Tasmania without any suspension of the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act, and they could continue to do so. It is clear now that the purpose of the bill recently’ passed i’-i to undermine the industry carried on by the steam-ship owners of Australia. The Government is building up the business of the foreign trader, and is permitting black labour to be used in our coastal trade. The Argus paragraph continues - though any Victorians returning to Melbourne may travel by the steamer, and it is possible that there will lie some last-minute bookings from Hobart. .After the Otranto, a regular weekly service of mail steamers will be run to Hobart on the way from Sydney to Melbourne for the duration of the fruit export season. Some years ago, when overseas vessels were .permitted to carry interstate passengers, the “apple trip “ to Hobart was a popular holiday, but since the ban, only vessels of the Australian Commonwealth Line have entered for this trip -

That statement is wrong - which still attracts a number of people each year. Melbourne shipping agents aflected are unwilling to venture an opinion, but it is considered probable that the suspension of this clause of the Navigation Act will lead to the “apple trip” gaining an increased popularity.

I have not the slightest doubt about that. My point is that the bill was passed on the strength of quite a different statement as to what was intended and what would happen. The honorable member for Fawkner stressed the wording of the principal clause of the bill, which reads -

Where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Governor-General that the tourist traffic between any ports of the Commonwealth, or in the Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth, is being injured or retarded, and the Governor-General is satisfied that it is desirable that unlicensed ships be allowed to engage in the trade, he may, by notice published in the Gazette, grant permission to unlicensed British ships of such sizes and speed as are specified in the notice, to engage in the carriage of passengers between those ports, sub ject to such conditions, if any, and for such period as is set out in the notice.

It is clear from that that the Government would require to be satisfied that the tourist trade was retarded or injured before a notice suspending the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act would be published in the Gazette. I should like to know how the Government obtained the information upon which the notice referred to in the Argus was gazetted. I suggest that the circumstances at present are only just those which were revealed during the investigation of the matter by the Navigation. Commission, and that the requirements of tourists to Tasmania are more than met by the ships supplied by the steam-ship owners of the Commonwealth. Immediately upon notice of assent to it, the Government has put the new act into operation; and if it had been able to do so, it would have issued the necessary notice within 24 hours after the bill was passed. We had the same specious argument put forward by the same specious gentleman when the Crimes Bill was under consideration. He said that it would not be put into operation until it was essential and necessary that a declaration of a state of industrial disturbance should be made. I suggest that when such a declaration is required by the persons who are the power behind the throne in the case of the present Government, such a declaration will be issued, and what was said here during the passing of the measure will be proved up to the hilt. We contended that the desire of the Government in passing the Navigation Bill was to introduce black labour into the coastal trade and to undermine the- conditions of Australian seamen. There is no justification for the notice which has just been published, but its publication was required by the “fastidious” few, as Mr. Hughes called them, and with the object of breaking down the conditions enjoyed by those engaged in the Australian shipping industry.

MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP; FLP from 1931; ALP from 1936

.- I have been challenged as the member for Melbourne to have, the courage to bring under the notice of the House certain facts in connexion with a case which was recently tried in this city. Certain members of the Victorian Police Force were proved guilty of conspiracy in an effort to rob a man of some of his wealth.

They accured £],00(> from him, and1 it ia quite probable that when they are released, from jail they will get away -with the loot. I wish to bring the matter under the notice of the Law Department of the Commonwealth to see if justice cannot be done in this case. An article on the matter appeared in Truth, and I am- glad that some newspaper had the courage to publish such an article. I ask honorable members to read it. The man who was victimized by the convicted police seems to have been picked out by certain other members of the Victorian Police Force for persecution. Probably no man in this community knows more than I do of the Victorian police as a body. I have found that, in the main, they are a straightforward and honorable lot of men, and are exposed admittedly to many temptations. I” know, however, that there ure in the force some of the vilest scoundrels- that Melbourne has produced. If a man is to be persecuted and prosecuted as this man has been, because he exposed some of these scoundrels, and the State authorities are -unwilling to prevent them getting away with their loot on their release from imprisonment, I want to find out whether the Commonwealth Government is strong enough to see justice done in this case. If not, as the numbers of the notes which were paid to the scoundrels- engaged in- the conspiracy are known, I shall find out later if they are cashed by the Commonwealth Bank.


.- I wish to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) a statement made on Thursday night last at Bombala, during the Eden-Monaro election campaign, by the Deputy Leader of the Government (Dr. Earle Page).- Honorable members are aware that a certain amount of feeling exists in the EdenMonaro electorate in favour of a new State there, and the Deputy Leader of the Government made an eloquent speech, in which he talked of the necessity of parliamentary action for the formation, of new States. He quoted striking figures to show how districts like Eden-Monaro and northern New South “Wales were drained of money to enrich Sydney. I should like to know whether the Prime Minister has read his Treasurer’s remarks-,- and when he intends to carry out the promise- be made at Dandenong that a special constitutional session would be held and that the States would be invited to attend a conference for the purpose of reconsidering the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. There was a great deal of insincerity in the speech made by the Treasurer at Bombala last night. For the last four years he has been Deputy Leader of the Government, and half the members of the Ministry belong to his party, yet he has not opened his mouth in. this Chamber on behalf of the new States movement. During the last Federal elections he went into the Capricornia electorate, and when Mr. P. Isbel, ,a Nationalist ‘organizer, arranged a deputation to him, he expatiated on the virtues of the new States movement, and hoped that the Queensland New States League would keep its powder dry. He said -

I pay a tribute to the consideration always given, to new State matters by Senator Thompson while la Melbourne. They had weekly meetings there and kept very much alive with matters concerning the movement. I regret, however, that we were never able to get a member of the Labour party ulong to those meetings, not even the member for Capricornia, who seemed to always leave the little he intended doing for the movement until he got back to Ms electorate.

Evidently the Treasurer leaves what he intends doing for the movement until the eve of an election campaign such as that in Eden-Monaro. We have had no evidence in this chamber that he is whole-heartedly behind it. Many of us would like to see the Constitution amended to make pro-vision for self-government in areas like northern New South Wales and central Queensland, but we do not believe in multiplying the number of sovereign States with afl the powers of existing States’, and upper houses, and’ similar- expensive institutions, which are quite superfluous, and could very well “ be ‘ done without. The Treasurer has striven to make a great deal of political capital out of the new State movement, and in an area where he thinks the people are anxious to have a new State he says that certain things must be done. But what has he done to bring about the creation, of new States? And what does the Prime Minister intend to’ do in the matter? Mr; label, a member of the Central Queensland New State

League, speaking on the 5th January, 1926, said -

It is a different thing talking about new states in an electorate and putting it into practice at head-quarters.

That remark could very well be applied to the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), who endeavours to blame the Labour party for nob joining the New States Committee which meets at Parliament House. If the Government has no intention of creating new States, when does it intend holding the special constitutional session at which honorable members can put forward their views regarding amendments they may think necessary to remodel the Constitution, and give autonomous powers to subordinate legislatures? Honorable members opposite differ from us in regard to details, but on broad general principles we are all agreed that there is need for amending the Constitution upon certain lines. It is time the Government ceased talking platitudes upon this matter. In a telegram which the Prime Minister sent to the New States Conference at Armidale, to which I was a delegate, he congratulated the conference on its large assembly, wished it success in its deliberations, and stated that he recognized that the time was ripe for an amendment of the Constitution. I want him now to tell me when he intends holding the special constitutional session he promised, and the conference with the State Premiers for the purpose of reconsideringthefinancial relations of the Commonwealth and the States.


. -To-day for the first time a report of the operations under the Export Guarantee Act has been laid on the table. For weeks past I have been looking for a report of these operations. I was anxious to get information as to what had been done, what amount of money had been allotted, and what was the actual position. But I was not able to get a report. I learned to-day that the document presented to the House is the first report of the operations under this act to be laid on the table. As the act, which was passed in 1924, provides that quarterly reports of the operations under it shall be presented to Parliament, by now at least four reports should have been tabled. As a matter of fact, this is not the only instance in which the requirement of an act that reports should be presented to Parliament has not been observed. I am drawing attention to this fact because I think it reasonable that when an act directs a department to supply reports to Parliament those reports should be presented within a reasonable time. I ask the Minister for Defence to bring this matter under the attention of the Minister entrusted with the responsibility of administering the Export Guarantee Act, who is, I understand, the Minister for Markets and Migration.

Minister for Defence · CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · NAT

– I shall bring it under his attention.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 4.8 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 March 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.