10th Parliament · 1st Session
The Clerk announced that in the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom), the Chairman of Committees would, under standing order 22, take the chair as Deputy Speaker.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Bayley) thereupon took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) (by leave) agreed to -
That the Chairman of Committees shall, on each sitting day, during the absence of Mr. Speaker, take the chair as Deputy Speaker, and may perform the duties and exercisethe authority of Mr. Speaker during such absence.
Suspension of Coastal Provisions of Navigation Act
– With regard to the recent proclamation under the amended Navigation Act, will the Minister for Trade and Customs extend the same facilities to Western Australian tourists travelling from Perth to Tasmania as have been extended to those visiting Tasmania from other States?
– Before the proclamation was issued, the matter was gone’ into, and there was found to have been no tourist traffic from Fremantle or Adelaide to Hobart when previously passengers were carried by the overseas mailboats.
Treatment of Aborigines
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been called to a paragraph appearing in a report of an Australian Natives Association’ conference with regard to the treatment of aboriginal boys in the Northern Territory, who are said to be taken away from their parents at the age of fourteen years?
– The honorable member has handed to me a newspaper cut- ting in which some statements on the subject appear, but any one reading it would agree that these statements are of a most extreme character. As the matter has been brought under my notice, I shall have inquiries made about it, but I can assure the honorable member that there is no justification for the suggestions, and particularly none for the statement that the conditions of the aboriginals of this country are worse than those which obtained in the United States of America in the days when slavery existed there.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a cablegram which appeared in the Sun News Pictorial this morning, to the effect that there has been a postponement of the campaign for the advertising of Australian fresh fruits in England ? In view of the urgency of the matter, will the right honorable gentleman inquire whether the facts are as there stated, and, if they are, will he make arrangements for the campaign to be started before the arrival of Mr. Hyland, in order to avoid the difficulties which may arise should it be postponed until after his arrival ?
– My attention was drawn to the paragraph to which the honorable member refers, which seems to. have been written under a misapprehension, as it says that the Prime Minister did something to prevent the campaign going forward, and suggests that he should be asked to reverse the decision to which he came. The facts are quite different. The campaign to advertise Australian production is to cover not only the dairy produce industry, but also the dried-fruits industry, the canned-fruits industry, and some others. Those concerned in these industries have undertaken to subscribe a certain amount towards the propaganda, the Government undertaking to subscribe an equivalent amount, up to £50,000. The direction of the publicity campaign is in the hands of a body representing all the interests that are contributing to the cost, of it, including the representatives of the Government. The postponement or acceleration of the campaign is entirely a matter for this body, to which the suggestion that a postponement of the campaign would bc inadvisable should be. made.
– Has the breaking of camp by trainees at Seacliff been brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence? Has he been informed that theaction of the trainees was due to the supply of inferior food at the camp? If so, will the honorable gentleman have immediate inquiries made, and a report concerning the matter submitted ?
– The complaint as to the food supplied at the camp to which the honorable member refers bas been brought under my notice. An inquiry into the matter is now proceeding, and I hope at an early date to be able to supply the honorable member with information concerning it.
– Referring to the question asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), I should like to say that I fully expected a reply from the Minister on the subject to-day, in view of the fact that I directed his attention to the matter on Friday last. Is the Minister aware that the trainees concerned have been fined six days’ pay? Evidently the matter has been inquired into, their action has been adjudicated upon, Hnd they have been penalized. Is the honorable gentleman able to say what reason there is- for the delay in replying to the question asked in this House us to why over 100 trainees left camp as a protest against the food supplied t-.> them?
– The honorable gentleman must admit that it takes a good deal of time to secure definite and official information on such a subject, and I presume that that is what he would expect me to give this House. I can assure him that although I look up the matter immediately the House adjourned oh Friday, the information is not yet available.
– Referring to a recent speech made by the Prime Minister in the Eden-Monaro electorate, when he alluded to the beauty of the South Coast district of 2Jew South Wales, I ask if the right honorable gentleman will endeavour to arrange with the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria that visitors to Canberra shall be able to obtain information as to beauty spots on the road to and in the vicinity of the Federal Capital, and that information shall bc made available by the tourist bureaux of the States, not only as to the beauty spots in the vicinity of the Federal Capital, but also as to beauty spots in the Federal Territory generally 1
– I entirely sympathize with the honorable member’s desire that the beauty spots of Australia, whether at Canberra or elsewhere, should become, better known. If the honorable member will reduce his suggestion to writing, and put it on the notice-paper in the form of a question, it will receive full consideration.
Dr. Smalpage’s Treatment
– As many inquiries have been made on the subject, I ask in the interests of unfortunate persons suffering from tuberculosis, whether the Minister for Health will give publicity to the places or institutions at which tuberculosis patients can be treated with Dr. Smalpage’s serum?
– A great deal of confusion still apparently exists in reference to the treatment of tubercular patients by Dr. Smalpage’s serum. I have received hundreds of letters on the subject, and I believe honorable members have also received many communications concerning it. I purpose, with permission of the House, to make a full and clear statement on the matter to-morrow.
– I understand that it is the intention of the Government shortly to introduce an amending Income Tax Assessment Bill. I ask the Treasurer whether it would not be advisable to have the bill tabled early so that honorable members may be ‘ given the opportunity of obtaining outside information in regard to its provisions before they are called upon to consider the measure in committee.
– When the bill is ready for presentation to the House full opportunity will be given to honorable members to consider it.
Busts of Australian Writers
– In . view of the presence in Australia of Sir Bertram Mackennal, Australia’s leading sculptor, will the ‘Prime Minister take into consideration the desirability of inviting him to make busts of Mr. Roderick Quinn, one of Australia’s leading poets, and other eminent Australian writers?
– The honorable member’s suggestion will receive consideration.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs received any recommendation from the Tariff Boardwith regard to the duty on strawboard? If so, will he lay it on the table of the House ?
– Some recommendation’s on the subject were made somemonths ago. I shall lay the papers on the table of the Library.
– In view of the shortage of houses in Australia, will the Prime Minister indicate when a bill will be introduced to give effect to his pre-election promise to formulate a workers’ homes scheme ?
– The Cabinet has considered proposals for submission to Parliament in conformity with the policy laid down at the election. As soon as the necessary inquiries have been completed, and the machinery for operating the scheme designed, a bill will be introduced.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs, or his department, taken action to prevent the dumping in Australia of Canadian kraft paper? The circumstances were reported to him last month. The dumping of this paper is detrimentally affecting the Australian industry.
– I received the complaint referred to by the honorable member about a month ago, and I have ordered inquiries to be made before taking further action. “
– In view of the Government’s pre-election pledge, and the mandate alleged to have been received by the National party, will the Government, during the present session of the Parliament, introduce a bill to give effect to the promise of motherhood endowment ?
– It is not the practice to answer questions relating to mattersof policy.
Representation of Senate on Joint Committees.
Mr.FENTON. - I rise to a question of privilege, involving the rights of honorable members’. Another place apparently demands the ‘ right to appoint the same number of members as this . House has decided to appoint to serve on a joint committee of the two Houses. As the Senate consists- of 36 members, and this House of 75-, the representation should not be equal. On the Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee the House of Representatives has six members and the Senate three, and approximately the same proportional representation is given in the Cabinet. Although the’ Senate has a Standing Order ‘providing that there shall be the same number of its members as there are of the House of Representatives on joint committees, there is no rearson why this House should agree to that. This is not a question involving party politics.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker must be the judge of that. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) submitted a motion recently which committed this House to the appointment of a committee to inquire into electoral matters. I wish to read a portion of the motion to show the extent to which honorable members have committed themselves.
– I cannot permit the honorable member to discuss the motion he has. refered to. I remind him that he has risen to a question of privilege.
– I am making a claim on behalf of honorable members, and I hope that the Prime Minister and the House will support me. The resolution provided for four members of the House of Representatives to> serve on the committee. The Senate has passed a similar resolution providing for four senators to serve on that- committee. I urge honorable members to insist upon the representation of this House being proportionate to the number of members it contains.
– I cannot permit the honorable member to discuss that phase of the subject-. He rose to a question of privilege, but up tothe pre sent he has- not raised such a question. The resolution referred to by the honorable member was passed by this House on Wednesday, the 24th February. That part of it to which he referred reads -
That a message be sent to the Senate requesting its concurrence, and asking that four members of the Senate be appointed to serve upon the said committee.
The Senate, by appointing four members to serve on that committee, has simply complied with the request of this House. I cannot, therefore, accept the honorable member’s remarks as relevant to a question of privilege.
– I wished to quote the resolution by way of illustration only. If I am out of order, I should like to know when I would be in order in raising this question. Does the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) approve of the same representation of this House and the Senate on joint committees? If the majority of honorable member’s approve of what has been done, I must acquiesce in their decision.
– This is a question of arrangement, not of right.
– The action of the Senate affects the privileges of members of this House. The 75 members of this House have demanded proportional representation on joint standing committees, and a similar proportion, should be observed on all committees. When the representation of this House on joint committees is curtailed, even if it is done by a ‘motion of this House, the privileges of honorable members are infringed. I presume that at a later date the Prime Minister will submit a motion containing the names of honorable members to serve on the committee, and then, of course, a discussion on the subject can take place. In my judgment there has been a serious breach of the privileges of members of this House, and if they accept it in silence, they may have to submit to equal representation on all future committees.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong is not in order in raising this- question as one of privilege. His protest should have been made when the motion to which- he has referred was before the House. That motion was agreed to by a majority of the honorable members then present. I have been asked when, and in what circumstances, the honorable member can raise this: point. He can do so either by moving the formal motion of adjournment to discuss a subject of urgency; by moving a motion of which, he has given notice; or on the ordinary motion of a Minister for the adjournment of the House. The Senate has simply complied with the request of this House, and there has been no curtailment of privilege.
– You seem to. have based your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on the supposition’ that I wished to discuss the resolution of this House.
– The honorable member did not make it clear that he is protesting against the curtailment of the privileges of this House by a standing order of the Senate.
– I wished to quote that standing order, and I have other information that I should like to give to honorable members, but I am not permitted to speak further. Though Mr. Deputy Speaker says that this is not a question of privilege; I think that it is, and I shall take another opportunity to bring the matter forward.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Have any of the recently imported switchboards been found to be infested with borers?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow .-; -
– On Friday, 26th February, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) referred to the medical examination of British emigrants to Australia, and I undertook to supply information regarding eyesight and weight standards. I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the standard with regard to weight is specified in the schedule for use with immigrants as ordinary weight standards indicated in any reputable text-book. In this respect it is clear that these standards would apply in the case of any medical examinations, whether for enlistment for military service, migration, or other purposes. Concerning eyesight, the standard at present adopted is as follows : - In view of the experience that farmers are disinclined to employ young men whose vision necessitates the wearing of spectacles for general purposes,, prospective migrants who contemplate engaging in farm work, and who are required to wear glasses for general purposes are not accepted for assisted passages, but, even with this reservation, if the vision is not less than 6/24 in the weak eye, and not less than 6/9 in the other, the applicant is recommended for approval. In other cases, provided the unaided vision is not less than 6/60 in one eye and 6/36’ in the other, and can be brought* UP with glasses to not less than 6/12 and 6/6 respectively, assisted passages are granted. The standard in the Australian’ Imperial Force was at least 6/24 in both eyes. It will be seen that the statements that migrants are required to possess- better vision than Australian Imperial Force recruits is not correct.
– On Friday, 26th February, the honorable member foi” Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) asked the following questions-: -
What was the total cost of the war to Australia in -
I am now able to furnish the following particulars : - 1 and 3. When making a statement to the House in October, 1921, on the subject of reparations and kindred matters, the then Prime Minister stated that, at the Peace Conference, he had claimed an indemnity on behalf of Australia of £454,000,000. The greater portion of that claim had relation to what may be termed the cost of the war, and was ruled out, except so far as it included the capitalized value of pensions, separation allowances, actual losses of shipping, and the like. The Reparations Commission, in accordance with article 243 of the Treaty of Peace, fixed the amount of the German Government’s obligation under the Treaty of Peace at £6,600,000,000. The Spa Conference allotted 22 per cent. of the reparations to the British nation, andby arrangement between the Dominions and the Government of the United Kingdom, Australia is to receive 4.35 per cent. of the amount received by Great Britain. Australia’s share is thus £63,162,000, which amount may be taken to represent the total of the Commonwealth’s accepted reparations claim. The total amount received ‘by the Commonwealth to date is £377,390.
– On the 5th March, the honorable member forCapricornia (Mr. Forde) asked the following questions: -
What was the value of marble imported
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
– With reference to the remarks made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) on the adjournment of this House last Friday, relating to the placing on the table of the House returns under the Export Guarantee Act 1924-1925, I am requested by the Minister for Markets and Migration to state that no payment under the Act was made until the 27th July, 1925. The return for the September quarter,’ in which the first payment was made, was not laid on the table at the end of ‘September, 1925, as the late Parliament rose on the 24th of that month, and the new Parliament did not meet until the 13th January, 1926. The return presented to Parliament on Friday last was, strictly speaking, due on the 27th January, 1926. but certain difficulties connected with its preparation caused delay in presenting the information. The honorable member for Yarra may accept the assurance that every effort will be made to have the returns laid before Parliament on the prescribed dates in future.
The following papers were presented :. -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 27 of 1925 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union.
Audit Act - Transfers of Amounts approved by the Governor-General in Council - Financial Year 1925-6 - Dated 3rd March, 1926.
Defence Act -
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1926, Nos. 20, 21. ,
Royal Military College - Report for Year 1924-25.
Public Service Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 23.
Customs and Excise Duties
In committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 5th March (vide page 1410), on motion by Mr. Pratten -
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 has been 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).
– “When speaking on Friday I criticized two items in connexion with the tariff as samples of it. To-day I propose to deal briefly with two “other items. Under the original tariff of 1901 the duty on whisky was 14s. a gallon. By the 1921 tariff the duty was increased to 30s., 32s., and 33s. a gallon. It is now proposed to further increase those rates to 35s., 37s., and 38s. a gallon. This, of course, is not a question of foreign whisky, but of Scotch and Irish whisky, and we must recognize the skill which has brought the product to its present high standard. From information which has been supplied to me by the Australian whisky distributors, and also by those interested in the disposal of Scotch whisky. I have formed the opinion that sufficient protection is already given to the Australian whisky. A letter received from the importers of Scotch whisky states that Aus tralian whisky can be obtained for 76s. a case, or less, whereas the cheapest Scotch whisky costs 100s. a case, the price of the leading brands being not less than 114s. To that the distributors of Australian whisky replied -
As regards retail prices, we would point out that they are controlled by the price paid for the bulk spirit; and, while certain brands of “ Scotch whiskies “ can be bought at a lesser price than “ Australian,” the leading brands of Scotch are sold at the rate of 114s. per case.
That substantially endorses what is claimed by the importers of whisky. It is true that an exception is made in the case of certain brands of Scotch whisky, which, however, do not include the leading brands or those which are chiefly used. I consider that Australian whisky is sufficiently protected to enable it to compete with imported whisky. The question, therefore, arises whether we are to afford what some would call additional protection by placing a prohibitive duty on imported whiskies. Subject to what the Minister may say, I am satisfied that there is no need for any additional duty on Scotch or Irish whisky, and I therefore propose to vote against any increase of the duty. I propose now to deal with locomotives, portable engines, and road rollers, which are covered by item No. 1.77. Previously the duty was 27½ per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent., British, intermediate, and general respectively. In the proposed tariff this item has been subdivided. The duty on portable steam engines remains the same as under the 1921 tariff, but that on locomotives and road rollers, including scarifier attachments, is to be raised to 40, 50, and 55 per cent. It is within the knowledge of all honorable members that, during the last few years, the railway authorities of the States and the Commonwealth have found it increasingly difficult to make their lines pay owing largely to the competition of omnibuses and motors controlled by private enterprise. Generally, I favour private enterprise; but the development in transport during recent years must cause us. to think seriously of the future of our railways and of those other instrumentalities which, at the expense of the public, have been established for public convenience, and which have, until recently, paid their way, We must decide to what extent we shall permit them to become useless. I expected that this view would have been advanced by honorable members of the Opposition, considering that they, as a rule, support State enterprise, and also that the various railway departments employ a large number of employees. In Australia there are practically no private railways, as there are in England, and therefore this duty will place a heavy tax, not upon the private taxpayer, but upon the community generally. The duty will not affect the Commonwealth railways, as it will merely mean book entries in departmental accounts. But it is an unwarranted imposition upon the States and an obstacle to their future development. While placing a handicap upon the railways of the States, the Government, whether it recognizes the fact or not, is assisting private enterprise by making grants for road construction. If locomotives are imported, they will cost more under this item We should remember that in railway administration it is essential that the locomotives shall be kept up to date; but this item penalizes any railway department which endeavours to do that; it will increase the difficulty of making the railways pay. I shall probably have more to say regarding this matter when the items are being discussed separately. At this stage I wish merely to indicate my views in the hope that other honorable members also may deal with this item. I had intended referring to the tariff on cotton goods, but, as the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Parsons) dealt with that matter last week, I shall leave it for the present. There are three points which honorable members should keep in mind when considering an increase of the tariff. The first, and probably the most contentious, is that protection is for the benefit of the employee as well as of the manufacturer; but it presupposes co-operation on their part. The tariff should not be used as a means for a reduction of hours of labour from 48 to 44 or 40 by a continuous raising of the protection on the items concerned, in order that the reduction may take place. Whatever the merits of a reduction of hours may be, I consider that the tariff should not be used to brine about such .a radical change in labour conditions. The second point relates to the question of bounties. It is, of course, obvious to honorable members, and has been so for years, that the more the tariff is raised the greater the demand for bounties on the part of the primary interests. There is no likelihood that this will cease in the future: there is rather the likelihood that the demand for bounties will increase as often as the tariff is raised. There is a French saying that “ appetite comes with eating,” and there is no doubt that certain interests, whether they be manufacturing or country interests, have a tendency to continue eating once they commence. Some one told me the other day that a bounty on peanuts was suggested. I do not know whether he was joking in saying that, but to me it would be no more absurd to give a bounty on peanuts than to increase the tariff on one or two items that I mentioned the other day. I do not regard peanuts as a product essential to the future welfare of Australia, however desirous honorable members or others may be to grow these plants in their own gardens. I expressed myself in Parliament on the general Question of bounties on the 22nd August, 1924,’ and I shall now leave that matter. My third point is that we must consider, when dealing with the tariff’, how far the other dominions and Great Britain are concerned. I am not suggesting that we do not give Great Britain, in particular, handsome concessions through the tariff. I remember that the High Commissioner about two years ago published an article in the Nineteenth Century -Review, which very strikingly showed the concessions which were being made by Australia to Great Britain through the tariff. I do not wish to suggest that that is not being done, but, on the other hand, Great Britain has been making us many concessions, and there appears to be reasonable probability that they will increase. When talking of concessions through the tariff, we must remember that they should not be set up against any tariff concessions that we may get from Great Britain, but that we must look at the subject broadly, and remember that in the last resort this country is dependent on the power of the British Navy. That is a “concession “ which in itself will balance much that we mav be able to do for Great Britain . The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) the other night made some reference to Great Britain. The impression that I gained from him was that GreatBritain was at present in a very bad way. I would point out that although Great Britain has difficulties to meet, yet- a great many of them have been caused by the fact that she has been paying off her debts, that she was the first country to start paying off debts, and that the tremendous taxation she had to resort to in consequence has reacted on the whole of the community
– There are other reasons as well, one being the over-capitalization of industries during the war.
– I am hopeful that the honorable member will speak after me, because he has corrected me on several points. I do not pretend that my review of the situation is necessarily exhaustive, however exhausting it may be, nor I do not suggest that I always look at these matters from the honorable member’s point of view. If my contentention is right, surely it is time that we made every effort to stand by the Old Country and to pull her through the difficult years of the after-war, as we did during the years of the war. Mr. Lloyd George said in the House of Commons on the 17th. December, 1924 -
I have always felt that it is in the interests of this country, that it is in the interests of the Empire, that- a- special endeavour should be made to encourage business between the various branches of the Empire1 in all parts of the world. It strengthens the Empire, it strengthens the ties of the Empire, it gives us a more reliable basis for our trade and for our industries.
The other day Major Astor, who was recently in Australia with the visiting party of journalists, and who is chairman of directors of The Times newspaper, was reported in the Register of the 20th February to have said in regard to Australia generally -
They (Australians) were anxious to develop their ‘ secondary industries, and he found no -such objections to protection as had, he understood, been loudly and clearly expressed in this country (England). He hoped that their efforts to force those industries in the hothouse of protection would not lead them too far. There was one disquieting symptom, and -that was that the amounts and real values of their per capita production had shown a tendency recently to decline.
Regarding the tariff items generally, I lave some doubt whether we are prepared or inclined to give Great Britain the amount of preference that I think we ought to give to her. In one of his amusing essays, Mr. Max Beerbohm spoke of politics as follows : -
My mind is quite open on tie subject of fiscal reform, and quite empty; and the void is not an aching- one. I have no desire to fill it.
Politicians cannot take that easy and amiable point of view, but at the same time I feel that some apology is required from me for having detained the committee so much on the general principles of the tariff.
– I did not intend to speak during the general debate on the tariff, because I thought that this Parliament was sufficiently protectionist to be ready to deal with the items separately ; but the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), and ether members of the Country party have raised such a storm regarding the various items of the tariff, and have placed the primary industries on a standard so far above that of secondary industries, that I have been forced to reply to them. One might think from their speeches that the primary industries were carrying the whole community on their shoulders. It’ was even said that the primary producers were the real producers of wealth. I ask honorable members to cast their minds back to the time when the primary producer had only the hoe and spade, and not the secondary industries to assist bini. If such a condition obtained to-day, 50 or 75 per cent, of the people would be engaged in primary production to supply the wants of the community.
– -Even the manufacture of the spade and the hoe was a supplementary industry.
– That is so. In the early history of this country the man on the land worked from early morning until late at night. He was one of the poorest in the community, with little hope of future success. His life was one of drudgery and slavery. Only by the intervention .of secondary industries was he able to produce wealth and to obtain some of the comf orts of civilization. The primary producer to-day has simply to control an agricultural machine which does the work. The secondary industries with the aid of science have so developed that the man on the land is now able to produce wealth.
– Canada and America get the same conveniences at a much lower cost.
– I am speaking of the secondary industries as they affect the civilized world. The man on the land should take his hat off to the man engaged in the secondary industries. To-day a. man on an up-to-date machine can do as much work in one week as the early settler did in 50 days. One would think from the remarks of honorable members of the Country party that the primary producers were the cream of the earth, and had made the land, but all they do is to plant the seed in the soil and nature does the rest. With the aid of machinery wealth is produced. The primary and secondary industries are interwoven with each other. It is absurd to say that the man on the land is not dependent upon the secondary industries. Primary and secondary producers are inter-dependent, and one cannot live without the other. Wealth has been produced more rapidly in Australia since the development of the secondary industries. The grain that is reaped by machinery produced by the factories, would be valueless if there were no mills to convert it into flour, or artisans to build ships to carry it abroad. Town and country must go hand in hand. Can honorable members point to any freetrade country that occupies a prominent place in the League of Nations ? Every country that has made rapid progress has developed secondary as well as primary production. Great Britain is not a freetrade country ; foodstuffs are admitted free of duty, but on many other imports there is a substantial tariff. I would support the adoption in Australia of the tariff of the United States of America. A policy of high protection that has enriched America, and made it independent of the world, should be good enough for Australia. We hear a great deal about our country’s lack of population, and the heavy burden of taxation.. When manufacturers are given adequate protection they develop industries that give employment, and a country with a healthy labour market has no need to coax and bribe people to come to it. Migrants will flock to any country where there is a steady demand for labour at good wages. High protection will solve the migration problem, and when we have more people happily at work in our midst, the burden of taxation will be more widely distributed. Millions of pounds have been ‘ spent upon migration and land settlement, but that policy has been only partly successful, because the conditions in the country are not sufficiently attractive. And they cannot be made attractive without a protective tariff under which factories can be established to supply our rural population with cheap machinery, building materials, pianos, wireless receiving sets, telephones, and other amenities of civilization. The prosperity that will result from the development of the secondary industries will enable the more rapid provision . of good roads and railway facilities. In prefederation days New South Wales was almost a freetrade State, and its factories made only slow progress, whereas in the protectionist State of Victoria manufacturing developed by leaps and bounds. In 1901 only 66,135 persons were employed in manufacturing industries in New South Wales, and they produced goods to the value of £10,082,000. When the Commonwealth Parliament imposed a protective tariff those industries commenced to expand, and to-day they employ 159,000 people, and produce £146,000,000 worth of ‘goods. In 1901 only 146,359 people were employed in factories in the whole of the Commonwealth; to-day the number is approximately 400,000. Such a rapid increase would have been impossible without a tariff. I have visited several factories in New South Wales, and found them controlled by the keenest brains in the community - men who are great organizers, and who have the courage to invest their money. The- wool-tops industry was established by a bounty, and it now employs hundreds of people. It converts the raw . wool into tops that are as good as can be produced in any other part of the world. But this industry should go a stage further ; it should produce yarn which could be woven into clothing for our people. But the tariff does not offer sufficient encouragement for that.
– We are giving a little extra protection.
– Yes, but not enough to enable Australian factories to compete with those of France and England, where the wages are only about half what are paid in this country. I do not believe in imposing a tariff for merely revenue-producing purposes; there is no sense in taxing people through the Customs without gaining any other practical benefit. The time has come when this Parliament must resolve to follow America’s example and encourage, by means of the tariff, the local production of all our needs. There are men in the community who are prepared to invest money in the establishment of factories which willgiveemployment to thousands of people. All that is needed to encourage them is the imposition of a high enough tariff, and when industries are firmly established in our midst local competition will keep down prices, and the community will not be exploited as it is at the present time in respect of some commodities.Freetrade advocates do wrong in representing the. secondary industries as mere parasites upon the primary industries. Of what value would the squatter’s wool be but for the secondary industries in all parts of the world ? Australia should be able to produce woollen goods, in competition with any other country. It has the raw material, and intelligent labour, and its great captains of industry possess the requisite organizing ability. Instead of sending our wool overseas, we should be exporting manufactured woollen goods. Only one-fifth of our woollen requirements are supplied by local factories.
– About one-fourth.
– It is- anomalous that we should continue to export our wool and then buy it back in the form of manufactured goods. In company with the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Bowden), I visited the first mill established in the Commonwealth for the production of cotton goods. Australia can grow cotton of first-rate quality, but at the present time it is importing all its cotton goods at a cost of millions of pounds per annum. Notwithstanding that the Parramatta factory is the pioneer of the cotton manufacturing industry in Australia, and is being operated at a loss, this tariff will not help it very much.
– It will help a little.
– Not enough. At the invitation of a former Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Massy Greene), this factory was established by Mr. George
Bourne on a site comprising about 40 acres of land near Parramatta, and it is a credit to the country. The very best machinery was installed, and a few hundred hands are being employed. But the industry has not received the protection that, it is . entitled to expect, and there is a risk that it may discontinue operations. This Parliament should give every encouragement to the manufacture of cotton goods, because if all Australia’s requirements of them were produced locally, employment would be given to 300,000 or 400,000 people. Only by making the country self-contained shall we fill it with a prosperous and contented people. The war taught us the need for making our country selfcontained. This tariff affords an opportunity to advance further towards that idea], and I believe that the majority of honorable members will stand solidly behind any Government that proposes to give a solid measure of protection to the manufacturing interests of the Commonwealth.
.- I shall not take up a great deal of time in this general discussion. I have been influenced to speak by the following remarks made by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) at a factory in Maryborough, Victoria, which appeared in the Age of the 1st March: -
The Federal Government stood for decentralization, and the best scheme that would help to foster and promote country industries. They had an excellent example in Maryborough of what a thriving industry was. The mill furnished striking evidence of the result of fostering and settling by the Federal Government of industries in progressive country centres. In regard to textiles, what could be done in other parts of the world could be done by Australians. Primary production and secondary industries should go hand in hand. The best market was their home market. His Government was for duty and service to all and favour to none.
Those are splendid sentiments, with which I heartily agree; but I propose, briefly, to show the committee how sometimes the wishes of Ministers are not carried out. I quote the case of a young farmer of Dubbo, New- South Wales. Despite what was said by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley), health and strength are necessary for carrying on the work of a farm. This young man was in bad health, and had to give up farming. He did not wish to leave the district, and after realizing his farm he decided, after looking around Dubbo, which is a fairly large centra, that an opportunity presented itself for the starting of a secondary industry for the manufacture of wire nails, barbed wire, and other farmers’ requirements. He went to England to see about obtaining machinery- On the advice of British manufacturers,, he went over to Germany and purchased from the- firm of Malmedie and Company, of Dusseldorp three high-speed wire-heading machines. He acted on the advice of British manufacturers, who used the German machines in preference to American machines. The same machines are also, used in Australia by Lysaghts Limited. The prices of the three classes of machines he wanted were, for the first, £72 10s. ; the second, £156; and the third, £209. These prices include an export duty of 30 per cent, imposed by the British Licensing Committee, at Badems These duties are imposed upon machinery exported from Germany, as the method adopted by the British and other governments for’ getting some of their war indemnities paid. This young man also purchased a barbed wire making machine, which, after certain discussions with the officials of the Customs Department, was allowed into Australia under a 10 per cent, duty, which was quite all right. Upon inquiry at Australia House, the man waa informed that the Australian Government would be only too glad to assist any one to bring machinery to Australia for the purpose of starting manufactures here. All that he proposed to do was to start a small factory at Dubbo, which would give employment to ten or twelve men; it was to be a secondary industry in a country centre, and, as the Minister for Trade and Customs said at. Maryborough, it would have tended to decentralization. On arrival in Australia with his machinery, this man found that there would be a duty of 44 per cent, imposed upon it. This meant that the price of the £72 10s. machine would be raised to £103, that of the £156 machine to £224, and that of the £209 machine to £300. He inquired of the Customs Department why such a duty was imposed, and was told that it was for the protection of commercial enterprises in Australia that manufactured these machines. He asked what firms in Sydney manufactured- them> and was1 told the Clyde Engineering Company and Chapman and Company, of Sydney. He. went to the Clyde Engineering Company and was told that it had never made such a machine, birt if he brought a sample machine or blue prints of the machine he wanted the company would make one to his order. It refused to quote prices. He visited Chapman an3 Company, and1 was given practically the . same reply, burt that firm went a little further, and said that it had made such, a machine for Lysaghts Limited’, during the Avar, when the firm could not import these wire-heading machines. It manufactured a machine from a sample machine supplied by Lysaghts, and referred’ him to that firm for particulars. He did not go to Lysaghts, and I doubt very much whether he would have received much information if he had done so. Chapman and Company gave him quotations for the machines, and their price for the machine he purchased in Germany for £72 10s., which with the duty would cost him £103 to land in Australia, waa £192. For the machine purchased in Germany at £156, which with the duty would cost £224, Chapman’s price was £360. For the third machine, purchased in Germany for £209’, which with, the duty would cost £300 landed in Australia, Chapman’s quotation was £590. Yet we are told’ that the purpose of the tariff is. to shelter commercial enterprises in Australia. This unfortunate young mart had not a great deal of capital. He imported the machines at the end of 1923, and they are still in bond under the. Customs Department in Sydney, as he has not sufficient capital to take them out of bond.
– I assure the honorable member that there is ‘another side to his case.
– I am referring to the case during the general debate because I feel that there must’ be another side to it. From the papers and statements given to me the case would appear to be too onesided to be entirely correct. I cannot believe that the department, let alone the Minister, would so administer the tariff. This man has lost all his chance of starting this small enterprise in the country centre of Dubbo-. Machines1 of the type purchased by him were subsequently improved by Malmedie and Company, and have been patented, SO’ that I do not suppose that the Clyde Engineering Com- pany could now manufacture them if they desired to do so. If this is the kind of thing that goes on under the administration of the tariff it is likely to turn protectionists into freetraders. I am by no means a freetrader, but the particulars supplied to me in this case show that there is something wrong in the administration of the tariff.
– When did the case first arise?
– It arose in 1923. The man to whom I have referred is Mr. F. J. Thorby, of Genrie, Dubbo. As I have said, I understand that the. machines he imported are still in bond in Sydney. I have brought up the Case because I believe that in discussing such matters it is far better to give concrete examples, although they may prove to be not well founded, so that the Minister may have a fair chance of refuting or explaining statements made. There are two sides to every question, and we should look at both. In connexion with the manufacture of textiles, a gentleman who is a director of a textile manufacturing firm, told me in Sydney the other day that the firm was doing very well, and was paying a fair dividend. He said that when the question of further protection for the textile industry came up his firm made no move in that direction, because it considered that it was doing quite well enough. Certain other firms wanted higher protection, and secured the concessions for which, they asked. I was informed that the result will be over-production of the material; but whether that is right or wrong, honorable members will probably know better that I do.
– What class of material is referred to?
– Woollen goods. The gentleman who spoke to me knew what he was talking about, and it seems to me wise that in the consideration of these matters the possibility of over-production should be borne in mind. In the case of some industries we are, I think, perilously close to the over-production mark now. I do not wish to labour the mattei’, but I submit these facts believing that the committee should know of them, and I shall- be very glad to hear the Minister’s reply to my statements.
Mr. D. CAMERON (Brisbane) . - Like the honorable member who has preceded me, I do not intend to take up much of the time of the committee in the general discussion. But there are a few observations I should like to make on the general policy of protection which it might not be possible for me to make when we are considering particular items. Honorable members will agree that the debate has taken us through the gamut of fiscal beliefs. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) started well when he referred to the “unalterable Australian policy of tariff protection.” He also referred to the sympathetic and generous preference given to Britain. That is as it should he. I agree entirely with the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) on this subject. I believe that we should help the ‘ Old Country in every way in view of the staggering burden of debt under which her people are labouring. The Minister stated that he has no sympathy with industries that unnecessarily raise their prices to the consumer either by combinations, under the shelter of the tariff, or by the control of distribution. He said that the Government would not submit to anything of the sort, and any case of the kind brought under its notice would be promptly dealt with. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) affirmed his honest conviction that the policy of protection must lead to a financial crisis. He spoke for nearly three hours, and delivered a most interesting address. I always admire the way in which the honorable member gives expression to his views. He ploughs almost a lonely furrow, though I must admit that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) has never hesitated to express somewhat similar views. The honorable member for Perth left no doubt in the mind of any one that he stands for absolute freetrade. He considers that there is no half-way course between absolute - prohibition and freetrade. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) took an entirely different view, and maintained that the most efficient countries in the world are those which believe in and stand by a policy of protection. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) might be called a true-blue protectionist, and I was very gratified to hear him say from his place in this chamber a few words in praise of the Queensland sugar industry, lie said that Australia owes a tremendous debt to that industry for what it did during the war, that the debt has not yet been paid, and will not be paid for some considerable time. One cannot fail to admire such an admission, because we seldom hear any kindly references to the advantage which the sugar industry has been to Australia generally. Of all the speeches delivered, that of the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. DuncanHughes) appealed most to me, because the honorable member expressed views that almost entirely coincide with my own. The war years convinced most honorable members of the necessity for establishing primary and secondary industries on a sound footing. Prior to my being elected to Parliament, practically all my life was spent in the country, but I nevertheless agree that our national safety depends largely upon the establishment of key industries. Geographically we are so situated that any other policy would be almost suicidal. I did not rise to make a long declaration of my fiscal faith. I have supported in the past, and shall always support in the future, a policy of sound protection, but I do not know whether my definition of such a policy would agree with that of other honorable members. Such a policy is necessary for the advancement of this country and the welfare of its people. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), speaking at Castlemaine, made this declaration of the Government’s tariff policy -
The Ministry did not stand for a policy of prohibition. It stood for Protection- -fair Protection - and Protection in this case meant protection against unfair competition from black or coloured labour, from countries with longer hours of labour, and from dumping. In addition, the Ministry’s policy included a measure of assistance to young industries. The Ministry stood firmly for that policy, and he would say plainly that the prohibition some other ‘ people desired would be fatal to Australia.
I am afraid that we are perhaps building our tariff wall, in places, a little too quickly. Obviously if our population does not increase as our tariff wall rises trouble must ensue. I particularly .wish to emphasize that point to those honorable members who do not support the immigration policy of the Government, although they may perhaps regard my warning as gratuitous.’ The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) referred to the protection policy of the United States of America. I agree with nearly all that he said in that connexion ; but it must be remembered that the United States of America, when increasing its tariff, was also increasing its population to a much greater extent than we are doing. If we do not take more definite and determined steps to increase our population as America did, the success of our tariff POliCy may be jeopardized. There are other matters that affect the welfare of our industries, such as the distribution of population, the availability of coal and other sources of power, taxation and climatic conditions. In submitting this schedule the Minister for Trade and Customs said -
The requirements of Australia in knitted wear and cotton tweeds, if not met now, would be within a few months almost completely met by the developments taking place in the textile industries here.
That statement- is welcomed by every honorable member, and I, for one, do not presume to doubt its accuracy. For some time past, on behalf of the Associated Softgoods Warehouses in Queensland, I have been in communication with the Minister, and I submit for the consideration of honorable members extracts from a letter, dated 17th December last, written by the association to the Minister -
We should like, first of all, to say that we have no particular objection to high Customs duties if Parliament considers they should be brought into force:” but we do object to what is practically a prohibitive tariff in certain items being suddenly, without a moment’s notice, tabled, and having the force of law, when sufficient supplies are not available in Australia. An importer has to make his arrangements for importation of goods six, and sometimes twelve, months before the goods are required for sale. As far ns we can find out, there are not sufficient supplies of cotton tweeds being made by the mills in Australia, in fact, many of our” association members have been endeavouring to obtain supplies, and they are told by manufacturers of cotton tweeds that no supplies will be available for at least eight months, and that the whole output of these Australian cotton-tweed mills has been booked by southern warehousemen and manufacturers of clothing. We would, suggest that you find out what quantity of cotton tweed can be produced annually by the mills in Australia, and also ascertain- what quantity of this class of goods was imported in Australia by each individual State during the last three years. Prom that, we feel convinced that you will And that there will be a great shortage of this very popular and cheap -material.
I agree with the view expressed that the duty should not be imposed until the Australian mills are able to meet local requirements. When the Minister again speaks on this subject I should like him to inform honorable members of the names and locations of factories in the Commonwealth producing cotton tweed, of how many persons they employ, of the approximate aggregate quantity of cotton tweed manufactured in the year ended 30th June, 1925, and of the anticipated aggregate quantity expected to’ be manufactured in the year ending 30th June, 1926. I shall also be interested to know whether these factories use Australiangrown cotton, and whether cotton tweed is available for sale in all the States. I raise no objection to an adequate duty if the tweed can be supplied in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements of all the States. As I have already stated, it has been impossible to obtain in Queensland tweed made in the southern States. The whole output of the mills was presumably purchased by firms in the southern States. Cotton materials are almost indispensable for working clothes in the northern State, and it is essential that the working man and the housewife should be able to obtain cotton tweeds and worsteds at a reasonable price. Boys’ clothing in that State is almost entirely made of these materials. If it is necessary to rely on imported materials the present duty will greatly increase the cost of men’s and boys’ clothing. I ask the Minister to give the committee a further assurance that the Australian mills can meet the Australian demand. I support the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Duncan-‘ Hughes) in his views on the first item of the schedule. I can see no reason for increasing the duty on whisky. There, were good reasons for affording an extra protection to Australian brandy, as brandy is the product of the grape,, and grapegrowing a big thing in some States. The Minister may have convincing facts in his possession, but in the absence of them I am not inclined to support the increase of duty.
.- In common with many other honorable members I have listened with great interest to the discussion. I have no desire to occupy the committee for long, but remarks by different speakers render it necessary for me to state clearly my attitude to the fiscal policy of this country. You, Mr. Mann, in the course of your able address on the subject of free trade - an address which, I think, was too theoretical to be of much practical value - remarked that there were only two understandable policies, and that they were free trade and prohibition. I noticed that one or two honorable members on the Opposition side received that remark with approval, thus showing that there are honorable members whose brand of protection is prohibition. The remarks of the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) support that view, for he said that all the requirements of Australia should be met in Australia. I have no sympathy with prohibition, and I absolutely disbelieve in free trade, which I regard as utterly and absolutely impossible and impracticable. The day has passed when it would be useful to discuss academically the relative merits of free trade and protection ; we must now look at the question from a practical standpoint. I claim to be what is sneeringly termed a “moderate protectionist,” or a reasonable protectionist, although my free trade friends contend that there can be no such thing as a reasonable protectionist. After discussing this subject on a public platform in this city, I was charged by a newspaper with “ facing both ways.” Some persons are quite unable to distinguish between what is facing both ways and what amounts to- looking at both sides of a question. I claim to try to look at both sides of this question. It is useless to shut one’s eyes to the fact that there are two sides to all questions, and that in order to. understand either we must know both. Two kinds of protection are preached in Australia. The one is that which ensures the Australian manufacturer against unfair competition from abroad, and the other is that which would completely exclude outside competition. I claim that the policy of Australia is protection of the first kind. The electors of Australia have never made any pronounce; ment on the question of prohibitive Customs duties.
– What about the import embargo on sugar ?
– That was imposed under peculiar circumstances, and it was the only practical thing to do at that time. In the extraordinary conditions then existing, Australia made up her mind that a certain step was. necessary, and she took it. The only tribunal whose function it is to fix the amount of protection to be given to Australian industries is Parliament.
– And Parliament has given away its right in that respect.
– I deny that. It is Parliament’s prerogative to fix the amount of protection to be given to any industry. We recognize that the complexities of the industrial system that we are seeking to establish and develop in Australia render extraordinarily difficult the construction of a protective tariff which will give adequate protection without being oppressive. But it became practically impossible for Parliament to undertake the task; itcreated the Tariff Board, clothed it with large powers of investigation into matters connected with the construction and revision of tariffs, and imposed upon it the duty of making recommendations for the guidance of the Minister and of Parliament. With the Tariff Board’s recommendation before it, Parliament then fixes a duty. So long as it stands, that duty ought to be scrupulously respected by all concerned. The protection fixed by Parliament has been attacked in two ways. It has been attacked from the outside by the exporter from foreign countries selling to the Australian importer goods at a price less than the fair market value at the time of sale. That has been done with the express object of overcoming the. tariff and of going behind the back of Parliament. To meet that, the Anti-dumping Act was passed. Parliament didwhat it could to prevent the outsider from evading the duty which it had imposed. The protection provided by Parliament has also been attacked from inside. Any public body which, having invited tenders for a certain article, gives preference to an Australian tenderer irrespective of price, goes behind the back of Parliament, and practically increases the duty on that particular article.
– In so doing, the public body acts in advance of Parliament.
– No public body has a- right to act in advance of Parliament. When Parliament has- said that a certain amount of protection shall he given to an industry, it means that that amount of protection, and no more, shall be afforded to that industry.
– Other public bodies also have responsibilities.
– It must be remembered that Parliament, in fixing the duty, took into account all the elements and conditions which ought to be considered in determining the amount of outside competition to be allowed. That duty, having been fixed by Parliament, should remain until it is altered by Parliament. If the conditions under which that duty was fixed alter, it is the function of the Tariff Board to recommend to the Minister that the tariff be adjusted to meet the altered conditions. But, until an adjustment has been made, the duty imposed by Parliament ought to be scrupulously respected. Otherwise, we shall not know where we stand. We have only to look at the schedule to the tariff, which provides for British, intermediate, and general preference, to realize that Parliament never intended to exclude all foreign competition, and to make protective duties really prohibitive. There are no degrees in the impossible. It would be fair to say that those who maintain that Parliament intended protectionist duties to be prohibitive,, contend that Parliament meant that there should be no competition at all, that all foreign competition should be shut out, making it necessary for our requirements to be manufactured here.
– Would that not make for the progress of Australia?
– I am not discussing that. I am trying to show the obvious intention of Parliament in fixing the tariff. I have pointed out that the fact that discrimination is made in favour of Great Britain proves conclusively that Parliament anticipated that, inrespect of matters affected by duties, Great Britain would be able to secure a reasonable amount of our trade. Otherwise the discrimination between Britain and other countries is a futility and a farce-. I hope that I have established the fact that Parliament, believing in fair competition, has negatived the idea of prohibition-. Let us suppose that a duty has been fixed in respect of a particular article-
– The duty may be altered from time to time.
– Exactly ! Should the conditions alter, and it be found that a manufacturer of a particular article cannot continue without greater protection, the difficulty can be met by increasing efficiency in the industry concerned, by an increase in the tariff, or by both.
– Or by preventing dumping.
– I have ruled out the idea of prohibition. When we fix a duty we assume efficiency on the part of the industry concerned. But when I have advocated greater efficiency in industry I have been accused of casting a slur on Australian workmen, who are said to be the best workmen in the world. They may be the best workmen in the world, but I do not say that they are. I say that Australian workmen can hold their own with the workmen of any other country, if they will bend their backs to the job; but I am not going, to flatter them by describing them as the best workmen in the world.
– Why not?
– Because I do not believe that it is true. Just as on the field of battle the Australian did not want any protection, but was able to fight his way and stand up against the enemy, so can he it the industrial sphere. Give him a fair opportunity, and he does not want to have all competition removed. He asks only for a fair field and no favour. Given those conditions, he will win through. If competition is removed, the incentive te achievement is removed also. Parliament, in its wisdom, realized that. Although protection- is the fiscal policy of Australia, we do not mean by protection1 that all outside competition is to be shut out. All that we stipulate is that the race shall be fair, and that the prize shall go to the winner. Reference has been made to the parlous condition of British industries. We know that Britain1 is’ experiencing difficult times. Honorable members will remember that, last year, Mr. Baldwin, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, appealed to the industrialists of Great Britain for an allround increase of efficiency in order to overcome their difficulties’. When news of Mr. Baldwin’s appeal to the industrialists of Britain reached Australia, the Melbourne Age, which has done such yeoman service for the cause of protection: in Australia, and which may be regarded’ as being competent to speak for the protectionists of Australia, contained in its issue of the 18th of July last a leading article which is worthy of the attention of every Australian industrialist. The Age said -
Nothing can permanently help Britain but the application of her best brains to industry with a view to achieving the strictest economy and the highest efficiency.
The article went on to say that Australia could not afford to disregard the world’s insistence on efficiency, both technical and commercial. It continued -
Unless Australia learns, the double lesson of economy and efficiency, nothing else is of much avail.
On the 6th February last the Age, in another leading article, said the slogan for Australia ought to be, “ Train for efficiency.” That being so, we have to face the fact that unless we couple with that protective policy of ours, the strictest economy and management, and the highest efficiency in manufacturing goods, we cannot possibly succeed. To merit the degree of protection given- by Parliament, industries should be in the highest degree efficient, and carried on with the strictest economy. The policy of the present Government, as the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron) has already pointed out, was fairly enunciated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) at Castlemaine on the 28th Mav last. He said, definitely that the Government stood for fair protection, and by fair protection he meant the protection that ensured the Commonwealth against unfair competition, and that the Government did not stand for prohibition, because it would be fatal to Australian industry. Again, I want to draw attention to the significant fact that these statement on the question of protection the 1st June in a leading article, which, in effect, said that the Prime Minister’s statement on the question of protection was endorsed by the people of Australia, and equally satisfactory was the Prime Minister’s condemnation of tariff prohibition. ‘ That is the situation put as plainly as possible so far as the general policy is concerned. The Government’s policy is fair protection, not prohibition.
– What is the use of talking like that?
– That statement by the Prime Minister was endorsed by the most powerful protectionist journal in Australia.
– That journal often changes its views.
– That does not matter. I know that there are protectionists of the same kidney as the honorable member for East Sydney, who do not believe . in having any competition from outside, wishing rather to shut itout absolutely. For instance, Mr. Hume Cook, the secretary of ‘the Industries Preservation League, said, in effect, regarding the Prime Minister’s statement of policy -
We are still waiting for a statement from the Prime Minister as to what the Government intends to do for the protection of Australian industries. He continues to prate about fair protection, but that is a variant of the old reasonable protection. What we want is protection that will protect.
Mr. Hume Cook leaves his meaning in no doubt, because he uses this analogy - “A roof that lets in a little rain can be said to afford fair protection, but what we want is a roof that will keep out all rain.” That means that he wants a tariff strengthened in such a way as to keep out all imports of goods in respect of which duties are imposed. That is prohibition pure and simple. I am a convinced protectionist, and have been so all my life. I believe honestly that protection -is necessary for the building up of our industries, but it ought to be such as to tend to keep those engaged in industries always working at their best.
– Is the roof that leaks a protection against rain?
– No. That was Mr. Hume Cook’s analogy, which I submit is false. He wants an effective tariff that will have the same effect as an effective roof. He says that the only protection from rain is to keep out all rain, and therefore he contends that the only effective tariff is the one that will keep out all imports of goods.
– -That is not a fair deduction.
– I think it is. I believe that Mr. Hume Cook would accept it as a fair deduction. In fact, it has been endorsed by interjectors from the Opposition. Do honorable members opposite mean to say that they want a duty to be so high as to make it impossible for any outsider to send goods into
Australia ? If so, I say again that the schedule as it as present stands is futile; that it pretends to give a preference to Britain, and at the same time to impose duties so high as to make it impossible for any one to send goods here. There are no degrees of’ the impossible. If honorable members intend to make the tariff impossible, what is the use of making degrees- in it - so much British preference, so much intermediate tariff, and so much general tariff?
– Is it not our duty to find employment for our own people ?
– That is what we are trying to do, and that is why we are giving a fair amount of protection to industry. We intend to bring about conditions of industry under which it will be possible for men receiving high wages here to compete with men getting low wages elsewhere. The tariff schedule is a practical proposal to increase duties on certain articles. I confess my disappointment at the assistance that I at least have received from the Tariff Board in enabling me to say whether these duties should be granted. When the tariff comes before this Parliament, we ought tq be able to say that we- are convinced that a good case has been made out for any particular increase in duty. Let me deal with what seems to be the most simple report sent in by the Tariff Board, that relating to stockings and socks. I have read that report three or four times, and I do not understand it now. This may be due to my slowness in the uptake, or because the technicalities of the trade referred to are too much for my intelligence ; but the fact remains that,, having read that report and considered it carefully, I cannot say that the Tariff Board has assisted me to make up my mind whether the increases in duty are necessary. I call the attention of honorable members to one or two things in that report. Take the three lines of stockings and socks, cotton, silk, and wool. The present duties are - cotton, 30 per cent., 470 per cent., and 45 per cent.; wool, 35 per cent., 45 per cent., and 50 per cent.; and silk the same as cotton. Certain applicants appeared before the board asking for an increase of the duties on these items, and certain others appeared before the board to oppose the application. .So far as I understand the. report and recommendation of the board on this subject, it is to the effect that the applicants for an increase of duty say, “ We are feeling the pinch regarding the low-priced cotton goods, and we want an increase in the duty on cotton stockings and socks; we can compete with the better class of article, so we are not asking for an increased duty on that.” What does the board reply? It says that an increased duty on low-priced’ cotton goods would mean an increased price to the consumer ; and, as only the poor people in the community buy this particular line, it decided to increase the duty on the better articles. That is how 1 read the report. By imposing this higher duty the manufacturers would be able to charge a higher price for the better-quality article, and thus bo enabled to continue to sell inferior quality goods to poor people at a low price. Of course, I may ‘ have misread the report, but that is what it conveyed to me. Regarding woollen goods, the board said, “ We have already recommended a 10 per cent increase on wool yarn, and we shall give a corresponding increase on woollen stockings and socks. The duty on silk stockings and socks is left the same as. on cotton goods. I should like to hear the views of honorable members opposite regarding that report, and what they understand by it. One of the reasons urged by those who opposed the application for increase of duty was that there were too many local mills. This further statement was made, and was not contradicted or dealt with by the board, that the mills manufacturing these goods to-day, if employed ‘full time, would turn out twice as much stuff as could be used by the people of Australia. If that is so, where is the condition of efficiency and management, and of strict economy that ought to be observed in building up an industry of that kind ? The overhead charges must be much greater than they should be. That statement certainly goes a long way to explain that portion of the board’s report showing that one article costing 2s. 8d. to manufacture in the Old Country cost 7s. 6d. to manufacture in Australia. There is in the report this outstanding fact - that the mills doing this particular class of work in Australia, if working full time, would make twice the quantity of stockings and socks required by the people of Australia.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that that was proved before the board ?
– The board said in its report that that was one of the reasons given in opposition to the increased duty.
– It is really an ex parte statement.
– Supposing that I, as a good protectionist, want to know what the board recommends regarding this item, as I cannot look into the matter myself, I have to accept what the board puts before me, and that is ear parte statements. There is no evidence in the report to show that the board on any occasion considered this objection.
– Did the board put that objection forward as a finding, or as an cx parte statement?
– No. It was put in the report as a reason given by persons for opposing the increase in duty.
– There was no judgment on the matter.
– No. What seemed to ‘impress the board most was the fact that so many people usually engaged in that industry were then out of employment. Some of the mills have had to close. If the statement is true that their production capacity is equal to twice the requirements of the Australian people, it is no wonder that they are not able to compete with mills in Great Britain and elsewhere that are conducted on principles of the strictest economy and highest efficiency. Even the Age emphasized that no form of assistance will be of much avail unless there are in our secondary industries the two essential elements of strict economy and high efficiency. Therefore, when I am asked to increase any particular duty, I should like to be able bo investigate the matter and ascertain why the local factories are not able to meet competition, and what alteration in conditions has necessitated an increase in the duties this Parliament previously fixed. When the need for increased protection, in order to ensure fair competition, is established, I shall be quite ready to vote for increases. This Parliament has already insisted that evidence given to the board shall be taken on oath and in public. But that evidence should be available to this committee, so .that honorable members may be .able to appreciate the reasons given for and against the duties they are asked to support.
– We advocated the printing of the evidence ; the Government opposed that course, and thereby deprived Parliament of valuable information.
– After reading the Tariff Board’s report I am convinced that that is so. As one who believes in reasonable protection, and in making the conditions such that fair competition would be ensured. I ask for fuller information. I shall listen to the arguments of those who are in a position to discuss each item. My mind is open, and when I am convinced that additional duties are. justified, I shall vote for them.
.- I am a protectionist by conviction and practice, and I believe that I get the best value thereby. I wear a hat that is entirely of Australian origin, and I challenge any honorable member to buy a better one. After twelve months’ wear, it is still of good shape and colour. Since I left the Old Country, in 1874, I have never worn an imported hat, .and my boots are always made to order in Australia. The suit of clothes I wear is the product of Australian merino wool, grown on the Onslow estate, made into tweed by Vicars and Son, of Marrickville, and tailored by David Jones and Company, of Sydney. All my underwear, also, is of Australian origin. If all who are Australians by birth or adoption would follow my example, this country would make more rapid progress. Wearing only Australian clothes, I am as well dressed as any other honorable member.
– Order! The honorable member is not in order in speaking while wearing his hat.
Mi-. WEST. - I donned it merely in. order to illustrate my argument. The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) said that until this debate opened he had not thought there was a free trader left in Australia. As a matter of fact there has never been an absolute free trader in the world - with the possible exception of Robinson Crusoe. Sir Henry Parkes and Sir George Reid were called free traders and New South Wales was said to be a free trade State, but it imposed a duty of 2d. per lb. on butter, cheese, bacon, and ham. I recollect listening as a boy in London to freetrade advocates referring to protectionists in much the same way as honorable members opposite described the communists and Industrial Workers of the World during, the recent election campaign. I remember addresses by Cobden and Bright at the Manchester Freetrade Hall and the Exeter Hall, London. They were afraid that the manufacturing industries would be handicapped by the imposition of duties on essential raw materials, and had they not believed that freetrade would become universal they would never have advocated it. Many of the industries of Great Britain had enjoyed protection for a number of years, and were well established.; in fact, even to this . day the British manufacturers have not lost their hold of the tool trade, because the quality of their products is recognized throughout the world. I was astounded at the statements of the honorable members for Perth (Mr. Mann), Forrest (Mr. Prowse), and Swan (Mr. Gregory) that high protection is injurious to Australia. It i3 remarkable that those honorable members should only a few days ago have been appealing to this Parliament to help Western Australia out of its financial difficulties. Because the policy of protection has enabled us to keep our money in this country, Parliament was able to give the required assistance. When the diminution of the gold yield left the western State in difficulties, why did not its people apply their energies to the development of other industries that would take the place of mining, instead of filling the air with tales of gloom that would almost justify British newspaper readers in believing that the State is, as it was once described, “ a land of sin, sand, and sorrow.” I landed in Australia friendless, and with a young wife to support. Why do not the Western Australian people exhibit some of the qualities of the pioneers, instead of sending their representatives here to make imbecile statements? I am sorry that the State is in financial low water, but it would never improve its position under the fiscal policy advocated by its parliamentary representatives in this House, with one exception, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green). I do not believe that the Australian people endorse the views which those honorable members enunciated. One of the main purposes of the tariff is to provide employment for our people. No other country is so rich in raw materials as is Australia. Its natural resources await only human energy and intellect to be converted into riches. I have been a member of a Federal finance committee making inquiries into the subject, and those inquiries confirmed my previous conviction that in Australia we have everything we require to make us a self-contained nation, and to provide for a much larger population than we have at the present time. Some honorable members have expressed their views about land settlement, but my experience has been such as to lead me to believe that a man would do well to leave the land alone. The honorable members for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), Swan (Mr. Gregory), and Perth (Mr. Mann) would suggest that everything is produced from the land, and. that our position would be entirely satisfactory if all our people went on the land. No one can question that our land is productive, and in many directions we now produce from it more than we can consume in Australia. Socialistic enterprises are opposed by people who do not understand them, but if Ave had the brains to solve the problem of distribution, itwould be possible for Australia to get more from the land than she does at present. I am always thinking, and a few days ago, when in Sydney, I saw thousands of intelligent boys and girls coming out of a public school, I asked myselfwhat prospect therewas before them. According to thosewho know, it is not difficult to enter the legal profession, and it is overcrowded. So also is the medical profession. There are left only the mechanical professions, and we should give greater consideration to them. I am not the firstwho has tried to impress upon legislative bodies the necessity of doing something for our boys. We spend something like £2 5s. per head of our population on primary, technical, and university education, andwhat is it all for? Are those whom Ave educate to be employed; in chasing blowflies from cabbages or mosquitoes from grape vines? Surely there should be some better occupation for our young men than the digging of post holes or the running ofwire netting around some squatter’s estate? When the farmer ploughs his land andsows his seed, Providence does the rest, and for three months the farmer has nothing to do. He only knocks about the farm chasing the fowls. There is really no employment in connexion with, the land. The finding of suitable employment for boys when they leave school is a very serious matter. I must have about twenty grandchildren, and when my children say to me, “ Dad, you are in public life, you ought to be able to get the boy a job,” I do not know where to look for a job for him. Some of them are smart lads, but neither I nor their parents have the means to keep them idle until they are 24 or 30 years of age, have made their mark, and established themselves in Macquarie-street, Sydney, or in Collins-street, Melbourne. More attention must be given to mechanical callings. Themechanic is the most useful man in the country. He does produce something. Members of the legal profession do not produce very much. It is true that the medical profession is a necessity, but mechanical callings appeal to the Australian boys, and better facilities should be afforded to provide them with the employment they desire. I have heard during the debate a good deal about the Tariff Board. Iknow some of the members of the board, and I am informed, and believe, that they are all earnest men of good character. What was the object in appointing a Tariff Board? That question has been asked by honorable members opposite, who should know more of the reasons for its appointment than honorable members on this side. My idea is that it should make inquiries to discover whether industries carried on in a businesslike manner, require any assistance to prevent them from failing. I understand that that is the work which the Tariff Board is now performing. Honorable members should be guided by decisions of the Tariff Board, based upon the evidence it has taken. I should be very reluctant to vote against a recommendation by the Tariff Board unless it could be proved that its members have not been true to the trust imposed in them by the Minister. If articles that can be manufactured efficiently here still continue to be imported, there must be something wrong with the duties imposed upon them. Certain honorable members do not believe in the Tariff
Board, but that is because they do not believe in a tariff. They -would like to have the Tariff Board done away with, and that we should be placed in the position of Robinson Crusoe. When federation was put before the people of Australia, I took . an active part with. Sir Edmund Barton and others in advocating it, and I remember that some of the strongest opposition to it was because it was felt that federation would mean the imposition of protective duties throughout Australia. Sir George Reid was aware of that, and I used to think that his “ Yes-No “ views were exceptional. I have found, however, that there are many “ Yes-No “ members in this House. They talk about a moderate tariff, but if a duty is imposed to encourage local manufacture of an article, and it continues to be imported, there must be something wrong with the duty. Moderate protection is an idea which cannot be intellectually entertained. A moderate tariff is a revenue tariff, and that is the worst, possible system for raising revenue. Under it the poorest citizen has to bear the same taxation as a person in affluent circumstances. For this reason Smith, Mill, and other writers on economics protest against a revenue tariff. Our revenue under the tariff ‘ amounts to £25,177,882 . That is altogether too big a revenue for a protectionist country. Our revenue from excise duties is £10,572,912. I would reduce the excise duties. There must be something wrong when such a revenue is derived from Customs and excise taxation. The North Shore bridge should be constructed of Australian materials. It has been found that some of the steel castings imported for that bridge could have been obtained to better advantage at Hadfield’s foundry. The South Australian Government sent to the other side of the world for railway rolling-stock. The Governments of Australia seem to be “ little Australians,” or they fear that the giving of work to Australians will maintain in this country a high standard of wages. The Sydney Ferry Company, which started in a small wav of business, and now has valuable assets, sent to Great Britain when it required two new ferry boats. A heavy duty ought to be placed on those vessels. Similar vessels have been constructed in this country, and I am quite sure that the company could have obtained satisfactorv tenders from Walsh Island or Cockatoo Dockyard. When the cost of bringing the vessels out to Australia, including insurance, is considered, I am certain that they could have been built more economically here. Mr. John Brown, the wealthy coal-owner, pays £5,000 or £10,000 for a race-horse- no sum seems to be too large for him to pay for a race-horse - but when he wanted two locomotives he sent abroad for them.
– The honorable member would surely not allow imported horses to run in Australian races !
– There is too much horseracing in Australia. In the five cases I have mentioned, wealth that should have been circulated in this country was sent to other countries. National loans should be raised in Australia, instead of abroad. I cannot account for orders being placed abroad unless there is a conspiracy to keep wages down and make the workers crawl, on their stomachs. Even if there was a difference in cost in favour of the imported article, the superior quality of Australian workmanship would more than counterbalance it. Those who find Aus tralia good enough to live in ought at least to be prepared to support Australian industries. It is obvious that, sooner or later, our rate of borrowing must be curtailed. We have to pay £40,000,000 a year to meet interest charges. That is worthy of some consideration by honorable members who, if they reflect on it, must realize that a day of reckoning will come sooner or later. The statements of honorable members disclosed that some of them did not, would not, or could not understand the question. I have said that I am a protectionist by conviction, and that I have practised protection. I have lost nothing by that. If we practise protection we can retain our high standard of living. Unless those who own properties in this country make up their minds to promote Australian industries, they will some day find their wealth vanishing. I am not an enthusiastic advocate of preference. Our last preferential treaty was with Canada, a country which now finds that she is not deriving much benefit from the arrangement. When the treaty was made, we were receiving only about £7,000,000 worth of goods from Canada; while we were sending about £400,000 worth to that country. The difference was too great. In order to obtain the benefit of the preference we extend to Canada, engineering firms in the United States of America have erected assembling plants ii: that country. I voted against the treaty when it was before this House. If Great Britain purchases our foodstuffs, we should offer her some preference on her manufactures. To that extent, preference may be permissible. Discussing freetrade is much the same thing a3 discussing Christianity and the scriptures. There is not a Christian in the country, for trade and Christianity are antagonistic. More than 20 years ago a book entitled If Christ Came to Chicago was published.
-(Sir Granville Ryrie).’ - Does the honorable member purpose to connect his remarks with the tariff ?
– The author of the book said that Christians ought to be freetraders. To make Australia self-contained is our only possible salvation. I fail to see how any honorable member with pretentions to statecraft can justify freetrade when he observes the large number of persons unemployed in this country. As the Tariff Board has recommended most of the duties included in the schedule, I shall require clear evidence that the board’s reports are inaccurate before I vote against any of the items.
I join issue with those honorable members who have said that this tariff is one of the most important measures ever placed before honorable members. The different items should be carefully studied, for they affect every person, in the community, rich or poor. I am not a freetrader, and I am not a prohibitionist; I place myself in the same class with the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell). The effect of this tariff is measured, not in hundreds, but in millions of pounds. Members of the Opposition have not taken much part in the debate. Evidently the Government’s proposals satisfy them. They frequently complain of the poor n]an being fleeced by high prices, but I know of nothing so effective as increases in the tariff for making the poor man pay more for the goods he requires. Opposition members also accuse the capitalists of making enormous profits. I know of nothing which will do more to make the rich man richer and the poor man poorer than this tariff. Yet honor able members opposite say nothing. They have criticized honorable members on this side for saying nothing regarding other measures introduced by the Government; but now they themselves are quiet. I wonder what the workers will think of their representatives when the cost of living is again raised because of the imposition of these higher duties. Under the proposed tariff a working man will have to pay from 3s. 6d. to 6s. a pair more for his trousers. If he objects to paying that duty, he will have to wear woollen goods, which are not so suitable for his requirements. To-day, the duty on hosiery is 35 per cent. Under the proposed tariff ‘it will be 55 per cent. I contend that if an industry cannot carry on with a protective duty of 35 per cent., it is either inefficiently managed or the workers engaged in it are inefficient. Somebody must pay for the strikes, stopwork meetings, short hours, the “ goslow “ policy, and the high wages of today. Yet to bolster up these industries additional duties are to be imposed. The Minister when introducing this tariff mentioned cigars. I point out that a Monopole cigar, which is made in Victoria, costs 7d. in Melbourne/ whereas in Sydney, or in Hobart, the same cigar can be obtained for 6d. If the duty on cigars is increased, the effect will be to increase the price to Sd. in Melbourne, and to 7d. in the capital cities of the other States. That will not tend to make Australians smoke Australian-made cigars. The textile industry is said to be in a languishing condition, and capable .of being continued only by the imposition of higher duties. Under the previous tariff two textile factories operated in Hobart, and made substantial profits.. After the owner of one of those factories had made sufficient profits to enable him to live in comfort for the remainder of his life, he sold out to a company which, I understand, already had a woollen factory at Wangaratta, in Victoria. Last year the new company made a loss of ?9,000, and the factory was closed. It is commonly stated in Tasmania that that loss was due lo inferior goods being placed on the market. It would appear that industries which made substantial profits under the old tariff cannot now make progress under the existing high tariff. The owners of the two original factories came from Scotland. They managed their works well, and had a proper system in operation. The Australian firm was badly managed. Because of that bad management, losses were made, and increased duties are now asked for. Only because of inefficiency are the increased duties necessary. What is true in connexion with the textile industry is true concerning many other industries throughout Australia. It is strange that at the very time that a request for increased duties is made to assist the textile industry, the textile workers should issue a fresh log in which they ask for additional wages. The log provides for £1 15s. a week for apprentices under sixteen years of age, £2 10s. a week for those aged seventeen,- £3 a week for those of eighteen years, £4 10s. a week for those of nineteen years of age, and for all over nineteen years, £7 a week. The only effect of the increased duty will be to raise the price of the articles produced.
– It will also cause the manufacturers to combine to increase the prices.
– That is- so. By supporting these tariff proposals, honorable members opposite who oppose those whom they term capitalists are helping them to make more money. They are doing nothing to protect the industrialist, who will be required to pay more for his requirements. I propose now to refer to the timber industry. Rightly or wrongly, the Tariff Board has stated that it cannot see its way clear to increase the protection already afforded to this industry. Yet, in Tasmania alone, 100 sawmills closed down because of the cost of production and the difficulty of transporting the timber to the mainland.
– What royalty has to be paid to the State?
– Very little- about ls. per 100 feet superficial. Before the war Tasmania exported in five years 42,000,000 superficial feet of timber to countries other than New Zealand and the mainland of Australia. Most of that timber was for railway sleepers. Since the war no timber for sleepers has been exported from Tasmania, because sleepers can now be obtained elsewhere at lower rates. While I do not ask for increased protection for the timber industry, I contend that if other industries are to be bolstered up, the timber industry also is entitled to consideration. The decline in the timber trade is due to the greatly increased cost of production. In the United States of America timber workers cut on an average 830 superficial feet of timber in a day of ten hours. In Australia each man averages 150 superficial feet in a day of eight hours.
– The American timber is softwood, whereas the Australian timber is hardwood.
– Fifty years ago, when timber was cut with a pit saw, each man averaged 200 superficial feet in a day of ten hours. To-day,- notwithstanding that the timber mills utilize the most up-to-date machinery, each man employed in the industry is, on the average, cutting less. Is it fair to impose higher duties to bolster up the timber industry? This industry was ruined by the award of Mr. Justice Higgins, which provided a certain weekly wage for a man whether he worked or not. In the district in which the sawmills are situated rain falls during 180 days of the year, and the wind blows hard for at least another 50 days. Under that award the men worked for two or three days in the week, and received in return a full week’s pay. Such unfair conditions added considerably to the cost of timber. The mills closed down after the award had been in operation for twelve months. Two years elapsed before the award was altered, and even then it provided that the man who wheeled the sawdust or the boy who helped to lace the belt should receive the wages of expert workmen. The timber mills have since re-opened, but ‘.lie production of timber is costing twice as much as it should cost. The men are paid from the time they leave home until they reach their work in the bush. They actually work 40 hours, but are paid for 58 hours. Is it any wonder that the cost of timber is so prohibitive? I believe that we import too much Baltic pine- for lining purposes. The freight from the Baltic is 3s. 9d. per 100 superficial feet, as against 6s. 6d. from America. The freight from Tasmania to Melbourne, a distance of just over 200 miles, is 5s. 9d. per 100 superficial feet. Tasmania can produce as good a lining timber for a building as that produced by any other country, and I am quite prepared to support the imposition of an extra duty on that class of timber. No advantage would be gained by placing an extra duty on oregon, because the moment, that was done wages and the price of hardwoods would increase. The basic wage of timber workers to-day is £4 6s. a week; they are now asking for a weekly wage of £5 10s., with extra payments ranging from 16s. to £2 16s. a week for men and boys helping to lace a belt and performing other small tasks. An extra duty on oregon would be useless, because its sole effect would be to increase the cost of building material. Not a single mill would reap an advantage from it, and the output of timber would certainly not be increased. The timber workers are led by so-called organizers. Recently, a man named Bill Scanlan was in Tasmania organizing the timber industry. As a result of his work, many women and children dependent on the timber industry there are nearly starving. This man has now obtained a job in Victoria, and I assure honorable members that his activities here will soon lead to the closing of the Victorian saw-mills. He, with others, largely helped to ruin the Tasmanian timber industry. I shall quote one or two instances to show the fallacy of a great number of these increased duties. The Hobart Marine Board recently desired to purchase a fruit elevator to facilitate the loading of fruit on overseas vessels, and thus give practical effect to the Government’s request to export fruit and other commodities in the very best condition. The price of this elevator, landed on the Hobart wharf, was quoted at £2,750, and, upon inquiry, the board ascertained that the duty on the machine would be £850. This is an excellent illustration of the Government’s insincerity in its request to the fruitgrowers to handle their produce in the best possible way so- that it may reach the London market in good condition. The high duty prevented the Hobart Marine Board from purchasing the elevator, and fruit is now being handled in the ordinary way. This does not make for the advancement of Australia.
– It must be remembered that, if such things cannot be commercially made in Australia, ‘ they are admitted at concessional rates.
– The Hobart Marine Board approached a Melbourne firm con cerning the importation of the fruit elevator, but, on ascertaining the amount of the duty, the inquiry was abandoned. In another instance machines known as apple-corers and peelers were required for Tasmanian evaporating works. The duty on them was 60 per cent. They cannot be commercially manufactured here. I approached the Minister on the matter, and the machines were admitted at concessional rates. It would not pay any Australian manufacturer to make apple-peelers, because no other State but Tasmania requires them. Only Tasmania would require the use of a fruit elevator. That State exports nearly 1,000,000 cases of apples a year more than the rest of Australia does, and it is not likely that the other States would require fruit elevators.
– Is the fruit elevator different from any other elevator?
– Yes. It has to be of a special width to enable the cases to run along the rollers. Tasmania has spent over £3,000,000 on the hydro-electric plant for the production of electricity for lighting and other purposes throughout the State. This is very beneficial to Tasmania. But neither the dynamos nor any of the machinery installed at the works can be made in Australia, and yet the Tasmanian Government was compelled to pay a duty of £250,000 on it. It had to borrow money to pay that duty, and the interest on the sum borrowed amounts to over £16,000 per annum.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to S p.m.
– Earlier in my remarks I referred to a letter written by the organizer of the Timber Workers’ Union in Tasmania. I am now able to quote it in full -
In reply to your letter signed by yourself, comrades . . . Yes. I sent letter demanding payment of back pay. Receiving no reply from- , we (have now placed this matter in hands of our solicitors. Ogilvie and Okines have sent letter informing … if same is not paid by Saturday, summonses shall be issued for same. Now it is a case of waiting until Saturday. Re your lost time, we shall sue for same. You men can rest assured this
Union shall leave no stone unturned to secure every penny your boss owes you and your comrades. I can assure you if ever men’s eyes have been opened . . , Rc the good bosses, I guess timber workers now know what Bossdom will give them. Any how, comrade, our class must look for something ‘better than our present rotten social system. If you men want justice, you have all got to think on lines of rebellion. Any how, as soon as we can put the law into operation, Bossdom will find that Scanlon shall put the bailiffs into bosses’ homes. They have had good spin, but their day is at hand. I want you- men to send along list of names and occupation of men who have back pay coming, wages paid from Srd February, 1910, to 31st August, 1!)20, and wages paid from 1st September, 1920, up to date. Then I shall know how much I shall issue summonses for. Again, to you all, I say in unity lies your strength. Let your thoughts be to the day when our class work the mills for their own benefit. Accept my best wishes.
Yours in unity,
That is typical of the letter these organizers write to the workers. They are supposed to be mediators between employers and employees, but a letter such as that I have read causes more trouble in an industry than anything else. Since it was written the timber mills have been closed, and the writer has been appointed organizer of the timber workers in Victoria. God help the industry when such a man has the handling of it ! I was referring to the duty of. £250,000 collected by the Commonwealth upon machinery imported by the Tasmanian Government for the hydro-electric scheme. I have a statement from Mr. J. H. Butters, now Federal Capital Commissioner, in which he drew attention to newspaper reports that the Commonwealth was remitting amounts of £53,000 and £1,100 in respect of duties levied on machinery imported by the Western Australian Government, and an alternator imported from England by the Tamworth Municipal Council. I think those remissions were justified, because machinery which cannot be . made in Australia should be admitted free of duty. But the same- treatment should be meted out to Tasmania.
– It happened some years ago, but that does not affect my argument. The taxpayers of Tasmania are- still paying £16,000 per annum in interest on the £250,000 borrowed to pay the- duty. Upon water turbines a duty of 25 per cent, is imposed, but steam turbines are’ admitted free, although one is just as difficult to produce economically as the other. How does the Minister justify that anomaly? Instances like this make one wonder where these high duties will stop. Apple wrapping-paper cut to sizes 9 in. x 9 in., or 11 in. x 11 in. is admitted free, but if the paper is printed in America it is subject._to a duty of 60 per cent. If imported by a co-operative company it is admitted free of duty. The Government is urging the people on the land to market their products as attractively as possible. The purpose of the printed wrapping-paper is to tei] the purchaser the State of origin and the name of the grower of the fruit. Many private growers export more apples than the private companies, yet they have to pay 60 per cent, duty on any printed wrappingpaper which they import. The cost of printing the paper in Australia would be os. per 1,000 sheets; as there are 2,500 sheets in a ream, the cost of printing alone would be 12s. 6d. a ream. As that expense is prohibitive, nobody gets any benefit from the burden which the duty places upon the primary producer. The paper should be admitted free, irrespective of whether it is imported for a cooperative company or a private individual. Another unfair impost is that upon spraying materials. The orchardist, in addition to having to buy agricultural machinery, has to combat pests. Some spraying materials are admitted free and others are subject to duties varying from 10 to 20 per cent. If the Government earnestly desires to help the horticultural industry it should admit these materials free and” thus offer ah inducement to the growers to produce better fruit. In-, stead, they are being penalized from the time they commence ‘ to cultivate their land until they pack their fruit. Spray pumps also bear too heavy a duty. Many good spray pumps are made in Australia, but owing to their weight they are not suitable for use in hilly country. With 200 gallons of mixture in the tank two horses are required to drag the machine through a hilly orchard. Only a very small duty should be imposed on these pumps. Recently a man imported a spray pump from America. The cost in the country of origin was £80, but the importer had to pay duty amounting to £39. Subsequent to delivery, the department looked through the invoice again and decided to dissect the pump, and charge so much each on the cart, cask, hose, and pump. By this system of computation it was able to demand another £8 in duty. The Government is not helping the industry by imposing duties of 50 per cent. and 60 per cent.
– The honorable member must not forget his attitude in regard to hops.
Mr.SEABROOK. - Nor should the Minister forget that the Government was responsible for the trouble in regard to hops. Clear glass such as is used in windows is not made in Australia.
– Who told the honorable member that story?
-Clear glass is not made in Australia. The duties on it per 100 square feet are 2s., 3s., and 4s., and on and after the 1st of July 1½d., 1&3/4d., and 2d. per lb., or ad valorem 45 per cent., 55 per cent., and 60 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty. On a sheet of 16-oz. glass per square foot, the duty at the per lb. rate will be l¾d., and on a sheet of 21-oz. glass 2¼d. If 26-oz. glass is imported the duty will be 3d. per square foot, and if 32-oz. glass is required there will be a duty of 4d. per square foot imposed upon it. It would be interesting to estimate what would be the duty charged per lb. on plate glass or glass half an inch thick. If the article were produced in. Australia there might be some justification for such enormous duties, but as it is not produced here the duties are absurd, and they should not be tolerated. The man who wishes to build a home must under these duties pay nearly double as much for the glass he requires as he was formerly obliged to pay. Mr. Pratten. - The honorable member misunderstands the matter. These are deferred duties to be imposed when the industry is established.
– Even so, they are much too high. Such duties should not be imposed upon an article which is not produced in Australia. Most of the . electrical machinery, which carries duties of 45 per cent., 55 per cent., and 60 per cent. is not made in Australia. Some time ago the duty on road rollers was 27½ per cent. The Government extracts from the people enormous duties in order that it may give the States millions of pounds for the making of roads. Yet when the States want to purchase road rollers for the making of roads’ the duty on this machinery is raised from 27½ to 50 per cent. Is it common sense to take money out of the pockets of the people in order to give it to the States for road construction, and then to increase the duty, upon the machinery required by the States for road construction from27½ to 50 per cent.? I want to show now how these duties affect the State which I represent. Tasmania pays to the Commonwealth £2 7s. 4d. per head of population in Customs and excise duties in excess of the amount per head of direct taxation imposed by the State Government. In 1900. prior to federation, the Customs and other duties levied in Tasmania were as follows : - Customs and excise, £2 16s. l0d. per head; income and dividend tax, 3s. 7d. ; land tax, 7s.1d.; stamp duty, 2s. 8d.; probate duties, 10d.; licences,1s. 8d. ; other taxes, 2s.; making a total of £3 14s. 8d. per head of population. In 1924-5, when there was no
State Customs and excise taxation levied, the State taxes were: - Income tax, £21s.1d. ; land tax, l1s. 5d. ; stamp duty, 16s. 10d.; probate duties, 8s.1d.; licences, 3s. 3d.; other taxes, 8s. 7d.; total, £4 9s. 3d. That shows the increase in State taxation in Tasmania after federation. In 1924-5 thiswas the Commonwealth taxation levied in Tasmania : - Customs and excise, £5 3s. l0d. per head : income and dividend tax, £1 5s. 6d.; land tax, 3s. l1d.; probate duties,1s. 6d.; other taxes,1s. l0d; making a total of £6 16s. 7d. per head. So that Tasmania paid in Commonwealth taxation £2 7s. 4d. per head of its population in excess of what was paid in the form of taxation to the Government of the State.
– From what document is the honorable member quoting ?
– From a paper dealing with the disabilities of Tasmania under federation. I propose to quote something instituting a comparison with other countries, and I want to say here that at the present time Tasmania is the second highest taxed country in the world.
The position of Great Britain and European countries in regard to taxation was brought out in an address given in London in November last by Sir Frederick Wise, the economist, who was sent to Berlin in 1919 by the Peace Conference, to report upon the financial condition of Germany. Government expenditure, he said, should take as little out of the pockets of the people as it possibly could. It was vital to the country to realize that the money which the Government took from them should all be earned. Great Britain, he declared was the most heavily taxed country in the world. It was very difficult to compare the taxation of Great Britain with other countries, but they might say, approximately, that the people of England wore taxed roughly at £15 per capita as compared with £3 5s. per head in the United States. In France, with the franc at 100 to the £1 sterling, the taxation worked outat £7 per capita, and in Germany it was £5 7s. Taking the year 1924-5, the taxation of Tasmania, excluding the tax on lotteries, was£115s.10d. per capita, made up as follows: - State taxation, £4 9s. 3d.; Commonwealth, £6 16s. 7d. If the taxes, dues, &c., levied by municipal and local governing bodies be added, the total taxation paid by the people of Tasmania would amount approximately to £13 per head of population.
– That includes taxation for lighting and similar services.
– It does not matter what it includes, the figures quoted show that Tasmania is the second highest taxed country in the world. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr Hughes) drew a comparison between England and America. He said that the prosperity of America had increased by leaps and bounds under a policy of protection, and that England, under freetrade, had gone back and had millions of unemployed. The right honorable member stated the number of unemployed in England, but he did not say the number of unemployed in America. One has to realize that since the war England has had the greatest struggle of any country in the world and yet has reduced her taxation more than has any other country. Whilst England was struggling for. her very existence. America was raking in all the money she possibly could and capturing the world’s markets. In the circumstances the conditions in the two countries cannot be compared. Some honorable members boast of the effect of protection in Australia, but they forget to say how many unemployed there are in this country. During the last few years we have had more unemployment in Australia than ever before in its history. This is under a policy of high protection. For the last three years we have had the unemployed in Australia going to the different governments for food and assistance. This matter should be seriously considered. It is incorrect to say thatprotection is doing everything to promote our progress. The duties imposed by the tariff are protect ing some industries out of existence. I do not know whether the statement is correct or not. but I noticed in a newspaper the other day that Mr. MacRobertson, the great lolly manufacturer of Australia, is now going to New Zealand because of the high tariff on sugar and the high cost of everything in Australia.
– It is because New Zealand has recently imposed a tariff of her own on confectionery that MacRobertson is going there.
– I have quoted a statement which I read in one of the newspapers. It shows that it is possible to have too much protection, and that in some cases it closes up industries. Some electrical machinery was recently required in Tasmania, where the benefits of electric lighting are being extended to some of the more remote districts. It was necessary to import some transformers for the purpose, and it was found that they are dutiable at 35 per cent. In addition, the Customs Department imposes a dumping duty on these articles. I am using the words of the engineer concerned in the Tasmanian undertaking when I say that the imported transformers are of a much better quality than those which are Australian-made. This policy compels purchasers to accept an inferior article. The duties imposed by this schedule are much too high. I have an open mind on the question, but many of the proposed duties I shall oppose, because I believe that they will do more harm than good.
– Needless to say, I do not purpose to follow the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) in his calamity howl. Those who believe in building up the industries of Australia can afford to ignore his argument as worthy only of the dweller in an undiscovered cave, if we can imagine what the views of such an individual would be! Incidentally, he made out a splendid case for the censure of the Government, but he did not say that he censured the Government. After his long tirade of abuse he is, no doubt, reconciled to following the Government slavishly for the next three years. We did not expect anything else of him. His speech meant nothing. It was not intended to be even a threat to the Government, and the Minister was able to smile while it was being delivered. We could afford to ignore it but forthe fact that the honorable member adopted tactics which are often employed for a special purpose by honorable members opposite. The honorable member will send copies of his speech to his farmer constituents in the hope of making them believe that he fought a valiant fight to reduce duties which, he says, are a heavy burden on the farmer. Only last evening the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), one of the leaders of the honorable member, went to Ballarat and indulged in the same form of argument, if argument it can be called. An important discussion is taking place at the Farmers Union Conference at Ballarat, and the result of it may be to split that party in twain. The subject is the duty on agricultural implements. The Treasurer tried to prepare the ground for the impending struggle, and he said, in effect, r.hat the heavy burdens placed upon the farming community were there because of the existence of political labour. One cannot allow a remark like that, when made by the Treasurer, to pass unnoticed. His object was clearly the same as that of the honorable member for Franklin - by drawing a red herring across the trail to divert the thoughts of the farming section of the community to something that should not enter into the discussion. He tried to antagonize the farmers against political labour so as to offset their antagonism against him and his thirteen followers, who stand condemned in the eyes of the farmers for their long chain of broken promises. He must not think that the farmers are so innocent as not to know of a recent happening in this House, when an honorable member of the Corner party moved the adjournment of the House in order to direct attention to the burden placed upon the primary producers by what he regarded as the heavy duties on agricultural implements. When five minutes to 1 o’clock arrived, and a proposal was made to put the question, the Treasurer crossed over to this side to prevent honorable members from registering their opinions. If it were not that these tactics were practised by leaders of the party opposite, as well as by the rank and file, one could afford to ignore such speeches as that of the honorable member for Franklin:
– On which side did members of the Labour party vote on that question?
– What has that to do with it? This party does not face both ways on the fiscal question. It has a definite policy; it stands for “new protection,” the object of which is, while building up our secondary industries, to give ample protection to our primary producers. Members of this party do not go to a conference of farmers and suggest to them that the tariff on agricultural implements is a “ crushing burden.” The Treasurer does do so, but he votes against members of this House having an opportunity to register a vote on the question. There is no analogy between his action and that of members of the Labour party, who do not, I hope, copy his tactics. It is time the “ bluff “ of such persons was called. The Treasurer went to a similar conference a little over three years ago, and what a different speech he then made ! His party was not then in alliance with the National party, and he told the country that he and his followers were the watch-dogs of the House, and that they had made the Nationalists “drop the loot.” There was no talk of loot last night.
– There was a rift in the lute three years ago.
– The Treasurer no longer accuses the Nationalists of “ dropping the loot.” Now that he is sharing it with them, his tirade of abuse is directed at political Labour. It is time that the farmers realized the twofaced attitude of the Treasurer and some other honorable members opposite. I have never known any public man who could descend to more bitter, more unfair, and more vitriolic speeches than the Treasurer, and he plainly does it for the purpose of diverting the thoughts of. the farmers from the real issues, which are the sins of commission and the long chain of broken promises of his party. The attitude of members of the Opposition to the fiscal issue has not changed. We stand for a form of protection which would safeguard the interests of both primary and secondary producers. Let us consider some of the dirge-like utterances of honorable members opposite.
– Not all honorable members opposite.
– I am speaking particularly of some honorable members who sit in the ministerial corner, and who claim that they are speaking for the farming community. I do not quarrel with any one who expresses his honest opinions, but I take exception to such speeches as that of the honorable the Treasurer at Ballarat last night. It was most unfair, and most misleading. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) spoke of the great burden placed on the primary producers by the “ tremendous “ duties on agricultural implements. In 1922-3 the production of wheat in Australia was 109,000,000 bushels, and the duty paid on all imported agricultural implements was £150,777, or less than one-third of Id. a bushel. In the face of those figures, where is the “ crushing burden “ ? The real trouble with the primary producer is not something which, costs him -£d. per bushel of wheat. In voicing that complaint he is merely echoing the remarks of others. He has heard the complaint so often that in time he believes that these duties actually constitute a burden. The real trouble with the man on the land to-day is the same trouble that existed, and to which the Treasurer referred, before he joined the Composite Ministry. High prices for land, high rents, and high rates of interest constitute the burden which falls upon the primary producer. Three and a half years ago, before they became associated with the Nationalists, honorable members in the corner pointed out that fact. At that time, the present Treasurer spoke of the necessity for proper markets being found. Last night, at Ballarat, he again referred to the same trouble. “What has the Treasurer done to improve matters in the meantime? The position is the same to-day as it was before he joined the Ministry. Between the producer and the consumer there is a set of people who render no good service to the community, but to whom toll must be paid. That is the real trouble which confronts the primary producer.
– That old bogy disappeared years ago.
– Evidently the Treasurer does not think so, or he would not have spoken as he did last night at Ballarat. Before he joined the Ministry, Dr. Page said that if he had a voice in the government of the country he would provide the farmers with cheap money. To-day, agricultural land costs up to £20 an acre, and the interest rates are still high.
– Who compels the farmer to pay that price?
– He is compelled to pay it because the Government looks on while the best agricultural land in the country is held as grazing land, instead of being subdivided for agricultural purposes.
– That is a matter for the State governments.
– With interest at 6 per cent., which is really much lower than it can be obtained, land costing £20 an acre represents an interest charge of £1 4s. per acre per annum. It requires. 6 bushels of “ wheat at 4s. a bushel to pay the annual interest on the cost of 1 acre of land. That is the real burden which the man on the land has to bear. It is a real burden compared with the id., which the duty on agricultural implements imposes on him. One can sympathize with the Minister, who’ is endeavouring to please that section of the community represented by honorable members in the corner, which considers that any tariff is a burden, and at the. same time is trying to placate those honorable members who desire to please the manufacturers in the community. In his dilemma, the Minister pleases no one. It is unfortunate that the Tariff Board,” after a superficial scrutiny, decided to make no effort to assist the timber industry. I thought that the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) would have upbraided the Government for failing to assist that industry, which, so far as Tasmania was concerned, he said was no longer struggling, but had ceased to exist. I agree with the honorable member that the timber industry is of considerable importance to Tasmania. But what does he propose? He said that if the duty on imported timber were increased it would mean that the workmen engaged in the timber industry would demand >an increase of wages. Rather than grant them increased pay, he would allow the industry to die. He referred to a certain organizer, who, he said, was responsible for killing the Tasmanian timber industry because he had demanded decent living conditions for the workers. Evidently the honorable member prefers that timber be imported from Canada and other countries, where 40 per cent. of the employees are Asiatics, than that the timber workers in Australia should be provided with decent living conditions. Such views are worthy only of men who in past ages dwelt in caves. Under normal conditions the timber industry in Australia employs from 35,000 to 40,000 men. Yet almost every day timber mills are being closed down because of the heavy importations of timber from other countries. In 1920-21, Australia imported 245,000,000 superficial feet of timber. In 1923-4, the imports increased to 437,000,000 superficial feet; an increase in three years of 1 92,000,000 superficial feet. It is remarkable that Australians are so prejudiced against goods made in their own country. Many of them will not use timber, tobacco, spirits, or textiles made in Australia if they can obtain them from other countries. To take a concrete example, we know that prior . to the war, the people of Australia consumed very little of Australian sparkling wines; they wanted wines imported from France and other countries. But during the war, when they could not obtain the imported article, they drank Australian wines, and found them to be good. Since then, the consumption of Australian wines in Australia has increased enormously. To-day, many people in Australia use Canadian timbers for their floors, believing that they are getting something better than they would get if they used Australian timber. If they travelled in Canada, they would find that the people there use large quantities of Australian hardwood in preference to Canadian timber. It is remarkable that we in Australia prefer the Canadian pine to our own hardwoods, while the Canadians tell us that they get better results from Australian hardwoods than they do from their own timber.
– The Australian hardwoods last much longer.
– And better results are obtained from our timber. To a great extent, the local prejudice against Australian timbers is retarding the growth of the industry. It is an important industry, and yet under the tariff schedule no attempt is made to assist it. This is a grave omission on the part of the Government. Australia produced 683,000,000 superficial feet in 1913-14 as against 587,000,000 superficial feet in 1922-3. This is a serious decline in production.
– The duties on timber were increased enormously in 1921.
– They were certainly not increased enormously. What may have been considered fair protection in 1921 may now be considered to be inadequate. The trouble is that we have to wait five or six years for the general revision of the tariff before the recommendations of the Tariff Board regarding particular industries can be considered by Parliament. The tariff to be effective should be frequently reviewed.
– With a weekly tariff revision, what would be the position of the traders ?
– No one suggests such an absurd course ; but frequent tariff revision on, say, half a dozen items at a time would give many industries a better opportunity to flourish. What I complain about is the treatment meted out to the timber industry by the Tariff Board. No chance has been given to those engaged in the industry to put their case fully before the Board. The inquiry was supposed to be open to the public, and yet the board allowed the opponents of the timber industry in Australia to supply it with confidential information. These persons accused the sawmillers of lack of efficiency. The sawmillers had a complete and adequate answer to that accusation in the shape of facts and figures, but had very little opportunity of putting their case before the board. The following figures will be of interest to those who accuse the timber industry of inefficiency. From 1911 to 1925 the number of mills in New South Wales increased from 452 to 549, and the value of the plant increased from £527,000 in 1911 to £1,087,000, in 1925. Unfortunately, the number of persons employed in the industry during that period increased only from 525 to 5,900. Those figures show that the improvement in the industry has been confined entirely to machinery, and that the principal aim of those engaged in the industry has been to bring about efficiency by the use of improved plant and machinery.
– But the honorable member said that production was falling off.
Mr. PARKER MOLONEY. Yes; simply because of the decreased demand for Australian timber. As a matter of fact, because of the want of adequate protection, timber is piling up and much valuable machinery, although efficient, is lying idle. ‘ There is less demand for Australian timber, because the Government will not encourage a languishing industry.
– The honorable member knows that the building trade at present is very depressed in all the States.
– I remind the honorable member that there has been a great increase in the importation of timber. There is a demand for timber, yet it is benefiting, not the Australian saw-millers, but the timber importers. It is interesting to know that in Canada 3S per cent, of the employees in the timber industry are Asiatics. This information was given to the Tariff Board. It is regrettable that, while the importation of timber produced by cheap labour has increased, our saw-mills are being closed up and hundreds of men thrown out of employment. I do not know whether the Minister proposes to do anything for this industry.
– I have already promised those engaged in the timber industry that, if they have any additional evidence, the Tariff Board will receive it.
– In that case I hope that the Minister will give early effect to any favorable recommendation arrived at by the Tariff Board consequent upon additional information being put before it by those engaged in the timber industry. What I have said regarding the timber industry applies largely to the tobacco growing industry. The Government is doing nothing to give relief to the Australian tobacco-leaf growers. In my electorate, and in many others, these men are growing a splendid leaf, which is being largely used in the manufacture of tobacco in Australia. It is impossible for this industry to develop without some assistance. For the four years up to 1925 there has been a decline in the local production of tobacco leaf of nearly 40 per cent., which, if it continues, will wipe out the industry altogether.
– The Tobacco Combine does not wish to encourage the Australian industry.
– That is so. There are many places in Australia where families could make a profitable living growing tobacco leaf on small areas of from 10 to 15 acres. For instance, tobacco leaf could be successfully grown in the Tumut district if the Government were prepared to encourage the industry. Unfortunately, the tariff schedule does not give any relief in this direction. While in four years there has been a falling off in the production of tobacco leaf of 40 per cent., yet the imports during that period have increased by 52 per cent. The Australian tobacco-leaf growers have a right to expect either the removal of the excise altogether, or the imposition of an effective duty on imported tobacco.
– Already a substantial advantage is given to. the local growers.
– It is not nearly substantial enough. Their position is much the same as that of the people engaged in the textile and steel industries. The protection afforded may be called substantial, but the people engaged in the industry are not able to make a reasonable living without further assistance.- Their request for the removal of the excise on leaf used for the manufacture of tobacco in Australia is in every way justified. The Government has, in this respect, an excellent opportunity to encourage closer settlement.
– There is already a duty of 2s. per lb.
– But that is largely nullified by the excise duty. What I suggest would increase the consumption of Australian leaf, and tend to wipe out the prejudice against it. Increased local production must mean a lower price to the consumer and a higher reward to the grower. Has the Minister anything to say in regard to this item?
– I adhere to what I said when introducing this tariff last week. On that occasion I referred to tobacco and cigars.
– I hope that the Minister will give to those engaged in the industry an early opportunity to put their case before the Tariff
Board. The districts adjacent to that in which tobacco is grown most successfully were lately in desperate straits owing to the heavy importation of Italian broom millet and South African maize. The duty imposed on maize by this schedule is not enough, but it is a small dose of the right kind of medicine. In the past South African maizegrowers have dumped their produce into the Commonwealth to the detriment of local growers. The new duties vary from 2s. to 3s. 6d. What does the Minister propose to do in regard to the question of applying the preferential tariff to South Africa?
– Negotiations with the South African Government are proceeding.
– And if no reciprocal arrangement is made the 3s. 6d. duty will operate against South African maize?
– That will be something to be thankful for. It will afford useful protection to the Australian grower against the dumping of South African maize. The millet-growers also are entitled to consideration, and it is the bounden duty of this Parliament to see that our growers are protected against the importations from Italy and elswhere Given adequate protection, many families could make a good living by growing tobacco, maize, and millet. The appeal of tha maize-grower has now a good chance of proper treatment by the Tariff Board, but the equally loud appeal of the tobacco-growers and those engaged in the timber industry appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Whilst I have no desire to indulge in carping criticism of the Board, I cannot help remarking that although it has given full opportunity to certain industries to put their case, it has not lent a sympathetic ear to the claims of those engaged in the timber and tobaccogrowing industries. I sincerely hope, however,’ that the Minister will honour the promise he has made to me to-day to give an early ‘ chance to those people to state their case to the board, and as soon as possible thereafter this Parliament will be afforded a chance to do justice to interests which the Government under this schedule improperly ignores.
.- The amendment . of the tariff is of vital importance to the secondary industries particularly, and anything ‘ we can do legitimately by fiscal legislation to assist them should be done. We’ are the custodians of the public interest, and our responsibility is to consider how proposed duties will affect different industries, and, so far as humanly possible, to give an impartial decision upon the evidence before us. The general public understands thoroughly that members of Parliament, cannot have a thorough grasp of all the items in the tariff schedule. Because of that, the Tariff Board was created a few years ago. Its members are able to devote the whole of their time and ability to the investigation of industries, and reporting thereon to the Government. Some of the criticism levelled at the board is quite unmerited. Its members are discharging excellently a very difficult task; they have made several very able reports, and furnished to honorable members information that would not have been available to them had they been left to their own resources. The work of the board has been very strenuous; but complaint has been made that in some respects the board has exceeded its functions, and, in other respects, has not done as much as it should have done. Although the board has not entirely pleased any section of this committee, it has justified its existence. Its investigations are now conducted openly, a reform that was very desirable in the public interest. I am certain that some manufacturers, at any rate, are not opposed to the change ; they are quite willing to give their evidence in public. The board has not invariably recommended an increase of duty. I understand that increases were recommended in respect of 53 items, and reductions in respect of 47 items. Refunds to importers amounting to over £750,000 have been recommended. They include silk piece goods, £135,000 : carpets, household rugs, &c, £170,000 ; and clocks and watches, £110,000. With the increased duties that are proposed this committee is most ‘ concerned. I wish to make special reference to two of these industries, the textile industry and the agricultural implement industry. I have in my electorate the principal woollen mills, I suppose, of Australia, and at any rate the largest number of such mills. There is also in that electorate the largest agricultural- implement factory in the Southern Hemisphere. It is natural, therefore, that I should have something to say as to- the incidence of the tariff on those industries. I have been very pleased to learn that some honorable members look upon the tariff as something which will bring about that decentralization which for many years has been advocated in Australia. There has been a tendency in this country to centralize everything in the capital cities. One effect of the tariff has been to demonstrate the ‘possibility of establishing secondary industries in some of the smaller centres of population. It is very gratifying to know that textile industries have been established in towns and cities in different States ;of Australia apart .from the capital cities. It is still more gratifying to learn” that the textile industry is to-day in a very much better position than it- was in twelve months ago. I remember arranging for a meeting of textile manufacturers some time last year when the present Minister for Trade and Customs was at Geelong. The purpose of the meeting was to- go very fully into the condition of the industry in Australia, and unquestionably it was then in a very parlous condition. From one mill in the City of . Geelong from 250 to 300 hands had been dismissed owing to lack of orders. Other mills were suffering from a like depression. It was evident that if. the industry was to be saved some tangible proposal to keep it off the rocks must be submitted by the Government. The Minister listened very carefully to the case put forward by the manufacturers of Geelong. Their chief complaint was that their most serious competitors were . the importing firms that were bringing into this country piece goods principally of second or third grade quality, and known as “ shoddy.” It is, unfortunately, a common practice for purchasers, whether men or women, to accept the cheaper article irrespective of quality. Experts in textiles have become so clever that today they are able to put such a fine finish on very cheap and coarse materials as to deceive the average man or woman. People have been buying these apparently reliable goods in the hope that they would get all the wear they re- quired out of them. But a week or two of rough usage, or a shower of rain, would prove that these materials are anything but what they appeared to be when they were purchased. The reason is that, in many cases, they are made of - shoddy or mungo. This is a reclaimed filament substance obtained from the working up of rags and remnants of clothing into textures in which the fibres are closely woven or knitted together, or mill waste that has never been put through a complete manufacturing process. Mungo is a shorter staple than shoddy, and is used chiefly in the manufacture of cheap blankets. I understand that is made from old materials, worn clothing in some instances, which is collected and taken to a factory and there torn asunder, put through machines again, and spun into yarn, and then woven into cloth, which is turned out with a fine finish which deceives the average purchaser. Those engaged in the textile industry recognized that they were up ‘ against a tough proposition in having to face competition of this kind. Their chief concern at the time was that the Government should do something to alleviate the position caused by the importation of huge quantities of these shoddy materials: Fortunately for the industry, and for Australia, tho Minister agreed to the recommendation made to him, and as a result, there has been a very marked improvement in the condition of the textile industry in Australia. During recent weeks there has been a discussion which originated, I think, in the Geelong Chamber of Commerce, respecting the branding of Australian-made material. Manufacturers in Geelong consider that the time has arrived when Australian-made clothing - and I say that the same argument applies to other Australian manufactures as well - should be branded so that the purchaser may know where the article was manufactured. It is stated by men in a position to know, that many of the mills are to-day turning out fine .products, which are being placed on the markets of Australia and sold over the counter as best English worsteds. I am credibly informed that this practice is becoming very general, and it is high time steps were taken to brand in some way the pro- ducts of Australian mills. They are made from the very best wool, will stand the test, and the .manufacturers can have no objection to the branding of their material as proposed. Unless something of the kind is done people will be misled, as they have been in the past, in thinking that the article they are purchasing is of English manufacture, when in many instances it is Australian-made. I listened with interest to the remarks of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Parker Moloney) with respect to the prejudice Australian people have against articles of Australian manufacture. I believe the time has arrived when there should be commenced in this country an agitation by public men throughout the Commonwealth to bring home to the people generally the necessity for giving more loyal support to Australian industries. We can produce the best goods. We have, I believe, the best men and women procurable anywhere engaged in our Australian industries. Now that these are established they should be kept going, and I commend this suggestion to the Minister in the hope that something may come of it to strengthen the position of the Australian textile manufacturers. The burden of complaint during this discussion has come from our friends of the Country party, assisted by two or three honorable members who are avowedly freetraders in their fiscal belief. I agree with the honorable member for Hume that when the position is properly analysed there is very little reason for the complaint made that the farmer is being severely handicapped by the high tariff on agricultural implements. I had occasion, ten days or so ago, to speak on the duties on agricultural machinery. I then quoted some statistics of agricultural production which the honorable member for Hume quoted to-night. In order that the facts may be placed on record, I make ti brief quotation which will supplement the statement made by the honorable member for Hume in support of the contention that the Australian market is the best for the Australian primary producer.: -
In 1922-23 the value of agricultural production in Australia was £122,425,000. Of that production, £24,694,000 was exported. Eighty per cent., or, in figures, £97,731,000 worth was consumed locally.
Referring to the consumption of the home market, figures which I quoted the other day are as follows : - Wheat, 29 per cent. ; oats, 99 per cent.; maize, 100 per cent.; barley, 68 per cent.; potatoes, 100 per cent: ; onions, 90 per cent. ; hay, 99 per cent. ; sugar, in most seasons, 100 per cent. ; butter . 52 per cent. ; cheese, 61 per cent, : bacon and hams, 95 per cent.; and wine, 94 per cent. These figures should satisfy any one as to the importance of the Australian markets. One can readily understand from them what the closing down of important secondary industries would mean should such a thing take place. As’ a Protectionist, I wish to refute the statement of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) that import duties always increase prices. The report of the Tariff Board cites many instances of duties on agricultural machinery that have had the opposite effect. On page 15 of the report, there is the following statement -
The board has fully considered the respective claims of both the local manufacturers and the importers.
That imported implements have contributed to the farm equipment of Australia is a fact plainly discernible, and there has been no attempt to deny this; but this does not detract from the second plain fact that the Australian implement makers have studied the needs peculiar to the Commonwealth, and have invented and developed implements that have been of inestimable value to the farmer.
On the evidence before it, the board unhesitatingly says that the Australian agricultural implement industry has served the best interests of the Australian farmer, and has been of particular value in subduing vast areas of country such as the Mallee, and bringing them into production.
There are many items that one might quote in- support of my statement that duties do not necessarily raise prices. It has been said over and over again by honorable members with freetrade leanings that, in purchasing agricultural machinery, the Australian farmer is not in such a favorable position as the Argentine farmer. Statements taken on oath, and published in the report to which I have referred, disprove those contentions. In every instance mentioned in the report, including 7-ft. and 8-ft. binders, 3£ft., 4½-ft. 5-ft., and 6-ft. mowers, 8-ft. 9-ft., and 10-ft. rakes, one, two. and three-furrow International disc ploughs, reversible discharrows, and diamond harrows, the price is lower in Australia than in the Argentine, where there is no tariff, or only a low tariff. It is far better to establish in this country industries which we can control, than to import our requirements. The year before last was a bad year for trade in the United States of America, and it is stated that the International Harvester Company made a profit that year of only $10,000,000. It is not stated what profit the company makes in a good year, but when a profit of “only $10,000,000” is mentioned as a low profit, we should realize the need and opportunity for encouraging Australian industries, and keeping the Australian portion of that profit in this country. Although I disagree with the views of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), I compliment him on the industry and care he applied to the compilation of his speech. He made an unfortunate mistake when he said that the importing companies did not refuse to place their books before the accountant of the Tariff Board.
– The honorable member misunderstood me. I think I said that other firms also refused to submit their books to the Interstate Commission.
-I accept the honorable member’s correction ; but, nevertheless, the Tariff Board’s report contains some very caustic comments about the refusal of importing firms to submit their books for investigation. On page 1 of the report the following statement appears : -
Confidential Investigation into Financial Position.
Expert investigation into the finances of all the principal Australian firms has been made by a certified public accountant, Mr. W. E. Cooper, an officer of the ‘Department of Trade and Customs, Sydney, and the board desires to place on record its very high appreciation of this officer’s confidential investigations and reports.
The board is pleased also to record that each Australian agricultural implement maker concerned readily gave access to the whole of the books and documents that were essential to this investigation. In this connexion the firms asked for and were granted the condition that detailed information regarding cost of production, value of output, profit and loss, should ‘ be regarded as confidential by the Tariff Board, excepting alone the Minister for Trade and Customs, and the Comptroller-General of Customs.
The representatives of the overseas firms, viz., the Massey-Harris Company, and the International Harvester Company, refused to inform the board as to their turnover, f.o.b. and c.i.f. costs, profits, and rates and amount of income tax.
On page 7, the report contains a list of the names of firms whose books and balance-sheets were examined by the board and the public accountant. Those firms were -
Mitchell and Co. Pty. Ltd., Victoria.
Gibbins and Co. Pty. Ltd. Victoria.
Gaston Bros. Pty. Ltd., Victoria.
John Shearer and Sons Ltd., South Australia.
David Shearer Ltd., South Australia.
Clarence H. Smith Ltd., South Australia.
Horwood, Bagshaw Ltd. South Australia.
State Implement and Engineering Works, Western Australia.
The Clyde Engineering Co. Ltd., New South Wales.
James Martin and Co. Ltd.,New South Wales.
The list of witnesses who appeared to give evidence on the duties on agricultural implements includes the names of Messrs. Patterson, of the Massey-Harris Company, and Rodney, of the International Harvester Company, and the evidence they gave is submitted with this report. The board, however, is obliged to state that it regards the evidence of these two witnesses as very inadequate. This matter is referred to more fully later in this report.
The reference appears in the epitome of the board’s findings, on page 33 of the report : -
Every phase of this matter has now been examined by the board. The only evidence that has been withheld by witnesses is that connected with the business of the Massey-Harris Company and the International Harvester Company, importers of implements, relating to:-
The turnover in Australia.
The f.o.b. and c.i.f. prices of the principal implements imported.
The average rate of profit on imported implements.
The rate of profit on cream separators. (5)The rate and amount of income tax paid by the importers of agricultural implements.
The result of the investigation is wholly favorable to the local industry, and the Tariff Board unanimously agrees that the protective duties should not be disturbed.
The findings of the board are fairly long, and I cannot quote them in detail. The report points out very clearly the advantages of this industry to the agricultural community. Tha board makes the statement - which is a complete refutation of the charges of profiteering made against the manufacturers of Australia - that -
The eight most prosperous companies showed an average net profit of 12.1 per cent, on the capital invested, and a profit on wiles of 9.47 per cent.
When we bear in mind that in those eight companies are included the largest firms in Australia, which employ mass production on a large scale, it cannot be contended that the profits disclosed are unreasonable. In any case, however large the profits, they are made in Australia, by Australian companies, and are taxable to the full in Australia. The tax on an Australian manufacturer whose taxable income is over £7,600 a year is no less than 6s. 5d. in the £1, whereas a foreign company has to pay only ls. in the £1. By the closing down of our factories, the farmer would suffer more than the residents of the cities. We have it on record, and the fact cannot be gainsaid, that wherever there is a free market the importing firms have taken advantage of it, and have charged the farmers more than they have charged in other countries where there are tariffs. I recognise, with most honorable members, that it is desirable to develop our secondary industries to the fullest extent. I was surprised that the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) spoke to-night in such dismal terms of the unemployment in Australia. I’ took the trouble to look up the figures in the latest issue of the Year-Booh, and found that in his own State there has been a steady diminution in unemployment since 1921. The return for the last year on record is 3.S per cent., which is the lowest point yet reached. I attribute this satisfactory state of affairs very largely to the fact that a sound, sane, protective policy has been adopted. I trust that the Government will adhere to the schedule that it has submitted to us, for it will meet the meeds of our people.
House adjourned at 10.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 March 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1926/19260310_reps_10_112/>.