10th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir Littleton Groom) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister if the sub-committee of cabinet which has beenconsidering the recommendations of the Public AccountsCommittee in relation toTasmanian communications has yet completed its task, and if he is in a position to make a statement about the matter?
– During the last few days Cabinet has been considering the report of the Public Accounts Committee on communications between the mainland and Tasmania, and in the course of a few days I hope to be able to announceits decision.
– On the 29th ultimo I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs -
As a week has elapsed since I asked those questions, I should like to know when the information for which I asked will be available ?
– Obviously a good deal of research is involved in the pro paration of answers to questions of that character, but I shall make inquiries during the day and endeavour to furnish a reply to the honorable member’s questions to-morrow if it is possible to do so.
– I wish to call the Prime Minister’s attention to the following paragraph which, according to a press cablegram, was published in the London Times on Saturday last: -
Negotiations for the abolition of passport visas between Britain and Germany have been. concluded, the new regulations permitting British subjects to travel to Germany and German subjects to travel to Britain without visas (says the Berlin correspondent of the Times). They will operate from January 1, and affect all the dominions joining except Australia. It is pointed out that the Australian refusal is notregardedasbeing particularly directed against Germany, as Australia adopts the same attitude to all countries.
If that statement is correct, in view of the fact that the passport restrictions, which had to be ‘made exceedingly stringent during the war, are considerably inconvenient to Australians travelling abroad, I should like to know why the Australian Commonwealth Government is not prepared to acquiesce in their abolition.
– The question of the abolition of passports has received the serious consideration of the Government, and if the honorable member will place his question on the notice paper, I shall give him a considered reply setting out the reasons for the Government’s attitude in the matter.
Position of Sir William Clarkson
– I wish to submit a question to the Prime Minister relative to the position of Sir William Clarkson, and, in explanation, andwith, your permission, Mr. Speaker, I shall read the following report from yesterday’s Sydney Sun : - “I am altogether in the dark - I can only surmise,” said Sir William Clarkson, this morning, referring to his positionon the Commonwealth Shipping Board.
He said that the following telegram from the Prime Minister was the first intimation ho received of the position: “Government has decided in circumstances not to renew your appointment.”
This arrived on Friday afternoon, and was followedon Saturday by a letter of appreciation of his services, but stating that, in view of the proposal to sell the Commonwealth Line, it would not be necessary to renew the appointment. “It is significant that Mr. Larkin (the chairman of the board) was at Canberra for four days last week,” said Sir William. “All the world knows he and I have not seen eye “to eye. It seems extraordinary that Mr. Bruce has not heard both sides. “ There is one possible solution of my dismissal, in the present shipping dispute. The board decided to accept the offer of the waterside workers to work the line. The board could not do anything else, because the matters in dispute did not concern the line in any shape or form. If they had refused the offer, the line would have been liable to a penalty of £1000, under the lock-out clauses of the Arbitration Act. “ Mr. Larkin, as the minutes will show, proposed to accept the men’s offer. Mr. Bruce may not know this. It is possible that this did not meet with Mr. Bruce’s approval, in view of his policy towards the line.”
Seeing that Sir William Clarkson has been associated with the Commonwealth Shipping Board for so long, I should like to know why on this occasion his term was not extended for a limited time?
– The appointment of Sir William Clarkson as a director of the Commonwealth Shipping Board has not been extended because it is proposed to sell the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, and the only work that has now to be done by the Board is to call for tenders and attend to other details involved in the. sale. As the remuneration paid to Sir William Clarkson was £3,000 a year, the Government did not feel justified, in the circumstances, in renewing his appointment. It is true that Mr. Larkin was in Canberra last week, hut he did not mention this matter to the Government, nor did the Government ask his advice about it. The innuendoes contained in the statement given by Sir William Clarkson to the press appear to furnish further justification for the non-renewal of his appointment.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a press message that appeared in the Evening News on Thursday last to the effect that the French Senate and Chamber of Deputies have formally ratified the sale by the French Government of its 400 merchant vessels which were bought during the, war and that the loss involved in the sale amounts to upwards of one billion francs ?
– I have seen the report indicated by the honorable member, but the Government has no information as toits authenticity.
– On the 30th ultimo I directed a question to the Minister for Home and Territories with regard to the employment of Mrs. Lane-Poole. Ishould like to know when I shall be furnished with an answer?
– I hope to he in a position to supply an answer to the honorable member’s question in the course of a few days.
– Owing to the Government’s withdrawal of its proposed amendment to exempt absentees from a certain class of income tax, the Treasurer, presumably, will have about ?200,000 for which he has no immediate need, In view of that fact, I should like to ask whether the Government will reconsider this year’s Estimates during the debate in another place, or the reduction of the tariff proposals now before this House?
– The saving in revenue mentioned during the discussion on the Income Tax Assessment Bill as likely to be effected by the proposed amendment to exempt absentees covered the whole of the financial year, not the period which would be available during the present year. In any case, it will not he anything like the figure mentionedby the honorable member, and in the circumstances the Government does not propose to alter its financial proposals.
– In view of the serious risk to passengers travelling on buses in the Federal Territory, owing to the vehicles being taxed to double their capacity, and in view of the inconvenience caused by an infrequent service, will the Minister for Home and Territories see that the new company - if it does take charge - provides an adequate service, or that if the service is to be retained by the Federal Capital Commission, it will be more adequate and more frequent?
– The Commission has under consideration at the moment an extension of the bus service and hopes that, when it is brought into operation, it will meet all the demands of the Territory.
– Can the Treasurer give the House full particulars of the recent flotation of the ?7,000,000 loan?
– The loan was fully underwritten, and when public subscriptions were invited about 25 per cent. of the stock was taken up by investors, the balance remaining in the hands of the underwriters. Since then the price has practically come right back to the issue price.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - 1.What quantity of butter was imported to Australia in (a) 1924-25, (b) 1925-26, and (c) 1926-27?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2.-
asked the Minister for Markets and Migration, upon notice -
– Action is being taken to comply with the prohibition by a variation of the formula of manufacture so as to make unnecessary the use of preservatives. This is being done by co-operation between the butter factories and Commonwealth and State officials.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
4 and 5. The Queensland Government has submitted formally a very large scheme for the storage of water and irrigation in the Dawson Valley involving a proposed expenditure of £3,3*70,000. This scheme is still under consideration. Several inspections have been made by the Development and Migration Commission in conjunction with officials of the Queensland Government, and the matter is being closely followed up by the commission. The commission is in consultation with the Queensland Government regarding further schemes which have been informally discussed and upon which information is now being collected.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he has yet obtained the information sought by the honorable member for Lang on 23rd November, in respect of the following matters : -
For the year ended 30th June, 1927, the value of - (a) taxable imports from the United Kingdom, and the total amount of customs duties paid thereon; (&) taxable imports from British Dominions, and the total amount of customs duties paid thereon; (c) taxable imports from foreign countries, and the total amount of customs duties paid thereon; (d) imported articles of a kind not manufactured in Australia - (i) British; (it) Foreign; and the amount of duty collected thereon.
For the year ended 30th June, 1927, the amount of duty collected on - (a) food, (6) wearing apparel, (c) textile fabrics of a description not manufactured in Australia.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
PRICE of Commodities.
– On the 29th November the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) asked the following question : -
Is he in a position to enumerate reductions effected in the price of commodities in protected industries since the last tariff schedule was brought down, and, if so, will he lay such list upon the Table of the House?’
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with some of many examples that are available : -
Oil engines (imported). - F.o.b. prices and estimated landed costs, duty paid of wellknown British oil engine. - Price prior to September, 1925. -
Internal Combustion Engines.
In 1025 a 6 h.p. internal combustion engine was imported under a duty of 27-i per cent. British Preferential; 40 per cent. General, and sold for £05, but after the tariff was increased to 45 per cent, and 60 per cent., the price was reduced to £85 10s. Other reductions of American-made farm engines, following on the increase in the tariff from 40 per cent, to 60 per cent., are from £34 10s. to £31 10s.; from £63 to £55, and from £114 to £95. In New Zealand the price of a wellknown imported oil engine is £65 (2 h.p.) and £84 (3-i h.p.). In Australia, the price of an identical imported engine is £55 and £72 respectively.
In 1921 an imported meter (free United Kingdom, 10 per cent. General) cost £2 5s. delivered into store before local manufacture. The imported price was gradually reduced to 36s. 6d. to October, 1923, when a tariff of 35 per cent. (United Kingdom) and 45 per cent. (General) was imposed. Instead of prices going up to aproximately 50s., they were reduced- to 27s. 6d. - 28s. for the imported, the local article being 28s. lid. A flat rate duty of 10s. (United Kingdom) and 15s. (General) was then imposed, but there was no increase in price of the local meter which is how supplying 95 per cent, of the Commonwealth’s requirements.
Average price of cloth manufactured by u prominent local company for year ending 30th June, 1925, was 12s. 3d. per yard to the buyer; in the following year the average price was reduced to lis. Id. per yard.
Average value of locally-manufactured yarn sold during the year ending 30th June, 1925 was 8s. per lb. During the following years the average was 6s. 9d. per lb.
Men’s undershirts (light all wool) were reduced from 81s. per dozen in summer, 1925 (prior to last tariff) to69s. in summer, 1926; other reductions from 84s. to 73s. and from 120s. to 108s.
Concession Railway Fares for Public Servants
– On the 23rd November, 1927, the honorable member for Lang (Sir Elliot Johnson) asked me the following question -
Whether, in view of the isolation of several public servants and their families, who have been transferred from Melbourne to Canberra, he will favorably consider the matter of granting special railway reductions in fares, or giving passes to enable them to rejoin their relatives during the Christmas vacation ?
A somewhat similar question was asked by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) on the 2nd December. To it I am now in a position to furnish the following answer : -
After fullest consideration the Government has decided that such a grant would be unfair to those officers who, by reason of their official duties, are unable to leave Canberra during the forthcoming Christmas vacation. It is further felt that it would be difficult to distinguish between the claims of civil servants transferred to Canberra and those officers whose duties compel them to transfer to other places in the Commonwealth.
– On the 23rd November, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asked the following questions -
I have been in communication with the Commonwealth Statistician in this matter and find that the information desired is not available. The statistician states, however, that in accordance with a resolution of the recent conference of statisticians an effort is being made to collect information of this nature for future years.
Customs and Excise Duties
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 5th December (vide page 2586), on motion by Mr. Pratten -
That duties of custom and duties of excise (vide page 1881), first item (27), be imposed.
.- I am glad to have an opportunity to take part in this debate. I have no intention to stonewall the schedule, but honorable members will agree that the issue before the committee is of very great importance, and is creating and will continue to create a lively interest amongst the general public. The tariff has, of course,a very far reaching effect upon trade and industry. I was interested in the remark of the Leader of the. Opposition that he did not intend to debate the general question at any length, but preferred to proceed with the consideration of the items as quickly as possible. The inference to be drawn from that statement was that so far as the general principle of high protection was concerned, there was nothing to argue about, and anybody who might have the temerity to attemptto argue against it would be hitting his head against a brick wall of accomplished fact, and would be a subject for pity. I am one of those however, who refuse to believe that the fiscal issue has been definitely and finally settled, and I propose to state some reasons for that belief. The intolerance displayed by some protectionists towards others who do not agree with their views is to be deprecated.
– The freetraders are inclined that way, too.
– In that respect we are possibly all sinners to a greater or less extent, but we should give to each other credit for sincerity in expressing our views and endeavouring to interpret the wishes of those who sent us here. I have endeavoured to be consistent, although I have been accused of inconsistency. Amongst those who have made that charge is the Minister for Trade and Customs. On one occasion, in one of his rare flashes of humour, he referred to me as a” dried fruits protectionist.” I regarded that observation with some amusement and no resentment, because it was totally without foundation. The suggestion conveyed by the Minister’s remark was that I had advocated the protection of one industry -
– Which was protected before the honorable member entered this Parliament.
– The industry was established about the year1890, and the duty placed upon dried fruits in the first Federal tariff has remainedunaltered. I invite the Minister to ransack the pages of Hansard for evidence of any advocacy by me of an increase in the duties on dried fruits.
– The honorable member has asked for a bounty.
– I have pressed strongly the claims of the industry for a bounty on exports, because the ratio of the exports of dried fruits to total production is greater than in any other industry with the exception of wool. Between 75 and80 per cent. of the dried fruits produced in Australia are exported and have to compete in the world’s markets against the dumped surplus of California and the cheap labour products of the Mediterranean. Uponthe Australian market the industry has enjoyed the benefit of Australian prices; but in return for that privilege it has to pay Australian rates of wages and observe Arbitration Court awards in respect of the full 100 per cent. of its production. I do not object to that; I merely state the reason for my advocacy in season and out of season of a bounty upon exports. The rates of wages and the working hours for ploughing, picking, and every other operation are laid down by the Arbitration Court.
– That applies to other industries also.
– I do not deny that. I am merely giving the reason why I have always fought for justice for the dried fruits industry, but never has my advocacy taken the form of a claim for increased duties on dried fruits whilst denying similar protection to other industries. Tariff schedules, particularly under the regime of the present Minister - to whom personally I bear no ill will, because he at any rate has been consistent; much more so than some of his colleagues in the Cabinet - have followed each otherin monotonous succession, and in such a way that beforeone is debated another is introduced. The result is that to-day we are considering three different schedules. The iron and steel duties imposed in August of last year and operating ever since have never been discussed by Parliament.
– No new duties were imposed on iron and steel.
– A schedule was introduced into this chamber in August of last year which greatly increased the then existing duties upon iron and steel, including’ fencing wire, wire netting, and barbed wire. Those duties became operative immediately, and this is the first opportunity that honorable members have had to discuss them.
– The increases were against foreign countries only, not against Great Britain.
– At the time they were imposed a big strike was in progress in England, and British manufacturers could not compete in the Australian market. The moment they become competitors another schedule is introduced “to raise the duties against them. Some very able speeches have been delivered in the course of this debate, and I listened with particular interest to those of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton), the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore), the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann). Whilst I do not agree with all that was said by the honorable member for Perth, I should like to place on record my opinion that the honorable member made out a very good case from the free trade point of view, and deserves congratulation upon the care he gave to the preparation and delivery of his speech. We have been told continually that Australian industries are languishing, and that more protection is necessary to enable them to return to a condition of prosperity, and tariff schedules, like the poor, seem always to be with us. Some honorable members appear to have a child-like faith in protection as a remedy for all our industrial ills.
– What else can we do?
– There is room for difference of opinion on that point. I remember the speech delivered by Mr. Massey-Greene, the then Minister for Trade and Customs, when introducing the 1920 tariff. In his concluding remarks he spoke most hopefully and eloquently of the industrial future of Australia, following the adoption of the tariff schedule which he had laid on the table. He said : - t ask honorable members to give the tariff the same sort of unbiased consideration, and their assistance in making it as perfect an instrument as possible to accomplish the object we all have in view, namely, the truest welfare of our country. We stand on the threshold of great developments. The door of opportunity is open widely for us. The path beyond lies clear and plain if we have only the courage to tread it and put our country’s interest before other considerations, bending to no influence, yielding to no pressure, and refusing to be diverted one hair’s breadth from our purpose, pressing on in our endeavour to lead our country to the goal of national greatness. If we have only the courage to do this, besides rendering a great service to our country, we shall also buttress that Empire of which we form a part, by building up in this great southern land a nation furnished with all that is needed to make it self-contained and truly great.
He then moved the adoption of the schedule that was to bring about this happy state of affairs.
– There has been a big expansion in industry since then.
– I have quoted the Minister’s opinion in 1920. I now direct attention to what Mr. Charlton said last Friday.
Manufactures were languishing; employees were being dismissed; the prices of shares were falling.
The honorable the Minister, when he introduced this schedule a few weeks ago, expressed the sentiments of his predecessor in 1920. He urged that if Parliament adopted this schedule, a new era of prosperity would be ushered in. I may be pardoned now if I suggest that it was a pity that, when we -were considering the tariff schedule in 1920, some one with the gift of prophecy had not gazed into the crystal bowl and foretold what would be the economic and industrial condition of Australia seven years hence. If some one had done that, what would the world have said?
– That the tariff duties were not high enough.
– The honorable member for Ballarat is perfectly consistent, at all events. What guarantee have we, if we pass this schedule, that it will not be as ineffctive as the schedule passed in 1920 has proved to he ?
– It is not high enough.
– Why not advocate straight-out prohibition of imports?
– That is the proper policy.
– I was about to make the same observation as the honorable member for Wannon. I believe that the only way to protect Australian industries in the manner approved of by most honorable members on the Opposition benches and some supporters of the Government is to prohibit imports. I do not agree with that policy. The other evening the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) suggested that certain honorable members, including the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Theodore) were inconsistent when they complained of high customs receipts.
– What I said was that it was inconsistent for protectionists to make the complaint.
– I think they are perfectly consistent, because in respect of many lines, the tariff is not protective in its incidence, but I object to the tariff because it imposes burdens upon primary industries, and, in my judgment, the duties do not achieve the object desired by the sponsors of this policy. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Charlton) made a significant admission when he said that the imposition of duties benefited and stimulated some industries for a time. Experience has shown that such industries benefit only until other industries come into the circle. The benefits then are no longer enjoyed by one particular industry. This policy of giving cocktails to industry is never likely to be truly effective. The honorable member for Perth last evening said that he and other honorable members do not approve of these additional duties. There have been some sarcastic references in the course of this debate, to party shibboleths. They are not uttered by one side only in politics. On other occasions we have heard the impassioned declaration that it is necessary to protect the White Australia policy from the assaults made upon it by cheap coloured labour of other countries. Now, the demand is to protect Australia from the cheap productions of other countries. Protective duties, we ure told, are necessary to enable our industries to get upon a satisfactory footing. and that eventually mass production and competition will bring prices down to a normal level, so that the duties may be reduced. Has that been our experience? Is it not a fact that those engaged in industry are continually appealing foi’ higher and still higher duties? I feel sure that many members, and certainly the great body of the public outside Parliament, is beginning to ask where is it all going to end ?
– Do not forget that, following increased duties, there have been demands made upon the Arbitration Court for increased wages.
– I decline to associate myself with the honorable member in any attack against the workers of this country.
– That is the main reason for these requests for higher duties.
– The same remark applies to those engaged in primary production.
– Sometimes in a dubious kind of way I ask myself what is the cause of our economic malaise, and I have no hesitation in saying that if asked where my sympathies lie - with organized labour or organized capital - I shall certainly give the benefit of the doubt to the workers of this country.
– The honorable member is not alone in that.
– I am not suggesting that I am. I am merely stating, as clearly as possible, what are my views upon this matter, if ever the workers take a step which, in my judgment, is detrimental to the best interests of the community, 1 hope I shall have the courage to stand up mid say fearlessly that I do not approve of it. Duties aru imposed lir a twofold reason - to increase existing prices or to forestall price reductions.
– Or to secure a market.
– The honorable member’s interjection merely emphasized the point which I have just made. The imposition of duties very often benefits a particular industry. We have to consider whether the benefit that the continual increase in duties con:fers upon some industry is not outweighed ‘by the burden imposed upon
Others. Our present fiscal policy is im- posing upon primary production a burden greater than it can bear. Let me re.peat, although it has been said with almost nauseous reiteration, that the primary producers of this country have to compete in the markets of the world against allcomers. . Our great wheat industry means much to many of our secondary industries, yet the produce of our growers has to compete in the world’s market with wheat grown by black labour in India, by Spanish labour in the Argentine, and by impoverished labour in Russia, and on top of that, they have to pay the highest freights and to buy the highest priced implements in the world.
– Our primary producers are obtaining the best implements in the world.
– They are not paying a higher price for implements than their cousins in New Zealand.
– I certainly think that the. Australian-made implement is the highest quality implement used in this country to-day.
– Most of the inventions in agricultural machinery have originated in this country.
– That is so. The Australian manufacturers have taken to themselves credit for these inventions, and in the Tariff Board’s report upon agricultural implements the statement is made that the manufacturers have provided Australian farmers with implements embodying new inventions that have enabled them to cultivate their land more cheaply that such work is done in other parts of the world. I am not denying that some of these inventions may have originated in the workshops of the Australian implement manufacturers, but I submit that many of them are the products of the brains of the much despised cocky outback.
– We do not despise him.
– I amnot suggesting that you do, but too often he is despised.
– It is generally admitted that the inventions of Australian farmers have been incorporated in American implements.
– The Australian primary producer, notwithstanding the continual increase in duties and in the prices of machinery, is faced with falling prices overseas. Moreover, huge mergers and combinations are taking place, the object of which is international cooperation to bring about a reduction in costs for our competitors.. That is taking place to a greater extent oversea than in Australia, and consequently the difficulties of the Australian primary producer are being increased. In despair a new school of thought has arisen among the primary producers, and it seems to be growing. Its desciples say, “What is the use of our representatives standing up in Parliament, like the boy on the burning deck, and fighting helplessly against an implacable and overwhelming majority which continually imposes higher duties; the only thing for us to do is have a bite at the protectionist apple. “ They want some of the hair of the dog that is biting them. The result has been a demand for duties on Australian primary products, and this is exemplified in the tariff schedule before us, notably by the increased duties upon butter.
– There is a duty on onions, bananas and other primary products.
– Has the honorable member forgotten dried fruits?
– I dealt with dried fruits before the honorable member entered the chamber, but I would inform him that I have never, in this Parliament, advocated higher duties on dried fruits. The primary producers now wish to get into the ring and to play the game with the rest.
– What else can be done?
– I admit that much can be said for that desire of the primary producers. Honorable members who deprecate continual increases in duties, but fail to prevent them, should not be accused of inconsistency when asking for increased duties on products in which they are interested.
– I remember when there was a duty of 3d. per bushel on wheat in New South Wales.
– It does not operate now,
– The position in respect of that duty was certainly ludicrous, because during droughts such as those of 1902 and 1914, when alone it could operate it was taken off. I cannot see an end to the present position. The continual increasing of duties should cease, and it would be better if we called a truce and said, “Leave things as they are; no more tariff increases or reductions.”
– What would then happen ?
– We should at least have stability in industry and know the exact position. The competition between the Tariff Board and the Arbitration Court would cease, and both would be saved a lot of work. The effect of this new policy among producers of getting into the ring, which, failing a reduction in duties, is the only thing that they can do, would be to increase the price of primary products within Australia. That is quite openly the object of the dairymen in asking for an increase in the duty upon butter.
– They are surely entitled to that.
– I am not denying that, if the protectionist policy is to be forced upon them. The result will be an increase in the price of butter and of every other primary product to which this policy applies. There will inevitably be an increase in the cost of living, and the workers of this country will have to accept a lower standard of living or else approach the Arbitration Court for the wherewithal to meet the increased prices. The Arbitration Court, following this practice since its inception, will decide that those engaged in industry, no matter what may be its position, must receive a living wage.
– Does the honorable member think it possible for a man to keep a family on the minimum wage of £45s. a week?
– I have been too long in the ranks of the working classes to endeavour by word or vote to intentionally reduce their standard of living. The unfortunate wage earners of this country have mighty little of this world’s goods.
– That also applies to the dairymen.
– I include among wage earners the primary producers of this country. Should prices of foodstuffs rise, the Arbitration Court will, inevitably and rightly, grant an increase in wages to the workers in industry. The manufacturers will then approach the Tariff Board for increased duties, and additional schedules are introduced into this chamber to enable them to pay the increased wages. We are rapidly approaching a Gilbertian situation. Ultimately the producers as well as the manufacturers will approach the Tariff Board for additional duties upon butter, which, when granted, will increase wages costs and make it more difficult than ever for the dairymen to compete in the markets of the world. Not only have we requests for duties upon primary producers to ensure a living wage to the producer, but there has been and will continue to be an insistent clamour for bounties upon exports. While the present fiscal policy continues I wholeheartedly support the principle of bounties on exports. I have been twitted with supporting a certain policy as a member of the Cabinet and of preaching a different doctrine since then. In justice to myself, I point out that since I resigned my portfolio the Government’s policy has changed. Will the members of the Cabinet deny that statement?
– I do.
– I shall explain to the Minister my views on the fiscal question.
– The honorable gentleman’s views are so continually changing that he does not know what they are.
– I had intended making no reference to the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill) but I shall accept the invitation he has given me. The Minister for Markets and Mi,gration (Mr. Paterson) denies that the Government’s policy has changed since
I left the Government. The policy of the Government of which I was a member was announced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in a speech delivered in 1923, in the course of which he said that the Government advocated the payment of bounties on exports in order to give to exporting primary industries assistance equivalent to that given to our secondary industries.
– That policy still holds good.
– The Minister astounds me. He himself has repudiated that policy.
– That is not correct.
– I shall prove that it is. Some time ago I introduced to the Minister a deputation connected with the dried fruits industry. The deputation urged the Government to grant bounties on exports.
– The deputation asked for more than that.
– The Minister is endeavouring to escape by raising a side issue, but he shall not. escape. It is true that the deputation asked for other things, but those things were entirely irrelevant to the question of bounties. I asked, among other things that the Dried Fruits Advances Act should be liberalized. That had nothing to do with the bounty question. The principal request of the deputation was that the Government should adopt the principle of granting bounties on exports along the lines indicated by the Prime Minister in a speech he delivered in Sydney in 1923. Notwithstanding that the deputation quoted from that speech, the Minister gave an emphatic refusal to its request. He talked at length of what the Government had done for the dried fruits industry; he pointed to the Dried Fruits Export Control Board and what it had accomplished; he spoke of the Dried Fruits Advances Act ; in fact, he spoke of everything but bounties. Eventually I got him back to the main request, and asked him what the Government would do if, after the Export Control Board had reduced costs to the fullest extent possible by securing lower freights and other concessions, producers of dried fruits were still unable to meet the cost of production.
The Minister callously replied, “In that case, they must face the music. “ I ask the Minister to deny that, if he can.
– If the honorable member will permit me.
– No side issues! Will the Minister deny that although the Prime Minister said that the policy of the Government was to grant bounties on exported primary produce in order to place primary industries on the same footing as secondary industries he has repudiated that policy?
– I do deny it.
– Does the Minister de.ny the facts that I have given him? Let me now deal with the Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Hill), who seems to be incapable of anything other than admiring himself. I accuse him of having told untruths to the primary producers of Australia and of circulating misleading and incorrect information among them. Does the Minister deny that?
– I want to know first the statements to which the honorable member refers.
– The honorable gentleman does not deny the accusation. In October or November last he circulated extensively throughout the rural districts of Victoria statements which were misleading and incorrect. I have not the statements with me, because I had no intention of referring to them to-day.
– I shall put the honorable member right if he quotes me wrongly.
– Some of the facts that I shall relate., the Minister surely will not deny. If he does deny them, I shall obtain the full facts and place them before the committee later. In response to a statement made by myself and other members of the Country Progressive, party that the Government had increased duties upon primary products, and that the Minister for Works and Railways and other members of the Country party had violated the platform upon which they were elected, the honorable gentleman issued a statement that the Government had not increased the duties upon one item used by farmers.
– I made a mistake. I should have said that the Government had increased duties, but that the increases were made when the honorable member himself was a member of the Government, and that he had not raised his voice in opposition to the increases. I refer particularly to increased duties on wire netting.
– That is not so.
– It is ; and I shall prove it.
– The honorable gentleman cannot escape in that way. He said that the Government had not increased the duties upon one item used by the farmers. I say that the statement is not only false, but also that the honorable gentleman knew that it was false. He gave figures in support of the. statement which also were false.
– I ask for a withdrawal of that statement. The honorable gentleman says that I not only issued a false statement and quoted false figures, but that I knew they were false.
– I call upon the honorable member to withdraw the statement.
– In deference to your ruling, Sir, and to the form3 of this House, I withdraw it; but I shall proceed to re.late the facts. When honorable members have heard them, they will know how to describe the Minister’s statements. The Minister said that the duties on iron and steel were 10 per cent. Those duties were increased in August last.
– That is not correct.
– The tariff schedule which was introduced in August last increased the duties upon iron and steel.
– Surely the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) is mistaken. The duties on iron and steel, including fencing wire, barbed wire, and wire netting were increased.
– The honorable member is referring to increased dumping duties, imposed at another time.
– It is clear that th.e honorable member misunderstands me. I believe that there were increased duties upon iron and steel in the tariff schedule introduced in August last; but if the honorable member for Newcastle says that that was not so, I shall accept his statement in order to continue this debate.
He will admit, however, that increased duties were imposed by the Government on barbed wire, wire netting, and fencing wire, in August last.
– Not against Great Britain.
– I was not speaking about Great Britain.
– The honorable member is referring to importations from Germany.
– Does the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) deny that those duties were also imposed on goods coming from America.
– Nearly all the wire and wire netting came from Germany.
– I shall not be turned aside from what I set out to say. The Minister for Works and Railways in October or November last, issued a statement that the duties on wire notting, barbed wire, and other articles required by farmers had not been increased by the Government. Y.e.t he was in this chamber when the tariff schedule was introduced in August and he. ‘ heard and understood what was then done. The honorable gentleman says that the statement I made was wrong, and at the same time he admits that he made a mistake; but if he was in error, I could not be wrong. I invited him to justify his figures at a public meeting, and I waited in vain for his acceptance of the invitation. When I received no acceptance of my challenge, I called a meeting at Rochester, in the heart of his electorate. I informed him by letter that I intended to hold the meeting there on a certain date to prove my statement that he had issued false figures to the producers and that he had betrayed the platform on which he was elected. I invited him to defend himself, and I said that an independent chairman could bc selected. He stated in reply, after acknowledging the receipt of my letter, that he was not going to Rochester “ to make a meeting for mc,” and he ended with the words “wishing your meeting the success it deserves, Yours faithfully “. The concluding sentence was a brilliant effort on the part of the Minister. There arc the facts. He said in October that no increase of duty had been imposed on a single item used by the farmer.
– Did the honorable member have a good meeting at Rochester ?
– Yes. I had a meeting such as I deserved, and a unanimous vote of thanks to me was passed. Some caustic remarks were also made about the absence of the Minister. I challenge him to deny that in October or early in November last year, he issued a statement containing figures that were absolutely incorrect.
– I have already explained that by interjection.
– The Minister denied it.
– No. I referred to wire netting; that was the only item.
– I cannot understand what the Minister is talking about. Does he deny that there were increased duties on barbed wire and fencing wire?
– The duties on fencing wire were imposed when the honorable member was a member of the Cabinet, . and he never raised his voice against them.
– I challenge the member to present any tariff schedule that was introduced while I was a member of the Bruce-Page Government. He has plenty of secretaries ; let him set them at work and refute my statement if he can.
We hear much talk about our country, its wonderful climate and its great potentialities. I should be the last to say one ‘derogatory word in regard to my country; but we must deal with facts. Australia, taken by and large, is a land of uncertain seasons. It has a most uncertain rainfall. I am not referring to the low rainfall areas; but even in those districts where the rainfall average i3 comparatively high, it varies considerably. We suffer more than most countries from periodical droughts, which take a heavy toll of our primary industries. We have, in addition, a larger area of low rainfall country - that is, below 10 inches per annum- than any other continent. Geographically, we are further removed than any other country from the world’s markets excepting the sister dominion of New Zealand, which is about the same distance from them. Our transport charges and our production costs are very high. I have dealt with the position of our dried fruit and wheat industries. Our butter producers have to contend against not only fierce competition from Danish butter, but also against a largely increased output, which threatens to become greater, from the Argentine and Russia. Therefore, our primary producers work under severe handicaps.We are sometimes reminded of the “ inefficiency “ of the farmers. It is true that there is inefficiency amongst some of our primary producers; but it is not due entirely to the farmers individually. We hear references, inspired from other quarters, to the deterioration of our fine merino wool. My reply is that, if the overseas buyers are prepared to pay for fine merino wool, the growers are willing to supply it. The industry and initiative of our flockmasters have enabled them to produce the finest wool-clip that the world has ever known, and we challenge competition from the wool-growers of any other country. Peregrinating individuals from overseas talk glibly about the way our fruits are placed on the London market. They forget that as a rule the fruit is in perfect condition when put on board ship in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide; but it often arrives in an unsatisfactory condition, owing, perhaps, to negligence on the part of the ship-owners, to a strike, or to some other circumstance over which the unfortunate producer has no control. Numbers of persons, with no practical knowledge of the dairying industry, frequently tell the dairymen what they should do to improve their conditions. They suggest the more general adoption of herd-testing, and the elimination of the scrub bull; but the great difficulty of the dairymen to-day, is that, owing to the economic position of their industry, they are in an impoverished condition, and are unable to take the steps that they recognize are desirable in order to improve the conditions on their farms. Our wheat-growers are now going farther back into the arid regions where the rainfall is lower, where the railway freights, and the temperatures, too, are higher, and where the seasons arc more uncertain. They are developing the waste spaces of this country under conditions Dot comparable with those of the employees in many of our secondary industries. The story of the development of the mallee areas of Victoria bears out that statement.
– It would not affect honorable members generally.
– No. I rather regard the Minister for Trade and Customs as one who knows not what he does. When he quoted figures relating to agricultural implements, and suggested that their life was fifteen years, he did not know how absurd was his statement.
– The honorable member has not given figures to rebut that statement.
– The economic life of an agricultural implement in the newer mallee areas is not greater than five years.
– What about their average life, taking the State of Victoria as a whole ?
– It is greater, undoubtedly, than five years.
– Often a new invention will render a machine obsolete.
– Yes. It is rather inconsistent to urge the producers to adopt up-to-date methods, and say that their present conditions are due to lack of initiative, and, in the same speech, to suggest that they should use implements that are fifteen years old. Although we hear generous references from time to time to our pioneers, I do not think that honorable members generally fully appreciate the wonderful spirit of the men and women on the land in our pioneering districts. They are Australia’s finest citizens; but their reward is to work longer hours, under worse conditions, and for lower returns than any other section of the community. One cannot speak without emotion of the conditions under which the pioneers in the outback districts live. The wheat-growers are striving, as no other workers are, for efficiency. Never has there been so keen a demand among them as there is to-day for research work and the provision of experimental farms. No wheat-growers in the world are more anxious than the Australian to adopt uptodate methods.
– And no country has, adopted them to such an extent as Australia has.
– I was coming to that point. We hear the “boosting” of the dry farming of America ; but I have no hesitation in saying that the Australian dry farmer is the most efficient dry farmer in the world. Recently I had the privilege of receiving at my experimental farm in the northern mallee between 500 and 600 farmers, some of whom had travelled 100 miles to inspect the* experimental plots in which various types of wheat had been sown, different kinds of fertilizers used, and various methods of cultivation employed. The interest and keenness evinced by these men, many of whom were down and out, was remarkwhom were struggling against adversity, was remarkable. Although many of them had lost everything their enthusiasm had not diminished in the least. The Labour Government in Victoria has been compelled, owing to the conditions prevailing to assist the mallee farmers. Their requests, which have been readily responded to by the Government, have been so wide-spread that it will cost the Government at least £1,000,000 to enable farmers in many parts of Victoria to put in their crops. They have exhibited a magnificent spirit, and their slogan now is “ A record crop for 1928.”
– Notwithstanding adverse conditions more than double the returns are expected in the “Wimmera this year than were obtained in 1902 and 1914, which shows the extent to which improved methods of farming have been adopted. *
– The honorable member is quite correct. Ten or fifteen years ago the present season, which is undoubtedly bad, would have been regarded as a disastrous drought. We should not break the magnificent spirit of these men. Before higher customs duties are imposed, we should make sure that the benefits which they confer upon those engaged in some city industries will not be at the expense of those in the outback country. The continual increase in the cost of production will eventually mean that a large portion of Australia will remain undeveloped. In Central Australia, and particularly in the vicinity of the McDonnell ranges, there are vast areas of some of the finest sheep land in Australia, which is capable of carrying millions of sheep.
– The carrying capacity is low.
– The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) is always ready to show fight when one suggests that that country will carry sheep.
– The honorable member referred to “ millions “ of sheep.
– Yes. As the honorable member has had a wide experience in the pastoral industry, I would not pit my knowledge of the carrying capacity of country against his. If the honorable member says that I am incorrect, I will acknowledge his fitness to judge; but would say that he should have spent more time in travelling east and west of the stock route instead of at 40 knots north and south. Had he done that,- he might have arrived at a different conclusion.
– That would not have made one bit of difference.
– I do not agree with the honorable member. I urge him to visit the McDonnell ranges, to go east and west of the stock route, and to spend a few weeks exploring the country. If he does that, I am sure that with that fairness which characterizes him, he will admit that there is good country in that locality. The point I am making is that millions more sheep can be carried in the out-back country, if not in Central Australia if the price of fencing wire and wire-netting used in development can be kept at a reasonable level. There are alsomillions of acres of land, in what are regarded as the low rainfall areas of Australia, that, can be brought under successful cultivation if costs are kept down. The Australian wheat yield is approximately 150,000,000 bushels a year; but if Australia were fully developed, our wheat production could easily be doubled. The day will come when a great State, such as Western Australia, will alone yield 100,000,000 bushels of wheat, but that will be contingent upon the cost of production being kept reasonably low. Asthe cost of production rises, the area under cultivation must diminish.
– What is the average life of farming implements?
– It depends upon the type of machine, and the circumstances. A good farm wagon would,. with reasonable care, last from 20 to 30 years, but a delicate farming implement such as a reaper and binder, would require a good deal of careful handling to make it last five years. There comes a time, however, when, owing to the introduction of newer types ; or the heavy cost of repairs and replacements, it pays to scrap a machine and buy a new one.
– The average farmer sells his header at about one-half its original cost after three seasons.
– Yes, in order to get the best results, he sells it for what he can get and purchases a new one. I follow that practice.
I wish now to touch briefly upon our overseas indebtedness. Honorable members must admit that our indebtedness overseas must be paid for in exports. In short, Australia cannot look to itself alone. It must trade with other countries, even if the term “ trade “ may refer only to one-way trade. In short, we must send overseas at least £25,000,000 worth of goods over and above the quantity we import. According to statistics, our primary industries export 96 per cent, or 97 per cent, of our present total of exports. In the Tariff Board’s report there appears the following very significant observation -
Little or no export market for secondary manufactured products can bc looked for at present.
The assertion by the Tariff Board is that the economic position in Australia to-day is such that, in the matter of exports, our secondary industries are impotent. Further on the board states -
It is quite obvious that both primary and secondary producers expect to hold their own domestic market against all outsiders. Costs of production are now so heavy in Australia that in order to effect this object, the tariff on primary, and especially secondary, commodities has to be kept high, and if production costs arc not checked, may have to be raised still higher. The result of this condition is that no market other than the domestic is open to the secondary producer. He cannot compete with the outside world, and is confined within the area controlled by the Commonwealth. The primary producer is tending in the same direction, and has been saved from the same actual position, firstly by reason of the application of machinery to his harvesting, and secondly, by the unequalled pastoral advantages possessed by some parts of Australia.
It follows then that the burden of producing for export has been placed upon the primary producer. Why? It has been said there are unlimited markets for our products overseas. So there are, at a price. It is equally true that there are unlimited markets overseas for our secondary products at the same price - world’s parity. There is an unlimited demand- overseas for Australian boots, knitted goods, blankets and other commodities. A continuance of the present system must inevitably mean not only an Austraiian price for Australian products consumed in Australia, but a bounty upon primary products exported - a bounty that will provide the primary producers the same standard of living enjoyed by other sections of the community. In my opinion, that is inevitable. Before we reach that point, we should have an expression of opinion from Parliament on the question of whether we should go forward or retrace our steps. In an endeavour to obtain an expression of opinion from the committee, I move -
That the first item be amended by inserting after “12s.” (British Preferential Tariff column) the words - “ ; and on and after 7th December, 1927, 10s.”.
As an indication to the Government that the committee is of the opinion that continual increase of customs duties is inimical to the future development of Australian primary industries, and an instruction to it to institute forthwith a policy of gradual reduction in duties upon the staple necessities and tools of trade used in primary and secondary production. I wish to say, in conclusion, that it is extraordinary that in a country such as Australia there is no political party represented in this Parliament which definitely supports a low tariff policy. In the United States of America the people have at least an opportunity to decide between high or low duties as a major political issue. In my opinion the day is not far distant when the question of high or low duties will once more become a major political issue in this Parliament.
Sitting suspended, from 12.^5 to 2.15 p.m.
– It is not my desire that the range of the discussion upon this item should be in any way limited. May
I inquire of you, Mr. Chairman, whether the moving of the amendment will have that effect.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).The practice in committee, when an amendment has been moved, has always been to allow discussion on both the original question and the amendment. No limitation will, therefore, be placed upon any honorable member in this discussion because of the fact that the honorable member for Wimmera has moved an amendment.
In approaching the consideration of the schedule that has been tabled by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratton), I wish to express the view, that I know is shared by many other honorable members, that Australia has arrived at what is perhaps the most important period of its history and that, on account of the dislocation of trade in the world to-day, there should be a general revision of our tariff. I can understand some honorable members who represent the primary producers of this country regarding the schedule with horror; but on the other hand there are many ofus who represent different interests, and feel that adequate protection is not being given to our secondary industries. My friend the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) in his very candid and outspoken speech voiced the opinion that the continuous piling on of duties would lead to chaos in the near future. I appreciate the reasoning that underlies his train of thought; but may I be permitted to remind him and other honorable members who view the matter in a similar light that tariff revision in the direction of either increasing or lowering duties must necessarily be a never-ending profess, and one that is dictated by the exigencies of trade. All those nations which have adopted systems of protection have long since recognized that fact. It was recognized in this Parliament; hence the appointment of the Tariff Board. That board was appointed at the instigation, not of the protectionists in the Parliament of Australia, but of those who held other opinions. When it had operated for a number of years the further demand was made that one of its members should be a representative of the primary producers. Therefore, it cannot be said that the gentlemen who occupy positions on that board are in any sense partisans in the conflict of opinion which occurs in relation to the relative merits of free- trade and protection. I do them that honour, even though their recommendations withrespect to the particular industries’ that I represent have not always afforded me pleasure. It ill becomes any honorable member to blame these men, when the blame really lies at the door ofthe governments to which they have presented their reports. They were appointed to study the varying conditions of industry, and to review the conditions of trade. Because of ever changing conditions, a tariff that is adequate to-day may be entirely inadequate in three or four years time. The task with which we are at present confronted necessitates our deciding whether we shall conserve the interests of Australia or become once again a Crown Colony and patronize the industries of other nations. I range myself alongside those who are prepared to stand up and say that those industries which we have established in Australia shall not be submerged by thefierce competition in trade that is raging throughout the world to-day; that we can produce and manufacture everything that is required by the human family; and that we have a perfect right to go ahead with that work and ought not to throw out of employment thousands of our own people by purchasing our requirements from other nations.
I purpose dealing with one or two of the items in this schedule. I have no wish to be disrespectful of the Ministry; but it cannot be denied that the inclusion of the different items in the schedule is the result of Cabinet decisions and not the work of only one Minister. The Minister for Tradeand Customs has my fullest sympathy. It is well known that, in politics as in everything else, oil and water will not mix. A uniformly protectionist tariff cannot be expected from a Ministry which is comprised of gentlemen who hold widely divergent fiscal views. I wish the Minister clearly to understand, therefore, that any criticism of mine will be directed against not him, but the schedule itself, which embodies the combined views of theMinistry of which he is a member. I agree with those who say that the reports which are submitted by the Tariff Board should be made available to honorable members much sooner, so that they may have the opportunity to study them before they are asked to discuss the items concerned.
I wish first to direct attention to the report of the Board respecting iron and steel, which was tabled only last Friday, although it was completed as far back as last July. These reports are submitted for the guidance of honorable members as well as the Minister. Although we would not wish to see them before the Minister had had an opportunity to study them, and the Ministry had formed an opinion on the recommendations, we ought to have the privilege of perusing them at an earlier stage than is now permitted.
– I trust that the honorable member does- not overlook the fact that the premature presentation of the Tariff Board’s reports might have an effect upon the revenue.
– I admit that it would not be wise to make known the directions in which it was proposed to revise the tariff. There are, however, some reports which could be made available at an earlier date.
The present schedule provides that in respect of certain industries the duties shall be deferred. The factories in question have, I suppose, the most up-to-date machinery of its kind that can be procured, and as they are in a position to produce the goods I fail to see why the duties should not operate immediately. They have to face competition not so much from Great Britain as from countries that employ cheap labour. One firm has gone into liquidation and closed down its works ; and a complaint regarding this competition has been made to us also by a firm which has its works in Victoria. Much has been said about the profits made by Australian manufacturers. God. forbid that they should not mn.ke profits! God forbid that they do not leave it to people outside Australia to make them! Is it not better to afford protection to our own people, who use their profits to extend their factories, than to offer our trade to overseas firms which distribute their profits amongst their shareholders? In many cases in which the charge has been made that Australian manufacturers have earned profits - they could not very well keep going if they did not make a profit - I have proved that those profits have not been distributed in dividends, but have been devoted to the extension of factories and the development of industry. People who do this ought to be commended instead of condemned for what they have done. One firm that comes under this category is Bond & Co. Ltd. Its factory is most uptodate, and it is deserving of all the protection that we can give it to enable it to hold its own with its overseas competitors. It is all very well for the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) to claim that the present Government was returned at the last election pledged to reduce the tariff. It was returned on the promise that it would look after the secondary industries, and particularly those which were established during the currency of the war, relying ou the promise of the then government that they would be afforded reasonable protection.
I do not think that the timber duties proposed in the schedule are at all adequate. Surprising as it may seem to some honorable members, it was my lot at one time to work for three years on the hardwoods of this country, and I was reared in hardwood timber country. The proposed duty on Oregon will not help the timber workers of Australia. Timber duties should be classified according to the various stages of preparation for use. For instance, dressed timber is a stronger competitor with Australian timbers than is Oregon in the rough. I hope, therefore, that the schedule will be so re-arranged that no further saw mills will need, to be closed down. Indeed, I hope that the rearrangement I suggest will lead to the re-opening of many mills. When J was passing through Canada in 1916 I visited some friends, and the first thing I noticed was that the floor of their home was of Australian hardwood. They told me that they would not think of using their own pine for flooring because it was not suitable, and that they preferred Australian hardwood for the purpose. Yet throughout Australia we find cottages floored with imported pine. Many Australians, I regret to say, have not enough faith in their own products.
– Was the hardwood which the honorable member saw in the Canadian home imported from Australia ?
– Yes. I think a good trade could be worked -up by my Tasmanian friends in that direction. I mention this incident to show how others value our hardwoods.
The big basic steel industry seems to be the point of attack every time a tariff schedule is introduced. I do not object to our freetrade friends expressing their views, because we know where they stand, and in that respect we would rather have them than medium protectionists; but I regret that the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) in his very excellent speech from the Cobden viewpoint, should have gone out of his way to infer that our big steel industry has only second rate machinery ! I challenge the honorable member to name the expert who gave him that misleading information. If the honorable member will visit this so-called second rate plant - poor as I am, he can do it at my expense - he will find it the most complete and up to date in the world to-day. It ill becomes honorable members to misrepresent the facts, and try to damage an Australian industry by the use of propaganda so freely indulged in by those who argue in favour of freetrade.
– I think that every one admits that the Broken Hill Proprietary has a most efficient plant.
– Then why did the honorable member for Perth say what he did?
– I think he was talking of our plants generally and not particularly of the Broken Hill Proprietary plant. However, he can speak for himsclf.
– On several occasions I have corrected a statement which the’ honorable member himself has made, both here and in Melbourne, and I wonder why he keeps repeating it. He has told us that he received a letter from Queensland-
– It was from a pastoralists’ supplier who was refused supplies.
– The honorable member said that Rylands, who draw wire at Newcastle, withdrew their agency from this man.
– No, they refused to supply him. I have Rylands’ own letter to prove that.
– It is the same thing. This man had their agency.
– No. He had no agency. He was one of the combine which withdrew from the agency.
– I know of no combine. What would be thought of the honorable member if half a dozen drawers of« wire, some of them manufacturing overseas a.nd one an Australian, entrusted the selling of their wire to him, and he advertised the imported brands, for which he gave a guarantee, and at the bottom of his advertisement put, “ We have some Australian wire which we cannot recommend ?”
– Was that done by the man referred to by the honorable member for Swan?
– Yes. I have contradicted the honorable member’s assertion time and time again.
– Has the honorable member seen that advertisement?
– Rylands have it to this day. Is it any wonder that they refused to supply him with wire. Now that I have put the matter right, I hope that the honorable member for Swan will not repeat his assertion, when, as the years pass, new men come into this Parliament.
– I have another letter from a big storekeeper at Dalby whom they also refused to supply.
– Possibly there is an equally good answer to that assertion. Does it not stand to reason that people who cannot sell the whole of their output will not prevent any one from selling it, except in circumstances such as those I have narrated? Having entered into a contract to sell the Australian article, a merchant should be honest enough to try to sell it.
– It was wire netting he ordered.
– If he inserted in his advertisement the words I have mentioned relating to Australian wire, he would not get supplies of wire netting from me.
– I think his advertisement must have referred to barbed wire.
– It does not matter what it was. If the honorable member had been in Mr. McDougall’s place and I was the other man, would the honorable member supply me with wire netting or anything else if I said that I would not recommend his wire?
– Mr. McDougall should have completed the orders he promised to fulfil.
– The man would not have got another line of wire from me.
– He had a definite promise of a supply within a couple of days, but Rylands would not supply his requirements.
– Promise ! To a man who would not sell it when he got it !
– Does that justify the breaking of a promise?
– Of course it does.
– The honorable member may believe in these combinations and the putting up of prices, but I do not.
– I intend to show that the accusations about combinations and price-raising are more applicable to the importer than to the local manufacturer. The honorable member for Wimmera complained that some ofthese duties impose a hardship upon the primary producers. I could understandhis objection to them if there were any likelihood that the primary producer would be better off if the secondary industries were wiped out ; but we know that the importers keep up the prices of all materials that are not manufactured in Australia. Why are the prices of American oils so high in this country in comparison with the prices charged elsewhere ? Is is not because the American combines can exploit this market without fear of competition?
– What is there to prevent other suppliers from coming on to the market?
– The oil interests are too well organized abroad. Let us consider the relative values of some of these duties. Even a duty of 100 per cent. on a rail or a piano or anything else that has a life of from 40 to 50 years is relatively small when spread over the whole of that period. The honorable member for Perth asked why we did not place a duty on tea, but I remind him that there is a vast difference between a commodity that is consumed at once, and an article which has a long period of effectiveness.
I was pleased to hear the honorable member, for Wimmera, who I believe to be honest in his convictions, say that the Australian farming machinery is infinitely better than anything that is imported. That was the testimony of a practical farmer, and surely if the local article is so superior, it is worth a little more than the imported machinery, although I do not admit that the Australian prices are higher. If the minimum life of some of the lighter machines be five years, the amount of the duty spread over that period is not a very great annual charge on industry.
I agree with the honorable member for Wimmera that the general tariff includes many merely revenue duties that should be removed, but I say, “ Hands off the duties on those industries which are vital to the country, and which give employment to hundreds of thousands of our people.”’ This country is capable of supporting a secondary industrial population as well as a primary producing population. Honorable members talk of rings and combines, but I wonder what would have happened in the war period had the steel works at Newcastle not been in operation? In those dark days the company never raised its prices as the importers did, but at the request of the Government spent money in increasing its plant and increasing its. output.
– The honorable member knows that the company made enormous profits.
– I do not know that; but such profits as the company has made have come mainly from the by-products and not from iron and steel, and have been spent in extending and improving the enterprise, and not in paying dividends.
– What was the actual cash capital paid up, and what is the value of the assets to-day?
– I know that the company borrowed extensively from the parent company in order to develop and maintain these works. Two accountants were appointed by the Tariff Board to investigate the books of the principal iron and steel manufacturers, and the report of the board signed by Messrs. Hudson, Herbert Brooks, Walter Leitch and David Masterson, included this pasage
In conclusion, the Tariff Board desires to express its appreciation of the action of the Comptroller-General of Customs in his responding to the request of the board for the services of two competent officers of the Trade and Customs Department, Mr. W. E. Cooper (New South Wales), and Mr. W. H. Brewer, of Victoria, both certificated accountants, for the very onerous task involved in the examination of the books, financial statements, and cost sheets of the two principal applicant companies, Hoskin’s Iron and Steel Company Limited, and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. The services of both these officers have been invaluable to the Tariff Board since its report and recommendations have been, in the main, determined by costs and wages comparisons.
Subsequent to that report the Minister, I suppose to satisfy the mixed fiscal following of the Government, appointed two highly competent accountants to investigate further the finances of the industry. This duplication of a portion of the Tariff Board’s’ inquiry was unprecedented, and was equivalent to a vote of censure upon the board, and the two accountants who first investigated the matter. In the face of a slight like that I sometimes w’onder why the members of the board continue in office. In 1921 I warned the committee that if the increased duties sought at that time were not conceded, the iron and steel works at Newcastle would close down.
– The Tariff Board’s recommendation was made last year. Since then the Piddington award of 44 hours has been given. Suppose the Tariff Board’s recommendation be adopted, what will be the next development?
– The honorable member is ever ready to blame the labour conditions for any failure of the Australian secondary industries. At the same time, he and his fellow freetraders deny that they want to lower the standards of living and working conditions. I assure the honorable member for Swan that more failures and financial waste are due to the blunders of experts brought from the other side of the world to establish new plants than can be charged against the Australian workers. In any case, our conditions of living and wages standards are fixed, and it is too late to attempt to lower them. In many of the industries piece-work is in operation, and the men are paid according to their output. It is admitted that not only are the steel works most efficiently managed, the heads of departments having been trained by experts from abroad, but they have the most competent workmen in the world, according to the frequent testimony of American ironmasters. I often wonder why somehonorable members are continually attacking industries that are Australian throughout - manned and managed by Australians. It is a crying shame that enterprises of this description should be so defamed. During the war the Broken Hill Proprietary Company saved this country £2,000,000 in the ‘cost of rails and fishplates. At that time it could have increased its prices to the level of those charged by the importers. Had it done so, it would to-day have been in a sound financial position, and able to shut down its works without suffering much inconvenience. It is because that company treated Australia fairly, and did not increase its prices, that it is suffering to-day because, of overseas competition and lack of sufficient tariff protection. ‘ This company every year sends one of its experts abroad to ascertain .what improvements have been made in steel production. It is continually striving towards efficiency to enable it to compete in the world’s markets, even without the aid of increased duties. The company attempted to do that when it was first established, and it was only when it failed to do so, that it, like other firms, sought a measure of tariff protection. I turn now to the steel and iron industry of Great Britain. In the early days I was one of those who wished to give Great Britain the advantage of a preferential tariff, but after it was given and had been in operation for some time, I found that the English iron and steel traders were not patriotic enough to patronize the British blast furnaces. They bought material from the Continent, principally from Germany, and under the preferential tariff, supplied Australian requirements at prices calculated to kill the industry here. In 1913 England imported from Germany, Belgium, Prance and other countries, 1,059,466 tons of billets, sheet iron, iron bars and sections. In 1924 those imports bad increased to 1,337,433 tons. In 1913 the total number of furnaces in “Great Britain was 482; in March, 1924, it was 194; and in March, 1925, 169. Our preference to Great Britain, while it was intended to benefit the artisans and workers of that country, is actually benefiting those of foreign countries. We have shut the front door against foreign competition, but we have left the back door open, and some of the English traders in iron and steel are taking advantage of that by purchasing materials from Germany, and sending them to Australia as British manufactures. These traders are juggling with the preference that we have given to Great Britain, and the benefit is being obtained by Germany, a country that was at the throat of the Empire nearly ten years ago. We should consider the tariff from an Australian point of view. It is recognized that Australians can take their place in any sphere of activity as the equal, if not the superior, of the people of other nations. “We should therefore give them confidence in their country by protecting our industries and employing our own people. The duties under this schedule, on iron and steel imports, are lower than those recommended by the Tariff Board last year as being necessary in order to keep the Australian industry in operation ; yet competition is keener to-day. Taking the total output of the iron and steel industry of Australia, the protection under this schedule amounts to about 16.3 ad “valorem.
– On bar iron it is much more than that.
– I am taking the whole of the output in relation to the duties under the schedule.
– Plus the bounties ?
– This company acccepted the bounty on -wire, but not that on iron and steel. Every honorable member admits that this is a key industry.
– It is a foundation industry.
– There is no great nation to-day that has not its basic iron and steel industry. It is spoken of in the hour of danger as our national safeguard, and proved to be so during the war. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company at that time did not increase its prices, while the importers of galvanized iron made the community pay through the nose by charging £80 a ton for it. We admire the timber work and furnishings in this National Parliament because it is of Australian manufacture. The floor of the King’s Hall is constructed of jarrah from Western Australia. . The timbers of every State are used in the buildings, but if the walls were uncovered, there would be found little or no Australian ironwork in them. In other buildings in this Capital City there is to be found Australian timbers. I want to impress it upon the Minister that the tariff schedule will not enable the works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company to continue in operation. Thousands of workmen are employed by this company, Hoskins and other firms. I suppose that the number of employees throughout the industry would be from 40,000 to 50,000, and they would suffer severely if they were out of employment for any length of time. I ask the Minister to accept the recommendations of the Tariff Board, which were made only after full inquiry, and thus keep the wheels of industry in motion and prevent many thousands of people from starving. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company has already closed one furnace, and it is anticipated that another will be closed before Christmas, because of the keen competition from abroad. Little or no assistance is given to the firms engaged in the iron and steel industry when they tender for the requirements of government institutions such as railways and tramways. Preference is given to oversea firms, even although their tenders are high. Our municipal and governmental authorities should realize the necessity for encouraging local industry, and that these firms are quite capable of supplying, at prices comparable with. oversea prices, manufactures such as iron and steel rails, girders and channels. The engineering firms in the industry have been protected time and time again and if that is the recognized policy of this country, surely its policy should also be to protect the industry which is the basic industry. Considering the heavy expenditure entailed by the carrying on of this basic industry and its national importance, I hope that Ministers will yet realize that it is not too late to nave it. I trust that they will remember the warning that I uttered in 1921, and take action now to prevent the closing of the works and the throwing of thousands of men out of employment. I leave the matter for the present, hoping that when I submit an amendment, the committee will seize the opportunity of doing justice to this great industry.
.- In common with the majority of honorable members, I am anxious to reach the items of the tariff, so that we can deal with each on its merits. I do not intend to discuss at any great length the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth, because it is unnecessary to defend it. A few honorable members say that our policy of protecting secondary industries is wrong, and one, at least, goes so far as to proclaim himself an absolute freetrader. He is backed by others who, while perhaps they do not openly declare themselves freetraders, show by their utterances in this debate that they virtually are so. Australia is so definitely committed to protection that it cannot go back on that policy to-day. I have in mind certain honorable members who affect to be the sole representatives of “the primary producers. They speak almost entirely for those engaged in the growing of wheat and wool; but there are others engaged in agricultural industries, who do not agree that the policy of protecting secondary industries is detrimental to the interests of the primary producers. Some honorable members, when speaking of the agricultural industries, have in mind only wheat. I admit that that is the greatest of those industries. We export wheat to a value greater than that of any other agricultural products; but we have other primary producers, such as those who grow onions and potatoes and other food of the people. Those employed in our great secondary industries largely assist in consuming the products of our primary industries. One notices in this discussion, and in the debate that we had about a week ago, great difference of opinion as to the attitude of the Government itself towards the policy of protection. I am not in a position to say precisely what are the fiscal views of individual members of the Cabinet. I know that members of the Country party who are now Ministers, are not all freetraders, judging by the expressions of opinion to which they gave utterance when we discussed the main tariff in 1921. Some of them, at any rate, have not changed their views. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson), for instance, has not been inconsistent, although he has been accused of going back on his fiscal beliefs. Most honorable members will recollect that he moved, in 1921, that the duty on onions should be increased from ls. 6d. to 6s. a cwt. What is more, he was successful in having the amendment made. I think that the Postmaster-General is a protectionist to-day ;_ but his present attitude can hardly be considered to be inconsistent with his action’ six years ago. While certain honorable members criticize individual Ministers and call them freetraders, they accused the Minister for Trade and Customs of being influenced by the members of the Cabinet who belong to the Country party. The honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart), particularly, says that Country party Ministers have changed their views completely; that they were freetraders in 1921, denouncing the Government for its policy of high duties. The honorable member declares that the tariff imposed on agricultural implements, and on primary industries generally at that time, could not be compared with the duties proposed to-day; but the other extreme section, which desires prohibition, blames the Country party members of the Ministry, because, in their opinion, the proposed duties are too low. Evidently, at least one of these extreme sections is in the wrong. In my opinion they are both wrong. I do not stand for freetrade, nor do I support those who say that we must protect Australian industries against importations, no matter to what length we have to go. Extreme views are held by certain sections outside, and their opinions vary according to their own interests or the interests that they represent. In my opinion, an intermediate course is the safe one to pursue in this case., as in many others. Although I claim to be a solid protectionist, I am not prepared to go to extreme lengths in the matter of protecting our industries. Although Australia is a great continent, it could not have achieved greatness if it had been dependent solely upon the production, of wool and wheat. Secondary industries. are essential. We have ample evidence from other parts of the world that Australian industries could not he built up under freetrade. Even if we now considered that we had adopted a wrong policy at the outset - and very few persons think that - we could not go back on the policy chosen. I propose to refer briefly to the imperfections of that policy, and the reasons for them. Inconsistencies in our tariff are unavoidable. One cannot expect perfection; but where we find inconsistencies that result in inequitable treatment of different industries, it is our duty to point them out, and, if possible, to remedy them. In 1921, when we discussed what is now generally referred to as the Massy-Greene tariff, many of us said that if we had to be sure of what was fair and adequate, protection for every industry, we should need reliable information from an outside source, because no honorable member was familiar with the conditions obtaining in all industries. We feared, naturally, that many of those persons who came forward to advise us gave advice from motives of interests. Therefore, we appointed the Tariff Board to assist the Parliament. I supported that proposal, because I recognized that although I knew a good deal about certain industries, and. was quite prepared to rely on my own judgment concerning them, I was not in a position to do justice to every industry, and I wanted an independent outside body to advise me concerning them.
I intend to show how certain industries are adversely affected by the tariff. It seems that it is almost impossible to give them protection. In our efforts to protect a number of industries, we have made, it almost impossible for others to carry on effectively. Take., for instance, the mining industry. That is my chief concern when considering ‘ my attitude towards protection. I think that that industry has been affected more adversely the.n any other by that policy. We cannot assist mining except to a very small degree, by giving protection, because the bulk of our minerals are exported overseas; but we hope to give a measure of protection to that industry by building up a great industrial population. It is hard at present for certain sections of the mining industry to carry on profitably. In my division the mining and agricultural industries are fairly divided, and, of course, the ordinary commercial activities which go hand in hand with them are also operating. On the west coast of Tasmania we have the Mount Lyell mine, which the Tariff Board in its report on the proposal to provide a bounty for the production of copper stated was as up-to-date in its methods as any copper mine in the world. But in spite of this efficiency the directors of the mine are finding it extremely difficult to maintain mining operations. The Tariff Board reported against the payment of a bounty on copper. I do not intend to discuss that matter at length at the moment, nor shall I say that I favour bounties generally as a substitute for our protective policy ; but it must surely be apparent that if industries which are being efficiently conducted cannot carry on their operations profitably because of the ill-effects of legislation, which we have passed, something will have to be done to assist them. In many places copper mining has altogether ceased. I do not propose at the moment to discuss ways and means of assisting this industry, but I draw attention to its plight.
The saw-milling and timber industry generally in Australia is also being’ carried on under extreme difficulties, because such measures as the Navigation Act and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act have made it necessary to impose high duties to protect other Australian industries. In my opinion the timber industry has an overwhelming claim for protection. It has made out what I consider to be a far stronger case than many industries which have received protection, but yet very little has been done for it. I do not desire to criticize the Tariff Board. I believe the members of it to be honorable men, who endeavour to deal with the matters placed .before them in an unbiased way; but I must say that I was disappointed at the nature of the report which they submitted on the timber industry. It appears to me that they are unduly influenced by the importance of the industries which are established in the great centres of population. I shall have another opportunity to deal with this subject, but I feel obliged to refer briefly to the proposed increased duty on
Oregon, and the slight increases in the duties on dressed timbers. I have read the report of the Tariff Board in respect to these items very carefully, and more than once; but I have failed to discover a basis on which the proposals before us can be justified. The board has admitted, to some extent, the justice of the claims of this industry for protection, but has not granted it. The following paragraph appears in its report on this subject on the 23rd November, 1927 : -
In the Tariff Board’s original report of 2nd September, 1925, reference was made to the fact that each of the States of the Commonwealth was differently situated as regards the timber industry, and as the position in this respect has not changed, it is not proposed to traverse what has already been stated in this connexion. By reason of these varying conditions it is obviously not possible to provide, by means of the tariff, a measure of assistance that would be acceptable to or meet the needs of each of the respective States.
I admit that to be true; but it also applies to other industries. It is difficult to provide a measure of protection m which will apply equitably to an industry which is carried on in different States. The report proceeds as follows : -
Although the chief witness for the applicants, when presenting the schedule of requests, stated that such schedule had been adopted unanimously by representatives of the hardwood saw-milling industry in Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania, and also a. section of the industry in Queensland and Western Australia, it appears to the Tariff Board that the schedule has been based upon what is regarded by those by whom it was formulated as being the measure of protection necessary for the industry as carried on in Tasmania. The State last-named, owing to its geographic position and the fact that most of the timber produced there has to find a market on the mainland, is operating under the most disadvantageous conditions of all the States. It was stated in evidence that the Tasmanian saw-millers could not compete in the mainland markets, under existing conditions.
The schedule which is nowT before us provides a reasonable increase in the duty on Oregon. The Tariff Board, pointed out that oregon is sawn in some mills in Victoria, which however, are engaged almost exclusively in cutting scantlings to compete with imported Oregon. As a matter of fact the extra duty on this item will be of very little use to the saw-millers in Tasmania, for the freights between Tasmania and the mainland are almost double those between the Baltic and Australian ports,, which means that it is not profitable for the Tasmanian millers to send scantlings, which are really their offcuts, across to the mainland. They can only profitably market there the high-grade board timber which they produce. The Navigation Act and the Arbitration and Conciliation Act are chiefly responsible for high freights.
– How is it that orego’n is used on so many buildings in Hobart?
– I suggest that the honorable member should inquire from those responsible f on using ‘it. What the Tasmanian saw-millers require is a good deal more protection in respect of dressed timbers from the Baltic as well as Manchurian oak and maple. I offer no objection to the added protection granted to those who are concerned principally with Oregon, hut the timber industry of Tasmania is at a a greater disadvantage than that of any other State, and it is entitled to more consideration than it has received. 1 submit that the proposals in this schedule in regard to timbers are inconsistent and inequitable. Even the added duty on
Oregon is unlikely to achieve its object, for such timber as spruce^ hemlock, and other softwoods will probably be imported to displace Oregon.
The Items 291 f, q, and h, timber undressed, create a serious anomaly by which dressed timber is admitted at a lower duty than undressed timber of the same dimensions. The proposal under Item 291 f is to increase the duty on timber undressed, “ 12 in. x 6 in., or its equivalent, and over,” to 8s. 8s., and 8s. per 100 super, feet; but under Item 291 i, “ dressed timber, n.e.i.,” is admitted at the. following rates - 6s., 7s. 6d., and 8s. 6d. The new proposal under Item 291 q is to increase the duty on undressed timber “ 17 in. x 2-J in., or its equivalent, and over,” as follows: - 9s. 6d., 9s. 6d., &nd* 9s. 6d. ; but timber of the same size may be brought in dressed at a duty of «s., 7s. 6d., and 8s. 6d. under Item 291 c. The new proposal under Item 291 h is to increase the duty on such undressed timber, “ 17 in. x 2^ in., or its equivalent, less than,” to the following rates: - Ils., Ils., and Ils.; but if timber of the same size is imported in a dressed state it is admitted at a duty of 6s., 7s. 6d., and 8s. 6d. under Item 291 l. In view of this very serious anomaly I trust the Minister will take the necessary action to introduce an item covering dressed timber, n.e.i., with a duty of 15s., 15s., and 16s. per 100 super, feet. It has been said during this debate that private members will not be permitted to move for an increase in the rate of duties on any item. No doubt, **Mr. Bayley, you will be called upon to give a ruling on the point. I remember quite well that when the Tariff of 1921 was introduced the late Mr. Chanter, who was then Chairman of Committees, allowed the present PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson), who was then private member for Corangamite, to move for an increase in the rate of an item. I intend to use some means to test the feeling of the committee as to rates on timbers, by moving for the insertion of certain items that are obviously necessary if we are to preserve consistency in our rates of duties. If proposals are decided by the vote of the committee, I feel confident that the schedule, when finally passed, will be more reasonable and acceptable than it is at present. My principal reason in rising was to refer to these anomalies and inconsistencies in our tariff.
– What about potatoes ?
– I shall not deal with that item at present. There is evidence that the Government is willing to do something to protect our primary industries wherever possible. In the main I have no objection to the schedule, and I do not wish it to be thought that I am pleading the cause of those engaged in primary industries in Tasmania only. 1 have merely drawn attention to the adverse conditions under which certain industries are carried on in Australia, and have pointed out that they are to receive nothing at all under these proposals.
I have heard a lot of complaints about the protection that is afforded to the iron and steel industry.”! have always thought that that industry has received very good treatment. I admit that it is one of our greatest industries, and one that we should maintain practically at all costs. We cannot allow it to succumb to overseas competition. There are certain phases of protection for that industry of which I desire an” explanation - for instance the proposed increase of duty on wire netting. Wire and wire netting are used freely by those who are engaged in developing the outback parts of Australia, and they are indispensable commodities. In 1922 this chamber passed legislation admitting wire netting free to the Commonwealth, and providing a bounty to encourage the industry. In view of that, I wish to know how we can provide a tariff duty upon wire netting which Parliament has deliberately legislated to make free. Are those . engaged in the industry to have . the benefit of a substantial bounty, and protection superimposed on that bounty ? I -have not been able to understand the justness of the proposal. However, that may be discussed when we deal with the item itself. Honorable members may say that I have dealt only with the industry in which I am interested. That is incorrect. The people whom I represent are interested in many industries, and I personally am interested in agriculture. I have merely drawn attention to a proposal which I think is inadequate, and upon which I am unable to understand the decision of the Tariff Board and the Minister.
.- I heartily agree with the desire of honorable members to get to grips with the schedule as early as is practicable. I represent a constituency which has large manufacturing interests. It is the boast of some large stores that they can supply anything from a needle to an anchor. The industries in my constituency can supply practically anything from a bolt to a giant Pacific railway engine. When I refer toFootscray and its surroundings, honorable members will agree that I am speaking of what may be termed the Australian Birmingham, and thatI could very well prefer numerous requests for assistance to be given to those industries under our tariff schedule. I trust that the Minister will listen to the representations which I shall make later, when the individual items are being considered. The Minister laid down three bases as the foundation of the schedule now being introduced. They are -
I am not going to re-open theold controversy of protection versus freetrade, I believe that the battle was fought and won many years ago. Protection has won the day in every fight, whether on the floor of this chamber, in the State Houses prior to federation, or in the constituencies. One has only to analyze the composition of the personnel of this chamber to realize that protection is the established policy of Australia, and in adopting that policy, we are merely following the lead of great countries and advocates. I instance such men as the late Joseph Chamberlain, of Great Britain ; Hamilton, McKinley, and President Coolidge, of the United States of America ; Bismarck, of Germany ; and Kingston and Deakin, of Australia. That is an array of famous names of men who are universally acknowledged as eminent statesmen. All of them advocated the policy of protection, and brought it to a successful issue. One need only instance the remarkable progress of the United States of America and Germany to remind honorable members of what protection has done for those two countries. I have some complaint against those honorable members who are continually decrying the protective policy of Australia. Unfortunately, when such people indulge in criticism of that kind, they broadcast suggestions and inferences that are not complimentary either to Australian manufacturers or workmen. Our manufacturers can defend themselves. Our workmen are the equal, and probably the superiors, of any other workmen in the world.
I am not sure whether the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) are members of the Town and Country Union, but that union is adopting methods that are detrimental to Australian industries. Not very long ago there arrived at Port Melbourne a Dutch ship which contained a considerable quantity of goods manufactured in European countries, and samples of other goods which those countries were prepared to manufacture if they were successful in establishing a market in Australia. Members of the Town and Country Union were strong in their advocacy of the merits of those foreign goods, and induced our merchants to inspect them, and also a number of people to visit the ship. I shall quote from a book which was issued by the editor of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, George Cockerill, at one time editor or assistant editor of the Melbourne Age. The title of the book is Building the Commonwealth. Some honorable members would have us believe that because Great Britain is a freetrade country, it is free of those combines and organizations operating to the detriment of the public which are said to flourish in the United States of America under a policy of protection, but Mr. Cockerill says -
Trusts and monopolies exist under freetrade as well as under protection. In 1900 it was reported that there were 20,000 trusts and semi-trusts in Great Britain, and that by 1913, the number had increased to upwards of 50,000. J. Calvin Brown makes himself responsible for the statement that before the war, 250 members of the Cobden, or Freetrade Club, in England, were domiciled in foreign countries, and 60 of them, were foreigners domiciled in England.
I do not know whether the Town and Country Union is similarly constituted.
– What does the Town and Country Union represent?
– The title of the organization would suggest that its members are men interested in the advance of towns and country districts in Australia, but its operations are always directed to the furtherance of foreign trade. A concern of this character should be viewed with considerable suspicion. Who provides the money for circularizing members of this Parliament? Who are the financiers who are backing the movement? One member of the Union is an ex-member of the Victorian Legislative Council -
– And he said that there were members of this Parliament who could be bought.
– Yes. When members are invited to inspect foreign goods on a foreign ship manned by foreigners we are justified in assuming that money is coming from other parte of the world to keep this organization going. I do not know whether foreigners are members of the Town and Country Union, as they are of the Cobden Club, but some men who call themselves Australians are acting for the foreigner. We should set our face against this organization, and advise the people not to allow the foreigner to gain any footing. I sometimes read the circulars which the union sends to me, and invariably the effect of them is to defame Australian industries and workmen, and advocate the purchase of foreign goods. In a protectionist country we should stop that sort of practice.
I wish to deal briefly with the declaration of the Minister in regard to the preferential trade with Great Britain. The members of the Labour party stand first and always for Australian industry; if after we have satisfied Australian claims, there is an opportunity to show consideration to others, we are prepared to grant preferential treatment to Great Britain and the other dominions. I think, however, that some of the preferences granted to Great Britain have been detrimental to Australian manufacturers. The Minister said that the preferential policy is governed always by the condition that the interests of Australia are conserved. I do not believe Australia’s interests are conserved’. Some honorable members say that we should not only allow the British manufacturer a free field, but that we should throw down our tariff walls and let the foreigner exploit the country. In this regard it is well to remind honorable members of a little past history. Mr. Kingston, when Minister for Trade and Customs, suspected that some of the big English exporters were guilty of malpractices, but he refrained from taking stringent action. Mr. Tudor, however, upon assuming control of the Customs Department, sent some of the ablest men in the department - men who could write and speak various languages - to different parts of the world to investigate the conditions under which manufacturers and exporters were sending goods to Australia. At first many of the firms refused to give those officers access to their books so that they might compare home market prices with invoice prices; but upon the officers threatening to report to the Minister, who would probably ask Parliament to take steps to check the malpractices, the books were made available. An examination of them disclosed that through under-valuation of goods the Commonwealth was being defrauded to the extent of nearly £1,000,000 a year. Foreign goods also were being sent to Australia under the preferential tariff. That practice hascontinued, and the present Minister has been forced to stipulate that goods to be eligible for admission under the British preferential tariff must contain at least 75 per cent. of British workmanship and material. Even that provision is being evaded by all sorts of devices. We read that even Britain’s own ships are not being built in British yards, and that its requirements of iron and steel are not coming from British furnaces. Materials of all kinds are being imported from Germany, Belgium and other countries where production costs are low; and British workmen are being thrown out of work. That system has been in operation in the United Kingdom ever since the war, and possibly was during the war. The Armistice was signed on the 11th November, 1918, and I have heard it stated on good authority that six weeks later German Christmas toys in large quantities were being sold in London. The following quotation from the DailyGuardian indicates how soon the Englishman has forgotten the lessons taught by the war -
London’s “ little season “ is in the grip of a craze for all things German - beauty, waiters, authors, music, and fashions.
Slim, flaxen-haired Gretchens, headed by Fraulein Zimmermann, winner of the Central European beauty prize, are packing the West End salons with their mannequin parades, and many of the shops are displaying the newest modes from Berlin.
The German novelist, Feuchtwangler, author of the remarkable book, Jew Suss, is broadcasting literary causeries, and is generally being lionized.
At both the Albert and Queen’s Halls the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is receiving so successful a reception that at every performance the “ house full “ signs are put up.
And the guttural accents of German waiters in West End are mingling with the dreamy cadences of the Viennese waltz as in pre-war days.
German songs are the vogue on the concert platform, and the bands in the parks play excerpts from German operas.
At dances the Charleston and Blackbottom are rapidly being ousted by the German waltz.
No one will deny Germany’s pre-eminence in music and other arts, but I have quoted that paragraph as evidence of how the British people are seized with a craze for everything German. I have no doubt that many of the goods that are admitted into the Commonwealth under the British preferential duties were manufactured in foreign countries. That is one reason why I object to granting preference to the United Kingdom. The Minister should carefully investigate the operation of the preferential system in order to prevent further abuse of it. But for the sitting of Parliament, I would be tomorrow at Footscray, in my own electorate, at the invitation of Sir Henry Cowan, who, as the representative of a big British firm, has established a branch factory in this country. I would be glad to be there to commend that firm for its enterprise. This is only one of many evidences of the benefits of the tariff. I can safely say that, owing to the increase of duties, there are now in operation in Australia 50 branches of British manufacturing firms which have been encouraged to produce in Australia for the Australian consumer. During the last five or six years, that movement has been very noticeable, but the preferential duties retard it. If British manufacturers invest capital in- Australia and give employment to our people, why should their competitors who remain in the United Kingdom be assisted by preferential duties? That aspect of the preferential system requires investigation by the Minister. During the visit of the Empire Parliamentary Delegation about twelve months ago, I had some interesting talks with Labour members of the House of Commons. Their fiscal faith is not the same as that of their confreres in the Australian Labour movement, and some of them regarded our economic policy as very lop-sided. They said to me. “ In Australia there are vast areas awaiting development? Why not concentrate on primary production and leave the secondary industries to the older manufacturing countries, particularly Britain?” I said to them, “ You are mistaken if you think the Australian people will be content to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for the manufacturers in the other parts of the world. We have vast resources of raw material, and the sentiment of the Australian people is not in favour of continuing the foolish plan of sending raw materials 12,000 miles to Great Britain for manufacture there, and the finished article being shipped back to Australia for sale here. We are more or less the laughing stock of the world. Australia is the greatest wool-producing country in the world, and anything that can be manufactured in the shape of woollen goods should be manufactured here, and the industry protected to such an extent that no loophole is given to foreign imports to enter. We are doing that to a large extent; but if we were doing it to a greater extent there would not be so much unemployment in Australia as there is to-day. For the protection of British manufacturers who come here to establish their industries, we must be careful regarding the kind of preference that we give to the Old Country, because, from the point of view of population, manufactures, and defence, we want more and more of them to come here. We want them to bring their leading hands with them, and to employ Australians in their industries. There are 50 of such firms in Australia to-day. “We are always prepared to welcome British manufacturers here and to give them a fair spin; hut we must guard against giving undue preference to Great Britain. It has been said that there is no international arrangement between European manufacturers ; hut I noticed by the press recently that Lord Ashley, who is interested in manufactures throughout the world, convened a meeting of master minds connected with the various industries of Europe, and they met at his private residence. The interests at that meeting represented the immense total in capital, plant, and goodwill of £6,000,000,000. Upon the press inquiring as to the result. of the meeting, Lord Ashley replied, “ We have, had a very satisfactory meeting indeed.” That gathering had an international effect. There would be no unemployment in Great Britain to-day if it would only stick to its own factories and workmen. Great Britain has to-day 750,000 persons unemployed, and recently had as many as 1^500,000. These men should be at work turning out iron and steel manufactures and building ships; but instead Great Britain is importing a great deal of its requirements from foreign countries. So long as Great Britain continues that policy it is not entitled to preferential treatment under our tariff. It should first look after its own manufactures, keep the home fires burning, keep its own furnaces in operation, and its own men employed. There is a great deal of co-operation between British and European manufacturers. It may be contended that that is necessary to counteract the operations of the great steel trust of the United States of America. I should like to see a general overhaul of our tariff, because conditions have changed during the last, few years. Since the war great organizations have been formed, and capital has been amassed in different countries. Australian industries need all the protection that they can get, and action mustbe taken by the Government, through the customs, to prevent the enormous flow of foreign imports into this country. The iron and steel industry should be sufficiently protected to allow it to give a large measure of employment to our own people. Other industries give employment to thousands and thousands of Australians.
We have made special provision for the sugar industry - we have enacted special legislation and imposed an embargo upon the importation of foreign sugar. That was done in the first place to get rid of Kanaka labour, but our policy to-day is to give the sugar industry absolute and definite protection. Not one ounce of foreign sugar can be imported into Australia to-day. Not only have we placed an embargo on foreign sugar, but we have fixed the price of sugar in Australia.
I am sure even the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) would not care to see the Newcastle Steel Works close down through lack of assistance, and there is only one method of saving it. If we broke down the tariff wall in respect of the steel industry, the European Steel Trust would send their steel here and its operations would soon force the Australian industry to the wall. Thousands of our workmen would then be thrown out of employment. The steel industry is of vast importance to a country like Australia whether in peace or wartime, and, therefore, any steps are justified to preserve it. I should place an embargo on all iron and steel products that can be manufactured in Australia. The industry is just as much entitled to that form of protection as is the sugar industry. .Iron and steel is just as much a primary production as is wheat and wool, because the Broken Hill Proprietary Company obtains its ore for manufacturing purposes from Iron Knob in South Australia. The price of sugar has been fixed in the main distributing centres such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart and Launceston. The price under certain conditions is 4£d. per lb. ; in half ton lots, 4d. per lb. ; and for use in the preservation of fruits, Sid. per lb. No one objects to the protection that is given to the sugar industry, and what applies to sugar, should apply, with certain amendments, to other great key industries of Australia.
Let me refer to glucose, which is dealt with in the schedule. A manufacturer of glucose gave evidence before the Tariff Board to the, effect that to protect the industry from American and Belgian competition, a duty of 6s. a cwt. should be imposed upon the foreign article. The schedule provides for a duty of only 3s. a cwt. The following is a memorandum that has recently come to my hand, and I wish to place it on record so that the Minister may understand why I advocate an increased duty on glucose -
Division III. - Sugar.
The Government’s proposals under Item 27,
Glucose, is to increase the 1921-26 duty under this item from: - 12s., 12s., 12s. per cwt. to 12s., 15s., 15s. or in other words an increase under the intermediate tariff and general tariff of 3s. per cwt. When this matter came before the Tariff Boardfor hearing on the 16th December, 1925 (Melbourne), 15th February, 1926 (Sydney), 18th January, 1926 (Adelaide), and on the 22nd February, 1926, the applicants, Maize Products Proprietary Limited, of Victoria and other States, applied for an increase of 6s. per cwt. It is quite apparent that the Tariff Board in recommending an increase of only 3s. per cwt. did not take into consideration the following salient points, namely: -
I want the primary producers to listen to this because very often, when we are asking for protection for what we call secondary industries, these are industries of vital importance to the primary producers themselves. Every secondary industry is of great importance to the primary producer, but how much more important are those which are using as raw material the actual products of the land. The memorandum continues -
This industry employs a large number of Australian workers and pays in wages approximately £60,000 per annum. A large percentage of the workers are shareholders in the company. During the year ending June 1927, 1,270 tons of glucose was imported. Had the Australian company been in the position to meet this competition, the Australian farmer would have had the advantage of disposing of an additional 106,520 bushels of maize. Maize is protected to the extent of 3s. 6d. per cental, which equals 250 per cent. If the products of maize are not adequately protected the duty on maize is to a great extent annulled.
That is true. The Maize Products Company turns the maize into glucose and into starch, and the residue is made into a very fine food for cattle. Industries like this should meet with the ready sympathy of members of this committee in order that they may be firmly established to meet competition from other parts of the world I have no objection to a duty of 250 per cent. on butter. I am prepared to protect the butter industry even from competition from New Zealand. The same thing applies to the Maize Products Company, and to its branches in the other States. I am endeavouring to show how necessary it is even from the point of view of the primary producer, that our secondary industries should be protected and built up. I would like this particularly to be realized by the honorable member forWimmera (Mr. Stewart), the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), and the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), although the last-named does not represent the primary producers in that he is returned by a city constituency. I recognize, however, that our sympathies go beyond our city constituency. I do not say that he is not justified in saying that he represents, in a sense, the primary producer. One-third of the wheat produced in Australia is bought in Australia.
– It is possible to sell a third of the wheat at Australian prices, and not those of America or anywhere else. The producers can sell it at their own price if they are combined and organized. The remedy lies in their own hands, and they should organize as do the producers in other countries. I wish to say, just by way of warning, that the wheat market of the world is going to be most seriously affected by the great inflow of wheat from Russia in the near future. It is all very well to talk about the Soviet Government, but there they have learned to buy in bulk, and sell in bulk. They are not following the antiquated methods of the past, but,’ under Soviet rule -which I do not agree should be introduced into this country - the Russians are learning scientific methods of production and marketing. They have as many as 5,000,000 families organized into one society, and only recently Russia sent a single order for 12,000 tractors to the United States of America. When we hear of organization like that we realize that they are not doing things by halves. Here is a statement which shows the possibility of development in industry -
The Commonwealth buys about one-third of the wheat it produces; more than twothirds of its butter; three-fourths of its cheese; thebulk of its beef, mutton, lamband poultry; and nearly all the hay, oats, fruit, vegetables, potatoes, maize, sugar and minor crops. As the population increases weshall, like America, gradually overtake the local supplies of foodstuffs, and also manufacture a vastly greater proportion of our wool.
I ask honorable members who say that they represent country or rural interests not to despise the importance of secondary industries. This does not apply to the honorable member for Wimmera, but I wonder whether it has yet pierced the intellect of the honorable member for Forrest. Do these country representatives not realize that in the hundreds of thousands of workmen, and in the great numbers of other people dependent upon them, they have the finest market in the world for their products? If they re alized this they would cease their opposition to the establishment of secondary industries. These workers are the best buyers of their goods. Let our population increase by only a few millions - and it is going ahead fairly rapidly - and we shall be able to consume all the wheat we produce in Australia at the present time. As our population increases, it will be found thatwe are providing a home market for the products of the land. I know of no other policy which can benefit Australia. This is the policy which developed the United States of America from its infant to its present position. Go back to Washington and Hamilton, and the other early protectionists of America. In their time the population of that country was little more than half the present population of Australia. The Americans established their industries more than a century ago, and their most recent spokesman, PresidentCoolidge, has said that the policy of protection stood by America in her infancy ; it stood by her in her later competition with the other countries in the world, and it stood by her right through the piece. The reason why to-day America is a great country with a population of one hundred and twenty million people, is largely due to a policy adopted long ago - the policy of protection. The system of protection worked successfully in the United States of America, and is the method by which Great Britain herself started her industries. She was first a protectionist country, and then adopted freetrade because, owing to the fact that she was the sea carrying nation of the world, it was to her advantage that all markets should be open. If we do not get protection here our industries must go to the wall, and the foreigner will triumph. My policy is Australia first and then the other parts of the Empire. I shall do all I can to keep cheap labour products out of Australia.
.- I realize that we should get through the debate as soon as possible so as to enable the items to be passed. I was extremely surprised to hear the strong comments on the tariff of certain members of this committee advocating freetrade and denouncing protection. Those members take care to see that the articles produced in their own electorates are protected by very large tariffs against competition from imported goods. Take for example currants, and raisins. Currants used to be imported from Greece at a duty of lid. per lb., and raisins at a duty of 2§d. per lb. Now we have a protective duty of 3d. per lb. on these goods. Before federation, hops were imported on a duty of 5-Jd. per lb., but there is a very much larger protective duty on them now. Yet these very people who have protective duties on their products are objecting to the establishment of secondary industries, and to the granting of protection to enable those industries to carry on. They overlook one point which we should consider very carefully. If we are to retain this country under a White Australian policy we must have population, and we cannot have population unless we encourage in every way possible the introduction of new industries so as to enable us to supply what we require in Australia, as far as possible, from our own factories. We cannot expect to hold this large territory - larger than the United States of America - with a handful of people amounting, to only 6,000,000, as compared with 112,000,000, in the United States of America. Other countries in the world are crying out for the right to send their surplus population to such a country as this, and they are asking to be allowed to send them here. It is known that we can produce, between the north of Queensland and the south of Tasmania, almost anything that can be produced any where on God’s earth. But we want population, men of enterprise and capital, and those engaged in secondary industries must have adequate protection. The workers in those industries will then provide the best market obtainable for the country’s primary products.
I wish to. make reference to the growing of cotton in Australia. The cotton industry was adversely affected through the action of the Queensland Government in prohibiting the growing of ratoon cotton, and as a result of that prohibition, many people gave up growing cotton altogether. The Queensland Government “did not inquire fully into the matter, but simply declared that ratoon cotton should not be grown. This had a serious effect upon a large number ©£ people who had assumed that they would be able, with their families, to work five acres each of ratoon and plant cotton, whereas they would be able to manage only five acres altogether, if the whole crop ripened at the same time. Ratoon cotton, of course, ripens sooner than plant cotton. When a large number of men went out of the industry, Mr. Daniel Jones went to Manchester to interview the manufacturers there. He took with him bales of ratoon cotton, and it was pronounced to be equal to the best American article. If the industry is encouraged as much as possible, even through the tariff, it will prove to be an important one in Queensland, if not in other parts of Australia. Everything possible should also be done to encourage the manufacture of the by-product’s of cotton. Queensland has an area of some 420,000,000 acres, of which millions of acres are suitable for the cultivation of cotton.
I was sorry to hear the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) object to the extra duty proposed to be placed on glucose. The report of the Tariff Board on that item stated that, in view of the high cost of production in Australia, and the increasing importations of American glucose, the board considered that the Australian industry was in need . of further protection. It accordingly recommended that the duty be increased from £12 to £15 a ton. Instead of reducing the duty we could well increase it. It is considered by those who have had practical experience of the industry that an extra £3 would be of considerable assistance to maizegrowers, because, at the present, time, owing, no .doubt, to prohibition in the United States of America, the demand for maize is not nearly so great as it previously was. Formerly it was much iu demand for the manufacture of beer. It was considered that it made better beer than can be manufactured from cane sugar. Similarly, it is deemed that better confectionery can be made from glucose than from cane sugar, because the saccharine in glucose does not crystallize. Considering that America is now sending glucose to Australia at a price at which it cannot be produced in this country, something should be done to assist the industry. I assume that only the surplus supply of the United States of America is finding its way to Australia. If no other remedy can be applied, we should impose a dumping duty, as we had to do in the case of maize, from which glucose is manufactured. Maize was carried from Durban to Melbourne for 22s. 6d. a ton, when the freight charged from Queensland to Melbourne was 40s. a ton. It was clear to those who had a knowledge of shipping that a bonus was paid to the ship-owners to enable them to bring the maize from South Africa to Australia at such a low rate. The maize-growers in Australia received protection in the shape of a dumping duty, and then it was found that in South Africa the growers were bringing the maize from the back districts “00 or 300 miles to Durban at a considerably lower rate, if the product was intended for export, than if it was to be used for local consumption. The Americans are now adopting similar tactics. They are not selling their maize products locally a the export price; they are sending their surplus to this country rather than dispose of it in America, thereby reducing the price obtained for the bulk oftheir crop. They keep up the price for local consumption, and cut down the price for export. If we expect our industries to progress, we must be careful to protect them, and not have them suffer by unfair competition of this nature. The Tariff Board said -
When evidence was placed before the board it was proved that, whilst the Australian manufacturer’s cost of production was £336s. 4d. per ton, American glucose sold on the Australian market at £331s. 4d., or 5s. per ton under the Australian manufacturer’sactual cost of production.
This industry employs a large number of Australian workmen, and pays in wages approximately £60,000 per annum. A large percentage of the workers are shareholders in the company engaged in the production of glucose. Maize is protected to the extent of 3s. 6d. per cental, which equals 250 per cent. If the by-products from maize are not adequately protected, the duty on maize is to a great extent nullified. In certain localities in. the northern parts of Queensland, and even on the Atherton
Tableland, maize is the principal product. An honorable member opposite commented upon the protection given to the sugar industry, and he wisely pointed out that it was provided in the first instance because black labour had given place to Australian labour.
– Not protection, but a bounty.
– The sugar industry receives no bounty.
– But there is anembargoon importation.
– Yes. This gives producers in the tropical parts of Queensland, and in the more southern parts, too, a chance of making a living from the growing of sugar; but they would be deprived of that opportunity if we allowed sugar to be imported from foreign countries. This is one of the only products that can be grown in certain portions of Australia, such as the north of New South Wales and a great part of Queensland. If the industry were done away with thousands of employees, a large number of whom come from other States, even as far away as Tasmania, would be thrown out of employment. We must protect those industries that are carried on in the northern parts of the Commonwealth, and could not be conducted elsewhere in Australia. If the production of sugar, maize; bananas, peanuts, cotton, and similar tropical products ceased in those districts the land would be idle. Would it be right and reasonable for us to expect the world to allow us to holdan enormous territory such as that, after having driven out the original inhabitants if we allowed those industries to die through inadequate protection? Therefore, we should take care that nothing is done that would in any way cause a reduction of the production in those areas. For the year ended June, 1927, 1,270 tons of glucose were imported. That quantity, if manufactured in Australia, would have been responsible for the consumption of 106,520 bushels of maize. If the protective duty had been adequate, increased employment would have been provided in the production of maize. As an old mercantile man, I remember that when Australia first put ditties on candles itwas impossible to import candles from “England or France, whether containing 5,000 or 50,000 box orders, except at a certain price. But there was nothing to prevent the British merchants from sending their surplus production to Australia on consignment, and drawing 90 per cent, cash on each shipment. They did not receive nor did they expect any further payments. That is one mode of dumping. America, which is producing many of the articles to which I have referred, would far rather export the surplus at a loss than reduce the local prices. In these circumstances, we must do our best to guard our newly-established industries.
I wish to refer to the Australian timber industry. Scores of timber mills are established in my electorate, which, under reasonable conditions, could employ thousands of men ; but, unfortunately, many of them have had to cease operations within the last few months because timber is allowed to enter Australia under conditions which absolutely defy local competition. It has been said that it is useless to place extra duties upon timbers, for the Queensland Government would, as formerly, promptly increase its royalties. I have not consulted any members of the Queensland Government, but I feel quite sure that they recognize the serious position of the industry, and would agree to make an arrangement with the Commonwealth Government that if increased duties were granted, the royalties would remain unaltered. It must be recognized that the saw-milling industry is valuable to Australia, lt provides freight for our railways, and work for many of our people, and it is of considerable assistance to our primary producers. In these circumstances it should be reasonably protected.
I am firmly of the opinion that increased duties should not be imposed upon goods which are within Australian waters at the time when a revised schedule is tabled. It has happened that certain articles have been admitted under the old rate of duty in Western Australia, but have been subject to the new rate in the other States in the which the goods were later landed. That is not fair, for it penalizes the consumers in the States to which the increased duties are applied.
– I realize that it is desired to complete the general discussion on the schedule as early as possible in order that the items may be discussed seriatim, but this is the only opportunity I shall have to refer to certain notable omissions from it.
Twelve months ago,’ a glass-bottle manufacturing company in my electorate formed a new .organization to undertake the manufacture in Australia of crystal glass. During the tariff debate in Melbourne last year, examples of its manufactures were displayed to honorable members, and won favorable comment from them. The company was encouraged by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) to proceed with its operations, and it is expected that when the next schedule was submitted, additional protection would be provided for it. The printed report of the Tariff Board on the application for further protection for this industry is not yet available - honorable members have reason to complain that the reports of the board are not presented in a satisfactory manner - but I have had the opportunity of perusing a type-written report which the Minister had in his possession. It appears to me that the chief reason that, the board has advanced for not granting the protection that was sought was that this business is being conducted by a wealthy company. 1 point out, however, that the manufacture of crystal glass has been undertaken by an entirely new organization. It is true that many of the shareholders, are also shareholders in the bottle manufacturing company to which I referred ; but that is no justification for refusing protection to ‘a new industry. This company sent experts to Belgium and other European countries where crystal glass is manufactured, engaged expert tradesmen there, and bought first-class machinery, and established the business here, in the expectation that reasonable protection would be granted to it. The manager of the concern has informed me that so far it has lost £30,000 in the venture. It paid in wages last year £114,000. The water jug and glasses on the table of the House, and also the glassware at Hotel’ Canberra, are examples of the manufactures of the company. I have been informed that as. adequate protection has not been granted to the industry, the company will have no alternative but to dismiss its employees and cease its operations. The existing duties on imported crystal glass are 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent; but the Australian wages in the industry are 100 per cent, in advance of those paid in the European countries where crystal glass is made, so that that measure of protection is insufficient. It is said that the steel industry is essential to Australia. I submit that as glass is required for every building we construct, and for every home that is established here, this industry is also essential to us. “We have the best sand in the world for manufacturing crystal glass, and the plant of the company is first class. I submit, therefore, that the Government should increase the duty to a figure that will make it possible for the company to carry on its operations.
– Pile on the duty!
– The honorable member will be asking presently for increased duties on timber. I was somewhat pained to hear certain remarks that were made in this debate yesterday. It is well know that prior to federation the fiscal policy of New South Wales was freetrade, while that of Victoria was protection. Notwithstanding the undoubted economic advantages that the Mother State enjoyed, her industries languished, and she had a huge army of unemployed, while the industries of Victoria prospered greatly. Subsequent to federation, protection was adopted as the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth, and since then the industries of. New South Wales have gradually overhauled those of Victoria. It must be realized, therefore, freetrade is not the panacea for the economic ills from which we are suffering. Proportionately, Australia lias made greater progress than any other country in the world since she adopted a protectionist policy. We have now a population of about 6,250,000. The population of the United States of America was not very much more than half what it is now when the McKinley tariff became operative; but since then development of the country has been phenomenal. Her primary and secondary industries have grown enormously. I know that the
Minister for Trade and Customs is a sound- protectionist; but, unfortunately, there are many freetraders in the Cabinet. I urge the Government to afford the crystal glass industry reasonable protection. At present European countries which manufacture this article lose no opportunity of sending their surplus wares here at a price which makes it impossible for local manufacturers to compete with them, notwithstanding that they are energetic and expert. In my opinion, they have been misled by the Government, for unquestionably they understood that the next tariff schedule would afford them a greater measure of protection than they are at present enjoying. I hope that the Minister will endeavour to induce the Cabinet to bring in a duty to protect this industry. If that is not done thousands more men will bc thrown out of employment. These companies have spent . over £114,000 in wages this year, which proves that they are bona fide.- So far there has been’ a loss of £20,000 thi? year, and one manager told me that his company cannot continue unless the Minister is prepared to protect the* industry. The existing duties on their products are 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35’ per cent., which are quite inadequate. I regret that these men, who have invested large sums of money in the industry, are likely to lose their money. A different section of the business is manufacturing glass bottles, and is showing a profit, but the other section cannot afford to continue at a loss.
I regret that the reports of the Tariff Board were not tabled earlier. Through the courtesy of the Minister I have had, as I said earlier, an opportunity to peruse that which deals with crystal glass. From my analysis of it it would appear that the great bulk of the evidence was given by importers, men mainly interested in bringing overseas products to Australia.
– Has that company made any sheet glass?
– Not yet. It made a request to the Tariff Board for a deferred duty on sheet glass, and the. Minister has induced the Government to grant it. Before endeavouring to turn out sheet glass the company wishes to establish itself in the manufacture of crystal glass, which branch of the industry is distinct from that of making sheet glass.
– Surely the company does not expect assistance until it manufactures the product.
– It is not asking for any protection until it actually makes the glass. At present it is not able to compete with imported crystal glass, upon which I now ask the Minister to place a satisfactory duty.
– What are the landing charges on crystal glass?
– I am unable to tell the honorable member. The company is producing its glass in Sydney, and when it supplies markets in Western Australia or any of the other distant State’s it has to send its product by sea, involving a freight which is as high as that from overseas to Australia.
– What is the reason for that? ‘
– Labour conditions abroad are cheaper than they are in Australia. I hope that the day is not far distant when we shall have a protectionist government which will realize that if we are to keep our industries off the bread line, duties of 5 per cent, and 74 per cent, are quite inadequate. I have had the pleasure of going through the establishment of Mr. George Bond. It is most up-to-date; it has the finest machinery, and I consider that it has excellent management. I was shocked when I heard that that business is now going into voluntary liquidation. Mr. Bond told me that he could not compete with Japanese and other cheap overseas products. I think that it is a scandal to impose deferred duties, when it is possible for the overseas representatives’ concerned to send cablegrams and have this country flooded with goods before the duty can operate. I urge the Government to bring the duties into operation immediately, instead of giving overseas manufacturers another seven months in which to flood this country with their cheap goods. I do not wish to see any more of our factories closed. We have sufficient unemployment now. This Parliament will be responsible if we have further unemployment through the closing of additional factories. That may be obviated if the Government makes its deferred duties operate from January next. I shall speak on other items when they come up for discussion individually.
.- 1 quite sympathize with any government that has to deal with an Australian tariff. The Constitution itself makes the problem a difficult one. The States were originally entitled to a proportion of the revenue from the tariff and under the financial agreement recently entered into, they will be entitled to assistance from, that source for some time to come. This country has decided to have protection, and, whatever may be our views, we must recognize that policy. Our tariff must be largely revenueproducing, and must protect many of our industries. I am not a “ dyedinthewool “ protectionist. I am prepared to vote a duty up or down according to the merits of the case. We should encourage those industries for which we are able to supply the raw material, such as wool, steel, and iron, and timber. If we cannot establish those industries, I fail to see how we can foster others. Many industries which are really not worth fostering have sought the aid of our Tariff Board. We should not uphold duties “indiscriminately. This is a nonparty matter, and we should endeavour to get together and assist our industries. Unfortunately, Australia is cursed with an arbitration system which does not achieve the object for which it was intended. It does no good to our workers, our employers, or the general public. It merely creates a vicious circle. An employer may obtain a 25 per cent, duty increase on his commodity, and then the employee secures an advance in wages through the Arbitration Court which more than sets off the advantage conferred by the duty. That process is repeated, ad infinitum, and the burden falls heavily upon the public. My remarks are borne out by the report of the Tariff Board, and some time ago a report published by the Chamber of Manufactures embodied a similar contention* We must try to alter that, and to lower the cost of living in Australia. If we are successful our industries will be better able to coinpete with overseas competition. They will be able to supply a cheaper article, and to improve their financial position. Notwithstanding the vicious economical circle to which I have referred, a considerable amount of capital has been sunk in many businesses and we cannot refuse them our support. I believe that, by cooperating, we shall find a method by which the situation may be improved. We must endeavour to keep our industries in existence. I think that can be done by the application of that genius which is possessed by representative British assemblies. That, if properly applied, will better our industrial conditions and place our manufacturers in a sound position. Under present conditions our industries cannot produce cheaply enough. Having the raw material at hand we should be able to export woollens and other manufactured goods, but we cannot do so because of the high cost of production. Ninety per cent, of our exports are primary products, and if that trad? should be lost, what would happen to the manufacturers of Australia? Being unable to compete in the overseas markets they are dependent, upon the home market, and if no money is being received from abroad to buy their goods, the factories will have to close and unemployment will become much more serious than it is now. Something must be done to cheapen the cost of living, but how that can be done I am not prepared to say, other than that the industrial arbitration system should be revolutionized. In fact, I would scrap it and substitute the Canadian system, so that disputes might be referred immediately to boards; there would be no necessity for the employees to leave off work, wages would not be lost, and the wheels of industry would continuously revolve. If cither party to a dispute did not accept tlie decision of the board it would have to answer to the public. A labour leader who led his men wrongly and lost public favour would soon be brought to heel. Public opinion similarly would discipline a refractory employer. At any rate, under that system industrial conditions would be better than they are to-day. I do not suppose that there is any infallible panacea for industrial ills, but we must do something to minimize the trouble if the protective policy is to be of any benefit to Australia. At present the Parliament is being forced into an impossible position. We cannot go to the length of prohibiting all exports in order to shelter Australian industry. We can, however, protect those larger industries, the raw material for which is obtainable in the country. Chief among them is the manufacture of iron and steel. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company has established a very fine up-to-date plant at Newcastle, and employs a large number of men. It has assured the Tariff Board that if it can secure the Australian market, and is able to enlarge its output, it will not require to increase the prices of its products. During the war the: conduct of this company was admirable. It did not take advantage of abnormal conditions to make excessive profits, and such as it did make were re-invested in the business. The manufacture of iron and steel is a basic and key industry, and can be maintained without prejudice to other industries. That being so, I am prepared to give to it generous treatment. I understand that the duty proposed in the schedule is a good deal less than that recommended by the Tariff Board, but in order that the industry may have a fair trial I am prepared to go beyond even the recommendations of the board if the company requires assistance to that extent in order to get on to a safe footing.
Another very important industry that is languishing for the lack of adequate protection is timber-getting. In the last year or two it has been almost knocked out. Mills in all parts of Australia are closing up, notwithstanding that no country in the world produces timber superior to the hardwoods of Tasmania and other Australian States. These hardwoods could be used instead of Baltic pine and other imported timber for structural purposes. In normal times tlie timbergetting industry employs about 30,000 men, and they are real Australians; their- are no pluckier or more resourceful men in the Commonwealth than the timbergetters.
– Are they governed by Arbitration Court awards?
– Yes, and until recently, at any rate, the wages they received were a good deal higher than are paid to timber-getters in other parts of the world, even in America. . The industry is doing what it can to maintain the best Australian traditions, and is worthy of support. There is a big market for hardwood, which could be protected without injury to the mining industry or the fruit industry, for box timber need not be touched. Our hardwoods should be able to displace Baltic pine, Japanese or Manchurian oak, Borneo cedar, and Pacific maple. The imports of Oregon in recent years have increased considerably, and the price has been substantially reduced. Until May, 1924, our timbergetters had natural protection against Oregon in the fact that the price for Australian hardwood was less than that of the imported timber. Since then, however, the price of Oregon has fallen very considerably, so that there is now no margin between the two. Is this valuable industry to be shut down because timber from abroad can be sold below the profitable rate for the Australian article? The duties proposed in the schedule are useless to the hardwood industry. The item relating to “ undressed timber, Oregon,” certainly bears an increased duty that may be of some benefit in certain parts of Australia, but it will not benefit the majority of the timber people because the increased duty may be evaded by substituting hemlock for Oregon, which it very much resembles. A fatal flaw in the arrangement of the duties is that dressed Oregon may be imported at a lower rate of duty than undressed Oregon. The giving of an advantage to the manufactured article over the raw material is a new departure in fiscal policy. The Government must have overlooked this extraordinary anomaly. I suggest that the item will require to be completely recast. The Minister is offering to the industry only illusory benefits ; he is like a boy with a sixpence on a string who draws it away whenever a passer-by attempts to pick it up. In 1921 the quantity of undressed timber imported was 70,000,000 super, feet; but in 1925-26 the quantity had increased to 1S8,000,000 super, feet. Simultaneously the prices have been falling, and the local industry, having to pay high wages and comply with strict conditions of labour, has no chance of competing against the imports. I understand, also, that there is more waste in the tree when milling Australian hardwoods than in the milling of Canadian timbers. The freights between the States are so high that timber can be brought from the Baltic at less cost than hardwood can be transported from Tasmania to Adelaide, or from New South Wales to Victoria by sea. Unless Parliament comes to the aid of the timber industry it will soon be extinguished ; but if it is properly protected it can live on the market that undoubtedly exists for hardwood linings, floorings, and scantlings, without any burden being imposed upon other primary industries. Moreover, if that market is secured to the local industry, the increase in price, if any, will be very slight. I believe that the millers were prepared to assure the Tariff Board that if the Australian market were secured to them they would be prepared to maintain the existing prices. What is the use of throwing to a man a life-line that is too short to reach him? If an industry requires a 50 per cent, duty, what is the good of offering a mere 25 per cent. ?
– Does the honorable member prefer the proposals of .the Tariff Board or the proposals in the schedule?
– I like neither. I know what is wanted, and I intend to get it, or there will be a row. The Tariff Board is unable to teach me anything about the timber industry. I suggest that it has obtained too much evidence from the importers, who, because of their operations, have waxed wealthy to the detriment of good Australians who are out to develop this country. The timber-workers are the pluckiest and most resourceful men in this country. They have helped to develop it; and many of them have settled on the land. They make good settlers because they know the conditions, and are, therefore, a most valuable” asset to this country. The timber industry should certainly be encouraged. Our forestry experts tell us that our forests are over-ripe, and should be thinned out. If the timber industry is not to be assisted under the tariff what is the use of re-afforestation. We, in Tasmania, are in- earnest in our plea on behalf of the timber industry, and we have a proposition to put before the Minister when the individual items are being discussed. I hope that he has an open mind, so that if considered necessary adequate duties will be imposed to protect the industry. I know that honorable members are not permitted to move that additional or increased items be inserted in the schedule; but we can move for decreases in duties, and also cause a lot of trouble. I want the Minister to give this committee an opportunity to test by “vote certain items in the schedule and to insert in it new items that we may consider to be necessary. The Minister should be prepared to accept the decision of this committee.
– I have never disputed that Parliament is supreme.
– The tariff should be considered in a non-partisan spirit. On many occasions, when honorable members have complained of the insufficient protection of industries, the Minister has sheltered himself behind the statement that Parliament has framed the tariff, and, therefore, must bear the responsibility for any hardships inflicted by it. The schedule deals only with undressed timber, but it should deal with both undressed and dressed timber if it is to be of any service to the industry. The sawmillers of Victoria, New South “Wales, and Tasmania have- practically lost the Australian market for hardwoods, and unless .some assistance is given to those who have invested their capital in the industry it must fail. Although I favour highly protective duties in the case of some industries, I should not advocate similar protection for industries which, in my opinion, are not sp deserving of assistance. I shall reserve any further remarks until the individual items are being discussed.
.- I do not propose to take up much time in discussing the first item, because, in common with my colleagues, I wish to arrive as quickly as possible at the discussion of the individual items, and to complete the consideration of the schedule before Parliament, rises at the end of next week. “We wish particularly to deal with the iniquitous deferred duties relating to tubular piece-goods and certain other items. Before discussing the tariff, I desire to refer to the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. Because of the rebellious tone of the remarks of the honorable member for “Wilmot (Mr. Atkinson), I should not be surprised if he developed into a communist. During his speech he attacked the arbitration system of Australia.
– I have always been opposed to the arbitration system as it exists to-day. ,
– I have no wish to side-track this discussion by a platitudinous consideration of arbitration; but I would tell the honorable member that the only alternative to arbitration in Australia is direct action, as advocated by the extreme elements in the community, both the re-actionaries and their opposite. As one who has had experience of trade unionism for the last twenty years, and I advise the honorable member to ponder the position carefully before he chooses the only alternative to the arbitration policy of the Commonwealth.
Reverting* to the tariff schedule, I wish to say that the debate has elucidated the fact that there are points of agreement between the freetraders and the protectionists in this Parliament. “We are united in our protest against the belated consideration of tariff schedules, that are from time to time brought down to this Parliament, and against the delay in submitting the Tariff Board’s recommendations, which prevents honorable members from giving adequate consideration to them. “We are also united in our protest against high duties, but from different standpoints. The freetraders object to protective duties as such; but we on this side object to duties that are supposed to be protective, but are not so in their incidence. Honorable members on this side advocate duties that will adequately protect industries. The practice of collecting customs revenue by the imposition of duties that are not protective in their incidence, but are imposed for that purpose is iniquitous and immoral, because it induces the people of Australia to invest money in industries in the hope that they will be safeguarded by the Commonwealth Government against imports from overseas, and then we have lamentable incidents, such as the recent voluntary liquidation of George Bond and Company, which undermine their faith in the security and value of investments in secondary industries. I realize the Minister’s difficulty. I feel sure that if he followed the dictates of his own heart he would go much further than the tariff schedule does in protecting Australian industries. I sympathize with him, and I would not undertake his job under any circumstances. He has to suffer the effectsof half a dozen divergent elements in the Government party pulling in various directions. It is a wonder that he has not collapsed under the strain of trying to meet the various opinions, not only of the Government supporters, but also of the Cabinet. There are one or two suggestions I desire to make. I suggest to the Minister that in future the Tariff Board’s reports be placed before honorable members before the general discussion on the schedule takes place. A number of important reports have not yet been tabled. Copies of the report relating to storage batteries are not yet available, and the discussion on that item may take place shortly.
– The report has been tabled, but the printingof the copies has not yet beencompleleted.
– There should be some means of overcoming that difficulty. It is a serious position when honorable members are denied the opportunity of perusing important recommendations upon which certain items in the schedule are based. In any case the Tariff Board’s reports should be numbered so that honorable members may know how many reports have been issued, and the nature of the work of the board. Many reports have been tabled in this Parliament during the last eighteen months, and it would certainly have been of advantage to have them numbered, for members would know what reports are outstanding. The schedule, in my opinion, is a thing of sh reads and patches. It has been torn to shreads, no doubt, in the inner councils of the Government, and patched in the sense that the very many important industries have not been dealt with.
During the budget debate I referred to the parlous conditionof the hat industry, but owing to the limitations im posed on this debate I do not propose to elaborate on these matters at this stage. In the last five years there has been an alarming increase in the number of hats imported into. Australia from Czecho Slovakia and elsewhere. I gave notice of a question a few days ago - and the Minister has not yet given a reply - directing attention to the fact that the inquiry into the hat industry had been deferred to enable the British Association of Manufacturers towrite to England for information that will not arrive here until the middle of December. In the meantime the market here is being flooded with Borsalino and Woodrow hats, and hundreds of our operatives are being kept out of work. One hasonly to inspect the hat factories to realize that the industry is badly in need of protection. Why should this inquiry bo delayed to meet the convenience of importers ?
Other industries are in a similar position. Messrs. Sonnerdale Limited, of Sydney, the pioneer manufacturers of gears and spare parts for motor cars in Australia, have been subjected to outrageous dumping on the part of American manufacturers, and although this industry has not been assisted, I give the Minister credit for having helped to a material degree in checking theoperations of certain American companies that were boycotting Australian-made shock absorbers. There is clear evidence that spare parts and gears for, motor cars have been dumped by importers. There is also evidence that some American interests have refused Australian agents leave to use Australian-made parts. There is absolute proof that clumping is going on, find early action should be taken to encourage local industry by stopping this practice. I cannot understand the attitude adopted by the Minister and the Government towards the recommendations of the Tariff Board. In some instances the Minister and the Government take refuge behind the board’s recommendations as a reason why they should not depart from them. On the other hand, the Minister has departed from the board’s recommendation in certain important instances by reducing the recommended duties. This was what I particularly rose to refer to, and to protest against. I do not say that the Minister should slavishly follow the recommendations of the board, but when he alters the incidence of the duties recommended, he should, at some stage during the discussion, preferably at the second reading stage, indicate why he departed from the recommendations. It is not the function of honorable members to wade through 30 or 40 reports in order to compare the recommendations with the schedule. The Minister should table a comparison of the board’s recommendations with the tariff schedule submitted to the committee. I wish to refer in this connexion to the recommendation of the Tariff Board’s in regard to storage batteries, and to compare that recommendation with the duty that the Minister proposes to introduce.
The Tariff Board recommended that the duties on storage batteries for motor cars should be 40 per cent. British, 47i per cent, intermediate, and 55 per cent, foreign. The schedule submitted by the Minister provides for 35 per cent. British 47^ per cent, intermediate, and 60 per cent, foreign. I should like the Minister to explain his reasons for these alterations. He has reduced ‘the recommendation of the Tariff Board for the British rate by 5 per cent, and has added 5 per cent, to the foreign or general rate. I find that one of the bases of the application for increased duty was the unfair competition from Great Britain. The evidence clearly indicated that the strongest competition in regard to storage batteries came from England, yet the Minister has reduced the duty on English batteries by o per cent. ! The result is that the duties, as they stand to-day, are totally inadequate to enable this industry to capture the equipment trade in Australia. The rates in the schedule are. considerably below those asked for by the various battery interests when they approached tlie board. The board, in fixing its rate, did so after most careful consideration, and unless the Minister can bring facts and evidence before this House to show why he varied those recommendations, I enter my emphatic protest against the change. It may be said that it is part of the Government’s policy to increase the margin of British preference, but it should not be done at the price of sacrificing our industries. Speaking for myself, I am against anything but an equitable basis of preference to Great Britain. Britain :s gaining considerably more than we are as the result of existing preferences. The strongest competitor that we have in many industries is Great Britain, and in the interest of our own development we should look after ourselves. Charity should begin at home. In any case Great Britain has nothing to complain of regarding the value of our trade. It was pointed out the other day, in the Sydney Morning Herald, that on a per capita basis we are Britain’s second-best customer, ranking next to New Zealand, and the second best on an aggregate basis ranking next to India. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, when moving for an increase in the existing margins of British preference, distinctly said that it was not the result of . any request or pressure from Great Britain. If the Minister can show us how we are gaining material benefit as a result of these preferences, I will relax my present attitude somewhat, although I still stand for a fair incidence in the distribution of these duties. One point to which the Minister should give attention is that, when an American firm or a firm of any other country, has invested in Australia by erecting a branch factory, it should be given the utmost sympathy and consideration. Last year the Minister introduced a schedule providing for increased duties on motor chassis; but those duties were afterwards withdrawn. They provided for a revenue duty of 2i per cent. British preferential tariff, on unassembled chassis 10 per cent, intermediate tariff, . and 15 per cent, general tariff. They were for the purpose of raising revenue in connexion with the Roads Grant. In substitution for those duties, the rates in the schedule now being discussed were tabled, which provide for British unassembled chassis coming in .free, whilst the intermediate tariff is 12£ per cent., and general tariff 17^ per cent. In contrast with these rates for unassembled chassis, the schedule also’ provides that the assembled British car completely equipped to go on the road in Australia, comes here on the payment of a duty of 5 per cent., whereas the American and other makes have to pay 17£ per cent, on unassembled chassis. That is unfair. Let the British manufacturer establish factories here and assemble in Australia. Then I might agree that he should receive greater consideration in the way of duty.
– A good many of them are doing that now.
– There is this to be said for the American manufacturers. Many of them are equipping their cars with Australian-made parts. Before the Minister does what it is proposed to do under this schedule, he should have an investigation made in order to see how the British car compares with the American regarding the amount of Australian material used. .1 have been informed by Dalgety and Company that, in the constitution of the Essex car, 65 per cent, of the value remains in Australia. The Ford firm has invested nearly £3,000,000 in Australia, and it employs 1,127 work people here, while directly and indirectly it maintains over 20,000 Australians. This company has invested money here, and the British complete car unit should not be permitted to come in at a lower rate than the unassembled American cars. I think it is unfair, and no amount of argument or appeals about imperialism and Empire sentiment will alter my unshakable belief that our duty is to our country and our people in the first instance.
I wish, before I conclude, to call attention to another point. As a comparatively new member of this Parliament I am very mystified at the procedure which allows ‘members to move for a decrease in duty but not for an increase. I assumed that the limitation of our authority was provided for under the Constitution of Australia until I investigated the matter and found that such is not the case. The theory that we cannot increase a protective duty is, in my opinion, contrary to the spirit of our federal system of government. It is purely a convention, which has remained unchallenged in this Parliament, and I emphatically protest against it. It has now become part of our acccepted practice, but it is interesting to note that in 1901 a ruling was given by Mr. Speaker Holden that a member could move for an increase of duty. That ruling was subsequently ignored and departed from, but, so far as the Constitution is concerned, there is nothing to prevent an individual member of this Parliament from moving for an increase of duties. A parliamentary practice has grown up denying this right, and one that this Parliament, of its own volition, can abandon if it chooses. I hope the time is coming when Parliament will by an alteration in this procedure be able to meet in a non-party spirit to consider’ the tariff schedule. It is not intended to be a taxation measure, nor as a measure for providing revenue duty. In so far as we are charged with protecting Australian industry, we should be free to act according to our own judgment, and not be bound by an absurd convention that the Minister exercises the King’s prerogative in deciding how far the duty is to go. Yet we are so bound down by this practice that we have to go on our knees to induce the Minister to propose any increase in duties, so that we may keep within the four corners of constitutional practice. It may be desirable in dealing with money bills to preserve the prerogative of the Crown, and for this the Constitution provides that it should have the sole right of initiating expenditure, but imposition of protective duties is a different matter altogether. I should like to see this practice altered. I do not know what the practice is in America, but I understand that. Congress is its own master in this matter. After all, what are we sent here for? We are 75 men sent here to represent the people, and if there is one thing of more importance than any other to-day it is the adoption of adequate protective duties. That-w should be limited as we are by this parliamentary practice calls for protest.
– That limitation accounts, perhaps, for the fact that so many tariff schedules are ineffective.
– I believe that 75 or 80 per cent, of the members of this House would vote for more increased duties if they were allowed a free hand, and were not bound down by considerations of party. The point made by the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) last night was a fair one, that if we are not allowed to move for increased duties, we should be allowed to discuss the Tariff Board’s recommendations. In the case of the steel industry, and some others, the board advocated increased duties differing materially in incidence from the duties now submitted to Parliament. We should have an opportunity of considering those recommendations. We should not be trammelled by the absurd practice which has developed in this Parliament during the last twenty years. Reference has been consistently made in this House to inefficiency in industry. If there are instances of inefficiency they should be made public, but to make these vague, platitudinous allegations on the floor of the chamber, is to act in a manner not truly Australian. It is fouling our own nest, and damaging our good name. If such allegations were true, no man would be in favour of giving inflated protective duties to inefficient firms, but year after year, the same cry of inefficiency is raised. It is like “ the tune that the old cow died of.”
– Will the honorable member give the statistics in regard to the bootmaking trade?
– I do not propose to give any statistics, but I am prepared to admit that there are conditions inseparably associated with capitalistic organizations which make for inefficiency particularly in relation to distribution It will be found that some retailers make 100 per cent. profit; but that is part of the ill-effects of the system under which society is at present organized, and for which I should like to substitute a co-operative Commonwealth, or some other alternative. I have not heard a single specific charge of inefficiency levelled against any Australian industry during this debate, and until the Tariff Board reports such cases to the Minister, orsome other specific information is laid before me, I shall refuse to consider the matter. The Minister has tabled to-day a list of price reductions that have been made in various commodities in Australia since the tariff schedule was before us. I am sure that if all price reductions could be compared with a statement showing the protective incidence of the customs duties that have been imposed it would be found that the. protective duties were insignificant in comparison. It has been said that our duties are unreasonably high; but other countries impose duties of 100 per cent., 125 per cent., and even 150 per cent., without hesitation.
– We have duties as high as 200 per cent.
– They are imposed mostly on primary produce. We have a duty of 150 per cent. on potatoes, 200 per cent. on tomato pulp, and 100 per cent. on rice, with 3s. 4d. per cental on uncleaned rice. The duties imposed to assist primary production are infinitely higher than those imposed to help secondary industries. If the protection accorded by bounties on primary produce were also taken into consideration the discrimination against our manufacturers in favour of primary producers would be. shown to be still worse.
Another hackneyed argument against protection is that it has “failed.” The fact is that our secondary industries have made remarkable progress since federation. In 1901 we had 197,000 persons engaged in secondary production; in 1920, when the Massy-Greene tariff became operative, the number was 376,734, and in 1925 it was 450,920. Secondary industries have thus absorbed a very large number of people in the Commonwealth.
I appeal to the Minister for Trade and Customs to give favourable consideration to the representations that were made to him months ago to treat shock absorbers on motor cars as not being part of the chassis. They are no more part of the chassis than are tires, tubes and batteries. Seeing that the Tariff Board has decided that bumper bars are not part of the chassis I cannot understand why a similar declaration should not be made in respect of shock absorbers.
– Shock absorbers are built into the chassis in some cases.
– Only to evade the payment of duty.
– It could be done for that purpose. Batteries are also built into the chassis at times.
– They are placed in a box, which is added to the chassis.
-I cannot agree with the Minister (Sir Neville Howse) on that point. But I am sure that he and the Minister for Trade and Customs sympathize with those who desire to see the shock absorber manufacturing industry firmly established in this country. The Minister has had the opportunity of comparing the relative merits of the Australian and imported shock absorbers, and knows that our manufacturers are making a good article.
I desire to make brief quotations from an.article which appearedin the Australasian Manufacturer on the 3rd December as an official statement by the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales in reference to altered duties on butter, cheese,socks and stockings, potatoes, rice, linoleums, and batteries. It protests against the discrimination shown by the Government in dealing with the applications for increased duties on butter and tubular knitted goods and other secondary manufactures as compared with agricultural commodities. It points out that the application for an increase in the butter duty was determined 24 days after the application was made, whereas 1,000 days would elapse from the time the application was made for added protection in. respect of the tubular knitting industry before the increased duties could become effective.
– That is incorrect, for 500 days elapsed between the application for the increased duty by the dairying industry and the granting of it.
– If the Minister assures me that that is so, I accept his word.
– I assure the honorable member that I have given him the fact.
– The official statement reads on that point -
The case for a butter duty was hurriedly referred to the Tariff Board within three weeks of a request to the Minister.
– That is quite incorrect.
– I accept the assurance. In view of what the Minister has said, I feelthat I should quote the following paragraph from the same source-
Whereas struggling manufacturing industries like linoleum making, only get a paltry 10 per cent, increase, storage batteries a use- less 71/2 per cent, aluminium and enamelled hollowware 10 per cent. British, and 15 per cent. general, and kitchenware 15 per cent., the duty is increased on potatoes by 150 per cent. both British and general, on tomato pulp by 200 per cent., upon cleaned rice by 100 per cent., and uponuncleaned rice the duty is increased from nil to 3s. 4d. per cental.
From the same article I quote the following : -
Who rules the Federal Government? Dr. Page or Mr. Pratten? The answer is obvious. It is not Mr. Pratten. All the help that manufacturers get from this Government are the footling, small-beer amendments that Mr. Pratten is able to push by the Country party rump of the National Government.
– As an old member of the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales, I say that most of what the honorable member has read is absolute piffle.
– The article also contains this paragraph -
The Government’s scant sympathy towards manufacturers, side by side with its alacrity in the service of the Town and Country Union, is also to be seen in recent references to the Tariff; Board in regardto electrical apparatus. The Electrical Manufacturers’ Association of New South Wales, a section of this chamber, made application for an increase in duty in October, 1920, on electricalswitchgear and cir cuit breakers.. Their manufacturing activities in these lines have had a most salutory price-reducing influence. After thirteen months the case has not yet been heard by the Board, The Electrical Federation of Victoria (importers), however, made an application in March, 1927, five months later, for the remission of duty on certain electrical domestic appliances. Their case has already been heard by the Tariff Board, and the reduction asked for is included in the schedule.
Where the Government’s sympathies lie is plain. It behoves manufacturers to consider seriously where their interests lie.
I appreciate the difficulties of the Minis ter. I sincerely regret that Parliament has not been afforded an opportunity to reconsider the whole tariff schedule. We should lay down a policy which will have the effect of adequately protecting the whole of our industries. I should be willing to go to the extent of prohibition of imports in some cases. If the only way to counteract the depreciating exchanges, the low wages, and the intolerable industrial conditions which prevail in some European countries, is to place an embargo on importations from those countries. I should be willing to go even to that length in order to protect our manufacturers from ruin and our workers from? unemployment. We must maintain our economic standards, and establish our secondary industries on a proper basis if our country is to progress as she should, and if we are to achieve real national greatness.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.30. p.m.
. -I understand that by a voluntary arrangement a limitation has been imposed on the length of speeches; and, therefore, I shall make every endeavour to conclude my remarks within the time agreed upon. I do not propose to unnecessarily “ flog “ the subject of protection versus freetrade:I have been long enough in Parliament to know that, whenever; a tariff schedule is introduced, the merits and demerits of an issue that was old when most honorable members were boysare discussed as though the subject were brand new. Despite all the ingenuity that can be brought to bear upon it, it is practically impossible to say anything that would alter the fiscal opinions of the majority of honorable membersor the majority of the people of Australia-. For the last twenty years the consensus of opinion throughout the country has beenthat effective protection must necessarily be the national fiscal policy. For that reason it is remarkable that, whenever a new tariff schedule is introduced, certainhonorable members, who retain the old freetradeillusions, make lengthy, speeches, not because they believe that theycan change the fiscal views of the Parliament or the people, but merely because of zeal,for their cause; They lose no opportunity of elaborating, upon ideas which, the majority of the people do not hold.
– Are they not entitled toexpress their opinions?
– Yes; but they never bring forward new arguments. They simply tell us that our policy of high protection is leading us to disaster, and that, unlesswe return to freetrade or something approachingit, the outlook will be very gloomy. Probably twenty years hence similar arguments will be adduced by others who will succeed them here. The honorable member for Wimmera said to-day that the policy of continually feedingour secondary industries is leading us nowhere. In introducing a new schedule the Minister in charge tells the same story as that related! when the previous schedule Was brought forward - that those industries that were to be effectively protected some years before are still in need of effective protection. But I didnothear the honorable member state the cause for the incessant demand for extra protection. As part of our fiscal machinery we have a body that is practically the equivalent of an arbitration court. Thesecourtsprovide a constant incentive to organized Labour to lodge plaints. No sooner is one award made than the union to which’ it applies prepares to lodge another plaint. The Tariff Board is a permanent institution, whose business it is to invite manufacturers to come forward with their grievances, if they have any. Naturally, they avail themselves of that golden opportunity. We see that board accumulating a mass of reports relating to primary and secondary industries. As. happened in connexion with the present debate, a whole sheaf of these reports is placed before honorable members, who, after a cursory glance at them are amazed at the amount of work, both technical and general,that the boarddoes in the investigation of various industries. While we have this board: asan essentialpart of our fiscal machinery, We must expect constant requests for additionalduties: I donot say thatthat is abad feature of our policy. If we believe inprotection, we must accept if as aneffective measure, and we haveample evidence to justify us in sayings that? 90 per cent of the people favour it. That being; so, it is not seemly for freetraders to raise the same old crycontinually. The boardwas appointed to consider applications for tariff alteration’s, and to make recommendations to Parliament, and ifhonorablemembersdid not give the protectionaskedforwhenincreased duties were justified, they would be proclaiming themselves fiscal impostors. They would be saying that they believed in establishing . Australian industries ; butby their actions they would be stabbing, them in the back. We have heard a good deal about revenue duties. I have been rather mystified to know why honorable members with freetrade leanings persist in describing a revenue duty as an instrument for penalizing the community. I can never see why strong objection is taken to these duties, especially in a country like Australia. If we did not collect the enormous revenue that we do from that source, the functions of the Commonwealth could not be successfully performed. With our huge commitments, and with only one big source of income, it is almost foolish for honorable members to contend that that revenue should be, diminished. The Minister said that he was collecting about £29,000,000 from revenue duties; but no honorable member has said whether that sum should be cut down by £10,000,000, by half, or even by one-fourth. It has been remarked that if the amount were reduced, we could make up the leeway by increasing direct taxation. I have already said that I do not believe that more than one or two honorable members would be foolhardy enough to go before the people and advocate an increase of even . £5,000,000 in direct taxation, because the feeling throughout the country is that that taxation should not be increased, since it falls particularly upon those who largely financethe industries on which the credit of the country depends. If those individuals were discouraged, they would withdraw their capital from enterprise, with the result that we should have widespread unemployment and general depression. Until we have definite proposals for the reduction of revenue duties, and the increase of direct taxation, it may be taken that there is much insincerity on the, part of the freetraders in this chamber. It appears to me that the essence ofthe debate, apart from the hoary old arguments used infavour of freetrade as against protection, centres in the amendment of the honorable member for Wimmera. Now that he is a political free lance, he seems to take a mischievous delight in adopting what he considers to be shrewd measures in order to embarrass his former colleagues in the Country party.
– My amendment is on all fours with my attitude ever since I entered this House.
– I admit that.
– Then the honorable member should withdraw his remark.
– The honorable member specifically states in his amendment that the present policy of increasing duties should be discontinued, and that an immediate beginning should be made with a policy of gradually reducing them.
– On certain items only.
– The honorable member particularly referred to agricultural implements and other commodities used by the primary producers.
– That is part of the platform of the Country party in Victoria.
– I cannot support an amendment such as that. When the honorable member belonged to the Country party opportunities were taken by all its members to test the feeling of honorable members generally on the reduction of the duties on agricultural implements.
– The honorable member admits that hebelieved in that policy then.
– I admit that the policy of the Country party always has been to substitute bounties for duties, if practicable; but when we tested the matter the division went against us by something like 48 to 14. That was before the last election. I realizethat we should be simply bumping our heads against a brick wall if we divided! the committee on such an issue when an overwhelming majority of the members of the Labour and Nationalist parties was against us. At the last election I did not mince matters. I told my constituents, the majority of whom are primary producers, that there was no hope of theCountry party obtaining a reduction in the duties on agricultural implements as Parliament was constituted at the present time. I put the blame on the Labour and Nationalist parties. I pointed out that they did not believe in the policy of giving bounties instead of imposing dutiesfor the encouragement of the agritural implement making industry. For the present, we shall have to leave it at that. I said, however, that if there isany way by which Ave can substitutebounties for duties on agricultural implements, I shall support it; but up to thepresent I have not seen any way, and even the honorable member for Wimmera has not been able to show me one. I submit that the amendment which the honorable member lias moved is designed to bring about a further test on an issue which has been twice tested while T have been in Parliament, and with a result rather disastrous to the Country party.
– The honorable member is putting forward the extraordinary argument that one should not move an amendment unless sure it will be carried.
– I am suggesting that the honorable member for Wimmera, in moving this motion, did so with the object of being able to say outside the House that the Country party would not stand up to its election promises on this particular issue.
– Are you not going to vote for this amendment?
– I cannot support it, because it is a comprehensive indictment of the whole protectionist policy of the Government. It is a time-wasting amendment, because, even if all the members of the Country party stood together in support of it, we know what the result of the division would be. It is just so much humbug and camouflage to delude the primary producers into the belief that they can» obtain this reform, when they have not the ghost of a hope of getting it. It would be far more honest if the honorable member for Wimmera did what other country members are doing, and told the primary producers what the position actually is. I dispute also the statements of the honorable member regard? ing a. Government which I have always loyally supported, and which I shall continue to support while it proceeds on the lines it has followed during the last five years. He stated that this ‘Government had fallen down on its promises to the primary producers, and that the Country party section of the Government had been guilty of a gross breach of faith with the primary producers. The honorable gentleman referred to a statement made by the Prime Minister three or four years ago at the Sydney Show, in which he enunciated a new policy, to the effect that if it was a good thing to have protection for secondary industries, it was also a good thing for primary industries. The Prime Minister announced that it was the intention of the Government, with some of the revenue obtained from the protection of secondary industries, to assist, by means of bounties, those primary industries which needed help. The honorable member for Wimmera some time afterwards headed a deputation representing the Primary Producers Political Union of Victoria, a new organization with which he is associated, to ask the Minister for Markets and Migration for increased assistance to the dried fruits industry. He pointed out to the Minister (Mr. Paterson) that the Prime Minister had taken up this new policy, and that it was, therefore, a good opportunity for the Government to take the responsibility for all the export losses of the dried fruits industry. The Minister denied that the Government had ever assumed responsibility for the losses of the dried fruits industry. The honorable member for Wimmera thereupon accused the Minister of repudiating the Prime Minister’s policy.
– He did, too.
– The Prime Minister only said that he would set aside money to help those primary industries which were in need of assistance. An act was passed by which £500,000 was set aside to assist those primary industries, and at the very time that the honorable member for Wimmera was accusing the Minister of repudiating the Prime Minister’s policy, the Minister was sitting on a board which was considering what advances should be made to different industries. It may be news to the honorable member for Wimmera that already £200,000 has been advanced to the dried fruits industry, and that much of that has not been paid back, but has been written off by this Government. In that regard the Government has more than fulfilled the promises it made.
– In the case of the particular industry to which I referred, the statement I made was true. Let the Minister get up and defend himself.
– I can only say that the Government did pass the Export Guarantee Act, under which £500,000 was made available for the assistance of primary industries. ‘
– It is true that assistance has been given in some cases, but it has been refused in others.
– The Government also assisted1 the’ hop industry to. the. extent of 9d>. a lib-., on; a crop which was subsequently sold for 4’d. a lb-, the Governmnent losing’ more than half its. advance. The Government’s expenditure on bounties! and other forms of assistance to primary industries- has been enormous;. I have not the exact figures ; but I think they approximate £800,000. It- cannot be said that- the Government has fallen down on its policy of giving practical assistance to those primary industries which need it. The honorable member, who was himself a member- of this- Government for some time, knows that that was the definite polley of this Government, and that definite steps were taken to carry it out. It is only recently that he has assumed this militant role, and- stated that, his- ex-colleagues in the Government have been recreant to their policy of assisting primary industries.
– The Government has withdrawn the export bounty on canned fruits, or threatens to do so.
– The honorable member made the allegation that the Government had imposed extra duties on wire and wire netting, and, although he was corrected by the Minister-
– In what way?
– To this extent, that no extra duties were imposed on wire or wire netting from Great Britain. The honorable member should know that, while British wire netting can come in free, it must act as a factor in keeping prices down here.
– The statement I made was that these duties were put on, and you cannot refute that statement.
– The honorable member’s statement was merely a quibble, because he said that extra duties were imposed when he knows they were not imposed on British wire and wire netting. In regard to agricultural implements, although the cost is very high to-day, there is no doubt that, in spite of the policy of protection, there has been a tendency during the last six years to reduce prices. From 1920 to 1926 reductions have been made varying from 16 to 68 per cent.
– Yes, from the peak prices after the war
– This shows clearly that the duties which’ are imposed and maintained on agricultural implements are- not necessarily being used by the manufacturers as a means of penalizing the primary producers. I admit that: it would be better- for the producers- if they could: get, their implements more cheaply;, but,, as they cannot, we must, give the devil the credit due to him, and the manufacturer has certainly done a little’ towards lightening the, burden on the Australian producer. I have here a long list of primary industries of which the tools of trade are* carrying no duty, or very small duties. They include- such industries as fruit-growing, dairying, agriculture, general farming, mining, forestry, and timber, and many others. It shows that the great majority of the tools of trade used in these industries are not subject to duty. The honorable member can verify that for himself, if he wants to.
– Where did the honorable member get that information?
– It is official information. It shows that there has been no attempt by this Government, to increase the burdens on primary producers. On the contrary, those burdens have been reduced. The protection afforded to the dairying industry and several others has been increased. I have here a further list of industries which have- been protected for many years. Therefore, as well as lightening the burdens in connexion with such matters as implements of trade, the Government has, wherever desired, afforded effective protection to primary industries.’ That proves conclusively that this Government is absolutely sincere in its policy of no: only giving effective protection to’ secondary industries, but also of giving protection to primary industries where they need it. I challenge the honorable member for Wimmera to say that any primary industry that has put up a good, case for assistance has been turned down by this Government
I shall now briefly refer to the tobacco industry, which, unfortunately, does not appear in the schedule presented by the Minister. The Tariff Board some time ago presented a very capable and voluminous report on this subject, a report which evidently took, much time to prepare, and I am surprised that the Minister has not taken more notice of it. He has not turned it down yet, and I am hoping that after be has heard my case he will not do so. I have done a lot of work in trying to get a bounty for this industry, and I believe that if the Minister had heard the case put by the growers to the Tariff Board he would have no hesitation in granting the assistance asked for. I think the Minister has been the innocent victim of the British and American Tobacco Company. He has been impressed by the businesslike methods of that company in presenting its case. The growers have not been able to marshal their facts, perhaps, in the same way, and have not been able to quote chapter and verse for every statement they makewhereas the combine can submit a carefully prepared statement, supported by chapter and verse and columns of figures, and it is difficult for business men to get away from a case so presented? After lengthy inquiry the Tariff Board has recommended the reduction of the excise duty by 6d. per lb., involving a loss of revenue amounting to £20,000 annually. Evidently the Minister has disregarded this recommendation. Recently the Government entered into an agreement with the combine to spend £30,000 over a period of three years, provided the combine would spend a like amount, upon research into, the tobacco industry. If these investigations are to occupy three years, the industry may d”e before a cure is found for the disease from which it is suffering, just as many suffering from cancer and tuberculosis die while experts are endeavoring to discover effective means of treatment.
– The honorable member will admit that the growers are voluntarily being given an extra price this year.
– I do not admit 1.1;:lt. they are receiving an extra price. The Minister has accepted the statement of the tobacco combine, and adopted it scheme recommended, by it in direct opposition to the proposals of the growers. “No doubt, he has acted in good faith, but the course he is pursuing will lead nowhere. Since 1889, the average quantity of tobacco grown in Australia has been 2,000 tons, the yield varying according to the season. We import annually from the United States of America £3,000,000 worth of tobacco, representing 90 per cent, of the total im-. ports of all tobaccos. Only 10 per cent. . of Australian-grown tobacco is included in the blended tobaccos which the combine places on the market. The prices of tobacco and cigarettes are from 75 to 100 per cent, higher than the prewar rates. The Australian people are paying nearly double what they used to pay fox their smokes, but the growers are receiving no. more. Even the small quantity of tobacco, grown in Australia under adverse conditions is very remunerative to the country. It yields £70,000 in excise duty. That duty is 2s. 4d. per lb. on both Australian and American leaf. The local article has the advantage of an import duty of 2s. a lb., but as the. American leaf is grown mainly by black labour costing 6s. per day, and the Australian leaf is mainly the product of white labour, for which 14s. a day is paid, it will be seen that the measure of protection afforded to our growers is inadequate. The company has said to the Minister, “ We have made an agreement with you for scientific research into the industry upon the condition that there is no interference with the tariff.” In other words, if the Minister reduces the excise duty as the Tariff Board has recommended, the agreement with the combine will fall to the ground. In thisway the company, by entering into this agreement, has spragged the proposals of the growers to get more effective protection. I do not say that the agreement is not sound - it may lead to very big results - but the growers will have to wait too long for the help to which they are entitled. The Tariff Board’s report shows that the profit on an acre, of tobacco in Victoria is a little more thar £10, and in New South Wales between £40 and £45, variations of climate and soil accounting for the difference. The average price paid to Australian growers is 2s. per lb.; the customs duty prevents the combine from importing leaf at less’ than 3s. per lb., but that margin of protection is not sufficient. I suggest to the Minister that it is quite practicable to accede to the growers’ request for a bounty. The combine, however, has said to the Minister “ Do not interfere. Leave it to us. We are giving the growers a good price, and as proof of our bona fides we shall pay to them a bonus of from 3d. to 6d. per lb. of leaf over a period of three years.” The extent of their generosity is indicated by the fact that the bonus this year amounted to only about £5,000. As the combine is the only buyer, it can say to the grower “I will give you ls. 9d. or 2s. per lb. for your leaf according to its quality; take it or leave it.” By reducing the price in that way, the company can very easily recover the extra amount it may pay by way of bonus, but I do not say that it is pursuing that policy. The result would be that even with the bonus, the growers would not be getting more than they got previously for the different classes of leaf. The combine says also “ You must not employ Chinamen ; we want this to be a white man’s industry. And you must cure your leaf by the latest scientific flue treatment.” The cost of installing an up-to-date plant is about £1,000. Not every grower can afford that outlay, but hundreds of farmers have installed flues, and are not getting an adequate return on their outlay, because the company keeps the prices down to a level which makes tobacco-growing unprofit able. The combine makes an average profit of £1,000,000 a year, and the Government has handed the growers over to the company, saying “ The good kind combine will give you the bounty that we refused.” An extra return of a mere £5,000 a year is of little assistance to the industry. Whilst I appreciate the agreement made between the Government and the company, I am confident that if the growers are not given a little assistance immediately few men will be left in the industry by the time the valuable scientific report that should result from this research is compiled. The only thing then remaining to be done will be to carry the corpse to the grave. I urge the Minister not to consider the reduction of the excise duty, which is paid by the combine, but to give the growers a bounty at least equivalent to the bonus which the company- is voluntarily paying. If he offers a bounty of 6d. or ls. per lb. on only the best qualities of leaf, an enormous impetus will be given to the tobacco-growing industry, and, ultimately instead of having to import £3,000,000 of leaf each year and allowing the combine to make a profit of £1,000,000, this country will be independent of foreign supplies and may even have more than one buyer and more than one manufacturer.
.- I would not. occupy the time of the committee at this stage but for the omission from the schedule of an industry which is entitled to a reasonable measure of protection : I refer to the coke industry. The importation of this article for the past three years has been - 1924-25, 28,840 tons; 1925-26, 52,447 tons; 1926-27, 29,342 tons. The original duties of 4s. per ton on British coke ami 6s. per ton on foreign coke, which were imposed in 1901, have never been varied. In 1901, a duty of 4s. per ton was equal to 33 per cent, of the value of the coke at the oven; to-day it is equivalent to only 12 per cent, of the value at the oven. In other words the effective duty has bee:i reduced from 33 per cent, to 12 per cent. Some time ago, representations were made to the Minister by me and to the Tariff Board by those engaged in the industry that increased protection should be giver, to it. Letters were written also to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Customs, but they evaded the request by replying that 98 per cent, of coke used in Australia is locally made. That calculation took into account the coke made by the Broken Hill Proprietory Company and Hoskins’ Iron and Steel Works Limited, for use at their own foundries. If the calculation were based on only the coke that is put on the market for sale, it would be found that imported coke is equal to from 15 to 20 per cent, of the total. Only a few months ago, the South Australian Government imported 2,000 tons of coke. Though the Minister may say that the only imports are of metallurgical coke which is required for use at Port Pirie, and cannot be supplied in Australia, the fact is that of the 2,000 tons imported by the South Australian Government 300 tons were put on the market for ordinary consumption. In a letter received by me a week or so ago the Minister states -
The inquiries disclose the fact that practically the whole of the importations of coke go into South Australia, and are used for smelting purposes at Port Pirie. The imported coke costs the smelters more than if they got their requirements from the southern districts of New South Wales.
If the Minister would refer to the New South Wales Mines Department, he woUld find that its experiments showed that beehive ovens were not essential for the production of the class of coke required by the Broken Hill Associated Smelters Limited. Their works at Port Pirie use the product of their own coke works on the south coast, showing clearly that that class of coke is quite satisfactory, and could be used with success by other works at Port Pirie and- elsewhere. The iron and steel industry is not adequately protected, but it certainly has a greater measure of protection than the coke industry. If further protection is given to the iron and steel industry, the coke industry should also be encouraged, because those industries are interwoven to a considerable extent. German coke is produced cheaply because it is a byproduct of other industries, and is sold for almost nothing. Despite the fact that the manufacturers and workmen engaged in the coke industry have been agitating for protective duties for some time past, there is no mention of it so far as I can gather in the Tariff Board’s report. I hope that the Minister will refer this matter back to the board for reconsideration and report, even before the tariff schedule is disposed of, with the object of increasing the duties to give adequate protection to the coke industry.
The honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley) has referred to a company that is manufacturing crystal glass in his electorate. I have inspected that factory, and its operations are very interesting. Its product is certainly equal to the imported article. The company is also manufacturing lamp shades, and developing to some extent the artistic tastes of its employees, and it well merits protection against competitors importing cheaply- made foreign articles. The Minister and the Tariff Board have committed a grave error, almost a crime against Australian industries, in deferring duties under this schedule. Deferred duties have nothing to commend them. In the first place they lead to overimportation of the commodities on which duties are to be imposed. We have an example of this in what happened in regard to the suspended duty on cotton tweed in 1925 or 1926, when the importers brought into this country sufficient tweed to meet the requirements of Australia for some years. Immediately the duty took effect, the importers increased their prices, and to that extent exploited the Australian people, and little or no benefit was derived by Australian industry. It is a misnomer to call this Government a protectionist Government. It has a shandy-gaff policy, and its main object is to have a revenue-producing tariff. Important industries are going out of existence because of the lack of protection from foreign competition. The works of George Bond and Company have closed down, and even if they re-open within a month or two the loss to the community generally should cause the members of this Government to hang their heads in shame. No truly protectionist government would permit industries to close down for six or eight months before it imposed protective duties to enable them .to compete successfully against foreign competition. I would sooner have a freetrade government in power than this Government, because Australian industries would then know where they stood. There is no form of taxation in the world that is more immoral and iniquitous than indirect taxation through the customs, because it is a subterfuge on the part of the Government to delude the people, and to collect moneys which it is afraid to obtain from them by way of direct taxation. This Government continues to pile up revenue duties so that the Commonwealth revenue may be enormously in-‘ creased, but it fails to realize the dire effect its policy is having upon the community. I trust that the Government will see the error of its way, and that the day is not far distant when a government will be in power that is prepared to give adequate protection to Australian industries. It has been said that the Minister has a difficult task before him, and I quite realize that, because the honorable members who keep the Government in office comprise freetraders, protectionists, and shandy-gaffers. The Minister, like the man with the ass, is trying to please everybody, but is pleasing nobody. This national parliament is a protectionist parliament. Whenever a vote is taken on the clear-cut issue of protecting industry, honorable members are overwhelmingly iu favour of it, but because the Government depends for its existence upon the support of a few honorable members who are not protectionists, Australian industries have to suffer. I regret that the Standing Orders preclude honorable members from moving for increases of duty, otherwise I am quite satisfied that the schedule would be materially altered, and Australian industries would thereby benefit considerably. Unfortunately, we have to accept what the Minister is prepared to give to us. I hope that it is not too late to impress upon him the necessity for accepting some of the alterations to the schedule that have been suggested by honorable members, and that he will give adequate protection to the coke industry in particular. I shall reserve my further remarks until the individual items are under discussion.
.- The schedule introduced by the Minister indicates that the Government is keenly alive to the necessity for safeguarding Australian industries. The items protected are varied and numerous, and it is quite apparent that each has had the very careful examination of the Tariff Board. I deprecate the criticism that has been levelled against the board. When one considers the work which the board has accomplished during the last twelve months, one must admit that it has endeavoured faithfully to carry out the onerous duties imposed upon it. It is claimed that the board dealt with bylaws involving- 861 items, and also furnished 953. reports, to the Minister. That being so, it must have had a very busy time indeed. The right honorable member for North. Sydney (Mr. Hughes) made the excellent suggestion that: the reports of the board should be acted upon in every instance - rise or fall. We all have the greatest confidence in the Minister for Trade and Customs, and I cannot imagine that either he or his staff would neglect to carefully consider every recommendation of the board. The board has opportunities to see the various industries in operation, and to examine witnesses connected with them, so that, it must become remarkably well informed and efficient. It is inconsistent for honorable members to urge that the Minister should use his own discretion in some cases, and act upon the advice of the Tariff Board in others. Honorable members cannot have things both ways, and I support the Minister in resenting the implications made against him. The honorable gentleman stated that this revision involved 138 alterations, and that of that number 24 dealt with what are known as revenue producing items. This portion of the schedule will be very welcome to many people. No doubt it will be claimed that the duty should have been removed from even a greater number of items. However, it must be remembered that, with the new financial agreement into which it has entered with the States, the Government will have difficulty in meeting its financial commitments, and’ it will be necessary to curtail expenditure as much as possible Periodic revisions of the tariff are necessary in order that Australia may keep abreast of the constantly changing economic conditions throughout the world, but the Government would be justified in adopting a more speedy method of giving effect to such alterations than that hitherto employed. Some time ago the Minister suggested that we should have a tariff session in each year. The idea has much to recommend it. All recommendations of the Tariff Board could then be considered with greater expedition, and decisions would be promptly arrived at. Such a procedure would be welcomed by the manufacturing organizations of Australia, and it would benefit the consumers, as there would be a better chance of controlling the cost of production, which is important.. I appreciate the efforts of the Government to protect industries that are useful and necessary tothe people of Australia, but those efforts will, be abortive if employer and artisan fail to co-operate in an endeavour to produce an article that will compare favorably with imported articles in quality and usefulness. I shall quote one or two paragraphs from the annual report of the Tariff Board for the year ended 30th June, 1927, which I think deserves consideration at the time when alterations to the tariff schedule are being made. On page 13 it reads -
It is satisfactory to note that many of the last increases in duties that were brought into effect have been the means of stimulating production in Australia and of attracting manufacturers oversea to establish works in this country. In one particular case a large manufacturer in Great Britain, who recently visited Australia, and as the result of such visit decided to establish a factory here, stated that he at first viewed the high duties imposed in Australia with resentment, but on further consideration he decided that his trade with this country was too valuable to lose, and that he would establish a factory here, and enjoy the protection afforded to him as against manufacturers abroad.
Such factories bring in the skill and experience of the parent house, and they set a standard in knowledge of the craft and of efficency in production which the Australian factories have to contend against, and which tend towards the cheaper production of the commodity handled to the benefit of the community at large.
That indicates very satisfactory progress, and we should all rejoice that those factories have been induced to open up branches in Australia. Although I believein protection, and am willing to give our industries every opportunity to make good, I submit that there must be a limit to the height to which we raise our tariff wall. It is impossible to pile duty on duty and not expect a crash. The Tariff Board condemns such a procedure, and draws attention to the everwidening gap between the standard of living in Australia and that in the United Kingdom and Europe generally. Some honorable members do not appreciate the candour of the board. Its report of 1926 expressed strong opinions on certain subjects, and the present report contains some remarks that may also be resented by some honorable members. In my opinion the criticism is both necessary and welcome. On page 18 the report reads -
Section 17 of the Tariff Board Act sets out clearly that: - “ The board may, on its own initiative, inquire into and report on any of the matters referred to in sub-section 2 of section 15 of this act.”
Sub-section 2 of section15 reads -
The Minister may refer to the board for their inquiry and report the following matters:-
the general effect of the working of the customs tariff and the excise tariff in relation to the primary and secondary industries of the Commonwealth ;
the fiscal and industrial effects of the customs laws of the Commonwealth ;
the incidence between the rates of duty on raw materials and on finished or partly finished products; and
any other matter in any way affecting the encouragement of primary or secondary industries in relation to the tariff.
Sub-clause b justifies the board in the criticism that has proved unwelcome to members on the other side of the committee. The report goes on to say -
In view of this public trust, the Tariff Board considers it obligatory upon it, not only to refer to this very critical matter again, but to re-affirm and further emphasize the warning it issued last year, being convinced that the situation has become even more ominous.
– Does the honorable member endorse the view that those men haveno right to go before the board for the purpose of securing increases in the tariff?
– I shall be very pleased to reply to that remark when I come to a paragraph which refers to it more specifically.
– My remark was relevant to the paragraph just read by the honorable member.
– There is one to which the remark of the honorable member is even more relevant. This report may be very familiar to honorable members, but it is advisable that some of its paragraphs should go into Hansard so that those people who frequent schools of art and similar institutions may have an opportunity to peruse them. I cannot avoid reference to paragraphs that may hurt the susceptibilities of honorable members opposite, but I shall deal with the matter as it affects both employer and employee. The report continues -
Another feature of the situation is the use made by manufacturers of profits arising as the result of a high degree of protection. Parliament has imposed protective duties in the interests of the community as a whole and distinctly not for the purpose only of enriching certain manufacturers. When such duties are imposed upon the community and under the shelter of such protection an Australian industry is made possible, one of the first duties of a protected manufacturer is to see that the community gets an adequate return for the protection it has accorded him, and that local prices sheltered by the duty are kept down to the lowest possible limit consistent with a reasonable and legitimate re. turn on capital. In an industry that tends to be a monopoly this is more than ever important and essential. Where a highly protected industry returns to its shareholders dividends considerably in excess of the ordinary commercial rates, it is obvious that the object of the protective duties is being abused and that an appreciable portion of the profits disclosed should have been devoted to reductions in prices rather than as payments to shareholders. The board calls pointed attention to this state of affairs, which if it continues may involve consideration of whether the duties imposed have not been higher than were necessary to protect the industry.
Generally speaking, the Tariff Board is satisfied that in its experience secondary manufacturers in Australia are endeavouring to maintain a high standard of efficiency, and the management in the main succeeds. However, it does happen that at times attempts are made to make use of the tariff to shelter plant, machinery, and methods which have passed, or are passing, out of date under stress of modern development. Where the board during its investigations finds evidence of such practices it does not hesitate to point them out, and does not make recommendations which would encourage them to be maintained.
Manufacturers -have been known to request additional protection to enable them to continue working a plant to produce goods in competition with those produced overseas by the use of more up-to-date machinery which greatly improves production at lessened cost.
That paragraph indicates that the board has not set out specially to condemn either the manufacturers or the workers, but is anxious to protect both those people and the great consuming public. I do not regard protection simply as a means to provide profitable work for individuals or profits for manufacturers. Its chief virtue is to assist the consuming public, to give them an article at a reasonable price which is in every way equal to the imported product. “We desire to assist the primary producer and secondary industries so that employment may be found for increasing numbers of our people; but we must have efficiency. Another paragraph of the report deals with industrial unions, and is very important. It occurs at page 21,. and reads -
The board regrets being compelled to place on record its conclusions, arrived at after the most intimate touch with all phases of industry within the Commonwealth, that there is a prevailing tendency which is calculated to abuse the protective system and by forcing the pace is not confined to one section alone but under disadvantageous conditions to actually endanger the efficacy of the system. This tendency is common to the industrial unions, the secondary producers and the primary producers of the Commonwealth. It is proposed to deal later with each group separately and to justify this far-reaching assertion.
The board is profoundly convinced that if Australian industry is to be maintained and safeguarded, it is absolutely essential that the leaders of industrial unions should recognize this serious menace of rising costs of pro.duction which the board has indicated. The board wishes it to be understood that it is not desirous of taking any side in the industrial disputes within the Commonwealth, but it cannot be blind to the fact that simultaneously with tlie board being asked to consider large increases on such important industries as -
Iron and steel,
Butter and cheese,
Textiles, with the object of enabling such industries to exist, applications had been lodged and arbitration courts - Federal and State - had been and were being asked to grant not only increased wages, but .further improved conditions and shorter hours, and State Governments were introducing legislation at the time which further added to the already high cost of production.
I have no desire to see manufacturers exploiting the people of Australia, nor the unions using protection as a plea for higher wages. It is quite clear that higher wages and shorter hours mean an increase in the cost of production, and consequently an increase in the cost of living. I remember that, when the 1921 tariff was before us, the Minister in charge of it assured us that it was certain to assist our secondary industries to develop, and that there would be no need to increase it for a long while to come. But since then several increases have been made, and on each occasion that a revised schedule has been before us, we have hoped that it would be the last. If this schedule leads to an increase in the
Arbitration Court awards, Ihave no doubt that we shall soon be asked to increase the duties which are now being imposed.
– Does the Minister suggest that these are all new items?
– Nearly all of them are new. Very few of them were affected by the last schedule
– If that is so the Minister could not undertake that there would be no increases in them in the future. I have quoted those paragraphs from the report of the board in order to get down to bedrock, and to enable me to offer some suggestion to overcome our difficulties. Although we all regret that the Industrial Delegation which recently visited the United States of America was not able to present a unanimous report, both the majority and minority reports are interesting and instructive. But we do not need to go to America for a lead in this matter. I am strongly ofthe opinion that piece-work or payment by results should be advocated by our industrial leaders. The Labour party objects to this policy; but I am glad to notice that recently the ex-Premier of Queensland, Mr. W. N. Gillies, who is now a member of the Board of Trade and Arbitration in that State, advised the workers there to give serious consideration to the adoption of piece-work. His remarks are reported in a section of the press as follows : -
Mr. Gillies advised the unions to give very serious consideration to the questionof payment by results. The system of the uniform wage, he pointed out, had been exhausted, and he could not see how there could be any advance in the standard of living without greater co-operation between the employers and the employees. Payment by results, he said, was worthy of the most careful investigation and until the unions are prepared to co-operate there is little hope of any improvement
Those observations were supported by the senior member of the board. I regret that the rank and file of unionists is not more frequently advised to give earnest consideration to this policy. We are told that the chief objection to it is that it tends to the enslaving of the workers, and that it is unsocialistic ; but the policy is already in operation among the shearers, coal-miners, sugar -workers and primary producers. I am entitled to describe the primary producers as pieceworkers. They have to sell their products in the markets of the world, so they are paid by results. It is of great importance to our secondary industries that they should be able to market their products overseas; but before that will be possible we shall have to reduce our cost of production. I have the kindliest feelings and regard for the workers of this country, and I desire to see them prosper. I am satisfied that our workmen are equal to any in the world, and I class , the artisan as the aristocrat of the community. I respectfully advise them to give earnest consideration to the adoption of the piece-work method, for in my opinion, it is the fairest system to adopt. I believe in the fixing of a minimum wage for unskilled workers; but I consider it to be a crime and a great injustice to skilled artisans that they should haveto set their pace by that of the inefficient man. I am frequently surprised that they do not resist the suggestion that they receive to limit their output.
– Does the honorable member suggest that our railways could be operated on piece-work?
– I do not, but practically all our secondary industries could adopt the policy.
– Some could and some could not.
– Piece-work has been applied to the railway workshops at Ipswich, and -also, I believe, to the Islington workshops in South Australia. It is apparent to everybody that we cannot indefinitely continue to build up our tariff wall and increase our wages. We must reduce the cost of production to give our secondary industries an opportunity to compete in the markets of the world. If they could’ do so, both employers and employees would be much better off. After all, it is; the purchasing power of wages that determine their value to the workers; and if by reducing wages and the cost of production we could reduce living cost’s we also make it possible for our secondary industries to export their products, and the whole community is benefited. I can promise the Minister for Trade and Customs general support of the schedule, although there are certain items that need a satisfactory explanation.
The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. J. Francis) and the honorable member for Brisbane (“Mr. D. Cameron) referred to the necessity of imposing uniform customs duties throughout Australia. It is important that there should be no differentiationin duties between one State and another. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) visited Brisbane last year a large and representative deputation discussed the subject with him, and he stated that if a legal remedy could be suggested he would refer it to the Minister for Trade and Customs for favourable consideration. Constitutionally it is illegal to differtiate between the States; but it is being done constantly. A portion of a shipment of goods may be landed at Fremantle or Adelaide at a certain rate of duty; but if a tariff schedule affecting the balance of the cargo is tabled before the ship reaches Sydney or Brisbane a higher rate of duty is imposed on it. I know that the departmental officers will say that the trouble is incurable; but an attempt should be made to find a remedy. The subject is regarded as important by the members of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, which for a long time has been agitating for relief. I sincerely hope that the Minister for Trade and Customs will do his utmost to overcome the difficulties of the situation.
.- I desire to refer to certain matters which particularly affect Queensland. I shall not criticize the administration of the Minister for Trade and Customs, for I know that he has difficulties to face. Almost half the members of the Cabinet are freetraders and the remainder are moderate protectionists. The result is that, even though he may be willing to accord more sympathetic treatment to our secondary industries, he cannot get his colleagues to go far with him. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are not satisfied that our industries are receiving adequate protection.
I wish first of all to discuss items 105 and 115 in the revised schedule. The former deals with “ Piece Goods, Cotton, Silk or containing Silk, Artificial Silk,” &c, and the latter with cotton socks and stockings. It is proposed that these amended duties shall not be enforced until the 1st July, 1928. I look at this matter not only from the point of view of the manufacturers of cotton piece goods, but also from that of the raw cotton growersin Queensland, who are greatly perturbed at the action which the Government is taking. In support of my statement, . I wish to quote a number of telegrams. which I have received and in connexion with which I have already made representations to the Minister. Telegrams, such as the following, have reached me on this subject -
Decision Government defer duty imported cotton goods till July nineteen twenty-eight serious threat cotton industry. Growers Dahlia Scrub request you protest and urge that duty take effect at once.
DonRiver Producers’ Association strongly protest against duty being deferred on cotton goods; season’s crop a record. Use best endeavour have duty imposed immediately otherwise serious loss cotton industry.
Growers urge that dutyon cotton goods be imposed immediately and strongly protest against duty being deferred. - Local Producers’ Association, Dixalie.
Local Producers’ Associations in Dawson Valley strongly protest against deferring duty on cotton goods by Federal Government. Season’s cotton a record. Your assistance appreciated to have duty imposed immediately otherwise serious loss to growers.
Probably the Minister does not realize what the deferring of the duties will mean to the growers.No doubt the importers will stock heavily during the next six months. By importing sufficient supplies of piece goods to carry them over a considerable period, employment will be provided for factories in other countries instead of work being given to Australian manufacturers, who buy the locally grown cotton crop, which comes from Queensland. It is contended by those who know best that the growers will be heavy losers, because a large proportion of the crop will have to be exported. record crop is promised for the coming season, owing largely to the extensive propaganda carried on by the Queensland Cotton Pool Board. Southern spinners in Australia have already communicated with the board, reducing their cotton requirements for tue ensuing season in view of the decision of the Government to defer the proposed increase in duty for six month’s. Mr. D. C. Pryce, chairman of the board, has wired to the Minister for Trade and Customs as follows : -
Southern spinners advise that, owing to the deferred duties on certain cotton goods, it will be necessary for them to reduce their lint requirements for the coming season. As the Cotton Board’s efforts have resulted in extensive expansion of the industry, it will now be necessary to export a large proportion of the crop, thus seriously reducing the payment to growers, and seriously defeating the object of the bounty.
That telegram shows how apprehensive are the growers over the action of the Government in deciding to defer the duties instead of making them operative at once. The industry is on the threshhold of a most successful year; but it is in danger of a serious setback. Buyers of cotton piece goods, knitted cotton piece goods in tubular form, socks, stockings, Ac, will bc able to import them from abroad instead of getting them from the Australian manufacturers. This industry promises to become one of the most important in Australia. Queensland, with its huge territory with an indifferent rainfall, calls for a dry weather crop, and the cultivation of cotton can be most satisfactorily carried on in areas where the rainfall is uncertain. It is an excellent crop for the small farmer, the dairyman, or the agriculturalist, who wishes to supplement his earnings by growing ten or twenty acres of cotton. The industry promises to be twice as important, in the coming season as it was in the last. . In 1926-27., there were approximately 2,800 growers in Queensland, and in the coming season the number will be about 6,000, while the increase in the yield of cotton is expected to bo over 200 per cent, greater. According to the chairman of the Queensland Cotton Pool Board, the growers will receive a dreadful setback if the duties are deferred. Fortunately the total output of Australian-grown Cotton is now taken by the Australian manufacturers to be spurn into yarn for various fabrics. It ‘is purchased by such firms as Bond and Company, the Austra lian Spinning Mills, and the Yarra Falls Spinning Mills and others, at price? far above those that would be received if the cotton were exported to the other side of the world. Recently many of the manufacturers have had a bad time. We know that Bond and Company are going into liquidation. They have put ofl hundreds of employees. On the definite statement of the chairman of the Queensland Cotton Pool Board, the southern spinners have advised that if the duties on certain cotton goods are deferred for six months, it will be necessary for them -to limit their lint requirements for the coming season, meaning that they will not be able to taken even as much cotton as they bought last year. Seeing that the crop promises to be three times as large as it was last season, the balance will have to be exported in competition with cotton grown in the United States of America, and black labour countries such as Egypt. The Queensland growers will thus be unable to make a success of the industry, and many of them will be driven out of it, although they were induced to go in for cotton production and to spend large sums in agricultural machinery, &c, -for that purpose. I hope that the Minister will be prepared to make the duties operative at once. ‘If the decision to delay the amended duties is put into effect, great losses will be experienced by the manufacturers of tubular piece goods, and as a natural consequence cotton-growers in Queensland will suffer. The Minister has been misinformed as to the actual position, and the Tariff Board has been unduly influenced by the statements of opponents of the Australian industry. Information has been collected from various factories in New South Wales and the other States as to the productive capacity of the machines in use in those factories. It is estimated that the factories in New South Wales alone contain machines that can turn out upwards of 50,000 pounds of knitted tubular fabrics weekly. This output is based on single shift, with a 44- hour week. In 52 weeks those machines could produce approximately 2,500,000 pounds of this fabric, if they worked only one shift; and, as Australia requires between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 pounds per annum, the factories in New South Wales alone are capable of meeting the whole of its requirements. As such factories as Bond and Company, the Atlas Knitting Mills, MacRae Knitting Mills, Belford Knitting Mills, Lustre Hosiery Company, MarkFoy’s Limited, Stevens Knitting Mills, Littlewood Brothers, Winslow Knitting Mills, Reliance Manufacturing Company, A. Tuckerman and Company, Latham and Company and Australian Silknit Limited, could produce 50,000 pounds of tubular knitted goods per week, it cannot be said that, if the duty were made operative at once, the Australian manufacturers could not supply the requirements of Australia. Even if it were found that they could not supply them, why could they not work more than one shift, since the estimate that I have given is based on the assumption that only a single shift is worked? Unfortunately, the imports of these goods from Japan, as well as from Great Britain, has increased greatly of late years. The import statistics clearly reflect the growth of the importations of cotton knitted fabrics, including cheese cloth and meat cloth. The following figures relate to Japan, a cheap labour country: -
I direct honorable member’ s attention to the following statement made before the Tariff Board : -
It is necessary to make but a brief reference to present-day economic conditions in Japan with a view to accounting for the extremely low prices at which cotton half -hose from that country can be obtained. The following extracts are taken from the U.S.A. Labour Review for November, 1926 (pages 14-26):-
In Japan since 1023 the legal limit for factory hours hasbeen 11 a day (without a weekly limit. . . . . The legal age for beginning work up to the present year was 12. . . . since July, 1926, it has been 14. . . . In practice children of both sexes go to work as soon as any employer is willing to take them. . . . the average monthly wage for males (adults) was 37.4 yen (£3 17s.), females, adults 34.6 yen (£2 10s.). Just what these wages mean in terms of cost of liv ing is hard to say, but making all due allowance for those standards. . . . they are not subsistence wages . . . and the labour of women and children is necessary to make up even the minimum income on which living is possible. The Oriental textile worker in general lives in a state of poverty almost inconceivable to the Western mind. . . . Almost a quarter of the entire force are under sixteen. … In this group of young workers, girls are in an overwhelming majority. With regard to days of rest during the month, the largest proportion of factories gave two days.
This is what the Australian manufacturer has to compete against. I say that it is absolutely impossible; and if we allow the importers in Australia another six months in which to get their supplies they will stock up for a couple of years ahead from Japan and England, and the Australian manufacturers will be in a very precarious position. Some will have to go out of business altogether, and it will be a very serious set-back to the Queensland cotton-growers.
– Yes, eleven hours a day in Japan. In 1926 an increase in duty was given to the knitting industry, and this gave every promise of securing the bulk of the trade to Australian manufacturers, but the importers found a means by which it was possible to get round the tariff, and to defeat these duties. By the importation of tubular knitted fabric from Japan and Great Britain they were able to evade the duty and have knitted goods made up in Australia at prices with which the local manufacturer could not compete. These knitted tubular fabrics were brought into Australia at prices lower than those for which the yarn could be manufactured in Australia. The knitted fabric, before being made into garments, is the fundamental basis of the knitting industry, and requires great technical knowledge for its manufacture. Fully 75 per cent. of the capital invested in the industry is being utilized in this work. The figures in connexion with the importation of cotton piece goods in tubular form for apparel disclose the growth of the making-up business in Australia, from imported cotton piece goods.
It is thismaking-up from the imported material which is defeating the object of the tariff, which set out to help local manufacturers. The figures are as follow : -
For the three months ending 30th September, 1927, the importations of cotton piece goods in tubular form amounted to £95,500. .
The total importations of cotton tubular fabric were -
This shows the huge increase in the importation of these goods. If the Minister defers this duty for another six months instead of making it operative at once, he will accentuate this difficulty. The total importation of cotton tubular fabric in 1925-26 was £170,622. In 1926-27 it had risen to £250,909, an increase of approximately £80,000. These figures show conclusively what large increases are taking place in these importations, and they should furnish ample reason to the Minister not to delay in bringing in the duties. I cannot understand why he should dilly-dally about the matter at all. If he had his way I believe he would make them operative immediately, but no doubt it is the Country party section in the Ministry which influences him. That is the section that always runs a candidate for the Capricornia electorate, and they tell the cotton-growers, whom I represent, that they are their friends. We know, however, that they are against these duties, that they are the freetrade element in this Government, and the Minister feels that he has to swing towards the Country party one moment, and towards the Nationalist party the next. If the Minister had his own way, and were not interfered with by the Country party, he might do something at once for the Queensland cottongrowers by making this duty operative immediately, so that the makers-up in Australia, who import knitted goods from Japan and England, and just finish them off here, would have to buy from the local manufacturers of these goods, instead of buying from people who are employing cheap labour in Japan at from £2 10s. to £3 10s. a month.
There is another matter I wish to touch upon as this is the only opportunity I shall have of replying to certain statements made during this debate in regard to the Queensland sugar industry. I represent a large sugar area, and I wish to take this opportunity of refitting the statements made by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook), the Nationalist member who sits behind the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– The honorable member for Franklin is in favour of protection for the timber industry.
– It is a good thing that he wants protection for something. He is in favour of protecting the timber industry in Tasmania, but not of protecting the sugar industry in Queensland. I know that the honorable member for Bass takes the broad Australian view. The honorable member for Franklin said that if it were not for the embargo placed upon the importation of sugar, the fruit industry would be in a much ‘more prosperous condition than it is to-day.
– It made the fruit industry during the war.
– Of course it did, and yet the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), said that they would lift the embargo, and let the black-grown sugar in. They said it would be a good thing for the Australian fruit industry, and so on. Those statements caused me to make a survey of the Commonwealth production of fresh fruit. For the year 1922-23 Australia’s production of fresh fruit was disposed of as follows -
The cost of sugar, be it high or low, does not affect by one iota items 1, 2 or 3, except a small percentage of fresh southern fruits that are stewed or cooked in hotels and domestic etsablishments. Sugar does affect canned fruit and jam, but to nothing like the extent believed in some quarters. This shows that only 47,000 tons of fruit was in any way affected by the price of sugar, and for “that some honorable members are prepared to sacrifice the sugar industry, because they say that if it were possible to get sugar from Fiji, it would effect great improvement in the fruit industry. The cost of sugar does not affect by one iota the fruit eaten fresh, or made into wine, or the dried fruits, except a small percentage of fresh southern fruits that are ste,wed or cooked in hotels or domestic establishments. It does affect canned fruit and jam, but to nothing like the extent believed bv the honorable member for Franklin, or the honorable members for Swan and Forrest, The present cost of sugar in a standard 30-oz. can, which is retailed at from ls. to ls. 3d., averages only .62d. The prewar cost of the sugar at £20 12s. 6d. per ton was .42d. per can. The retail price of canned fruit has increased by 5-Jd. per can since 1913, of which increase only 2d. is due to sugar, and 5.30d., or 26£ times as much, is due to other items. Therefore, no one can have anything to complain about in regard to the increased price of sugar. The effect of sugar on the price of canned fruits is obviously infinitesimal. As to jam, the standard 1^-lb. tin was retailed at an average price of 6½d. in 1913. It contained 2d. worth of sugar. The same jam now sells at an average of 11½d., or more, in which the sugar cost is nearly 3d. It was 6-^d. in 1913 for the average 1^-lb. tin, but is 11½d., or more in many cases, to-day. Thus the increased cost of 5d. a tin includes only an extra Id. for sugar, but another 4d. for other items. If they got sugar for nothing,, there would still be an increase of 4d. in the price of that tin of jam. Now that we have to. pay more for the sugar, there is only an increase of 5d. in that 14-lb. tin of jam. Sugar has not increased- in price more in proportion than ‘ other commodities, including all the important domestic commodities used in the home. This is shown by the following table of retail prices obtained from the- Commonwealth statistician’s office -
Sugar to the Australian consumer showed an increase of only 15 per cent.
– Can the honorable member connect these remarks with the tariff?
– Yes. The Minister has been urged to remove the sugar embargo. We have been told that the price to the Australian consumer is inordinately high, and that if black-grown sugar were admitted greater prosperity would accrue to the fruit industry, and everybody would be more prosperous. I am showing that the embargo is justified, and that a duty would not be sufficient to exclude blackgrown sugar.
– The people would prefer to pay a little more for Australian whitegrown sugar.
– Yes. It will be noted that the price of sugar has increased by a smaller proportion than that of any other foodstuff except meat, and by 13.5 per cent, less than the basic wage. In Australia the consumption of sugar in all forms is 119 lb. per capita - the highest in the world. In the United States of America, where sugar is cheap, and the people are prosperous, it -is 104 lb. per capita. No other country approaches these figures, and it is difficult to conceive of Australia increasing its per capita consumption to any marked extent, no matter how cheap sugar might become. We have been told that if sugar were cheaper the poor man would buy more, but as the average weekly consumption for a family of five - man, wife,, and, three children - -is only 6 lb., a reduction of sugar tr. the
London price of 3£d. per db., would mean a saving of only )6d. a week, aoa infinitesimal .saving in comparison with other housekeeping costs. It is well to note the following maximum retail prices in different countries between the years 1915 and 1920.: - Australia, <3d. per lb., and-3£d. per .Oh. from 1915 to March, 1.920; United Kingdom, ls. 2d.; United States of America, ls. 3d.; Canada, ls. 2d.; France, 3s. 6d..;’ Italy, ls. 6d.; and Java, lOd. Because of government control of the sugar industry and fixation of .the price, the Australian consumers saved during that period £12,000.000. which they would have been required to pay had they been dependent upon Java, Fiji, and other countries for their supplies. The cane-growers lost that amount by patriotically submitting to the fixed lower price. The wholesale price of sugar rose to £80 in the United Kingdom in April, 1920, and to £96 in the following November, but during that period the Australian retail price remained stationary at £49 per ton. I think I have said sufficient to refute the assertion of honorable members of the Country and Nationalist party that the embargo on imported sugar should be lifted. It is well that some of us who represent the sugar industry should say a few words in support of the present sane policy of control in the sugar industry, and I cannot allow the insidious propaganda of some honorable members of this chamber against the industry to pass unchallenged.
An increase in the duty on butter is long overdue. The Labour party recognizes protection as the accepted policy of the Australian people, and it believes that its benefits should be extended to the primary producer as well as to the- manufacturer. For that reason I have been urging for a considerable time that the duty on butter should be increased to 6d. per lb. The importation of large quantities of butter from New Zealand and other countries, and the sending of hundreds of thousands of pounds out of the Commonwealth was unfair to the Australian dairyman. Ha has been paying high prices for what he wears and uses in order to keep employed the 500,000 people in Australian factories who, with their families, provide a home market for the primary producer. The 143,785 persons engaged in the dairying industry are the hardest worked people in the Commonwealth. They and their wives and children toil from daylight .until dark to eke -out a bare existence. The annual output of the butter factories was valued at .£2 2,7 26, 2 14, and the value of dairy production, including butter, cheese, milk, bacon, eggs, &c, was £45,189,543, whilst the value of the land and buildings used for factories was £1,863,439. In the factories alone 5,S26 persons are employed, and the annual wages bill is £1,2S7,000. Notwithstanding the magnitude of this industry, the imports from New Zealand for the past five years have been- 1922-23, 2,804,426 lb., valued at £224,566; in 1923-24, 2,345,289 lb., valued at £189,968 ; in 1924-25, 1,784 lb., valued at £193; in 1925-26, ‘2,978,568 lbvalued at £245,940; whilst in 1926-27j the value of imports rose to £518,000. While that money was going out of the Commonwealth, our dairymen were producing more butter than Australia could consume, and sending the exportable surplus overseas to compete with the products of Denmark, and other countries adjacent to the London market, whose standards of living are much lower than those in Australia. I say, therefore, that this increase in duty is long overdue. The Minister has acted wisely though tardily, and I hope that the increase will be passed by the committee without demur. It will assist the hardest worked and lowest paid people engaged in any of our industries, the majority of whom do not earn the basic wage. Amongst instances quoted, to the Tariff Board were those of a .man who, after paying wages and interest on a £5,000 property, received £708 ; his expenses amounted to £669, leaving a balance of only £39 for the maintenance of himself, his wife, and family. Another man, whose capital outlay was £3,615, expended £373, and received £498, leaving a balance of £115, without allowing anything for the labour of himself and his family. In order to earn that amount he had to utilize the labour of his wife and little children. In Queensland one year the butter factories prepared a statement which showed that the net return to the suppliers in one of the most prosperous dairying districts in the State averaged £2 per week. If these people did not grow nearly all. their own food, they would not he able to exist at all. I therefore repeat that the increase in duty is a tardy measure of justice. In conclusion, I hope that the Minister will give favorable consideration to my suggestion that the increased duty on cotton piece goods should become operative immediately instead of being deferred for six months.
.- Il may be safely said that no country in the world is entirely self-contained. Certainly the German people demonstrated during the world war a wonderful capacity to live upon the productions of their own empire, and in times of peace the United States of America, with 120,000,000 people, and a wonderful diversity of industries and occupations, probably is nearer to being self-contained than any other country in the civilized world. Because all countries are more or less interdependent, it is the practice of the modern world, with the exception of Great Britain, Russia and China, to adopt a policy of protection in order to preserve the home markets for the industries of their own people. That fundamental principle is in almost universal operation. Although tlie honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) delivered yesterday a well -constructed and well-reasoned speech, he was advocating a fiscal system which the whole world has discarded. The issue of freetrade or protection is not raised by this schedule, nor is it alive in this or any other civilized country. Notwithstanding the deliberations of the Economic Conference, that body is not to be entrusted with the determination of the domestic policy of any country, and Australia has made it perfectly clear that her participation in that gathering and the League of Nations Assembly must.be regarded as without prejudice to her complete autonomy in matters of domestic policy.
– Our representative signed the report of the Economic Conference.
– Yes, but with the deliberate reservation that Australia’s participation in the conference should be understood as being without prejudice to Australia’s right to self determination in matters of domestic policy. I am not dis posed to view the schedule as a test between protection and freetrade, nor am I concerned with the declarations of individual members upon these principles. They are to my mind no longer within the realm of useful controversy. Since 1921 we have had thirteen tariff measures in this Parliament. We have had three general schedules and various tariff adjustments. I am one who believes that it is not prudent or wise for a country to be always tinkering with its tariff, because that is disconcerting not only to our own industries, but also to the trade of the world. To use a word that has emerged from this debate, and has, I think, been ‘ borrowed from recent discourses abroad, we are sure to have a repercussion if we keep altering and tinkering with our trade relationships with other countries. Quite recently we negotiated trade treaties with New Zealand and Canada, and I had the pleasure of handling one of them completely and the major portion of the other. Some of the items of those trade treaties will be effected by the present schedule. The countries concerned will not treat that as a friendly act unless the Minister in advance has taken soundings. The treaty that we negotiated with New Zealand was on a give-and-take basis. We give, and if we take back, we have to give something in return to New Zealand to maintain the feeling of commercial reciprocity and harmony that was the basis of the treaty. I have no doubt that if we displace this trade and disturb the trade treaty, the Minister will take the necessary steps to make up for the alteration, and to maintain friendly relations. Of course, our first duty is to our own country and industries, but <I regret, that there is growing about Australia an atmosphere somewhat unfriendly to us in trading regions not far from Australia. I observe, for instance, that there is in the schedule the item coffee. Under the prior tariff there was a duty of 3d. a lb. on coffee all round. The alteration is to be - duty free from Great Britain, and 3d. general tariff. I subscribe generally to the principle of British preference, but this item alone will cause a dislocation of trade, and if there is to be anything in the nature of repercussion, this item will surely bring it about.
I am not pleading for any other country. I merely wish to show that we cannot he permanently tinkering with the tariff, when trade has been established and grown round us for years, without incurring trade animosity from those in our vicinity. I should like to see all the islands to the north and north-east of Australia one great barrage of goodwill towards this country. We should certainly have a more direct and closer relationship with them; in fact, we should be their greatest market and godfather, so to speak, notwithstanding that they are inhabited by a race different from ours. The day may come when it would be well for Australia to have the goodwill of these people, and I venture to say that it would be a prudent and beneficial step for the Government of Australia to watch care- ( fully the trade of those islands and of the East. In the year 1925-26, . of the total of coffee of 3,754,000 lb. imported into Australia, 2,062,000 lb. came from the Dutch Indies, and. only 809,000 lb. from India. Under this schedule the Dutch Indies will become subject to duty and its immediate neighbouring competitor will be duty free. It may be said that that is the result of the policy of British preference, but I would point out to the Minister that in butter, for instance, the trade is reversed. I shall take the years 1913 and 1925 to illustrate my point. In 1913 Holland supplied 50 per cent, of the total butter requirements of the Dutch Indies, as against 40 per cent, from Australia. In 1925 Holland supplied only 6$ per cent, of those requirements, while Australia entering her open ports supplied 93 per cent. That trade has become ours by reason of propinquity and satisfactory trade relations, and it is increasing. As we get coffee from the Dutch Indies it is only natural that that country should take butter from us, but under this schedule it may impose a retaliatory duty and give the trade to Holland.
– The trade figures are very much in favour of the Dutch Indies.
– I expected that reply from the Minister. I am not pleading for that country, but merely showing the result of thirteen alterations of the tariff since 1921. A sensible trading nation would settle its policy for a de- finite term of years, but thirteen tinkerings since 1921 is too much tariff interference altogether.
– It is a pity that a good job was not made of the 1921 tariff.
– For a time the Massey-Greene tariff worked splendidly. I am making no complaint, but merely pointing out the necessity for fiscal clear thinking. We cannot progress if we for ever change our economic conditions by tinkering and interfering with the tariff I have always subscribed to the protectionist policy, but I tell the Minister candidly that I do not regard this as the season for tariff changes. Australia has fallen on hard times. We are surrounded by unusual economic conditions, and these are not the circumstances in which to change tariffs. Our economic position to-day is unstable. I have listened carefully to the speeches from the Opposition and from this side, and it would appear that the only thing that can save Australia to-day is an increased tariff. 1 say that we can kill this policy by an overdose of protection. By pouring too much of this physic into the economic body. Australian industry may be detrimentally affected. Australia is faced with a bad year. We have low. production in rural industries. The purchasing power of the people this year will be much below what it has been dur- ing the last ten years. That in itself ‘ is a factor that makes conditions abnormal. This is about the worst time to alter the tariff. The Opposition, and also industry, is. calling for effective protection, but can there be effective protection and prodigal borrowing at the same time? One is surely destructive of the other. We cannot bring down further instalments of protection and make it effective if, at the same time, we avail ourselves of foreign loans and in return import foreign goods to the detriment of our own industries. That cannot be done, and the cry for protection under these circumstances is utterly false. The conditions are so abnormal that the fiscal faith of any protectionist, who takes a sane view of the conditions of the country, is tested to the utmost limit. I for one care not for the taunts of any individual in this chamber or outside it. My vote will be given according to the merits of each item of the tariff and according to my own judgment upon it. The tariff does not provide the relief that industry requires, which is a return to sound economic conditions. Did the Minister, before bringing down this schedule, ask his advisors whether they could find a sound alternative ? Has he, himself, tried to find a sound alternative? Prom time to time appeals for protection are made to the Minister and protection is granted. Appeals are then made by the “industrialists for improvement in their wages and conditions. They say among other things that the cost of living has increased, due mainly to the increasing protectionist policy of the Government. They make out a good case for increased remuneration, and they get it. They are certainly entitled to it, taking the cost of living standard. But the court imposes other conditions upon industry such as restriction of hours. It harnesses industry with impossible conditions and in some instances the work has to be rationed out among men of varying grades. I am strongly of the opinion that, with the exception of a few industries, protection to-day is not the cure for the ills from which Australian industries are suffering. What we require is a sound overhaul of our economic position. An increased tariff will not help industry. We have to face the problem of the cost of living. We have postponed its consideration from year to year, but the cost of living determines the cost of production, and that, plus the ever-increasing awards of the Arbitration Court and industrial tribunals, so harnesses industries with impossible conditions that no increase in tariff can possibly counteract them.
– That is an argument for price fixing.
– The position has to be faced. Probably if I were a representative of an industrial centre inhabited largely by factory workers with unemployment staring them in the face, I should advocate an increased tariff. That cannot give relief. There is a time when the breaking point arrives, and it is coming now. As one who formerly held the position, I have a great deal of sympathy for the Minister. I know what it is to have one section clamouring for one thing, to have battalions asking that there shall be no further increases, and others that there shall be no general increase but an increase in the article in which they are specifically concerned. If protection is to be a sound policy, it must be comprehensive in its application. I listened with considerable interest to the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart). He saw what he believed to be the unsoundness of an excessive protectionist policy; but he was also in the position of a man who represents industries that are in a bad way and require assistance to enable the people engaged in them to sell their products, either at home or overseas. The honorable member described a policy which was enunciated by a former leader of his, that the bounties granted to primary industries should be equal to the duties on secondary industries. That is asking for , more out of the pot than there is in it, which is an impossible petition.
– I think that the honorable member admitted that.
– He did; but I am dealing more with the principle than with the honorable member. That is our position to-day. Probably I was the first to explain in this chamber how unsound had become the economic position of Australia, when the products ‘ of the labour of the great masses of the people of this country could not be sold in any of the markets of the world outside Australia, and could be sold here only when given a subsidy that did not come out of the earnings of the nation, but out of the prodigal borrowing that had been effected overseas. Last year that borrowing increased our national debt, by £25,000,000. Who is there who thinks clearly on this question but must acknowledge the unsoundness of the position? And who, so thinking, will urge that a further instalment of protection is the way out of the difficulty? There comes a time when protection fails to give protection, and we must adopt a more sound policy. I still believe in the soundness of the principle of protection, which is the principle employed by all intelligent nations of the world to preserve ““the home market for their own people. By our high standard of education and civilization we have brightened and broadened the brains of our young people, and we must care for their future welfare. If we are to become a great people every pore of the nation must function freely. Our finances are in a difficult position; we are having a lean year, and the purchasing power of our people has diminished. How, at such a time, are we to ameliorate the position by granting further protection? The protagonists of such a course view the matter fallaciously. The other day the Victorian Railways Commissioner told his Government that he expects to budget a deficit of nearly £1,000,000 in the coming year. Why? Because this year the primary industries have failed, and he recognizes that he should set an example. Yet, at this time the Commonwealth Government proposes to impose another instalment of protection, further to raise our cost of living, and further to embarrass our economic position. As one who, throughout his public career, has supported the principle of protection for the preservation of the home market, for the employment of our people, and for the development of the nation, I reiterate that there comes a time when we must recognize that the limit has been reached, and must use our individual judgment on the merits of each proposal, as I shall do in this case.
.- I shall make just a few observations which I feel should be placed on record. I have made my position perfectly clear on other occasions as to my attitude on the protection of Australian industries. I am a whole-souled protectionist, one who desires to see an effective protection given at all times to those industries that have claims upon this legislature. I give notice to the Minister that I shall ask from him a further instalment of protection on aluminium ware. The Tariff Board, which advises the Minister and this Parliament in the conclusions of its report gives information which supports the request that I shall make later. Our aluminium industry has had a very difficult time for a number of years, and any measure of assistance now given to it is belated. I appreciate the assistance provided by this schedule against foreign imports, but it is totally inadequate when compared with the preference given to the British product. Our chief competitor in the aluminium industry is the United Kingdom, and it is interesting to read the report of the Tariff Board, which gives the following figures dealing with the importation of aluminium kettles and cooking utensils: -
That is the last year for which we have figures. That proves that almost the whole of our imports of aluminium are coming from the United Kingdom, so that it is of the utmost importance that the local firm shall be given adequate protection against the British manufacturers. The report of the board also contains this paragraph -
With regard to aluminium hollow-ware the position is somewhat different. Neither Metters Limited nor Hydraulic Power Press Limited are making profits on the sale of these manufactured articles. An examination of the books, costs sheets and selling prices, in the board’s opinion, reveals that the local industry is entitled to an additional protection sufficient to place them on a competitive basis with the products of overseas countries which are produced under lower wages costs. This the board considers can be accomplished by an increase in the existing rate under the British Preferential Tariff of 10 per cent., which will have the effect of placing aluminium hollow-ware on the same basis as far as duty is concerned as enamelled hollowware. The board considers that aluminium hollow-ware is entitled to a protection equal to that accorded to enamelled hollow-ware.
The board further considers that thi/ f-ase affords an opportunity of assisting the manufacturers of the commodities under notice in the United Kingdom by increasing the margin between the British Preferential and General Tariffs by 5 per cent. The standard of excellence of the British, products is particularly high and would benefit by a further measure of preference against products manufactured in other parts of the world.
The duty on British imports should be higher than 10 per cent. The board has been guilty of special pleading for the British interests in this instance, nad ha? gone out of its way to draw attention to the excellence of the British ware. The Minister knows that the Australian manufacturers are turning out a better article than the Britishers. I hope to be able to produce samples of the workmanship of both the British and Australian firms before we reach that item, though I know that it is not necessary for me to do so for the sake of the Minister. He had the superiority of the Australian ware demonstrated to him conclusively when representatives of the industry in company with myself and the honorable member for Yarra, interviewed him some time ago, and asked for increased protection. I have introduced this matter now in the hope that later the Minister will be able to give me a considered reply.
Other anomalies in the schedule have relation to the iron and steel and textile industries. It is essential in my opinion that those engaged in these industries should be helped out of their perplexities by more adequate protection.
I trust that the Minister will not consider that, because our speeches on these subjects are brief, we lack fervour. We are keenly desirous of seeing our secondary industries placed upon a sound footing.
– The time has long passed for us to discuss in this chamber the relative merits of freetrade and protection; but it is our duty, when tariff proposals are submitted, to satisfy ourselves that all increases in the existing duties will develop our industries and not merely swell the revenue. Adam Smith laid it down more than a hundred years ago that the revenue of a country should be derived principally from the taxation of those persons in the community who receive the largest incomes. I do not believe that the Minister for Trade and Customs has any desire to oblige the man on the basic wage to contribute as heavily to the revenue as the man who is in receipt of an income of £5,000 a year, but the imposition of merely revenue producing duties would have that effect. Our customs revenue last year amounted in round figures to £31,830,000, and comparing that sum with the customs receipts of other countries, we see how Australia stands. It is generally assumed that in the United States we have a country with one of the highest tariffs in the world. Those who go into the matter casually think that, if Australia adopted as high a tariff as America has, it might be able to obtain industrial wealth similar to that of the United States. I am going to show that we have a much higher tariff even than that country, and that our fiscal system has had the effect, owing to causes which I have not sufficient time to discuss to-night, not so much of increasing the number of men employed as of placing a heavy burden upon the shoulders of the people generally. The customs revenue of the United States of America in 1925-26 amounted to £115,800,000, which represents £1 per head of the population per annum. Australia’s customs revenue of £31,830,000 amountsto £5 6s. per head of the population. Therefore the burden on the Australian taxpayer, whether producer or wag earner, is just over five times as great as that of the citizen of the United States of America. We must remember also that direct taxation in America begins at a higher wage figure than it does in Australia, because there, no married man with an income under £700 pays income tax. In Australia a man with a wife and three children contributes £26 10s. per annum or 10s. a week, in customs taxation, while the American taxpayer similarly placed pays something under 2s. a week in indirect taxation. That, in itself, places Australia at a tremendous disadvantage in the race for supremacy in manufacture. If we gave every worker with a wife and three children an increase in wages of 8s. a week, he would be on the same footing as his American cousin, presupposing that the cost of living was the same in both countries. Thus the Australian worker on the basic wage of £4 5s. has an effective wage of £3 15s. a week, 10s. having been deducted in the form of customs duties. But as the purchasing . power of £1 is no greater to-day than that of l1s. 61/2d. in 1911. the present effective wage, on the 1911 basis, after 10s. a week is allowed for customs taxation - which is paid by rich and poor alike - is only £2 3s. 4d. a week.
– The larger the family, the greater the tax.
– Yes. I submit, therefore, that there is no justification for the allegation contained in the Tariff Board’s report on the steel industry, that industries are being throttled owing to the high wages paid to the employees. The board stated that when higher tariff duties were imposed the workmen looked for increased wages. It seems to me that the protective policy that operates in Australia to-day, instead of assisting the workers, reduces their wages, and consequently they cannot be regarded as having a particularly happy time. Bur. we have been told quite another story in regard to the flood of imports. I can understand a person who favours highly protective duties saying that they should be so high as to result practically in prohibition. Apart from the requirements of the farmers in my electorate, who do not benefit from high duties, I am in favour of protection of Australian industries. Australia, extending from a line 16 degrees south of the equator to a latitudehaving a temperate climate, is a country in which all manner of products can be grown and every known mineral is to be found. Taken at large, it is a land in which the policy of protection should be adopted; but we should consider whether our population is large enough to justify us in establishing industries which the country is not economically ready to support. It seems to me that we have tried to build up industries which it is economically unsound for us to establish. It has been said that the flood of imports into Australia is due to our borrowing abroad. Economists tell us that if we continue to borrow, the flood of imports cannot be stemmed; but some persons, while admitting that, declare that Aus tralia, for its own purposes, must have a high tariff in order to check that flood. A week ago we were assured that we were paying “through the nose” through the tariff, because wo continued to borrow abroad. It was mentioned that, in the last four years, the overseas debt of the Commonwealth had increased by £42,000,000, and imports had increased to a corresponding extent during the same period. We cannot have it both ways. If the high tariff is not keeping out foreign goods, we should make the tariff sufficiently high to block imports. If, on the other hand, it is a truism that increased borrowings abroad necessarily mean a flood of imports into the country, then no matter how high the tariff is imports will still come in. This will result only in increased wages and prices, and we shall defeat our own object. The Minister has drawn a pleasing picture of capturing trade from Great Britain of £3,000,000, and of Britain capturing £3,000,000 from foreign trade, and he says that between us we shall capture something like £11,000,000. I think I have heard something like that before. Yet we find that after duties have been put on men are still idle everywhere in the country. The Leader of the Opposition has informed us of the serious condition of certain of our industries. The picture drawn by the Minister resembles those pictures in which an Oriental indulges when under the influence of opium. But there is au awakening from his dream, and that awakening is coming to us now. If I thought that the increases in the tariff would effect the stabilizing of Australian industry, and that this indirect tax of 10s. a week on the working man with a wife and three children and the millionaire similarly circumstanced - for there is no discrimination in the tariff - would enable our industries to be built up, and- employment found for our people, I would give it my support. We are paying an enormous sum in customs duties, a sum many times greater per head than itpaid by the worker in the United States of America. While voting in favour o! some of the increases proposed here, I shall do it with great misgiving. I shall do it because I believe that Australia should establish her own industries; but I do not think the solution cf our present difficulty is to be found in the manner which the Minister has pointed out to us.
We have been informed that a large proportion of the customs duties have not been imposed for the purpose of providing protection at all, but for the purpose of obtaining revenue. If that has been the reason for the imposition of duties yielding, I think the Minister said, £24,000,000, it is the most unsound method of raising revenue ever introduced by a Minister, and is utterly indefensible. The Minister should immediately erase such duties from the customs schedule, and make up the revenue from other sources, such as increased taxation. There are, however, other ways of securing revenue apart from taxation. It. France, Italy - and in Austria-Hungary before the Avar - there is established a government tobacco monopoly. While it is true that we obtain a consider able amount of revenue to-day from customs and excise duties on tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes, amounting, I think, to about £5,000,000, in the countries to which I have referred they are able to obtain much more than that, and they are able to supply tobacco to their people at prices much below those charged in Australia. The idea is not Utopian, and it is now new. It is already practised by comparatively conservative countries, which find it a lucrative method of raising revenue, and one which enables them to supply tobacco at a low price. In France cigarettes are sold by the Government at 2-Jrd. for twenty, and each one of those cigarettes will last twice as long as the kind we make in Australia. Instead of paying 6d. for ten cigarettes as we do, the people in France can obtain twenty cigarettes which last twice as long as ours do, for only n fraction of the price which we have to pay.
– They are very inferior.
– I differ from the honorable member. Taste in tobacco is largely a matter of use. I have known men who insisted on sending to Mexico for ‘ cigars when havanas might be obtained. It is Virginia leaf which has been planted in France. People can plant any kind of tobacco they like, but the flavour depends upon the kind of soil in which it is grown. In Vuelto-Abaja district of Cuba there is a tobacco grown for making cigars which is unequalled in any other part of the world. Efforts have been made by scientists and tobacco experts to grow the seed in America but they cannot obtain the same results there as in Cuba, though hundreds -of thousands of dollars have been spent on experiments. In France certain moneys are put aside for the redemption of the floating debt, the main source of revenue for this purpose being the money obtained from the tobacco monopoly. In the 1926 French budget, they secured 6,700,000 milliards of francs or over £55,000,000, in this way. I am endeavouring to show that there are other ways of securing revenue than the detestable method of collecting it by means of customs duties which the Minister has admitted are not imposed for the purpose of assisting any national industry.
I deplore the fact that the Broken Hill steel industry is not in a prosperous condition. I am sure that there is not a member in this committee, whether a freetrader or a protectionist, who would not like to see that industry firmly established. The far-sighted men who control that company have invested millions of pounds in an industry that has kept thousands of workmen employed. As an indication of its value to another industry, I mention that for every ton of steel produced, three tons of coal are used. A large number of other industries are dependent upon the steel works, and it is worth while endeavouring to maintain and develop them, as I believe they can be developed.
– When the furnaces at Newcastle are in full blast 1,000,000 tons of coal per annum is’ used.
– I have never heard so enthusiastic an advocate of any industry as the honorable member for Newcastle is of the iron and steel works ir his electorate. I hope his faith may be, justified. I am puzzled by the proposal to place duties of 41s., 100s., and 120s. upon bar iron and rods. The rate on bar’ iron in the United States of America tariff is from 18s. Sd. per ton.
– But there is an elastic provision in that tariff, so that the duty may become prohibitive if imports continue to be excessive.
– Does it ever come into operation? Whether the duty is elastic or not, Congress, after considering all the facts, and having regard to the. importance of the American iron and steel industries, imposed a duty of 18s. 8d. The wages paid in the industry in America are a good deal higher than those in Australia, and I am at a loss to understand why such high duties are required to protect the industry in Australia.
I wish I could share the optimism of the Minister in regard to the trade that Australia is to capture from the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom is to capture from somebody else, so that Australia and the United Kingdom together will benefit to the extent of about £11,000,000. I am afraid that this schedule will not prove more effective than other tariff increases in the past have been. I enter my protest against the way in which the present system of protection is operating. Instead of being utilized legitimately as a means of establishing new industries in the country, an impost of 10s. per week is being placed on every married worker with a wife and three children. That is proof to my mind that the incidence of the tariff needs to be reviewed.
.-This debate, having extended over three days and having received contributions from many honorable members who have viewed the schedule from various economic, industrial and fiscal view points, has been extremely useful.’ Upon much that had been said, it will be impossible for me to touch even lightly in the short time at my disposal. Every honorable member, I believe, is desirous of arriving at a clear understanding of the true economic position. The debate has added a great deal to our knowledge of economics, and I hope to be able to-night to give the committee a little further information on the subject. No Minister can claim that he is able to frame a perfect tariff schedule; that is especially so in Australia, where Ave have no organization such as the Bureau of Trade and Commerce, at Washington, which recently sent six experts to Manchuria for twelve months to investigate the cost of growing the soya bean. The schedule submitted by me Avas carefully considered by the Government, which had to weigh many facts, but the knowledge that Ministers then gained has been increased during this debate. The many representations in the chamber and out of it in regard to the incidence of the tariff will be carefully considered by the Government. Should importers jump to the conclusion that they can make a lot of money by flooding this market with overseas goods they may find themselves mistaken, and
Will act at their own risk.
The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann), in one of those academic speeches that Ave have heard so often from him, said that the cost of living to-day was 70 per cent, above the index number for 1911. I have some very interesting figures that were supplied to me by the Government Statistician as recently as the 19th November of this year. It is very important to know exactly to what extent the cost of living has increased in Australia, in comparison with other countries, in order that we may understand more accurately the incidence of the taxation proposals which have been so adversely criticized by some honorable members during this debate. The Government Statistician has said -
That retail prices are higher now than they were in pre-war days is true, irrespective of fiscal policy, for all countries for which re. cords are available, but in this respect Australia’s rate of increase has been lower than that of many countries of corresponding status.
Starting from the year 1914 and taking the index number of 100 for that year, the cost of living index number in Great Britain in 1926 Avas 170; in the United States of America, 176; in New Zealand, 163; in Canada, .150; and in Australia, if food, groceries and housing are included, 156; and, if clothing and miscellaneous are also included, 146. The statistician adds: “In ali cases the index numbers for the past four years indicate a condition of relative stability in prices at a level considerably higher than that which Avas in evidence before the war. Taking the average of these four years as an approximation to present conditions, it may be said that in the case of the United States there has been in the matter of cost of living, an increase of 75 per cent, on pre-war costs, in Great Britain 71 per cent., in New Zealand 61 per cent., in Canada 46 per cent., and in Australia 52 per cent., if clothing and miscellaneous items are exclured, but 44 per cent, if they are included.” If we include the whole of the basic items in the computation of the cost of living, the increase since 1914 is lower comparatively in Australia than in Great Britain, the United States of America, New Zealand or Canada. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) quoted from an article that I wrote for the Melbourne Herald some weeks ago. I think that it has already been mentioned that the quotation was unfair, because only part of the article was read by him. I shall therefore read the whole of it and. ask honorable members to judge for themselves as to the fairness of the partial quotation of the, honorable member for Perth. The article reads: -
I tried to find a line of demarcation with regard to Empire affairs and tariffs.
I found it. It divided sharply the selfish from the unselfish Britisher. On the one hand I found the international traders and financiers, whose God was profits. The source of the money they made was immaterial so long as it was plentiful; it might run as muddily as might he, so long as the stream did not slacken. These men know no country, no nation, no sentiment. The world is their milch cow, and consequently anything done by Australia to help her own development was resented in proportion as it interfered with the profit-making of these money machines.
They constitute a very powerful group, and spend large sums in propaganda throughout the world. When men ask you why an agricultural country like Australia tries to build up manufacturing industries which can be instituted only by the help of hurtful tariffs against the world, you may be pretty sure that the propaganda agency has been at work.
On the other side of the line, I am glad to say that I found, after eleven years’ absence from my native land, a great advance in proBritish and pro-Empire sentiment, which included Australia. This was shared by an overwhelming number of British manufacturers, who displayed a ready recognition of the necessity of protecting such a land as this, with a high standard of living and an isolation that was a constant threat to our overseas supplies. I encountered among these far-seeing people practically no resentment at a policy that placed our own development in the forefront of an Empire policy, as the best means of aiding both it and ourselves.
I have said in that quotation that when a man asks why an agricultural country like Australia strives to build up manufacturing industries, we may be pretty sure that the propaganda agency has been at work, and I go further and say that an international propaganda agency is . at work in Australia to-day. The honor- able member for Perth also spoke of the Geneva and Stockholm Economic Conferences, both meetings of internationalists, that passed well-known and threadbare international resolutions in regard to free trade. In America, I read what was said by one of the unofficial American delegates to the Geneva Economic Conference. At -that conference I am very glad to say our representatives maintained the fiscal independence of the Commonwealth. That American said that he was very glad that the resolutions had been carried, for the salvation of England and Europe would only come if they swept away all tariff barriers and instituted freedom of trade with the world; they should become one economic unit. In regard to America he said “ The case is different. We are an economic unit now. Our tariff is stable and its success is reflected in the wonderful prosperity of our people. “ I do not think that this Parliament or Commonwealth would be guided by the observations of a man of that character.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) mentioned several items in the tariff and among them pig iron. As the pig iron industry will not be discussed to any extent in this debate, I shall give briefly the reasons that have guided the Government in leaving the present duty unaltered. The total production of pig iron in Australia in 1926-27 was 450,000 tons and the total quantity imported was 6,000 tons. My information is that the companies that are making pig iron from our native ores are supplying about 97 per cent of Australia’s requirements. Some of the importations of pig iron come under a concessional item. The definite conclusion of this dissection is that the local companies supply practically the whole of the requirements of Australia; that the importations of pig iron are decreasing while the local production is rapidly increasing.
Additional protection has been given to the manufacture of pig-iron, owing to the imposition recently of a duty on scrap iron and steel.
The proposals the. Government put forward with regard to the great iron and steel industry are of. such a generous character that they should ensure to the local companies an additional output of 100,000 tons of pig-iron, which should’ materially reduce their cost of production.
– Did not the Tariff Board know all about that when it made its investigations ?
– Apparently not.
– That is a wonder. The board conducted a long investigation.
– I shall deal more fully with iron and steel when the item comes before the committee, and I shall inform honorable members as to the action that has been taken by the Government during the last twelve months. The honorable members for Brisbane (Mr. D. Cameron), Moreton (Mr. J. Francis), and Lilley (Mr. Mackay) mentioned uniform duties. I made a considered reply to the honorable member for Brisbane, and he also received a letter pointing out that the removal of an alleged anomaly in the direction asked would create greater anomalies than any now existing. In addition to that, one of the chambers of commerce that has been making representations, has suggested that the matter be further considered at the approaching meeting of the chambers of commerce at Hobart, next year. I shall be glad if they will further consider this very knotty and old problem in the light of further information that has been obtained. The honorable member for Brisbane also mentioned some complaint that had been made by an iron merchant in Brisbane in connexion with the supply of structural steel by the Broken Hill Company from Newcastle. It is quite true that the Broken Hill people do not yet roll all the sections that have been standardized in Australia by the new standardization committee. When the iron and steel items are being discussed I shall give some more information upon the matter.
The most interesting phase of to-night’s debate is the amendment by the honorable’ member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart). The honorable member, whenever I have listened to him, has been an artist in generalization, and has never yet got down to details. I shall give the honorable member a few details so that he may have the opportunity, when next speaking, to get down to something concrete in connexion with his chronic argument as to the incidence of the policy of protection upon the primary producer.
I remind the honorable member that the duties on wine, dried fruits, and canned fruits, are very much appreciated by his constituents. As late as this morning, notwithstanding anadverse report by the Tariff Board, his constituents reiterated their desire to have a substantial duty placed on dates. No doubt they would very much appreciate such a duty, at the expense of the rest of Australia. The amendment of the honorable member objects to the continuous increase of customs duties which, he says, are inimical to the future development of Australian primary industries. The honorable member has not mentioned one single instance in which Australian secondary industries are inimical to our primary industries.
– I said nothing of the kind. I challenge the honorable gentleman to repeat that.
– The amendment of the honorable member reads -
That the first item be amended by omitting the figure “12s.” (British preferential tariff), with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the figure “ 10s.” as an intimation to the Government that the continuous increase of customs duties is inimical to. the future development of Australian primary industries.
– I said that, and I repeat it.
– The honorable member has always generalized, and I challenge him to get down to details, as I shall now try to do. At page 4,474 of Hansard of the 22nd July, 1926, there is some very interesting information with regard to the reduction in prices made by the H. V. McKay corporation the previous month. I had given the honorable member for Wimmera some particulars as to what I considered to be the effect of the duty on agricultural implements on the primary producer. He has not challenged those figures. He has only challenged the life of the implements. It has been admitted during this debate that some of those implements last for a lifetime. The honorable member said that some of them last for only five years. I ask the honorable member to give facts.
– Does the honorable gentleman challenge my statement?
– I ask the honorable member to place a statement of his own before the committee, and to leave generalities.
– What particulars does the honorable gentleman require?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).Order !
– The report of the Tariff Board says -
Imported implements arc sold cheaper in Australia than in Argentine.
Australian-made implements aru sold cheaper than imported implements.
Tn the opinion of the Tariff Board the prices of agricultural implements are, in all probability, much lower in Australia with protection and local manufacture than they would be under freetrade had no local manufacture existed.
The prices of Australian-made agricultural implements have been regularly and consIst,ently reduced since the protective tariff of 1920-21 was introduced.
Australian implement makers are not charging excessive prices, neither are they making excessive profits.
The honorable member will find some further information with regard to the position of agricultural implements at page 1,174 of Hansard, volume 112, also at page 1,185 of the same volume. The honorable member took my colleague to task for making an alleged mis-statement ; but so far as I have been able to analyse that statement it was with regard to British netting, wire netting, and other things which the farmers use, which had not been affected by any tariff brought down by this Government.
– Tlie honorable gentleman said more than that.
– I remind the honorable member that he was a member of the Government at the tune that the dumping duty was imposed on wire netting, against which some honorable members have so frequently complained. I am not saying that that was right or wrong. It was an administrative act of the late Sir Austin Chapman, Minister for Trade and Customs in a Government in which the honorable member for Wimmera was a Minister. Let me go a little further, and analyse these alleged handicaps imposed upon the primary producers by what we are doing- in this schedule. They have their fencing wire free under the British tariff; also their netting and their tractors. On galvanized iron there is a duty of only fi a ton outside the bounty, which is 2d. a sheet, and sheets last probably from 20 to 30 years. What else do primary producers use upon which they pay duty? I believe the committee is in- Iterested in this problem and in this longdrawnout controversy. Will the honorable member for Wimmera take into consideration the statistician’s cost of living i figures? I have mentioned the special concessions that are given to our primary producers in these items. Many items of tools and dairying machinery are now admitted free. Will the honorable member for Wimmera let us> know what handicaps the primary producers are suffering under? They enjoy a new road policy, and they have protection on their butter, their tomatoes, their canned and fresh fruits, their sugar, their timber, their cotton, and their rice, and manyother lines.
Before I close there are one or two other matters which I should like to mention. Several honorable members had something to say concerning the presentation of the Tariff Board’s reports. I agree that those reports should be made availableif possible simultaneously with theplacing of the tariff schedule on the table. I remind them, however, that the revenuemust be protected from, shall I say, the smart people in trade and commerce. It would never do to place on the table prematurely Tariff Board’s reports that recommend increases in duties. At least such reports should not be tabled for any length of time before action is decided on by the Government. I agree with honorable members that action by the Government should be simultaneous with the presentation of reports, and I have endeavoured to do what was possible to meet the wishes of honorable members.. Anticipating the desire of the committee I arranged to get these reports printed a month or six weeks before the schedule was laid on the table. Unfortunately the facilities for printing at the Government Printing Office at. Canberra are not unlimited, and I have already given the Government Printer a meed of praise for the work he has done in connexion with the printing of these reports. I agree that it is the duty of any Government and of any Minister to place the fullest information possible before honorable members in relation to any matter that is debated in this House.
The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) referred to the position in New Zealand and in Canada. Any remarks whichI may have to make under that head may, I think, be deferred until the items are under discussion. There was also reference to the Java trade, and to the position of the timber industry. 1 am looking forward to a very interesting debate in committee on timber.It will,I am sure, be discussed from many angles. I repeat that the debate has been extremely informative, and that honorable members in contributing to it have added something to the economic knowledge of the Commonwealth. 1 agree that there is financial stringency looming ahead, and that the more we know about it the better we shall be able to deal with it in this House. When we come to discuss the items, I am sure all honorable members will do so with a real desire to obtain well-balanced progress in the Commonwealth.
– Do I understand, Mr. Chairman, that if the amendment is defeated, as no doubt it will bo, it is your intention to put the first item in the schedule ?
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bayley).The general debate has been on the first item, and I take it that honorable members are now prepared to vote upon it.
– I suggest that the division be on the amendment. This will, of course,’ finish the general discussion. The first item can be taken when we resume later.
– I think that under the forms of the committee, the vote will end the general discussion upon the tariff. It is desirable that the debate on the particular items should then take place. I recognize that we are sotting you, Mr. Chairman, something of a problem, but I think it is the general desire of the committee that the item should be reserved for particular discussion. If there is no other way of securing that we may re-commit it at a later stage.
– I suggest that the vote be taken on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Wimmera, and after that is disposed of, the committee can deal with item No. 1 in the schedule.
Question - That the item be reduced (Mr. Stewart’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 41
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. Bruce) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until 11 a.m. to-morrow.
Australian Aborigines in Northl and Central Australia - Industrial Trouble.
.- I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
The status and treatment of Australian aborigines and half-castes in North and
Central Australiahas been under the consideration of the Government for some time. The subject was brought under the notice of the House by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson), who moved that ajoint select committee should be appointed to report upon it, and the motion was debated at some length. Representations have also been made to the Government by various bodies in Australia which are interested in the welfare of these people forthe appointment of a royal commission to inquire into the subject. The Government felt that if a royal commission were appointed it would be desirable to have the co-operation of the States. In view of the representations made to us, we communicated with all the State governments, and asked for an expression of opinion as to the desirability of creating such a commission. The replies received from practically all of them were to the effect that they considered that the action now being taken by them to safeguard the interests of the aborigines is sufficient. They intimated further that they did not desire to be associated with the Commonwealth in the appointment of a royal commission to consider the question, The Commonwealth Government feels, howhowever, that an investigation into the conditions of the aborigines and halfcastes in North and Central Australia - for which territories we are responsible - is desirable, in order that the members of this Parliament and the people of Australia generally may be satisfied that everything possible is being done to safeguard the interests of these people, who are our solemn charge.
We accordingly propose to ask the Government of Queensland to lend us one of the senior officials concerned with the welfare of the aborigines of that State, so that he may proceed to North and Central Australia and report on these matters.
– Has the right honorable gentleman any announcement to make in connexion with the waterside workers’ dispute?
– Nothing beyond the fact that I have just heard - and I be lieve the news to be correct - that the two parties will appear before the Arbitration Cout to-morrow morning at half-past 10.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 December 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1927/19271206_reps_10_117/>.