1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
VOLCANIC ERUPTIONS AT MARTINIQUE AND ST. VINCENT.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD. - About a week ago the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in reply to a question of mine, said that the Government were taking into consideration the question of showing some substantial sympathy with the sufferers by the volcanic eruptions in Martinique and St. Vincent. I desire to know whether they have come to any conclusion?
Senator O’CONNOR.- The Government have found themselves unable to ask for the grant of any pecuniary aid for the sufferers in question.
COMMONWEALTH FRANCHISE BILL.
Senator McGREGOR. - I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether he will bring on the Commonwealth
Franchise Bill soon? Very little alteration has been made in the Bill by the other House, and it would pass very quickly if it were brought on.
Senator O’CONNOR. - It is the intention of the Government to. bring on the Bill, I hope to-morrow, after the Supply Bill has been dealt with.
Senator Lt.-Col. NEILD asked the Vice-
President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Referring to the answer given by him on the 15th inst. to Senator Neild, that none of the 22 Customs officers transferred from border stations to Sydney had received increases of pay, is it not a fact that sixteen of such officers have received increases asunder : - One at £6, nine at £10, four at £20, and two at £30 per annum from the 1st inst. ?
Why were not increases given to the other six officers transferred?
Senator O’CONNOR. - The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
No. The honorable senator is entirely misinformed. Further, the answer given was not as stated, but it was that none of the 22 officers hod received increases of pay “ consequent upon their transfer.” This Whs the only point the question raised. The transfer of the 22 officers was in September and October, 1901, and no officer had his salary increased consequent upon the transfer. Subsequently, during the present yean, the State collector was directed to nominate sixteen officers as lockers, having due regard to efficiency and seniority, and, in so doing, to consider claims of officers in all the States. His selection was approved, and included three only of the 22 border officers. These then, consequent upon their promotion to the post of lockers, each received an annual increase of £10 as from the 1st May inst. The remaining nineteen are to-day receiving thesame salary that they received when they were stationed on the border.
CIVIL SERVICE APPOINTMENTS.
Ordered (on motion by Senator Stani- forth Smith) : -
That a return be prepared and laid upon the table of the Senate, snowing -
What officers have been appointed to the Commonwealth Civil Service from the State Civil Services since the inauguration of the Commonwealth, exclusive of the officers transferred with the Departments.
What new appointments have been made to the Commonwealth Civil Service from outside the State Civil Services.
From what States of the Commonwealth have these officers been appointed, and the number from eachState.
In Committee : (Consideration resumed from 27th November, vide page 1 2848).
Division IV. - Agricultural products and groceries.
Item 22. - Grain and pulse, n.e.i., per cental, 1s.6d.
Upon ‘which Senator Sir Josiah Symon had moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 22 by adding the words “and on and after 1st July,” 1902, tree”
– It ought to be admitted by honorable senators that grain, more especially wheat, cannot be protected by a customs duty. Indeed, the great organ of the protectionist party in Victoria has long ago admitted this. So far back as the year 1 888 the Age, in an article, used this expression: -
The wheat trade has long since overtopped the level where it could be helped by this means.
That is a very simple statement of the facts. It is a truth which might very properly be remembered, not occasionally but at all times - not only by free-traders, but also by protectionists. The principle is recognised even in this Tariff, and it is recognised in the Tariffs of various countries, that when an article has reached an exporting point, especially when it has considerably exceeded that point, it cannot receiveprotection in the ordinary sense of the term from a customs duty. When the Tariff was introduced in the other Houseit was proposed that there should be a duty on cattle, sheep, poultry, pigs, and so on. It was treated by honorable members with ridicule as being a duty that was non-protective and could produce no revenue, and the result was that the Government let it go. The same thing occurred when the item of fresh meat was considered. A duty was proposed, and ultimately it was agreed that the article should be put on the exemption list. The Government did not deem it necessary, at any rate they did not have the temerity, to propose customs duties on articles like wool, tallow, hides, and coal. In the Victorian Tariff, hay and chaff were on the free list. ‘ Straw was on the free list, not only in Victoria, but also in Queensland, and New Zealand. In New Zealand, butter and cheese were on the free list. Grain and pulse, having passed the exporting stage, ought to be recognised as non-protective by a customs duty, and ought in consequence to be put on the free list. In the season of 1900-1, thetotal production of grain in the Commonwealth was 72,000,000 bushels,of which 48,000,000 bushels represented wheat. The consumption of Australia was about 30,000,000 bushels, leaving generally in that year, at any rate, an exportable surplus of about 20,000,000 bushels. The production of wheat is an increasing one, and this year we should not be in the position of appearing to have a shortage but for the expectation formed some four or five months ago that we would have a very large surplus. In the earlier months of the harvest, I think, some 10,000,000 or 11,000,000 bushels were exported. When the harvest was completed the drought had told its tale, and reduced the total ; so that it seems to be now a question whether we have sufficient left to tide us over the season. But there never was any doubt at that time of the yield being more than sufficient for the consumption of Australia. It is quite by a strange anomaly - the exports which ought not to have taken place - that the great advance in the value of wheat has ocurred. I shall give the committee some information which I think is valuable as showing that a protective duty can do no good, and in this present year is of no advantage to farmers. In its market report the Sydney Morning Herald of the 10th of May says -
Wheat very firm, taken principally for stockbreeding purposes,
It reports several large sales, and. then makes these comments -
Surplus stocks of wheat are pretty well concentrated in two hands. The demand in the country is much greater than in the town. It is anticipated that most of the country millers will be short of wheat by the end of June.
That statement indicates that the rise in the value ofwheat isdoing nothing for the farmers, butis doinga good deal for certain speculators who have got possession of the remaining stocks. Two days later the Sydney Daily Telegraph had the following passage in its market report : -
The whole situation of the grain trade, indeed it may be added that the complete environment of the produce market, has become so totally dissimilar to any former experience, that it is considerably difficult to gauge conditions from day to day much less to forecast values. To see the State almost entirely clear of grain in first hands before the advent of Whitsuntide is an experience without precedent, and the trade are consequently in a, dilemma as to the best mode of procedure to adjust supply and demand during the interval between this and the next harvest.
There is another statement showing that the advance in the value of wheat during the past few months is not doing the farmers of Australia any good. It is benefiting certain speculators, who, under the cover of the Tariff, have been able to buy up stocks, and defy importations from abroad.
– Did they not do that under free-trade ?
– Speculators will always take advantage of prices, especially if a Tariff is ‘provided to prevent outside competition. In both “Victoria and New South Wales before the Tariff was introduced in October last the value of wheat was about 2s. lOd. per bushel, and after its introduction it remained the same both in New South Wales, where there had been no duty, and in Victoria, where there had been a duty ; showing that the protective incidence, if there was any - as alleged by the Government - was of no avail, the price of wheat being uninfluenced in New South Wales. And it would have remained uninfluenced there but for the circumstance to which I have referred. At the same time, in London, the value of wheat was about 3s. 6d. per bushel, and it is 3s. 8d. per bushel there now. At the present time wheat is worth more in Australia than in London, showing that the conditions have become entirely changed, not to the advantage of the farmer, but to the disadvantage of the consumer here. The position of a farmer, in an importing country, is always better than the position of the farmer in an exporting country, because the exporting country has to sell its wheat at the price offered in the great buying markets, minus the freight there. If, on the other hand, wheat has to be imported, the importers can get more for it. Consequently, should, at anytime, an overwhelming trouble come over the land, should there be a great shortage, the natural conditions under which trade is carried on, would at once increase the bushel value of wheat and give the producers a distinct gain. It is worth while noticing that in New South Wales, without a customs duty within the last twenty years, the increase of production has been enormous, and that the increase of production during the last four or five years has been more marked than in any other special period. Two years ago a return was laid on the table of the Legislative Assembly of the State showing the exports of wheat from the States now forming the Commonwealth for the period from 1890 to 1899 inclusive. That return showed that the total trade of the twenty years resulted, in the export of 127,000,000 bushels. If that is not enough to show that Australia has passed the stage at which farmers can be benefited by a duty on wheat I do not know what would show it. It is necessary to bear in mind, that we freetraders object to this duty on the ground that it obscures the true issue, and that it may also be used as an argument against granting those real concessions to farmers which we, at a later stage, shall have to ask for.
– To a great extent the arguments that have been used in regard to this item are the same as have been applied to other items in the Tariff. But we are told by Senator Pulsford that we have now arrived at a period when protection is inoperative with regard to grain. If that be so, what objection is there to this duty remaining? Senator Pulsford says that it puts things on a false basis. I cannot see how that is so. As a matter of fact, we know that this duty not only produces revenue, but is also incidentally protective, and carries out the policy of the Government with regard to the Tariff. If the duty is lowered the effect will be to increase importations, and to the extent that that is done Australian producers are injured. Why is it that we have been able to export wheat 1 Is it not because the industry has been built up? And has not that happened in every State, including New South Wales, under some system of protection? In many ways the agriculturists have been protected and assisted in New South Wales as well as the other ‘States. The freetraders say, “ As we can produce wheat in sufficient quantities to export it, abolish the duty, and then, except in times of scarcity, when Australia is not able to produce up to the level of ordinary years, . we shall have & large surplus production.” But how could any country expect to have a large surplus for exportation if it were dependent upon importation for its own wants ? We must adopt the policy of becoming selfsupporting first, and then we can export our surplus. The only object that the free-traders can possibly have in view in desiring to reduce the duty is to facilitate importation ; and to the extent that imported grain takes the place of grain produced locally it must have a depressing effect upon the agricultural industry. Senator Symon gave us as a reason for adopting his motion, the argument that the result of reducing the duty will be to facilitate and increase importation, and that owing to the drought and the exceptional circumstances of this particular season we should allow foreign grain to come in.
– What I said was that it is a duty which will only operate in times of scarcity when there are famine prices.
– And this particular time has been referred to as a time when this duty should be reduced in order to facilitate the importation of foreign grain. Look at the absurdity of it if we treat that as the real reason for reducing the duty.We are framing a Tariff, I hope, for a considerable number of years, but we are told that we should frame it to meet the exigencies of the particular moment. That would lead us to consider what are the prospects of the drought breaking up. I received just recently a note stating that a prophet in Sydney has declared that there is going to be a copious fall of rain during next month, not only in New South Wales, but throughout the whole of the States of the Commonwealth. The drought is to be broken up. If it is a good argument that on account of the existence of the drought we should reduce the duty, it is an equally good argument that in anticipation of the drought breaking up next month the Tariff should not be altered in this respect. But we should be reduced to a ridiculous position if, in framing a Tariff for a ‘number of years, we discussed amongst ourselves the probable meteorological conditions of the next few months. That shows that the argument I refer to is not a good one to consider in the framing of a Tariff which is to operate for years to come, and is not merely intended to meet the exigencies of a particular period. I therefore trust that no honorable senator will be misled into voting for Senator
Symon’s motion onany such grounds as that. Senator Pulsford told us that the price of wheat at present in Australia is higher than in England, but that the producer of wheat is not getting the benefit of the higher price. The reason he gives is that the producer has sold his wheat to somebody else, who is holding it. Surely the farmer exercises his own judgment as to whether he will sell or hold his wheat. We shall be told byandby that there are certain ways of benefiting the agriculturist. If to increase the price of an article to the producer of that article does not benefit him I fail to see how he can be benefited. But if the producer has sold his article to another, who gets the benefit of the increased price, I fail to see how that can be used as an argument against the proposal of the Government as to assisting any particular class in a time of drought. I would point out that the present drought is injuring not only the pastoralists, but also the farmers who are producing the very articles in question, because the drought is not restricted solely to the pastoral districts. It has been very severely felt in the agricultural districts. It certainly is a very poor argument that we should reduce duties that have a protectionist operation to benefit one particular class at the expense of another class which is engaged in producing the article affected by the duty. There is no class in the community more deserving of sympathy and help than the agriculturists, who not only have a very hard lot in cultivating the soil, but who are engaged in an industry which is probably more reliable than any other, and which is very properly regarded as the back-bone of almost every country. I should be very sorry to see the committee do anything that would inflict an injury upon that class.
– We shall all agree with what Senator Drake has just said, that there is no more deserving class in the community than the farming class, arid I hope that when we come to some of the later items of the Tariff, the duties upon which very seriously press upon the farming community, my honorable and learned friend will be found giving effect, by his vote, to sentiments in which we all concur. It is generally agreed that the duty against which we are moving will only operate in seasons of scarcity and distress, and that is why we are taking this action. I rise particularly, however, to set my honorable and learned friend right upon a matter with regard to which he has misunderstood me. It is not because I want to see importations from abroad that I object to this item, but because the Government are introducing into the Tariff a line which, by the acknowledgment of the farming people themselves, will be wholly inoperative except in times of distress. My honorable and learned friend says that it will be operative at some other time, but there is a general belief that that will not be so. If it is operative only in times of distress, we shall be face to face with exactly the same position that occurred in South Australia in 1896, when there was a time of scarcity, and over-sea wheat had to be imported. There was a duty under the South Australian Tariff of 2s. per cental, and an agitation came from all classes of the community that that duty should be removed, or ‘that a concession should be made to enable flour to be gristed in bond for export, for the purpose of maintaining our milling trade. There is a concrete example of what happens under such a duty as this, which can only be operative in times of scarcity. Senator Drake did not represent my views accurately when he said that I wished to have a Tariff that would change with the seasons. What I say is that the existing season offers an illustration of the fact that grain duties in Australia only operate in times of scarcity. Not only from that point of view, but also from the point of view of the pastoralists, this duty is objectionable. We must consider each industry. . We are not to penalize one great primary industry at the expense of another. We know, however, that the present distress is much more keenly felt by the pastoralists whose sheep are dying in hundreds of thousands, than by the farmers who are cultivating the soil within the fringe of country which is not so susceptible to droughts. If there are bad seasons affecting the pastoral industry, the farmer gets the benefit, and prices go up quite irrespective of the duty : but the Government wish to pop on to the enhanced price caused by adverse circumstances a customs duty to further augment the cost of grain. We have to consider those whose sheep are dying by hundreds of thousands, and who have to keep them alive by artificial feeding.
– How many sheep out of the whole number in Australia are being fed artificially 1 Only a minute proportion are being fed in that way.
– I assure the honorable and learned senator that he is entirely mistaken. I know of hundreds of thousands of sheep, the remnant of millions that were alive two or three years ago, which are being fed artificially. I know of one great station, on the borders of Queensland and New South Wales, where a short time ago there were half a million of sheep, and where there are to-day only 50,000 or 60,000, and these are being artificially fed. There is no industry that more generally affects the whole people of the Commonwealth than the great wool-producing industry. I cite that as an illustration ; but I do not wish to benefit the pastoralist at the expense of the farmer. The present drought, affords an illustration of the ill-effects of such a duty. But this duty also injuriously affects the public generally. Flour is produced from wheat, and if a duty is put on wheat it increases the cost of bread to the consumer. That is a view, as I took the liberty of reminding the committee yesterday, that was emphatically dealt with by Mr. Archibald of South Australia, when he said that the first duty of Parliament was to see that famine prices were prevented if possible, and that protection should n’ot be carried to the point of insanity. I say that to impose such a duty as this is not only carrying protection to the point of’ insanity, but to the point of sheer and useless folly, because it does not benefit the farmer onehalf-penny worth, and it injures the whole community in a time of scarcity. I therefore say that we cannot do better than adopt the sentiment of Mr. Archibald, of South Australia, and take care that this particular duty shall not be left in the Tariff to operate to the detriment of the consumer in a time of scarcity, and without any advantage to the farmer as the whole of this wheat passes through the hands of the middleman.
– The leader of the Opposition was very anxious that we should adopt the Victorian duty on beer, and he fought still harder for the Victorian duty on cheese. The Victorian duty on. wheat was ls. 9d. per bushel, and the Government are now asking for a duty of only half that amount, with the result that the honorable and learned senator proposes that it shall be swept away altogether.
– Hear, hear ! I did not appeal to honorable senators to give us the Victorian dutv on bread.
– Will the honorable and learned senator appeal to us to adopt the Victorian duty on another article of food, oats, which is consumed in every household in the Commonwealth ?
– No. I will not.
– Let me tell the honorable and learned senator something he does not know. In 1899 New Zealand produced 14,000,000 bushels of oats, and the whole of the States of the Commonwealth produced only 7,000,000, not nearly enough to supply their own .requirements. This is an article which comes under the heading of grain and pulse.
– Tasmania could supply the whole of the States with oats.
– And Victoria also.
– Victoria could not, and the whole of the States of the Commonwealth could not supply the local requirements. Oats were imported from New Zealand into Victoria and paid a duty of ls. 2£d. per bushel. We are told that this is a protective duty which will not protect the farmer, and generally that protective duties cannot help the farmer and country producer. If we go back to 1899 we find that free-trade New South Wales imported country produce and its products to the value of £3,208,000. In Victoria, where duties had to be paid, the value of country produce and its products imported amounted to only £986,000, or less than one-third of the figures for New South Wales. It is an extraordinary thing that though we had a duty of ls. 9d. per bushel upon wheat, we had to import wheat.
– How much did you export 1
– Millions of bushels, but we imported £20,000 worth, and we imported £8,000 worth of flour which paid a duty of.£o per ton. I say that protection benefits the farmer when it can be shown that over three times the quantity of country produce was introduced into the free State of New South Wales that was introduced into Victoria, even making allowance for the difference in population. I desire to point out that the danger to tho Commonwealth lies in New Zealand. In 1S99, £415,000 worth of country produce and its products came from New Zealand into New South Wales, and £23,000 worth into protected Victoria. I wish to draw the special attention of the leader of the Opposition to these figures, and I remind him that grain can be brought from New Zealand to the Melbourne wharfs for the same freight as is charged for bringing it from the mallee country, so that there is no so-called natural protection for the mallee. For the ten years ending in 1899 the average yield of wheat per acre throughout the Commonwealth was only 7’33 bushels, whilst during the same period the average yield per acre in New Zealand was 24-61 bushels. Of oats, the yield for the Commonwealth was 20 bushels per acre, and for New Zealand 32-80 bushels. Of barley, the yield for the Commonwealth was 16-70 bushels per acre, and for New Zealand, 28-70 bushels. Of potatoes, the yield for the Commonwealth was 3-10 tons per acre, and for New Zealand, 5-90 tons, or nearly double the yield for the Commonwealth. I have no hope of altering the views of honorable senators, or of changing a single vote in the forthcoming division, but I desire to have these facts placed on record, so that people outside interested in such matters may have an opportunity of seeing them later on. Take again the relative value of three or four of the principal crops in New Zealand and in Australia in 1889. I find that the value of the wheat crop in that year in Australia was 18s. lid. per acre, and in New Zealand£3 1 8s. The vallue of the oat crop was £1 19s. 4d. per acre in the Commonwealth, and £3 12s. 2d. per acre in New Zealand. The value of the barley crop in Australia was £3 2s. 7d. per acre, and in New Zealand-£4 19s. Id. The value of the potato crop in Australia was £6 10s. 9d. per acre, and in New Zealand £12 12s. 3d., or nearly double the value of the Australian crop. On the question of bringing flour to Australia from other ports I may read a line or two from Mr. Sowden’s Commercial and Political Japan. -Speaking of 1896 he says-
By the Airlie was consigned to Australia, including farinaceous Adelaide, 400 or 500 tons of flour brought by way of Japan and China from San Francisco and Vancouver, lt was conveyed to Hong-Kong for 4s. 5d. per ton, and was sold there at from £<S to £6 10s. per ton.
This flour could have been brought on here for another 4s. or 5s. per ton, and some of ft was delivered in Adelaide, where there was a duty of £2 per ton, while none of it was delivered in Melbourne, where there was a duty of £5 per ton. I heard an honorable senator state that the farmer is in a better position in an importing than in an exporting country, but the facts contradict that statement. I take the two years, 1899 and 1900, and Senator Symon has said that they were importing wheat into free-trade New South Wales in those years. I have taken the prices at the end of each quarter from the commercial columns of the Argus for Sydney and Melbourne.
-Col. Neild. - New South Wales was exporting wheat in 1900.
– She was an importer of wheat, and she imported £500,000 worth of wheat and flour in 1899.
– I have the figures for 1900, and New South Wales exported wheat to the value of £546,000, and imported wheat only to the value of £98,000.
– I am taking the two years together, and giving the prices as they appeared in the Argus. I take the Argus, not because I think it more accurate than any other paper, but because a free-trader would not dispute anything which appeared in that paper. For the two years I quote, the farmer in the free-trade State received Id. per bushel less for his wheat than the farmer in Victoria, where he had a duty of ls. 9d. per bushel, but the consumer in Victoria got his flour during the whole of those two years at 4s. per ton less than the consumer in New South Wales, notwithstanding the fact that we had a duty of £5 per ton on flour in this State. That would mean, worked out in round numbers for the whole of the Commonwealth, £100,000 in the pockets of the farmers, and £100,000 in the pockets of the consumers of the flour. These figures are surely worthy of a little consideration. I have admitted that it is very little use to quote them, but the facts are taken from statistical registers, and from the Argus, and I believe the figures cannot be disputed. The leader of the Opposition told us that he was going to be. generous in dealing with these duties, but now he proposes to wipe this duty out altogether.
– Because it is no good.
– The people in whose interest it is proposed believe it is of use.
The Parliament of Victoria and the Parliament of South Australia, the honorable and learned senator’s own State, believed it to be good, and therefore imposed such -a duty.
– And they took it off as soon as it became operative.
– It was suspended for some months in one year. The honorable and learned senator’s idea of fair play is to bring forward his motion with respect to this item, which is one of the most important in the Tariff, without giving us the slightest notice that we might be prepared with arguments to rebut what he has said.
– We debated the matter last nigHt.
– That is true, and I have had an opportunity of getting a few figures with which to reply to the honorable and learned senator ; but if more time had been given us I believe that stronger arguments could have been brought forward, not only in favour of the duty now proposed, which is but one-half of the Victorian duty on all these lines, but of maintaining the Victorian duty, which did not hurt anybody, and which I have shown benefited the farmers. I do not desire to see the Australian farmer cease to cultivate oats, which is one of the most important crops we have ; and yet I have shown, that with a duty of ls. 2£d. per bushel, New Zealand oats were imported into Victoria. I cannot understand how any one can say that he is in favour of supporting the primary producer and then propose to strike out the whole of the duties which benefit the primary producer. I am quite sure that the Commonwealth will be swamped with New Zealand grain if these duties are not agreed to, and I believe that even these duties will not keep out the New Zealand grain. If we have to get grain from places outside of the Commonwealth I should, as a Britisher, prefer to get it from New Zealand, but I say that that particular British community might have joined with us instead of waiting until they saw how the cat would jump. This proposal is exactly what their statesmen foresaw - that the Australian duty upon grain would probably be reduced, as the Government have reduced it, by one-half, and no doubt they are in hopes that these duties will be altogether removed, and that they may supply us with grain to the detriment of our own producers. They are well able to do so, because they have a much better soil, a splendid rainfall, and a fine climate for the purpose.
– I wish to characterize the free-trade policy advanced here as one of the direst poverty. We know that these honorable senators, who are always endeavouring to strike a blow at the primary producers - although they are professing at every turn to assist them - have been making the excuse that they are desirous of assisting some poor person. At one time it is the poor widow : at another time it is the poor orphan ; at another time it is the poor farmer, and the latest they have taken up is the. poor pastoralist. It is said that his sheep and cattle are dying by the million, and that it is costing him an enormous sum to keep them alive. We deplore the condition of the pastoralist or any one else who is suffering from a calamity which it is impossible for us to avert. If Senator Symon were really in earnest with respect to the assistance he would give the poor pastoralist, the best thing he could do would be topropose an export duty on grain and fodder. One cannot pick up a newspaper without reading that some millions of bushels of produce are going from Victoria to somewhere else, or that thousands of tons of fodder are going from all the States to South Africa. Will the honorable and learned senator propose an export duty ? I wish to call the attention of some of these friends of the poor farmer to the real condition of things in Australia. This item includes more than wheat. Senator Styles has shown to the satisfaction of any intelligent person that the duty would not raise the price of flour to the consumer, but would give better profits to the farmer. He showed that with a duty in Victoria the farmer got more per bushel for his wheat and the consumer got his flour for 4s. a ton less. Can Senator Charleston controvert that argument ? .
– I have not looked up the figures.
– Does the honorable senator doubt the figures thatSenator Styles has given ?
– I may doubt the figures.
– If the honorable senator believes the statement that has been made by Senator Styles he must come to some conclusion. Apart from wheat, do we not know that oats and barley can be produced in Tasmania almost as well as in any part of Australasia ? Do we not know that in many parts of South Australia - Kangaroo Island, and the southern and south-eastern portions of the State - oats, barley and rye are to a very considerable extent produced? Do we not also know that these farmers have to compete against the producers of New Zealand, and have asked for protection . against such competition? Senator Symonhas declared that the farmers do not ask for this duty. Can he cite one instance where the farmers have written to any one asking that the. duties be struck off? It is in consideration for the farmers, who are endeavouring to create an industry in the growing of barley, rye and pulse, that we wish to retain this duty.With respect to the poor pastoralist, whom honorable senators have so recently taken under their wing, I wish to show the utter absurdity of some of their statements. A letter was read here by Senator Symon, which must, I think, be of the same character as the letter which was read last night by Senator Higgs, with respect to the South Sea Islands - a fabrication from beginning to end. On the strength of that letter Senator Symon said that it costs at the present time1d. per day to keep a sheep alive. Only this morning, when something was said about the number of sheep, he stated that there are 15,000,000 in Australia being kept alive.
– Ironically, it was said on the protectionist side also.
– Supposing that 15,000,000 were being fed on grain or pulse, at a cost of1d. per day, it would represent £22,000,000 or £23,000,000 per annum. Or supposing that 12,000,000 sheep were being fed at a cost of1d. per day - and they have been under famine conditions for years - it would amount to £18,250,000 per annum.
– If you make it a century the cost would be £2,000,000,000.
– Or supposing that only 1,000,000 sheep were being fed at a cost of1d. per day for twelve months, it would come to £1,800,000. Honorable senators should not place reliance on such communications, but should treat them in the same manner as Senator Higgs treated the famous document signed by so many prominent members of the importing industry of Australia. We are prepared to assist the pastoral industry in every way. If this duty is imposed, the money will all be paid back to the State in which the fodder is consumed, and it can be given to the poor pastoralists, either in the shape of railway concessions or as a grant. In framing a Tariff it is not the duty of a Federal Parliament to consider every little difficulty that may occur in one year or in ten years, but to consider the interests of all the producers of Australia, whether pastoralists or agriculturists. I hope honorable senators will see that the nonsensical arguments they use will only land them in a ridiculous position. The one fact which must stare us all in the face is that these friends of the poor farmer are not his friends when they endeavour to take from him the little protection he has got from outside competition.
– I do not propose to wander through the possibilities that would attach to the paying of duty on forage to keep sheep and stock alive during an entire twelvemonth, because, as Senator Pulsford very reasonably observed, the same calculation applied to a century would produce even more startling results than the proposition submitted by Senator McGregor. We have had yesterday and to-day certain propositions submitted with reference to the absence of duties in New South Wales, and the beneficial effects of duties in several of the States during the last few years. Last night the Vice-President of the Executive Council, in order to promote the passing of certain duties, thought it incumbent on him to belittle the State that sends him here. He selected certain circumstances, and certain dates of importations, in order to show that it was in a very bad way in reference to the production of grain, because, of course, there was no import duty.
– He does not want to belittle the farmers.
– What are the facts in reference to the be-littling of the farmers? We are told by honorable senators opposite that these duties will only be operative in time of drought.
– Certainly not.
– It is a “ notorious “ fact that in a time of stress the poor farmer has in 99 cases out of 100 to go to the Government of the State and obtain a supply ; of seed wheat in order to start his crops. It is notorious that the Governments of the States had - year in and year out - in times of stress, through the failure of rainfall, to supply very large quantities of seed wheat. It is seed wheat more than food wheat that this duty is intended to hit. It is to apply to importations by State Governments, and is intended to accentuate the strained relations between those Governments and the Federal Government. The Vice-President of the Executive Council last night, in enlarging upon the importations of grain into New South Wales, said that these importations took place because there was no duty there. What are the facts ? I take the figures for the three great grain-producing States and one grainproducing colony of Australasia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, and New Zealand. New South Wales in 1891 produced 3,963,000 bushels of wheat, or its equivalent in flour. In 1899 New South Wales, without the benefit that is said to accrue from a protective duty, had increased the output of wheat, or its equivalent, to no less than 13,604,000 bushels; being an increase of 9,631,000 bushels. In Victoria in 1891 the output was the large figure of 13,629,000 bushels of wheat, or its equivalent in flour, and in 1899 it had gone up to 15,237,000 bushels, beingan increase of 1,608,000 bushels in the (period. So that, under the benign influence of a duty in Victoria, there was an increase between 1891 and 1899 of 1,608,000 bushels, whilst in the same period without any duty there was in New South Wales an increase of 9,631,000 bushels, or five times that of Victoria. Of course, 1 recognise that Victoria had already reached a high stage of production, and that it was not possible for that increase to go on at the same rate as in New South Wales, where the same achievement had not been attained. But still, there is an enormous and striking difference being 1,608,000 bushels, under the influence of a. duty, and 9,631,000 bushels without any duty. In South Australia there was a duty of 2s. per cental - that is practically about1s. per bushel, according to Coghlan’s rate of estimate. In 1891, South Australia’s production of wheat, or its equivalent in flour, was 6,436,000 bushels ; in 1899 it was 8,453,000 bushels - an increase of2,017,000 bushels. So that there is no comparison between the increase in the output of the two States, the one under the beneficent influence, as it is alleged to be, of a duty, and the other having no duty. In New Zealand there was also a duty. In 1891, the output of wheat, or its equivalent in flour, was 10,257,000 bushels. In 1899, the output was only 8,581,000 bushels, a decrease of 1,676,000 bushels in the period. I am fair enough to say that I do not attach any unvarying and overriding importance to these figures, because I » recognise that such, statistics are subject to many causes and influences, which unless honorably and honestly taken into consideration, prevent anything .like a fair estimate being arrived at. But now I come to some figures that I think may very fairly be considered, and which do show conclusively that all this talk about the deplorable condition of New South Wales, because she has had no duty, is very much beside the question. If New South Wales has not grown as ‘much wheat as some of the other States, she has grown something else that has paid her better. I propose to take the three chief lines of grain produced, so as not to attach undue importance to a particular variety of grain. I am going to quote the figures for New South Wales, Victoria,- and New Zealand in regard to their .production of the three lines - wheat, oats,, and maize. I take the total’ in each case. The total production of New South Wales for 1899 was 19,250,000 bushels’ of grain ; Victoria produced very nearly 22,000,000 bushels; whilst New Zealand’ produced 25,500,000 bushels. I give tho round numbers. What do these figures show ? That there was a difference of nothing more than 6,250,000 bushels between the free-trade State and the protectionist colony which notoriously possesses a better climate, a more equable rainfall, and better conditions for grain production than any State of the mainland, and just 2,750,000 more than was produced in Victoria. We have had read out to us the fact that in 1900 New South Wales imported a few bushels of wheat. As long as the present boundaries of ‘the States continue she is bound to import wheat or its equivalent in flour. In 1890 she imported a total of 84,000 bushels of wheat or its equivalent in flour, whilst at the same time she exported 2,750,000 bushels. But why did she import ? The population of Broken Hill will always be more conveniently supplied with flour from South
Australia than from New South Wales, and there are portions of the northern part of New South Wales that will also be more conveniently supplied from the Queensland granary of the Darling Downs than from the wheat districts of New South Wales. It is simply a question of cheapness of carriage. It would be absurd to take wheat hundreds of miles from Sydney to South Australia, and then take it by rail to Broken Hill - I do not know how many hundreds of miles - for the purpose of feeding a few thousand people. But the protectionists seize upon the fact that grain has been imported into New South Wales as a reason for alleging, that New South Wales has to import. These arguments ore. very convenient to fill up time and to achieve the “stone- walling” tactics that the Government organ disclosed yesterday morning, but as for showing evidence of mental capacity on the part of those who utter them - well, all I can say is - “ God help the mental capacity !” I have a cutting here that it would be very appropriate to read in connexion with this question of a duty upon grain. I am not in the habit of reading newspaper extracts here; but I am now going to quote something that was not written in any shape or way respecting this debate. It was written and published in the Age without any reference to the debate upon the Tariff, and it shows the condition of the farming industry of Victoria under the benign influence of protection. This is what is said -
There has been during the last twenty years an increase of our rural population, and a multiplication of agencies for dealing with the products of the country, but has there been a corresponding development of production ? Agricultural statistics give us a startlingly unsatisfactory answer to this question. As comparatively little is possible in the way of. taking up new lands, expansion depends to a great extent upon securing larger returns from those already under occupation, lt is precisely this kind of agricultural improvement that there is no evidence of in our statistical returns. On the contrary, startling proofs are available of a retrograde movement. Of the 38,500,000 acres of land under occupation in Victoria, only 3,824,898 acres is cultivated. In 1881 the area* was 1,997,943 acres, so that we have taken twenty years to double the area of culti vation. That we have now reached a period, of still slower progress is shown by the fact that the cultivated area waa 3,S77,922 acres three years ago. While the acreage increased last year,, there was a falling off of 329 in the number of cultivated holdings.
That is where “ the poor farmer” comes in ! The “poor farmers” have had to give up their lands in Victoria under the benign influence of protection to the extent of no less than 329 holdings. The Age in this instance is telling the truth baldheaded, and in a manner that is highly honorable to itself ! It just shows how superior facts are to all other considerations.
The returns of lust season showed an increase of oats to the extent of 91,409 acres, and hay to the extent of 6.1,916 acres; but there were decreases on all other important crops : - Wheat, 148,372 acres; barley, 20,715 acres; maize, 1 ,648 acres ; peas and beans, 4,421 acres ; potatoes, 10,992 acres; onions, 1,621* acres; with a falling off also in rye, mangols, beet, other roots, hops, and tobacco.
That is under the benign influence of a protective Tariff, which has been in existence for 30 years ! With the greatest possible regard for the opinions of those who hold different views to those which I entertain, I cannot possibly see that such figures as these, coming from the source they do, and being authoritative - not published for the purpose of influencing, parliamentary controversy, but taken from the published records of the State - -can by any process of self-confusion be taken to lead to the conclusion that protection benefits the “poor farmer.” The figures show that there has been a deplorable falling-off in agriculture in Victoria, a State that certainly enjoys a better rainfall than perhaps any other State in Australia. If, with a greater rainfall, and all. the blessings of protection for 30 years, we find a falling off of between 300 and 400 in the smaller homesteads, and a deplorable falling off of the acreage ih cultivation as compared with the acreage cultivated three years ago, and that in spite of the prospect of a wider market under federation, what can we say of a proposal, such as that submitted, to place upon the whole of the agriculturists of Australia the blighting, and not the beneficent, influence of protection 1 Senator O’Connor had a great deal to say about New South Wales importing a few bushels of wheat to meet geographical exigencies in that State. But supposing New South Wales does import a few bushels of wheat for a central population, she has been in the habit of doing so because she consumes a very much larger percentage of bread-stuffs per head of her population than is consumed in the flourishing State of Victoria. I do not mean to allege that the inhabitants of Victoria are starved - God forbid ! - -but they eat less meat and bread-stuffs, and more potatoes. I find that the consumption per head of potatoes in New South Wales is 195 lbs., while the consumption per head of potatoes in Victoria runs up to 258 lbs. I point this out .simply to show that production, exportation, and importation of some particular article need not be brought into a discussion of this kind with the hope of proving anything conclusively. Each country produces that which it requires, or upon which its producers make the most profit. It is only reasonable to suppose that the farmers of the different States produce that which pays best, and therefore to say that a greater or lesser production of a particular article makes one State prosperous and another poor is a mere wasting of time. This is the first occasion upon which I have introduced an Inter-State question of this character in this way, and it is only because the evil communications of the Government have corrupted my “good manners.
– I should like to say, in reference to Senator Neild’s observations about Victorian farming land going out of cultivation, that a reason for that may probably be found in the fact that a number of Victorian farmers have lately gone over to Queensland.
– And to New South Wales.
– If they have gone to New South Wales it was, no doubt, because they knew that under the Commonwealth there would be a reversal of the fiscal policy of that State, and that they would still get the benefit of protection. A very large number of farmers from Victoria and from, the other States have gone to Queensland during the past year or two, and it must be remembered also that in Victoria many farmers did what farmers do elsewhere : they took everything they possibly could out of the land without bothering about manuring it, and when the land was of no use without manure they tried . to get fresh land. I should like to know whether honorable senators who are . so anxious to serve die interests of the working, classes intend to propose that we should put an export duty upon food products. How much, for instance, have the people of the Commonwealth to pay for meat at the present time, when we know that hundreds of tons of meat are being exported to places outside of the Commonwealth because a better price, it is thought, Can be obtained for it elsewhere 1 Honorable senators have said in regard to wheat that certain rings are taking advantage of the Tariff, but I pointed out in answer to Senator Pulsford that rings in just the same way take advantage of the farmer in freetrade states. The honorable senator’s reply that there are speculators who are always ready to take advantage of the farmer is no argument against the imposition of a duty, when it is shown that rings are formed in free-trade States. Referring to the State of Western Australia, I desire to point out that under the influence of protection a very great advance has been made in that State in agriculture. I find that for the year 1897 there were 31,489 acres under wheat; 30 acres under maize; 1,753 acres under oats; 1,903 under barley, and 340 acres under other crops. But in 1901 the areas” under cultivation had greatly increased, and I find that there wore 74,308 acres under wheat; 91 acres under maize; 4,790 acres under oats-; 2,536 acres under barley, and 844 under other crops. “Without a doubt the agricultural industry has been built up in Western Australia under the influence of protection. I would appeal to honorable senators, from that State who, with the exception of Senator De Largie, have cast their votes in favour of free-trade, to consider the people engaged in this primary industry, with whom a compact was made in order that they might enter .the Federation. A compact was made that they should keep on their own duties for five years against the other States as well as against countries outside the Commonwealth.
– There was no compact that they should be kept on for five years.
– I appealed to a Western Australian representative to say why the free-trade Government of that State has not reduced the Inter-State duties, and he informed me that it was on account of the compact made with the farmers of Western Australia. I consider this proposal to be another of the blows which Senator Symon has delivered against the primary industries. No doubt the honorable and learned senator does not mean to hurt the farmers, but he is doing it, and I think his action displays great want df thought upon his part. I would say that it does not show very much constructive ability, and I believe that the people of the Commonwealth will hesitate before they surrender its destinies into his hands. We have had the argument used upon every item in the Tariff that the moment local production exceeds local consumption a duty is inoperative, but we desire to keep these duties on because there are several parts of the world in which grain and pulse, which may at any time come into competition with ourselves, can be produced in very great quantities. If, as honorable senators say, these duties are inoperative, it will not cost very much to leave the line in the schedule. I believe that the Argentine, is a place which will soon come into competition with us, and it is certainly a great competitor of ours already in pastoral products. I find that the area of land under cultivation in the Argentine in 1895, in the fourteen provinces and ten national territories, was 15,000,000, or about 6-2 per cent, of the total area available for cultivation, which is put at 240,000,000 acres. The chief imports into the United Kingdom from the Argentine in 1900 were wheat to the value of £6,088,923; maize to the value of £1,514,313. Who knows what may happen during the next few years if a considerably greater area is put under cultivation in the Argentine? But another competitor may be British India, with its population of 231,000,000, consisting principally of black and slave labour. I find that that country sent into the United Kingdom a considerable quantity of wheat during the year 1900. But I think a competitor that is more likely to be successful than either of these is Russia. From what we have read of the privations and sufferings of prisoners in Siberia, we might assume that it is not suitable for settlement or agriculture. But we know that during the past few years a considerable area of land has been put under cultivation in that country. I find that in 1900 the exports from European Russia included wheat, 37,628,256 cwts.; rye, 30,051,015 cwts.; barley, 17,282,558 cwts.; oats, 25,794,862 cwts.; maize, 6,158,523 cwts.; and other grain products,,18,120,891 cwts. - or a total of 135,036,105 cwts. of -grain and pulSe. I remind honorable senators that a very large number of Chinese are settling in Siberia, and undoubtedly they will come into competition with the Australian States before very long. We have in Queensland succeeded in building up our agricultural industry under the influence of protection, and there is a very great future in agriculture before our State. I direct the attention of honorable senators to a passage in Mr. Weedeon’s book, Queensland Past and Present, for 1S97. At page 283 he says -
When it is considered how large an area of the colony is suited by its soil and climate for the production of this grain, there can be little doubt us to the future of Queensland as a wheat country. In a pamphlet dealing with this subject, Professor Shelton, the instructor in agriculture, and now principal of the Agricultural College at Gatton, says - “ It is much more than probable that the area of land suited for the growth of wheat in Queensland is greater than the aggregate of all the present wheat fields of the contnen t. “ Some time since the department of Agriculture issued circulars to a number of wheat growers, asking a series of questions as to their crops. From 21 3 of them .replies were obtained and recorded. To the question - Do you reckon the crop a profitable one ? - 137 replied with a distinct yes, 47 said no, whilst the remainder did not answer the query, or gave a qualified expression of opinion. Of the 47 who asserted that the crop was not a profitable one to grow, about 30, strangely enough, showed a good profit in their returns for the year in question. Most of these replies necessarily came from the Barling Downs, where the great bulk of the wheat is produced. .Although some related to farms in the Maranoa and West Moreton’ districts, with a few exceptions the crops realized about the same price - namely, just under 4s. par bushel, except in the Maranoa, where the average was about Is. better ; and as the conditions of soil, climate, labour, freight would at least on the Downs be about equal, it would appear difficult to account for the difference of opinion as to the profitable nature of the crop but for the additional information furnished by the returns.
We have some 420,000,000 acres of land in Queensland, and many millions of acres besides the Darling Downs, which district is mentioned as specially adapted for agriculture, suitable for the production of wheat, and other grain crops. If we keep these duties on our industries will undoubtedly flourish, and if we remove them they will suffer to a very large extent: Though we may not import a large quantity of grain at the present time honorable senators must realize that in the course of years we may have very successful competitors from abroad if we reduce these duties. I wish to emphasize the point I have been making all along, that for the sake of getting something like a 25 per cent, duty knocked off machinery later on in the interest.; of the farmer, Senator Symon is striking blow after blow at the duties which protect the productions of the farmer. 36 t
Of course he declares that he is acting in the interest of the farmers, but I submit that it is in the interest of the great importing industry - two men and a boy.
– Of all the proposals that the leader of the Opposition has submitted, this is certainly the most serious, and the one that most indicates the absence of the desire, which he has so often expressed, to benefit the primary producer. If this motionwere passed and acted upon in anotherplace, the primary producers in Tasmania-, would feel that, in entering the Federation, they did the worst thing they had”, ever done in their lives. I speak without any hesitation on this subject, becauseI have had considerable communication with our primary producers. Until the last few years in Tasmania, 30 per cent, of-‘ the land under cultivation was under wheat.. Our farmers recognised that if they lost the benefit of the duty on wheat they wouldbe unable to compete with the wheat producers on the mainland ; but, notwithstanding that fact, they entered the union’ believing that the cereal products for which* Tasmania was eminently adapted would have the open market of the Commonwealth,, with some protection against their most formidable and nearest competitor, New Zealand. It is in consequence of their having entered the union that they have, to a certain extent, modified their original intention, and taken much of their land fromunder wheat, and put it under barley, oats,, and similar crops. If this motion were- carried, and acted upon in the other House,, it would mean that although the Tasmanian. farmers re-arranged their business to meet what they considered their altered circum- - stances, they would be in a worse position-, than ever they were in before, because a good! deal of the competition between Tasmania-, and New Zealand in the free port of Sydney in the past has been fraught with very serious consequences to our primary producers. Does the leader of the Opposition seriously think that the removal of this duty will cause a bigger local sale of these commodities in the Commonwealth for the purpose of cattle and sheep feed 1 What is the circumstance that to a great extent has caused the comparatively high prices of these products of late years ? It is the new market at hand in South Africa. Does Senator Symon think that by removing the duty the wheat and other grain produced in
Australia will be kept here, or that the producers of New Zealand will send their grain into Australia to be sold for cattle and sheep feed, instead of sending it to South Africa, a trade for which they are catering to such a large extent that their Government is calling for tenders for a special line of steamers to take grain there? If Senator Symon is actuated solely by the motives he has expressed, why does he not propose an export duty on these products, and so give some inducement to the growers to sell their products in the Commonwealth ?
– The growers would not thank us for an export duty.
– Will the growers thank us for this motion ? It is not the gratitude of the growers, but the gratitude of the pastoralists, that Senator Symon or Senator Gould is looking for.
– The gratitude of the people of the Commonwealth ; not of a section of them.
– The honorable and learned senator will not get the gratitude of the people of the Commonwealth, and certainly not that of the growers. There has been no instance, I believe, in the- Commonwealth where any farmers, individually or collectively, have taken any steps to induce a revision of the duties as passed by the other House. Individually and collectively we have been flooded with literature from -all sources to induce us to alter duties or to modify them, if possible, in the interests of the community as a whole, and more particularly in the interests of those immediately connected with the industries. But have the farmers asked us to do. anything of the kind ? Shall we get any thanks from the producers if we accept this motion? We may get some thanks from the pastoralists. We have not been moved very much from outside, even by the pastoralists, to take the course Senator Symon asks us to take. From Sydney; which has been a free port, we in Tasmania have derived some advantages. Of barley, Tasmania, in 1900, exported to Victoria 3,288 bushels, and to New South Wales 1,160 bushels. Notwithstanding the fact that Tasmania, California, and New Zealand are practically the only constant barley-growing countries from which New South Wales can be supplied, and notwithstanding the fact that Tasmania grows as bright a barley as is grown in either of the other countries, they have been able to swamp the Tasmanian barley out of the
Sydney market. New Zealand and California barley has been sold in New South Wales at 3s. and 3s. 6d. per bushel,’ but as soon sis Tasmanian barley was imported it was swamped out of the market, and the price that the Tasmanian growers got did not exceed ls. 9d. to 2s. per bushel, with the result that they discontinued sending the article to Sydney. In one exceptional year, when New Zealand barley realized as much as 5s. 6d. per bushel, the Tasmanian growers sent barley there again, but as soon as it arrived New Zealand growers sent in so much that they got the price down to 4s. per bushel and kept the Tasmanian article out of the market. Of oats, Tasmania in 1900, sent to protectionist Victoria 235,332 bushels, to free-trade New South Wales 110,277 bushels, to South Australia 12,464 bushels, and to South Africa 37.19S bushels. If the growers in Tasmania are capable of prO.ducing these requirements I claim that the Tariff should be framed in such a way as to induce consumers to look for these products to come from that State rather than from New Zealand or California. With regard to peas and beans, an attempt was made by the Tasmanian producers some years ago to get ‘a good’ market in New South Wales. The* swamping procedure adopted by the New Zealand producers) and the shipping facilities that they had, resulted in the Tasmanian producers getting no more than 2s. 6d. per bushel, although it cost from 3s. 6d. to 4s. per bushel to produce the cereal. What is the result ? Six shillings per bushel is the price to-day - and the Tasmanian producer has been relying on the possibility of getting that fair price - but if you open the door to the -New Zealand growers do you think that the Tasmania producer will get the real market rates? Certainly not. They will be brought down again to 2s. 6d. per bushel, because in the initial stages the Tasmanian producer can send only small shipments, but if he has the open market through out the Commonwealth, and a fair protection against the growers in New Zealand, who have been producing for many years from larger areas, he will be enabled to supply the requirements of the Commonwealth. The Tasmanian producer has turned his attention from wheat to barley more than he did in the past; but in 1900 we sent as much as 48.S52 bushels to Victoria, 2,147. bushels to New
South Wales, 1,008, bushels to South Africa, and 78,753 bushels to the United Kingdom. It has been said here that Tasmania is not a manufacturing State, and that she has nothing to protect. I submit that her natural products are entitled to protection. In the case of barley, oats, peas, and beans the New Zealand producer - the producer from larger areas - has been enabled to stifle the efforts of the Tasmanian producer to place his products in the New South Wales market profitably, and the result has been that in each instance Tasmania has exported more to protectionist Victoria than to free-trade New South Wales. Peculiar climatic conditions enable Tasmania to produce barley, oats, peas, and beans, not intermittently, but every year. If Senator Symon desires to benefit the pastoralist I ask him again to adopt the suggestion which was made by Senator McGregor, and propose an export duty.
– I shall not adopt that suggestion.
– In framing this Tariff the Government apparently could see only one industry at a time, and they decided that this industry must be protected. They did not study the effect of the protective duty on other industries. The duty on grain and pulse, we are told, was imposed in order that the farmer might be protected. The Government have admitted, and every one of their supporters has admitted, that it cannot he of any service to the farmer in normal conditions, and that fact was very well illustrated by a reference to South Australia.We had a duty of 2s. per cental, and when in a time of drought we found that it was very difficult to obtain sufficient wheat to meet our requirements, how did we try to meet the situation ? A representative of an agricultural district -Newcastle - moved that the duty on wheat and grain be suspended for twelve months. That led to a discussion, and then it; was shown that the Government in order to meet difficulties arising from the duty being imposed, allowed millers to grind wheat in bond. That shows that the moment a duty of this kind becomes operative in the interests of the farmer, the effect of it will be destroyed by an Executive act. This duty, if imposed, will oppress other industries to a very great extent. Take the millers for instance. They will be burdened to the extent of having- not only to pay freight and importing charges, but they will also have to pay £1 10s. per ton upon imported wheat. That will make the cost of their flour so great that they will be unable to compete in the markets of the world against other countries in which wheat is not so heavily taxed. Even to-day our millers are put to great straits in order to keep their flour market in South Africa. Every year they have been’ striving to put their brands upon the market in face of great difficulties, and they have at last established a reputation for their flour. Now they are to be handicapped to such an extent as will prevent them from sending flour to the markets they have secured, unless at a very great sacrifice. If they are unable to meet that loss, they will be deprived of their markets, and their foreign trade will probably be destroyed. Farmers who in times of drought are fortunate enough to get a crop, are advantaged to the extent of the freight and the importing charges on foreign wheat. Surely that is avery great advantage. But if we impose this extra duty of£1 10s. a ton the unfortunate farmers who have to buy seed wheat will be burdened to that extent. We shall be oppressing them at the very time when we ought rather to come to their assistance. We hear a great deal about the competition of New Zealand. Protectionists usually cry out against cheap labour, but now a cry is raised against the products of countries where people live under similar conditions to ourselves. We must also, it is said, protect our ignorance against the scientific knowledge of other countries. If New Zealand, as we had hoped would be the case, had come into the Federation, those who support this duty would have had no ground for argument, but because she didnot enter the Federation the New Zealand people are feared by the protectionists, and we are told that we must protect ourselves against them. It is true that New Zealand charges duties against our produce, but I hope we shall not enter on a policy of retaliation. What led to the barriers being placed between the various States in the past was the very spirit of retaliation which is now urging the imposition of duties against New Zealand. Federation has secured for Tasmania, Queensland, and the other States, instead of the limited market of their own population, the extended market of the whole
Commonwealth. That is a very great gain to the producers of any kind of commodity. Senator Styles has referred to thinking men. He seems to me to regard this and every other question that comes before us from the point of view of his immediate surroundings only. I trust that we shall speedily arriveat a decision, and that Senator Symon’s motion will be carried.
– As far as I can gather from the opening remarks of Senator Charleston, he has got himself into a complete fog over this question. He states that protectionists agree that a duty of this kind is never operative except in bad seasons. We have not agreed to that at all, except so far as wheat may be concerned. We certainly do not agree to the proposition so far as concerns barley, oats, and various other products affected by the grain duties. It is only in abnormal seasons that there is any chance of importations of wheat coming from abroad, except, perhaps, an odd cargo under some peculiar circumstances. But with regard to other cereals, we do not grow enough for ourselves and have to import from New Zealand and other places. Senator Charleston went on to argue that the unfortunate miller would not be able to get wheat to grind, after having acknowledged in * the most unmistakable manner that we grow more wheat than we can consume.
– Except in times of drought.
– Such times occur perhaps once in 50 years, and the lawyers have a maxim that “ Hard cases make bad laws.” The honorable senator alluded to a special case in South Australia, and tried to make out that there was a very strong public feeling amongst all classes of the community, in consequence of a drought, in favour of the suspension of the grain duties, and permitting Californian wheat to be imported free. What is true, is that a certain member of the House of Assembly moved that the wheat duty should not be enforced. But Parliament would not agree to it. Of course, individual members can be got to bring forward motions on all kinds of subjects.
– The House of Assembly did agree to it, but the Government refused to be bound by it. They allowed gristing in bond in defiance of the House.
– What is the use of one House passing a resolution ? It does not bind Parliament. Certainly the movement did not proceed from the farmers throughout South Australia, who were in favour of the duty being retained. Although some time later Parliament made alterations in the South Australian Tariff, no desire was expressed to repeal the duty on grain.
– Did not the Government allow gristing in bond 1
– The Government allowed what they had power to allow, and had allowed in dozens of instances in similar circumstances. The millers were permitted to make up certain cargoes of wheat into flour and re-export it. The Government were at perfect liberty under the South Australian Customs Act to sanction that, and it was a perfectly proper thing to do. I have stated the facts, because Senators Symon and Charleston led the committee to believe that in times of stress in South Australia, we were prepared absolutely to take off the duty on wheat, and that that was done at the request of the farmers, who were strongly in favour of it. The fact is that nothing of the kind was done, and the duty was retained. What is the position before us now? We have overtaken the demand in regard to one particular kind of grain, and therefore we are asked to knock off the whole duty. Is there any protectionist country in the world in which when a duty like this has been passed it has not been kept on after the production has overtaken the consumption ? Our competitor in regard to grain-production is New Zealand, particularly in relation to oats, peas, beans, and so forth. We do not grow sufficient of those commodities to supply our own wants. This duty is, therefore, unmistakably protective in its incidence. It will protect the grower of those particular grains and pulses within the Commonwealth. As our great rival retains her duties on these particular articles, the effect of passing Senator Symon’s motion will be that those grains will be imported into the Commonwealth free. The New Zealand producers will flood the market, prices will be reduced, and in time it will not be worth while for our growers to produce. When the importers get the market into their own hands, they will raise the’ price to the consumers. It is a monstrous thing to keep our markets open in that way, when New
Zeala’nd will not reciprocate and allow our products to enter her markets free. It would be the height of madness for the committee to adopt the system proposed by Senator Symon. Instead of free-traders doing so, they should rather say - “We do not want to take away the whole of the protection to our farming industry. The great competitor in this case is New Zealand, which has a duty of 9d. Here the proposal is ls. 6d. Reduce it down to the New Zealand level, and then that colony will have no advantage over us.” If there is one State in the group that will be particularly injured in consequence of making the reduction proposed it is Tasmania. She can grow these grain crops to perfection. “We cannot compete with her in that respect as we can in the production of wheat, which is a plant which will thrive under the drier climatic conditions which prevail in Australia. If Senator Symon’s motion is carried, such a blow will be struck at Tasmania with regard to her agricultural industry, that if she had known of it before, undoubtedly she would never have joined the Federation. I suppose the next endeavour will be to take the duty off potatoes, which again will hit Tasmania very hard. But the free-traders have something up their sleeve, and I presume they are going to move to take the duties off agricultural machinery, which, however, the farmers have obtained cheaper under protection than they could ever do under free-trade. I will defy any one to prove the contrary. I trust the committee will not be led away to taking the duty off grain and cereals.
– Believing Australia to be a very large exporter of grain, I have got the leading exporter in Victoria to supply me with some figures on the subject for the year 1901-1902. 1 will give them to the Senate. In May, 1901, Victoria exported 284,344 bags’ of wheat ; in June, 166,944 bags ; in July, 232,495 bags; in August. 117,075 bags; in September, 97,126 bags; in October, 151,247 bags; in November, 65,793 bags; in December, 140,030 bags; in January, 1902, 359,392 bags; in February, 293,837 bags; in March, 152,994 bags; and in April, 20,419 bags. This makes a total of wheat exported during the year 1901-2 of 2,079,696 bags. I will not give the quantities of chaff and fodder exported, but the total quality of flour exported for the same period amounted to 314,688 bags. The oats exported amounted in May, 1901, to 70,127 bags; injune, to 12,382; in July, to 124,074; in August, to 31,505; in September, to 44,832; in October, to 51,782 ; in November, to 35,710; in December, to 19,781; in January, 1902, to 171,158; in February, to 146,690 ; in March, to 29,759 ; in April, to 15,830 - making a total of oats exported during the year 753,630 bags. Now I will go back a few years and quote from a statement published by Messrs. McCarron, Bird, and Co., of Melbourne. I will back this statement against any prepared by the Government. It gives figures for the flour trade for various years. I find that during 1898 the flour exported from Victoria amounted to 123,000 bags. This trade was principally with the federated States. If we are running a river down a street we cannot run a small stream against it. I am not in favour of putting a duty upon wheat, but if the item can be recommitted I would favour a duty upon oats and barley, but not because I think such duties are necessary. It is utterly nonsensical to put a duty upon wheat when we are exporting the article in millions of bushels.
– Why not keep it here for our starving stock 1
– I probably know more about starving stock than any honorable senator here. I have this week instructed Messrs. Dalgety and Co. to send 70 tons of hay to my place, near Koondrook, in the Riverina, and 19 tons of hay to Swan Hill. So far as the feeding of stock is concerned, the proper food is compressed hay. I may say that I have also sent 900 tons of maize to Queensland to feed stock. I have instructed my manager by telegram to cut the throats of all the culls of my sheep at Aramac, in Queensland, to save the rest. But he does not like to do it, and I am not surprised. Mr. Waugh, of New South Wales, has cut the throats of 6,000 sheep. There are millions of sheep dying. Is it when sheep are dying, and the nation is going to be brought to the verge of ruin that the Government should propose to put a duty on stuff that will feed them ? Were I Prime Minister, or a Minister at all at the present time, I would say - “For God’s sake admit anything that will save millions of sheep.” I am not speaking now as a freetrader or as a protectionist. The Government of Queensland realized years ago that to save stock they were justified in carrying food almost for nothing. They were wise in doing so. The present drought is not like past droughts, because, whether rain comes or not now, ruination has unfortunately already been effected. I am spending between £400 and £500 per week, but I mean to keep my sheep alive at all costs. I do not think that if we took these duties off to-morrow it would make any difference, because every man expects that rain will come within a few days, although that has been the position of affairs for the last two months.
– Would it make any difference if we took the duty off wheat ?
– It would make no difference at all. No one would be foolish enough to order wheat from California to feed his stock, when he knows that perhaps before the wire reached California there might be two inches of rain, and that long before the order could be supplied local prices might go down 50 per cent. I think that perhaps New Zealand might be able to send oats here, but let me say that the stock are fed not so much upon oats as upon pressed hay, which can be distributed anywhere to sheep. Honorable senators will understand that when oats are put upon the ground for feeding sheep ten per cent, of the grain may be lost. It is covered not by mud, but by dust. There is no mud now, but eternal dust, which is covering the roofs of the houses. Speaking upon the broad principle, I ask why we should be so foolish as to put a duty upon wheat when we are exporting ship-loads of it every month? We have done so for years past, and will continue to- do so. I am prepared to vote for this item, and if it can be recommitted I shall support a duty upon oats and barley.
– Senator Fraser has taken every prop from Senator Symon’s motion. The honorable senator certainly does know something about the drought and its effect upon the pastoral industry. He tells us that it makes no difference whether this duty is taken off or not, and that .the duty cannot in any way affect stock. Senator Symon’s appeal to the committee has been that we should not impose these duties at the present time, when stock are dying by thousands in many parts of the Commonwealth. It is, unfortunately, true that stock are dying by thousands, and the honorable -and learned senator says that as those left alive are being fed upon grain, it is “manifestly unfair to impose a duty upon grain under those trying circumstances.
– They are being fed upon grain.
– Senator Fraser told us, in language which could not be misunderstood, that the duty upon wheat will make no difference, and that he is prepared to vote to keep the duty on oats and other kinds of grain. I would like Senator Symon to take into consideration the people who are engaged in these industries, and to consider also the fact that his proposition, if carried, will affect Tasmania to a degree that is almost appalling. Has the honorable and learned senator no consideration for that State which, like the others, entered the Federation with a hope that it would be beneficial to her interests, and that her people would have a larger market for their produce ? No sooner is the union effected, than we have proposition after proposition from the other side striking a fatal blow at one industry after another. The only effect of these proposals will be to create secessionists in the various States by thousands. I appeal to honorable senators to consider how this is likely to affect the people of the different States. I would ask them whether they desire that we should have an agitation for secession at this early period of our history ? If this course is pursued with the Tariff that will surely be the effect in every State but New South Wales. Senator Playford has asked honorable senators to say whether there is any country in the world in which protective duties have been removed as soon as the local producers have been able to supply local requirements. Does Senator Fraser set himself up as an authority greater than the fiscal authorities in Canada, America,. Germany, and other countries? We desire to continue the protective duties, because we believe that they may be necessary at some later period, and if they are inoperative they can at least do no harm.
– It is not a matter of removing a duty, but of putting a duty on for the Commonwealth.
– We had various rates in existence in the several States.
– Yes, against each other.
– We are now asked not to mind how the removal of these duties will affect the interests of the Commonwealth, and Senator Charleston appeals to us on behalf of the people of New Zealand, who he tells us are people of our own race. If New Zealand had entered into the union with us, the position would have been different, but so long as New Zealand is not in the union, our first consideration must be for the people of the Commonwealth. It is on their behalf that I appeal to honorable senators opposite. If, after we have considered their interests, we can confer a benefit upon our own countrymen wherever they may be situated, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere, we should do so. I repeat that our first consideration should be for ourselves, and by striking fatal blows at our industries we will be creating nothing but a feeling of despair and of dissatisfaction at the union, which may grow into, an agitation for secession, or for a dissolution of the union, which many of us would deplore.
Senator FRASER (Victoria). - In making my previous statement, I did not mean to say that thousands of pounds were not being spent in feeding stock with oats, barley, wheat, and everything of the kind that can be got. When a pastoralist or a farmer who has to feed his stock is. distant 50 or 100 miles from a railway, honorable senators will see that it is imperative for him to transport his produce in a concentrated form, such as maize, oats, barley, and wheat. There is not the least use in a pastoralist attempting to supply his stock with hay when he has to carry it a long distance by team. We could not get sufficient teams in the country to carry produce in that bulky form, and stock which have to be fed at a distance from a railway must be fed upon maize, wheat, oats, or barley. A lb. of barley is better for a sheep than 1 lb. of hay. A -Jib. of barley, oats, or maize will keep a sheep alive for one day, and it takes about 1 lb. of hay to keep a sheep alive for the same time. It costs from ½d. to f d. to keep a sheep alive for a day upon feed supplied in this manner. I am feeing stock within 40 miles of a railway, and though I have my own teams, it takes five or six teams to transport the feed to keep my stock alive. There are stations feeding stock more than 100 miles from a railway. It is impossible in their case to feed the stock with hay, and they must be fed with grain of some kind.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I wish to refer to the statement made by Senator Fraser with reference to -graziers buying great quantities of grain to feed their sheep.
When they are so anxious to consider the interests of the great masses of the people, I would like to ask the honorable senator how it is that they prefer to buy wheat at 4s. Id. per bushel to feed their sheepwhen they might get a high price for them in the city markets, where the working classes have to pay od. per lb. for mutton. The honorable senator- told us that graziers are feeding their stock . with wheat and oats, and at the same time he told us that when the grain was put upon the ground half of it was lost by being mixed up with the dust.Who believes that the pastoralists are buying wheat to throw upon the ground in order that the 15,000,000 sheep which Senator Clemons spoke about may be fed ? I challenge the statement that the pastoralists are feeding their sheep with wheat at 4s. Id. per bushel for inferior qualities. They may be feeding sheep worth £300 or £400 a piece in stables and in enclosures. Does any one believe the statement that the pastoralists throw away 2s. Id. on every bushel of wheat 1 We can credit the statement that they are sending hay along for the sheep, but we cannot credit the statement that they are sending grain to be thrown on the ground.
– I have seen it done within the last fortnight. It is put on theground because they have such large numbers to feed.
– In all probability the grain is used for the feeding of prize sheep. One honorable senator has mentioned theconcessions that the farmers get from theState, and the supply of seed wheat has been referred to. If any class has received consideration from the Commonwealth and the various States it is the pastoralists. I have never heard any section of the community so loud in their- appeals for pauper relief as the .pastoralists. The majority of that class are shareholders in the banking institutions which hold the bulk of the leases of pastoral properties throughout the States. They are always on their knees to the Government to get relief of some kind or other. Now, it is the drought they complain of. Years ago it was the pleuro-pneumonia. At a later time it was the tick. Goodness knows how many different cries they have had. All the time, in Queensland, the banking institutions which have held the pastoral properties have been getting concessions from the Government in the shape of low rentals and the carriage of stock and fodder bv rail at ruinous rates - at such ruinous rates that the State is now in dire distress. If honorable senators had any real sympathy for the working classes they would endeavour to introduce some legislation in order that cheap mutton might be procured. . I do not mean to say that some of the squatters are not suffering - I am satisfied that they are, but these are individual squatters - the last of the race - who own their own leases. Eleven out of every twelve of the squatting properties are held by the banks and mortgaging institutions, which are paying dividends at the rate of 5 or 6 per cent, in spite of the drought.
– Is it any less a national loss when the stock are dying ?
– It is certainly a national loss to some extent ; but the masses of the people who consume pastoral products get very little benefit whether it is 20,000,000 or 10,000,000 sheep that are suffering. The meat rings throughout the Commonwealth keep up the price of meat to the consumers. Some honorable senators appear to discredit that statement, but if they will go to butchering establishments in Sydney and Melbourne, they will find it is true. Although a drought does decimate the stock, we know that with one or two good seasons the number of the stock is doubled. If the statistics of Queensland are referred to it will be seen that where in one year we had 13,000,000 sheep, in the second year we had 14,000,000, in the third vear 15,000,000, in the fourth year 17,000,000, and so on to 20,000,000, simply owing to good seasons. As a rule, a drought occurs occasionally- - say once in four years. The present drought has lasted an unusually long time. In Queensland it lasted five or six years ; but rain may fall at any time, and when it does the squatters will get two or three good seasons, and reap many benefits. But the pastoralists have not suffered to the extent that some honorable senators would lead us to believe, because for the last few years they have had the advantage of the South African market. Many tons of mutton and beef have been sent out of Queensland.
– Will the honorable senator confine his remarks to the duty on grain and pulse 1
– I am trying to do that, sir, but the condition of the pastoral industry has been brought into the discussion as an appeal to honorable senators to strike out that duty, and in opposition to that appeal I am urging that the meat companies in the States are paying the highest dividends, notwithstanding all the distress, and the general public are being compelled to pay high prices when meat should be available at lower prices. If, as honorable senators say, the duty will be inoperative, because we can produce all we want, why not let it remain in the Tariff, assuming that they have the slightest sympathy with the farming industry 1 They must know that as a body the farmers are protectionists, and therefore are anxious to see the duty retained. If Senator Symon had any sympathy with the farmers, he would say - “This duty pleases the fanners, and as it does not hurt us, let it remain in the Tariff.” He is going to create great bitterness throughout the Commonwealth by removing the duty, because we know that the farmers of Tasmania were brought into the union in the same way as were the farmers of Queensland - by the prospect of freedom of intercourse throughout the Commonwealth and protection against the world. But Senator Symon, although he believes that the duty will be of no use, is urging the committee to strike it out, and so give the farmers cause of complaint.
– I have been very much interested in this discussion, and particularly with the figures which have been furnished by Senator Fraser.
– Which he got from some merchant.
– I am satisfied that if Senator Fraser did not believe the figures to be reliable he would not have used them. The figures, however, relate to only wheat. I cannot say that I was sent here to represent the farmers except in a- general sense. I do not believe that the farming community did very much to secure my election, but I recognise that I have a duty to perform - to do justice to the farmers as well as the classes who were more directly interested in my return. I believe that the Tasmanian farmers have always thought that they would get a certain measure of protection, and that it is necessary to their existence. The facts given by Senator Keating must have convinced honorable senators, unless they are such hide-bound free-traders that they will not listen to any information, that Tasmania has very much to fear from the open competition of New Zealand. That competition is more in oats and barley than in wheat. I shall look at the question from another aspect. I am not like Senator Symon, who, by any arguments, cannot be turned from his purpose. Some of the arguments which he used this afternoon have influenced mo in one respect. Wheat is the only article included in this item which can affect the poorer classes in a time of disastrous drought. It is wheat . from which flour is made to produce the bread of the masses. The honorable and learned senator’s appeal to me on that ground was not without effect. I am quite satisfied to see wheat placed on the free list, but not the other articles which the item embraces.
– That will apply to the honorable senator presently as regards flour.
– I was very pleased indeed to hear the remarks of Senator Fraser, who is also of opinion that wheat should be duty free. I support the imposition of the duty on other kinds of grain and pulse, because I believe that it is just, not only to the farmers of Tasmania, but to the farmers of the States generally. Perhaps Senator Clemons is not aware that since the Commonwealth has been established it has been supposed that the farmers would not have to compete in the open market with the farmers of New Zealand, and the value of the rich farming land on the north coast of Tasmania has advanced by 25 per cent.
– Inter-State free-trade.
– Inter-State freetrade, and protection against the outside world, including New Zealand. If it is in order, sir, I shall move that the words “ except wheat “ be inserted after the letters “ n.e.i.”
– The better way would be to move that wheat be placed on the f ree list.
– Shall I not be in order, sir, in moving an amendment to the motion of Senator Symon ? I take it that I shall.
– I submit that Senator O’Keefe is perfectly right in the view he has expressed. The question before the committee is not an amendment to a clause of a Bill, but a motion that it be a suggestion to the House of Representatives that grain and pulse be duty free. Why should not that motion be as susceptible of amendment as is any other motion 1 If it is not so we shall be placed in this most extraordinary position : that where the committee is dealing with a line which includes ten or twelve items, it is not to be allowed to express an opinion in regard to the different items, but is to be bound down by the cast-iron form of the motion, and if it wishes to get outside or behind that suggestion, or to break it up, it will have to foi low the course suggested by Senator Fraser and wait for a recommittal. We do not know whether there will be a recommittal.
– Yes, we do.
– It depends altogether on what my honorable friends opposite can carry. If they can make this item free, then we may be verV well assured that they will reject any attempt to recommit it.
– That is not so.
– The facts are exactly the other way round.
– It is very easy to make statements of that kind.
– Is this on the point of order, sir 1
– In discussing the item, I am pointing out that the course Senator O’Keefe proposes is exactly the right course, and that if it were not allowed to be taken the committee would be placed in a most extraordinary position in regard to items of this kind. Therefore I would suggest to my honorable and learned friend, Senator Fraser, that it would be a most dangerous thing to wait until there is a recommittal, because there may never be a recommittal. No one is bound to move for a recommittal, and if it is moved, no one can say whether the motion will be carried. If the honorable senator wishes to place on record his opinion as to these items in the way he has indicated, there is only one way to do it, and that is by a motion such as Senator O’Keefe has suggested. I would suggest that the form of that motion should be to strike all the words after “that” with the view of substituting the words “wheat be placed on the free list.” If we simply say, “except wheat,” it would be difficult to determine whether other grain would be liable to duty or not, or whether wheat would be on the free list, but if we put the motion in the form I suggest, wheat would be distinctly on the free list, and the other grain would be subject to a duty of ls. 6d. I have said that because it is only right that I should do what I can to assist any honorable senator who wishes to move a request for an amendment, particularly as the effect of carrying the suggestion would be to adopt, to some extent, the item as proposed by the Tariff. But I should like to say, in order that there may be no mistake about the attitude of the Government, that I shall vote against any motion which proposes to put any of these articles on the free list.
-i-Will the honorable and learned senator oppose a recommittal ?
– I shall oppose any recommittal, and shall also oppose any motion. With regard to the main question, we are all very much indebted to Senator Fraser for the flood of light he has thrown upon the subject. We were led to believe by honorable senators opposite that there . were two grounds upon which the motion to put these articles on the free list rested. One was that urged by Senator Pulsford . He said, “ There is nothing in this duty ; it means nothing, and we do not want to have it in the Tariff as an argument to be used against us when we come to deal with other items.” That is a perfectly straightforward argument, but it is not substantial enough for some honorable senators opposite. Their argument is that it is only in times of drought that this duty becomes effective, and that therefore in times of drought the price will be raised to the consumer, which will do a great deal of injustice and inflict considerable hardship upon people who have to feed sheep with grain. But it has been clearly shown that, although there are a number’ of people who feed sheep with grain, it really does not matter much one way or the other whether the duty is passed or not from that point of view. I could quite understand the argument if we were dealing with some such article as hay. But, after all, what is the value of this argument in the light of the statement made by Senator Fraser % In addition to that, honorable senators opposite have referred to the drought as though any considerable number of persons in Australia were feeding their starving stock with grain. We know perfectly well that there are a large number. T. quite admit that ; and I hope it will be understood that anything I say in answering the arguments which have been used, is not to be taken as indicating any want of sympathy with the suffering that is going on all over the country. But, as I have already said, we have not to legislate. - and it would be dangerous and misleading to legislate - for exceptional circumstances. How many persons are interested in the use of grain for feeding stock in times of drought ? There are not many throughout Australia. It is only the large stationholders and those who are wealthy and who have valuable stock to preserve who are, to any great extent, using artificial food of this kind. Why ? Because as a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence, it does not pay to feed sheep on grain. It would pay the stockowner better to allow the sheep to die than to spend a large sum of money in feeding them on grain to keep them alive. I know it is a terrible position for men to be in, but it is a simple matter of calculation whether it would not pay better to allow the sheep to die, or to sell them for what they would fetch, rather than feed them artificially on grain. I do not say that there are not very strong reasons why wheat should not be protected as well as other kinds of grain ; but I am bound to admit that there is this difference : That the probabilities are that the duty operates more certainly in the case of wheat, particularly in times of drought and scarcity, than is the case with barley, oats, and other kinds of grain. This question particularly affects Tasmania. I certainly cannot understand any honorable senator who represents that State taking the view that Tasmania should be deprived of one of the few chances she will have of making money for her primary producers.
– Out of the distress prevailing in other States.
– But the honorable senator must admit that the whole question of making profits in any business depends upon obtaining the highest price a man can get for his goods. In selling any article, profit is made by inducing the purchaser to pay more than he wants to give. We do not legislate specially for times of distress, and there is no reason why the farmer in Tasmania, or other parts of Australia, should lose the effects of his enterprise in order to be generous to other persons who are suffering. We do not legislate on such grounds. If Tasmania is to get her share out ofthis Tariff it is necessary to impose duties that will enable her to have some chance against the competition of New Zealand, and other countries. I think I have made my position definite. I shall’ vote against any amendment proposed ; but, if Senators O’Keefe and Fraser wish to move an amendment, I suggest that they should do so in the form I have mentioned.
– Senator O’Connor has suggested a very ingenious way out of the difficulty. He suggests to those honorable senators who are opposed to a duty on wheat, but are in favour of a duty on barley, oats, and other grain, that, in the first place, he will oppose any motion for a recommittal if it is determined that these articles shall be made duty free. In the next place, he suggests a way out of the difficulty, but intimates that he, his colleague, and his supporters will vote against any motion that is proposed. It is evident that Senator O’Connor has made up his mind to fight every proposal that is made upon the Tariff. The suggestion he has made is like a forlorn hope. He appears to think that by the carrying of an amendment with regard to a portion of the duty he will be able to carry the rest of it by means of a side-wind. But, of course, if Senator Symon’s motion were carried, it would be open to the committee to recommit the item for the purpose of making some slight amendment, such as has been indicated by Senator O’Keefe. Senator O’Connor has told us that it is very important that Tasmania should have a chance not simply to dispose of her products in the markets of the Commonwealth under ordinary circumstances, but to take advantage of these duties in order to put money into the pockets of her producers. Is it in accordance with the federal idea that the Government should tell us that they advocate such a system as that? Has it not been pointed out over and over again that the object we wish to attain is not to press unduly upon any individual or any State? There ought surely to be some means by which, when a time of difficulty and distress comes, we may be able to relieve it so fat as concerns the majority of the people. I am glad that the VicePresident of the Executive Council has satisfied himself of the correctness of Senator
Fraser’s statement, and that of other senators, that a large number of the stockowners are feeding their sheep with grain. Let me point out the extent to which this has been done. This passage has already been quoted by another honorable senator but it is so pertinent that I make no excuse for quoting it again. The Sydney Morning Herald, of Saturday last, says in its market report, under the heading of “Breadstuffs “ : -
Wheat was very firm. On Thursday wheat sold in the country at 4s. 3d. onthe trucks, equal to 4s. 9d.,Darling Harbour rates. It was taken, principally for stock -feeding purposes. This morn - ing a parcel of over 5,000 bags sold in Sydney at 4s.4¼d., Darling Harbor rates. Since then a parcel of 10,000 bags sold at 4s.5¼d., same rates’, the market at the close being very firm at 4s. 6d. The surplus stocks of wheat are pretty well concentrated in two hands, the demand in the country being much greater than it is in the town. It is anticipatedthat most of the country millers will be short of wheat by the end of June.
Let honorable senators bear in mind that this statement is made in the money article of the SydneyMorning Herald, and that it is confirmed by the statements of Senator Fraser and others who have personal knowledge. There can be no question as to the correctness of the statement. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has asked how many people are feeding stock on grain, and he attempted to argue first, that this was only done to preserve valuable stock, and in the second place, that it was only done by the more wealthy station owners. But letit be borne in mind that ifwe wipe out our station holders, we wipe out an immense portion of the wealth of the States, and an enormous amount of work that is given to the labouring classes.
SenatorFraser. - All the selectors and farmers are equally interested.
– All these men are equally interested, because they must have recourse to the same means to save their stock. At such a time as this, the proposal submitted by the Government is wrong in the interests of the. country. I know that stock-owners may buy fodder day after day, and week after week, and after a time may come to the end of their tether and be unable to buy more, and then their stock must die. But we know thatit is the duty of every individual to maintain his stock as long as he can. Senator Higgs complained about stock and fodder being carried at ruinous rates on the railways to help thepastoralists, but that is done because we do not wish to lose the wealth of the country, and because we desire to keep our stock I say that the Governments of the States have done a wise and a good thing in enabling men to remove their stock from one district to another when that has become necessary, and also in carrying fodder at cheap rates. If it is admitted that it is fair that the States should do this in a time of difficulty like the present, it is also fair that the Commonwealth should provide opportunities to enable starving stock to be fed at reduced rates. On the contrary, the Commonwealth is attempting to nullify the concessions which the State Governments have made, instead of working in harmony with them as it ought to do. It has been contended that it is immaterial at the present time whether the duty is taken off or not, so far as stock are concerned. I recognise with Senator Eraser that men are not likely to send orders to a great distance which they know cannot be executed in less than two or three months, but we have New Zealand close at hand, and orders sent there could be executed within seven days. When it is said that there will be no advantage in giving an opportunity to deal with a matter of this kind at the present time, I remind honorable senators that we may have to face similar circumstances in the future. We cannot say that this will be the only lean yeal”, or that this will be the only period we shall have of drought and depression. We know that these droughts are periodical in Australia, and we hope to be prepared to meet similar difficulties in future. We can do so by dealing with the Tariff in a proper manner at the present time, and then we shall know that our stock will not again be decimated to such an extent as they have been in consequence of the present drought. Senator Playford delivered a vigorous and earnest speech, from his point of view, but it was a speech such as we have all heard over and over again in the State Parliaments. I have no doubt that the honorable senator made a similar speech regarding Victoria when he desired to protect South Australia against imports from that State. It was a provincial speech, and a speech of retaliation, such as used to be made year after year to the farmers in the different States. Many of the farmers were protectionists in the old days, when they could not get their produce sent into Victoria free, while the Victorian farmers could send their produce into New South Wales free, and they agreed that if we had freetrade between the States they would be satisfied. I claim that the farmers are not the strong protectionists which Senator O’Connor would have us believe. We have only to look at the representation in the Federal Parliament to discover that. The honorable and learned senator represents fi State in which he attempts to persuade us the farmers are protectionists, but in that State men who ran -on free-trade lines, as they are known in New South Wales, received overwhelming majorities, not only in the cities, but in the country towns, where the farmers themselves voted. We know, also, what happened in the State of South Australia. Honorable senators in the earlier stages of the debate spoke of the great advantage which the farmei-3 of Victoria derived from these duties upon wheat. But it is a remarkable thing that the freetrade State of New South Wales at the same time increased her area under cultivation and her wheat production.
– The honorable and learned senator knows the reason for that. Fifteen million acres of land were thrown open for settlement.
– Yes, but I point out to the honorable senator that they were settled by men who found it better to work under free-trade conditions than to open up additional land under protectionist conditions in’ Victoria. Taking the year 1895, when the system of free-trade came into existence in New South Wales, I find that there were 1,325,000 acres under cultivation, and that area was increased by 1 , 000, 000 acres during the succeeding five years under a free-trade Tariff. During that time the production of wheat also increased most materially. The acreage under wheat in 1895 in New South Wales amounted to nearly 600,000 acres, and in 1900 it amounted to upwards of 1,500,000 acres. The production of wheat increased under absolutely free-trade conditions, and it was grown to a large extent by farmers recruiting from Victoria, who had given up their holdings in that State in order to come into New South Wales where they found freer and better markets. I say that we can do more for the farmers by remitting duties upon articles they require to use in connexion with their farms than we can do by imposing artificial duties upon articles which they produce, and which are being over produced, and are being exported year after year from the two great States of Victoria and New SouthWales. Is it not a repugnant thing to impose a duty upon breadstuffs, and the food of the people even though those duties may benefit a few farmers? Senator O’Keefe recognises that, although he believes in protectionist principles. The honorable senator represents a large community of miners, who do not produce wheat, but consume it. We know that the bulk of the people of the Commonwealth are consumers, and they should be considered in the first instance. I do not say. that we ought to wipe out the farmer to benefit the consumer. I believe that their interests are really identical, and that the prosperity of one means the prosperity of the other. I hope that honorable senators will see their way to vote for the motion submitted by Senator Symon, and that even those who would like to see a duty placed upon oats, to meet the competition of New Zealand, will support the motion, trusting to have an opportunity upon recommittal to impose a duty upon oats. ‘ I am personally willing to give every honorable senator an opportunity of having his views considered by the committee. I do not desire that there should be a snatch division, and that we should then turn round and say to some honorable senator-“ We have caught your vote in this division, and you will now have no opportunity of dealing with the Tariff in the manner you desire.”
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania). - I should like to say that Senator Gould’s last remarks do not describe the position I intend to take up. I do not desire to get a snatch vote. The leader of the Opposition has moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 22 by adding the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, free.”
I submit that I am in order in moving an amendment upon that motion, and I propose to move -
That the motion be amended by the insertion after the figures “1902” of the word “wheat.”
That amendment, if carried, will only affect wheat, and not the whole of the item. I believe that wheat should be free. I have been impressed by the figures which have been put before the committee this afternoon, and seeing that we are exporting wheat so largely that the duty must be inoperative, I think that in a time of drought like the present it is hardly fair to impose this duty, and the poorer classes of the community would, I think, be better off if wheat were free.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - Senator O’Keefe has suggested a very fair amendment. But I venture to submit that it is really not an amendment upon my motion at all. At the same time I am most desirous of facilitating theconsideration of any matters which honorable senators desire to submit to the committee. I point out that the proposed insertion of the word “ wheat “ will only raise the issue as to whether wheat should he free. It will have the same effect as would a substantive motion by Senator O’Keefe declaring that wheat shall be free. If it is carried it will be perfectly competent for any other honorable senator to move that any of the other produce under this heading be admitted free. I have proposed to deal with them all collectively, and if my proposition is carried, there is an end of it. If it is negatived, other items can be taken separately. I submit that the proposed amendment is not quite regular upon my motion, but I raise no difficulties upon that score, because those who wish that there should he a duty upon other grain than wheat should, I think, have an opportunity of submitting their proposals.
– Before the Chairman gives a decision upon this subject I should like to say that Senator Symon has moved a comprehensive. motion. If the honorable and learned senator was anxious to split up grain and pulse into wheat, maize, barley, and so forth, he should have done so, and his proposals would have taken priority over the proposal submitted by Senator O’Keefe. Since the honorable and learned senator wishes that the duty upon grain and pulse should be put as one motion, and no one else has desired to split them up, Senator O’Keefe’s amendment is perfectly in order, and it must come first ; and I submit that it will dispose of the whole question if it is carried.
– I indicated at the outset my anxiety to put every question submitted to the Chair in the form of a substantive motion. Senator Symon has moved -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 22 by adding the words “and on and after 1st July, 1902, free.”
That has been discussed at length. Then Senator O’Keefe moves an amendment to insert the word “wheat” before free. It is not competent for any other substantive motion to be moved by Senator O’Keefe unless Senator Symon consents to withdraw his motion. Without for the moment deciding the question raised, I would point out that if I were to receive Senator O’Keefe’s amendment, and it was carried, the effect would be that the committee would decide that wheat should be free, but no opportunity would be given to vote on the balance of Senator Symon’s motion, which seeks to make grain and pulse, which include other articles than wheat, free. I have to protect as far as I can the right of honorable senators to move other amendments. Honorable senators will know that my only anxiety is to facilitate their wishes, and I suggest to Senator Symon that the proper way in which to deal with the matter is that for the moment he should withdraw his motion. Then Senator O’Keefe should move that wheat be free. If that is carried, Senator Symon will have an opportunity of moving an amendment affecting the balance of the item grain and pulse, and we shall have a substantive motion in regard to that. I therefore suggest that Senator Symon should withdraw his motion, and that we should then put Senator O’Keefe’s motion. Then Senator Symon will be able to move a substantive motion dealing with the balance of the item.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I propose, sir, to adopt your suggestion that I should temporarily withdraw my motion in order to enable Senator O’Keefe to move his motion.
– In the event of Senator O’Keefe’s motion to make wheat duty free being defeated, will it be competent for Senator Symon to move that all grain and pulse be placed on the free list ?
– The proper form of motion for Senator O’Keefe to move will be that wheat be transferred to the special exemption list. If it is defeated it means that wheat, is to remain liable to duty, but, of course, it will be competent for any honorable senator to move that all other kinds of grain and pulse be duty free.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator O’KEEFE (Tasmania). - I desire to express my appreciation of the action of
Senator Symon in withdrawing his motion. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to add to the list of special exemptions, “ Wheat, on and after 1st July, 1902.”
I sincerely hope that, if my motion is carried, no other articles included in item 22 will be transferred to the free list-
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia). - I am obliged to Senator O’Keefe for Ms reference to myself, and I hope that the same practice will always prevail in order to ascertain the feeling of the committee on any question. No one desires that a question should be put in such a way as to preclude a decision from being arrived at on any item included in any line. I am grateful to Senator O’Keefe for his conversion tr> the opinion that one kind of grain and pulse should be admitted free, and I hope that he will yield to our persuasion in regard to the other articles included in the item. I confess that, as regards wheat, my views have been entirely expressed by Senator Millen. Undoubtedly wheat is the largest of all the items under this head. It is the one of which the largest production exists in Australia. It is the duty on wheat which is the most obnoxious, because it is contended that we are to maintain it for all time when once it has been put on as a protectionist duty. I deny that it was ever imposed as a protectionist duty in any State. But, assuming that it was, the whole of the argument that we have heard is that it must not be removed under any circumstances, because, once having been imposed, it must be retained as a kind of sign-post and warning to people not to bring their wheat within the limits of Australia.
– Does the honorable and learned senator say that it was put on for revenue purposes ?
– It was put on to throw dust in the eyes of the farmers, by making them believe that they would get a protection which would be beneficial to them whilst there was no protection given to them at all. I also look at this question from the point of view of my own State. It is mainly concerned in the production of wheat. All the reasons which have been given, if they have any efficacy at all, apply most strongly to South Australia - more strongly to South Australia than to any other State. Therefore, I think, that Senator Milieu’s criticism is well founded. At the same time, there are honorable senators who prefer to discriminate - to make wheat duty free, but to tax oats and barley, which are productive of revenue. I feel that a discrimination is being exercised in regard ‘ to South Australia which does not seem at first blush very fair. As Senator Playford has returned to the Chamber there is one remark I should like to make by way of correction of a strong argument which he made as regards New Zealand. He told us that it was all very fine to talk about our remitting duties, but here was New Zealand, which although in a position, if this duty were removed, to send her cereals to Australia, has shut the doors against competition in these commodities within her own ports. On looking at the summary of all the duties in the different portions of Australasia and in Canada, I find that there is no duty on these articles in New Zealand.
– It is 9d. per cental there.
– Since that table was circulated the- Government have printed another which shows that there is a duty of 9d. per cental in New Zealand.
– I have not received a copy of the revised table. In that case New Zealand imposes only half the duty which is sought to be imposed in the Commonwealth.
– What I argued was that our duty should be reduced to the same rate as the New Zealand duty.
– Does my honorable friend support a duty of 9d. per cental ? At any rate, New Zealand is not open to the animadversions which he addressed to us. The form in which the motion is submitted puts me in a slightly difficult position from the State point of view. In South Australia we produce a little oats and barley. Our duties were imposed against Victoria and Tasmania, as well as New Zealand, and other countries.
– We had some hope that we could grow oats.
– We had no hope whatever.
– Particularly barley.
– There was talk about growing barley on Kangaroo
Island, but we have never been able to make the slightest impression on the importation of the article. It was a kind of pious hope, which was used to get the item placed in the Tariff. Wheat is our great product. I hope that maize may become a great product at some time, but barley and oats will not stand, for a moment in competition, certainly under this Tariff, with the productions of Victoria and Tasmania. I wish all luck to Tasmania and Victoria in that branch of production, but it places South Australia in a very awkward position.
– I should have been very glad to go to a division on this item, because all that can be said on either side has been said. I am not prepared to support the motion of Senator O’Keefe. We have been talking all the afternoon of the value of protective duties. It has been said over and over again by Senator O’Keefe and other professed pro- .tectionists, that the duty on wheat was proposed for a protective purpose, and was helpful to the farmer, but as soon as the interest of Tasmania is endangered he is quite prepared to withdraw the protection from wheat so long as he gets a protection for barley and oats. If there is any virtue in duties of this character we ought to adhere to them. I am content to go down with the Government on this question. The representatives of Victoria are in exactly the same position as that in which Senator Symon has found himself. I hold that the duty proposed by the Government is protective, and also operative under certain conditions, and therefore it shall have my support. We are confined in this discussion to the amendment before the Chair. Hence I shall say nothing on the main question. But I cannot vote for the present proposal.
– I wish chiefly to congratulate Senator O’Keefe in regard to his motion as to wheat. I am delighted that he has come to recognise that it is right, and proper to allow wheat to come into the Commonwealth duty free. I do not propose to go into the other debatable questions affected by the item before the Chair at any length, but I should like to point out briefly that the other grain stuffs that remain to be dealt with are oats, barley, rye, maize, peas, beans, and lentils. We have heard from the Vice-President of the Executive Council what his opinion is on the duties on grain that are proposed under this Tariff. I do not suppose I should he able to inform the honorable and learned senator of anything that he does not know ; but I am going to inform the committee what the Vice-President of the Executive Council himself at one time held to he a proper duty to impose upon these commodities. At the time to which I refer he was engaged justas ardently as he is now in the protectionist cause, although the duties which he was then concerned in imposing were against every other State in the Commonwealth except New South Wales, whereas now he is engaged in the framing of a Tariff for all Australia. The honorable and learned senator was a distinguished ornament of the Dibbs Cabinet, which was the great protectionist Government of New South Wales. At that time he considered that he was abundantly protecting New South Wales, not against the outside world only, but against every other State of Australia, when he proposed, instead of a duty of1s. 6d. a cental, one of 6d.
– We had to do the best we could, and had to take that duty.
– That is what the honorable and learned senator will have to do in regard to this Tariff - he will have to take the best he can get. It is worth while to tell the committee what was the measure of protection which the protectionist Ministry, of which Senator O’Connor was a member, then thought adequate against the other States now forming the Federation.
– With the exception of asking the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question about dried apples, I have not spoken on the Tariff since it came into committee. One reason for my silence was that I found that on almost every item that came up for discussion nearly everything that could be said was said after the first two or three speakers had addressed the committee. 1 have listened in a wearisome manner to the masses of statistics which have been quoted on the several items which have been debated. I should still try to repress myself if I thought that my good example would have the slightest effect upon my honorable friends, Senator Higgs and Senator Glassey. But I am afraid it would not. Therefore, it is of no use any longer continuing to cast my pearls of golden silence before such honorable but loquacious senators. The question before the committee is that of putting wheat upon the free list, in accordance with Senator O’Keefe’s motion. Mixed up with that question is that of whether we are going to impose a duty of1s. 6d. per cental on the other kinds of grain that are dealt with under the item. I am in favour of Senator O’Keefe’s motion, but I am not inclined to go further in putting the rest of the grainstuffs on the free list, for reasons which I will explain. Let me preface my remarks by saying that two veryimportant factors have to be considered when we come to estimate the position of Tasmania under federation. Honorable senators know that Tasmania has to make ‘the largest sacrifice of all the States with regard to revenue. That is to say, our consuming power being one-fifth less than the average consuming power of other Australian citizens, our shortage under any Tariff that may be framed will be the most considerable, proportionately, of all the States. The shortage is put down at from £60,000 to £130,000. Time alone will show which estimate is correct ; but at any rate we shall have a great deal of trouble in making up the lee-way. The other important factor in regard to Tasmania is that ours being a cooler climate than that of the mainland, and we having a considerable amount of rich land, we grow a considerable quantity of hops, potatoes, oats, barley, and peas, which the other States do not grow, relatively, in such proportions ; and we always considered . that under federation we should be able to enlarge our markets, and do a very much greater business, thus securing an advantage which would, to some extent, compensate us for the difficulty we should have to face in the shortage of revenue. Therefore it becomes my duty, when a very important item like this is before the committee, to direct my thoughts, not solely but chiefly, to the way my State will stand, supposing that sweeping motions in the direction of absolute free-trade are carried. Honorable senators will recollect- those, atany rate, who listened to my second-reading speech - that I stated then, as I state now, because I believe it is the honest, absolute truth, which no one can deny - that if you take out about a dozen items, and reduce the duties, the Tariff, as framed by another place, and which the free-trade and revenue Tariff parties have very much improved, will be an exceedingly fair compromise.
– I trust the honorable senator will confine himself to the duty on wheat.
– I am coming to the question of the duty on wheat, and I ask whether what is proposed is a fair compromise between the conflicting interests of absolute free-trade on the one hand, and ultra-protection, such as was exhibited in Victoria, on the other? But, inasmuch as I have not spoken previously in committee, and as I desire to make my position absolutely clear - whether I am right or wrong, I do not wish to be misunderstood any more - I want to explain the principles which will guide me. In reference to wheat, honorable senators will see that New Zealand imposes a duty of 9d. per cental, whereas the motion before the Chair is that wheat shall be admitted absolutely free. May I ask my protectionist friends, as well as my free- trade friends - Is it a pleasant thing to put any duty whatever upon the staff of life? Suppose that in a fever of protection it was considered that this duty ought to be imposed, let honorable senators recollect that by imposing it they may deprive some poor people of that which is practically the food of their lives. But that point need not he considered now, because it has already been urged until we are all tired of listening to it. The Commonwealth supplies its own wheat market, and has an enormous surplus for export. Although I admit that in a bad season Tasmania will not produce quite enough wheat for herself, still I do not suppose that our farmers will remember that. They will only remember that whatever deficiency in wheat there is in Tasmania will be supplied from Victoria, South Australia, or New South Wales. Let roe here correct a little misstatement which was made last evening. It was said that Manitoba wheat was not grown in the Commonwealth. I am informed, however, that Messrs. Campbell Brothers, of New South Wales, are growing Manitoba wheat, and that a farmer in Tasmania is growing it.
– I said it could be grown here.
– The Tasmanian farmer to whom I refer got 3d. per bushel more for Manitoba wheat than for other wheat, and Messrs. Campbell Brothers, who are also millers, last year got about 3d. per lb. more for their Manitoba wheat flour than for the other flour which they produced. I am only pointing that outtoshow how difficult it is to get at all the facts in this controversy. Although theduty on wheat might not be operative,, perhaps, once in ten years - it all depends , on the heavens sending down rain - there aremany farmers who, on account of the badway in which they have been brought up, trying to have a wall of protection round them, would be much more happy if therewere a duty imposed on this article. I am not going to vote for a duty on wheat, however, because it would be a duty on the staff of life, and because it is unnecessary. But when we come to barley, oats, and otheigraiu, I must point out that Tasmania doesnot stand in anything like the same position in regard to them as she does in regard to wheat. Oats do not stand in the sameposition as barley, and barley does not stand in the same position as wheat. Therefore, I welcome Senator O’Keefe’s motion, becauseit discriminates where discrimination is needed. I understand that for the production of barley there must be a cool climate, Victoria, Tasmania, and possibly some parts of South Australia, near Mount Gambier,. are, perhaps, the only parts of the Commonwealth where barley can be grown that is fit for malting. No doubt some kinds of barley can be grown elsewhere, but they are not of tip-top quality. Coghlan points out that the production of barley in the Commonwealth, being only about 3,000,000 odd bushels, we have to import from abroad.. We do not grow enough to supply our own. demands. If the Tasmanian farmer is to be left open to the competition of New Zealand, he will say - “You have given protection to almost every other article that is produced, but you have not given any protection to me.” Whether we are freetraders, revenue-tariffists, or protectionists,.. we must fix up this Tariff in accordancewith some kind ofcontinuity of policy, and if the committee is persuaded or coaxed into putting on a protectionist duty in one direction, and not in another, how can we expect our suggestions to meet with the approval of the other Chamber ; and how can we show any kind of consistency in what we have done? With regard to New Zealand, Senator Playford has made a point which I also had intended to make. He is perfectly right in saying that if we permit the competition of NewZealand with the farmers of Australia, we shall be giving the New Zealand producers the benefit of the open door, whilst at the same time New Zealand is showing us the closed door. We shall be opening our markets to New Zealand producers, whose door is shut in our face. In looking through the comparative table of Tariffs, I find that every article which it is proposed to tax under1 this and similar items, with the exception of hay, is taxed in New Zealand. Wheat pays a duty of 9d. per cental, which shows us that the New- Zealand Legislature have exercised some amount of common sense in making the tax very low. But it also shows that the Legislature of New Zealand have desired to protect their own farmers ; .and if they shut the door on us, we can hardly expect our farmers to be willing to open the door to them. I believe that a great percentage of the farmers of the Commonwealth were under the impression that federation meant InterState free-trade with protection against the outside world ; and in this case the part of the outside world particularly concerned is New Zealand. Senator Clemons laughs. Is he laughing at the statement I make ? If so, I can assure him that it is absolutely correct. The farmers throughout Tasmania were under the impression that if they entered the Federation they would have to face competition from New South Wales, “Victoria, and South Australia ; but that they would secure protection against the competition of New Zealand. I spoke at 52 different places in Tasmania when I was asking the people to return me to the honorable position of a member of this Senate. I travelled through a great portion of the COUntry as an official of the Federal League, trying to induce the people of my State to enter the Federation, and vote “Yes” at the referendum. I believe it was thoroughly understood by the farmers that there would be some amount of protection against the competition of the outside world. And here let me say that the farmers of- Tasmania and the other States have a right to be somewhat afraid of the competition of New Zealand. Why 1 Because the New Zealander has better land, with a better rainfall, and gets a better return in every single item of agricultural production. The New Zealand farmers, too, are a higher stamp of men. Many of them are educated Englishmen, who have far more capital than our Tasmanian farmers have, and the bulk of those whom I visited were cultured men, who had libraries of their own to turn to for information. These are reasons why the farmers of the Commonwealth may call for some moderate protection, though not the shameful protection which is afforded to Victorian manufacturers. Let honorable senators turn to Coghlan, or any other statistician, and they will find that the yield of most agricultural products in New Zealand is almost double the yield throughout the Commonwealth, and one-third more than the yield in Tasmania. The New Zealand farmers are also richer men, who can stand one or two bad seasons, and it appears to me reasonable that the farmers of Australia should look for moderate protection, if we are going to give protection to Australian manufacturers. Senator Symon has said two or three times that he believes in revenue without destruction, and desires to do what is fair and reasonable. The only difference between us is simply as to the application of the principle with which we both agree. I have from the first said that this Tariff must be a compromise, and I am going to vote in this matter as a compromise. I shall vote with Senator O’Keefe to make wheat free for the reasons I have stated, and when the other items come on I shall vote for the Tariff as it stands.
– I have not said anything since the second reading of the Tariff Bill,, because after the first vote I understand that a caucus meeting has been held daily.
– The honorable senator must not refer to what has taken place outside the chamber.
– The question now before us is the simple question as to whether there should be a duty upon wheat. In discussing that question I submit I have a perfect right to refer to the methods by which certain honorable senators have arrived at certain opinions, and that is all I propose to refer to.
– I have already prevented honorable senators from referring to anything which took place at caucus meetings. I have not permitted any reference to them. The honorable and learned senator was not present at the time, but I ask him to respect that decision.
– I shall certainly do everything possible to shorten proceedings. At the same time I respectfully adhere to my right of criticism as to the methods. .
– Is this an exception to the Chairman’s ruling.? The Chairman’s ruling can only be taken exception to in a particular manner.
– I have given my ruling, and I have not heard the honorable and learned senator departing in any way from it.
– The honorable and learned senator is taking exception to it.
– I am speaking to a point of order. How is it out of order for me to refer to the methods by which certain members of this committee arrive at certain conclusions ?
– I rise to a point of order-
– I have a point of order being submitted at present by Senator Downer, and I cannot now hear Senator Symon.
– Is it not possible to ask whethera point of order is itself in order ?
– That is a decision which has never been given in any assembly before.
- Senator Downer is raising a point of order.
– On your ruling to which he takes exception.
– Senator Downer made a reference to caucus meetings. I said that the honorable and learned senator must not refer to that matter. He now tells me that he has some point of order to raise.
– No; he questions your ruling.
– Nothing of the kind. I have not heard the honorable and learned senator question my ruling. He has said that he has a point of order to raise, and I must listen to it. If the honorable and learned senator proposes to question my ruling, I shall tell him that he has no right to do so except in the manner provided by the standing order.
– The Chairman of Committees isnotevenunderthe dictationofthe other side, and he is not in the habit of preventing a gentleman who is respectfully addressing the Chair from stating what he wishes to say. You, sir, ruled that you will hear me, and all I desire to nut toyou is that the question beforeusbeingwheat,andnothingelse, incidentally to that, I have the right to ask what are the reasons for which honorable senators opposite are opposing the duty? I promise not to use the word “caucus,” but I claim the right to discuss the motives and actions by which certain gentlemen have arrived at certain conclusions, not on the floor of the House.
– This is a long point of order.
– Do I understand that the honorable and learned senator is presenting a point of order ?
– I understood so.
– I have abandoned it, and I would do more than that to save time. We have the matter tied down to a question of whether there should be a duty upon wheat or not. When we started the Commonwealth we did so with a full knowledge of the laws of the different colonies, and we knew that every colony in Australia, with the exception of New South Wales, had a duty upon wheat.
– Against its neighbour.
– It was not against its neighbour ; it was against everybody. Then we met together, and thought we could come to some arrangement under which this internecine warfare should come to an end, and under which, if there were to be a warfare, it should be a warfare of Australiafightingforits own hand against the rest, in a friendly way, if possible, but in a less friendly way if that became necessary. We were established as a Commonwealth unmistakably on the understanding that our first care should he for ourselves, and that as to the rest of the world that was a matter for other considerations. We never could have got our people to agree to federation except upon that understanding. No one knows better than Senator Symon that South Australia would never have agreed to come into the Federation except on the distinct understanding that whilst we were to abandon our intercolonial duties we were to have protection against the outside world.
– Nothing of the kind, there is not a shadow of foundation for that statement.
– Did the honorable and learned senator, or any one else, ever dare to say anything else on the platform?
– The honorable and learned senator himself said on the platform that he was an abstract freetrader.
– New South Wales would never have come in if she had thought she was ‘going to be plundered.
– That is a most improper observation. We know that New South Wales came in on the same understanding, and that the Prime Minister, leading the movement, told New South Wales what it meant. He told them at every stage that it meant a protectionist Tariff, and the basis of the union was’ that we should protect ourselves.
– Nothing of the kind.
– Honorable senators may contradict as much as they like, and the matter may be quibbled about in the newspapers, but the plain words are in print. Directly we come here we have the whole spirit of the dream dispelled. We have a Tariff which it appears is to be tinkered with, and the wishes of five-sixths of the States are to be shamefully disregarded. I am talking of wheat now. The wishes of every farmer in the Commonwealth are to be entirely set at nought. There is to be no respect for anybody, and these matters are to be arranged in some way or other - not by “ caucus,” because “ caucus “ is out of order, but in some way that will not bear God’s daylight - at some secret conference, which, if it is to be justified, can certainly not be justified in this committee. Here we have wasted a day and a-half in discussing an item, the basis of the objection to which is, that it may as well be struck out because it can do no good. If this is the true reason, there was never a more contemptible reason given for resisting the strong feelings of the immense majority of the community, and of nearly half of the members of this committee.
– Why, ‘this storm about sweeping away nothing 1
- Senator Pulsford agrees with various sides. I agree with one. The honorable senator has a flexible and elastic kind of intellect, although he is assumed not to have it. I do him more justice, perhaps, than he deserves. So far as this question is concerned, I say unhesitatingly that the farmers throughout Australia have the impression - mistaken, if honorable senators like - that this will be some good to them.
– What is the honorable and learned senator’s ground for saying that 1
– The honorable senator is not a judge of other peoples’ opinions, and he must understand that in legislation we must do not only what is wise, but, if possible, that which recommends itself to the public. If, incidentally in pleasing the public, we enact something which is really not efficacious, but which they think will be, it, at all events, brings about a certain contentment of mind which produces comfort and internal energy and action, instead of producing a feeling of despair, such as must have been produced in the minds of a large portion of the people of Australia at seeing the way in which things are dealt with in this committee. I strongly protest against allowing the longconsidered and long-enacted views of fivesixths of the States of Australia to be overruled in this peremptory fashion simply on the ground that those five-sixths of the States of Australia were in error in thinking that this is a matter of importance ; while Senator Symon, who has had no experience in these matters, and very little public experience at all, has come to a different conclusion. Because the honorable and learned senator has a galaxy of talent on his side, and thinks the numbers are up for a certain line of action, it is not a fair thing that he should flout five-sixths of the States of Australia, and, amongst them his own State. And it . is not a fair thing that Senator Clemons should flout the State of Tasmania. It is time that someone spoke strongly when we have a day and a-half wasted in a discussion, based, on the assurance of the leader of the Opposition, upon a matter which is of no importance. No member of the Senate has more consistently fought, or will fight, mo, consistently for the rights of the Senate than I have .done, and intend to do. I shall always be fighting on one side, and that is on the side of the Constitution. But there is such a thing as discretion. We have a right to produce a row if we please, but surely expediency must recommend itself to our minds once in a way. We, in the assertion of our undoubted rights, do not want to be trailing our coats behind us and asking the other House to tread on their tails. Prom every point of view I think that the removal of the duty from wheat will be most unfortunate. Even if it is true that it will make no difference, still I think that it ought to be retained. The very foundation of our federation was the belief that Australia was advanced enough to be self-sufficing. We did not think that each State could supply’” itself with what it wanted. We laboured under the idea that each State had its own advantages; that what one could not do another could; and amongst the lot, everything could be done which was required for the benefit of the whole. It was contemplated that Tasmania could not grow enough wheat for her own consumption. It was thought, as a matter of course, that she would have to get wheat from Victoria or South Australia - of course, duty free. It was thought, too, that the other States would get certain products from Tasmania. It was to be give and take :,11 round. What are the arguments we have heard ? Because one State cannot do enough for itself, therefore, it should have the whole world to appeal to ; it should not be give and take all round, but all take here, and all give there. That is opposed to the very essential principle of federation, which was that the State would supply each other, and we never could reach the condition in which we could supply each other unless there was some protection against the outside world. The wheat duty, I dare say, is a small matter. It produces little, if any, revenue, but seeing that a similar duty was imposed, after ‘great consideration, in five States, I do not think that, with any decent grace, we can say that that was done without some underlying reason quite as good as that which is expressed here in the opposite direction. But even if it were not, still, as there is a strong national feeling on the subject, I think it would be most unwise to worry all the States but one by interfering with this duty, not on the ground that it is wrong, but on the ground that it is inefficacious, and can have no possible effect. For these reasons I sincerely hope that Senators O’Keefe and Dobson will reconsider their position.
– When Senator Downer rose he assured us that he had said nothing about the Tariff so far. In his speech he has said very little about the item under discussion, but he has floundered in a sea of generalities, which, if they have any application to the Tariff, certainly have no application to the item before the committee. In the first place, he has told us that we started the Federation with an undertaking, as regards wheat, to give the farmers protection against the outside world and Inter-State freetrade. That statement is absolutely incorrect. Every honorable senator who contested an election on straight-out principles - not a wobbler, not a man who sat on the top rail of a fence and tried to get votes on each side-
– That is how Senator Downer got in for South Australia, He declared himself in the Adelaide Town Hall as an abstract free-trader.
– That is false.
– I withdraw the word “ false,” and say that the statement is not correct.
– Every candidate, unless he was a fiscal wobbler, told the electors that he would support one policy or the other. Almost every one in the Chamber was elected either as a free-trader or as a protectionist. How, then, can any honorable senator say that we entered into the Federation with an undertaking that we should have Inter-State free-trade and protection against the outside world 1 Is it not manifest that the people of Australia never had such an assurance 1 It was no part of the compact between the people of Australia, lt is the duty of the Federal Parliament to settle the policy of the Commonwealth. No one ever told the people of Australia that they would have a policy of protection for wheat or anything else, and if the farmers thought that they were going to retain the so-called benefits of protection for their wheat, no doubt they made a very serious mistake. How can the imposition of a duty on an article of” this kind assist the farmer ? This is what I call a policy of “boodle” on the part of the Government. This is what I characterized the other day as a positive political swindle. Senator Downer says - “ Do not take away the duty from the farmer, because he likes it.”
– What the free-trader says is - “ It does not hurt me ; it pleases him.”
– This is playing the fool with the farmer, and endeavouring to assure him that he has got a protection, from which I say he can reap no benefit. Let me put the drawbacks of this very tax to the farmer. I do not know much about farming, but I do know that almost all the seed wheat used in Western Australia is imported from New Zealand. The farmers prefer New Zealand wheat, because it gives far better results. It is admitted that the duty will do the farmer no good in the matter of his price, but on the other hand, seeing that he gets most of his seed wheat from New Zealand, he has to pay duty. It is manifest that the duty, if it operates at all, must necessarily operate to the detriment of the farmer. Thousands of bushels of seed wheat are imported into Western Australia and the other States, and will continue to be imported because of the better crop which is got from its use. Does any one think that the farmer believes that the people who are only playing with him are his friends ? The other aspect of the question has to be considered. The advocates of this system will go to the country, and say to the farmer - “ See what very fine fellows we are : we have given you 30 per cent, protection.” And they will use this protection as an instrument by which to extort from him a duty upon his boots and shoes and machinery. A word in regard to Senator Downer’s soliloquy about the caucus. This motion comes from an honorable senator who is a protectionist, and we are charged by Senator Downer with entering into a conspiracy for the purpose of moving a reduction of this kind. I have had no conference with Senator O’Keefe on the fiscal question. I do not believe that any honorable senator ever consults Senator O’Keefe on the fiscal question, and therefore the motion is, no doubt, the outcome of his mature judgment. I shall not quietly listen to any one who calls the farmer almost in plain language a fool. Honorable senators will see, when the elections come round, that they cannot make a fool of the farmer as easily as they think. He knows perfectly well that he cannot be protected. He knows perfectly well that when he is sending his products to the markets of the world, no paltry duty can assist him. If he can fight his own battle in London or on the Continent, surely he can fight his own battle within the four corners of the Commonwealth ? Any one who tells the farmer that he is going to get a penny of benefit out of this duty tells him that which is manifestly absurd ; he positively insults a farmer by asking him to believe the state* ment. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the duty will operate as a -hardship because it applies to seed wheat. Senator Styles knows that even into Victoria seed wheat is imported. I submit that we should remove a duty which does the farmer no good, and which, on the other hand, may, at a time of pressure, operate as a hardship on the people. The only time when it can be operative is during a great drought. Do honorable senators think that the farmers are going to get the benefit of that? Ill nine cases out of ten they cannot hold their wheat long enough to get the benefit. We shall simply enable the middleman to obtain the wheat and comer it until he can demand an increased price. Therefore, even in a time of drought when this duty would add to the burdens of the people in regard to their bread, no extra advantage would be given to the farmer owing to his inability to hold and corner his wheat until there was a rise in price.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I congratulate Senator O’Keefe on having split up an unholy alliance. He has shown great strategy, although he has held no secret conference with honorable senators opposite. Senator Downer has appropriately referred to a secret conference in which the Opposition have taken part, aided by their secret book, which is available only to certain members of the Senate.
– ls the honorable senator referring to the protectionist conference that framed this Tariff for the Government 1
– I trust the honorable senator will confine his remarks to the motion before the Chair.
– I will if the Chairman will be good enough to prevent other honorable senators from interrupting me. Instead of interfering with me, the Chairman should have pulled up Senator Millen. He pulls me up at every opportunity, and I think it is most unfair.
– If the honorable senator desires to indicate that I am acting unfairly, I ask him to withdraw the remark at once, because I am not going to permit any reflection on the Chair. My duties are quite difficult enough,*- without having to resent reflections on the Chair, and I expect some reasonable assistance to be given, not only by the leaders of the Senate, but also by honorable senators themselves. I ask honorable senators to refrain from interjections. Senator Higgs has made a statement which, I am sure, he will see he ought to withdraw.
– I beg to withdraw any reflections on yourself, Mr. Chairman. The remark was made in the heat of the moment, a heat caused by interjections which should not have been made. I was referring to the secret book used by the Opposition. I have tried to get a copy of it, but have not been able to do so. The Opposition have their materials prepared for them by somebody outside, probably by those concerned in the importing industry. It is about time that the protectionists saw that protectionist senators were armed with similar information - I was going to say similar facts, although the book in question seems to be full of fiction. But at any rate, some of those who were returned to this Chamber as protectionists seem to have been led astray by statements made at this secret conference. Fancy a great protectionist State like Victoria sending to this Senate men who have turned out to be “ wobblers,” such as Senator Sargood !
– The honorable senator has no right to make any personal reflections upon honorable senators, and I will ask him to confine his remarks to the item before the Chair.
– I will confine myself to what Senator Ewing said in reference to wobblers who are giving votes to each side.
– I am not aware that Senator Ewing reflected personally upon honorable senators of this Chamber.
– Then I will only speak of wobblers, such as those who went to Western Australia as protectionists, but come here as free-traders, and are- quite anxious to vote for the reduction of the duty on wheat because they know their own farmers are protected in Western Australia to the extent of 4d. and 6d. per bushel. Who are fooling the general public, now, I should like to know ? Where could there be a greater act of folly than to attack- this Tariff upon every item which concerns an article the farmer produces? Honorable senators opposite will say - “ We will give the farmer his machinery free,” when his land has gone out of cultivation and his plant is laid up because of the stress of foreign competition. Senator Dobson has been jeered and sneered at because he ventured to explain the vote he is going to give, and because he said that- the Tariff would be a very good one if half a dozen items were amended. If the Opposition generally were not anxious to appear to shine before the country as the great political saviours, and as those who have challenged the Tariff in every direction- rwhether they have any show of their suggestions being adopted by another place or not - they would take up Senator Dobson’s position instead of moving motions upon every little item and wasting time as they are doing. We should have been two days further ahead with our work if Senator Symon had refrained fro’m unnecessarily taking up the time of the country. I object to the duty on wheat being removed, because the people of Australia are waiting for this Tariff to be settled one way or the other, and because honorable senators opposite, in attacking such duties, are wasting time over matters concerning which they have no hope of sue; cess. They do not contemplate going to the country at all. They dare not attempt such a thing. The last thing in the world they would desire would be that their leaders - Mr. Reid and Senator Symon - should have the responsibility of framing a Tariff of their own.
Senator Major GOULD (New South Wales). - If we followed out Senator Higgs’ argument to its logical conclusion, we might as well go home and let the Government carry the Tariff as it stands. I rose principally to refer to some remarks made ‘ Senator Downer. I utterly repudiate many of the statements made by him as to any compact having been in existence between the federated States as to what the Tariff’ should be like. It is perfectly true that five or six States had protective duties, but it is equally correct that the leaders of the federal movement, at any rate in New South Wales, said distinctly before the electors of that State that they would never be debarred from fighting for their principles upon this great question. Sir Henry Parkes, who was in the forefront of the federal battle, stated distinctly in New South Wales, that while he knew that federation would cause New South Wales to go hand-in-hand with the other States who had protective duties, nevertheless he would not be debarred from fighting for his free-trade principles. He regarded it as one of the objects of going into the Federation, that he would be able to fight to apply those principles to all Australia. This Senate not merely represents the States asStates; also represents the electors. Though an honorable senator may be sent here by a protectionist State, he is not debarred from expounding his principles from the free-trade point of view. Why have free-trade senators been returned, not only for New South Wales, but also for the ether States ? Because it has been recognised by many of the electors of those States that free-trade is a right and proper fiscal system to adopt. Many of the duties imposed by the States in the past were really of a retaliatory nature, and one of that kind was the duty on wheat. The farmers realize that, so far as they were concerned, it was merely a sham, and only inserted in the Tariff in order that they may be imposed upon by means of other duties for the benefit of a handful of manufacturers in the cities. It is said that the duty on wheat will please the farmer. Certainly it is regarded as a good protectionist argument to the farmers to say - “ You are getting this benefit, andyou must give a similar benefit to those who are manufacturing the implements which you use.” The whole thing is a farce. I am no abstract free - trader. My vote will certainly be given in the interests of the great masses of the people for freeing their food from taxation, and I trust that the committee will support Senator O’Keefe’s motion. I have no ground to find fault with him for moving it. On the contrary, I congratulate him, and shall follow him.
– Will the honorable and learned senator follow me with regard to the next item ?
– If the honorable senator goes right I will follow him. I hope honorable senators will realize the fact that this is not an accidental majority, and that whatever majorities have hitherto voted have been increased by representatives from protectionist States, who have desired to assist the free-trade State of New South Wales in fighting the battle of fiscal freedom for the benefit of the whole of the people of the Commonwealth.
Question - That the Houseof Representatives be requested to add to the list of special exemptions “ Wheat, on and after 1st July, 1902”- put. The committee divided -
Ayes … … …16
Noes … … … 10
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I propose to advance a few reasons in opposition to the duties upon the remaining articles covered by this item. Many honorable senators, in dealing with the motion just carried, have attempted to set up a distinction between a duty on wheat and upon other lines of farm produce. But the purport of my remarks will be to show that, particularly in view of the critical position which -prevails throughout pastoral Australia, there is an infinitely stronger reason for removing duties from lines of produce which may be classed as “fodder.” It has been admitted with regard to wheat that the duty would be inoperative. It cannot be contended that it would be inoperative in regard to the lines to which I refer. I desire to make no more than a passing reference to the extremely critical position of the pastoral industry in New South Wales. I refer to that State only, because I am more familiar with the facts and figures illustrating the condition of affairs there than I am with the circumstances of the adjoining States. But we know that the position is equally acute in Queensland. Senator Higgs and other honorable senators in dealing with this matter have spoken as if these duties on fodder affected only the individual to whom they refer as the “ squatter.” Senator O’Connor, to my extreme astonishment, asked the committee to believe that they would affect only a comparatively small number of individuals who are in a large way of business. I venture to say that that is the most ad captandum appeal that has ever been addressed to honorable senators. The argument is not only worthless, but incorrect. If the honorable and learned senator only thought for a moment he would remember that even in the locality in which his own home is situated there are a number of small dairy farmers who are at present obliged to import fodder to enable them to carry on their industry. Not far from Moss Vale itself stalls may be seen built up close . to the railway fence, because dairy farmers who have to buy food and carry it along the railway line find it cheaper to bring their cattle to the railway fence and feed them there, as the fodder is brought along in the trucks. I know that at one time to raise the cry of “squatter” was to condemn any proposal which it was thought would benefit him, but I hesitate to believe that members of this committee will be swayed b)r a prejudice of this kind. I venture to say that there is not a selector in New South Wales who has not been punished by the imposition of these duties. Not only the men who have large quantities of sheep to feed, but almost every selector is more or less under the necessity of buying fodder to feed his working horses. I could give actual instances which have come under my own notice within the last few weeks ; but without going into details of the kind, I invite the attention of the Senate to this telegram from Sydney, which appears in the Mel bourne papers to-day -
The Pastoral and Agricultural Societies’ Union to-day resolved to join the Stock Boards’ Council and Stock Owners’ Association in petitioning the Federal Parliament to urgently consider the deplorable position, and to temporarily suspend the collection of fodder duties until the drought crisis is over.
Every owner of ten head of large stock and every owner of an equivalent number of sheep is entitled to a vote in the election of the stock boards, and is it to be assumed that bodies elected upon so democratic a franchise are speaking only on behalf of a few wealthy squatters in Now South Wales’? I must admit that I have been very much surprised in the discussion of this matter to find so little sympathy displayed with those who are having to wage the keenest battle that people engaged in any industry in Australia have ever been called upon to wage.
– This has all been discussed and answered earlier in the debate.
– I have never heard any answer to the question whether, in order to put a little additional profit into the pockets of Tasmanian farmers, we should penalize the large number of New South Wales graziers. I said, in reply to some statement made by Senator Downer, that if New South Wales had thought she would be plundered for the benefit of an)’ State, she would not have come into the Federation.
– The honorable and learned senator never would have come in at all if he could have helped it.
– I would not have come in under the existing Constitution, and what is going on now shows that I was not far wrong. I have been trying to assist in making the Federation work so smoothly that the feeling of irritation in mv own State may disappear, and I am a truer federalist than people who are insisting upon doing what they know will irritate New South Wales. I am justified in my statements by remarks made by Senator Dobson this evening when he admitted that the retention of the duties upon oats, barley, and other grain would be a distinct gain to the farmers of Tasmania. They can only gain by getting higher prices for their produce from the people of New South Wales. I ask whether it is in conformity with the federal spirit that people in New South Wales, who to-day do not know which way to turn, should be called upon in the midst of their distress to pay more than they otherwise would have to pay for fodder in order to benefit Tasmanian farmers, who are much better off than themselves? Senator Playford, in dealing with this question earlier in the debate, said that these duties should be retained as without them the markets of the Commonwealth would be flooded with produce from other countries,with the result that farming land in the Commonwealth would go out of cultivation. What has been the result in New South Wales, to which every country in the world had an opportunity of sending its produce free? Without the aid of any duties, the area under oats in New South Wales was more than doubled between 1891 and 1899. The area under maize increased from 174,000 acres to 214,000 acres. The area under barley was doubled. The area under potatoes increased 50 per cent., and the area cut for hay was increased three or four times. I say that in the face of progress like that, it is idle to say that a duty is necessary in order to stimulate this natural industry. This industry in New South Wales has progressed without any assistance, and without any penalizing of those who are compelled to purchase produce from the farmers. The total area under cultivation in New South Wales increased from 846,000 acres in 1891 to nearly 2,500,000 in 1899. I defy the State with the highest Tariff to show a progress like that. If we can treble the area of our cultivated land in the short space of nine years without a duty, what justification is there for a duty which it is admitted is imposed for the purpose of penalizing the graziers of New South Wales in order to put some additional profit into the pockets of the Tasmanian farmers. I have no desire to penalize the Tasmanian farmers, but I protest against federation being interpreted to mean that, with a more favoured climate and better soil, they should, under our Constitution, be at liberty to penalize the hardly - pressed graziers of New South Wales. I say there is no fairness in that. On the other hand, I denounce it as a monstrous injustice to the graziers of New South Wales, who have an equal right to claim that their interests should be considered.
– I am glad that the honorable and learned senator has at last come to the conclusion that farmers may be benefited by these duties.
– I have never disputed the fact that the imposition of duties enables the producer to tax some other individuals in the community. Senator Higgs has said that it is a matter of very little difference to the majority of the people whether there are 10,000,000 or 20,000,000 sheep in a State. I am surprised that a remark of that kind should be made by an honorable senator who should have some knowledge of a large pastoral State. Every 100 sheep in a State means the distribution of at least £2 in wages. At shearing time £1 per 100 is paid for shearing. There is 10s. for what is known as rouseabout labour, and I am under the mark when I put down the expenditure upon the carriage of stores out and of wool to market at another 10s. When we consider that in New South Wales the number of sheep has gone down from 63,000,000 to 35,000,000, and that so far as we can judge there is every probability that before we make our next count on 31st of December, 10.000,000 or 15,000,000 more will have been lost. I say we are entitled to regard such a state of affairs as distinctly a national crisis. We have a right to ask the Parliament of the Federation to consider so important a matter, and to see whether it is not possible to give some relief instead of laying additional burdens upon the people who are distressed. It is not merely the loss of these sheep which has to be considered. It took New South Wales eight years to run the number up from 35.000,000 to 60,000,000, and I venture to say it will be an even longer time now if the numbers are cut down in the way to which I have referred before we can get back to the total number which we have a right to assume the pastures of New South Wales can carry. We have enormous areas, the carrying capacity of which has absolutely broken down as a consequence of the continuous drought. At least S0,000,000 acres of the western lands of New South Wales have had their ordinary carrying capacity destroyed. I say that in the case of the men who are battling with this very serious condition of things, there will be a feeling, and there is a feeling, of intense irritation against the Federal Parliament for asking them at such a time to pay a contribution to the farmers of Tasmania. I protest against the imposition of these duties, which must raise the price of fodder and add to the existing difficulty. ‘ As to the number of stock that are being fed, it is idle to form an estimate, but without being in the larger pastoral districts, and without looking for them in any way, I have within the last two or three weeks seen three different flocks of sheep, numbering from 7,000 to 12,000 each, being fed in this way. I know that some of the larger owners are spending up to £300 per week on fodder to keep their stock alive. I know that many of the smaller men have been unable to do this, and as a result have had to sit down and see their sheep die, and then they have had to skin them in order to save what they could from the wreck of their little fortunes. I know that many have been absolutely beaten in the contest, but there still remains a large number who are struggling on, and these duties are like the last straw upon the camel’s back. Seeing that they are in distress, these people have the first claim to our consideration as against those who will be benefited by the imposition of these duties. I do hope that if the duties are not entirely swept away they will be cut down, in order to help men who are nowbeing called upon to face absolute ruin.
– I do not consider it my duty to allow the question to go to a vote without saying how completely I indorse the speech which has just been made by Senator Millen. What he has said in regard to the larger concerns of pastoral life, applies with equal force to the dairying industry in all parts of New South Wales. I know of cases where small, as well as large, dairying concerns are kept going by artificial feeding of the cattle. It is costing more than the industry yields to keep cattle simply alive. We know that in one place in New South Wales, at any rate, sheep are being fed with wheat at a cost of £250 per day. It is simply keeping” alive the live stock which constitute, not one of the largest, but the largest, industry - the largest source of revenue to Australia. I do not mean the squattages only, for it is notorious that the farmers devote themselves quite as much to the rearing ofstock as to the raising of crops. To my mind it is a most transparent injustice that a great industry should be ruined, or assisted to be ruined, for the keeping of some fanciful bargain made with a’ few farmers in Tasmania to induce them to vote for federation. It appears that the reckless advocates of federation in Tasmania made a promise that there would be a Chinese wall of protection set up against any possibility of New Zealand competition.
– What would be the difference in price if the duty were abolished?
– It would be about 9d. per bushel on oats.
SenatorFraser. - There is 3d. to be added for freight and charges.
– Taking the value of oats at 3s. per bushel, it means an increase of 25 per cent. straight away. I do not know the present value of peas, but on peas I assume that the increase would be even more than 25 per cent. An increase of 9d. on a bushel does not look much, but when you come to consider the bushels by thousands or tens of thousands, as is unfortunately necessary, you will see that every £100 is increased by £25, every £1,000 by £250. Is not that a serious consideration to people who are trembling in the very balance of bankruptcy under a calamity of this kind for which they are not responsible? It is the wildest want of generosity to propose to utilise the distress of a great communityand a great industry as a means of gathering any tax from which the Government know perfectly well a shilling per week cannot be gathered for the rest of the year. Is this the kind of taxation which is to be brought on the people of Australia under the guise of a beneficent federation - a scandalous impost that was never dreamt of by anybody who was fool enough to vote for the Constitution which is bringing this trouble upon him?
-We have done very good work in making wheatf ree. We have not gone so far as I should have liked, and I join very heartily in the protest which has been made. But I do not propose to move any further motion.
– I shall he glad if Senator O’Connor will give the committee an assurance that he will bring before the Cabinet the state of the live stock of Australia, and the absolute need for the free admission of any food that can be obtained. I recognise that if we were to pass suggestions to-night, even if adopted by the other House, they would have no effect during the trouble which is being experienced. But if the Government step in, and order that the duties be not collected during the continuance of the drought, they will have done something to relieve the great pastoral industry from the terrible calamity which is now weighing it down.
– I should like to add a few words to what Senator Pulsford has said. Senator Millen has mentioned to-night the result of a meeting in Sydney with regard to this very project. I am aware that it is intended to call other meetings inSydney with the view of urging upon the Government the imperative need to allow fodder to come induty free. The Government cannot be blind to the fact that a very great crisis exists not only in New South Wales, but practically in all the States. It would give great relief and help to very many persons in the community whom, I am sure, the Government are just as honestly anxious to serve as we on this side are, if they could- adopt some means by which we might get from other countries the produce which is absolutely necessary to keep alive our stock.
– I am within the mark when I say that such a position as we now occupy has never been approached before in Australia. I am interested in pastoral properties on the Flinders, at Mackinley, within 250 miles of the Gulf, on the Barcoo, in South Warrigao, in the southern part of Queensland, and also in the Riverina. Such a drought as the present one has never before been known in Australia. It means utter ruination. I tell gentlemen’s servants, coachmen, gardeners, and petty storekeepers who are engaged in the towns, that if it continues it will precipitate such a crash as has never yet occurred here. In a few weeks longer all the produce may be exhausted ; it is rising rapidly in value. I bought months ago with a view of selling in Melbourne and making a loss by the sale. All my purchases have been exhausted, for I never dreamt that the drought would last from the beginning of January till the end of May. Should it last for a couple of months longer, then this industry will get such a blow as it has never experienced before. It would be wise on the part of Senators O’Connor and Drake to urge the Cabinet to admit any fodder for live stock. J t cannot come from any place but New Zealand. A merchant would not be mad enough to order stuff from California or elsewhere, because if two inches of rain should fall before it arrived it would not be worth one-fourth of its cost price. I am not speaking exactly on behalf of New Zealand. I do not know whether they have very much fodder to spare, but I know that it is getting desperately scarce in Victoria. From the Murray to the Gulf, except on the eastern coast, sheep are being fed. This is not confined to wellbred sheep. At Kerang, in Victoria, I have 4000 wethers fed on hay. I am prepared to feed them on wheat if the hay gives out. I have been feeding sheep on wheat, oats, maize, in fact, anything. I have a telegram in my pocket from my manager saying that he has bought some barley, and very good feed it is. Anything in the shape of barley, wheat, oats, or maize is good for sheep. Some persons think that maize requires to be crushed, but that is not so. The sheep chew their cud, and they do better on maize than on almost anything else, because they can pick it up from the ground. It would be a proper act for the Government to temporarily suspend the collection of these duties, with the view of enabling the pastoralists to import wheat and oats, particularly oats, from New Zealand. I pray every, morning that this drought may cease, and if it does not the strong men will come down and the weak men will die.
– I sympathize very deeply with the representatives of other States in their endeavours to get the Government to assist those persons who require assistance. The Government might as well extend this consideration all round, and assist some of the starved out farmers up in the mallee country. Senator Fraser is not the only one who is feeding sheep or carting water in the mallee country.- In some cases small mallee farmers have to cart water for a distance of twenty miles. Time after time the State Government have run water trains for, I think, months at a stretch, to supply the farmers with drinking water. Surely if the Commonwealth Government are going to assist “one State in this direction, they might as well assist all the States. I should like all the citizens of the Commonwealth to be treated alike. Why should the people in Victoria, who are in dire need, be overlooked any more than the people in Queensland, New South Wales, or Western Australia ? I only ask that all the States shall be placed on the same footing.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). - I hope that Senator O’Connor will be able to say whether he will consult the Cabinet as to allowing these duties to remain inoperative during the present critical situation. I wish to remind him of a plan which has been worked in New South Wales, and also in Victoria, with regard to concessions in railway freights. The system there has been to charge the full freight, and to allow a rebate when it has been shown that the fodder sent over the railways has been sent for feeding starving stock. The Government might consider the expediency of adopting such a policy as that. They might collect the duty at the Custom-house and allow a rebate where it oan be shown that the fodder has been used for feeding the starving stock.
– I am sure honorable senators will realize that the attitude which the Government have been obliged to take up in dealing with the question in reference to the drought, has arisen out of no want of sympathy with the suffering that exists all over Australia at the present time. I have felt all along very much pressed with the necessity for the Government doing everything within their power to make things easier for those who are suffering. But, at the same time, I must admit that at present I do not see any way by which the Government may remit taxation, which I understand is the proposal that has been made; for the reason that this taxation is imposed by law, that the money belongs to the States, and that the Federal Government is in rather a different position from a State Government in relation to the collection of taxation. Senator Millen has made a suggestion about . rebates. I am not prepared to say anything about that at present. But I can tell him that the Government are now considering the whole question. The Minister for Trade and Customs has considered it before, but I spoke to him about it this evening in reference to a communication I had from a deputation from New South Wales. The whole subject will be very fully considered. I do not hold out any hope of being able to deal with the matter as suggested under the existing condition of things, but the honorable senator may rest assured that the Government will do everything that lies in their power to bring some kind of relief to those who suffer, if it can be done. I. should not like honorable senators to suppose, however, that, although I express this deep sympathy, and pur intention of looking into the matter ‘ very thoroughly, I myself hold out the hope that we shall, do anything. But certainly we shall leave no stone unturned to see what can be done.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales). -In view of that statement, I think honorable senators will be with me when I say that I do not now propose to move any motion on the item. I prefer to see the action which the Government propose to take before doing sp. The statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council will be appreciated very much in the country.
– Notwithstanding what I have said, I wish to make it clear that I intend to vote for a duty on oats. It might have been inferred that I did not mean to do so. My statement was made with the view of influencing the Government to relieve distress temporarily, or to make a refund in cases of duties being paid upon oats and similar foods.
Item agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 May 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020528_senate_1_10/>.