2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 11 am., and read prayers.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message stating that it had agreed to one of the Senate’s amendments in the Bill, and agreed to the other with an amendment.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the message be printed and taken into consideration on motion to-day.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– It is purely a validating Bill.
– Have you, sir, put the question for its first reading ?
– No; the Minister has not yet moved its. first reading.
Motion (by Senator Keating) put -
That the Bill be now read, a first time.
The Senate divided.
Majority … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the second reading of the Bill be an Order of the Day for the next day of sitting.
– It appears to me that it is time for the Senate to show that it is not prepared to sit indefinitely to deal with minor matters, when urgent ones are making very heavy demands upon our time. It would have been different if the Government had definitely stated what business they proposed to complete before the prorogation, and what measures on the notice-paper of each House they would be content to leave over until next session. So far as we can judge from their acts, the only conclusion we can come to is that they will keep on bringing in measures as long as the Senate is content to sit and deal with them. Until they announce that it is not intended to bring forward the measures which are being dealt with elsewhere, we have a right to assume that they do propose to ask the Senate to consider them at a later period. The time has arrived for the Senate, if it is of my opinion, to clearly intimate that it is not prepared to continue the session for the purpose of dealing with matters, the urgency of which has’ not been shown. I ask honorable senators - and it can be done without any hostility to the Government - to say clearly that they are not prepared to leave the way open for them to continually bring in day after day the multiplicity of Bills with which we are threatened.I believe that two or three fresh Bills were sent up yesterday ; another Bill has been sent up today. and, if I canjudge from the reports in the press, there is a possibility of seeing the Senate presented every day next week with a fresh measure. It will not be possible for the Senate to deal with all the measures. We have a right to know from the Government which measures they intend to push forward, and which they are prepared to jettison. Until they make a plain business-like statement, the only course open to us is to protest against the introduction of every new measure.
– I am extremely sorry to have to rise again and express my disapproval of the action of the Government; indeed, I may say my disgust with the whole affair. In my parliamentary career Ihave never seen such an exhibition of incapacity as has been shown by the Government during this session.
– Earlier in the session the honorable senator said he had come down from Queensland to do work.
– There must be a limit to our work. Every one knows that the end of the session is within measureable distance, that we are working here at high pressure, and that the Government deliberately refrained from bringing in their measures until the very last hour of the session. In those circumstances, what is our duty? When did the Government discover that the Patents Act requires amendment ?
– Some recent cases in the Courts have shown that a lot of injustice is being done.
– Why was not this measure brought in before? It is not giving the Senate a fair show to rush in Bills at this tremendous rate, as it has no opportunity to consider their subject-matter. Again, what about the consideration of the Estimates ? When is the session to end ? We have before us sufficient business to occupy our attention for a couple of months. Last week we were expected to wind up the session this week ; this week I believe the House of Representatives intends to adjourn over next week, and the session is expected to end in the following week. We really do not know when it will end. If we are to do justice to the business before us we ought to refuse to deal with any more Bills. I must enter my protest against this method of conducting business.
– Will the honorable senator promise to come down at the beginning of a session?
– I shall promise to come down whenever there is business to be done.
– There is business to be done now, and yet the honorable senator will not stop.
– I did not come down at the beginning of this session, because I knew perfectly well that if I did there would be an adjournment shortly afterwards. I was not in the same position as Senator McGregor. My home is not in Melbourne. If I come here, and the Senate adjourns for two or three weeks, I am compelled to go away to Queensland. I have not the same opportunities as has the honorable senator, but I think that that sneer in which he indulges so frequently in regard to my coming here earlier in the session is exceedingly uncalled for.
– Why does not the honorable senator stop here when there is an opportunity to do business?
– If there was any real business to be done at the beginning of a session there would be no man readier to come here than I should be. But I know that the Government never introduces any business in the early portion of a session, and the honorable senator, who is always so ready to jibe at me, assists them to dawdle along in the most easy fashion. Whenever there is a motion for adjournment submitted no one is readier to support it than he is. Whenever it is proposed to put off the business of the session for a week or two he jumps up with an enthusiastic assent. I want the Government to start their business early in the session, and not to keep back many measures until the very last moment. It appears to me that their motto is, “ Never do today what you can put off until to-morrow. Let to-morrow look out for itself.” We have enough business on the notice-paper to keep us going for another session.
– Give those who have to go to the country a chance to get away.
– I am not preventing the honorable senator from having a chance to go to the country. It is the Government who are keeping him here. I am anxious to let honorable senators get to the country. I shall oppose the introduction of any new business at this period of the session.
– I think the outcry about the congestion of business is hardly justified. Certainly we have a great deal to do, but my experience of parliamentary life teaches me that it is quite customary at the end of a session to have a congested notice-paper. I do think, however, that there is some justification for the plea that the Minister should indicate soon whether there are any Bills which the Government think might be laid aside. He might do that on Monday. I hope that he will then be prepared to tell us that he has consulted with his colleagues, and is able to make a statement regarding the measures which the Government consider to be so important that they must be passed.
[11.18I. - I should have been very pleased to inform honorable senators to-day what course the Government intended to pursue regarding business. But, owing to the late sitting last night, I have not been able to consult my colleagues. I did not get to bed till after 4 o’clock this morning. I promise, however, that on Monday I will make a statement as to the business I intend to proceed with. I hope to-day to move the second reading of the Customs Tariff (British Preference) Bill, and on Monday I shall move the first reading of the Appropriation Bill. I should like to get the Customs Tariff (British Preference) Bill through’ to-day.
– I desire to assist the Government in getting on with business, even if it entails my saying nothing whatever on the motion for the second reading of the British Preference Bill. If the Minister can get that measure read a second time to-day, the Senate might adjourn at 4 o’clock. I promise also that I shall offer no objection to Bills which have gone from the Senate to another place, and been returned with amendments being dealt with. If we adopt that course, we shall materially clear the business-paper.
– I should be quite willing to agree to the course suggested by Senator Clemons if I thought it would expedite matters. But after the second reading of the British Preference Bill has been carried there may still be a long debate in Committee. The schedule is very debatable. If I had a promise that honorable senators opposite would only take a reasonable time upon the measure in Committee, I should be satisfied.
– I give that promise, so far as I am concerned.
– If, however, there is to be a long debate in Committee, it might entail, the whole of the Monday’s sitting being occupied with that business.
– I think honorable senators will have taken it for granted that I shall have something to say on the second reading of the British Preference Bill. I expected that the Minister would move the second reading of it to-day, and that the debate would be adjourned until Monday. There is other business that might be dealt with, and that would occupy the whole of to-day’s sitting. It is a fair thing that a measure which, -perhaps, is one of the most important ever laid before any Parliament, should be dealt with in. a reasonable manner. I confess that I donot feel able to take up the discussion today.
-Col. GOULD (New South. Wales) [11.26]. - Senator Pulsford’s suggestion might very well be acceded to by the Government. If the Bills returned’ from the other House were dealt with today, and the second reading of the British Preference Bill were moved, the sittingwould be very well occupied. I am sure there is a ‘disposition to deal with measurespromptly.
Question resolved in -the affirmative.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, whether, in view of the congested state of the business-paper, he can see his way tomove that the Senate, at its rising to-day,, adjourn till half-past ten on Monday morning? I think that the representatives of distant States have a right to be considered. Some of us have been assisting the Government to get its business through, and an effort might be made to meet our convenience.
– I shall deal with that question on the motion for the adjournment to-day.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, if he will lay on the table of the Senate all papers relating to the Board of Inquiry respecting the postmistress at Ross?
– The honorablesenator brought this case under my notice within the last few hours. I understand that the papers to which he refers are at present in Hobart. I shall make inquiries during the day. I cannot promise, at this stage, that the Postmaster-General will consent to the laying of the papers on the table of the Senate, but I have no doubt that Senator O’Keefe and other honorable senators who may be interested in the matter, will have an opportunity to inspect the papers in order that thev may take whatever action they think fit in the matter.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs if there is yet any reply to the question put ten days ago regarding the wages of the crew of the Pocahontas?
– I have received no reply yet.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence, without notice, if he would consider it unfair, or even unkind, if I were to request him, as Minister of Defence, and because he is Minister of Defence, to lay on the tables of both Houses all papers in connexion with the celebrated and notorious case known as the” “Surrender of Captain Crouch.” An effort has been made elsewhere to obtain these papers without success, but I recognise that the Minister of Defence, being a member of the Senate, it is peculiarly appropriate that he should be asked in the Senate to lay these papers on the table.
– The honorable senator ought not to argue the question.
– I am not arguing the question. I am merely explaining that I ask it because Senator Playford is the Minister of Defence.
– Unless I am compelled to do so, I do not intend to lay these papers on the table of the House, and so make them public. The matter has been inquired into and has been settled. Both parties have! come to an agreement, and I think it is a great deal better that we should let sleeping dogs lie, and not stir up trouble for the future. If any honorable senator desires to see the papers, I am quite willing that he should do so on the understanding that he will not make the contents public.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
In view of the statement by the Prime Minister that the British Preference Bill was introduced in order to compensate ‘the United Kingdom for losses which the Government considered would accrue to British trade under the provisions of the Treaty with New Zealand, will the Government withhold the British Preference Bill till the New Zealand Treaty is also before the Senate ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Prime Minister’s statement referred to is not correctly quoted. A concession of Tariff preferences to the mother country has always formed part of the policy of the Government. The remarks of the Prime Minister to which attention is called related only to the limited extent of the preference at present submitted, and to the particular time at which it was brought forward.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The following answers have been furnished by the Public Service Commissioner : -
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the paper laid on the table of the Senate on the 8th August,1906, containing aprecis of correspondence between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the Commonwealth on the subject of silver coinage, be printed.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
On the question of preference to the mother country, honorable senators may be divided into two classes - those who believe in the principle and those who do not. These, again, may be divided into two other classes - those who believe in giving preference in the way indicated in the Bill, which is to raise duties against the foreigner, and those who believe in giving it in the way adopted by Canada, the lowering of duties in favour of Great Britain. There will be no necessity for me to convert those who believe in preference to the mother country, except, perhaps, as to the method in which it should be provided for. The question of preferential trade with Great Britain is one which has occupied the attention of every member of the Senate. I suppose that every honorable senator has expressed his views upon it to his constituents, or in this Chamber. We had a noticeable discussion on the question and the Government were severely taken to task by the leader of the Opposition for not having brought it on before. The complaint was made that, although it was a part of their policy, and reference had been made to it year after year in the opening speeches of the GovernorGeneral, no action whatever had been taken. We were denounced for having neglected what was our evident duty, because we had expressed our approval of the policy, and yet had done nothing. I might have informed honorable senators at the time that they would find that we were proposing to do something, and that very, quickly ; but I did not. I made a few remarks on the subject, in which I gave expression to my own views, and intimated that I thought that if we were to give any preference, our Tariff being so low, we could not afford to lower it in favour of Great Britain, and must, therefore, give the preference by raising our Tariff against the foreigner. We do not now submit this proposal for preference to the mother country on the ground that it will result in any immediate profit to us, though it may happen that we shall obtain a little additional revenue from foreign importations. We make the proposal, as it was made in Canada, in New Zealand, and in South Africa, for the purpose of showing to our kith and kin that to us blood is a little thicker than water, and that we are therefore willing to give the manufactures and products of the mother country preference over those of foreign countries. What is the position in regard to the foreigner ? As a rule, foreign countries impose duties on every product we send to them, and even on such products as wheat. We cannotget a bushel of wheat into France or Germany to-day without paying duty- on it. We cannot get any manufactured or unmanufactured article into foreign countries without the payment of duty, unless it be raw materials, which they require to work up their own manufactures, because they do not produce them themselves, or produce them only in small quantities. They have built up an immense Tariff wall aganst us. whilst the mother country has no wall erected against our productions.
– We send wool to France and Germany.
-Because they require it as the raw material of their manufactures. I believe we have to pay a duty even on wool.
– Senator Pulsford is probably better informed on that subject than I am. I look upon wool as a raw material, and, even under a protectionist policy, it might be admitted free into any country requiring it for manufactures. Protectionists believe in imposing duties on manufactured articles, and allowing raw materials required for local manufactures to be admitted duty free. We shall gain nothing by the proposal now submitted, but we shall show to the mother country that we have some kindly feeling towards her.
– Local manufacturers will gain something.
– They may gain a trifle. We shall show the mother country that we prefer to deal with her rather than with foreigners. We must recollect that she protects us in the enjoyment of the liberties which we possess. If we were on our own it is possible that we might find some difficulty in maintaining our independence. We have the advantage of the protection of the British Navy, the maintenance of which costs the mother country an enormous amount of money. We pay an exceedingly small sum towards its upkeep, but we must admit that, for our defence against any possible enemy, we must trust to the British Navy. We propose to give a preference to the mother country, even though in a small way. and as a beginning, to show that we prefer to trade with, her than with foreign countries, that put up -Tariff walls against us. We have only to consider the harvester question, which we have been discussing during the last day or two, to see that it is impossible for us to get a single article of our manufacture into the United States without paying an exorbitant dutv upon it, whilst that country can flood our market in competition on equal terms with the mother country. With, the exception of wine, and one or two other products, the whole of our exports are admitted free into the mother country at the present time. We are not the first in the field in this matter, because Canada led the way in taking action to give preference to Great Britain. The Canadian law has been altered on one or two occasions, but, “recording to information supplied to me, this was the course adopted : -
By the Customs Tariff Act of i8q”, provision was made for preferential treatment of articles the growth, produce, or manufacture of any country forming part of the British Dominions admitting Canadian products, &c, on terms as favorable as those of Canada.
The preferential provisions operated first from the 23rd April. 697, from which date to the 30th June, 1S98. the reduction was one-eighth of the ordinary dutv; from 1st July, 180.S, to 30th June, 1900, the reduction was one-fourth of the dutv.
By an amending Act operating from 1st July, 1000, the preferential reduction of dutv was increased to one-third, at which it now stands.
The reduction applies to all dutiable goods except wine, malt liquors, spirits, spirituous liquors, liquid medicines and articles containing alcohol, tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes.
With the exception of these articles the Tariff applies to British products which come in at 33J- per cent, less than do foreign goods.
In the case of refined sugar, the raw sugar from which it is produced must have been grown in the British colonies or possessions. lt is provided that manufactured articles to ‘ be admitted under the preferential Tariff shall be bond fide the manufactures of a country or countries entitled to the benefit of such Tariff, and that such benefits shall not extend to the importation of articles into the production of which there has not entered a substantial portion of the labour of such countries.
That is to prevent foreign halfmanufactured goods being imported into England, and, after having a few finishing touchesadded. being exported as British manufactures. At the present time large quantities of partly-manufactured goods are sent to Great Britain, and. after being, completed for the market, sent to Australia and elsewhere; and because this practice is grossly unfair, Canada has protected herself in the way described. Then it is provided that -
Any question arising as to any article being entitled to such benefits shall be “decided by the Minister of Customs, whose decision shall be final.
There is another law which says that -
Articles from countries discriminating against Canadian imports are subject to a surtax equal to one-third of the duty.
I now turn to South Africa -
A rebate of duty is granted on certain goods and articles the growth, produce, and manufacture of the United Kingdom, and of reciprocating British colonies, protectorates, or possessions.
There is a list of articles given on which there is a preference to Great Britain, but that list does not contain nearly so manyitems as are included in the proposal now under discussion. There are, however, a number of items included which are of interest to us. The schedule shows that the ordinary Tariff on butter is 2¼d. per lb., and the Convention Tariff 2d. ; that the ordinary Tariff .on cheese is .15 per cent., and the Convention Tariff ja per cent. ; while fresh fruits, which in ordinary cases bear a duty of 3 per cent., are admitted free. So the list goes on. including fruit, grains, hay and fodder, leather, meats, sugar, and timber. Now we come to New Zealand -
By the New Zealand Preferential and Reciprocal Trade Act 1903, additional duty was imposed on goods not the produce or manufacture of some part of the British Dominions to the extent shown in the schedules attached.
The New Zealand Government have adopted the principle which is embodied in the pro- posal before us. Canada and South Africa lower the ordinary duties in favour of Great Britain, and maintain them as against foreign countries; but New Zealand has taken a new departure, which the Commonwealth proposes to follow. Six years ago, when I was before my constituents, I expressed myself in favour of preferential trade. In the belief, however, that the Federal Tariff would be a moderate one, I distinctly declared that I could not agree to the lowering of the duties in favour of British manufactures,, but favoured the course of raising the duties against the foreigner. The example in this respect was set by New Zealand.
The Act also gives the Government power, subject to Parliamentary ratification, to enter into a reciprocal trade agreement with any country forming part of the British Dominions, toreduce or abolish the duty on any article or articles the produce or manufacture of such country to an extent that the estimated revenue so remitted shall equal as nearly as possible the estimated revenue remitted by that country.
There is also power to negotiate agreements with foreign countries. During the visit of the late Mr. Seddon to Australia, negotiations in this connexion were carried on between that gentleman and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and a treaty or agreement was arrived at. The unfortunate death of Mr. Seddon prevented him, with his great personal influence, from urging the ratification of that agreement by the Parliament and people of New Zealand. When the proposal was introduced by Sir Joseph Ward, the present Premier of New Zealand, a Committee was appointed to inquire into the matter. Unfortunately, the report of that Committee was unfavorable to the treaty, and it was adopted by the New Zealand Parliament. That is most regrettable, because, in my opinion, the agreement would have been mutuallyadvantageous. The latest advice we have on the subject is that the New Zealand Government may, perhaps later on, reconsider the matter, and I hope that under the provisions of the Bill now under discussion an agreement may be arrived at. New Zealand and Australia are only a few thousand miles apart, and there is no doubt that a trade could be built up to the benefit of both countries. However, it is “no good crying over spilt milk. “ According to the New Zealand schedule - on basket-ware there is a preferential rate of 20 per cent. ; on bicycles, tri cycles, and the like vehicles, 20 per cent. ; onboots and shoes, 22½ per cent. I heard that there is likely to be some trouble over our giving a preference of 10 per cent. on boots and shoes. The New Zealand schedule also’ gives a preference of1d. per lb. on candles; of 20 per cent. on carriages, and so forth; of 20 per cent. on china, firearms, and many other articles. Right through the prevailing preference is 20 per cent. The ruling rate of preference is represented by 20 per cent. against the foreigner - which, of course, means 20 per cent. in favour of British manufacturers. The schedule in the Bill, though it presents minor differences, is practically the same as the schedule of the New Zealand Act. The question arises as to what extent Great Britain will benefit, and to what extent the foreigner may suffer loss under this Bill. Honorable senators have had laid before them a paper entitled -
British preference. - Resolution proposed on the 30th August, 1906, in Committee of Ways and Means by the Honorable Sir William Lyne, Minister for Trade and Customs. Items of schedule with particulars of imports, 1903, 1904, 1905.
The accompanying tables show what the rate of duty, was prior to the resolution. The table then goes on to deal with dutiable goods, the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom, and imported direct in British ships, and also with dutiable goods not the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom, and also with goods not so produced or shipped. I shall not trouble honorable senators with the details, but it will be seen that in 1905 the imports of those articles, on which we propose to give a preference to Great Britain, represented a total of , £1,549,654, whereas the foreign imports in the same year represented£961,848, or practically £1,000,000. Under the Bill those foreign imports would have to bear the extra duty, or, on the other hand, their place would be taken by British goods.
– If there are British goods to take their place.
– There are, in most instances.
– There is precious little preference to Great Britain under this Bill.
– That should make honorable senators all the more willing to vote for the Bill.
– It is deadsea fruit - there is nothing in it.
– There is something in it.
– The Bill is a beginning. I do not say that it is a fullfledged bird, but it is a commencement, exactly on the lines adopted by New Zealand, with the exception that the preference given by that country is about double that offered under the Bill. Of course, if any honorable senator thinks that the preference is insufficient, it will be open to him in Committee to move that it be increased.
– More protection.
– The complaint appears to be that we are not giving enough . Senator Zeal is complaining that it is hardly worth troubling about. If it is too small it can be increased.
– It is a fraud from beginning to end.
– - In my opinion, it is not a fraud in any sense, but a fairly substantial preference - not so substantial as that of New Zealand, but on the whole better than that of South Africa. Take, for instance, manufactured leather. In South Africa the ordinary duty is 15 per cent., and, in the case of British goods, it is reduced to 12 per cent. That is a very small difference in favour of British imports. We propose to give a more substantial preference to British goods than that Colony is giving, although not equal to that which New Zealand gives. The Bill contains the usual provisions for the imposition and collection of the duties. At the top of the fourth column of the schedule, honorable senators will see this heading -
On dutiable goods the product or manufacture of the United Kingdom and imported direct in British ships manned exclusively by white seamen.
It is only fair to my honorable friends to say that the words, “ manned exclusively by white seamen,” were inserted in a thin Committee elsewhere against the Government. Therefore, when I come to deal with the schedule I shall ask the opinion of the majority of honorable senators as to whether we should retain those words. We can discuss the question, if necessary, more fully in Committee than now. I do nol think that I need say much more. If honorable senators have any questions to put, I shall be very pleased to answer them; but I think I have said enough to show that the Government are, at all events, sincere in their desire to secure a preference to British goods, that it has not been all talk on their part, and that, although the Bill has been delayed, and, perhaps, the preference proposed is not so substantial as some honorable senators would desire, it is being given in the right way. We believe that it is a commencement, which will lead to better things by-and-by. The view ‘held by Mr. Chamberlain, that the mother country ought to give some preference to the imports from the Colonies, will, I trust and believe, be realized in due time, and I think it is only a question of time when there will be a preferential trade arrangement established throughout every part of the British Dominions.
.- I do not think that die motion should be allowed to pass without some comment on the speech of the Minister. I am very pleased to see that the . Bill has been brought forward, although at such a late period of the session. No one can doubt that the Government, especially the Prime Minister, are absolutely sincere in the desire to promote preferential trade between the various portions of the British Empire. Mr. Deakin has shown his sincerity in many ways during a number of years, and, although the preference proposed is a very small one, it may be excused on the ground of the very great difficulty of the subject. It involves a great number of complications, and I can quite understand that, so long as the mother country refrains from taking any distinct action, it is exceedingly difficult for any of the other portions of the British Empire to move along the lines desired by all those who favour preferential trade as a means of binding together its scattered portions. I thoroughly approve of the object which the Government have in view and the general principle underlying the Bill. For some time the pressure of business has been so extreme that I have not had an opportunity of going into the details of the measure, and, therefore, in that regard T must cast all the responsibility upon th” Government. I content myself with saying that I approve of the principle. I think it is an effort on the part of the Government to redeem promises which have bee-i made, and to do the best they can under existing circumstances. The Minister has drawn our attention to the words in the schedule, which limits the preference to goods brought out in British ships, “manned exclusively by white seamen.” That is, I think, an attempt to apply a verv good principle outside its proper province. To my mind our peculiar circumstances justify our White Australia policy, and I yield to no one in the desire to maintain it intact. While I maintain that we have the full right, and under the peculiar necessities of the case, are compelled, as a matter of national life or death, to maintain that policy, I think that we have no right to force a similar policy upon other nations.
– Why give a preference to British ship-owners and not to British seamen?
– -We provide that the goods shall be imported in British ships, I take it, because if they came in foreign ships it would not be a preference to British trade. The carrying trade is part of the British trade, and we have a right, I think, to give a preference in that matter.
– Is not the seaman a factor in British trade?
– I have no doubt that everything is a factor in some branch of trade or industry ; but the question is whether we have a right to insist upon’ other nations adopting a certain policy. 1 do not think that we have. It is futile on our part to endeavour to interfere in that regard. Just as we claim the absolute right to carry out our policy without interference from other nations, so we should yield to them the right to carry out the policy which, in their opinion, is the best to meet their circumstances. I understand the Minister of Defence to say that the Government will take the view of the Senate on that point. Therefore I presume that when we come to deal with that portion of the schedule, he will move the omission of the words “ manned exclusively .’by white seamen.” While, I shall maintain the White Australia policy to the very utmost, I am prepared to concede to other nations the right to adopt whatever policy thev please in that regard.
– I am not prepared to discuss the details of the Bill. We have been so busy of late that I cannot possibly do justice to its subject-matter. However, there seems to be a probability of finishing the debate on. the second reading before 4 o’clock, when I hope that mv honorable friend, the
Minister of Defence, will give effect to his promise.
– I made no promise. I said that 1 would sit right on until I finished with the Bill if I could keep a quorum.
– I understand thai: an arrangement of some kind was made.
– My best wish is that the Minister will not be able to keep a quorum.
– I cannot help that. I have shown my desire to meet honorable senators.
– I certainly understood that an arrangement of that kind was to be made.
– It fell through because honorable senators would not allow me to go on with the Bill until if was finished with.
– The importance of a system of preferential trade between the Empire and its various branches cannot be exaggerated. I have always been very much in favour of the principle. I am a follower of Mr. Chamberlain. I cannot understand why free-traders should object to a policy of that kind because it appears to me that if it were properly managed it would make for inter-Imperial free-trade. I think that the right plan to adopt in the case of the mother country would be to lower some of the duties in favour of British goods because it would tend to establish revenue duties, and bring about some day Imperial free-trade throughout the Empire. If, however, we are to understand that, in the opinion of the Government of the Commonwealth, preferential trade simply means piling on the duties against foreigners, giving Australian manufacturers more protection, bolstering up their industries in every possible way by means of enormous and almost prohibitive duties, and making no sacrifice in favour of Great Britain, then that is not a policy of which I can approve. It is not a policy which would ever tend to bind the parts of the Empire together, or to make for that fuller and freer trade between those parts in the best way. I am most anxious to vote for any scheme of preference, even if it be only a beginning. But I am in very great doubt as to whether I ought to vote.for this Bill. I shall make a suggestion to the Minister, and according to the nature of his answer I shall make up my mind. Mr. Chamberlain has warned us, above all other things, not to give a preference to the mother country which would be merely mockery. He has hinted that we might pile up our duties against foreigners as much as we like, but if we. still kept up a high Tariff wall against the mother country, that would not be what he understood as preferential trade. He has explained over and over again that he quite understands that a protectionist policy is favoured throughout Australia, that the Government of the Commonwealth would have to study the interests of its own people, and arrange that its own manufacturers should have a fair and reasonable protection. But I think he recognises, as many of us do, that we can maintain a policy of reasonable protection for Australia, and at the same time give a preference to the mother country which would embody a modicum of self-sacrifice. I am very glad to hear the Minister of Defence laugh, because I desire to accentuate that point in every way I can.
– I am laughing at the idea of self-sacrifice.
– I am going to deal with that matter. The Government seem to think that? we can build up a system of preferential trade, consolidate the Empire, and carry out their ideas without making any sacrifice, but I do not hold that belief. There must always be give and take in this world. There have to be some sacrifices. I should be very sorry to have to present to the British Government this Bill as it stands, and say, “ This is our idea of preferential trade between Australia and the mother country.” Only recently the Prime Minister, in making a speech on defence, reminded us that our share of Imperial naval defence, if we contributed a proportionate amount of the cost, would be between ,£5,000,000 and £6,000,000. But instead of paying that amount we contribute the paltry sum of £200,000. Great Britain is making, an enormous sacrifice for the defence of the trade, not only of the mother country, but of the Empire. But when we set to work to make the bonds tighter we are prepared to make no sacrifice whatever. The proposal for reciprocal trade between New Zealand and Australia has fallen through, because, I presume, the Parliament of New Zealand thought that the sacrifice was all on the part of that country. If we desire to have a reciprocal treaty with New Zealand we must do our share in sacrificing something. I do not know whether that treaty was fair or otherwise, but evidently New Zealand thought that Australia had the best of the bargain ; and I am equally sure that if this Bill is ever presented to the people of Great Britain they will think that Australia is taking very good care of her own interests, and paying very little attention to those of the mother country. The Bill is, indeed, practically a mockery. After the Bill is passed, British manufacturers will still have to pay 30 per cent, on boots, 30 per cent, on hats, and 25 per cent, on many articles of manufacture. Do we imagine that we are giving any assistance to British trade because we impose an extra 10 per cent, against foreign countries? The whole area of trade covered by this preferential scheme amounts to about £800,000. That is to say, foreigners now have a trade with Australia to that extent, .and the Bill gives Great Britain the chance to capture some of it. Suppose that British manufacturers take from the foreigner part of this £800,000 worth of trade. Suppose they get £150,000 or £200,000 worth of it. Considering that the trade of the Briitsh Empire amounts to something like £800,000,000 per annum, what is the value of a preference which enables the mother country to get extra trade to the amount of no more than £200,000 a year. How much of that trade does my honorable friend expect that Great Britain will acquire by virtue of this preference Bill ?
– It would be impossible to say. If she gets the whole, it will be worth £1,000,000 to her.
– Does mv honorable friend mean to say that there is any possibility of Great Britain getting the whole of it? This really is the crux of the position.
– She can get the whole of it if she likes’.
– How can she possibly do so? Would a preference of 10 per cent, enable any country in the world to get the whole of any trade ? My honorable friend does not know what he is talking about. With all respeot to Kim I tell him that he is talking nonsense. I venture to say that, if Mr. Chamberlain reads the Minister’s speech, ihe will say, “ Good gracious me ! Is this the Minister they put up in the Australian Senate to move the second reading of a British Preference
Bill?” If Great Britain secures one-half of that trade she will do splendidly, and if she gets one-third of it she will do very well indeed.
– She will not get anything like one-third.
– Honorable senators, hearing that remark from Senator Pulsford, who has gone into the whole question fully, will realize what a sham the whole thing is. I use Mr. Chamberlain’s own words in saying that.
– He was looking out especially for the English manufacturer and his profits. We have to look after our manufacturers.
– If the Minister looks at the subject from a protectionist point of view only, and wishes to make this Bill a weapon for securing more protection, I am very sorry. Mr. Chamberlains policy was intended, first of all, to consolidate the Empire, .and, secondly, to develop its trade. I have no hesitation in saying that no step towards the consolidation of the Empire will be taken by a sham scheme like this. There are good reasons why the Empire should be consolidated. Canada is an important part of the Empire, and she occupies a very dangerous position with regard to the United States. There was a movement some years ago for a kind of Union between Canada and the United States. There is always on the tapis a question of reciprocity between the two countries. But Canada adopted the policy of preferential trade with England. First she lowered duties in favour of Great Britain by onefourth, and subsequently she increased the preference to one-third. Although the trading between the United Spates and Canada has since increased owing to the propinquity of the two countries, the policy of preference has also increased the trade with Great Britain.
– From £31,000,000 to £61,000,000.
– Those figures prove that by a scientific system of preference trade can be increased between parts of the Empire. A glance at what Canada has done shows that this Bill is a sham. The preference given by Canada to British trade extends to an enormous area, as compared with the paltry little area over which the proposals of the Commonwealth Govern ment extend. The two cannot be compared.
– We have not got a Tariff like the Canadian. Give us the Canadian Tariff, and we could do what Canada is doing.
– The Ministerknows that the Australian Tariff was a compromise arrived at after nine months of struggle. I am not complaining so much about the amount of the preference. Ten per cent, is a very fair thing. But I am complaining of the area of commerce affected by the proposals of the Government.
– Then the honorable senator can move to ask the other House to put a number of other lines in the schedule.
– I want to see the area considerably increased. I should be satisfied if there were four items in the Bill as to which duties were reduced by 5 per cent, in favour of Great BritainTake the case of boots. Our duty is 30- per cent. It is proposed to make it 40- per cent, against the foreigner, leaving it at 30 per cent, against Great BritainWhy not make the duty 40 per cent, against the foreigner, and reduce the dutv on British goods to 25 per cent. ?
– We have to consider our own manufacturers.
– ,Are we to be told,. every time we try to draw closer the bonds of union closer, that we shall injure some persons if we reduce duties even to- a small extent? My honorable friend must be aware that the 30 per cent, duty on boots was only carried by a very small majority. I believe Parliament would agree to reduce the duty in favour of Great Britain. It is a blot upon the scheme that it is not proposed to reduce a single duty in favour of the mother country. That is what Mr. Chamberlain meant by using the words “ a mockery and a sham.” I repeat that if I can get a 5 per cent, reduction on four articles I shall vote for the Bill with some pleasure. We might go through the Tariff to discover items in connexion with which that could be done. The statistics published since the adoption of our compromise Tariff show that trade and manufactures have increased wonderfully. How inaccurate and false, then, are the statements made that industries are starving and dying, and that we are injuring our own people? I do not see how it is possible for a real system of preferential trade to be established by a community that takes up that position. I do not believe that Mr. Deakin, with his ideas of protection for breakfast, dinner, and tea, can ever negotiate a real treaty of preferential trade with Great Britain.
– We cannot negotiate with a free-trade country.
– Then the Bill is a farce.
– What about Canada which has a very much higher protective Tariff than we have?
– Canada has a very much larger volume of commerce to which the preference applies. There is no opportunity offered her for any increase of trade. The thing is too small to be permitted to pass.
– But is it not a valuable declaration ?
– The Minister says that we cannot negotiate for preferential trade with a free-trade country, and Senator Best asks, “ Is this not a valuable declaration ?” It is a declaration that we are prepared to enter into a preferential treaty without reducing the Tariff we have raised against our own people by so much as is.
– With such a modelate Tariff we could not afford to do so.
– I wonder what Mr. Chamberlain will think when he reads this proposal.
– What would he think of the honorable senator’s proposal to give him 5 per cent, on boots?
– He would say that it was the beginning of some measure of justice.
– We give 10 per cent., and we think we are doing something.
– The Minister .does not dare to say “ we are doing something.” He says only that he “ thinks, we are doing something,” and Senator Best “thinks” that the Government are making a valuable declaration. The whole thing is absolutely laughable. I was trying to suggest what Mr. Chamberlain’s thoughts would be when he read this Bill, but let us, see what the English newspapers think of it.
– Mr. Chamberlain has expressed his thoughts on the subject, and thev are much in accord with the proposal.
– The latest figures from Canada show that the increase in trade since the year before the adoption of preference, and the year just ended, amounts to 138 per cent.
-Col. Gould. - What has been the increase in trade with foreign countries ?
– It has dropped. Senator Lt.-Col. Gould. - Trade with the United States has not dropped.
– What does Senator Keating mean to infer?
– I have here an extract from the leading free-trade newspaper of the Dominion. It is from an article which appeared in the issue of 15th August, headed “Foreign Trade Grows Mighty. Results of Preference. Imports from Great Britain show Great Increase. German Trade falls from $1.2,000,000 to $7,000,000.”
– That is only dollars.
– The 138 per cent, is not dollars.
– Senator Keating is trying to answer my specific argument by giving us figures which we all know. I am in favour of preference, and believe that it will result in increased trade.
– But the honorable senator wishes to do it in some other way.
– I wish to reduce the duties in favour of Great Britain. The greatest objection to this Bill is that the area covered by the proposed preference is so small. The figures quoted by Senator Keating are valuable as showing that preference is a right policy to adopt.
– I have no wish to make a disconcerting interjection, but I should like to say that reference has been made to the United States, and, still quoting from the authority to which I have just referred, I find that the gain in imports from Great Britain was 13 per cent., and from the United States 8 per cent., for the previous year.
– How can our importations from Great Britain increase in any way worth mentioning when the volume of trade covered by the proposed preference is so small. The figures quoted by ‘Senator Keating are very satisfactory, and they justify the belief I have always had that any preference worthy the name would lead to increased trade. My complaint is that the area covered bv the pre- ferential duties under this scheme is absolutely infinitesimal. Speaking of this scheme, the London Daily Chronicle says -
The essence of Mr. Deakin’s proposal is a further instalment of protection to Australian manufacturers.
They hat the nail on the head in one sentence -
In most of the lines affected by the offer the great bulk of the trade is already in British hands. The return will be small and of doubtful benefit. Great Britain is asked to alter the whole of her fiscal system, and to tax the bulk of her trade in order to give preference to a smaller part.
– We do not ask Great Britain for anything.
– The Daily Chronicle further says -
It is unreasonable to ask a price out of all proportion to the benefit received.
I find that the Manchester Guardian states that -
Australia gives away nothing. Of colonial sacrifice there is not the faintest trace in the offer.
– That is the honorable senator’s text all along.
– And it is a very proper! text. The Minister seems to think that nations can be brought together in the way suggested without any sacrifices. We are in possession of Australia only as the result of sacrifices made by our forefathers in the mother country. We owe our freedom and our Constitution to the generous gift and sacrifice of the mother country. All the Minister can say in reply is that the Government think they are doing something under this proposal, and we see that they are not prepared to make any sacrifice whatever.
– Great Britain has never, proposed to make any sacrifice.
– How can the honorable senator say that when he knows that she opens her doors to all the commerce of the world.
– -That is no sacrifice in our favour.
– Mr. Chamberlain is prepared to give a real preference to our wine, corn, fruit, and butter, and is prepared even to ;put a small tax on the food supplies of the 40,000,000 of people of Great Britain in order to secure a measure of preferential trade.
– Great Britain is not prepared to do that.
– Mr. Chamberlain and those who think with him are prepared to do that.
– But apparently the country is not.
– I never heard of a more selfish, narrow-minded protectionist than Senator Playford. If this is the Government’s idea of preference to Great Britain, then God help us ! How can we expect to make a reciprocal treatment on these lines. Ministers propose that we shall shake hands with New Zealand, and offer to make a reciprocal treaty, but they say at the same time, “ You must understand beforehand that the preference is not to apply to a single thing that is produced by Australian manufacturers or farmers.”
– The honorable and learned senator was worried over the Tasmanian farmers in connexion with the matter.
– We are not discussing my policy; if we were it would be something very different from this. We are now discussing the sham measure of the Government. The Manchester Guardian says -
Disappointment is expressed in “Canada to the Australian proposals, as they place the products of the Dominion on the same footing as those of America.
– The honorable and learned senator calls this a sham measure, but we know what sort of a sham he was when the Tariff was on. He was a freetrader on everything but potatoes and hops.
– I ask the Minister not to interrupt.
– The Minister is misrepresenting me in the endeavour to set aside the arguments I am using. In dealing with the Tariff, I adopted the policy of revenue without destruction. The whole question of preferential trade was discussed at the Imperial Conference in 1897, and if I recollect rightly the whole of the Premiers of the British Colonies attending that Conference expressed a belief in the policy. Some’ have already passed Acts to give effect to it, and the Premiers of the Australian Colonies agreed on their return to nsk their Parliaments to adopt some scheme of preferential trade. It is eight or nine years since that Conference was held, and those promises were made, and it is therefore no wonder that Ministers should be anxious to carry some scheme. It is deplorable that after eight or nine years’ consideration of the matter such a sham scheme of preference should be proposed. I trust that the Senate will never dream of passing the clause in this Bill requiring goods entitled to the preference to be carried by ships manned only by white sailors. There is a very wide difference between a “White Australia” and a “White Ocean.” We have shown our belief in a “ White Australia” by the legislation we have passed, but’ it is merely madness to insist that we must also have ai “ White Ocean,” that the Iascar must go out of the stoke-holds of our mail-boats, and no coloured man must be employed on any ship bringing goods to Australia that are to receive the benefit of the small preference proposed in this Bill. The proposal is an insult to the Empire. There are 30,000 or 40,000 foreigners, and as many coloured men in the British mercantile marine. The reason for that is that Great Britain cannot supply a sufficient number of British sailors to carry on the commerce of the country. Why ? Because the shipping of Great Britain is 50 per cent, or 51 per cent, of the whole shipping of the world, and the requisite number of men who take to a seafaring life is not forthcoming. In the British mercantile marine there are 40,000 foreigners and coloured men. Many of the latter are citizens of the Empire; and yet British goods carried in a vessel on which there is employed a coloured cook will be denied the benefits of this miserable preference. We have heard something about the “ stinking fish party,” and of the complaints made at Home of the selfishness of Australians. I undertake to say that, if this Bill passes in its present form, we shall be criticised from one end of Great Britain to the other. We shall have what some honorable senators would describe as slanders, but which I should regard as true Statements; and the criticism hurled at us must, to some extent, prejudice our financial credit. In the face of legislation of this kind, how can we hope that the credit of the, Commonwealth will stand higher than that of the States ? Everything we do goes to the making of the character of the nation, just as in the case of the individual. The ideas and sentiments of a people are embodied in a statute-book, and if our laws are selfish, and ‘ ‘ Australia for the Australians “ is written on every page - if there be found injustice and wrong-doing against our fellow-men, with no sign of true liberty - we shall inevitably excite hostile criticism. Can we expect that men will invest money in a country where there are laws of this description? When
I was interrupted by Senator Playford, I was about to deal with, the relations of Canada with the United States. If Canada and Great Britain had not been brought closer together by means of preferential trade, there would have been every possibility of a reciprocal treaty between the two trans-Atlantic countries. I do not see how it would have been possible to prevent Canada and the United States from entering into a fiscal arrangement, if Great Britain had continued to be absolutely free-trade and Canada absolutely prohibitive. ‘ As I understand history, I believe that, in almost every instance, fiscal relationship precedes political relationship. If we desire to draw the bonds of Empire closer - to have an Imperial Council, and a voice in the foreign policy, and even in the defence of the Empire - the true means is a fiscal scheme. I deeply regret if the intention is to push the Bill through, this session. Having waited from 1897 to 1906 without anything whatever being done, it would be much better for the Government to confer with the authorities in Great Britain before submitting a scheme to this Parliament. I agree with Senator Best that the Bill will show our friends at Home that we are willing to make a start, provided that start be reasonable and fair.
– The Bill shows that we are ready to negotiate - that is all it means.
– We do not want to make such a beginning as will set the press and politicians of Great Britain against us. We do not desire to convey the impression that we are never prepared to make a sacrifice in order to bring about some substantial scheme of preferential trade. Therefore, it is a great pity that the Prime Minister, before introducing this Bill, did not wait until he had met the Premiers in Conference, in March or April next, when the whole matter could have been fully discussed. There could then have been presented to Great Britain a far more acceptable scheme than that now under consideration. I never could quite understand the enormous majority that the Liberal Party gained- in Great Britain at the last general election. I cannot realize that that victory was solely that of free-trade over Mr. Chamberlain’s scheme, which amounted to a modicum of protection.
– There was the Education Bill.
– There were many other important issues besides the fiscal question, and Mr. Chamberlain’s scheme versus free-trade was never properly fought. I am fortified in that opinion by the action of the Congress of Chambers of Commerce of Great Britain. Some months ago, by a majority of three to one, those delegates from the various Chambers of Commerce decided in favour of preferential trade. These are men, appointed to safeguard the commercial interests of the places in which they live, and who, having devoted their lives to trade and commerce, must, above all others, have thought out the various schemes for preferential trade. It appears to me that if England were polled to-morrow on this one issue, the result would be absolutely different from that when the Liberal Party and the Labour Party gave the Conservative and Unionist Parties such a beating. The world generally is trending in favour of reciprocal agreements, and the . British Empire is leaning towards, consolidation ; and these ends can be brought about by trade relationship better than in any other way. I absolutely differ from those who think that it is quite enough to have the Empire bound together in ties of sentiment. If you can add to ties of sentiment, community of commercial, industrial, and political interests, much more can be done towards consolidating the Empire. I am very sorry that, owing to over-work and want of time, I have not been able to show more fully and clearly what a miserable sham this Bill is. I hope, however, that the scheme will not be allowed to pass until it bears on its face some evidence of self-sacrifice on our part. I utterly repudiate the idea of the Minister, who seems to think that we can bind the Empire together without mutual sacrifice.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania) £12.55]. - I feel strongly that the reason urged for the introduction of this measure just now is fallacious. We are told that the Bill is to form a basis for negotiation, but how can we negotiate when we are prepared to give nothing? It appears to me that the prevailing idea seems to be to give nothing while trying to get something. It is a matter of history that Mr. Chamberlain asked the Commonwealth to allow British manufactures to enter this country under some scheme of preference; and the reply we give is this Bill. Briefly we say, “ We will allow goods, which are not imported in great quantities, to come in at a pre ference of 10 per cent., but your steamers must not carry a single coloured person.”
– Not only steamers, but other vessels are included.
– That is so; there is no limitation. I point out to my honorable friends opposite that the Bill will encourage Germany to place some tax on Australian wool, unless that wool be carried in German ships.
– Tax their own raw material ?
– The Australasian and British shipping companies are already feeling the competition of Germany, who is extremely jealous of its growing trade, and would not hesitate for a moment to impose duties in the way I have indicated if anything to the detriment of that trade is done by our legislation. This, it seems to me, is a point of great importance to honorable senators opposite, who do not desire to encourage foreign trade in Australia. My own impression is. that this Bill will drive business to the foreigner, to our great injury. In the schedule there are one or two items to which my attention has been called, and more “particularly (explosives, which are almost entirely of German production. Germany has benefited Australia very materially in the manufacture of explosives.
Sitting suspended from z to 2 p.m.
– Here is a letter from a reliable correspondent, showing how very largely the mining industry has been benefited by the introduction of German manufactures -
Melbourne, 27th September, 1906.
We have the honour to place before you certain facts connected with the explosives business in Australia.
Under the Preferential, Duties Act explosives made in Germany will be subject to a 10 per cent, duty as against British manufactures.
Prior to 1900 the following manufacturers of explosives were doing business in Australia, viz. : - The companies comprising the Nobel Dynamite Trust, which includes the Australian Explosives and Chemical ‘Company ; British Explosives Syndicate ; and National Explosives Company. Notwithstanding the fact that these were supposed to be competing for business, the prices during the first months of 1900 were as follows : -
Gelignite, 70s. per case of 50 lbs.
Gelatine-Dynamite, Sos. per case of 50 lbs.
Blasting Gelatine, 9os. per case of 50 lbs. With the advent of a strong company of German manufacturers in 1900, the reduction of prices began, and their keen competition for business has resulted in further reductions every year since then, until, at the present time, prices are as low as the following : -
Gelignite, 35s. per case of 50 lbs.
Gelatine-Dynamite, 40s. per case of 50 lbs.
Blasting Gelatine, 45s. per case of 50 lbs. Since 1900, the only new comers in the Australian market are Curtis and Harvey, and Kynochs Limited, the former of whom have a working arrangement with the Nobel’s Trust Companies, and with the British Explosives Syndicate. This arrangement is known as the Australian Convention. Kynochs Limited have put their manufactures only on two or three of the smaller and less important mining fields. They are not in Queensland, Broken Hill, or Western Australia.
During the past six years, from 1900 to 1906, it is estimated that by the reduction in price at least ^1,000,000 has been saved by the mining industry in the Commonwealth. We have endeavoured to show how this has come ab9ut
We beg respectfully to ask your kind consideration of the facts above narrated, and we trust they may be sufficient to induce you to support an amendment excluding explosives from the schedule.
The constitution of the Nobel Dynamite Trust may easily be ascertained if desired. The facts we desire to impress upon you are that the proposed preferential Tariff must make explosives dearer in the great mining industry.
– Is not that letter signed by Gibbs, ‘Bright, and Company ?
– My copy had their name on it.
– It does not matter where the letter came from.
– It does matter.
-Col. Gould. - Does Senator Guthrie disbelieve the statements?
– These are only estimates.
– Their accuracy can easily be tested by reference to the Trade and Customs returns.
– I understand that Gibbs, Bright, and Company are agents for one company, and no doubt they knew what they were writing about. The letter was given to me by a member of the firm, and probably it came from the same source. If it is intended to give a preference to Great Britain, we ought to give a substantial preference, which, would enable us to overcome the foreign retaliation to which we shall be exposed. When Germany heard of this proposal to give a preference of 10 per cent, to goods coming in British ships, it was immediately urged there that a preference should be given on wool, other produce, and metals arriving in German ships. That would be to the injury of the Commonwealth and British ships.
– Has not Germany been giving a preference all along?
– Not to that extent.
– They have refused to carry a number of Australian products.
– To indicate the danger of retaliation which ‘we shall run, let me quote a few remarks made by the chairman of a Chamber of Commerce -
The great danger which I anticipate from rashly entering into any arrangement is the loss of foreign markets by foreign retaliation. As a matter of fact, they have retaliated already. Mr. Chamberlain’s action was absolutely hastened by the somewhat undiplomatic action of Germany in retaliating upon. Canada. Germany’s action in relation to Canada is worth considering. The Anglo-German Treaty of 1863, which provided that the production of Germany should not be subject to higher or other duties than produce of like kind of the United Kingdom or any other country, was in 1898 denounced by Lord Salisbury at the instance of Canada, which; was aspiring to the British markets. Canada gave preferential trade arrangements to Great Britain. (A Voice : “ Very good thing for Canada.”) It was, and if you say “Preferential trade arrangements for Canada,” I agree with you. It is a magnificent thing for Canada, and if I were a Canadian, I should be a strong advocate for it.
He went on to point out that, if we give a preference to Great Britain, it ought to be given on a scale which would enable us to withstand the retaliation which we must expect to result from our action. I ask honorable senators opposite whether it is wise to provoke retaliation simply by giving a nominal preference to Great Britain on a few paltry articles, and then putting in a provision which would do away with that preference? The Bill provides that, in addition to the present duties, 10 per cent, shall be charged “ on dutiable goods not the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom, or not imported direct in British” ships.” And then it sets out that the British ships shall carry no coloured seamen. There are hardly any British ships which do not carry some foreigners, and many British ships carry a few coloured men.
– They carry too many of them.
– It has been pointed out that Great Britain is doing such an enormous carrying trade that she has not enough seamen to man the steamers.
– What nonsense !
– That is a fact which cannot be controverted.
– Great Britain cannot get enough sailors.
– Simply because the ship-owners will not feed the men, and treat them as “white men.”
– The honorable senator, as a member of the Navigation Commission, ought to know that there was plenty of evidence given before the Select Committee of the House of Commons to show that the dearth of British seamen is due very largely to the abolition of small ships in the coasting trade of Great Britain and the concentration of the tonnage and carriage in very large vessels, carrying a very small number of sailors.
– Nonsense !
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that the coasting trade of England is less because the steamers are getting larger?
– That is the purport of the evidence which was placed before the Manning Committee.
– We are each entitled to our own opinion, but, after all, that is a side issue.
– It is a vital issue.
– I give my authority for the statement. I ask honorable senators to pause before they consent to give a fictitious preference to Great Britain and expose ourselves to a retaliation, which would cost us very dear indeed. I have a number of notes on preferential trade, but as the Bill has been sprung upon us suddenly, I have not been able to get them together.
– Since the first proposal with regard to what is known as preference was floated in Canada about ten years ago, I have never ceased to speak of it as one which was calculated not to cement the Empire, not to bring the outlying portions nearer together, but to gradually bring into .play causes of trouble which would do harm instead of good to the Empire. I feel that events are justifying all T have said. Let us glance at what has taken place. In the first place Canada cave a preference straight out to goods from all parts of the Empire, and to all classes of goods except. I think, stimulants and narcotics. With that exception goods from all Darts of the Empire were admitted at the reduction which was agreed to, and a concession was made,
There was no suggestion of making an arrangement, by way of an addition to the duties on goods from outside countries. It was a concession straight away to goods from Great Britain.
– Did the honorable senator say to goods from Great Britain, or to goods from all parts of the Empire?
– I meant to say a preference to goods from all parts of the British Empire, except the other selfgoverning Colonies, and to goods from those countries when they were prepared to make similar terms. After a time New Zealand! gave a preference to goods from all parts of the Empire, but the list was only a limited one. Canada gave a preference to all goods except a few on which heavy duties were levied, but New Zealand gave the preference to a limited list by making an addition to the duties on the goods when imported from foreign parts, thus breaking away from the arrangement made by Canada. South Africa did not make an Empire arrangement,- but limited her preference to goods coming from the United Kingdom. It only covered a limited list, and the amount of preference given was very limited. In the first instance, South Africa passed a law - it was somewhat similar to that of Canada - that there should be a concession on existing duties in the case of goods from the United Kingdom. But about six months ago it passed a measure under which a general Tariff and a preference Tariff were arranged. The general Tariff was increased. So that, to a very large extent, South Africa has adopted the New Zealand system of putting up duties against the foreigner, instead of malling deductions from the existing rate, for the benefit of the Britisher. The Australian proposa.1 is limited to goods from the United Kingdom. It excludes goods from all other parts of the Empire. It aims a blow at Canada, the home and author of preference. The list of goods which it proposes shall be advantaged is more limited than that which has been adopted by New Zealand or South Africa. Then, our preference policv takes another and more serious retrograde step, because it proceeds to legislate in a. grave way against the coloured ‘subjects of the Empire. Since Canada first introduced the policv of preference, there has been a gradual change in the character of the preference given. There have been introduced, gradually, causes for enmity and bitterness between different parts of the Empire. With regard to the collapsed treaty between Australia and New Zealand, let me draw the attention of the Senate to certain facts. In that treaty it was positively proposed that duties should be imposed under which very considerable sections of the trade of Great Britain would have been absolutely prohibited. Honorable senators are conversant with the method that was to be adopted. New Zealand and Australia were to arrange that they would have no duties between themselves on certain goods, but that, as against the rest of the world, including the British Empire, the rates were to be high. It is a notable fact that, whereas in this Bill we deal with a preference of 10 per cent, or so, prohibitive duties of 50 per cent, and more were proposed against Great Britain in the New Zealand treaty.
– Is there anything wrong in that?
– Surely we are not doing very much in the interests of Great Britain when, in the case of a preferential .agreement between two parts of the Empire, we arrange duties so as absolutely to destroy certain sections of British trade. Let us be honest to ourselves. If we believe in a protectionist policy, let us be protectionist. But do not! let us, under the guise of friendship towards the old country, and while professing to do things in the interests of British trade, take steps to crush British trade in certain directions. The Bill before us is undoubtedly a result of the collapsed treaty. If that treaty had never been brought forward, this proposal for preference with Great Britain would never have seen daylight. That is quite certain. The Prime Minister has made it quite clear. He has stated - though,, in reply to a question which I got to-day. it was ‘sought to cloud over the fact somewhat - that this measure would compensate Great Britain for. some losses which would occur under the New Zealand treaty. That is not a creditable state of affairs. Let honorable senators consider the population of the British Empire, and of its selfgoverning portions. There are, in the selfgoverning parts of the Empire, outside the British Isles, about 12,000,000 people, and there are about 43,000,000 in Great Britain. But, in addition, there are more than 300,000,000 coloured races under the British flag. Is it wise for 12,000,000 people in the self-governing portions of the British Empire to endeavour to establish a policy that is calculated to give the Home country a great deal of trouble, and to arouse feelings of enmity and bitterness amongst 300,000,000 or 400,000,000 of our fellow citizens? There are many gentlemen, ‘Mr. Chamberlain for one, who have urged the adoption of a system of preference throughout the Empire, on the ground that British trade is declining, and that foreign trade is gradually taking its place. But, strange to say, from the time when Mr. Chamberlain made. his plunge, the movement of British trade has been continually upward. I will give a few figures to show how continuously British trade has grown during the last half-century. First, I will give some figures showing British exports during the last five years. The exports of British and Irish produce for the last five years were, in value, as follow: - In the year 1901, 280 million pounds; in 1902, 283.4 million pounds; in 1903,, 290.8 million pounds; in 1904, 300.7 million pounds; and in 1905, 329.8 million pounds. For the seven months ended 31st July of the present year, there was an increase of no less that 30 million pounds compared with the corresponding seven months of last year. So that the great growth which has marked British exports during the last five years is still continuing. The great expansion that has taken place in British exports has not been in connexion with the self-governing portions of the Empire, to considerable parts of which the policy of preference pertains. But it: relates to foreign countries. The following figures show the value of the exports of British and Trish produce to foreign countries during the five years: - In 1901, 175. 1 million pounds; in 1902, 174.3 million pounds; in 1903, 179.7 million pounds; in 1904, 188.8 million pounds; and in 1905, 286.4 million pounds - an increase of 41.3 million pounds. The exports to India for the five years were - in 1901, 35 million pounds ; in 1902, 32.7 million pounds; in 1903, 34.5 million pounds; in 1904, 40.6 million pounds; and in 1905, 43.43 million pounds - or an increase of 8 million pounds. But the trade to the rest of the British Possessions increased scarcely at all. The figures for the five, years were - in 1901, 69.9 million pounds; in 1902, 76.4 million pounds; in ig.03, 76.6 million pounds; in 1904, 71.3 million pounds; and in 1905, only 70.4 million pounds - showing, in the last year, an increase of only £500,000, as compared with 1901.
– Does that not show the good that preferential trade will do?
– The figures show that there was no increase of trade in British exports to British Possessions, including Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, which have adopted a preferential system. What I wish honorable senators to perceive is to how large an extent Great Britain is dependent on foreign countries, and how unwise it is for 12,000,000 people in the self -governing portions of the Empire to think of interfering in the course of British trade, or to consider that they singlehanded can do Great Britain such a service as some people think they can in this connexion. I wish also to draw attention to the gradual expansion that has taken place in the export of British and Irish produce in the last fifty or sixty years, giving the figures in aggregates of ‘five years. The Senate will notice that there has been all along, and still continues, a steady growth of trade, and that that growth is more marked to-day than ever it was. For the five years 1841-45 the value of the aggregate export trade was 270 million pounds; 1846-50, 304.4 million pounds; 1851-55, 444.4 million pounds; 1856-60, 620.5 million pounds; 1861-65, 721.9 million pounds; 1866-70, 939.2 million pounds; 1871- 75, 1,197.8 million pounds; 1876-80, 1,007 million pounds; 1881-85, 1,161.4 million pounds; 1886-90, 1,181.6 million pounds; 1891-95. 1,134.8 million pounds; 1896-1900, 1,263.2 million pounds: 1901-05, 1,484.7 million pounds. So that the exports of British and Irish produce have increased within the sixty-year period from 270 to 1,484.7 millions sterling. The growth has been fairly steady, but to-day it is, perhaps, more accelerated than ever before. There are many misapprehensions with regard to British trade with Australia, and they appear to exist in quarters where one would hardly expect to find them. It was only on the 17th September last, that the Melbourne Age, in a leading article, informed its readers that Australia is importing £60,000,000 worth of goods, and that of these only £23,000,000 worth come from Great) Britain, and £37,000,000 worth from foreign countries. The whole statement was a mistake. In my innocence, I thought the Age would be ready to correct the statement, and I therefore sent them a letter giving the correct figures, but I have not yet seen the letter pub lished. These are the figures as to Australian imports for last year: - From the United Kingdom, £20,000,000; from British Possessions, £5,000,000; and from foreign countries, £12,000,000. I may say that £12,000,000 is a corrected figure. There is only some £9,000,000 or £10,000,000 imported directly from foreign countries, and the £[12,000,000 is arrived at by adding to the value of the direct imports the value of foreign goods imported to Australia by way of Great Britain. This is the position : There was only, last year, £12,000,000 worth of goods imported from foreign countries, and that honorable senators will see is the limited area within which we can work under the proposed scheme. If we look closely into the matter, we shall find that of the goods which foreign countries send us, many items are’ included which the British Empire cannot supply. Another and most potent factor^ in this connexion is this : What are we doing with our exports? Australia has taken a very important position in the world as an exporter. She is sending forth goods to the value of tens of millions sterling. Where are they going to? Are honorable -senators aware that foreign countries are consuming, more Australian goods than is the United Kingdom? We should do well to remember that. That fact, taken in conjunction with the other fact that foreign countries are sending us relatively only a small quantity of their goods, and the absurdity of passing such measures as that before the Senate, which can only cause them annoyance, and certainly a great deal of surprise, must be apparent. If a country is buying a great deal, and selling a little, she must feel surprised when her customers try to make that little still less. The quantity of goods which foreign countries take direct from Australia is very marked. We can get some idea of it from our returns; but if we wish to find out the full amount of our goods which foreign countries take, we must wade through the British returns, because large quantities of Australian produce is sent to Great Britain and sold there to the value of millions of pounds sterling, and then re-shipped to foreign countries. Looking at the British re-export returns, I find that, in 1905, Great Britain re-exported sheep and lambs’ wool- to the value of £10,933,000. Her’ total imports having been worth £23.8 millions sterling.
Of Great Britain’s imports of wool, only £4,000,000 worth came from foreign countries. There is, therefore, practically £20,000,000 worth of wool imported by Great (Britain from (British (Possessions^ and the wool exported from Great Britain is nearly all the produce of Australia or other parts of the Empire producing wool. It is worth while to point out in this connexion that, not only do foreign countries take from Great Britain nearly £1 1,000,000 worth of colonial wool, but they actually take from her £1,745,000 worth of British grown wool. I dare say that honorable senators will. hardly be prepared to hear that Great Britain is such a large producer of wool herself as to be able to sell for shipment abroad so great a quantity as that. Of various other items of our produce, tallow, skins, hides, and various metals, the imports into Great Britain largely flow away again to foreign countries, and we must find out what foreign countries are taking from Great Britain, in addition to what they take direct from Australia, to discover how largely we are dependent upon them for our trade. I am correct in saying that the trade of Australia is “on velvet.” We have in Great Britain an open market for all we can send to the full extent of British consumption. In the case of wool, and other pastoral produce that we export very largely in excess of the total British consumption, the protectionist1 countries of Europe very kindly permit the entry of those goods free of duty. This being the case, is it possible for any one, by negotiation, to produce a position for the Australian export trade more satisfactory than that which now exists? In the circumstances, I ask what we are proposing to do? Why should we seek to irritate those who are our best customers? Why should we seek to bring .about the possibility of reprisals and so risk damaging our fine position? Undoubtedly, there is risk of this. Within the last few days, cable messages have been received in Australia showing that Germany is beginning to feel very strongly on the subject. It is idle for any one to say that Germany, France, and other countries of the world, need our wool, and we can therefore do as we like with them. We cannot do as we like with them. The United States need wool as much as any other country, and imports a very large quantity, but that country has imposed very heavy duties on wool. Honorable senators may remember that some years ago, when Mr. Cleveland became President of the United States, the duties on wool were removed for a time. But the protectionist feeling in the country was too strong, and they had to be re-imposed. We may take it for granted that if we strike blows at the protectionist countries of Europe, they will find some means of retaliating. Not only has Germany shownherself alive to what is going on, and disposed to consider the desirability of making reprisals, but the Council of the French Chamber of Commerce in Sydney has forwarded a memorandum to the press on the subject of the Australian preferential trade proposals. I shall not trouble the Senate by reading it; but they point out that France is buying from Australia goods to the value of millions of pounds sterling, and is selling in Australia a comparatively small quantity of goods, I think only about one-seventh of the quantity of goods she buys from this country. The memorandum suggests that we should go slowly, lest trouble should arise. Instead of helping Great Britain, honorable senators may take it for granted that legislation such as we have now before us will prepare for Great Britain a new crop of international troubles, and will pave the way also for grave trouble with the coloured races of India. They are to find that not only are we antagonistic to them personally, but also to their goods. Honorable senators must have noticed that within the last few months, in many ways there has been growing a public life amongst the natives of India. They are becoming more and more alert to what is going on abroad, and I beg of honorable senators to recognise the fact that we cannot pass such legislation as is now proposed to penalize goods from India, as well as Indian sailors, without creating throughout the length and breadth of that country, a feeling very antagonistic to Australia, and to. the whole of the British Empire. I should1 like members of the Senate, who are more or less enamoured of this policy of preference here and penalty there, to bear in mind that those in the old country who are so fond of talking preference, have no very clear conception of what they mean. The advocates of preference in Great Britain are taking different views. For instance, it has been said that with preference the Colonies will supply the Empire will all the food we need, will be a market for British manufactures, and so increase Colonial commerce. On the other hand, there are others who say that the Colonies might be used as a lever to force foreign countries to make treaties with Great Britain, and so increase her foreign commerce. Honorable senators will notice how contradictory these two positions are. There are some who say that whilst the United States now supplies Great Britain with vast quantites of food, by putting a tax on American products the trade will be transferred to the British Colonies. On the other hand, there are parties in Great Britain, and amongst them no less an authority than the London Times, who argue that it would be statesmanship of the highest order to exempt American products from taxation. It is also said that there would be no probability of offending foreign countries by making preferential arrangements with the British Colonies. On the other hand, there are those who hold that a Tariff war would certainly be provoked with America if that course were adopted. There are some preferentialists at Home who argue in favour of putting taxes on food, while there are others who say that no such taxes should be imposed. There are some preferentialists at Home who would tax raw material, and there are others opposed to that view. There are some who say that the Colonies would get better prices for their products, while others hold that prices would not be increased. Then, it is said that all parts of the Empire would receive mutual benefit, while others hold that, as certain parts of the Empire have special products which cannot be affected, the advantages would be only partial. Then there are some people who say that the Empire must be considered as a unit, while others hold that the self-governing Colonies must be specially favoured. These are some of the widespread differences of opinion in the old country amongst advocates of preferential treatment. When we observe the trouble that has already occurred with regard to preference - as I have shown bycomparing the arrangements made by Canada. New Zealand, South Africa, with those now proposed by Australia - I think honorable senators will agree that the future of this policy of so-called preference on the one hand, and of penalty on the other, is not very bright. It will be a grand day for the British Empire when the last has been heard of preference. I have no hesitation in saying that already the policy must be written down as a distinct failure. We find advocates of protection prepared. to impose duties of 50 or 100 per cent, to further their protectionist views, and yet they think that 10 per cent, is a lever powerful enough to transfer the trade of foreign countries to the British Empire. How absurd is that idea ! The great feature of the world is the increase of population ; and I should like to draw the attention of honorable senators to a very remarkable fact. When the year 1800 dawned the population of Europe was only about 175,000,000, whereas today the population is 400,000,000 - a growth in a century of a little more than 225,000,000. It is this remarkable growth of population, which is still going on, that has brought about the marvellous changes in the position of commerce in Europe. Even in the old country I do not think that due weight is given to this remarkable fact. A century ago, or even fifty years ago, if Great Britain wanted an extra, food supply she could get it from near ports on the Continent, and could send manufactured goods in exchange. What is the position to-day? The very countries from which Great Britain in bygone years was able to obtain her food supplies are now her competitors in the far distant markets of the world for food for themselves. Today the Continental countries of Europe have to import more wheat than does Great Britain herself. That being the case, how is it possible for Great Britain to expect to dominate the Continent with her manufactured goods, when the countries of the Continent must send goods abroad to pay for the food which they require? If this great potent fact were recognised, manytroubles and many difficulties would be solved. I should like honorable senators to try to peer a little’ bit into the future. Australia is a growing country - the East generally is growing. Are we to-day going to prepare for our future in this part of the world ? Are we going to prepare for our future by setting the East generally at enmity with Australia? Are we to brand coloured sailors - are we to brand the goods of India with a penalty ? Are we, speaking broadly, to create enmity on the part of hundreds of millions of people against the four millions who now inhabit Australia? Surely we cannot be so short of common sense, or so blind to our own interests, as to desire such a re- suit? Some reference was made to-day by Senator Keating to an article showing the foreign, trade of Canada for the year ending 30th June last. Senator Keating has been good enough to allow me to see that article, and from it I learn that in that year the imports into Canada from. Great Britain amounted in value to $69,000,000, and those from the United States, to $180,000,000, showing an increase in the case of Great Britain of $9,000,000, and in the case of the United States of $14,000,000 on the figures for the previous year. Senator Keating, was under the impression that. these figures show a remarkable triumph for the policy of preference. There is no doubt that Senator Keating is quite justified in saying that from the year when the policy of preference was adopted, British imports into Canada ‘have very materially increased. We must remember, however, that when that policy was initiated, Canada was at the lowest depth of depression, and that subsequently, imports from all the world immediately increased, and have continued to increase, until we have figures such as those I have quoted.
– But have not the Canadian imports from foreign countries decreased in consequence of preference to Great Britain?
– The figures do not show any sign of such a result, except in regard to Germany, where there was some surtax.
– I am referring to Germany.
– In regard to German imports into Canada, I find that last year they amounted to $400,000 more than in the previous year, although the total was less than three or four years ago. I should now like to quote some figures in regard to importations into New Zealand. In 1902 the imports into New Zealand of dutiable goods from the United Kingdom amounted in value to £4,600,000, and from foreign countries to £1,134,000. In 1903. the year preference was established, the value of the imports from Great Britain was £4,969,000, and from foreign countries, £.1,20,2.000; in 1904, the figures were £5.384.000. and £1,331,000 respectively, and last year they were £5.300,000. and -0,309,000 respective! v. There is nothing to indicate any specially favorable result from the preferential duties which ‘ New
Zealand established. I should be the last one to urge that 5 or 10 per cent., or any percentage that may be granted, does not have its full effect. If anybody can gain a 10 per cent, advantage, he will do so; but if that advantage can be overcome by reductions in freights and savings, and the lessening of charges here and there, we may be sure that the trade will not be lost for want of effort. In Canada the percentage of goods which enjoy preference is 30 per cent. ; in New Zealand, 8 per cent., and under the proposal now before us 6 per cent. In Canada last year, or the year before, the proportion of goods bought from the United Kingdom was 24 per cent. ; in New Zealand 61 per cent., and in Australia, 60 per cent. It will be seen that Canada, where preference has been in existence for nearly ten years, and where it really does amount to a substantial sum, the proportion of British goods purchased is smaller titan in almost any other part of the British Empire. The fact is verv singular, but, of course, it is accounted for bv the contiguity of the United States. It is only another evidence of the fact that trade advantages are not easily overcome by Tariff charges or Tariff preference, i thank the Senate for the attention it has given me. I do most earnestly implore honorable senators to weigh ‘ fully what I have said. Especially do I implore them to weigh the consequences of this measure with regard to the relations of the Empire at large - the relations of the United Kingdom with India, and especially with foreign countries. Do not let them be led away with the idea that, by a paltry preference to Great Britain - which, in any event, could only affect a trifling amount of trade - we could do anything to outweigh or compare with the irreparable damage which might be done to British interests by the stirring up of strife with foreign nations.
Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD (New South Wales) [3.1]. - The speech of Senator Pulsford was full of excellent material,’ and it must ‘have caused a thrill of pleasure to honorable senators generally to learn that the Empire is in such a prosperous condition. He has drawn attention to the serious loss which the Commonwealth might sustain from the grant of any very large preference by us to the mother country, or by her to us. While I realize that we are doing a large outside trade with foreign countries - a trade in materials which cannot be absorbed within the British Empire - still, I cannot help feeling that there is a strong incentive to its constituent parts to bring themselves as closely together as possible, by means of trade or otherwise. If I could see that it would be possible to bring about closer relations between the parts of the Empire by means of a preference in regard to our trade, I should be prepared to welcome a proposition if it were based upon fair and honest methods. But when I find that the Government bring in this Bill simply for the purpose of finding excuses to increase the Customs duties, for the Minister of Defence said that they wanted additional revenue-
– No ; I said that if it did operate as honorable senators on the other side indicated - that is to say, if it did not act at all - there would be increased revenue probably.
.- If the Government want additional revenue, and wish to raise it by increasing the duties, the most honest and just way of proceeding is for them to come down with a proposal, and to say, “ We want to get more revenue, or to give a greater modicum of protection to our people; therefore we intend to ask you to reconsider the Tariff.” I could understand a Government acting in that way ; but, forsooth, the Government say, “ We intend to give a preference to the people of the mother country on certain articles, but in order to do that we propose to raise the duties against every one else.” That is not an honest or a fair way of dealing with the subject. The Tariff was framed with the idea of giving assistance to local manufactures. It represents a compromise between two political parties. One of the most important items in the schedule to this Bill is that of boots and shoes, on which it is proposed to raise the duty from 30 to 40 per cent, when imported from foreign countries. During the past few years the boot and shoe industry has increased by leaps and bounds throughout the Commonwealth. There is no evidence that it is necessary to increase the duty in order to enable the manufacturers to more freely manufacture them, and obtain a much larger market. The Minister is now proposing to igo to the extent of prohibition, because, however high the duty may be, only a small quantity of boots and shoes will be imported. If the Government felt that a dutv of 30 per cent, was large enough to protect the industry, and they now propose to levy a duty of 40 per cent, on foreign boots and shoes but to retain as against British imports the duty of 30 per cent., which has been proved to be sufficient to secure the great bulk of the trade to local manufacturers, then, in my opinion, the proposal is simply a fraud. What is the good of saying to Great Britain, ‘ ‘ While we have a duty high enough to keep out your boots and shoes, we are going to impose a higher duty against the foreign goods, and thus give you a preference?” That is really no preference _ to British goods ; it is merely a sham. If the Ministry had proposed to admit boots and shoes from Great Britain at 20 per cent., and to retain the existing duty of 30 per cent, as against foreign imports, I could then have understood that they were offering a preference which possibly would be acceptable to our kith and kin on the other side of ‘ the world. So it is in regard to other industries which are covered by the schedule. In every case, the proposal is to collect an additional duty on the article. In many cases, it is to be clapped on solely from a protectionist stand-point, and not from that of preference to Great .Britain. Canada’s preference is extended to every part of the British Empire. Of course, nothing would be more unpopular here at the present time than for an honorable senator to propose a scheme which would apply to the whole Empire. Only within the last few days, a measure has been expressly devised in order to prevent the importation of stripperharvesters from Canada. It is an absolute farce when men talk about the great liberality with which Australia is going to treat the mother country. The Minister put the position very clearly not long since when he interjected, “ We are not going, to do anything which may be to the detriment of the people who are manufacturing in these States.”
– There is a difference between sacrificing all our trade and giving a preference.
– What is the meaning of a preference? It means that one country is being specially favoured in order that it may send its manufactures or products to the country which grants that favour. Naturally, a preference must operate to a certain extent to the detriment of the people of the latter country, who can only reconcile themselves to the position if they get compensating advantages. I admit that with a great many persons the only consideration is this: “I will give you £1 if von will give me 20s.” That is the long and the short of - half the talk about preference which has been indulged in here.
– How can the honorable senator say that? What are we to get from Great Britain in return for the jo per cent, preference?
-Col. GOULD. - It is not proposed to give a preference of 10 per cent, to British goods. Practically, what the Ministry say is, “ We shall not reduce our Tariff by one cent., but, in order that you may have the opportunity of competing on better terms with the foreigner, weshall charge a little higher duty on the goods of the foreigner.”
– Why should we reduce our duties? We are giving Great Britain an advantage over foreign countries - the preference of 10 per cent.
.- The honorable senator could justify the position he is taking up by saying, “We will increase the duties to 50 per cent, against Great Britain, and to 70 per cent, against Germany or the United States.” What did ‘Mr. Chamberlain say on the question of preference when he started the campaign in his Glasgow speech?
– In subsequent speeches, he corrected a great deal of that speech.
– Mr. Chamberlain said -
They will reserve for us the trade we already enjoy. They will not arrange their Tariffs in future in order to start industries in competition with ours.
Is there a single member of the Senate who is prepared to say that he will do nothing to encourage local industry if we get a certain amount of preference from Great Britain?
– Mr. Chamberlain does not ask us to do that now. He corrected that verv much, afterwards.
.- Why? Because he found that the people of Great Britain were not prepared to tax their foodstuffs in order to get manufactured goods into Australia. Of course, I, in common with every one else, wish to see Australian industries improve year bv year, and expand as rapidly as possible.
– Mr. Chamberlain did not correct that part of his speech.
– If we wish to give any kind of a preference, let it be a genuine one. The Government’s proposal in regard to South Africa is based on quite different lines, because there is to be a reduction of the duties in certain cases.
– -They propose to give .us some preference, but Great Britain gives us nothing.
– Great Britain has given us our country, our liberty, and the privileges which we enjoy.
– “Our country !”
.- What is the protection of the British Navy to us? Where would Australia have been to-day but for the protection of the British flag and British prestige?
– And British money, too.
.- And British money, too.
– We would get no British money if we had not any assets.
.- How many of our assets are due to the introduction of British money? Of course, Great Britain would not have sent out any money unless it was thought that it would be safe and would yield a return.
– The money lender knows no nationality. He will lend wherever he will !ret the best return.
.- He will lend where he can lend with safety.
– He does not want to make any sacrifice.
.- Is the object of the Minister, in raising the duties against foreign goods, to give an advantage to local manufacturers or to increase the revenue? The proposed preference is really a fraud. There is not a single case in which the existing duty is not increased on foreign goods. Under what conditions is the preference to be given to Great Britain? She is called upon to disorganize her mercantile marine in order to get the preference.
– It is about time she did so, too. There is not much patriotism about the British merchant.
– Australia is taking on a very big “job” if she thinks that she can regulate British commerce just to suit her will. It is proposed that the preference to Great Britain shall, only be given on dutiable goods imported direct in British ships manned exclusively by white seamen. In the first instance, the policy of the Labour Party was to provide that no preference should be given unless the ship was manned entirely by white British subjects. What right have we to dictate to Great Britain how her ships shall be manned and her goods brought to this country? Senator Pulsford has reminded us of the relative populations of Australia and other portions of the British Empire. There are 410,000,000 souls under the British flag, less than 60,000,000 of whom are white subjects. The rest are coloured people. Many of those coloured subjects of the Empire are well adapted to follow a life at sea. Fortunately, the other Chamber eliminated from the Bill a proposal which was originally in it in regard to goods brought in British bottoms, but they inserted a proposal that the vessels bringing the goods to which preference was given must be manned by white seamen. It is actually proposed not to allow British subjects who mav have the slightest trace of colour about them to sail on a British ship bringing goods to Australia. Great Britain has am enormous mercantile marine. Half the carrying trade of the world is done in British bottoms. It is quite impossible, under existing circumstances, for British ship-owners to obtain British seamen to man their vessels.
– If they choose to pav decent1 wages and preserve proper conditions they can get plenty of British seamen.
.- But what right have we to legislate with regard to the British mercantile marine? If the honorable senator were a member of the House of Commons he would be justified in presenting that view, but why should we’ legislate to make it difficult for British ship-owners to conduct their business. Who will benefit from this Bill? We have been told that it will only apply to goods to the extent of £800,000. Suppose Great Britain secures 25 per cent, of that trade. It means that, for the sake of £’200,000 worth of trade, we are going to ask Great Britain absolutely to dislocate her mercantile marine. I can very well imagine Great Britain turning round to us and saying, “ Thank you for nothing.” She is very much better off without our so-called preference, and Australia will be much worse off because it will simply amount t’o levying higher duties than are now imposed. Consider how this Bill will operate in regard to some of our industries. Senator Macfarlane has read a letter from a firm in this city showing how- it will affect dynamite and explosives. He has shown that something like £1,100,000 has been saved to the mining community through there having been a certain amount of free competition in those materials. Under this Bill explosives which at present are free, are to pay an ad. valorem duty of 10 per cent, if they come from any other country than Great Britain. I believe there is a combine or arrangement amongst British makers to keep up a standard of prices. The mining industry of Australia depends, to a large extent, upon the cheapness of explosives. However great may be the mineral wealth of Victoria, New South Wales, or Western Australia, the cost of explosives is a very serious item in connexion with them. We ought to do nothing to hamper the mining industry. Yet it is proposed to increase the cost of explosives made in foreign countries by 10 per cent.
– Is it not a fact that Great Britain has practically a monopoly in dynamite and some other explosives ?
.- I know that it is competition that has brought down the price. I put it to the honorable senator as one of the representatives of Western Australia whether -it is a fair thing to put those engaged in the mining industry in the position that it will cost more to work their mines in the future than it does at present.
– My experience shows me that it would be a good thing if no dynamite or other explosives came from the foreign countries, because it* is the greatest rubbish imported into Australia.
– I do not think that the honorable senator’s opinion would be shared by the bulk of the persons interested. Then take the proposal in regard to engines and boilers. If the Government had proposed to reduce duties on goods, from Great Britain from 12^ per cent, to 10 or 7 per cent., and had left the 12J per cent, dutv against foreign articles, there might have been something to be said for the proposal ; I, for one, should have been prepared to accept it. I would accept this Bill as it stands if it gave a true preference to British trade. But I will be no party to a fictitious preference which will result in largely in- creasing the cost of. imported goods. I shall vote against the Bill, first, because I believe it to be rather intended to increase duties against the people of this country than to afford additional opportunities to British traders. I also oppose it because it places Australia in the position of a selfish person, who has promised to give something, but when it comes to the point, holds back a portion of what he has promised. We have promised to give a preference to Great Britain, but we are doing no such thing. It will be more worthy of Australia to deal with this matter in an unselfish manner instead of promising to give a practical advantage to the mother country, and then offering her little or nothing. Though I shall vote against the Bill, I do not wish it to be supposed that I am opposed to the policy of preference to Great Britain. I want to do everything possible to bring the portions of the Empire closer together. But I do not consider that the measure will have any such effect; and because it will contribute nothing to the strength, ability, and integrity of the Empire, and its power to maintain’ us in our freedom and independence, I shall offer it my strong opposition.
– A few minutes will be sufficient for me to address myself to the motion for the second reading of this Bill. To me it represents an excellent concrete example of the contrast between Mr. Deakin’s promises and Mr. Deakin’s performances. We all know that year in and year out he has been promising to all Australia a great national policy. But when we find what his great national policv is, many of us are driven to the conclusion that it represents nothing but an attempt on the part of Mr. Deakin to put on his electioneering hoarding a very ugly placard. I do not even think that the Bill is properly before us. It ought to be wrapped up in Mr. Deakin’s speeches - it ought to be embalmed in lave after layer of those glib and oily utterances to which he has been treating Australia. The policv of this Bill, from my point of view, is little, if anything, better than the trick of some impudent little boy, who has carefully wrapped up a parcel which he leaves on the footpath to attract the passer-by, who, when he picks it up, finds that it contains nothing but a small and dirty stone. That is what this Bill seems to me to be. It suggests the ro- mance of persons searching for a hidden treasure. There is the arduous search ; the finding of “the hidden chests, the prising of them open, and then the discovery of nothing but the dust and ashes of the dead. That, and no more, is what this Bill represents to me. My treatment of it in Committee and elsewhere will be very short. I recognise that it purports to be a policy of preferential admission. What it openly and shamelessly reveals to us at present is a policy of preferential exclusion. I shall waste no time over it, but I indicate what I shall be prepared to do in Committee. I shall move myself or support an amendment on every item of the schedule to give a real and honest preference to British-made goods. If I fail, I shall not touch this unclean thing with a vote afterwards on any division.
– Will the honorable senator not vote against it?
– No: I shall have done with it, and I shall tell Senator Stewart why. In another aspect, I regard this measure as a masters and servants Bill. It is a Bill framed by masters and servants, and I am curious to ascertain who are the masters and who the servants. My reference is to that part of the schedule which deals with the importation in British ships manned exclusively by white seamen. My attitude when that question comes up for debate or division will be to leave the thing entirely alone. I shall deliberately refrain from voting on it, not because I do not know in which way I should like to vote, but on purpose, and in order to let those who in the Commonwealth are interested in preferential trade with Great Britain understand what the Government means. I desire them to understand what masters as well as servants mean in this matter. It is a dirty quarrel in my opinion, and it i.s going to be settled without any intervention of mine. I shall let the Labour Party and the Ministerial Party settle amongst themselves this question as to whether black labour shall or shall not form a part of the policy of this so-called preferential trade. I do not intend to say anything more at this stage. I have referred to the question of black and white labour because T Have already determined upon my course, and that is to let these people-
– “These people.” That is a very courteous way in which to refer to fellow senators.
– I will say, if the honorable senator prefers it, that I will let the members of the Labour Party and Ministerialists settle this question for themselves. I go further, and express a hope that no member of the Opposition will take any part in the settlement of such a dirty squabble.
– Is that expression in order ?
-“ Squabble “ refers to the subject.
– Is Senator Clemons in order in referring to any of the proceedings of the Senate as a dirty squabble?
– I did not refer to the proceedings of the Senate, but to what is in this Bill.
– On a point ‘of order, I wish to say that I resent the honorable senator’s phrase as applied to something which is to happen between two sections of the Senate on this side. The honorable senator says that he .will .leave “ these people “ to fight out this “ dirty squabble.” As a member of the Labour Party, who will probably be engaged in the discussion of the measure, I assert that I shall not be engaged in a dirty squabble. I therefore resent the honorable senator’s language, and hope that he will be asked to withdraw it.
The’ DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Higgs). - If Senator Clemons refers to any proceedings in the Senate, or to any members of the Senate in the conduct of public business as being engaged in a dirty squabble, I hope he will withdraw the expression.
– So far as you, sir, request me to withdraw any remarks made as applied to the proceedings of the Senate, I at once obey your ruling. In regard’ to Senator O’Keefe’s request that I should be asked to withdraw any -remarks as applied to the party to which he belongs, I entirely withdraw those remarks also.
– I intend to vote for the second reading of the Bill, because the Government have intimated their intention to eliminate a pro- vision which, to my mind, would utterly neutralize any preference to Great Britain which the Bill proposes. I should like to put the proposal in perhaps a stronger light than any in which it has vet been put before the Senate. It is not a Bill to show preference, but to raise duties by from 5 to 10 per cent, on specified articles, with a condition that if Great Britain or British ship-owners choose to comply with certain conditions, we shall allow the goods referred to in the schedule to be imported from Great Britain at a reduced rate of duty. I venture, as a business man, to say that it will be utterly impracticable to enforce the provisions for the employment of only white seamen on British ships trading between Great Britain and Australia. I am very sorry that the attempt is made to engraft upon these measures provisions involving matters of national policy, with which the measures themselves have no association. I believe that this Bill is honestly intended by the Government to secure British preference, although to a limited extent. But they have allowed honorable members in another place te amend their proposal in such a way as to rentier . their action entirely futile. I hope that if the Senate will not strike _out the proviso to which I have referred, the Ministry will withdraw the Bill, because it will otherwise Be ineffective and embarrassing.
– What is British preference if it is not preference to British people ?
– This is not a Bill to increase existing protective duties. If we are sincere in the matter, we shall tell the British people through this measure, that we prefer to deal with them rather than with anybody else ; but that as we have adopted a protectionist policy, we cannot afford to reduce the duties at present imposed upon British goods, and we therefore propose to increase the duties on the same’ lines of goods imported from foreign countries. Honorable members have gone further in another place, and have said that they wish to grant preference to Great Britain, but will only do so on the condition that we shall entirely disorganize her shipping trade.
– The honorable senator proposes to give preference to foreign sailors.
– Not any more than is given now. People ordering goods from Great Britain as a rule require them to be shipped as soon as they are ordered. They cannot discriminate and advise their representatives’ to send the goods only by ships manned by white seamen. If there happens to be no ship manned exclusively by white seamen leaving for Australia ai the time they require their goods to be shipped, the goods will be subjected to increased duties of 5, 7 J, or 10 per cent., and they will have in their warehouses goods of exactly t the same kind coming in under different rates of duty. That is the kind of preference which some honorable senators suggest that we should show to the people of Great Britain. I must express my regret that in offering preference, we have done so entirely in one direction. With all respect to those who drafted the schedule, I think they might have given a much better preference to Great Britain, whilst at the same time protecting our revenue and bringing about a diversion of trade in many lines to the advantage of Great Britain. We import something like £38,000,000 worth of goods. Yet, so’far as I understand the matter, the preference as originally proposed by the Government in this Bill will apply only to goods of the value of £700,000, and, roughly speaking, will bring about a diversion of trade from foreign countries to Great Britain to the extent of only £200,000. I think that if the Tariff were examined, it would be found that there are many items not included in the schedule of this Bill, to which these proposed preferences might be applied. At the present time, cotton goods are admitted at the low rate of duty of 5 per cent. I have not gone into the figures covering the importations of cotton goods from the different countries from which thev are imported, but we know that in free-trade Great Britain a large quantity of goods are imported and afterwards re-exported. Although under the British Merchandise Marks Act, they are supposed to be branded as made in some foreign country, we know that when goods are bought for re-export, that may not be considered necessary. I know, as al matter of fact, that a considerable quantity of cotton goods find their way into the Australian market from Great Britain, though they have been manufactured in other countries. An increase of dutv to the extent of 5 per cent, on those goods and on cotton goods imported direct from foreign countries would give a substantial preference to Manchester, which is the original home of cotton goods. The same remarks apply to woollen goods, which are. manufactured largely in Great Britain. At one time, we used to deal almost entirely with Great Britain for woollen goods, but now Continental makes are imported in increasing quantities. We might, in the case of these goods, make a reduction of ‘21 or 5 per cent, on British goods, and at the same time increase the duty by 5 per cent, on the same goods* imported from foreign countries. That would not interfere with our revenue, and it would have a most salutary effect in diverting trade to. the country with which I think we ought to trade. Other lines might be referred to, but I am aware that there is no prospect of any suggestion of this kind being adopted. I trust .that if the Government do not succeed in eliminating the white seamen provision they will withdraw the Bill. If they allow the measure to go through as now drafted, it will be said to the discredit of Australia that we are professing to confer a preference on our kith and kin, while we accompany it by a condition which makes preference impossible. I give credit to the Labour Party for their desire to carry out their ideals - some of which, however, are very extreme - but we have no right to dictate to Great Britain how she shall man her ships.
– We are part of the British Empire.
– We may determine by our navigation laws what we shall do with our own shipping, but we ought not to dictate to Great Britain. I take it that this Bill is only a first step towards preference; and if we dictate to Great Britain how her ships shall be manned, we shall act in a most presumptuous manner. If the Government propose the elimination of the “White Ocean “ policy from this Bill, they ought to be supported ; but otherwise the Bill, I think, ought to be withdrawn. If the measure goes to the third reading as now drafted, I shall be reluctantly obliged to reverse the vote I shall give on the second reading.
– The question of preferential trade is so important that it is worthy of much more time for its consideration than, unfortunately, we are able at this particular period of the session to give it. I intend to vote for the second reading; but I may say at once that the whole question, so far as preferential trade with Great Britain is concerned, is, to my mind, in a most unsatisfactory condition. When countries enter into trade treaties there is usually mutual concession. In this case, however, when we are offering Great Britain something, not only has Great Britain not indicated what she will give in return, but at the last general election, if I interpret the present feeling of the British people aright, it was decided that, so far at least as the present party in power is concerned, there shall be no concession given to Australia. There is one aspect of the question which we ought to consider before coming to a definite decision, namely, whether, by giving a preference to Great Britain over other countries which take large quantities of our produce, we are not likely to create in the minds of the people of those countries a feeling of hostility to Australia. We are proposing to give a preference to British goods over the goods, for instance, of the United States, Fiance, and Germany. France and Germany buy large quantities of our wool, and are likely to buy that commodity in even larger quantities in the future. With regard to the United States, a part of our trade policy ought to be to arrange, either for the free admission of our wool to that country, or for a large reduction of the duty now imposed. That, I think, would bc a great advantage to Australia, because in America there are 80,000,000 of probably the best-off people in the world. In portions of the United States, the climate is very severe, and woollen goods are very much used, and if the American duty on Australian wool were lowered, I think I am safe in saying that the use of woollen clothing would be largely increased. We ought to take all these side issues into consideration in dealing with the general principle of preferential trade. So far as I am concerned, if any country is willing to give the products of Australia a preference in its markets, I am willing to give the products of that country a preference in the markets of Australia. Germany, for instance, imposes a high duty on Australian meat; and if Germany were willing to abolish that duty, I see no reason why we should not come to some arrangement which would permit the goods of Germany to enter Australia on an equal footing. And so with all other manufacturing and producing countries. So far as ‘ a preferential arrangement is concerned, Great Britain has not offered to reciprocate. New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa have given Great Britain a preference; but in no case has Great Britain made any return. The question we have to decide is whether it is wise on our ‘part to give British goods a preference when Great Britain distinctly and definitely refuses to give our goods a preference in her markets. I can easily see what a lever for Imperial unity preferential trade between the various portions of the Empire would be. In a really effective system of preferential trade Great Britain herself would have more to gain, from my point of view, than any of the Colonies. Great Britain is practically in the position of a huge town ; she does not produce food enough to supply her own people for, I think, more than eleven or twelve days of the year. For all the remaining days she has to purchase food from every corner of the earth, wherever she can find it. Of the £166,000,000 worth of food which is imported into Great Britain annually, Australia” supplies only £7,000,000, or about 4^ per cent. Great Britain is, therefore, practically dependent on foreign countries for her food supply ; and her greatest source is the United States of America. If a difference arose between Great Britain and the United States, the latter country would not require to place a single man in the field or fire a shot, because she would be able to bring Great Britain to her knees by simply stopping the food supply. The United States could not only control exports from her own territory, but could also stop exports from Canada; and by that act alone a condition of practical famine would be created in Great Britain. The prices of foodstuffs would be advanced to such an extent that a very considerable proportion of- the people would die of actual starvation, and other sections would be placed in great stress, while probably only a. minority of wealthy people, able to pay any price demanded, would be able to survive the crisis. As regards the great body of the people, however, there would be created a practical famine, resulting probably in the death of hundreds of thousands. That is a most unsatisfactory position for a country to be placed in; indeed, I do not know of any other country in the world which is so perilously placed. What is the value of a huge British fleet, if, by that one act on the part of the United States, Great Britain could be brought to her knees? But I can see a way out under a scheme of preferential trade, if the people of Great Britain would abandon their selfish,, narrow ideas, arid say to the people of the Colonies, “ We will give you a pre- ference for your wheat and your meat, and every article of food you supply.” Such -a plan might cost the British people a little more money for the time being, though I doubt very much whether it would. Even if it did, the stimulus which would be given to food production in all the Colonies would be more than sufficient to repay them. I see no hope, however, of the political party in power - in Great Britain at present adopting a policy of that character. It would be a good policy for Great Britain herself, and a most excellent policy for Australia and the other Colonies. At the present moment, as I have already pointed out, Great Britain draws her wheat supply mostly from the United States and from Russia, and also from Canada and Argentina. If by a preference on those products their production was so highly increased in Australia as to make Great Britain in a great measure independent of foreign sources, just think what a tremendous access of strength that would mean to Britain herself on the one hand, and to Australia on the other. I ask my friends who favour an Imperial policy, and believe in the Empire as a whole - I may say that I do not - whether a policy of that character would not be more calculated to cement together the various portions of the Empire than any other that could possibly be conceived. I see no hope of Great Britain reciprocating in that way. Australia is, no doubt, attempting to do her duty by showing that she at least is prepared to give to British goods some preference in her markets. I know that the proposal in the Bill will not satisfy the leading advocate of preferential trade, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, because he has stated that his idea of preferential trade between Great Britain and the Colonies is that the latter shall admit British goods into their markets free of duty. That is a proposal to which I cannot agree. I am not prepared to adopt a policy which would strike a fatal blow at our manufacturing industries. I am prepared, however, to give Britain an offer of a preference if she is prepared to reciprocate. If, after receiving that offer, she does not fall in with our ideas, then, if the Government will submit a proposal to place her once more on the same footing as foreign countries - that is by raising tlie duties - I shall support it. Our protective Tariff is in reality the lowest in the world.
–Mv honorable friend possesses a great deal of accurate information on that point, and - probably I was wrong in making that remark; but when our Tariff is compared with those of the chief protectionist countries - Canada, the United States, Germany, and France - then I think he will admit that it is much lower than any one of them. Germany and the United States are two great rivals of Great ‘Britain in manufactures. My contention that our Tariff is, to all intents and purposes, one of the lowest in the world, may, I think, be said to be approximately correct. I do not consider that it would be fair to ask the people of Australia to lower the duties; indeed, I think that there is every justification for raising them. It cannot be done in any other way. The cost of production has become so low in the various manufacturing countries - transport costs little or nothing nowadays, and distance is no protection - that it is impossible for us to establish manufacturing industries without the aid of a high Tariff. As a matter of self-preservation, we cannot afford to lower the Tariff any further. Senator Mulcahy has referred to the provision in the schedule that no preference shall be given except to goods carried in British ships manned by white seamen. While we have no wish to dictate to Great Britain with regard to her policy as to the employment of coloured seamen, yet, as an integral portion of the Empire, and as being deeply interested in its welfare, we are entitled, I think, to express in some way or other our view as to what it ought to be. Every one will admit, I think, that it would be a very great strength to the mercantile marine of Great Britain if every ship were manned, not only by white men, but bv white British subjects. The facts in that connexion are of a sufficiently ominous character to attract the attention of every reflecting, man. According to the latest figures I can get, in -1901 70 per cent, of the seamen on British ships were foreigners and lascars, and I believe that the percentage is still growing. At that time, nearly 40,000 lascars were employed in the British mercantile marine, and almost an equal number of foreigners. Germany is aspiring to contest with Great Britain the sovereignty of the seas. A large number of Germans are employed in our mercantile marine. No matter under what flag the German serves, or who pays him his wages, his body and soul are still at the service of the Fatherland. What would be the position of Great Britain, with such a large number of foreign seamen manning her ships, if a war were to break out between Germany and herself? Could the mother country depend upon the active co-operation of German citizens, as against the people of the Fatherland? She could not. If she is to be safe on the sea - and that, I believe, is the keystone of her policy - then she ought, not only to get rid of every Iascar, but her mercantile marine should be manned exclusively by white British subjects. Although we cannot dictate to Great Britain, still I think we ought to say to her, “ If you will send out your goods in British ships, manned by white British seamen, we shall give you a preference in our market, but if the seamen on your ships are lascars, we will not.” We are not trying to bring about, as our critics say, a “ White Ocean.” I do not see that it is possible to bring about a”** White Ocean,” or that we should desire to do so. The black man has just as much right on sea as he has on land, but in his own particular corner of the world. We do not deny the right of the black man to live in India or wherever he may find a habitation. Similarly, I claim that we have a right to insist that, while the black man may be employed in other parts of the world, he shall find no place in Australia. I am very sorry that the ‘Bill has been brought forward so late in the session that we have very little opportunity to consider it in all its bearings. It would have been much better had it been introduced earlier in the session. But since it gives legislative form to the principle of preferential trade, I intend to vote for the second reading, intimating, however, that if Great Britain does not reciprocate, I shall be prepared to review my decision in the future.
– I do not intend to take up much time in discussing the measure. I shall vote for the second reading, but, in Committee, I shall direct attention to a line which has been omitted from the schedule by the other branch of the Legislature. I intend to move to reinsert it. . I allude to strawboard. But I rose especially because of the attack made by honorable senators opposite on the part of the schedule that proposes that a preference shall be given to goods that are imported in British ships manned with white crews. Surely our intention is to give a preference to the British people, and the owners of the vessels that bring, British goods should not expect to receive preference from Australia unless they employ British seamen. If there is an industry in England to-day that needs help,, it is the shipping industry. The Commonwealth Royal Commission on Navigation went closely into this question. If honorable senators turn to its report, they will find in it information showing that British shipping has not kept pace with that of other countries. The British proportion of the world’s tonnage, in 1 890-1, was 52.3: the proportions of other countries being; - America, 8.2; France,- 4.7; Germany, 7 per cent.; Russia, 1.9. In 1906-7. Great Britain’s percentage had fallen from 52.3 to 47.2. America’s proportion had increased to 11.1 France remained stationary at 4.7. Germany had increased from 7 per cent, to 9.9 ; and Russia had increased from 1.9 to 2.3. It has been argued by honorable senators opposite that the position of the ‘British shipping industry is no concern of ours. That criticism shows the slight amount of attention that honorable senators have given to the question. Although the Federal Constitution gives power to this Parliament to deal with shipping and navigation, the power has not yet been exercised. To-day, the whole of Australia isbeing governed by the navigation laws of Great Britain. The last Imperial Government recognised our rights in this respect, and communications from the Secretary of State for the Colonies asked Australia and* New Zealand to join . with Great Britain in considering what steps should be taken to bring about uniformity. There was a recognition that Australia has a right toexpress her views as to what should be the policy of Great Britain regarding the navigation laws. Senator Macfarlane ridiculed the idea of our interfering, but he could” not have forgotten the correspondence towhich I have referred. When we give a preference, we should insist that the goods that receive it are carried in British ships for the purpose of assisting this great British industry. Surely if the British ship-owners have at claim to the protection which this preference will give, we are justified in trying to- <do something to arrest the decline in the employment of British sailors in the British mercantile marine, which is now very serious. I have here figures showing the number of persons employed on British vessels between 1890 and 1900, but will deal ‘ with the first and last of those years only. In 1890 the number of Britishers employed on British ships was 186,140, and in 1900 only 174,532, a reduction of about 12,000. In 1890 there were 27,227 foreigners on board British ships, and in 1900, 36,893, an increase of over 9,000, the percentage of foreigners to Britishers increasing from 14.63 to 21.14. Then in 1890 there were on British ships 22,734 lascars and Asiatics, and in 1900, 36,023, an increase of over 13,000, or an increase of foreigners, lascars, and Asiatics of nearly 23,000. Is not that an alarming state of affairs? The British mercantile marine forms the training ground for our Naval Reserve, and is the source upon which the Navy would have to draw in time of war. “Senator Stewart has pointed out that another reason for viewing the position with dismay is that, if war occurred, foreign Powers would recall their subjects, and British vessels would then be left unmanned. It is said that it would be impossible to procure a sufficient number of white seamen to man the British mercantile marine. If that be so in time of peace, woe will certainly befall us in time of war. We have also been told that we should not take action to secure preferential trade with Great Britain, because Germany may retaliate. But does not that country now treat us as rigorously as she could under any circumstances? The Australian manager of the North German Lloyd Navigation Company, when under examination by the Navigation Commission, was asked if it were not a fact that the vessels of that company are not allowed to convey Australian produce to German ports, and he said that that was true in regard to meat and cereals. Senator de Largie asked if they could take butter, and he replied, “ No agricultural produce,” adding that they could not take butter, milk,’ or grain, and that the importation of meat into Germany was entirely prohibited. Are we, having been smitten on one cheek, to hold up the other, or are we to recognise that our first consideration should be the interests of our own people? The Germans look after their interests well enough.
When the same witness was questioned as to why Australia was coupled with China and Japan in regard to the exclusion of her produce from Germany, he explained that it was only a political move on the part of the agrarian party, but pointed out that only white labour could be employed on the German mail vessels, and said that no trouble was experienced in getting German crews.
– There is no prohibition against the foreigner?
– No; but they employ only Germans, so that Britishers and other foreigners are’ practically excluded. Moreover, all the men on these mail boats belong to the German naval reserves. Senator Mulcahy has pointed out that trouble might be occasioned by the fact that when goods were ready to be sent away there might be no ships available ; but I do not think that there will be any delay. Under the amendment, the British ship-owners will be able to draw, their crews from any part of America or of Europe. I should like to see a provision inserted similar to that in the old British navigation laws, which required that the master and officers, and at least 70’ per cent. of the crew, of British’ vessels should be British subjects. That would have been preferable to the ^amendment made in another place. I hope the Bill will pass, and I shall do all I can to assist Ministers to get it through.
– - Now that we are given an opportunity to give effect to the principle of preference to Great Britain, I hope the Senate will adopt the proposals submitted by the Government. It will be admitted that in future our connexion with the people of the old country is likely .to be verymuch closer than it has ever been in the past. Those who have made themselves acquainted with what is going on in the old country at the present time are aware that the rabid free-trade ideas of the past are fast becoming greatly modified. I believe that a measure of this kind will do more to break down these ideas than any other move we could take. I should have preferred the first step in this direction to have been taken by the old country. One would have thought that the people there had had such an exhibition oT the selfishness of the various foreign countries of the world with whom Great Britain has done business, that they would have welcomed the proposal made by Mr. Chamberlain, and those associated with him at the recent elections. Had those elections been fought out on the fiscal issue alone, the result would have been very different from what it was. Many side issues were introduced which prevented a true expression of the opinions of the people on the question of preferential trade. The evidence we have of the necessity that something should be done for the workers in the mercantile marine of Great Britain is so strong that I think no one can object to the recognition of that necessity disclosed in the provision introduced into this Bill. All who desire that the old country shall occupy a secure position, and who recognise that her Navy must ever remain her greatest means of defence, must look upon the present condition of affairs as one of the gravest danger. We have heard much from time to time of the disorganized state of the British Army, but that is a mere circumstance when compared with the condition of affairs in connexion with the manning of the British Navy. I have never tried to make political capital out of this question but, remembering that the number of British sailors has been continuously ‘decreasing, I say, in all seriousness, that honorable senators should be prepared to support the provision in this Bill securing a preference to the employment of British seamen. It is’ of no use to indulge in “hifalutin “ about the “ Imperial idea,” and to speak of the “Motherland,” unless we are prepared to do something practical when the opportunity is afforded us. This Bill will, in my opinion, give a start to a movement which will grow. It is possible that the duties proposed will not be as beneficial to the people of the old country as some honorable senators would desire. But. as soon as Great Britain shows any inclination to approach us in the way in which we shall undoubtedly be approaching her in this measure, we can, if necessary, reconsider the duties. I take it that we are merely establishing a principle in this Bill and in the future, as opportunity arises, a revision of the duties to the advantage of the people of the old country can be made. I give the measure my hearty support, and hope that it will be passed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses1 to 3 agreed to.
Headings to columns postponed.
Motion (by Senator Clemons) proposed -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item 136A, “ Arms and Ammunition - Ammunition and Cartridges, n.e.i. (British) free; (Other), ad val., 10 per cent.” by leaving out the words “ad val., 10 per cent.”
– I trust that the request will not be made. For the last four or five years, a great struggle has been going on between a large British explosives and ammunition manufacturing company and a German company, and we should do what we can to prevent the German company driving its British competitors out of the market and holding us entirely at its mercy. If a 10 per cent. duty were levied upon ammunition and explosives from Germany, we should encourage the manufacturers of Great Britain, and would also be promoting our own interests. A circular has been issued, and been placed in the hands of almost every member of both Houses, pointing out that a great saving has been effected by those engaged in the mining industry owing to the competition carried on between the rival companies. I do not deny that, because I know that in some cases explosives have been sold at a loss, with a view to retaining a footing in our markets. But some of the other statements in the circular are fabrications. The British company referred to is said to have entered into a combination with others, but that statement has been emphatically denied. The British company disclaims any connexion with other manufacturers, and states that it is fighting on its own account. There are several manufacturers of explosives in Great Britain, and if we give them a preference, we shall enable them to expand their industry, and shall at the same time protect our own interests.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 136E “ Dynamite (British) free; (Other) ad val., 10 per cent. up to . . . “ by leaving out the words “ up to,” and inserting the words “ on and after.’
As the item stands, it provides that the duty on dynamite not the produce of the United Kingdom or not imported direct in British ships shall be “ ad valorem 10 per cent. up to 4.30 p.m., Victorian time, on 14th September, 1906.” After that date, therefore, such imports would be free, the words “on and after “ by some means having been left out.
– The item as it stands suggests that another place deliberately removed the duty and forgot to add the words “ and on and after “ such and such a date free.
– That is exactly what has been done where a duty has been imposed by the House of Representatives and subsequently removed. I might refer, in support of my contention, to halfadozen items in the Tariff. It is for Senator Playford to say at once that he wishes to reverse the decision of another place, and, if he has the numbers, to impose a 10 per cent. duty. Judging by the wording of the item, I believe that another place intended that it should be free.
– As I have not the information at hand to settle the matter, I think it would be better for me, by leave, to withdraw the request, and to ask for the postponement of the item.
Request, by leave, withdrawn.
– I would point out to the Committee that the schedule contains two items marked 136E, the one relating to dynamite and the other to explosives.
– I think that in the Tariff the two items are bracketed.
– Why are they separated in this case?
– I would point out that the wording in the fourth column differs.
– In the Tariff we find items 136A, b, c, d, and so forth, and this schedule is in such a muddle that I would suggest to the Minister the desirableness of postponing both items until he has had an opportunity to have them properly drafted.
– I do not object to the postponement of both items.
– I fail to see why they should be postponed.
Items 136E (Dynamite) and 136E (Explosives n.e.i.) postponed.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 73A “Revolvers, pistols, * . . ad. vol.,* (British) 15 per cent., (Other) 22½ per cent.” by leaving out “15” and inserting “ 10.”
I intend also to move that the duty of 22½ per cent. be reduced to 15 per cent.
– The request means a reduction of the present Tariff.
– The amendment, from my point of view, gives a preference, because it keeps the present Tariff of 15 per cent., as against the foreigner, while it admits British goods at 10 per cent.
– That is against the policy of the Government.
.- Do I understand the Minister to mean that he declines to in any way make a reduction in a single item in favour of Great Britain ?
– Yes, undoubtedly.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question resolved in the negative.
.- In view of the division which has just been taken, and not because I think the items ought not to be altered, I do not propose to suggest any requests in the next two items, which are akin to that with which we have just dealt. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item111 (A) “Wicker, bamboo, cane, or wood . . . ad vol., (British) 20 per cent. ; (Other) 30 per cent.” by leaving out “20”and inserting “10.”
If this request be adopted, I shall move with a view to reducing the duty of 30 per cent.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolvedin the negative.
.I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 124, “ Bicycles, tricycles, and similar vehicles . . . ad val. (British) 20 per cent. (Other) 30 per cent.” by leaving out “20” and inserting “15.”
Here is a case where the Minister of Defence, if he desired anything, but a sham preference, might reduce the duty. The importations of bicycles from Great Britain in 1903 were in value £186,741; in 1904, £266,457 ; and in 1905, £190,053. During those years the importations from foreign countries were much about the same as those from the old country. Here is an opportunity where there might be a little trade given to Great Britain if we had a preference worthy of the name.
Question put.. The Committee divided.
Majority … …11
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 116, “Boots and shoes * . . ad val.* (British) 30 per cent. (Other) 40 per cent.” by leaving out “30” and inserting “20.”
Quite lately, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, said -
Protection represents a system of outdoor relief, based on favoritism, transforming healthy trade into a parasite on the industries.
When Mr. Chamberlain made his initial speech on preferential trade in Glasgow, he said he did not believe that the Commonwealth would adopt a policy of selfishness. I leave honorable senators to reflect on what that policy is. The Minister of Defence has said that it is selfishness.
.- According to the figures; the Tariff appears to be acting in favour of the local manufacturers of boots and shoes, showing, again, that it was an exceedingly good compromise. The importations of boots and shoes from foreign countries in 1903 was £162,580; in 1904, £66,568; and in 1905, £55,682. So that the importations have gradually decreased. In spite of that, however, the Government has decided to give more protection which the industry does not want, against the out- side world, and to retain a higher duty than is necessary against British goods.
– We are now dealing with an item of 30 per cent., which I believe is the highest ad valorem duty in the Tariff. In view of that fact, cannot the Minister see his way to agree to a reduction of the duty to 25 per cent. in the case of British goods? I shall vote for Senator Macfarlane’s proposed request, but if the Minister cannot agree to that, surely he can accept a reduction of 5 per cent. In favour of the British manufacturer.
– I cannot agree to the slightest reduction of the present Tariff under any circumstances.
– Is that the Minister’s final attitude - that he will not agree to reduce a single item even by 1 per cent. in favour of Great Britain?
– I have said that all along.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
– In view ofthe statement of the Minister just before the last division, which is, I understand, his final and decisive statement, that he will not accept any proposed reduction of a duty in the present Tariff even to the extent of 1 per cent., in favour of Great Britain, I intend to move for no further reductions. It is of no use wasting the time of the Committee by calling for divisions, seeing that the position is hopeless.
– I direct attention to item 117A. In item 116, “ Boots and Shoes except partly or wholly of lasting or stuff are excepted. I do not see why an exception should not also be made in regard to slipper forms. These forms are simply pieces of cloth which are fitted out with linings, soles, and heels. When imported in the piece, they can easily be manufactured here, giving employment to labour. I therefore move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the item 117A “Boots and Shoes, n.e.i. . . . slippers, n.e.i. . . . ad val., (British)25 per cent, (Other) 35 per cent.” by inserting after “ slippers, n.e.i.,” the words “except slipper forms in the piece.”
– I wish to point out that Senator Croft will do more than he desires to do if he makes the amendment at the place indicated, because the exception will apply to the remainder of the item. The word should be inserted after “ soles,” at the end of the item.
– I, like Senator Croft, have a special knowledge of this subject, and would point out that, although slipper forms are imported from GreatBritain, Germany, and other places, the object of the Bill is to give a preference to Great Britain.
– Is it logical to make an exception in regard to lasting, and not in regard to slipper forms?
– Slipper forms are very cheap, and the extra duty of 10 per cent. will not increase the price of slippers to the consumers by a penny a pair.
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 115 . . “phonographs, graphophones, gramaphones . . . ad valorem (British) 20 per cent., (Other) 30 per cent.” by leaving out the words “phonographs, graphophones, gramaphones.”
These musical instruments are made almost entirely in America, and, therefore, the proposal before us really amounts merely to increasing the present duty by 10 per cent., without giving any preference to the mother country.’ The duty is in no way protective, because these instruments cannot be made here, and they are a great source of pleasure to those who reside away from the towns.
– There are British as well as American makers of these musical instruments, and, as the possessor of one, I know the British makes to be the better. It seems to me that we should give a preference in regard to these, as well as to other items in the Tariff.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend item 115 by adding the words: - “but not. including records for phonographs, graphophones, and gramophones.”
Honorable senators are aware that America is the home of these musical records, of which Edison was the inventor. If an additional duty is to be imposed upon them it will involve an increase in the price of much moment to a large number of people, especially in the country, who are in possession of the instruments named. The records, as honorable senators are aware, are of great importance, and in the course of time their cost runs into considerably more than the cost of the instruments in which they are used. Since this proposal was submitted, there has been an increase in the cost of these records of from is. 3d. to1s. 6d.
– They are being manufactured in Great Britain in increasing quantities every year.
– That is so, but the bulk of them are made in America.
– We should give a little preference to our own people.
– I do not know that we should be asked to pay any more for a British song than for an American song, and certainly we require variety in these records.
– There is very little in Senator Findley’s contention. The Edison makers of these records have factories established in Great Britain as well as in America.
– But we require variety, and American singers are not going to make a trip to England merely in order to sing into instruments there.
– We shall be able to get as great variety from Great Britain as from any other country.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
That the House of Representatives be requested to insert the following new item : - “ 122 (f) Strawboard, per cwt. (British)1s., (Other)1s. 6d.”
I notice that in 1903 we imported from the United Kingdom strawboard to the value of £7,795, whilst our imports from other countries were valued at £9,795. In 1905, the imports from the United Kingdom were valued at £6,637, whereas the imports from other countries reached the value of £12,595. It will thus be seen that our foreign imports have very largely increased, whilst those from the United Kingdom have fallen off. A great deal of this strawboard comes from Germany, and I desire to show that our local manufacturers are not afforded any natural protection by the freights from Germany to Australia. I have a circular issued by a
Hamburg shipping firm, showing that the freights from Hamburg to Sydney range from ‘2s. 6d. to 8s. per ton. Strawboard is in the nature of’ deadweight cargo, and is very much sought after by ship-owners for use as stiffening. I would point out that the freight upon strawboard sent from the Broadford works to Melbourne is 8s. 3d. per ton, and that, therefore, the cost of transit between the two places named is greater than the freight from Hamburg to Australia. In this connexion, we should remember that if the manufacture of this commodity were encouraged here, we should afford an outlet for the profitable utilization of a large quantity of straw produced by our farmers, which at present is practically a waste product.
– The Melbourne manufacturers have written to me indicating that they were pleased when the item was struck out of the schedule by the House of Representatives.
– The honorable senator is referring to the paper-box manufacturers who have sent out a circular containing statements which are far from correct. Their assertions influenced a number of .honorable members of the House of Representatives to vote against the item, and I am assured that if we restore it to the schedule, no difficulty will be experienced in securing its retention.
– I am loth to rise to a point of order, but it is as well that we should not expose ourselves to the danger of a rebuff from the other Chamber. If honorable senators will turn to section $3 of the Constitution, they will find that the fourth paragraph reads as follows : -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting, by message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments, with or without modifications.
– We shall be per- fectly safe in making the request.
– I would point out that we are requesting that a new item shall be inserted. It is provided in the Constitution that we may request the omission of or “ amendment of any item therein.” The item with which we are now dealing is not now in the Bill. We are not requesting the amendment of an item in the Bill, which is all we can do.
– I think it would inbecome us to say that we have not the power to make this request. Such a decision would seriously mutilate our power to deal with Money Bills. If the point be raised in another place, we shall have it fully considered, but I hold that it would be unwise for us to raise it. We respectfully request another place to include among the many items in the schedule a new one which we think is desirable, and I hold that we have the power to make that request.
– The point of order raised by Senator Pearce is by no means a new one. During the discussion of the Tariff in this Chamber, it was raised on one or two occasions, and honorable senators will find, on turning to page 80 of the Voles and Proceedings of the House of Representatives, that at our request the following new item was inserted : - “Painters’ and paperhangers’ brushes, ad valorem 20 per cent.”
– Was the point raised in connexion with this item ?
– The request was dealt with as a matter of course. In a consideration of what our powers are, we must forget the old tradition of the inability of an Upper House to amend Money Bills. So far as the Senate is concerned, we simply make a request - a suggestion - to another place that they shall make an amendment.
– Are not our powers of request defined ?
– We mav make any request we please, in regard to a Money Bill. I attach to the use of the words “ items “ and “.provisions” a much broader meaning than that given to them by the honorable senator. They are merely descriptive, and according to my reading of the section, our power to make requests is not confined to the actual items in a Bill. We have the fullest liberty to make requests. We have defined our practice in this regard, and we certainly ought i not to think of going, back upon it.
– I distinctly remember this point being raised when the Tariff was under consideration. At page 80 of the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives honorable senators will find a statement showing that at our request a new item, “ Painters’ and paperhangers’ brushes ad valorem. 20 per cent.” was inserted in the Tariff. In these circumstances, therefore, I hold that Senator Guthrie is in order in submitting the proposed request.
.- Honorable senators will doubtless remember that two or three weeks ago the subjectmatter of Senator Guthrie’s proposal was brought under the notice of the Minister of Trade and Customs by a deputation from the Master Printers’ Association, who complained that, if the proposed duty were imposed, the price of strawboard would be increased by about ios. per ton. Members of the deputation stated that, according to the trade journals which they received from different parts of the world’, there was no evidence to show that strawboard was made in Great Britain, but that it appeared that the bulk of it was made on the Continent. Samples of the imported, as well as of the locally-made strawboard, were submitted to the Minister, and any competent judge could see that the imported article was superior.
– That is bad from the point of view of the local manufacturers.
– As a protectionist, I would point out that the manufacturers of strawboard in the old world have been carrying on business for many years, whereas the industry in Australia is a comparatively new one. If it be encouraged, local manufacturers will be able, no doubt, before long, to turn out an article equally as good as the imported strawboard. If it be correct that little, if any, strawboard is made in England, surely we ought to hesitate before deciding to support the request moved by Senator Guthrie. It is true that Messrs. Sands and McDougall are engaged in the strawboard industry ; but they also carry on a large printing establishment, and the views of a representative body of men like the Master Printers’ Association should receive our serious consideration. I understand that Senator Guthrie wishes to insert in the schedule an item which recently appeared in it, but which, in consequence of the representations made to the Minister by the Master Printers’ Association, was omitted by another place. The deputation urged that it did not pay British manufacturers to make strawboard, and finally, as I have said, the Minister moved the omission of the item. The Customs returns of a year or two ago may show that we have im ported strawboard from England, but I would point out that until recently the returns were misleading, as they did not indicate the country of origin. I am, therefore, inclined to adopt the view, of the Master Printers’ Association. Under the circumstances, I am not disposed to vote for the request.
– Senator Findley has, it seems to me, presented an argument in favour of the proposed new item. The honorable senator said that if the article manufactured here was not quite so good as that manufactured elsewhere, it might be a reason for giving a little more protection. -There the honorable senator was on sound lines. This is a Bill to give English manufacturers a little more protection in our market; and Senator Findley says that if it is true that there is little strawboard made in England, this duty should be imposed. Surely if there is any strawboard made in England, a duty should be imposed in order to encourage the manufacture of more. The reason for the small manufacture is the conditions that prevail abroad, but to maintain the spirit of the Bill, this preference ought to be given.
– I think I am correct in saying that this item! was omitted in another place, simply because of the fact that strawboard is the raw material of two or three important trades in Australia. That is the only point of view from which I think honorable senators ought to look at the matter. The manufacture of cardboard boxes has become an important in- . dustry in Australia during the last four or five years ; and whether it is in the interests of this country that that industry should be handicapped in order that another industry may be fostered is a difficult question for protectionists, though to the free-trader the answer is quite clear. Even from a protectionist point of view, I do not see- any ground for the insertion of this proposed item.
– I should like to point out that before this industry was started in Victoria, the price of strawboard was £14 a ton. The State Parliament of Victoria imposed a duty of £4 per ton, subsequently reduced by us to £1 ; and the result to-day is that cardboard is only £8 per ton.
Request agreed to.
Postponed item 136E (Dynamite) agreed to, with a requested verbal amendment.
Postponed item 136E (Explosives) agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the heading to the third column by inserting after the word “ships” the words “until the 31st day of August, 1907, inclusive, and thereafter on such goods imported in such ships.”
The object of the amendment is to provide for sufficient notice to shippers of the new conditions created under this Bill. It is desired to have time to send such notice to England, because if importers happen to consign British goods in foreign ships, the goods would have to pay the higher duty.
– I direct the attention of honorable senators to the words, “ imported direct inBritish ships.” The intention is to penalize foreign ships, but, according to this heading, “New Zealand and Australian ships will also be penalized.
– New Zealand and Australian ships are British ships.
– The term “ British “ simply means vessels belonging to the United Kingdom. Under this Bill we are legislating against goods from all parts of the British Empire ; and are we to have a Bill which includes colonial ships but excludes colonial commodities?
– I only rise to point out to the Committee that every ship which flies the British flag is a British ship. Every ship which, is registered in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada flies the British flag, and therefore is a British ship. The contention of Senator Pulsford is absurd.
Request agreed to.
– According to the provision, those who send goods from Great Britain in a ship which carries a black crew, or possibly a solitary black man in some capacity or another, would not be able to get the preference. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out of the heading to the third column the words “ manned exclusively by white seamen.”
The use of the word “ exclusively “ makes the provision so strong that if a ship carried a person with the slightest tint of colour - for instance a boy to wash the deck, or a. pantryman - the goods which she carried would not be entitled to the preference. I do not propose to discuss the question, as I understand that honorable senators are ready to go to a division.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Headings, as requested to be amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with requests ; report adopted.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ Message) :
Clause 5 -
In this Act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ Land “ includes any estate or interest in land (legal or equitable), and any easement, right, power, or privilege over, in, or in connexion with land, and also includes Crown land ;
House of Representatives’ amendment. - After “Crown land” add “but does not include public parks vested in’ or under the control of municipal or local authorities and dedicated to or reserved for the recreation of the people, or such other lands dedicated to or reserved for the use and enjoyment of thepeople as have been specified by Proclamation.”
– The House of Representatives has made very few amendments in the Bill, and their main purpose is to have inserted in clause 5 a provision which will more expressly restrain the Commonwealth from acquiring for public purposes park lands or other lands of a State dedicated to public recreation.
– Was not that virtually the amendment I proposed?
– I do not remember. The Senate placed a restriction upon the acquisition of lands under the Bill which is not contained in the existing law. We made the acquisition of such lands liable to annulment by a vote of either House. The amendment will make it impossible to acquire such lands under this Bill. If it is desired to acquire them, the Commonwealth will have to proceed by separate Act of Parliament. When the Bill was formerly before the Senate, I opposed any restriction upon the action of the Commonwealth in this respect, because I urged that whatever powers were vested in the Commonwealth would not be wantonly exercised in regard to popular rights in public lands. But it is important that the measure should become law as soon as possible, and, therefore, I intend to ask the Committee to agree to the amendment which has been made by another place.
– Will this apply to any .lands not vested in a public body, but, nevertheless, held for public use?
– Yes. The amendment refers to - such other lands dedicated to or reserved for the use and enjoyment of the people as have been specified by Proclamation.
The procedure that will be followed is this : Each State will be invited to particularize the lands which it wishes to include in any proclamation. If at any time there be a particular area not now dedicated to the public which a State desires shall come within the scope of the Federal proclamation, the Federal authorities will proclaim that land, and make it immune from the provisions of this measure. The next amendment made by the other place is a verbal one, in clause 13, inserting after the word “ lands “ the words “ for public purposes.” I do not think that without the words there could be any misconstruction of the clause, but there is no objection to the amendment. The third amendment is in clause 24. That clause was amended by the Senate on the suggestion of Senator Millen. It deals with the temporary occupation of land, and provides that the amount of rent shall be paid quarterly or half-yearly, and shall be settled byagreement. Another place proposes to strike out the words “ shall be paid quar terly or half-yearly and,” and to insert “and times of payment”; making the clause read-
The amount of rent and times of payment shall be settled by agreement.
I think that that is obviously much better. The Commonwealth might sometimes occupy property for less than ‘ a quarter. I have now described all the amendments made. Taking first the amendment in clause 5, I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Remaining amendments agreed to.
Resolutions reported ; report adopted.
Sitting suspended from 6.4.0 to J. 4.5 p.m.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Clause 10 -
After the twenty-eighth day of February, One thousand nine hundred and seven, no imported spirits shall be delivered . . . unless the spirits have been matured by storage in WOO( for a period of not less than two years.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “twentyeighth day of February” ; insert “ thirtieth day of June.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Omission agreed to, but insertion disagreed to, and the words “ first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and eight “ proposed in place thereof, and, as a consequential amendment, the words “ One thousand nine hundred and seven “ omitted.
– The object of the House of Representatives in disagreeing to part of our amendment, and substituting another amendment, was to make the provisions of the Bill relating to storage in wood the same in regard to both imported and Australian spirits. I move -
That the amendment be not insisted on, and the amendments of the House of Representatives be agreed to.
.- We were given to understand that when the Customs Tariff (British Preference) Bill had been disposed of, no fresh business of importance would be taken ; ,but while there may be a difference of opinion as to the advisability of not insisting upon this amendment, ‘ there can be no doubt as to the importance of the question which we are now being asked to discuss. In the first instance, the Spirits Bill and the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill were discussed in conjunction, and it is a pity that that cannot be done now. The Tariff Commission, after a lengthy inquiry into the subject, decided to recommend for the protection of the public health, that in future spirits should not pass into human consumption until they have been matured in wood for a period of not less than two ,years. The clause as it came from the House of Representatives provided that this restriction should not apply to imported spirit until after the 28th February, 1907, but the Senate determined to extend the time to the 30th June, 1907, in order to allow of the disposal of stocks in hand before the alteration of the law. Now the House of Representatives has disagreed to our amendment, and desires to further extend the time to the 1st January, 1908.
– They have made the time exactly the same as provided in clause it for Australian spirits. They see no reason why any distinction should be made.
– The amendment means that spirits that have not been matured in wood for two years may for six months longer be put into consumption. The reason given by the House of Representatives for the amendment is that it is desirable from a trade point of view. But we have to consider it also from the point of view of public health.
– - If we are to consider the question from the point pf view of public health, it should be remembered that imported spirits will be maturing at all events during the time that they ‘are on the voyage. We allow local spirits to go into consumption immediately, until the 1st of January, 1908, although they have to make no such voyage. I see no reason why we should not permit imported spirits to be put into consumption without storage up to the same date.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 3 - , “ Australian Standard Malt Whisky “ means whisky . . . distilled … at a strength not exceeding forty-five per cent, over proof. . . »’ Australian Blended Whisky “ means whisky . . distilled … at a strength not exceeding forty-five per cent, over proof. . ‘.
Senate’s amendments. - Leave out “forty-five,” insert “ thirty-five.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Amendments disagreed to.
– - I move -
That the amendments be not insisted on.
We decided that these spirits should be distilled at a strength not exceeding 35 per cent, over proof, and the House of Representatives desire that it should be 45 per cent., the strength provided for in the Bill as originally introduced. The reason given is the trade reason, but I direct the attention of the Committee to the following letter received from Mr. Preston, of the Vauxhall Distillery, who puts the matter in this way -
We have only pot stills in our distillery, and the lower strength of 35 degrees over proof would mean the closing of our distillery. The flavour of spirits made at the lower strength would be too pronounced, and would take at least five years to mature. We could not take the risk of selling it when made. No restriction is made as to the strength of spirit made through pot stills in Great Britain.
The lower the strength at which spirits are distilled the more the impurities and the more pronounced the flavours. Distillation at a strength of 35 per cent, over proof would produce a harsh spirit which could not be put on the market, whilst distillation at a strength of 45 per cent, would mean the elimination of a number of impurities. I point out that, even though we fix the strength at 45 per cent, over proof, distillers will be free to distil at any lower strength they please.
– I hope the Committee will adhere to their amendments. They were made in accordance with the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, after hearing the evidence of the best experts in Australia at the present time.
– Who gave the evidence to which the honorable senator refers?
- Dr. Fiaschi, at Sydney, and a number of others. The Minister has supported his motion by a reference to Mr. Preston’s letter. I have a copy of the same letter, which, I suppose, was sent to every member of the Senate, and I point out that it indicates what the aim is. The proposal that the strength should be 45 per cent, over proof is made for trade reasons, and because, if the spirit were distilled at a lower strength the distillers would have to store it for too long a time to suit them. Mr. Preston does not say that if the spirit were stored and properly treated it would not be the best spirit. The evidence given to the
Tariff Commission was that spirit is best when distilled at a strength not exceeding 35 per cent, over proof. If the spirit is distilled at a strength of 60 per cent, over proof it will be still more pure from the point of view of the distiller, and why do they not recommend that they should be allowed to distil at that strength ? So far as I can learn, they would prefer to be allowed to do that, and then break it down afterwards, because it would lose its identity as whisky - it would become a silent spirit. It is in order to give the spirit the characteristics of whisky that the Commissioners recommend that it should not be distilled at a strength exceeding 35 per cent, over proof. Fusel oil is considered to be an impurity, but in order to entirely eliminate it from whisky by distillation, all the other elements which are really essential to good whisky have also to be driven off. By storage in wood, however, the whisky is freed of the fusel oil, whilst it retains its other distinguishing characteristics. For that reason the Commission came to the conclusion that whisky should not be distilled to a higher degree of purity than 35 degrees over proof. I would point out that this provision relates not only to pure whisky, but to the malt spirits that are to be blended with others in order to produce the blended whisky that will no doubt be placed upon the market in Australia to the greatest extent in competition with imported whisky. The blended whisky will be composed of 25 per cent, of malt spirit and 75 per cent, of rectified spirits distilled to a strength of 60 over proof. When the manufacturers have the right to use such a large proportion of highly rectified spirit, I do not think that they should be permitted to distil the pure malt spirit at a higher strength than 35 degrees over proof. It is because they would have to store the pure malt spirit for a greater length of time in order to get rid of the impurities that they object to a provision of this kind.
.- I am pleased to have heard the views of the honorable senator with regard to the recommendations of the Tariff Commission. During a former discussion, a great point was made of the fact that the pure malt spirit to be used for blending would be distilled at a low strength, and consequently would possess all the characteristics of whisky. Now, we are coolly told that for trade reasons we ought to allow the whisky to be distilled at a strength not exceeding 45 degrees over proof. I confess that I do not understand the question, but I am prepared to accept the recommendation of the Tariff Commission rather than pay attention to the representations contained in a circular issued by some gentleman engaged in the trade.
.- I agree entirely with everything that has fallen from Senator McGregor, who, together with myself and others, was engaged for a long time in considering this question. Senator Playford also heard a great deal of the evidence given by gentlemen engaged in the distilling industry. I think that the members of the Tariff Commission have a right to complain of the action of a Minister who, after they had spent months in considering their report, paid so much attention to the representations of persons, who had the fullest opportunity tr> place their views before the Commission, and. in fact, did so. The scheme of duties recommended by th» Commission, and the regulations proposed to be enforced, were framed with a view to extending a great deal of protection to the Australian distillers. The manufacturers of pure malt whisky were to be given a preference of 4s. per gallon, and those who made blended whisky were to have a preference of 3s. per gallon. In each case also, the distillerwas to be entitled to obtain a certificate which would be of great value. We proposed that Australian pure malt whisky, subject to an Excise duty of its. per gallon, should be distilled at a strength not exceeding 35 degrees over proof, but now it is claimed that distillers should be allowed to produce whisky at a strength of 45 degrees over proof. The evidence given by a number of witnesses, including the experts in the employment of the Commonwealth Government, went to show that where spirits were distilled at a very high strength, the impurities were driven off, but that desirable qualities which if was desired should be retained in the spirit were also eliminated. It was represented that if the whisky were matured in the wood, the desirable elements would be retained, and the quality improved. I trust that the Committee will support the members of the Commission who unanimously agreed that the strength at which whisky should be distilled should not exceed 35 degrees over proof. In view of the protection that is afforded to the local distillers, I think that the maximum fixed by the Commission should be insisted upon.
– I think that the Committee ought to be made aware that provision similar to that now proposed was made in the Excise Bill, and that the proposal now before us has more significance than might at first appear.
– I see that there was considerable diversity of opinion amongst the witnesses who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission. Mr. Preston, whose letter I have read, was of opinion that malt whisky should not be made of a strength exceeding 45 degrees over proof, but he desired to have the right to distil it up to that strength. Other witnesses said that whisky should not be distilled at more than 40 degrees over proof, whilst still others suggested 35 degrees over proof as the maximum. One witness went the length of recommending that the strength should not exceed 30 degrees over proof. As the result of this evidence, the Commission recommended that pure brandy and whisky should not be distilled at a greater strength than 35 degrees over proof. I place the evidence before honorable senators, and have no personal feeling in the matter. It is for the Committee to say whether they will agree with the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, or’ with that which has been done by another place.
– I was fortunate enough to hear Senator Higgs’ concluding remarks on this question, and must say that I heartily agree with him. Honorable senators ought to know that there is more in this amendment than might be assumed by those who have not considered the question. I conceive it to be my duty, very briefly, to ask the Committee to adhere to its determination. I am sure that Senator Higgs, as well as Senator McGregor, will join with me in assuring the Committee that they will make a mistake if they do not stand by the decision previously arrived at by a substantial majority.
– We are going to do that.
– Then I have nothing further to say.
Clause 6 -
The Distillation Act 1901 is amended as follows : -
by omitting from section fifty-nine the word “ thirty-five,” and inserting the word “forty” in lieu thereof; and
by omitting from section seventy-six paragraph (ii.) the word “thirty-five” and inserting the word “ forty “ in lieu thereof.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out paragraphs b and c.
House of Representatives Message. - Amendment disagreed to.
– I move -
That the amendment be not insisted on.
This amendment is totally different from that which we have just been discussing, since section 59 of the Distillation Act, to which it relates, deals onlywith the fortification of wines. Under that Act it is provided that no Australian wine shall be fortified so as to contain more than 35 per cent. of proof spirit, but another place determined that the maximum strength should be increased to 40 per cent. The Senate, however, decided that there should be no increase. I fought the matter, as I considered that it was necessary that our vignerons should have power to fortify their wines to the extent of 40 per cent. in order that they might be able to compete with the imported ports and sherries. They do not desire to go beyond that strength, but they certainly think that it is necessary that they should be permitted to fortify up to 40 per cent. I understand that some honorable senators who voted for the amendment have changed their views. In a letter addressed to a member of another place, Senator Symon says -
Herewith copy of telegram just sent you. The point is that neither the Angaston nor any other growers, who produce ports or sherries, can compete with the highest class Spanish ports or sherries which come to Australia, or successfully enter the English market in competition with them, unless permitted to fortify up to 40 per cent. The finest class of Spanish ports and sherries are at least of that strength, so I am assured. I was under a misapprehension on the point when I supported the amendment in the Senate to maintain the percentage at 35 as under the Distillation Act1901, but I am now satisfied that that was a mistake.
In these circumstances, therefore, I trust that the Committee will not insist upon its amendment.
– When this matter waspreviously under consideration I supported the clause, as introduced, while Senator Symon said that Mr.Hardy, Mr. Seppelt. and others were satisfied with the power to fortify their wines up to 35 per cent. Mr. Hardy was in the gallery at the time, and at my request, Senator Guthrie called him out. He then informed us that Senator Symon was under a misapprehension, and the letter which has just been read confirms that statement. It will be remembered that I referred to Mr. Smith, of Yalumba, and also to Mr. Salter, and I have since had a letter from the lastnamed gentleman pointing out that sherry fortified up to 33 or 34 ‘per cent, may, after being kept for some time, increase in strength to considerably over 35 per cent. This shows that if we insisted upon our vignerons not having power to fortify beyond 35 per cent, thev would be constantly in danger of breaking the law. If power be given to them to fortify up to 40 recent, they will take good care that they run no risk of the strength of their wines being increased, as the result of storage, beyond that point.
– The Tariff Commission made no recommendation on the subject.
– The Tariff Commission recommended 40 per cent.
– The Tariff Commission were divided.
– That is so. I think one section recommended 40’ per cent., and another section recommended 35 per cent. I hope the Committee will agree to this amendment, because I believe it represents the best course in the interests of tile wine trade. I am certain that no vigneron will fortify to a higher strength than is necessary to make the best wines.
– When this question was previously before us I expressed the opinion, which I still hold, that it is undesirable to encourage the higher fortification of wine. I admit, however, that I have had evidence, which is quite satisfactory to me, that if we insist on the lower limit of 35 per cent., we may cause a certain amount of injustice, and perhaps hardship - that we may to some extent interfere with operations which in the wine trade are perfectly legitimate, and, I suppose, within a limited area, desirable. I have received a letter from Mr. Salter, who is, I believe, a man whom we can all respect, and who is honestly trying to promote a fair industry in Australia. From what that gentleman says, I believe that the limitation to 35 per cent, would injuriously affect him, because he happens to be- the owner of a vineyard in a part of South Australia, peculiarly adapted for the production of stronger wines, chiefly ports and sherries. It is not for the Committee to say that Mr. Salter shall not try to produce those classes of wine. This is not a very material point, but if we insist on the amendment it may produce effects which we did not at the time contemplate.
.- There was a long debate when this amendment was originally before us, and I think we heard the same arguments which have been advanced to-night from the point of view of the trade. I do not desire to attempt to controvert the opinions that have been expressed - opinions which, summed up, mean that certain wines, port particularly, are imported, fortified to a considerable strength, and that it is desirable that wine-growers here, in order to be able to compete, shall be permitted to fortify their wines up to 40 per cent. But surely there is another side to the question? What we have heard up to now has been all from the point of view of the trade, and I think we ought to consider the interests of the public who drink ordinary colonial wines. We must remember that the permission to fortify up to 40 per cent, will be applicable to all wines - to wines sold in wine shops, tea gardens, and similar places. These wine shops compete with hotels, and if the percentage of fortification be raised, there is no doubt that the wine sold will be strengthened to the extent allowed by law. Fortification up to 40 per cent, appears to me to be enormous, and we cannot help noticing the use that is made of these wine shops and tea gardens. I see them all around the suburbs of Melbourne, and we know the music and dancing which goes on. and the class of people who visit these places. I am surprised that a House which unanimously sent to this Chamber the Canteen Bill should object to this amendment. Apparently another place objects to Tommy Atkins having his glass of beer, and desires to send him to the publican; and yet objection is raised to an amendment which’ would prevent the people, who keep “those dens of wine shops and tea gardens from poisoning people with stuff quite as strong as spirits. I know the use that is made of those places. I know that young men and maidens are supplied with’ the awful stuff, to the ruin of their morals and the destruction of their health. This is a view entitled to as much consideration as the interests of the trade.I feel so strongly on the point that I shall, if necessary, divide the Committee on the question.
Question - That the amendment be not insisted on - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– Is this another newBill, sir?
– I shall vote against it, and I hope that the Senate will, too.
– Does the Minister of Defence move any motion ?
Motion (by Senator Playford) put -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
The Senate divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the second reading of the Bill be an order of the day for Monday next.
– I am aware that under the Standing Orders I am at liberty to debate the motion as long as I like. While with every provocation I am not going to do so, I wish to add one further, even though it may be an ineffectual, protest, against the way in which business is being conducted. I have many other reasons which I shall not mention now, but which I might honestly give in regard to the conduct of business. I cannot allow the motion to pass without saying a few words, not to take up time, but to enter a protest. We have not a guarantee that this is even the last of the Bills to be sent up. It is time that finality was reached. It is high time indeed that we were informed by the Minister of Defence, and I do urge him to give us the information, before we adjourn, whether this is the last of the new Bills.
– There are three more Bills.
– I have received an answer. It may be a matter for derision by those who have . no regard for the position of the Senate ; but it is not one which I can. treat jocularly. I make that remark quite irrespective of whether the Bill is one which I may approve of or which I may desire to reject. The accusation of indecent conduct which I am levelling against the Ministry is thoroughly well founded, irrespective of the merits of the Bill.
– Will the Minister say that these three Bills are the last?
– I think so.
– The Government could not have introduced this Bill earlier.
– The Ministry may set their wits to work and get the assistance of paid officials to devise another Bill which they could not have sent here earlier. If that argument satisfies any honorable senator I would point out that we have no limit now. The Ministry may think that in this session dying as it is - dead as it ought to be - there is, still opportunity for them to introduce useful legislation. I do not deny that there is abundant opportunity for them to introduce useful legislation, but I deny that this is the time for its introduction. Overborne as I am by the force of numbers, I can only adopt the process that I have adopted previously, and insist, if I can get another member of the Senate to say “No” with me, upon a division being taken against the first reading of any new measure. I am told that there are more Bills to come. I protest against fresh measures being introduced at this period of the session. While I am not a judge of the duty of honorable senators opposite, I do say that it is regrettable that the members of that party, which really has the control of the Government in its hands, do not, in the interests of the Senate, say that the time has arrived when this sort of thing must be stopped.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with a message stating that it had made the amendments requested by the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the Bill be now read a third time.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– Then I shall call for a division.
Question put The Senate divided.
Majority … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Keating) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– Then I shall vote against the first reading.
Question - That the Bill be now read a first time- put. The Senate divided.
Majority :.. … … 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– As between now and Monday Senator Playford will have time to consider the state of public business, I ask him if, when we meet at 3 o’clock on Monday afternoon, he will be prepared to make a definite statement on the subject.
– I will make a statement.
– At 3 o’clock? The honorable senator may propose to make it on the motion for the adjournment.
– If possible, I will make it as soon as the Senate meets.
.- I appeal to Senator Playford to arrange for a meeting at half-past 10 on Monday morning instead of at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
– It is too late to do so now, the adjournment having been moved.
– Then I am disappointed, not because I am a glutton for work, but because a number of us have remained here, at great personal inconvenience, to assist in the despatch of public business, and we should not be kept longer than is absolutely necessary.
– I recognise that, and consulted the Clerks in regard to the matter, but they told me that if we met at half-past 10 in. the morning they might not be able to have the business in readiness for us.
– The honorable senator must recollect that a great many persons are living at a state of high pressure as theresult of our prolonged sittings.
– I recognise that. Probably the strain falls as heavily upon you, sir, as upon any one. But those who have stayed here for a fortnight longer than they intended, merely’ to assist the Government to keep a quorum and finish the business, are entitled to consideration. On Monday we shall find that we are not able to give to the consideration of the Appropriation Bill the time that we ought to bestow on it. However, I accept the explanation of the Minister, which puts a different complexion on the position, though I regret that we are to lose half a day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at9.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 October 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19061005_senate_2_35/>.