10th Parliament · 1st Session
– I have to inform the Senate that 1 have received an intimation from the President that, owing to illness, he will be unable to attend to-day. Under the Standing Orders of the Senate, the Chairman of Committees will take the chair as Deputy President.
The Deputy President (Senator Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
SenatorFOLL brought up the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts relating to the expenditure on oil exploration, development, refining, &c, in the Commonwealth and Papua - Part III. (Conclusion), comprising the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited.
The following papers were presented i -
Nauru - Report to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration during the year 1925.
Naval Defence Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1926, No. 61.
Northern Territory - Ordinance No. 8 of 1926 - Workmen’s Compensation.
Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Works and Railways - G. Franklyn.
– I ask the Minister for Homeand Territories if, in view of the magnificent success following’ the adoption of the land values taxation system at Canberra, as set out in Henry George’s immortal work - Progress and Poverty-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - The honorable senator will not be in order in making a statement under cover of asking a question.
– Is it the intention of the Government to erect a statue to the late Henry George between the provisional and the site of the proposed permanent Houses of Parliament in the Federal Capital ?
– The Government’ has no present intention of doing what is suggested by the honorablesenator.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs -
– This question should have been addressed to the Minister for Health, who replies as follows: -
The statements in question refer ‘to the quarantine of the steamer Barrabool. In this instance the procedure adopted was uniform at nil Australian ports at which the vessel called, and was that adopted all over the world. The precautions taken to prevent the spread of infection were those universally recognized to be in accord with modern preventive medicine and to be adequate for the purpose.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– I should not have spoken on the third reading of this bill but for certain statements made in the debate on Friday last concerning the quality of the product supplied by the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited in Australia, and for the purpose of directing attention to certain comments made in the Australian Motorist on the 1st April last. That publication, I understand, has a fairly large circulation in at least one of the States, and its rather scathing comments on the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited motor spirit, although they may be part of the propaganda of rival companies, call for an answer. The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited has been doing business in Australia for some time in the face of the most hostile opposition, and, despite that opposition, is making headway. In the Australian Motorist on the date mentioned, there appeared analyses of the following motor spirits: - Plume, Mercury2 Shell, Powerin, C.O.R. (yellow label), C.O.R. (white label), and
C.O.R. (red label). The editorial comments on the analyses suggest deductions which, I am informed, are not justified by the figures, and I shall be glad if the Minister can give any further information on the subject. I am advised that’ the comments were not made by the analysts, and, further, that they are not a fair deduction from the figures submitted.
– Were the analyses official?
-They were made by a certain firm from samples supplied, but the comments were not made by the analysts. I understand that, immediately upon the publication of the article, the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited endeavoured to ascertain how the deductions were arrived at.
– Did the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited make check analyses ?
– I am asking for that information now. The analyses. to which I am referring were not made by the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, but by a private firm of analysts at the request, I understand, of certain persons connected with the journal in question. After obtaining those particulars this journal published, with big sub-headings, an article headed “ Is the Commonwealth Oil Refineries playing fair with the public?” The statement was made that spirit was being sold by the refinery under three different labels, although it was all one grade of petrol. I desire to know exactly what investigations were made by the department at the time, because this article, which is very damaging, will do much harm if allowed to go unchallenged. Can the Minister throw any additional light on the matter ?
– This matter first came under the notice of the Government as a result of a letter received by the honorable member forPerth, Mr. Mann, who forwarded it to the Prime Minister. The letter is as follows: -
Chamber of Automotive Industries, McEwan House, 343 Little Collins-street,
Melbourne, 25th March, 1926.
Dear Mr. Mann,
Re Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited’s application for more capital.
The attached will interest you, because it shows that the Commonwealth Oil Refineries
Limited, whilst claiming to be selling petrol cheaper than the importers, is supplying a brand equal to the importers’ third grade; therefore the importers are selling petrol equal to Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited at lid. lower.
I do not think additional capital should be granted until the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited’s balance-sheet is produced. It should have been lodged last June, but the company has not yet done so. If that concern, which has established an already heavy expense for taxpayers, is to be further subsidized, would not it be better to close them up altogether?
Youneed not return the attached papers. These figures have been obtained for the Chamber of Automotive Industries, and I think that you should give publicity to them from the House in the interests of the community.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) H. W. Harrison,
Honorable senators will notice that the letter, by its beading, its last paragraph, and the signature purports to come from the Chamber of Automotive Industries, and is signed by its secretary. Upon receiving it the Prime Minister referred it to the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, from whom he received the following reply, dated 9th April, 1926: -
It is hardly necessary forme to say that the letter from Mr. Harrison, as secretary of the Chamber of Automotive Industries, which, however, is repudiated ‘by the chamber (see copy of the president’s letter), is full of inaccuracies, so presented as to support the contention in regard to Commonwealth Oil Refineries products -
Its policy has been consistently antiCommonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, In the April number there is an article written by the editor, headed, “ Is the Commonwealth Oil Refineries playing fair with the public ?” in which he makes the same accusations as those contained in his letter to Mr. Mann.
Avery and Anderson, copy of which is attached hereto.
The first grade obtained from on; crude may be inferior to the second grade of another.
The grade marketed as “ White Label” (second grade) is a blend of the two cuts, and was put on the market to meet the Vacuum Oil Company’s second grade “ Kalif “ brand (which, by the way, is pro- bably a better all-round spirit than their first grade, “Plume”), and the British Imperial Oil Company’s second grade brand “ Anchor.”
If Mr. Mann could find time to visit the refinery, he would very soon be convinced of the company’s bona fides. It might even be advisable to ask him to raise the question in the House, when the true facts could be given. It would certainly be a cheap and sure method of refuting the inferences suggested in the letter, and would give wide publicity.
Now I shall read a letter from the president of the Chamber of Automotive Industries, dated the 9th April, and addressed to Major Bird, Managing Director of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. It is as follows: -
In reply to your letter of the 9th April, forwarded by hand this morning, the following are the facts as the writer knows them.
On the 10th March ( approximately ), we were asked to obtain tins of the three different grades of motor fuel marketed by the British Imperial Oil Company, the Vacuum Oil Company, and yourselves. This we did, and on the 1 1 th March samples were drawn by a representative of the analyst from each tin, and these samples were then, removed from our premises. We heard nothing further of tills until the writer . saw the article published in the Australian Motorist of this month’s issue. Mr. Harrison had no authority whatsoever from either the committee or a general meeting of the Chamber of Automotive Industries to make the . tests made, and at no time have cither the committee or a general meeting of the chamber ever discussed the question of the merits or demerits of the various fuels or of the action of any of the oil companies as a body. To be perfectly clear on this matter, I have not the slightest doubt that the committee would instantly authorize me to show you the whole of our . minutes covering all business discussed at cither committee or general meetings, and I will further distinctly state that we have not approved or authorized the letter signed by Mr. Harrison.
Chamber of Automotive Industries, (Signed) Ernest A. Bell,
There is another letter which has an interesting bearing upon this matter. It is from the Commercial Vehicles Proprietary Limited, Lonsdale-street, Melbourne, dated 9th. April, and is as follows : -
In reply to your inquiry as to our experience with the different grades of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited motor fuel, we would state that, during last’ winter, we were using solely the Red Label spirit, but found that, for demonstration purposes, starting heavy lorries by hand was a little difficult, and we therefore changed over to Yellow Label, a marked difference being noticeable, and we could trace no difference between Yellow Label spirit and the first quality spirits of the Vacuum Oil Company and the ‘ British Imperial Oil Company, i.e., “Plume” and “Shell” motor spirits.. We would like to point out that, when using the Red Label spirit, no difficulty was experienced in starting the machines when warm. You will readily appreciate, from a demonstration point of view, quick starting was an important factor, hence our change to Yellow Label spirit, which we are still using.
Commercial Vehicles Proprietary Limited, (Signed) E. A. Bell,
Now comes the letter from the firm which made the analysis on which the article is alleged to be based. It is as follows: -
Avery and Anderson, Industrial Research and Analytical Chemists, Collins House, 360 Collins-street, Melbourne, 9th April, 1926.
J. Larking Esq.,
The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, 313 Flinders-lane, Melbourne.
Our replies to the questions asked in your letter of even date referring to an article appearing in the April issue of The Australian Motorist, are as follow : -
The figures at the top of the columns in the results of the distillation tests indicating “ 1st grade,” “3rd grade,” &c., are not ours. Our only description of the samples is the name of the spirit, and in some cases the colour of the label as given in the report.
Avery & Anderson. - (Sgd.) D. A vest.
What can only be regarded as a contemptible attempt, by the misuse of an analysis obtained from Messrs. Avery and Anderson, to damage the reputation of the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited spirit is absolutely disproved by the correspondence I have read.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 21st May (vide page 2227), on motion by Senator CRAW.ford-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I am sorry that Senator Guthrie is not present to-day. All honorable senators are well aware of the challenge the honorable senator threw out on Friday with reference to the use of Australianmade matches, and the wearing of Australian-made clothing. I think I dealt pretty exhaustively in my remarks on Friday with the composition of the honorable senator’s own suit of clothes, and in his absence I do not wish to proceed further with that aspect of the question. The challenge the honorable senator threw out was accepted by me, as I think it will be accepted by other honorable senators of the Opposition when they speak on this bill.
– Surely the honorable senator does not take seriously what Senator Guthrie says.
– In order to show the inconsistency of Senator Guthrie, I shall quote from his speech on the Customs Tariff Bill in 1921. To-day he claims to be an all-wool Australian and to favour absolute protection for all Australian industries against the outside world regardless of cost, yet in 1921 he said : -
On principle I shall support every proposed reduction of duty on tools of trade and agri-cultural machinery.
I am prepared to go the whole hog with the honorable senator when he says that he is prepared to protect right up to the hilt everything made in -Australia; but
I cannot understand him saying that today wheal in 1921 he said -
I cannot understand the attitude taken up by the Government. It seems to me that they have- made up their minds to be as stubborn as a mule. They are not prepared to accept any advice from their own supporters, but, on the contrary, seem to antagonize them. They have not even the courtesy to reply to the arguments that have been advanced in favour of a reduction of the duty on British imports under this sub-item.
Apparently when it suits the honorable senator to import things from the Old Country he is prepared to be a freetrader.
– That statement cannot be justified by the extract the honorable member has just read.
– I shall go a little further. The honorable senator also said -
The Minister in charge of the bill stands stubbornly to the duties proposed by the Government, because he knows that he has here some supporters who will vote as the Government please at any hour of the day or night.
Apparently the honorable senator was then prepared to throw his Government overboard when it suited him to do so. His attitude in 1921 does not coincide with his attitude on Friday last. Reading between the lines, I can only say that he is neither a protectionist nor a freetrader.
– He is a freetraderevenuetariffprotectionist.
– As we know that Senator Guthrie is one of the heads of the woollen industry in Australia, we can only remark that he is taking up a peculiar stand.
– Not at all. He was a freetrader before he became interested in the woollen industry.
– Apparently he is prepared to shift his ground at will. He also said, in 1921 -
If they think they can pull the strings, and induce a majority of honorable senators to vote as they please, without debate, and without offering any defence of a tariff which is absolutely ridiculous, they are making a mistake. . . . They talk of being Britishers, 3’et when they have a chance of giving a little preference to British imports, they are practically anti-British.
He was alluding to honorable senators of his own party. The same thoughts are in his mind to-day, but he is swallowing holus bolus the tariff pro- posals of the present Government. I said at the outset of my remarks on Friday that I was prepared to accept the tariff proposals of the present Government, but that is because I am a protectionist. There are some honorable senators of the Labour party who are not protectionists - members of the Labour party have a free hand on fiscal matters - but I have always held that Australian industries should be protected. My investigations of various industries have led me to realize that they have attained a . position which is not equalled in any other part of the world. The honorable senator went on to say -
The Government want to penalize our own kith and kin. They want to penalize the manufacturers of the Motherland by imposing a tariff which is almost prohibitive.
Such statements do not coincide with the remarks uttered by the honorable senator on Friday last. Senator Guthrie also stated that -
The Government appointed a commission, which recommended the payment of the basic wage of £5 16s. a week, and the cost of living, owing to this policy of protection run mad, will soon become so high that we shall have to pay that basic wage.
That is the opinion of an honorable senator who has said that he is always anxious to see the conditions of the workers improved, but on that occasion he was afraid that the recommendation of the commission would be adopted, and that wages would be increased. Senator Guthrie challenged honorable senators on this side of the chamber to produce the matches in their possession so that he could see if they were of Australian manufacture. He did not ask honorable senators opposite to produce their matches, but in their desire to foster Australian industries, I feel sure that they, like honorable senators on this side, would use only those manufactured in Australia. I proved conclusively on Friday that a good deal of the material in the suit of clothes which Senator Guthrie said was of Australian manufacture was made in other parts of the world. Senator Guthrie’s argument reminds me of a story concerning the manager of a rabbit canning factory, who when there was shortage in the supply of rabbits, substituted horse-flesh. Later, when complaints were made by consumers concerning the coarse nature of the tinned product, the manager was approached by one of the directors concerning the complaint. The manager explained that, as there had been a shortage of rabbits, he had used some horseflesh. He said, “ I have used it on a fifty-fifty basis - one horse, one rabbit.” An examination of Senator Guthrie’s Australian suit would show that 50 per cent, of the material was manufactured in Australia, and the balance in other parts of the world.
SenatorCrawford. - It was as Australian as any suit could be.
– The honorable senator told us that it was absolutely Australian. This is not the first occasion on which I have discovered inconsistencies in the honorable senator’s utterances. Under a protective policy many of our industries have been firmly established, and the working conditions and wages of the employees are much better than they would be under a freetrade policy. “ Certain commodities which have to be imported, because they cannot be manufactured here, should be admitted almost duty free. There are other manufacturing establishments in Australia which I have visited, to which I have not referred, but as I do not wish to unnecessarily delay the Senate I shall refrain from making any further comment at this stage.
– It is generally admitted that a certain amount of protection is necessary in order to ensure the progress of Australia, and that if we are to . obtain goods at a reasonable price, a fair proportion of our requirements must be manufactured in the Commonwealth. In visiting the capital cities of the Commonwealth, particularly Melbourne and Sydney, one realizes the extent to which our manufactories are developing. On one occasion, when it was asked what were all the people doing, the answer was, “ They are at least making something.” Without fair protection, it is impossible for our factories to continue making something. I realize to the fullest degree that one of the benefits obtained under a protective policy is that we provide a home market for our primary products, which is the best market they could have. When we recognize, however, that duties are being increased, and higher wages, which increase the cost of living, paid, and when we see still higher duties proposed, we wonder whether it is not time to call a halt and consider whether we should nob start rounding off the edges of the tariff instead of increasing rates. I must confess that the schedule is framed in such a way that it can be understood only by experts. Doubtless many of the higher duties can be justified; but there are others that should be reduced. I particularly wish to direct attention to the fact that, -while some industries can get practically whatever duties they ask for, there are others which are unable to prosper because they cannot obtain a little extra protection. In instituting comparisons, I wish to refer particularly to the timber industry in Tasmania, which has for some time been seeking additional protection. I understand that, although the Tariff Board has inquired into this industry it is going to Tasmania again to make further inquiries ; but as the newspaper announcement to that effect, which is the only one that I have had, stated that the Board would only take fresh evidence, I wish to place some facts before honorable senators, to show the ‘ Value of the industry. Tasmania is . the smallest of the States, and these figures will show how relatively important to it the timber industry is. The following is taken from a report by the Tasmanian Director of Forests : -
There are at present under leases and permits some 300.000 acres of forest land, of which it is assumed some 100,000 acres are cut out. By assessing the balance of 200,000 acres at a yield of 20,000 feet to the acre - a total stand of commercial timber on leased areas of 4,000,000,000 super, feet in the round is reached. Suppose 50 per cent, of this is lost in conversion, a net balance of 2,000,000,000 feet super, of sawn timber would be produced. Of the balance of timbered land in Tasmania, 700,000 acres should be a conservative estimate. As the bulk of this is unexplored, let us consider 10,000 feet to the acre as the yield. This gives 7,000,000,000 feet super, in the round, which with a ‘50 per cent, reduction for conversion, works out at 3,500.000,000 feet of sawn timber. Therefore, on those figures, the total yield of sawn timber on leased and unleased areas would be 5,500,000,000 feet super. As Tasmania produces approximately 60,000,000 feet of sawn timber per annum, the forests would last at the present rate of cutting about 00 years.
Evidence submitted to the Tariff Board in some of the States indicated that there was a fear that our timber supplies would become exhausted ; but the people interested in the industry in Tasmania contend that there is practically an inexhaustible supply in that State. If the available timber should be cut at the present rate, it would last for 90 years, and in half that time forests already cut out would be grown again and the timber in them would be ready for use. The quality of our Tasmanian timber cannot be assailed. During the war years, Tasmanian timbers were put to every possible use, and they met every requirement. Tasmanian hardwood is used for the roughest of work, as well as for the finestof furniture. Our local market is limited. The great bulk of our timber must be sent to Melbourne and Adelaide, where it must compete with timber from the Baltic, as well as from Canadian and United States ports. The timber merchants in these oversea countries enjoy many natural advantages which our own people do not; and the wages of timber-getters there are much lower than they are here. We cannot nullify the natural oversea advantages, and I do not think that we have any desire to reduce the wages of our timber workers to the oversea rates. In that circumstance, it is necessary that we should impose higher duties on imported timbers. The Tasmanian timber industry is handicapped because it is subject to the conditions of the Navigation Act, and also because the timber is somewhat scattered, and hard to get to the mills. In fact, only small mills can operate profitably. I do not know anybody who has started saw-milling in a big way in Tasmania who has made any money at it. Conditions are quite different in the Baltic, and in Canada and the United States, where the forests are thick, and, generally speaking, the timber is floated down the rivers to the seaboard. The oversea timber there is softer to work, and only an inconsiderable percentage is lost in conversion, whereas if we get 60 per cent, of marketable timber from the round, we consider ourselves fortunate. We lose a great deal more from heart and sap than the Americans do. Most of the oversea timber is sound from bark to bark. One of the timbers that our Tasmanian timber has to compete against is what is known as Manchurian oak, which is got under probably the lowest wages in the world. The following figures show the wages of bush workers in Tasmania and countries that are competing with us for the Australian timber trade: -
Tasmania - £4 6s. a week of 48 hours.
America - £3 14s. a week of 57 hours.
Canada - £3 14s. a week of 48 to 54 hours.
Sweden- £2 8s. a week of 48 hours.
Those figures have been compiled from official publications. The wages in
Borneo, J apan and the Philippines, where Manchurian oak is grown, are a great deal less than any that I have quoted, and in those countries black labour is almost universally employed. Another important factor is that in Australia only from 10 per cent, to 12 per cent, of the employees engaged in the industry are classified as labourers, whereas in the American timber industry 60 per cent, of the employees are classified as labourers.
– Can the honorable senator tell us what quantity of Manchurian oak is coming to Australia?
– I am sorry that I cannot give the honorable senator the actual figures, but I have been informed by leading, sawmillers in Australia, and also by some timber merchants that it is ousting Australian oak from the market. As I have already indicated, the incidence of freight has a most important bearing on the successful carrying out of saw-milling operations. The following figures are interesting: -
Launceston to Melbourne, up to 20 feet, 5s. 3d. to 5s. 9d. per 100 super, feet; 40 feet, 7s. per 100 super, feet.
Hobart to Melbourne, up to 20 feet, 5s. 3d. to 5s.9d. per 100 super, feet.; 40 feet, 7s. per 100 super, feet.
Devonport to Melbourne, up to 20 feet, 5s. 3d. to 5s.9d. per 100 super, feet; 40 feet, 7s. per 100 super, feet.
Stanley to Melbourne, up to 20 feet, 5s. 3d. to 5s. 9d. per 100 super, feet; 40 feet, 7s. per 100 super, feet.
Burnie to Melbourne, up to 20 feet, 5s. 3d. to 5s. 9d. per 100 super, feet; 40 feet, 7s. per 100 super, feet.
Canadian ports to Melbourne, up to 60 feet, 6s.
American ports to Melbourne, up to 60 feet, 5s. 5d. to 6s.
Baltic ports to Melbourne, up to 30 feet, 3s.10d.
Burnie to Port Adelaide, 30 feet, 9s.; 40 feet,11s.
Canadian ports to Port Adelaide, 60 feet, 6s.
American ports to Port Adelaide, 60 feet, 5s. 5d. to 6s.
Honorable senators will see from those figures that it costs considerably less to bring timber to Melbourne from the Baltic ports than from Tasmanian ports, while it costs only half as much to land timber in Adelaide from the Canadian and American ports as it does from Burnie. It is for this reason that we are continually asking that increased duties should be paid on imported timber.
– Is the honorable senator dealing with timber of the same kind?
– Our timber is a little heavier and much stronger than the imported timber, so that smaller sizes can be used in constructional work. I am sorry that I have not available . all the details of the existing duties, but the whole thing may be accurately summed up by saying that our extra freight duties account for every penny, of protection that we are supposed to get from the duties, and that the increase in wages alone is sufficient to prevent us from competing successfully with foreign timber. There are 192 sawmills in Tasmania which, under normal conditions and with full-time working, would employ 2,219 employees. Of that number only about 10 per cent, or 12 per cent, would be unskilled workers. Approximately, however, only 80 mills are working - whole or part time - and are giving employment to only about 700 men. Australian bushmen are among the best workers in the world, and, at present, unfortunately, considerably more than . half the number usually employed in the industry are not working. Additional duties are required if these men are not to be forced to seek employment in uncongenial avocations, or remain unemployed. In 1920-21 the timber imports into Tasmania - itself a timber-producing State - amounted to over 500,000 super, feet, and in 1924-25 to over 3,500,000 super, feet. The figures dealing with the imports into the Commonwealth are convincing evidence that the Australian market is being flooded with foreign timber. In 1920-21 we imported 192,000,000 super, feet of undressed timber and 51,000,000 super, feet of dressed timber, or a total of 243,000,000 feet. In 1924-25 our imports rose to 316,000,000 super, feet of undressed timber and 87,000,000 super, feet dressed timber, or a total of 403,000,000 super, feet. In other words, we are importing over 1,000,000 super, feet a day, whilst the Tasmanian output is only 60,000,000 super, feet a year, and timber is rotting in the forests. The machinery in many of our mills is rusting. During the four years referred to our timber imports increased by 160,000,000 super, feet. It is evident from these figures that there is a strong case for additional duty. The Tasmanian saw-millers - this is a point I wish to emphasize - have given a guarantee that if they can get sufficient duties to enable them to meet foreign competition in the Australian market, they will not increase the Australian price provided, of course, wages are not increased. They do not anticipate an advance in that direction. All they are asking for is sufficient tariff protection to enable them to keep their mills in operation so that the capital invested in the industry will not be totally unremunerative. It is important that Australian timber should be cut because trees stand only for a certain time before they rot. Timber is a national asset and it should be used.
– Are the Australian saw-millers in a position to supply the class of timber that is imported?
– No.- We have only a limited supply of pine, including King Billy, celery top andHuon pine. Generally speaking, Australian timber is hardwood. We have nothing like the Baltic pine, but our hardwoods can be used for allpurposes for which Baltic pine is imported, and we say that it is better in quality. This imported timber is being supplied at prices that are staggering to the Australian saw-millers. Baltic pine 6 in. x 7-8in. costs 18s. per 100 lineal feet, as compared with hardwood dressed to 4 in. x 7-8in. at 23s. per 100 lineal feet. The Australian timber is a little dearer, but we contend that it is very much better, and that it will be no hardship for the Australian market to be asked to use it. Another point to which I direct attention is that practically all the money which Australian saw-millers get from timber goes in wages. I know of no other industry in which such a high percentage of the revenue goes into the pockets of the employees, and when we remember that nearly everything which the saw-miller uses is protected, there is a strong case for the additional duties. He has to pay duty on machinery, and on the iron rails necessary for the construction of tramways into the forests, as well as higher wages to all classes of employees. He has no control over any of these items of expenditure; they are fixed for him by law. This industry means a great deal to Tasmania, and I trust that, after the Tariff Board presents its report, Parliament will agree to an increase in duty so as to enable the saw-mills to continue working.
– How is it proposed to enforce a guarantee that sawmillers will not increase prices if additional duties are imposed ?
– The sawmillers in Tasmania are members of an association, and as there are only 192 mills in the State, it should not be difficult to get an individual undertaking from them.
– What about the other States?
– The sawmillers in Western Australia are in a better position. They have an overseas market, whereas the Tasmanian mills depend entirely on the Australian market. The Tasmanian mills have to compete with hardwood mills on the mainland which have not to pay high sea freights, and, therefore, are in a position to take lower profits. However, we do not mind that competition so much as the competition from foreign timber which is brought to Australia in ships manned by seamen at ridiculously low rates of wages. I feel sure that, in a few weeks, the Government could get an undertaking from the Tasmanian mills not to increase Australian prices in the event of an additional tariff being imposed.
– The Government also proposes to go in for a housing scheme, and if the price of timber goes up, houses will cost more.
– But the sawmillers are prepared to give an undertaking that the price of Tasmanian timber will not be increased, and there will be the additional satisfaction of knowing that a better class of timber will be used.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that better timber will be used in the future?
– I had in mind the American and other imported timbers. Australian hardwood is infinitely better for building purposes than, say, Baltic pine. Baltic weatherboards will not stand the weather so well as Australian hardwood weatherboards.
– Is it not a fact that the fear of the borer is handicapping the Australian industry?
– That problem has been thoroughly investigated by experts of the Tasmanian Forestry Department. The borer does not threaten Tasmanian hardwood. Sometimes it is attacked by the pin-hole insect, but that is harmless. In any case, the system of inspection in Tasmania is so thorough that no trouble may be anticipated with the borer.
– Does the Tasmanian Government impose heavy royalties on timber areas ?
– No; the royalties on hardwood are from 5s. a thousand super, feet downwards.
I endorse the action of the Government in advancing money to the States for road-making purposes, but I do not think that it is consistent to increase the duties on road-making machinery at the same time. I shall probably exercise my right to vote for requests to alter several items in the schedule.
.- Notwithstanding the charge made in one of the newspapers this morning, that Tasmanian members of this Chamber are delaying the passage of the tariff, I propose to discuss the measure this afternoon. I direct the attention of the Minister to a matter which, I think, should be attended to, and that is that, when a new tariff schedule is laid on the table in another place, traders in all the States should be on an equal footing as regards withdrawal of goods from bond. The traders in distant States, particularly in Queensland and Western Australia, are at a disadvantage compared with traders in Melbourne, who may declare their goods at once and so escape the increased duty.
– Is it not the practice to issue a proclamation simultaneously in all the States?
– I understand that an amendment cf the act is necessary. We have made representations on this subject from time to time, but up to the present we have not been able to persuade the Government to fall in with our views.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that all importers should have the right to declare dutiable goods immediately on the arrival of a vessel in Australian waters?
– Yes. The duties should be levied equally against all traders in the Commonwealth. In discussing the tariff one hardly knows how to deal with the various problems. We may hear one honorable senator pleading for tariff reductions, and in the next breath, for increased duties on other lines. This is the position we are up against in Australia. We are all more or less protectionists. I am a protectionist, but I am strongly opposed to the imposition of prohibitive duties. I believe in protecting our primary and natural industries, but I am opposed to subsidizing small, unimportant, or what may be called “ backdoor “ industries, the encouragement of which leads to increased cost of commodities to the community generally.
– An unimportant industry to-day may, under protection, become an important industry to-morrow.
– I know the honorable senator is a strong protectionist, if not a prohibitionist. Australian Parliaments and Australian Governments are composed mainly of city members, with the result that city interests receive undue consideration, especially in tariff matters, whilst country interests very often are forgotten.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the present Commonwealth Government is composed entirely of city members?
– It is dominated by city interests. Of course we have the big city newspapers influencing public opinion, members of Parliament, and Governments. The result is that we have reached a position where we ought to call a halt and see if, instead of increasing duties, we might not with advantage, in some directions, reduce them. I do not intend to deal to-day with the various items of the tariff, because they can be discussed more advantageously in committee, but I propose to refer to the taxation of machinery. Honorable senators know that the United States of America can compete successfully in the markets of the world, and pay higher wages than obtain in Australia, not because of increased efficiency in man-power, but almost entirely because of improved organization. This is due perhaps to some extent to the American method of payment by results, but it is chiefly brought about by the application of science to industry - one aspect of our protectionist tariff that seems to have escaped the attention -of the Tariff Board, Ministers and honorable senators. I was reading recently the report of a speech delivered by Mr. G. A. Julius, the new president of the Institute of Science and Industry, who pointed out Australia’s disabilities owing to the high taxation of machinery. He said that the metropolitan district of New York, with a population of 8,000,000, was using more electricity a year than the whole of. Great Britain; and whilst there wasasteady improvement in the rate of increase of electrical power supply in Great Britain, British engineers now recognized that the increase was not nearly rapid enough. Then Mr. Julius pointed out that the workman of the United States of America adds a value of £600 in the process of manufacture if provided with 33/4 h.p., whilst the wageearner in Australia having less than h.p, to assist him, adds a value of £322. For every £1,000 spent in wages in the United States of America, approximately £2,400 is added to the value of the product, as against £1,750 in Australia, despite the fact that American wages are materially higher than those ruling in this country. To put it in a different way, the increased productiveness under American factory conditions,- as a result of which over £2,400 is added in value for each £1,000 spent in wages, enables the workmen of the United States of America to receive higher wages than the workmen of Australia. Some people may say that this is not the result of an increased use of machinery.
– It is not the result of free trade.
– It is due to an increased application of science to the methods of manufacture. Some will contend that the American is a better workman than the Australian, but I do not hold that view. Mr. Julius pointed out clearly that the Australian workman- was really more efficient considering the horsepower with which he was provided. He remarked -
The “ added value “ figure that we have reached, with 1.4 horse-power per employee, much exceeds that realized in America with the same horse-power….. Our “ added value” at 4 horse-power per employee should, when it arrives, exceed that realized to-day in America.
Thus Mr. Julius pointed out that, man for man, the Australian workman was superior to the American, and that the only reason why the production per employee was greater in the United States was the application of science to machinery. Personally, I believe that considerably more than Mr. Julius mentions depends upon the system of payment in America. The workman in the United States of America is paid by results, while the Australian is remunerated by the hour. I know as a working man that better results are obtained from the piece-work system than from the system employed in Australia. I believe in piece-work, and I think that it would solve many of our troubles if it were applied in the industrial field in Australia. The following table from the London Labour Gazette of September last, shows the comparative rates of real or effective wages for various part of the world in 1925: -
America therefore is able not only to compete successfully in the markets of the world, and turn out more goods, but also to pay. the highest effective wage.
SenatorCrawford. - Do not those figures apply to some goods only. What does America do with respect to textiles, for instance ?
– She has not largely exported textiles up to the present time. I suppose the figures I have quoted apply mostly to hardware. The Minister interjected a few moments ago that the result was not due to a freetrade policy. Neither is it due to a prohibitive tariff, since America applies a lower tariff than Australia. The tariff in the United States of Americaw orks out roughly at 19s. 5d. per head of the population, while in Australia it is £4 8s.
– That is not a logical comparison - the United States with a population of 110,000,000 as against our 6,000,000.
– It may not be.I shall put the position in another way. I shall give the amount of taxation on the total importation. In the United States of America in 1924, 60 per cent, of the total imports were admitted duty free. whereas in Australia in that year the duty free imports were only 30 per cent. If the honorable senator desires further information, I may tell him that the United States of America in 1924 collected duties to the extent of 15 per cent, of the value of her total imports, while Australia for the same period collected 18 per cent. Thus, whichever way we look at the position, the duties in Australia are higher than those ruling in the United States.
– The honorable senator is referring to Customs collections, which may be very small because the rate of protection is high. The per capita value of imports into the United. States of America is very much below that of Australia.
– The American tariff was extremely high. It has had to be modified.
– Yes. It is gradually diminishing, whereas the Australian tariff is on the increase.
– America is a selfcontained country.
– I am trying to show the reason why she is self-contained today - that she is able to undersell the manufacturers of Australia and Great Britain, because of the application of science and machinery to her manufacturing activities.
– Does not piecework stand out in bold relief?
– I have already mentioned that fact. Mass production is also a strong factor. Under our Australian tariff we tax almost every article that is used in the development and distribution of electrical power, as well as every electrical appliance used for domestic purposes. If there is one factor in this or any other country that will stimulate manufacturing enterprise and increase production, it is surely the application of electrical energy. It is useless to encourage schemes for the supply and distribution of electrical power if, time after time, almost prohibitive duties are imposed on electrical appliances.’ For instance, turbines developing thousands of horse-power, although they are not now, and probably never will be, manufactured in Australia on a commercial basis, are heavily taxed. Perhaps not more than a dozen of them ai-e imported in a year.
– Do not say that they will never be manufactuerd in this country.
– Only firms that can afford to establish plants for the manufacture of these appliances on a large scale can supply them. It would not pay an Australian firm to install the necessary plant, and I think that I am safe in saying that machinery of this class will never be manufactured here on a commercial basis.
– Is it not being made at the present time at Cockatoo Island for the power-house in Sydney ?
– Has the honorable senator become a protectionist? I am not in a position to contradict his suggestion; but I know that the seven or eight high-powered turbines used in Tasmania have all been imported.
– They are all of British manufacture.
– Yes. Let us consider whether it is worth while protecting such an industry. Here, again, Mr. Julius gives some interesting facts -
In the manufacture of electric light and power, the total investment is very neaTly £21,000,000, with approximately £4,000,000 in land and buildings, and nearly £17,000,000 in plant and machinery. In 1923-4, Australia paid nearly £S59,00’6 in duty on electrical apparatus, nominally to protect electrical manufacturers in this country, and this amount in 1921 was nearly £933,000. Three thousand six hundred and forty-one persons were employed in the electrical factories, with an average wage of £174 per annum, but the total cost to Australia - that is, wages and ‘ duty added together - was £521 per employee; whereas the value added per employee by the manufacturing process in this industry was only £243.
The figures I have just given, carefully selected and compiled by a most capable man, furnish a complete answer to the question whether it is worth while protecting an industry such as this.
– He is evidently not a protectionist.
– Let me finish the extract. It proceeds -
Taxation to support this industry is therefore far in excess of the entire wealth produced by the industry. This, in itself, is bad enough, but the taxation undoubtedly retards the introduction of power into other industries, and so “ slows up “ our progress in all those industries. An analysis of the Customs revenue figures goes to show that, since 1907, an amount of £6,500,000 has been paid as duty on electrical work exclusive of any duty paid on wires and cables. Interest and sinking fund on this amount must be provided, which can be assumed at 10 per cent., and this means that those who generate and those who use power are carrying an overhead burden of £650,000 per annum, in respect of duties which have been paid, and this burden is now increasing at the rate of £85,000 per annum.
That is what Mr. Julius says in regard to an industry we are protecting with a ‘ 60 per cent. duty. We are not only bolstering up an artificial industry, but also penalizing industry in general, by raising the cost of electric power, when our object should be to make it as cheap as possible, and induce its use in every home. For every ten locally made domestic electrical appliances, a hundred must be imported. It seems to me that we are pursuing an entirely wrong policy. It is certainly not a scientific policy. We are supposed to have a scientific protective tariff, and I should be prepared to accept such a policy, but, when I find that we are penalizing one of our most important industries, and retarding production generally, I think it is time we called a halt.
– Does not the honorable senator regard this as a scientific tariff?
– I do not. Any little industry that makes tin tacks in a back yard can get a duty if it secures the ear of the Tariff Board.
– There is no proper discrimination shown.
– There is not. Very often, I think, we ought to protect some of our primary industries. I do . not think we are devoting enough attention to them. We’ are trying to build up a manufacturing country, and yet we cannot export a single manufactured article. What is the position of the boot industry? Boots have become cheaper. There is an over-production of them. The Australian manufacturer makes a very good boot, but if you ask him why he does not find a market overseas for his surplus product, he will tell you very plainly that it is impossible for him to export. And it will never be possible for him to do so. Under existing industrial conditions in Australia, the best he can hope to do is to supply the requirements of Australia.
– That is the position of most of our manufactures.
– Our policy ought to be to allow things to come in free of duty that will assist in the development of our big activities. Mr. Julius sums up the position as follows: -
A careful study of the foregoing data must, I think, lead one to certain very definite conclusions, as follows: - The vital factor in the efficient development- of industry - whether primary or secondary - is the provision of “ power “ at the lowest possible cost. And by the word “ power “ I mean not merely the supply of electrical energy at the switch, but also the whole of the apparatus that has to be installed by the user of power, to enable him to use it effectively in his manufacturing processes. Attention has in the past largely been focussed, in Australia at least, upon means -for providing an adequate’ and cheap supply of electricity. Very little thought appears to have been given to what, I believe, is a more important factor; namely, the supply to the user, at the lowest possible cost, of the apparatusthat is to enable him to use this power.
He concludes with this most pregnant remark : -
In America, the electric power station is now regarded as the heart of the national structure of prosperity. In a few years that country has nearly trebled its utilization of electrical power. This has enabled wages to increase faster than the cost of living, so that the workers are receiving the highest “ real wages “ ever paid in history. Larger possibilities of comfort and enjoyment are opening up for every fireside, and the opportunities for intellectual development are extending to a rapidly widening circle. This is the happy, human result of the electrical revolution for which the early years of the twentieth century will always be notable.
This is one of the industries we are penalizing by an excessively high tariff.
– How does America generate that power; by water or otherwise?
– Almost wholly by water. In Tasmania we use electric power fairly extensively. The other day I inquired about a vacuum cleaner, and ascertained that the landed cost was £6, yet the charge to the user was £18.
– Under this tariff vacuum cleaners will be admitted free.
– I am very pleased to hear that, and I hope that a lot of other items will be admitted free. If I can, I shall make them free. I want to give a little illustration of what the duty on electrical appliances means. I have a letter from Mr. C. B. Davies, of Hobart, who is consulting engineer to one of the municipalities in the southern part of Tasmania. The municipality called for tenders for the supply of transformers, and the lowest tender received was from the Metropolitan- Vickers Electrical Company of England. When tenders were called these transformers were carrying a duty of 27^ per cent., but between the date of the giving of the contract and the delivery of the goods, the duty was increased to 35 per cent, under the present tariff. After paying a duty of 35 per cent, the cost of the English tender was £697 14s. 2d. as against the Australian tender of £1,019, a difference of £321 5s. lOd. in favour of the English tender. After paying a duty of 35 per cent, and all charges from the Home country to the Hobart wharf, the English transformer was approximately 56 per cent, cheaper than the local article. But the Customs authorities - I do not know how they have the temerity to do these things, but I have no doubt they were prompted by some local manufacturers - decided to impose a dumping duty in addition to the duty of 35 per cent., and they charged another £105 duty, which brought the total cost of the British transformers to £803 12s. 2d. But even after this imposition the English tender was approximately 26^ per cent, cheaper than the Australian -made article, and, according to Mr. Davies, had the additional advantage of the greater experience of the English manufacturer. The invoice cost of the transformers landed in Hobart was £497 3s., and, subtracting this sum from £803 12s. 2d., the Commonwealth collected from the municipality duty amounting to £306 9s. 2d. The council, in trying to develop the municipality by distributing electric power throughout, contributed £306 9s. 2d. for the protection of the Australian manufacturer, and was still unable to give him the order for the apparatus. If that is not a clear illustration of a ruinous policy, I do not know what it is.
– It is protection run mad.
– It is. An article which could be placed on the wharf at Hobart at a cost of £497 eventually cost a small and poor municipality £803.
– But look at the revenue derived by the Commonwealth.
– I could understand a tariff of this sort if the Minister would be honest enough to tell us that it is being imposed for the sake of obtaining revenue, but, at the outset of his remarks, he said that there was in this schedule no proposal for revenue duties, and that every duty it imposed was in pursuance of the protection policy. I could pick out dozens of items which are not protective, and can never protect or encourage an industry, but can only result in the raising of an exorbitantly high revenue, giving the Commonwealth Government more money. Already it has difficulty in disposing of the revenue it receives, and is obliged to indulge in a policy of giving large sums of money to the States for work which could be provided for by the States themselves if the Federal Government allowed them a wider field of taxation. I should like to see our expenditure and revenue balance, so that there would be no surplus. Commonwealth Ministers will have to come down to bedrock, financing the commonwealth economically instead of extravagantly as they sometimes appear to be doing. The duty on electrical appliances is the one phase of the tariff I intend to deal with on the second reading. There are many other items in the schedule to which I shall refer in committee. In my opinion, we are pursuing a most vicious and foolish policy in attempting to encourage exotic industries at a tremendously high cost to the consumer. The cost of production goes up, hours of labour are reduced, and wages go up. The manufacturer then comes along and asks for an increased duty, and he gets it. The worker thereupon asks for still higher wages. And so we are following a vicious circle. I doubt whether we are living in such prosperous times as the optimism of some of our Ministers and honorable senators would indicate. I think we are living largely on borrowed money and a fictitious revenue derived from a high tariff. It is time we got to bedrock. The only sound basis for industrial development is efficiency and quality. If an Australian manufacturer can produce an article which compares more than favorably with an imported product, he should not need any protection, because the Australian people will purchase that made in Australia. There is no such thing as prejudice against local manufactures. It is all moonshine. In the other dominions, particularly in New
Zealand, as Mr. Julius pointed out, they have adopted a policy under which electrical appliances and tools of trade and production are admitted duty free. The result is that there is greater prosperity in New Zealand to-day than in any of the other dominions.
– That is questionable.
– In New Zealand they have devoted their energies to the development of their primary industries, and are not endeavouring to build up back-yard manufactories. We are not doing that in Australia. One does not purchase English goods because of a prejudice against Australian products. Why do we buy English tweeds ? Merely because tweed of similar quality is not manufactured in Australia. There is no doubt about that. We cannot get the value. Why do some use Swedish matches? I have a box of Swedish matches in my pocket, and I am not afraid to admit it. Notwithstanding all the nice things said concerning the local match industry, the quality of its product is not equal to the imported. When Australian manufacturers get control of the market there is a tendency on the part of some to say, “Now we have a monopoly, anything is good enough for Australians.” That will not do at all. If the Australian manufacturers wish to compete with importations, and build up sound manufacturing industries in this country they must “ produce the goods.” A very high tariff is only subsidizing inefficiency. High duties have been imposed upon woollen goods for the last 30 or 40 years. What is the result? In many of the woollen mills the machinery is inefficient, and the organization unsatisfactory, merely because they are sheltering behind the high fence of prohibition. If the Australian manufacturers of woollen goods had to compete in the markets of the world on a fair basis they would be compelled to produce a better article. I trust that there will be a measure of sanity in the debate, and that honorable senators will not blindly follow the advice of Ministers or the Tariff Board. The Tariff Board is not a thoroughly representative body. Country interests are not represented upon it.
– Neither are the workers.
– The Tariff Board is representative only of city interests. I am strongly in favour of the development of our primary industries, and I trust that, in dealing with the schedule, honorable senators will not depend upon the advice of the Tariff Board, but will use their own judgment. 1 intend to support a reduction of duties on many of the items, and I trust that in considering the schedule honorable senators will not be blinded by prejudice, and influenced by the fiscal madness that has come over Australia, but will use discretion, and support a sane policy.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (South Australia) [4.40]. - I listened with a great deal of pleasure to the speech of Senator Ogden, which was full of good, sound common sense. It was in striking contrast to the speech delivered by Senator Grant on the first reading of the bill and that of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham). After listening to the latter, I had not the faintest idea of what his fiscal faith really is. I do not know whether he is a prohibitionist, a high protectionist, a moderate protectionist, or a freetrader.
– Then it was a very successful speech.
– It would be if it were not analysed. The fiscal faith, of Senator Needham would be determined by the portion of the speech which one heard. The remarks of Senator Ogden were in striking contrast to those of the other two honorable senators to whom I have referred. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in his policy speech delivered at the Dandenong Town Hall on the 5th October last, said -
The tariff policy of the Government is based upon the principle of sane and reasonable protection to efficient Australian industries.
With that policy I entirely agree, but, at the same time, I desire to say that the Bruce-Page Government has already gone far beyond the policy then laid down by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government. The Prime Minister also said -
The Government stands for this principle, hut recognizes that the incidence of a protective tariff, based upon the determination of the Australian people to maintain a high standard of living for our workers, places our primary industries with an exportable surplus at a disadvantage when selling abroad in competition with the cheaper labour production of other countries. This fact renders it necessary that the fullest consideration should be given to the. effect upon our exporting industries of the standard of wages and conditions existing in Australia, with a view to rendering an equivalent measure of assistance to producers selling in external markets as is afforded to those who find a market within our own borders. Only in this way can justice be done to the different sections of our people and a well-balanced development assured.
The question naturally arises as to what the Prime Minister meant by an “ equivalent measure of assistance to producers selling in external markets as is afforded to those who find a market within our own borders.” So far as I can see, the only reasonable way in which to assist producers, and primary producers in particular, selling in external markets, is to lighten some of the heavy burdens at present imposed upon them by the existing tariff. I approach this subject in much the same way as did Senator Ogden. Australia is essentially a primary producing country, and to ensure full and proper protection of Australian industries our greatest efforts should surely be directed towards the development of our primary industries. A vast agricultural country, such as Australia, ought to produce more than 3 per cent, of the world’s wheat. That is all we are doing at present.
– We have to depend largely upon our primary production.
– Yes, and we should, therefore, not place any undue burden upon our primary industries. The Prime Minister said “ that the Government recognizes that the incidence of a protective tariff . . . places our primary industries with an exportable surplus at a disadvantage . . . “ What, then, ought the Government to do ? Surely some steps should be taken to minimize, as far as possible, the disadvantages which the Prime Minister says the primary producers are labouring under.
– Why not remove the duties which are harassing primary producers ?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The Government does not believe in doing that. I have said that the Government may lighten the burdens which fall upon the primary producers by reason of the tariff. They cannot entirely dispose of these disadvantages. A high tariff necessarily means a high cost of living.
The Government could do something towards minimizing the disadvantages of the primary producers, by giving some relief from the duties imposed at present on agricultural machinery and farming implements generally. It could remove or reduce the duty on engines used in connexion with farming operations. I have not the slightest doubt that the reply of the Government to such a suggestion will be that the existing duties are necessary to protect the secondary industries at present engaged in the production of agricultural implements. If adequate protection to our secondary industries necessarily means serious detriment to a primary industry, the question naturally arises as to which is the more important to Australia - the primary industry of agriculture, . or secondary industries which supply implements used in agriculture? There can be only one answer. The primary industries are infinitely more important than the secondary industries.
– The primary industries could not carry on successfully without secondary industries.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I am not arguing against Australia encouraging secondary industries. I realize that, if this or any other country is to progress, it must, so far as is possible, build up its secondary industries. I am, however, arguing in favour of a proper discrimination. Our primary industries are capable of almost limitless expansion. If we do not cripple them by placing upon them an intolerable burden, we can successfully export our surplus primary products. What is the position in regard to secondary industries? The possible expansion of our secondary industries is limited, because we cannot export our manufactures to any appreciable extent. I agree with Senator Ogden that it is sheer madness to bolster up secondary industries to such an extent as to jeopardize our primary industries. Even Senator Grant does not question such a statement.
– I do.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Then the honorable senator thinks that our secondary industries ought to be bolstered up to the detriment of our primary industries?
– I question the accuracy of the honorable senator’s statement.
– I said that it was folly to bolster up our secondary industries to such an extent as to jeopardize our primary industries, and Senator Grant says that he does not agree with me.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the whole tariff is a piece of folly?
– I am not saying that for a moment. I judge from the remarks of Senator Grant that he is a tariff prohibitionist.
– Did I say that? I said that I believed in our revenue being obtained from land taxation.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The honorable senator’s remarks on the tariff led me to believe that he was a tariff prohibitionist.
– He is a freetrader.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.If the honorable senator is a freetrader he is at variance with the other members of his party. I do not think any other honorable senator will argue that it is anything but folly for us to bolster up our secondary industries to such a degree that we seriously hamper and jeopardize our primary industries.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of any import duties to protect secondary industry?
– I am; and I shall make my position quite clear on that point presently. In bolstering up some of our secondary industries we are not showing any discrimination, and we are doing incalculable harm to some of our primary industries. The manner in which the manufacturing of agricultural implements has been bolstered up has been mentioned. I am afraid that the whole tariff tendency is in that direction. In many items of the tariff schedule we have advanced beyond what can be considered as the standard of reasonable protection, and in some of them we have” actually reached the point of prohibition. Some people openly advocate prohibition as the proper tariff standard for Australia.
– There is something logical about that.
– Hear; hear!
– On that point I may ask Senator Findley some questions which he will find it difficult to answer.
– If I cannot answer them to-day I shall ask for notice of them.
– The honorable senator would require very long notice. The Government does not put forward prohibition as its tariff policy; the Prime Minister announced that it favoured sane and reasonable protection for efficient Australian industries. I have no complaint to offer against that policy; I endorse it. But I complain that the Government has departed from the lines laid down by the Prime Minister. In some respects the present tariff is neither sane nor reasonable. Instead of helping certain industries it is seriously restricting them. That is no idle statement. The figures given by the Commonwealth Statistician in the Y ear-Book to indicate the relative productive activity of Australians should cause every thoughtful observer to pause. Taking 1,000 as the index-number of the productive activity of Australia per head of the population, in 1911 the Commonwealth Statistician gives the figure as 944 for 1921-22, 913 for 1922-23, and 893 for 1923-24. That is the latest figure we have available. There has been a steady decline year after year in the production per head of population in Australia. Those figures take into account not the value, but the volume of production. They are surely an unhealthy sign. In these times of improved methods and machinery our production should be increasing instead of diminishing.
– It would be increasing but for the excessive importations.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I think not. Some people in Australia think that a limitation of production is a blessing rather than otherwise. I should not be surprised if Senator Findley were among the number.
– I do not think that.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I am glad to hear it. I do not belong to that school. I believe that we should do everything possible to encourage production.
– Hear, hear!
– We should discriminate wisely in protecting industries. Some people seem to think that by a system under which the whole community is taxed for the benefit of a few, a country can grow rich. I do not subscribe to that view either.
– That, is one of the fundamentals of protection.
– I disagree with it. I believe in reasonable protection for certain industries in a country like Australia. There should be a discrimination. We should protect the industries that are essential, but not industries that do not matter. Some of our industries need protection, and some do not. Protection should not eliminate reasonable competition.
– What does the honorable senator mean by reasonable protection ?
-I shall refer to one or two industries to show the honorable senator what I mean. Our protective policy should not be applied to bolster up inefficiency. That point was dealt with by the previous speaker. I agree with his remarks on that point. I also agree with what he said about the folly of our giving tariff protection to industries which it is wasteful for us to support. He referred to the match-making industry, and so did Senator Graham. Senator Graham said that he had visited Messrs. Bryant and May’s works, and was impressed with the splendid conditions that obtained there. According to a statement made some time ago, on very good authority, it would pay Australia handsomely to wipe out the match-making industry, and to pay a pension for life, at double their present rates of wages, to all the persons employed in it.
– That has been said by freetraders about almost every industry that has been established in Australia.
– -I hardly think that that is correct. It is certainly wasteful for Australia to bolster up any industry of wnich a remark like that could be made. Senator Ogden referred to the duty on electrical appliances. I had prepared some matter on that subject, but he dealt with it so effectively that I shall content myself with saying that it is pure folly, in a country where cheap power may mean such a great deal in the development of primary and secondary industries, for us to put any obstacle in the way of its development. High duties on electrical appliances certainly are obstacles to the exploitation of our power resources.
– The folly is just as pronounced with regard to mining machinery.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.That is so; and so it is with regard to oil refining. It is economic suicide for us to destroy our natural industries in order to build up artificial industries. We should not place hampering burdens upon industries, which under reasonable conditions could develop markets outside as well as inside Australia. By a fostering system of tariff protection you may build up a home market, but by a fostering system which is unreasonable or illconsidered, you may deprive an important industry of all chance of competition in an outside market. We may build our tariff wall so high that we shall force our people to be content with trading among themselves, and make it impossible to trade with any other country. It must be remembered that a tariff wall that is effective in keeping out the surplus products of other countries is just as effective in keeping in the surplus products of our own country. That danger does not seem to be recognized by some of our so-called economists. While we have so many artificial restrictions hampering our Australian trade and commerce, we cannot hope for that development and expansion which the great resources of the Commonwealth would otherwise render possible. Senator Ogden pointed out that we are living under a more highly artificial system than the people of any other country in the world. We have a high standard of living in Australia, which no one is more anxious than I to maintain, and even improve, but how can we expect to even maintain it by purely artificial means ? Our everincreasing protective duties render necessary an ever-increasing rate of wage. That constantly ever-increasing rate of wage makes inevitable a constantly increasing cost of living. This means that naturally there will be further claims for increases of wages. Nothing else can be expected. On the ground that wages have to be increased still higher protective duties are applied for and granted.
– That is the vicious circle.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes, indeed, it is vicious with a vengeance. Such a system might work all right for a time, but, in my opinion, the breaking point must be reached sooner or later. One result of the system in Australia is that we are unable to export our surplus manufactures to any appreciable extent; and the other is that our fruit industry is being killed. The system has already partly killed mining ; it has hampered our wine industry, and it is seriously affecting our pastoral and agricultural developments. .
– It is a sort of living on doles.
– That is so, and that cannot go on for ever.
– Wages axe high, and hours of work are reasonable, in America, where a protective policy operates, and yet a cheap article is produced.
– The honorable senator was not here a little while ago when Senator Ogden showed that that result was achieved largely by the application of science to industry.
– There are other reasons.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes, but that is the great contributing factor. The undeniable fact is that Australia is not progressing as she should, having regard to her wonderful and illimitable resources. I have no doubt that the statement will be made here as elsewhere, that during the last 23 or 24 years the population of Australia has increased under our protective policy to the extent of about 2,000,000 people, and that production has also increased to a very great extent. But these increases are not what I think they should have been, and these facts are no argument against the contention I am putting forward. I am not arguing against tariff duties or against the tariffs of 23 or even 13 years ago. I am questioning certain unreasonable increases that have taken place within the last few years, and which are still taking place.
– At what point does the vicious circle start ?
– I thought I had completed the circle. If, however, the honorable senator is in doubt, I advise him to secure a copy of my remarks to-morrow and read them carefully. I am not saying that all increases in the tariff are wrong. My point is that proper discrimination is not being observed in the imposition of these duties, and that the readiness to impose unreasonable duties is placing an undue burden upon the people of Australia generally and upon our primary producers in particular. Something has been said in the course of this debate about prohibition. I believe there are one or two prohibitionists in this chamber. I regret that Senator Graham is not present, because I understand that in tariff matters he is a prohibitionist. I invite these tariff prohibitionists to consider what the effect would be if we completely shut out all imports of commodities which could, in any circumstances, be produced in Australia. The merest tyro in economics must realize the dependence of imports upon exports, or vice versa, the dependence of exports upon imports. Australia is receiving approximately £140,000,000- last year I think the amount was £136,000,000- in payment for herexports. Is it not clear that if our tariff prohibited imports we should lose that amount which at present we receive in payment for our exports? It is manifest that, if we export goods, we must take goods of some kind in payment. This simple fact seems to be lost sight of by many people who set themselves up as economists. If sometimes we do not buy from those countries to which we ship our products it is clear that they cannot continue to buy from us. No country can buy always without selling to the country from which it buys. I am convinced that before long the people of Australia will wake up to the fact that these increases in tariff duties are placing a heavy burden upon the community generally by hampering industry, restricting trade, and rendering impossible the full development of the natural resources of Australia. I believe the time is not far distant when tariff revision will be the all-important issue at Commonwealth elections and then the party to be returned to power will be that party which promises to re- lieve the people of some of the burdens which are being imposed upon them by the present high tariff. I am convinced that if the duties were reduced to reasonable limits, whilst some few secondary industries might go to the wall, agriculture would be encouraged, primary production generally would be assisted, commerce would be strengthened, and the welfare of all classes would be very considerably augmented. The point I wish to emphasize is that in the imposition of tariff duties we should discriminate between those secondary industries which ought to be assisted and those which may be regarded as economically wasteful. I referred just now to the matchmaking industry as one. Senator Ogden dealt fully, and very ably, with the industry engaged in the manufacture of electrical appliances, and showed how the imposition of high duties on electrical equipment had considerably retarded the expansion of other secondary industries in the Commonwealth. I wish to make it clear that I am not arguing against a protective tariff, because I am a protectionist myself. I believe that, in a young country like Australia, it is necessary to protect certain necessary industries, but not those industries that are wasteful from an economic stand-point.
– Has the honorable senator any line of demarcation?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I do not think it is possible more clearly to draw the line of demarcation than I have done, by advocating a policy of discrimination in respect of secondary industries that enjoy protection under the tariff. We should consider - and the Prime Minister has said that the Government will consider - the effect of protective duties upon our primary industries and upon industries which depend, as regards their surplus output, upon outside markets. What I am complaining of is that there is no such discrimination in the existing tariff. If the tariff has the effect of hampering our primary industries, the tendency will be to place an undue burden upon the people generally, and particularly upon our primary producers. My remarks have been somewhat general in character, and may be taken as a declaration of the fiscal faith that is in me. Like other honorable senators, I shall have an opportunity of saying more when the items are before this chamber.
– There appears to be little to add, from my point of view, to what has been said by honorable senators who have preceded me. Australia seems to have become irrevocably protectionist, and apparently for the two very sound and sane reasons that nearly every other country has adopted protection, and that protection is essential for the defence of Australia. There are, however, some aspects that should occasion alarm. There is, for instance, the danger of over-production.
– Overproduction in certain industries.
– Exactly.I do not mean over-production generally, but in certain specific industries that have been developed by our policy of protection. When we make glib comparisons between the United States of America and Australia, we are apt, sometimes, to forget that the United States of America has a population of 110 millions, and, therefore, has a huge home market. American manufacturers, with whom I have been in touch, have informed me that they rely mainly upon the home market, and not upon the export trade, which, owing to the adoption of antidumping provisions by countries to which the surplus is exported, is now seriously jeopardized.
– The motor car and picture film industries are not suffering.
– Apparently not ; but I believe that every country that concerns itself with its secondary industries will provide, as we are providing, anti-dumping provisions to check imports of surplus products from other countries. These anti-dumping laws will seriously affect Australian industries, because we have a population of only 6,000,000 people, and if, by tariff duties, we encourage too greatly the expansion of certain secondary industries, we shall have either to export the surplus in order to stabilize the position or be faced with financial difficulties. I have no desire to mention any particular industry. All I wish to say is that, just as the forced liquidation of one banking institution will shake the whole financial fabric of the State, so will the forced liquidation of one important manufacturing concern, owing to over-production and its inability to dispose of its surplus products, prejudicially affect every manufacturing industry in the same line.
– How many manufacturing industries can successfully export their surplus now?
– I should say that, with our present standard of living, which, of course, no one desires to see lowered, we cannot engage in any considerable export trade in manufactured products, and I put it to Senator Guthrie, who so strongly advocates the development of certain secondary industries, that in some of those there are indications that over-production is imminent. I have no desire to name any of these industries, but I know of one which would probably be capable, if its machinery were in full operation,of manufacturing sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the whole of the Orient. It is manifest, from his speeches, that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) is fully alive to the danger of over-production in certain industries that have grown up under the protection of the tariff. The solution appears to be to bring more people to Australia so as to widen the home market. I am sensible that, in many industries, there is no immediate danger of overproduction, but there are others, and, since we are charged with the fiscal affairs of Australia, it behoves us to walk warily.
– How could a reduction of the tariff improve the position where there is a tendency to overproduction ?
– I am not quite sure, but the danger I see is that if we impose high duties on certain commodities, we immediately attract capital into those channels, and we run the risk of over-production. The people who are so encouraged to embark their capital in such industries enjoy a false sense of security. They are not likely to survey the field and ascertain for themselves the possibility of over-production. Proposals are being made frequently for the establishment of new ventures, and not infrequently a too-credulous public is asked to find money for manufacturing concerns which, before long, are capable of supplying the whole of the requirements of the. Commonwealth. As more than one hon orable senator has shown, it is impossible in every instance to dispose of surplus secondary products overseas, because of the high cost of production and the imposition of anti-dumping provisions by the Governments of other countries. It seems to me that, if we are to embark upon a policy of high protection, it is essential that we should consider future possibilities from this point of view. I should like a calculation to be prepared - I am not sure that it has not already been made - regarding the loss that has occurred to this country in the last few years through industrial turmoil. Many industries are suffering on that account. I am in entire accord with Senator Barwell concerning the reduction of the volume of production in secondary industries, some of which I attribute to the fact that there is no industrial . peace in them. If these industries are to be protected they must give Australia of their best from every point of view - not only the best per capita output, but also a continuity of production. The only other note I desire to strike - for, like other honorable senators, I am a protectionist - is that I should like to see a greater measure of Imperial or inter-Empire preference embodied in our tariff. I have been greatly shocked to find on the tables of various hostelries in the neighbouring dominion of New Zealand oranges and dried fruits imported, not from Australia, but from California. It seems to me that we should endeavour to foster a spirit of interEmpire preference, and I, for one, should like to see a larger measure of preference given to Empire products. This Empire stands to-day in the forefront of civilization.
– What did Canada do with our butter?
– If the statement made on behalf of Canada be correct, she probably acted in a proper manner; but that is a matter upon which we have not yet been fully enlightened. Whatever Canada may do is too small a matter to consider in dealing with such an important subject as Imperial preference. The greatest force in the world to-day is the British Empire; and it is our duty, in dealing with fiscal matters - because tariffs produce wars as well as help to prevent them - to make every endeavour to strengthen the bonds of empire in the interests of world peace, . and of civilization generally. If an opportunity is afforded me, I shall vote for an increase in the quantum of preference given to British goods.
– I am entirely in accord generally with the principles of this measure. The Government has declared that it favours sane and efficient protection, and I follow it in that policy. It is very difficult to draw a line of demarcation between industries which need protection and those which do not, but I have no doubt as to the attitude I shall’ adopt towards those in which there is a tendency to reduce the hours of labour. An industry that can afford to depart from the generally accepted view of what is a fair day’s work plainly indicates that it is no longer struggling and securing only a bare existence. Honorable senators are supposed to represent all sections of the community, and it is necessary in the general interests that no further protection be given to industries in which the employees are not prepared to work ordinary hours. I shall object to supporting any further protection to those industries that artificially attempt to shorten the hours of labour. We should not penalize the primary producers, who work long and arduously in order to confer benefits upon those who are not prepared to do their fair share of labour. When the items of the tariff are considered in detail, I shall endeavour to elicit the conditions of work in the respective industries, and I shall limit the measure of protection that I shall support accordingly
Senator THOMPSON (Queensland) f5.27]. - Like previous speakers, I do not intend to detain the Senate long, but shall leave matters of detail until the committee stage is reached. Any doubts that I may have had at one time on the fiscal issue were quite dispelled by the wonderful speeches of that great statesman, Joseph Chamberlain, when he conducted his political campaign immediately prior to his health breaking down. Had it not been for that lamentable breakdown, the history of Great Britain in the years that have passed since would probably have been different. I am wholly in favour of most of the items in the tariff. If Chamberlain considered protection necessary for Great Britain it must be still more necessary for a young country like Australia ; but I contend that it should be moderate. I agree with Senator Barwell and with other honorable senators who have advocated that a sane policy be adopted. Australia must consider not only efficiency at home, but also its customers abroad.
– What does the honorable senator mean by moderate protection ?
– I shall explain my meaning as I proceed. By our customers abroad, I mean the people who take our primary products, such as wheat and wool. If Australia proceeds to slam its door in their faces it must expect them to adopt a similar attitude.
– We are doing that now.
– Not at all. So far as our secondary industries are concerned we must look for a market within our. own borders. Our manufacturing conditions are so artificial that we can never expect to compete outside with the manufactures of other countries. In this connexion I detect a good deal of inconsistency on the part of honorable senators opposite who advocate high protection, but deprecate immigration. These two things must go hand in hand. If we are to make a success of our secondary industries we must encourage an increase of population to consume the goods we manufacture. As to living conditions, about which we hear so much, I would remind the Senate that Sweden, which compares favorably with Australia in regard to living conditions, is able to compete successfully with our own producers in the supply of matches and timber in Australia. I happen to know a good deal about Sweden, because it is ‘ part of my business to read the literature of that country. Although wages in Sweden are not as high as in Australia the cost of living there is lower, and altogether the conditions of the people are not so far below those obtaining in Australia as honorable senators opposite would have us believe. It was with regret that at Mildura recently I saw a tremendous slack of shooks of timber in one of the fruit-packing stores. I noticed a Swedish brand upon it, and I asked why Australian timber could not be used. The person to whom I addressed the question stated that Queensland timber could be obtained, but it was cheaper to secure Swedish timber and pay the duty on it.
– That is the fault of the Queensland State Government in charging high royalties.
– Yes. I was going to say that Queenslanders. take an entirely different view from that of Senator J. B. Hayes on the question of timber duties. In my State we have a great industry that uses a vast quantity of timber, and I have been requested to oppose any increase in the duties upon it. I am sorry to find myself at variance with the honorable senator from Tasmania. The Queensland Government, I am informed, has directly taxed the timber industry of that State to the extent of £1,137,128 since 1918, and has expended less than £520,000 in re-afforestation. My informant goes on to say: -
As we are very large users of timber in normal times, and pay about £8,000 per annum in timber royalty, we feel entitled to protest against any proposals, which so far as Queensland is concerned at any rate, will add greatly to the burden of the builder and consumer, without providing any necessary relief to those engaged in the industry….. It should be noted that in 1020, royalties on mining timber in Queensland were increased by 400 per cent., the increase varying according to the distance of timber from mills or railways, and it was only after a united protest by consumers and timber getters, who made it clear that a large number of men would be thrown out of employment if payment of the new royalties were insisted on, that the old rates wore restored. . . . An addition to the duty on timber will only add to the public burden, for the benefit of owners of standing timber, without conferring any benefit worth mentioning on those who fell and mill it.
– What is the royalty on Queensland timber?
– Up to £1 per 100 super, feet.
– How do people build houses there?
– They continue to do so, although the cost has increased tremendously. A cottage that could be built for £400 a few years ago now costs £800. This is a tremendous tax on the user of timber.
– It . is all due to the State Labour Government.
– Yes. I think the schedule to this bill is a very fair effort on the part of the Tariff Board, but I do not think the mining industry has been given that consideration which it deserves. We all know what a wonderful help it has been to the different States at various times, particularly at critical periods in their history, and I venture to say that it will still be, in the future, a great help to them. But instead of more consideration being extended to it in the framing of this tariff, the duties on mining machinery have been considerably increased. It is true that the machinery upon which these increased duties are placed can be made in Australia, but only at a prohibitive cost. If the Minister cannot see his way to admit machinery required for mining purposes free, I shall ask honorable senators to- support me in moving in that direction.
SenatorReid. - The honorable senator will have Walkers Limited opposed to him if he does so.
– No. Machinery required for sugar extraction, which is now being landed at Mackay, has to pay the increased duty provided in this schedule. It is a class of machinery that cannot be commercially produced in Australia, and should be admitted free or, at any rate, at a very low rate of duty. Recently theRockhampton Harbour Board had occasion to purchase a trailing suction dredge, and accepted the tender of Fleming and Ferguson, of Scotland, at £48,670. Poole and Steele, of South Australia, submitted a tender of £125,000. That was the highest tender received. Other Australian tenders received were from Walkers Limited, Queensland, £97,300; the Government Dockyards, New South Wales, £89,500; and Mort’s Dock, Sydney, £80,000, the last-mentioned being the lowest Australian tender received. Even after the duty of 30 per cent, had been paid on Fleming and Ferguson’s dredger, its cost was only £63,000, as compared with the ‘£80,000 tender from Mort’s Dock.
– Was that the Scottish price for -the dredge delivered in Australia ?
– Yes, I understand so. When I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs- (Mr. Pratten) to give some consideration to the Harbour Board he said that, inasmuch as the dredger could have been built in Australia, he could not see his way to grant my request. I asked, “At any price whatever ?” and he replied, “ Yes, at any price whatever.” I maintain that that is an improper attitude to take up, because the vast difference in price shows that this kind of dredger is not being commercially manufactured in Australia. Therefore, consideration should have been extended to the Rockhampton Harbour Board. I am grateful that, iu another place, the Minister has seen fit to make crude and residual oils free. As these are oils which are largely used in modern flotation processes, the concession will be of distinct benefit to mining in Queensland. The duty, as originally proposed, was considerably perturbing people at Mount Morgan. When the Senate rose early in the year the impression which the Minister in this chamber representing the Minister for Trade and Customs had was that these oils were to be free, and, unfortunately, I telegraphed to my constituents that they were to be free, only to find afterwards that they would not be. However, subsequently, the duty was removed in another place, and I am now pleased to welcome this addition to the free list, because I am sure it will be a great help to the mining industry of Queensland.
– I thought that the Mount Morgan mine was closed down.
– No ; it is working, but, instead of 1,700 men, it is employing only 350. The company is experimenting on a new process which, if it is demonstrated that it can be commercially worked on a large scale, will mean a great deal for the mine. It will probably’ afford employment for 1,000 or 1,100 men, as well as a number of others on construction work, because it will need a very expensive plant. There is so much lowgrade ore in sight that if the experiments now in hand demonstrate that a bigger plant can be worked successfully, the mine will be given a new lease of life, to the great .advantage of Central Queensland and the State in general. When Mount Morgan is out of commission, the gold production of Queensland decreases considerably, and very many people are thrown out of employment. Another item upon which there is a diversity of opinion is structural steel. This diversity of opinion illustrates the difficulties that an honorable senator encounters. I hear from one large user of steel that the Broken Hill Proprietary are fully meeting Australian requirements at a price which is from £5 below the cost of imported structural steel. On the other hand, the Townsville Chamber of Commerce opposes the duty on structural steel, because it will adversely affect industry. What is a poor senator to do in such circumstances ?
– I have received a letter from the Townsville Chamber of Commerce asking me to oppose the increases generally.
– The honorable senator should follow the advice of a well-known character, and “ holler with the biggest mob.”
– Another matter about which I am also gravely concerned, and equally diametrically informed, is the duty on maize. I have a letter from the Queensland Mixed Farming Industrial Advisory Board, appealing for the retention of the protective duties. I have another letter from the Graziers Association of Queensland pointing out what is very true, the appalling state of the sheep industry of Central and Northwestern Queensland, and asking that maize be admitted free in order to save the starving stock. There is a good deal to be said on both sides of this question, and I hope that it will be dealt with in a practical way. For instance, if the season is good, with plenty of maize production, and there are no starving stock to be fed, I should say, “ By all means give us the necessary protection on maize.” But at a time such as this, when we are informed that we are likely to lose 5,000,000 sheep in Queensland, if the free importation of maize, or if its importation at a low rate of duty will prevent the sheep from dying, I think the matter of removing the duty should be given proper consideration. There are other items to which I shall refer in committee, but in passing I should just like to mention that the Townsville Chamber of Commerce has ideas with regard to cotton goods and cotton tweed. It declares that the duties proposed are too high, and as cotton goods are used in the north, in the sugar and other industries, it asks honorable senators who represent Queensland to oppose these duties or seek a reduction of them.
– The sugar people have not invoked the aid of the Townsville Chamber of Commerce in this matter.
– Mention is made of the fact that the sugar workers use these goods. However, I shall use my own judgment when the item comes forward. I am simply mentioning it now to show the nature of the requests that honorable senators get. In committee, I hope to offer a word in support of an increased duty on marble. We have large deposits of magnificent marble in Central Queensland, but it cannot compete with Italian marble. The cost of production in Italy is low, and the freight from Italy to the southern ports of Australia is less than the cost of transporting Central Queensland marble to Melbourne. In these circumstances, I think we may safely ask for some consideration for this Australian industry. It is true that the Queensland deposits are quite a distance from a railway line, and that a largo proportion of the cost of production is due to the long haulage from the quarry to the railway, but if our marble requirements could be confined to our Australian product, we could certainly meet it from Our unlimited supply of very good quality marble in Central Queensland. I think Australian whisky is already sufficiently protected. I regard the proposal of the Government to increase the duty on whisky as an interference with the liberty of the subject. I do not like Australian whisky; it is not as palatable or as good as the Scotch whisky to which I have been accustomed.
– Can the honorable senator tell one from the other ?
– Yes ; but I should need to drink them at distinct intervals. Last year, when I ventured the opinion that the Australian whisky was not as good an article as the Scotch, one gentleman in the trade told me that he would put four glasses of whisky in front of me, and defy me to know the difference between them. I replied that a wine and spirit expert with my firm had probably forgotten more, concerning spirits, than most men in this country knew, and was well-stocked with new hats he had won by the same trick. It is only a trick, because when the first sample has been tasted, it is impossible to tell whether the second spirit tested is brandy or whisky.
– That is ridiculous.
– It is not. An expert can tell by the bouquet. In Rockhampton on one occasion I tested both the imported and Australian whisky, and can say that the Australian product when compared with matured Scotch is very crude. I have nothing against the Australian whisky, but I think that it has all the protection it requires. If further assistance is necessary I suggest a reduction of the excise by 5s., which would afford the Australian manufacturers ample protection. Senator Ogden referred to the question of the collection of duties as they stood at the time when a vessel reached its first port of call in Australia, which is one that should be settled without further delay. I have attended Chamber of Commerce congresses in different parts of Australia, and know that this is not by any means a new question. The mercantile community have brought this matter under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs on many occasions, and his invariable reply has been that -an amendment of the act is necessary. If that is so, we should have amending legislation. The present practice operates most unfavorably in Queensland. If duties are raised between the time when a vessel reaches Fremantle, which is the first port of call in Australia, and the time when she reaches a Queensland port, as sometimes happens, importers in that State are at a disadvantage. It is quite an easy matter for duties to be made uniform throughout the Commonwealth the moment a vessel touches Australia, and I trust the Government will introduce amending legislation to overcome the difficulty. The non-refund of duty where reductions have been made or commodities placed on the free list also requires attention. The department continues to collect the duty originally imposed, and, so far as I know, no refunds are made. That is inequitable. It would be fair to take stock under departmental supervision and make refunds to those holding stock. I believe that precedent is against such a course, but it is a fair proposition to bring before the Minister.
– It would be practically impossible to take stock in ali the warehouses throughout Australia.
– Only a few lines may be affected.
– But those lines may be stored in warehouses throughout the Commonwealth.
– Not necessarily; but another method is that it would be easy to ascertain how much duty had been’ paid and then assess a fair percentage to be refunded to those who had paid it.
– What of those who have paid increased prices in the meantime?
– In most cases the importers have the stocks on hand. I feel that I am under a debt of gratitude to Senator Graham. My self-esteem had reached a low point when Senator Guthrie declared that he was clad from head to foot in everything of Australian manufacture. I could not say the same. My clothes, although made in Australia, were not manufactured from Australian material. On one occasion, when I asked my tailor if the material I had selected was made in the Commonwealth, he replied, “ They cannot make that in Australia.” I then asked him if they did not make such good stuff in the Commonwealth, and he replied in the negative. Later, at the opening of the Goulburn woollen mills - which are not the largest mills in Australia, but which have the most up-to-date machinery in the Commonwealth - I was conversing with the manager, who is a Bradford man, whose father and grandfather were also woollen manufacturers, and I informed him that I had been told in Sydney that certain tweeds could not be made in this country. I asked him if his mill could produce anything like I was wearing. He replied that they could not, but he directed my attention to two looms in the corner of the factory with which they were going to try to produce such material. He also informed me that if they were successful, and there was any demand for it, they would add to their plant, and endeavour to cater for that class of trade. I cannot say that my boots are of Australian material, because they were made by a man named Stewart, in Brisbane, who imports a good deal of his material. His work is of a very high standard, and he pays the wages which this country demands. I felt that Senator Guthrie was a political Brobdingnagian, and I only a political Lilliput, but when Senator Graham came along, and took the feet of clay from under our political god, my self-esteem returnedto normal, and I felt that, after all, I could justly claim to be as good an Australian as Senator Guthrie is. I shall reserve any further remarks I have to make until we are dealing with the schedule, and. I trust, when that stage is reached, I shall be instrumental in effecting some necessary amendments.
.- I do not suppose that any measure which comes before this Chamber is of more importance to the community than a Customs Tariff Bill, . because tariff duties affect every section of the community. It is therefore the duty of public men to interest themselves in such legislation, in order that they may deal not only with the question of protection versus freetrade, but also closely study the items in the interests of the people. When the tariff was introduced in another place, it was referred to as a schedule which provided sane and efficientprotection for the industries of Australia. Something more than that is needed. I believe in the sane and efficient protection of the people of Australia, who, to me, are of more importance than are our industries. We have to deal with tariff reform from the community point of view, and do all we can to improve the position of the people. I. endorse everything which has been said in connexion with preferential trade with the British Empire, because we cannot forget the debt we owe to the Mother Country in connexion with the development of the Commonwealth. I am prone to resent legislation which in effect places the Mother Country at a disadvantage in the matter of trade, but after a careful investigation of the items in the schedule, one cannot but conclude that a determined effort has been made to strike a blow at the Mother Country by placing a heavy duty on the products of British industries without, at the same time, giving to our own people any special advantage. When the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth was discussed in 1921, I endeavoured to get certain amendments carried, particularly in connexion with the duties on clocks and watches. On looking through the schedule, I find that the protests which I made three years ago, without effect, were fully justified. Certain duties were imposed on articles in general use in Australia, which were not being manufactured in the Commonwealth. After three years’ consideration, however, the duties have now been reduced to what they were in 1919, which shows that during the term which has elapsed the. people have been unnecessarily penalized. Provision is also made in the tariff for increased duties on textiles and wearing apparel. 1 have looked through the records to see whether the leading Australian manufacturers of these commodities have been able to carry on fairly well under the 1919 tariff, and find that one company has been paying a dividend of 10 per cent., and that the shares, which have a face value of 20s., are now selling on the. Stock Exchange at £1 10s. 41/2d. Notwithstanding this, we are asked to impose additional duty on imported commodities such as this company is manufacturing. Australia is almost wholly dependent for her progress on the development of her primary industries. At present our principal product is wool. The principal purchaser of our wool, and our best customer in every sense, is Great Britain. We expect her to give us the best possible price for our clip, and because she has done so we have made substantial progress in the last decade or so. It would be strange if we turned round now and said to her, “We expect you to take our wool, and to’ give us the best possible price for it, but if you dare use it to manufacture articles for export to Australia we shall look upon it as a crime and will penalize you. In fact, we shall put such a high duty on those products that it will be impassible for you to send them to us.” Such a policy is quite unreasonable. I approve of some of the items in the schedule, but I am opposed to others, and I shall take steps to express my opposition in a more definite way when the specific items are before us. As a nation, we are in an entirely different position to-day than in 1914. Notwithstanding that we earnestly desire to develop our secondary industries, we cannot ignore the fact that it is likely that we shall seriously antagonize some friendly nations if we set up such a high tariff wall that they will be unable to trade with us. If we adopt an attitude like that, our last state will be worse than our first. It will be disastrous to us. We ought to endeavour to retain the goodwill of the people of other countries, and we certainly ought to assist rather than embarrass Great Britain in her noble fight to recover the commercial position that she held prior to the war.
– We are here to legislate in the interests of the Australian people so far as the tariff is concerned.
– Only that? If so, we shall find ourselves, as a nation, in the same position ‘ towards other nations that an individual occupies towards other individuals when he tries to live only to himself. There can be no continued and unlimited prosperity for a country that seeks its own advancement in utter disregard of the welfare of other nations. We should endeavour to protect certain of our industries that require protection, but we cannot safely carry protection beyond a certain point. Reasonable and fair protection is as far as we can go legitimately. If we go farther we shall hinder rather than help our industries. I am prepared to give fair protection to any industry that is worth the name of an industry, provided that the people engaged in it are putting the whole of their energy into it; but I am not prepared to do anything that will accentuate the difficulties of our present situation. Senator Bar.well drew attention to the fact that the output per head of our population is decreasing. That should not be the case in a country like this. If we legislate to perpetuate that state of affairs we shall build up, not a strong, self-reliant community, but a spineless, jellyfish people, who will not be able to hold their own in the world.
– Why has that not happened in other protective high-wage countries like America or Germany?
– That is a fair question.
– But it would not be safe to follow it very far.
– Is it possible for any lasting good to come to Australia by the adoption of a policy of protecting uneconomic secondary industries ? If we pursue that policy we shall reach the stage where it will be impossible for our people to purchase at a reasonable price, or in reasonable quantities articles which should be well within their financial means.
– I do not think anything like that will happen.
– It is happening now, and I will submit substantial evidence to the honorable senator on that point. The further we go beyond the point of reasonable and fair protection, the more difficult and unsatisfactory must become our position. Senator Ogden referred this afternoon to the vicious circle. I wish to show honorable senators how it is caused. In September of last year a tariff schedule, to which we are told this one is practically similar, was introduced in the House of Representatives. On comparing one item in that schedule with the corresponding item in this schedule, I find a marked difference. In the interim something has caused it to be increased by 70 per cent.
– Which item is that?
– Is it whisky?
– No; it concerns textiles that are really necessary to the well-being of the community. The alteration occurred in this way: Soon after the introduction of the previous schedule, the workers in the textile industry determined to submit a new log of wages and conditions to their employers. I propose to show how this action enlarges the vicious circle and, if persisted in, must eventually make the whole position absolutely impossible. I may introduce the matter best, perhaps, by reading the following report which appeared in the press : -
A new log of wages and conditions lias been served on the employers in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia by the Textile Workers’ Union. A rate of £7 a week has been claimed for adult men and women workers. Other claims are: - Apprentices aged Ki years, £1 15s. a week; aged 17 years, £2 10s.; aged 18 years, £3 10s.; aged 10 years, £4 10s.; aged 20 years, £5 10s.; aged 21 years and thereafter, £7 a week. The log fixed the maximum number of hours to be worked as 44 a week, and overtime has been claimed at the rate of time and a half for the first hour and double time thereafter. Should an employee be required to work overtime without having been notified on the previous day an extra rate of 2s. 6d. on the overtime charges has been demanded.
Special provision has been made in the log for the training of apprentices in the industry, the responsibility for which was placed on the employers. The maximum proportion of apprentices was fixed as one male apprentice to every five or fraction of five male persons who were in receipt of at least the minimum rate of wages. It is demanded that employers should permit apprentices to attend a suitable technical school for at least eight hours a week in working hours without deduction of pay, employers to pay whatever school fees be otherwise paid by apprentices. Where there was no technical school convenient, it was stipulated that employers should provide apprentices with a technical course to cover the trade he was learning at an approved correspondence school.
– Has an award been made to that effect?
– Then why introduce the matter here? It is sub judice.
– The honorable senator knows as well as I do that any increase in the cost of living invariably means an increase in wages. Industrial tribunals always base their awards on the cost of living. You cannot increase the cost of production without placing the general community in a worse position than formerly. Practically all commodities in general use reach the consumers through an army of distributors, which is essential to the well-being of the community. Honorable senators know that, if they are suffering from kidney trouble, they cannot go to the manufacturers and buy half a yard of red flannel. Nor can they go to the manufacturers and buy half a pound of nails, or a sheet of galvanized iron. They must buy through the retail distributors. In nearly every case the distribution of these goods is based upon a percentage of profit upon the capital cost. Assume that under existing conditions an article can be produced for £1, and that 25 per cent, on that cost is reasonable to cover distribution charges, the article would cost the consumer 25s. ; but if, on account’ of certain increased charges, it cost 25s. to produce, it would cost the consumer 31s. 3d., so that relatively the consumer would be ls. 3d. worse off under the new condition than under the old. Increasing our protective policy by imposing additional and unnecessary duties on commodities must inevitably lead us to the point when the whole system will collapse. I wish to make it quite clear that I believe in maintaining a good standard of living for our people. I am just as proud as any honorable member of the Opposition of the Australian people.
– “We have reason to doubt that, in. view of the history of the honorable senator’s party.
– I am not speaking as a party man at all. Honorable senators opposite’ cannot understand how it is possible for a man to be a true Nationalist, and yet speak his mind freely. I have always stood up for the rights of the general community.
– The honorable senator is not an independent; he is a party man.
– I am not an independent, but a Nationalist; but one of the great advantages that a Nationalist has over honorable senators opposite is that, while conforming, to the . Nationalist policy and Nationalist ideals, he may express himself quite freely on all matters of detail.
– In anything that affects the Government the honorable senator must vote with his party.
– I know where the Government stands in regard to this schedule. It desires to see it adopted. Nevertheless I shall attempt to have some amendment made, and I know that I may do so without affecting my position as a member of the party. That is one of the advantages that I have over honorable senators opposite. The people should be made to realize that if Australia is to progress, they must be prepared to give of their best in reasonable competition, one with the other. Too much spoonfeeding will not enable Australia to reach that position, as a manufacturing country, which I hope she will one day occupy. Senator Needham said, a few days ago, that he looked forward confidently to the day when Australia would be able to export the .whole of her surplus manufactured products. His remarks only indicated that he had not carefully studied the position. Under existing conditions it is practically impossible for Australia to export the surplus products of her secondary industries.
– Canada will take our butter !
– The honorable senator knows I am referring to our manufacturing products - out textiles, our flannels, our blankets, our boots, and the hundred and one other commodities that are produced here. Is it seriously urged that they can be marketed in any country ?
Silence from honorable members opposite clearly indicates that they know we cannot dispose of these surplus products overseas.
– Is it not a fact that the Commonwealth Woollen Mills were able to clothe the Australian soldiers cheaper and better than the soldiers in any other country were clothed during the war?
– There is no doubt about that.
– Then why cannot we export our other products?
– The honorable senator knows that they can only be exported if other countries adopt a policy of freetrade in regard to Australian surplus products, and they are not likely to do that. There is very little chance of Australian manufactured products getting over high tariff walls in other parts of the world. And it is just as well to bear in mind that the governments of other countries are not likely to take Australian tariff duties lying down. They are erecting tariff walls of their own.
– Does the honorable senator want Australia always to be an importing nation ?
– I think that if we adopt a policy of common sense in relation to the tariff, we shall be able to produce a fair proportion of all our requirements. One point I wish to emphasize is that the cost of living has materially increased through the operation of the new tariff schedule, which has not yet passed both branches of the legislature, although under a special act it has become law. I am not speaking from the freetrade point of view. I am not a freetrader. Honorable senators opposite fail to differentiate between a reasonable protectionist and a hide-bound protectionist.
– I should like to have a satisfactory definition of a “reasonable “ protectionist.
– My remarks have been made mainly with the object of awakening public interest in the tariff. I believe I shall be able to show that, in some instances, the proposals of the Government are not reasonable. If, as the result of my comments in this chamber, greater interest is taken by the public in the various items in the schedule, I shall feel that my remarks have not been made in vain. Senator Ogden this afternoon referred to an injustice which, I think, has been apparent to many people for some considerable time, namely, the collection of duties at the rates payable after the discharge of goods from the vessel that brings them to Australia. I have had many cases brought under my notice in which great injustice has been done in this way. The position could be met by an amendment of the Customs Tariff Act, and there is no reason why it should not be done. Under the Constitution preference, in regard to tariff duties, should not be given to any one State, but it is a fact that as the result of administrative policy, certain traders are enjoying a preference. Let me give an illustration. In the recent snipping strike importers on the mainland were able to get delivery of their goods from the holds of vessels, just prior to the complete dislocation of shipping, but Tasmanian importers were unable to get their goods until some weeks later. If that shipping dispute had occurred just when a revised tariff schedule had been laid on the table in another place, Tasmanian manufacturers would have been placed at a serious disadvantage because, where higher duties were levied, they would have been called upon to pay increased Customs charges as compared with those paid by importers on the mainland.
– How could that contingency be guarded against?
– A suggestion has been made that every importer should have the right to declare and pass his entries through the Customs on the day of the arrival of the vessel at the first Australian port. If this could be arranged all traders would be on the same basis. I propose now to refer to a subject which was dealt with by my colleague, Senator J. B. Hayes, namely, the omission from the tariff schedule of pro,tection for the timber industry. I do not believe in high protective duties, but I am bound to say that the timber industry has not received anything like the measure of protection that has been given to several primary industries.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Before making reference to the absence of adequate protection for the timber industry, I desire to point out that it is possible for the Government, probably on the recommendation of the Tariff Board, to propose duties that are in excess of the requirements of certain industries. As a case in point, I may mention that, when the tariff was under discussion in 1921, I entered a strong protest against what I considered an exceptionally heavy impost on corsets. On account of representations made by me I obtained a reduction of the proposed duties of 50 per cent., 45 per cent., and 40 per cent, to 45 per cent., 40 per cent., and 30 per cent., and under the reduced rates the local industry has prospered exceedingly since 1921. Another feature of the schedule is the fact that the full effect of all the items cannot be easily appreciated. I might mention the proposed alteration with respect to window glass. Under the existing tariff it is provided that the duty shall be charged per square foot; but under the new proposal the duty is to be charged at so much a pound. The proposed alteration in the British rate is from 2s. to 12s. 6d. a hundred square feet, which is an increase of over 500 per cent. I mention this fact in order to show the necessity for honorable senators to consider each item carefully. Now I come to the timber industry, and I desire to point out the necessity to utilize every part of our primary product. A largs proportion of the timber cut in our forests, although not suitable for ordinary purposes, is eminently adapted for casemaking, and I desire to have a sufficient duty imposed to assist the saw-milling industry by enabling Australian-made cases to be used wherever possible. It has been proved beyond doubt that these cases can be put on the market at reasonable prices. The proposal for additional protection on case timber has the endorsement, not only of the representatives of case-making firms and the saw-millers, but also the representatives of the fruit-growers. Therefore, it cannot be said that I lay myself open to a charge of handicapping any primary industry by reason of my suggestion. This matter was considered by the Tariff Board as long ago as 1924, and its report on case timber, at page 46, contained the following: -
Tasmania has met with greater success in the manufacture of cases and boxes from their local hardwood than any other State up to the present. The timber principally used for this purpose is the stringybark, and the swamp gum, which correspond with the Victorian mountain ash. For some considerable time now in the export of Tasmanian apples, by far the largest in Australia, the hardwood case has proved an unqualified success when the timber has been carefully seasoned on The spot. The Tariff Board is of opinion that there should bc found a considerable demand for such hardwood cases for the interstate trade in Australia should proper care be given to the seasoning, which would be encouraged if Parliament adopts the recommendation for an increase suggested by the board. The Tariff Board has now set out in an impartial manner the position as it exists in each separate State of the Commonwealth, both as to its essential requirements and its supplies from local sources, from other States, or from overseas. Examining this evidence with the object of determining how the requests submitted for an increase in duties would affect the different States, the Tariff Board can come to no other conclusion than that the effect of such duties would be deleterious and cannot recommend that the requests should be granted, save with one exception, and that in regard to timber (case). In this connexion the Tariff Board desires to express its appreciation of the fairminded manner in which the applicants for an increased duty on case timber acquiesced in the desirability of the granting of a drawback on cases exported made from imported timber, in a general desire to assist in the disposal of Commonwealth primary products packed in containers.
Whilst the board makes a recommendation for certain increases, these fall short of being of any material assistance to the industry. The position of this section of the industry is so grave that it is practically threatened with extinction. Today hundreds of mills are closed down, and week by week more men are being thrown out of employment to further swell the ranks of the thousands of timber workers who are losing their means of livelihood, whilst millions of pounds sterling are annually being sent overseas to keep foreign workers employed. The imports of case timber into the Commonwealth showed an increase of no less than 5,500,000 super, feet during the year 1924-25, as compared with the year 1920-21, and compared with the year 1923-24, the imports last year increased by 10,250,000 super, feet. To show how keen the competition in price is I might mention that, under the item “ Undressed n.e.i. for the manufacture of boxes as prescribed,” the imports were -
Whilst under this item, the imports in 1924-25 increased by 5,500,000 super, feet, the 33£ million feet cost over £27,000 less than the 27 7-10 million feet imported in 1923-24. This is conclusive evidence that the cost of production overseas has been reduced considerably. The freight has been reduced, and whilst the cost of production under Australian arbitration awards has considerably increased, those employed in the industry overseas are either Europeans or Asiatics, whose wages are not comparable with those paid in Australia. It seems that the Government might reasonably be asked to go into this matter almost immediately, in order to prevent timber suitable for cases from being wasted. In conclusion, I desire to impress upon honorable senators my wish that the schedule shall be so framed as to place no undue burden on the people, and, at the same time, give reasonable and effective protection to those industries that are worth protecting. I quite agree with those honorable senators who hold that we can go too far in penalizing the users and consumers of our secondary products by protecting industries that are not of very much importance to the country. When the opportunity presents itself in committee, I hope to be able to corroborate my statements by presenting facts that will induce the Senate to adopt the alterations that I submit are necessary to the schedule.
.- Although protection is the settled policy of Australia, it can be said, without exaggeration, that had it not been for the activities of organized labour, particularly in Victoria, in years gone by, the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth would have been more or less unsettled and uncertain. Victoria adopted protection many years before the establishment of federation, and, prior to Labour becoming a force in politics; but it was a form of protection that was of little or no benefit to the working man. In those days manufacturers clamoured for, and obtained, high duties on imports from countries where the workers endured long hours and received low wages. The protectionist manufacturers of Victoria, having received the measure of relief, then demanded, and, as a matter of fact, secured, freetrade in labour.
They contended that labour should be treated like any other commodity and that wages and conditions in industries should be governed by the law of supply and demand . So bad were the industrial conditions under that form of protection, so inordinately long were the hours of work, so small were the wages paid - they were hardly sufficient to keep body and soul together - and so rampant was the sweating evil that, in the year 1880, organized labour in Victoria, through the Trades Hall Council of Melbourne, began an agitation. At a big meeting held in the Melbourne Town Hall vigorous speeches were made against the sweating evil, and in favour of some measure of protection being extended to the workers in protected industries. In speaking in the Victorian Parliament in reply to the resolutions carried at that meeting, one member of the legislature said that no one other than a few Trades Hall agitators would endorse the regulating of labour by law, and the Age, which has consistently advocated the policy of protection, also said that the idea of regulating wages by law was absurd. However, the public conscience was aroused and the attention of the citizens generally f focussed and riveted on the deplorable and damnable conditions in various protected industries. So strong did the agitation initiated by organized labour, through the Trades Hall Council, become that the Government of Victoria was moved to appoint a royal commission into the allegations - they called them allegations - of sweating which organized labour said existed. In 1884 this royal commission, having made exhaustive inquiries and investigations, reported that children of eight and nine years of age were employed in our factories ; that many had never seen the inside of a school; that these children were worked ten and twelve hours per day : that hun.dreds of young girls were worked ten to fifteen hours per day: that in many places young girls were kept working all night without extra pay ; that eighteen children were found working in one room VI feet square; that tailoresses worked fourteen and sixteen hours per day for a bare livelihood; that in many places employees were obliged to work for periods beyond the limits of human endurance ; that labour was carried om under physical and moral disadvantages, result- ing in premature debility and disease, and that there were in Victoria 20,000 persons subjected to grievous hardships, working under a system of forced labour repugnant to every sense of justice and humanity. In July, 1890, under the protective system of Victoria, the chief inspector of factories reported that women machining shirts earned 8s. 6d. for a week of 56 hours, that shirt finishers earned 10s. a week of 72 hours, that women in the boot trade “ slipper felting “ earned 12s. 6d. for a week of 80 hours, and that men in the boot trade “ boot blocking” and boot finishing earned 30s. a week. In 1893 a shirt manufacturer giving evidence on oath before a board of inquiry said that 5s. or 6s. a week was good wages for a shirt finisher. Another employer admitted that he paid for making sac suits ls. 3d. for coats, 8d. for trousers, and 8d. for vests, a total of 2s. 7d. for a complete suit. Another manufacturer said that the wages paid for making boys’ knicker trousers was 3d. He thought that 5d. would be a fair price. A tailor gave evidence that he was formerly paid 2s. 6d. to make a coat, and now received only ls. Shirt-makers were paid 2s. 6d. a dozen, and had to provide their own machines and cotton. The board reported that the working men and women in the examined industries had “ either to accept the starvation wages or appeal to charity.”
– Were they supposed to be protected from the low wages paid in other countries !
– I do not know that wages could be much lower than those’ which were paid in Victoria during the years to which I am referring. The workers demanded then, as they have demanded ever since, some measure of relief when protection, in the shape of Customs duties, was extended to manufacturers. By persistent and consistent effort organized labour was able to bring about the establishment of wages boards, the institution of which was, as I said a moment or two ago, strongly opposed by protectionist manufacturers. Later on, when the Commonwealth Parliament came into existence, efforts were made by employers generally to prevent the passage of the Arbitration Bill. The employers of Australia assembled at Brisbane about three years after the Federal Parliament came into existence, and unanimously passed resolutions in favour of freedom of contract and in opposition to the passage of the Arbitration Bill. They also unanimously passed a resolution expressing their best thanks to all members of the Federal legislature who had voiced their opposition to and voted against the passage of that bill. With the establishment of wages boards and the setting up of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, the workers in protected industries got more consideration than they did under the old Victorian tariff. If they had not received that measure of justice they would have received no advantage from the old policy of protection as applied in Victoria. Bub we have a distance yet to travel. The Labour party claims that protection should be all-embracing and comprehensive - that it should be not only for the manufacturer, but also for those engaged in industries and for the consumers as well. When it was claimed that no sacrifice would be too great for any citizen, in order to win the recent war, protectionist manufacturers throughout Australia had, so to speak, the ball at their feet. The industries were fully employed, there were few workers unemployed, and the profits which the manufacturers made at that time were enormous. As a matter of fact, some protectionist manufacturers got back during three years of the war the whole of the capital invested by them in their undertakings. They paid very high dividends, distributed big bonuses, and well watered much of their stock. No one who was at all observant, and looked -at trade not merely from an Australian, but also from an international viewpoint, could hope for a continuation of that prosperity which the manufacturers were enjoying during that period. Yet the manufacturers and employers generally, who are always advising the working classes to make provision for a rainy day, did not practise in their own industries what they thus preached. They distributed big bonuses and dividends and watered their stocks, but they made no provision for the future. It is very doubtful whether some of the manufacturers did what they should have done during their period of prosperity - make provision for the installation of up-to-date machinery so that their work could be conducted on up-to-date lines. I am a protectionist up to the hilt, but I would not vote blindly for the highest duties on articles coming into Australia until I was satisfied that the industries sought to be protected were working on up-to-date and not out-of-date lines. In introducing a bill of this kind the Minister ought to have furnished information in that regard. It would have been very helpful to every honorable senator, protectionist or otherwise. It is true that under a policy of protection wo have made progress, and it is also true, according to published statements supplemented by the Minister in introducing the bill, that as the result of the operation of the tariff now before us an impetus has been given to industries. That this is due wholly and solely to the increased measure of protection which certain industries are to receive from this bill, I am not in a position to say definitely; but certainly shares in woollen mills and other concerns, since the new duties became operative, have risen appreciably. Some shares have risen nearly 100 per cent, during the last few months.
– I do not think that woollen mill shares have risen a great deal.
– No; but the shares in some other industries have gone up nearly 100 per cent., and my statement in this regard can be borne out by the stock exchange lists. We know that the woollen mills flourished for some years, particularly during the war, and that a number of new mills were established in different parts of Australia - some, I venture to say with insufficient capital. Their disability was not that they had insufficient orders, but that they were handicapped in the matter of finance, and the difficulty at that time of obtaining the necessary skilled labour required.
– Does that apply to the Stawell and Daylesford mills, both of which are shut down.
– The capital of the Stawell mills was stated to be insufficient. I think I read a statement to the effect that although the Stawell mills, had orders to keep them engaged for some time, they had made an unsuccessful effort to raise additional capital. According to published statements, the well-established mills are in a sound position.
– Quite recently one mill had to write off £200,000 of capital.
– Although certain woollen mills were not in a good position, I do not say wholly because of the tariff, their prospects to-day are better than they were a few months ago. According to a report published in the newspapers, the chairman of the Warrnambool Woollen Mills said, “ They were handicapped by a scarcity of weavers. Every mill in Victoria was advertising for them. They had orders to keep the mill going for fully nine months, and the prices obtained would ensure a satisfactory balance-sheet.”
– I think it is generally admitted that the Warrnambool mills are the best conducted inAustralia.
– Up to a few months ago the Warrnambool mills were affected by the depression which existed. Although, for a time, they paid good dividends, and distributed bonuses, they did not pay a dividend last year. Apparently the difficulty of those engaged in the woollen industry is that of securing skilled labour. It was recently reported that permission had been given’ to some of the mills to introduce contract labour. Some honorable senators opposite, so far as protection is concerned, appear to be almost “ outandouters,” others more or less “ inanclouters,” and, a few, “ round-abouters.” Some claim that prohibition - I do not think that in any circumstances we can have absolute prohibition - is an obstacle in the way of assisting industry. I do not share that view. In imposing duties I am prepared to go as far as the next, but duties that fail to protect are not, in myopinion, protective duties. There are few freetraders in this Parliament. The logical freetrader, such as Senator Grant, wins my respect; but the socalled freetrader who wants the Government to obtain as much revenue as possible through the Customs House cannot be termed a freetrader. Neither can a person be termed a protectionist who is always qualifying his views by saying that he is in favour of moderate protection. To almost prohibit the importation of goods that can be made in Australia is a doctrine which is anathema to certain fiscalites. I read recently that a Swiss firm which, according to its representative, had a fairly big market in the Commonwealth for its goods, found it almost impossible to do business under the present tariff. The representative of the firm came to Australia to make inquiries and observations concerning the possibilities of establishing the industry in the Commonwealth. He visited Bendigo, and, while there, said that until last year, when the duty on imported knitted goods was increased, his firm had an extensive business connexion in Australia. The higher duties imposed had, however, made it impossible for his firm to market its goods in the Commonwealth. Negotiations in connexion with the establishment of the enterprise in Australia have now been successfully completed. A site has been selected for new works, and a substantial factory will be constructed in which modern machinery imported from. Switzerland will be installed. It . is expected that the spinning and knitting of wool will be commenced early in January. Will not the establishment of that industry be of advantage to this and the other States of the Commonwealth? The action of the firm is due to the imposition of what is designated a prohibitive duty. Until a few years ago it was considered impossible to satisfactorily manufacture cotton tweeds in Australia, and when the imposition of a duty was suggested to encourage the establishment of the industry here, members of Parliament and some others said that high duties on ‘ such articles would be the means of penalizing the poorer section of the community. It was further stated that it would be unjust to impose such duties upon the British manufacturer. Whilst I favour preference to Britain as against other countries, I am not so keenly anxious as are some honorable senators opposite to look after British manufacturers before safeguarding the interests of Australianmanufacturers. We are legislating in the interests of the Commonwealth; we should do all we can to benefit Australian industries, and not always keep in mind the effect our actions will have upon industries carried on in Great Britain.
– We should bear that in mind.
– Yes, I shall, da so;, but Australian industries should have first consideration!
– There is very little cotton tweed made in- Australia. It would be better to pay a bounty than impose a duty.
– The value of the importations of cotton tweed from different countries for the year 1924-5 was:- Japan, £139,336; “United Kingdom, £63,327 ; United States of America, £20,014; Belgium, £20,320; Italy, £9,702; other countries, £568, or a total of £253,267. Since the imposition of the present duty on cotton tweed certain mills in Victoria and in other States have undertaken the manufacture of cotton tweeds which, before the introduction of the present tariff, were admitted free of duty. The cotton tweeds now being manufactured in Australia are, I am told, equal to the imported tweeds, and are being sold at about the same rates as were British cotton tweeds.
– At a price 50 per cent, higher.
– The quality is 100 per cent, better.
– Honorable senators who are so concerned about the interests of primary producers should remember that the primary producers owe a good deal to the protective policy under which we are operating. When Ti hear that the home market is of no consequence to them, that their market is the world’s market, and that prices of their commodities are regulated by world’s parity, I naturally ask how the primary producers place their products on the markets of the world. Were it not for our secondary industries it “would be very difficult indeed for them to market their produce. They have not been overlooked by the Commonwealth Parliament or any “State Parliament. Railways have been constructed in their interests. Many of them have not paid and are not likely to pay working expenses for many years, and the cost has to be borne by the community as a whole. Roads are constructed in the interests of primary producers, and shipping facilities are also made available to them. Irrigation schemes and ports and harbours have been provided in. the interests,, mainly, of the primary producersAgricultural departments are established in all the States to assist them. A Minister for Markets has been appointed to look after the interests of the primary producers. Bounties have been granted to them - the butter industry was put on a good footing with .the aid of a bounty. Credit Foncier systems have been established to provide them with money at cheap rates of interest; and agencies have been established in different parts of the world to find markets for them. When the primary producers say that they owe nothing to protection they altogether misunderstand the position. They owe a great deal to it, and would have still better results from it if they would become true protectionists. We have expended large sums of money in developing the resources of the Commonwealth, and we are now doing all that we can to attract people here and settle them on the land. If we devoted more attention to the encouragement of our secondary industries we should be acting more wisely than in spending all our energies in trying to settle people on the land. The home market is the best that’ the producers can have, and they will need to go a long way further before they can say that they have fully supplied it. If we had a proper system of protection, we should have fewer importations, more industries would be established in Australia, and the employment of more people would be possible. That would be altogether to the advantage of the primary producers. I do not know that we can do much in this bill to protect the interests of the general community. The Government proposes later to submit certain questions to the people- by way of referendum. If the people agree with its proposals we may be able to do something effective to protect them; from monopolies. There can be little doubt that the general community is to-day suffering because there is very little competition in many commodities that are in general use. I have been informed on reliable authority that competition has been almost eliminated in many lines. While it is true, as Senator Payne said, that when industries are flourishing, the workers desire, and will demand, proper working conditions and fair wages, and that in some degree they have been able to achieve their object through Arbitration Court awards and wages board determinations, it cannot be denied that whenever wages have been increased the manufacturers have, in many cases, increased the price of their manufactures out of all proportion to the increase in wages, and the additional cost has been passed1 on to- the community. The result is that people are being exploited all the time. We should stop that. Many manufacturers have amassed large fortunes, in Australia during recent years. While I give place to no man in my desire to give manufacturing industries a fair measure of protection, I wish also to give some consideration to the working class to which I belong, and I shall do my best here and elsewhere to sei* that the workers get a square deal.
– The Constitution will have to be- amended before that can be done.
– There is another way of doing it.
– What is that?
– Some years ago the agricultural implement making and distilling industries were singled out for special consideration by this Parliament before the general tariff schedule came up for consideration. When the legislation dealing with them was before Parliament, it was moved that the protection proposed to be extended to them should be dependent upon them observing certain conditions. The matter was subsequently tested in the High Court, and that object was defeated. As a layman I have my own view of the powers of this Parliament. If we cannot stop the wholesale exploitation of the people - and retail too, for that matter - without an alteration of the Constitution, then the sooner it is altered the better. I trust that when the details of this schedule are before us in committee the Minister will not be immovable. Some of these imposts are, in my opinion, solely for revenue purposes. Wherever it can be shown that an industry which it is intended to protect is not likely to be established in Australia, I shall feel justified in voting against the proposed duty. I understand that it is intended to reduce the duty on silk goods.
– On silk piece goods, but not on manufactured articles such as silk stockings, silk gloves, and so on. Silk piece goods are not so far being manufactured here.
– I expected to elicit that from the Minister. His remark shows that the duty on silk piece goods is purely for revenue purposes. I suppose that silk piece goods will not be manufactured here for a very long time te> come. If the duty is intended to encourage their manufacture here, it should be much higher; if it is not, it should be abolished. Some people consider that silk is a luxury. What is a luxury ? Is a silk blouse a luxury % Are silk stockings a luxury? The Minister seems to think so.
– I have not said so.
– The Minister said that he saw working girls wearing them.
– I did not raise the point.” I said that I was pleased that they could afford to wear silk stockings.
– I wish to make it quite clear that I shall place no obstacle in the way of anybody wearing clothing which is considered by . some people to bc a luxury.
– I hope that the honorable senator will realize that silk enters into competition with our own woollen goods.
– That would not worry me very much unless it were propoped to establish the industry here. I am not favorable to the imposition of revenue duties; I should like to see them all abolished.
– If they were knocked out, nearly all the revenue would be knocked out.
– I do not believe in collecting revenue through the Customs House. There are other ways of raising it. Senator Grant and other honorable senators know that collecting it through the Customs is not the best way of getting it. I shall support the second reading of the Bill, and will take the opportunity to deal with the specific items in committee.
– Senator Findley began his remarks in such a dolorous tone, and drew such harrowing pictures of the effect of protection as revealed in Victoria in prefederation days, that I almost wept: As a protectionist he staggered me for a moment. I began to wonder whether I was on the right track, and whether a system which could produce the results he described was, after all, worth serious consideration. Later in his address he told us that the condition of affairs in Victoria in those days was not due to, but in spite of, protection. He said something else was needed, and that that something else came along from a certain quarter. To a certain extent that is true. The state of affairs to which the honorable senator referred was ended because the people of Australia realized that every section of the community was entitled to fair treatment; they were determined that the workers should get a fair deal. Much of the humanitarian legislation that is on our statute-books to-day is the outcome of agitation, not of one party, but of all parties and Governmentsin the Commonwealth and the States.
– Disraeli’s novels started the reform long ago.
– Quite so. This advance in social legislation is not peculiar to Australia. In all countries an awakened public opinion has demanded improved conditions for the working classes. Those who are familiar with the parliamentary history of Australia will no doubt remember the keen debates that took place in the early days of Federation on free trade versus protection. In those days it was a very live question, and there can be no doubt that there were fiscal giants contesting the rival claims of free trade and protection. We recall the names and careers of many of the men who took a prominent part in those debates when the fiscal policy of Australia was determined. In spite of the efforts of the freetraders, whose ranks included men of remarkable resource, and in spite of the fact that the most powerful State of the group - I refer to New South Wales - was free trade, the people of Australia through the Federal Parliament declared solidly in favour of protection.
– And the question now is, how much protection are we to have?
– Exactly. The issue now is whether the measure of protection afforded to our industries is adequate. I approach this question in an inquiring frame of mind. Whilst I am a protectionist, I am not prepared to vote for any duty which this or any other Ministry thinks fit to submit, merely because it calls itself a protectionist Government, or because certain industries may have demanded increased duties upon commodities produced by them. I want to know in each case if any measure of protection is justified. I am not in favour of certain duties that appear in the schedule, arid when we are considering them I shall do my best to have them either reduced or struck out. On the other hand, I believe that certain duties are insufficient, and at the proper time I shall endeavour to have them increased. In determining what duties shall be levied, we should have regard to not only existing Australian conditions, but also the industrial conditions in other countries that are likely to be competitors in the Australian market. As we all know, the people of many other nations are in a serious position as the result of the war. Their purchasing power has been so materially reduced that it is almost impossible for them to buy a considerable proportion of their own manufactured products. They are engaged in a desperate struggle to regain their pre-war position of affluence, and they can only do so by disposing of their manufactured products in some other country where the people enjoy a greater purchasing power. Because of the high wages and improved conditions of living in Australiawe have a greater purchasing power than the people of any other country with, perhaps, the exception of the United States of America. Australians, generally speaking, can afford to buy just what they want. It is natural, therefore, that the people of other lands should seek an outlet for their manufactured commodities in the Commonwealth.
– Is that because they cannot afford to buy their own products?
– Very largely, because, as I have already stated, their pur. chasing power is now limited, and so they are forced to find an outlet for their manufactured products in other countries.
– In other words, they have to live upon their exports.
– Yes. And as Australia offers them one of the very best markets, they are turning their eyes to this country. In their determination to get a footing here they will have no re- gard whatever, to the difficulties of Australian manufacturers. It should be the duty of this Parliament to protect Australian secondary industries that are threatened by unfair competition from overseas. Several honorable senators have argued that our primary producers are suffering under certain disabilities through the operation of the tariff. What those duties are, it is almost impossible to say, but I presume they refer to the machinery duties and certain other items. I do not agree that cur primary producers are receiving no benefit from the tariff.
– There have been heavy remissions of duties as well as increases.
– I know, andI propose to show that, in common with other sections of the community, our primary producers are reaping fairly substantial benefits from the tariff. Many of our secondary industries require enormous quantities of primary products which, but for this increased demand in the home market would have to be exported and sold at world’s parity.
– Australian beef is sold at world’s parity, and the only State that exports is Queensland.
– The same may be said of other lines of primary produce. People engaged in those industries would have to be satisfied with world’s parity for the whole of their output were it not for the home market. Butter, to cite one product, is selling in London and in other markets overseas at a price considerably lower than is charged to Australian consumers.
– -That is because of the operation of the Peterson scheme, which was introduced to enable dairymen to get the full benefit of the duty of 2d.pound on butter.
– That only demonstrates the true value of the local market. Enormous quantities of butter are required by certain manufacturing industries, especially in connexion with confectionery and biscuit making. Also enormous quantities of milk are used by manufacturers in the production of condensed milk, chocolate, and other lines. But for these manufacturing enterprises the dairying industry would be in a much worse position than it is.
– If our dairymen do not sell their butter locally, there is an unlimited demand for it overseas.
– But not at the price paid by Australian consumers.
– It was being sold at the same price overseas until the Paterson scheme came into operation.
– Let me take another of our primary products. An enormous quantity of sugar is used in the manufacture of jams, preserves, confectionery, and similar commodities. The local market for sugar is of immense benefit to the sugar-growers of Queensland, and therefore it is to the advantage of those primary producers that we should encourage the particular secondary industries to which I have referred.-
– Would the Queensland sugar-grower receive less for his product if there were no duties?
– He might.
– It is problematical.
– The surplus sugar that has to be exported is sold at a considerably lower price than that charged for sugar consumed locally.
– That remark would apply to any secondary industry if its product had to be sold overseas.
– But it is of infinite value to the sugar producers to have a local market, and this is dependent on the maintenance of tariff protection. Even in regard to wheat a local market is of the utmost value.
– World parity rules in that case.
– But the day will come, I venture to say, when the Australian wheat producers will be very grateful for a large local market. Great wheat-producing countries like Russia will probably come into full, if not increased, production, and some such scheme as was brought into operation with regard to our butter may have to be put into effect. A good local market must stabilize the position of any primary producer.
– It does not stabilize the market.
– I claim that it does in the case of sugar, and a number of other primary products.
– -A smaller proportion of our butter than of our wheat is exported.
– But despite that difference, there may come a time when the producers of wheat will be very glad of a large local market.
– It will be very much to the disadvantage of Australia when it does not have a large exportable surplus of wheat.
Senator DUNCAN. It will, indeed. Senator Ogden had a good deal to say about the tariff. The State from which he comes produces a considerable quantity of fruit; and is it not of immense advantage to the fruit-growers that the jam industry should be adequately protected?
– It would be much better if the market could be encouraged by fair anstead of by artificial means.
– By what other plan can this result be achieved than by means of the tariff ? I could enumerate numbers of other primary products that are used by protected secondary industries, and therefore the tariff is of immense benefit to the primary producers. Whilst I admit that in some ways the primary producers suffer under it, the benefits they reap more than compensate them for the disablities under which they suffer.
– Where does a miner derive any benefit under the tariff?
– Our secondary industries use a lot of coal.
– But Senator Ogden probably refers to gold-miners.
– Metalliferous miners.
– Coal-miners certainly benefit under the tariff, and metalliferous miners do also to a certain extent. They produce the ores used by the great steelworks at Newcastle and Lithgow, which could not exist if it were not for the tariff. Therefore, the miners are indirectly benefited by the imposition of duties.
– But steel works are a national need.
– Yes, and that is why they are protected. It cannot be denied, however, that the producers of the ore are benefited.
– The honorable senator stated that the primary producer suffers under the tariff. In what respect is he worse off than other people?
– I have already said that although he suffers in some respects he benefits so materially in other ways that he is no worse off in the long run.
– The primary producers have to rely upon their efficiency to enable them to succeed in their industry.
– All of them are by no means efficient, and that is why many of them fail when they experience bad years.
– Does the honorable senator apply a similar remark to those engaged in secondary industries?
– I am not in favour of bolstering inefficient industries that look to increased duties to enable them to carry on.
– I am afraid the majority of them come under that category.
– I should not care to place such a stigma as that upon Australian industries as a whole. Speaking generally, the Australian manufacturer and the Australian workman are as efficient as, and in some respects more efficient than, those in other countries. The tariff is not designed to protect inefficient manufacturers. All the items in the schedule have been the subject of the fullest inquiry by the Tariff Board, which has never sought to encourage an industry unless it has languished on account of unfair competition. I disagree with some of the recommendations of the board, because it appears to me on the evidence that it has somewhat erred. Consequently, when the time comes, I shall not hesitate to give my vote or raise my voice in favour of a reduction of those particular duties. I shall not enumerate them now, because I shall have an’ opportunity to do so when the schedule comes before us for detailed consideration, but I should like to learn from the Customs Department the reason for what seems to me its extraordinarily strange action in regard to one or two of them.
– The honorable senator has quite an open mind in regard to all the items.
– Yes, that is always my attitude in regard to tariff proposals, with the reservation, however, that where there is any doubt the local manufacturers should get the benefit of it. I hope that the Senate will seriously consider two or three of these items when it has the opportunity of doing so in detail.
– I suppose we all accept the position that protection is the policy of the Commonwealth. The day for arguing whether its policy should be protection or freetrade has long since gone. But what concerns many honorable senators, as well as myself, is whether there should be any limit to the extent of the protection we afford Australian industries. I think we can very well take a lesson from the history of the State of Victoria, which has always been protectionist. The general policy of protection is to bring about the establishment of secondary industries, and it has always been contended that once an industry is firmly established any alteration of Customs duties should be to reduce rather than to increase them. I think it must be admitted that such has not been the experience in Australia. Every time a Customs tariff bill has been before this Parliament it has been introduced for the purpose of affording further protection to secondary industries.
-Do not forget that in this bill certain duties are to be reduced.
– There are certain reductions proposed, but mainly in connexion with items that are not being manufactured in Australia. Before we proceed to substantially increase our Customs duties, it is well for us to take stock and consider the progress that our industries have made. Senator Duncan has said that high duties are necessary to prevent goods manufactured under cheap labour conditions in other countries from coming into competition with the products of Australian secondary industries. Whatever may be the experience of other countries in that connexion, I think we must all have arrived at the conclusion that there is never any likelihood of any of the products of our secondary industries being exported. I should like honorable senators to correct me if I am wrong when I say that Australia stands in the unique position of being a country whose policy it is to establish secondary industries, but yet is not able to export any manufactured’ goods.
– We have not yet raptured the home market.
– That is all very well, but we must realize that, despite our high tariff, our imports are now heavier than they have ever been.
– The Sunshine harvesters are exported.
– I make that one exception. Sunshine harvesters do a little trade with South America.
– The Sunshine harvester industry was built up by protection.
– I do not subscribe to that view. The success of the Sunshine harvester industry is due to the magnificent inventive genius of one man who, by specializing in that one line, has produced a harvester which is unrivalled. With that exception, I challenge any honorable senator to say that Australia, with all its advantages, can manufacture an article and export it, at a profit, to any other market in the world.
– Yet we send away jams and tinned fruits.
– If we are exporting jams, the quantity is verylimited indeed.
– I think that the value of our export of jams last year was £80,000.
– The export of jams is supported by the payment of a bounty.
– There is no bounty on jams.
– There is in one sense a bounty. If the manufacturer of jams gives a certificate that portion of his output has been sent overseas, he gets a rebate on the cost of sugar he has used in respect of that proportion.
– What about tinned fruits ?
– Exporters of tinned fruits and dried fruits are assisted by the Commonwealth Government. I am not arguing against protection, but I claim that we should take stock and see where we stand. I am doubtful whether the increased duties now proposed or the duties now existing have stimulated secondary industries to the extent anticipated by those responsible for the introduction of the present tariff some years ago. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to know that these increased rates would bring about increased production, and so establish our manufacturers that they would be in a position to export their surplus output; but as I cannot see any prospect of that happening, I hesitate to give my support to the schedule now before the Senate. I do not know just how far the Tariff Board has investigated the industries applying for protection to see that their methods of manufacture are up to date. High protective duties tend to encourage slovenliness and inefficiency. There is too much inclination to rely on increases of duties rather than on the better organization of plant and staffs, or on the application of more scientific methods to secure a high state- of efficiency, which would enable industries to meet the competition of others. Senator Duncan has endeavoured to show that the primary producer reaps great advantage under a high measure of protection for secondary industries. Some primary producers may derive benefit from a protective tariff, and I suppose we must all admit that their best market is the home market, but I . ask those who make this claim,. “ Where does the primary producer really come in under a high protective tariff?”
– There are protective duties on primary products. Take oats, for instance.
– Yes. There is also a duty on potatoes, but does the Minister believe that the duty of fi on potatoes is consistent with the duties set out in the schedule now before us, or even in the existing tariff? He must admit that it is not.
– That duty is to prevent competition from potatoes grown in a country where the industrial conditions are very similar to those in Australia.
– Does the Minister apply the same principle to goods manufactured in America, where the secondary industries are carried on under conditions similar to those in Australia? There is a general disposition on the part of those supporting high duties to safeguard secondary industries, entirely overlooking the requirements of those engaged in primary production. Whilst it is desirable to manufacture agricultural machinery in Australia we cannot overlook the fact that during the last ten years prices have been increased by over 50 per cent.
– In some instances they have been reduced.
– There has been a reduction during the last three years.
– Binders which were selling at £98 can now be purchased at £68.
– The last quotation I received was £80. Three years ago binders were sold at £100, but ten years ago they could be purchased for £38. As the Australian climate is favorable, the standard of living high, and the wages paid compare more than favorably with those prevailing in any other country, it is reasonable to expect greater efficiency and an increased output; but our output per head does not compare at all favorably with that in other countries. It is not due to inability on the part of our workmen, but the lack of satisfactory organization.
– We have not mass production such as they have in other countries. We cannot expect it with our limited markets.
– Possibly so; but more effective organization would be the means of increasing production and reducing costs. Within the last few days negotiations have been satisfactorily completed for the grouping of those interests concerned in the hat-making industry in Victoria.
– A referendum will shortly be taken on the question of whether the Commonwealth Parliament shall have power to deal with trusts and combines.
– The operations of trusts or combines may result in cheaper production.
– Then trusts or combines may be beneficial.
– In some cases they are. Those engaged in the distribution of petrol in Australia have organized their forces in such a way that petrol is cheaper, and as a result of the grouping of these interests the internal combustion engine has been brought into use and its usefulness developed. The combinationof shipping interests has resulted in increased wages being paid, in better conditions, and in the passenger accommodation and services generally being improved. If mass production, which reduces overhead expenses, were adopted in Australia many of our industries would be more firmly established and their products made available to the public at lower prices. As honorable senators are aware, the timber industry is languishing; and if protection, which is the established policy of the Commonwealth, is to be adhered to, greater consideration must be shown to those engaged in that industry.
– The price of Australian dressed timber is very high.
– Yes, but when one considers the circumstances under which it is produced - the high price of saw-milling machinery, the observance of Arbitration Court awards and conditions, and high freights, the result of the Navigation Act - the price charged can be justified. The timber industry is being crushed out of existence as the result of heavy importations of timber, which, although carried many thousands of miles, can be landed in Australia at a cheaper rate than we can produce it. Those engaged in the timber-getting industry have, to use machinery and plant on which heavy Customs duties are imposed; they have to pay wages awarded by the Arbitration Court, and have also to contend with disabilities in the matter of transport which have arisen in consequence of the passing of the Navigation Act. In these circumstances it is impossible for the Australian timber industry, without increased protection, to compete with overseas competitors. Parliament has passed legislation which has imposed heavy burdens on the industry, and it is, therefore, the duty of Parliament to see that the timber industry does not suffer.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that importation of foreign timber should be prohibited ?
– No, but the Australian timber industry should receive the same measure of protection as is afforded to other secondary industries. As imported dressed timber is used for flooring, weatherboards, and linings in place of Australian dressed hardwood, the duty on imported timbers should be increased to compel the dressing to be done in Australia.
– That applies only, to Norwegian timber.
– Does Canadian timber come here dressed?
– It is cut in sizes.
– Not flooring.
– I am speaking of the Scandinavian timber. Imported timber, which comes in dressed, is used for linings, weatherboards, and flooring, and on- this a heavier duty should be imposed in order to encourage the Australian industry.
– That would mean increasing the cost of workmen’s homes.
– It would provide further employment for Australian workmen. The timber industry has been established in Australia for many years, and as foreign timber is being imported at the rate of 1,000,000 feet a day, to the detriment of our own timber, heavier duties should be imposed.
– Why not prohibit its importation.?
– I do not suggest that. We are imposing heavy duties to support secondary industries, and if we are consistent we should also protect the timber industry. When the validating Customs Tariff Bill was before the Senate some months ago I intimated that although I was supporting the measure, I reserved the right when the schedule was before the Senate to vote on the different items as I thought fit. I do not desire my action in supporting the second reading of this bill to be taken as an indication that I shall support every item in the schedule.
Debate (on motion, by Senator Hoars) adjourned.
Opening of Parliament at Canberra.
.- I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I wish to take this opportunity of making a statement in regard to the opening of Parliament at Canberra. There are two dates which, because of their historical significance, at once suggest themselves as suitable, namely, the 26th January, Foundation Day, and the 9th May, anniversary of the opening of the first Federal Parliament. Representations have been made to the Government that Parliament should open on the 26th January, 1927. It is pointed out, however, that once Parliament has been opened at Canberra it cannot resume its sittings in Melbourne. It may become necessary to hold sittings of Parliament for the transaction of business in the early part of 1927, and the Federal Capital Commission has advised that it cannot provide accommodation for departments or housing for the Public ‘Service by the 26th January, 1927, in sufficient quantity to enable any of the departments to function there. It would, of course, be possible to hold merely the ceremonial opening of the Parliament, but, as already pointed out, that would preclude the transaction of parliamentary business in Melbourne subsequently. On the other hand, by the 9th May, accommodation can be provided, not merely to enable a ceremonial function for such an occasion to be arranged for, but the necessary accommodation for the departments essential for the functioning of parliamentary business can also be provided. As regards the historical significance of the 9 th May, it may be pointed out that the first 25 years of the parliamentary history of the Commonwealth was completed on the 9th May of this year, and that date in 1927 will be the completion of the first year of the second quarter of a century of our parliamentary history. That gives that date a significance particularly appropriate to the occasion. After full consideration of all the issues involved and after collaboration with the Federal Capital Commission, the Government has come to the conclusion that it would be both more appropriate and more convenient, and would secure the more efficientconduct of public business, if the new Parliament House at Canberra were officially opened on the 9th May, 1927. The Government has been carefully considering the question of the stages in which the transfer of the officers of the Commonwealth Public Service should be effected. It was realized that, in order that buildings should not remain unoccupied for a lengthy period after the completion of their construction, the transfer should take place as soon as office and housing accommodation could be provided for the officers of those departments whose presence at Canberra would be essential to enable the functions of government to be carried on permanently after the first meeting of Parlia- ment. It has accordingly been decided that, immediately after the first meeting of Parliament at Canberra, the undermentioned numbers of officers shall be transferred, the departments being moved, . as far as possible, in the order shown: -
In addition, there will he the staff of. the Government Printing Office, which has not yet been selected. As further housing and office accommodation becomes available, the departments which, in the first transfer, will be represented by secretariats and other offices, the permanent location of which is to be at Canberra, will be transferred. The order of the transfer of those departments and offices will be determined at a later date.
Honorable senators will realize that the work of transference of departmental papers, furniture, and equipment, and the furniture and effects of officers, is a task of great magnitude, demanding the exclusive attention of a capable organizer. Colonel W. P. Farr has been appointed as Director of Transportation, and is already concentrating on the preliminary work.
The Government has made an arrangement with the Commonwealth Bank by which the bank has undertaken to make advances to public servants and the general public who desire to purchase homes from the commission, or to make arrangements for the construction of homes independently of the commission. For the construction of business premises it is possible to arrange terms with the Commonwealth Bank similar to those operating in other parts of the Commonwealth.
It is natural that public servants should be somewhat disturbed at the approaching severance of Melbourne ties and associations, but the Government is gratified at the spirit with which the service is facing the situation, and is confident that, after the initial dislocation of personal affairs has been survived, public servants will settle down contentedly in their new surroundings. In order that officers of the service may have an opportunity of selecting sites for their future homes, those who desire to visit Canberra before the dato of the transfer, for the express purpose of choosing residential blocks, will receive a concession of 50 per cent. of the return railway fare for themselves and their wives.
Realizing that the unorganized offer for sale of the homes owned by public servants in Melbourne would result in a temporary glut in the market, the Government is completing a scheme by which officers, who are prepared to accept the assessment of the valuator to beappointed, can hand over their Melbourne homes to the Government for realization on the basis of a fair valuation. The amount of the valuation in each case will be placed to the officer’s credit, and will be made available towards the cost of providing a home for him at Canberra.
The Federal Capital Commission is at present engaged in the preparation of a pamphlet containing plans of various typos of homes, with particulars of the cost for outright purchase, hire purchase, or rental. Each officer of the Service will be given an opportunity of choosing the type of house he will require, and any officer who desires to do so may submit his own design. The commission will then, as far as possible, arrange for the construction of a home for each officer according to the plan chosen or submitted by him.
I can assure honorable senators that no effort will be spared to ensure an efficient and expeditious transfer, andI sincerely hope that the establishment of the Capital at Canberra will go far towards intensifying that national spirit which is so strong a feature of Australia’s nationhood.
– Can Senator Pearce inform me whether it is a fact that the
Duke of York, Killarney and Inverness has been invited to declare the Parliament open at Canberra on 9th May, or is it intended to invite him to do so ?
– A statementwill be made on thatsubject at the proper time by the Prime Minister, and I am sure that honorable senators will not expect me now to answer a casual question with respect to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.9 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 May 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260526_senate_10_113/>.