10th Parliament · 1st Session
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received an intimation from the President (the Hon. T. Givens) that owing to illness he will be unable to take the chair to-day. Under the Standing Orders, the Chairman of Committees, as Deputy President, will preside.
The Deputy President (Senator Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Case of Private E. Genner.
– On the 20th
May, Senator Grant asked the following questions : -
I am now in a position to furnish the following replies: -
– It is reported in the press this morning that a deputation from a Chinese nationalist organization interviewed the Minister for Home and Territories yesterday with reference to the migration question.Can the Minister tell the Senate what is the position in regard to the questions alleged to have been submitted to him by that deputation?
– I had a busy day yesterday, and I may have forgotten some things that happened; but I rubbed my eyes this morning when I saw in the press that I had received yesterday a deputation representing a Chinese nationalist organization in Australia. I have no recollection of having received it. A little while ago, I -was asked by the Consul-General of China to receive a deputation of representative Chinese from Sydney. I acceded to his request, and the deputation waited on me about a week ago. Subsequently I was asked from another quarter if I would receive a deputation from another section of Chinese; but I replied that, having already received a deputation at the request of the Consul-General, I could not undertake to receive deputations from representatives of other sections of Chinese. So far as I am aware, I did not receive a deputation of Chinese yesterday.
The following papers were presented : -
Export Guarantee Act - Return showing Reports, Recommendations, and Assistance granted, up to 31st March, 1926.
Grafton-Kyogle to South Brisbane Railway - Agreements regarding construction -
Between the Commonwealth of Australia Railway Council and the State of Queensland.
Between the Commonwealth of Australia Railway Council and the State of New South Wales.
Public Service Acts - Appointments -
Department of Works and RailwaysR. Fraser.
Home and Territories DepartmentA. L. Kennedy.
CUSTOMS TARIFF BILL.
Debate resumed from 27th May (vide page 2370), on motion by Senator Crawford-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– When we adjourned last night I was directing the attention of the Senate to two very important epochs in the political history of this country. It may be claimed by some that it is ancient history to refer to the Victorian Customs Tariff of pre-federation days, or the report of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission in 1907, but there are very few things we do in life which are not influenced and shaped materially, if not absolutely, by experience. Therefore, I think I was justified in referring the Senate to what happened in Victoria in prefederation days as marking the maximum effort in a protectionist tariff, and drawing the conclusion that no more is required to-day than the maximum then provided. As a matter of fact, such results followed from the imposition of that Victorian tariff that we heard its praises sung throughout Australia for many years afterwards. And seeing that the maximum in that tariff was some 30 per cent, lower than the maximum in the tariff now before us for consideration, I wanted to know the reason for the imposition of the extra 30 per cent, to-day. I also directed attention to what was considered the foremost protectionist effort on the subject as outlined in the recommendations of the protectionist section of the Tariff Commission in 1907, showing that it also was not more than 30 per cent. If a 30 per cent, maximum was considered sufficient in 1907, I asked wherein lay the justification for asking for more or doubling it at the present time. Some sort of rumbling reply was given by Senator Findley last night that times have changed. Of course they have, but they have also changed elsewhere. To give any substance to Senator Findley’s remarks one would need to believe that that change had been confined to Australia alone. As a matter of fact, times have changed the world over. That those who are sending their goods to Australia - they are generally described as foreign competitors against whom we must have a duty of an extra 30 per cent, on the best protectionist thought of seventeen years ago - are still able to compete with us despite the improved conditions in their own countries, is due to the fact that we in Australia have not become sufficiently efficient and energetic in our processes of manufacture.
– The honorable senator must not forget that wages have increased here.
– But it does not follow that wages have not also increased elsewhere.
– They m.ay have, but not to the same extent as here.
-The honorable senator has nothing to prove that statement. Recently in this chamber I quoted figures to show the increase in commodity prices all the world over, and increases in commodity prices are a fair barometer of the wages level of a country, because as commodities rise in value invariably the wages standard rises in proportion. I quoted figures showing that since the war the commodity price level has been raised in France, United States of America, Canada and Great Britain. Australia is no exception in that regard. Does Senator McLachlan imply that other countries have lagged behind in the matter of wages while we in Australia alone have moved forward ? If so, he is wrong, because the standards, by which our foreign competitors have had to abide, have also moved forward. Therefore, we are not justified in asking for a further 30 per cent, increase on what a protectionist body recommended seventeen years ago and on what was actually operating in Victoria for a number of years, enabling that colony to build up its industries. Honorable senators will have to give solid reasons to prove the need for this extra 30 per cent, before I vote to give an additional penny piece of protection. The onus rests on their shoulders. They must prove that the world outside has either retrograded or become more scientific, one or the other must be proved; and if it can be, I shall be found revising my attitude and giving duties to meet the altered situation. But, so far, I have only the proof of what happened in Victoria in pre-federation days and in the Commonwealth seventeen years ago; and I contend that what happened then still applies to-day. Later on, by references to other countries, I shall prove that nothing else can possibly apply.
It is necessary to take a general survey of the industrial and economic development of Australia during the last few years before we can arrive at a right conclusion. We are making progress in one direction in an artificial way and no commensurate progress in another direction. In a question of this kind we must rely on facts and figures, tedious though they may be. Rhetoric is out of place. We must get down to bedrock facts to meet or approve of this appeal to Parliament for added advantage of an artificial kind. The situation is too serious to do otherwise, because any advantage this Parliament gives to one section is reflected in another direction by the disadvantage it imposes on another section. We are here to-day, half of us, fresh from the country -
Antaeus-like, springing from the earth with new strength, and with a solemn obligation to discharge our duty to the people who sent u3 here. They are people whose voices are not heard in the corridors, but are stifled in the backwoods of this country. They are the people who are engaged in the hard task of pioneering this continent. They have no chance of seeing ministers or governments in Melbourne or anywhere else. They are too busy on their job. The men in the interior who, by their arduous efforts, are developing this great continent, are those whose voices should be heard and whose claims should be attended to. We have the responsibility of protecting their interests and of scrutinizing very closely the cool proposals of others who are coming forward so persistently and asking for higher and still higher duties. Our tariff legislation has been amended on five occasions during the last 25 years, and in each instance demands have been made for higher and higher duties, merely to advance the interests of one section of the community. Needless to say, the primary producers who extract the wealth from the soil whereby we live, are as much entitled to consideration as those who are engaged in secondary industries. The secondary industries have their place, and properly so, too, but their rights should not overshadow the rights of those engaged in primary pursuits. What has been happening in the two spheres of activity? The primary and secondary industries should work in perfect harmony, because they both administer to the welfare of the community, and provide the wherewithal by which we live. What has happened during the last 25 years? According to the Commonwealth Year-Book, we find that in 1903-4, which was the year in which the first Commonwealth tariff of a protective character superseded the protective tariffs which had been in operation in some’ of the States, there were 9,000,000 acres of land under cultivation, and in 1923-24, 20 years afterwards, 16,000,000 acres were under cultivation, or an increase of 77 per cent. What has happened in the secondary industries? We cannot, of course, measure the increase by the same standard. In 1903-4 the value of manufactures was £28,000,000, and in 1923-24 £132,000,000, or a clear increase in that case of 371 per cent, or equivalent to about five times the progress of rural production, as against 77 per cent, in the case I have mentioned. It will, of course, be said that one cannot reasonably compare the area under cultivation with the value of manufactured articles. In 1903-4 the value of primary production was £89,000,000 and in 1923-24 £260,000,000. These figures indicate that primary production lagged behind during that period, and that as higher tariff duties were imposed the profits and returns from primary production showed a corresponding decline. The value of primary production reached its apex in the middle period, when a point was reached between what were termed fairly reasonable protective duties and the extremely high rates . which how prevail. In those days primary producers had some opportunity, but in later years the decline has been ‘ most marked.
– Pro- .duction, as a whole, has declined per head of population.
– But in the secondary industries it has increased. If further proof be needed, we have it over a limited period. On page 247 of the Common.wealth Year-Book for 1925 we find figures, proving the latter part of my contention. They show that during the last ten years primary production has been declining, whilst production in other forms has increased. Honorable senators are therefore obliged to ask if this incorrect balance is to be maintained in this country, and if one form of industry is to be assisted to the detriment of another? In the year 1901, the value of exports, which, of course, provide another means of ascertaining what is happening in this country, is shown as £49,000,000; whereas in 1923-4 it was £50,000,000, or an increase of only £1,000,000 over a period of 20 years.
– In value ?
– Yes, of the exportable surplus. There were, of course, fluctuations in the meantime. Our exportable surplus is comprised almost wholly of the products of primary industries, as those of secondary industries are equivalent to only about 2 per cent, of the total. Our exports of secondary industries may include a small shipment of boots to, say, New Zealand, or a few sweets to the South Sea Islands. Practically nothing has been exported from this country except those products which are extracted from the soil ; anything else is not worth speaking of. I have shown that the value of our exportable surplus in 1901 was £49,000,000; but the market value in 1923-4 was £119,000,000. The difference between the two amounts I have mentioned may be accounted for by the increased prices. That £119,000,000 was worth only £50,000,000 as stated on the basis of 1901 prices, which is the true comparison.
– For the five years ending 1923, the average value of our exports was £123,000.000.
– I have already said that prices fluctuated. During the first five years of Federation, the value of our exportable surplus, beginning at £49,000,000, increased to £61,000,000; but from 1913 to 1923-4, it declined from £61,000,000 to £50,000,000; which further proves my contention that for the previous period when this country was not protection mad, primary industry had some opportunity. Honorable senators should consider the revenue raised during the first thirteen years as compared with that raised during the last ten. Closely associated with this subject is the question of ‘ interest on our capital expenditure. Every one knows - even the school-boy referred to by Senator Grant - that a man who borrows money must pay interest for its use to the lender. The interest has to bc obtained from surplus earnings, capital drawn upon, or money borrowed or stolen. We have been informed by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) that the Commonwealth has to export goods to the value of £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 annually to meet its interest obligations, and we are told only what we knew 30 years ago, that as a debtor nation we must find interest in some way on the money we borrow. At present we have a stupendous debt, and if we are to be animated by the right spirit, which, unfortunately, is not as evident as it might well be, we must make an effort to pay our interest and to retain our good name amongst the nations. It is our desire to pay 20s. in the £1, and to progress. The Minister for Trade and Customs said that we export £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 worth of goods annually to meet our interest obligations, but we shall have to export more before we strike a proper financial balance. In 1913, which was not long ago, the States owed £294,000,000 only; and in 1924, eleven years afterwards, their indebtedness had jumped to £594,000,000. In 1913’, the Commonwealth Government, except for a bookkeeping entry made by the Fisher Government, which I supported, was practically free of debt; but shortly afterwards money was raised here, there, and everywhere, and one government even went to New York. Under stress of the war exigencies it borrowed considerable sums of money to see the job through, with the result that the indebtedness of the Commonwealth today is £415,000,000. It is a big price, but the glorious freedom which it won for us was well worth it. “We have a. freedom that is unequalled in any other part of the world. We enjoy freedom even to be disloyal. This freedom, I again remind honorable senators, cost us £415,000,000, in addition to the large number of valuable lives sacrificed in the war. The interest on that money has to be provided for.
– What has the flotation of loans to do with the Tariff Bill?
– The honorable senator was not in the chamber when I commenced my remarks, but I am sure he is, and has always been, interested in maintaining the good name of Australia. Therefore, he must be interested in any consideration of the ways and means whereby we meet our obligations. In my opinion - and I hope to prove what I am about to say before I resume my seat - if we adopt the suicidal course - I know this is a strong term - now proposed by the Government, and adopt this new schedule, we shall find it more difficult to pay our way. The Minister for Trade and Customs has told us that we have to export between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000 worth of commodities a year to meet our interest obligations. As a matter of fact, we shall have to export nearly £50,000,000 worth if we are to find 5 per cent, upon the total amount of the national debt. Senator Findley knows, as well as any other honorable senator, that we can only meet our obligations abroad by exporting our surplus products. In no other way is it possible for us to balance our accounts. According to figures extracted from the official Year-Book, the excess of our exports for the last ten-year period 1915-16 to 1924-5 amounted to only £63,000,000, or an average of a little over £6,000,000 a year. For the year 1913-14 the indebtedness of Australia - Commonwealth and States- was £294,000,000. It is now about £1,000,000,000. The average debt during the eleven years was £640,000,000, which, at 4£ per cent., was equal to £28,000,000 a year. It is clear from this statement of the position that, in order to meet the interest on our obligations, we have been borrowing money to pay interest on our debts to the extent of about £22,000,000 a year. My only concern is to demonstrate as clearly as possible that our financial position is anything but satisfactory. - [Extension of time granted.] - Instead of being able to pay our way out of our surplus earnings, or, in other words, by our excess exports, we are actually borrowing money to do so, and at the same time, by piling on further duties, we are limiting our capacity to export a sufficiency of our surplus primary products. Senator Findley knows, as well as any other honorable senator, that if we continue to impose increasingly heavy tariff duties the only effect will be to make production more costly and more difficult. The honorable senator must realize that national bankruptcy lies that way.
– And yet the honorable senator is an enthusiastic supporter of a Government that is borrowing all the time.
– These increases in duties must have a sterilizing effect upon primary production. It. is clear - that we cannot indefinitely approach the London market to balance our accounts. Senator Findley may approve of this policy, but I remind him that if he approached the man with the three balls outside his door with a request for a loan to pay his interest bill, he would be told that it was about time that he put his financial house in order. The same may be said of a nation. Its interest obligations must be mct out of its surplus earnings, and not from borrowed money.
– That is the way to talk to this Government!
– The honorable senator is indirectly responsible for this policy, because he is supporting the Government which pursues it.
– I am not running this country, at all events. If I were, things would not be as they are. Now, let us look outside Australia. I may be told that I should stick to Australia. It is because I want Australia to be sound through and through that I point to her shortcomings in financial matters, in the hope that the Government will mend its way. I am not less friendly to this country because I speak the truth. The best friend in any circumstances is not the man of the Uriah Heep type, who declares his humility and affection for all people and at the same time is ready to stab them in the dark, but the man who speaks the plain, unvarnished truth. It is far better to do this than to delude the people with the idea that everything is all right.
– The honorable senator is posing as the Pharisee in this chamber.
Honorable senators interjecting,
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - Order! I ask Senators Needham and Findley to allow Senator Lynch to speak without so much interruption. If they disobey, I shall have to take other measures.
– Noise never did anything except frighten crows. When honorable senators opposite interrupted me I was about to inform them of the position in the sister dominion of Canada. Canada, as we all know, became a federation in 1867. It made repeated attempts to put into operation what it considered to be a suitable protectionist policy, and that policy was adopted in 1907. This is what Mr. Porritt, in his work Sixty Years of Protection in Canada, has to say with regard to the steps taken to achieve what was regarded as the high-water mark in the Canadian policy: -
All that was then claimed for the work of the Tariff Commission and of Parliament on the tariff - work that had occupied Ministers and Parliament from September, 1905, to April, 1907 - was that it was believed that the revision would “ meet with the general approval of the trade, removing, as it does, many inequalities heretofore existing.”
Honorable senators will note that it took the Canadian Parliament about a year and a half to pass that tariff; yet we are told by the Melbourne press - our wouldhe masters - that we should get a move on with the present tariff proposals. I tell the press to mind their own business. But let me continue. Mr. Porritt states further -
The Government was as candid in this admission as the Minister of Finance was outspokenly protectionist in advocating higher duties in the tarin* and the continuation of the bounty system. No claim was made in the speech from the throne that any care had been given to the interest of the general consumers.
The privileged order secured an outstanding triumph in 1807, when the Liberal Government adopted the national policy and continued the bounty system. In 1897, however,’ the tariff was not revised at the instance of the manufacturers. It was revised because the Liberals were committed by their pledges in opposition to immediate action on tho_ tariff, although to action in a diametrically opposite direction ‘ to that which they deemed it expedient to take. In 1905-6 the tariff was revised solely at the demand of the Canadian Manufacturers Association; and, as was admitted in the speech from the throne at the end of the session of 1907, no other interest than that of the manufacturers was considered by the Government when the revision was in progress.
These concessions to manufacturers, which ranged from If to Ti per cent., constituted a signal triumph for the privileged order, owing to the circumstances in which they were granted.
That is the opinion of an outsider upon the high-water mark tariff of Canada. Let us glance at the rates. I shall not have time to mention more than a few of them. Take, for instance, iron, and steel pipe and tubing. The British preference was 20 per cent., the intermediate tariff 27$ per cent., and the general rate 30 per cent. - 30 per cent, as against 40 or 45 per cent, under the Australian tariff. On mowing machines and harvesters, selfbinding and without binders, the British preference was 12$ per cent., intermediate 17$ per cent., and general 17$ per cent., as against 40 and 45 per cent, in Australia. And yet Canada has made progress. Traction ditching machines, &c, are free, free, free; hay loaders are 15 ner cent., 22$ per cent., and 25 per cent.; planks and boards, free, free, free; seamless cotton and linen duck goods, 15 per cent., 17$ per cent., and 20 per cent. ; webbing, non-elastic, 12 per cent., 17$ per cent., and 20 per cent.; wool or worsted yarns, dyed, free, free, free; and blankets 22$ per cent., 30 per cent.,, and 35 per cent. But woollens in Australia are protected to the extent of 60 per cent. I believe that the Canadian tariff has been modified since in a rational way, and that the 35 per cent, then considered an adequate measure of protection to enable Canadian manufacturers to carry on their operations has since been reduced. Everybody knows what has been the effect of that tariff. We see Canadian products coming into Australia in large quantities, and yet we are asked to believe that the remedy is to grant more and more protection. What is wrong with this country? I contend that there is nothing wrong with it; but there is a great deal wrong with some of the people of this country. The Canadian Year-Book of 1922-3 shows clearly that the wages and living conditions in Canada are not lower or inferior to those of Australia. I propose in a few moments to show that they are higher. Prom the authority to which I have just referred I gather that partly manufactured articles to the value of $20,000,000 were sent out of Canada to the United Kingdom, and those exported to the United States of America were worth $72,000,000. A total of nearly £20,000,000 worth of partly manufactured articles was thus sent to the* United Kingdom and to the protectionist United States of America. Fully or chiefly manufactured articles exported to the United Kingdom totalled $115,000,000, and to the United States of America $111,000,000. The total sent to all countries was $303,000,000, or £60,000,000. This was done on a 30 per cent, tariff. If Canada engaged in a trade of those dimensions under such conditions, what is wrong with Australia? The answer must be found by honorable senators. Are we to have a 60 per cent, tariff when Canada is satisfied with half that rate? So far as I am concerned, I shall tell our manufacturers that they have been spoon-fed too long, and that they must adjust their policy to the fair claims of other people. Their cry of “infant industries” will carry no further weight with me.
How can the boot trade, which is 40 years old, be called an infant industry? The agricultural implement industry is in a similar position. Will our manufacturers always need to be propped up . with blankets and fed with pap? If we nurse them more tenderly it will only make them more feeble and debilitated. Under this audacious tariff proposal we shall be giving our secondary industries too much of a start on their competitors by conceding them a duty of 40, 45, and even 60 per cent. To ask for a tariff to protect Australian workers from any form of competition from America or Canada is to place an almost intolerable stigma upon the character of our workmen. The essence of protection is the placing of an artificial value upon the product of a foreign competitor in order to equalize the conditions of production of that article in the country of origin with the conditions obtaining in Australia. I am willing to grant whatever protection is necessary in order to equalize those conditions; but if I am asked to say that the workers in Canada are not as well treated as those in Australia, my answer is that the whole of the evidence gives a flat denial to that assertion. Some time ago, the Australian was entitled to be regarded as one pf the best workmen in the world, and the captains of industry were among the most brainy and efficient. But that cannot be said to-day. Workers and manufacturers alike must not rest on their oars or they will grow flabby in muscle and weak in mentality. They want to indulge their own laziness and want of efficiency. This tariff merely places a premium upon laziness and inefficiency, and discourages all that is industrious, self-reliant, and progressive. I challenge any honorable senator to contradict the figures I have quoted. Canada is wealthy and prosperous compared with Australia.
– What effect did the tariff of the United States of America have on Canadian trade?
– Let me remind the honorable senator that the Massey-Harris Company imports raw material from America, pays a duty at the border, and imports coal and coke. Yet it is able to send its finished product to Austra lia and pay higher wages than obtain in this country. I shall prove that statement on the authority of Mr. A. S. Patterson, Australasian general manager of the Massey-Harris Company, who was called to give evidence before the Tariff Board. He said that, for 6-ft. reapers and binders in Australia, the Sunshine Harvester Company charge £75, while the Canadian farmer pays only £47. For 4-ft. 6-in. mowers, £33 is charged in Australia, as against £17 in Canada. The Canadian farmers evidently have a rosy time compared with the toilers on our light, dry soils in Australia.
– No increase is proposed in the tariff on agricultural implements.
– No; but the duties are to be increased on the materials used for their manufacture.
– The honorable senator is speaking about the upward tendency of the tariff.
– I am advancing the views I hold, and I invite any honorable senator to show, in which respect they are weak.
– What about the price of agricultural machinery in New Zealand ?
– Mr. Patterson showed that more is being paid for implements in New Zealand than in Australia. Now I come to the wages question. The table of wages paid in the Massey-Harris factory at Toronto, and those fixed here by the Agricultural Implement Workers Wages Board determination in June, 1923 - the latest award - is as follows-: -
The Australian farmers, who are engaged in tilling these 16,000,000 acres - and I speak as one of them - are exploited on every hand, more or less, and mostly more, whether they are engaged in wheat production, mixed, or any other kind of farming. Every increase in the tariff strikes at their welfare. It is astonishing that the Canadians can manufacture implements, pay insurance and other charges up to 30 per cent., and a tariff duty of 40 or 45 per cent, on them, and still sell them here for less than Australianmade implements cost. The plain position is that our farmers are growing faint-hearted, and are seriously thinking of retiring more from cultivation. That is reflected in the poor advance in our area under cultivation. If it were not for the fact that our wool has certain valuable characteristics that make it the best in the world, we should be very badly off. The constant stream of gold that our wool causes to pour into Australia has spoiled us to some extent. If our wool were only ls. a lb., and if wheat were only 2s. lOd. and 2s. lid. a bushel, as they were years ago, we should have a good deal less money to play with. Oan Senator Needham and Senator Findley guarantee that the present high prices will continue indefinitely? Of course they cannot. All the indications are the other way. When we are not able to get such high prices for the commodities we sell in Europe, our primary producers will grow still more fainthearted, and will, I believe, sell out their holdings and return to our cities.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– My chief reason for speaking at this stage of the debate is that, in my opinion, there is -a -serious omission from the schedule. It concerns the timber industry, in which I am greatly interested, and in which I flatter myself I have had some useful experience. I was engaged in it for some years prior to the war, and I have also worked in it since the cessation of hostilities. On the general question of the wisdom of imposing tariff duties there seems to be a great diversity of opinion among honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. Although the tariff is a highly contentious and technical subject, it. has seemed to me that in the past it has been approached in what may be called the catch-as-catch-can style. Every one has endeavoured to obtain protection for the industry with which he is most intimately concerned. In those circumstances, the appointment of the
Tariff Board was a step in the right direction. I deny that any one man, no matter how well read he may be, or how vast and multifarious his interests and experience may have been, can say from his own knowledge what industries are of the most value to Australia and should be protected, and what are of little value, and should not be given serious consideration. I am a protectionist because I believe that Australians should do their own work. It is folly for us to send our wool 12,000 miles across the ocean to have it cleaned and manufactured. We should at least clean and manufacture’ whatever is needed for Australian consumption, and I trust that the day is not far distant when we shall do it, and send only our surplus overseas. We ought also to develop our iron and steel industry, for it is absolutely vital to our welfare. It was most gratifying to me to learn during a recent visit to Lithgow that they are now able to manufacture a complete service rifle there from Australian steel. Our armourers and steel manufacturers need no other recommendation than that they can turn out a firstclass rifle, for the material in the component parts of a rifle must be of the very highest quality. I know that some people complain of the cost of the rifles manufactured in Australia, and tell us that we should get them, at a lower price, from the Birmingham Small Arms Company or from Enfield, but some day it may be absolutely impossible for us to get rifles from overseas, and in that day we shall be compelled to stand on our own feet. In my opinion, it is essential for our safety that we should .be able to manufacture first-class steel products, and I am not alarmed about the price that we may be obliged to pay for them. From a defence point of view I am an absolute protectionist. As Australia has the man power and the raw material, she should turn out her own manufactured products. We lack a certain amount of technical knowledge at present, and we should do our best to obtain it, but I am afraid that we also lack a proper patriotic spirit which may not be obtained so easily. Periodically our people are urged to buy only goods made in Australia, but the old saying “ A prophet is not without honour save in his own country,” could be well adapted to our manufactures.
Although in most cases there is nothing wrong with our locally made goods, the great bulk of our people do not buy them. Our soldiers knew the true value of their Australian-made equipment. The blankets we had were the envy of all the troops we met, and so were our boots. Frequently “Tommies” would come along and offer us two pairs of their boots for one of ours; but we knew the value of our own equipment, and would not exchange it. I come now to the timber and sawmilling industry of Australia which I specially wish to discuss. Yesterday some replies were given to me to a series of questions I addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs; but I did not get a definite answer to my most important question. The Minister was too astute. His long political experience enabled him to sidestep it. I asked -whether he was aware that the Tasmanian timber industry was languishing because of the huge imports of foreign timbers into the Commonwealth. He gave only a general reply. We must approach this problem in an impartial and scientific way. 1 commend the members of the Tariff Board for the excellent report that they submitted on it. The principal disappointment to me in connexion with their inquiry was that they did not visit Tasmania, but were satisfied with examining three witnesses who came across to Melbourne to represent the Tasmanian sawmilling industry, and also the Tasmanian Director of Forests, Mr. Irby. I have no complaint whatever to offer against the importation of certain foreign timber, for I realize that we have no timber here suitable for the purposes for which they are used; but I am firmly convinced that we are not using out local timbers to anything like the extent that they should be used. For certain purposes, our local timbers stand absolutely alone. Our importations of dressed timber, linings, weatherboards, and tongued and grooved stuff for flooring purposes, have reached gigantic proportions. I examined the figures recently, and ascertained that in 1923-4 our timber importations from Norway and Sweden totalled 93,000,000 super feet, of which 84,000,000 super, feet was dressed ready for use.
– Have you any idea what State consumed the ‘bulk of it ?
– It was consumed in every State.
– Including Tasmania.
– Tasmania and Western Australia had very little of it.
– And Queensland did not see very much of it.
– The Queensland people are in for a timber famine very shortly. They are spending their substance in riotous living so far as timber is concerned. The value of our Scandinavian importations of dressed timber in 1923-24 was £1,162,000. Our freetrade friends will propably say, “If we import Scandinavian timber to that value, the Scandinavians must take our product to approximately the same value.” That is not borne out in this case, for although in 1923-24 we imported about £2,000,000 worth of material from Sweden, she took only about £400.000 worth from us, chiefly in wool, wheat, and hides. Our imports from Norway for the same year were valued at £1,415,000, but our exports to Norway were valued at only £34,000, so that the balance of trade against us was £1,381,000. I am pleased to learn from the Minister for Trade and Customs that the Tariff Board will visit Tasmania in July next to take further evidence in regard to timber. I am quite sure that evidence will be forthcoming to strengthen the case for a high duty on dressed timber from Scandinavia. My contention is that, if it should be necessary to import timber from Scandinavia, at least the work of dressing and planing it should be done here. If we must have cheap imported stuff, it means unemployment for Australians. We cannot have at the same time cheap imports and employment in the timber industry. When we are discussing a tariff schedule, we hear both sides of the question stated, but we must always remember that we cannot eat our cake and have it. We must make up our minds to have our own people employed or unemployed. It has been said by some, with more or less knowledge, that the saw-milling industry in Tasmania is so small that it is not worth our while to bother about it, and that the great bulk of the mills are run so badly that they deserve to go out of existence. I do not think that such is the case. There may have been a stratum of truth in the assertion some years ago, because, largely owing to the shortage of shipping during the war, there was practically a total prohibition of the importation of foreign timbers, and a number of mills sprang up which could get along very well in an inefficient way. But. many of these plants have since then gone to the wall. We have to-day in Tasmania 215 saw-mills and joinery works, employing about 2,490 hands. The value of the land and buildings occupied by these establishments is £129,490. Their plant and machinery is worth £303,197. The wages they paid in 1923-24 amounted to £400,879, and the value of their output was £742,887. The quantity of timber cut in Tasmania annually is 60,000,000 superficial feet, and it has been estimated by the State Conservator of Forests that the timber resources of the State will last for the next 90 years at that rate of cutting. In his report, Sir Nicholas Lockyer, the Commissioner appointed by the Commonwealth Government to inquire into the financial position of Tasmania, said -
Hitherto, the timber trade lias afforded a greater proportion of employment in Tasmania than any other industry. The evidence indicates there are very large sources of supply of commercial timbers available for exploitation. It is of great importance to the State that, if it ds possible, the recent downward drift of this industry should not only be arrested, but the position be substantially altered to one of progressive - development. To what extent this may be attained by more economic methods of production and marketing, by more favorable shipping facilities, or by other means, I am unable to say. It is a matter which may well form the subject of special inquiry and advice by the forestry expert - Mr. Lane-Poole.
I should very much like to see Mr. LanePoole make a thorough investigation of the timber resources of the State. I have not very much faith in any statement he may make at the present time about Tasmania’s forest resources, because the visit he paid to the island was very brief.
– He was there for over a fortnight quite recently.
– How could he in a fortnight investigate Tasmanian forests, although they do not cover more than 26,000 square miles? He told me that our methods were all wrong and inefficient, and that we ought to Americanize the industry, and work it with large companies having a fair amount of capital and extensive plants. He was probably unaware of the fact that already several large concerns had been operating. One concern, in which Western Australian capital was invested, had a capital of £250,000. It was operating in the southern end of the island. It brought into use the very latest American machinery, and secured the services of experts from Western Australia, nevertheless, it was not a success. I have been a saw-miller engaged in the industry, and as such I know that it needs more careful study on the spot. Therefore, I am hopeful that Mr. Lane-Poole will spend several months in Tasmania investigating its timber resources. I am, first of all, a good Australian, but second to that I am watchful of the interests of my island State. The Tariff Board has looked at the matter broadly from the Australian stand-point, but there is no doubt in my mind’ as to the bad effect the importation of foreign timbers, particularly linings and weatherboards from Scandinavia, has had on the timber industry of Tasmania. The imported stuff may be cheap in the first place, but it is dear in the long run. There is no comparison between good Australian hardwood and cheap imported weatherboards. The Government declares that it is prepared to protect Australian industries. The saw-milling industry is a primary industry, and as such is deserving of protection. I do not impute bias to the Tariff Board. Its report on timber is a model. . It sets out the factors for and against the imposition of a duty, and the summing up is very fine indeed. My only complaint is that I do not think all the evidence available on behalf of the Australian saw-millers was submitted. But I am hopeful that in July fresh evidence will be placed before the board in Tasmania, so that the whole matter may be reconsidered. If we want cheap timber from foreign countries, the price we must pay is the non-development of a national asset, and consequent unemployment. We must make our choice. The position of Tasmania is quite plain. There are large areas of matured forest which, if they are not soon cut over, will be lost.
– Is there much of that timber?
– There is quite a lot of it. I could take the honorable senator to a patch of 20,000 acres across theRodger River. It is a fine forest, but is over-matured.
– Has it ever been cut over?
– No, it has not yet been worked. We have sufficient data to show that the growth of our Tasmanian timber is very rapid, because of the climatic conditions and the very excellent rainfall the State enjoys. Mr. Irby, the Tasmanian Conservator of Forests, giving evidence before the Tariff Board, said -
Sufficient data has been collected to show that the rate of growth is rapid, and the annual increment in the Tasmanian eucalypt is very high. Re-growth 25 years old is at present being cut for board and case material, and in such localities 40 years should prove ample to produce saw-milling timber.
He also said -
You sec the bush itself is an over-ripe forest
The forest has to be judiciously thinned out, but that is a matter for a forestry man. The great trouble in the timber industry is that saw-millers and the foresters regard each other as natural enemies. Until the Conservator of Forests in Tasmania got to know me bettor, he regarded me as the greatest enemy and the greatest vandal he had in the State. Saw-millers and foresters should work hand in hand as they do in Europe and elsewhere. It is true that the forester has good grounds for suspecting the saw-miller of vandalism, and the history of our timber industry, perhaps through force of circumstances, has been deplorable. However, I am not here to debate that aspect of the question. In considering the evidence given by a forester, one has to allow a little for any bias he may have against the poor saw-miller who is trying to earn an honest crust, by bringing some of our national timbers into general use. I regret that we are not to have more protection on this schedule, but I am satisfied that when the Tariff Board visits Tasmania and considers the evidence, it will come to a conclusion favorable to the Tasmanian saw-millers.
– The statement made by more than one honorable senator during this debate, that a tariff or portion of a tariff such as that with which we are now dealing, is one of the most contentious subjects that could be brought before this or any other legislative body, is so true that the only point we appear to be prepared to agree upon is the intensely contentious nature of this measure. The consideration of a tariff is a much more important proposition in this Senate than in the other branch of the legislature.Very often we have tariffs which affect the States in different ways, and it is only on the floor of this chamber, where the small States have equal representation, that they can counteract the preponderating influence in another place of the two big manufacturing States of Victoria and New South Wales. I make that observation without the least intention of creating any State bitterness. We were asked by the Minister (Senator Crawford), when introducing the bill, to look upon this question from an Australian point of view. That is what I desire to do, but I entreat honorable senators who do not agree with the fiscal tenets I hold to remember that I too am an Australian, and that the people of Western Australia, whom I help to represent, are also Australians. Many of them are developing a huge territory. They are pioneering far away from luxurious centres of population, such as Melbourne and Sydney, and carrying on work which is very much more important to the future of Australia than, and at least as important to Australia as is the work being done in the great cities. These people should have a measure of that encouragement which it seems to be the settled policy of this Government and of the Opposition to afford to the very numerous citizens of the Commonwealth who occupy the big centres of population. Mention of the word “ policy “ reminds one that the policy of a party is one which, it is understood, differentiates it from that of other parties. But we have no such differentiation in Australia in connexion with fiscal matters. It may be, and, indeed, I strongly suspect that it is, from very widely differing points of view that the Opposition - the representatives of Labour - and the Nationalists - who, may I be allowed to say, represent the whole of the people - look at this matter. I do not think the motives that actuate the parties are the same, but the result has been that both parties have combined on the fiscal issue, and have concluded that a high tariff is the one that they desire. Outside, there is an even morebinding, though tacit, agreement betwen employers and employees in favour of high duties. As I have said, they have somewhat differing motives, but they arrive, unfortunately for Australia, in some respects, at the same result. My sympathies are with the members of the Tariff Board, because they are dealing with a situation for which they are not responsible. The situation has been created by a series of what I may term spasmodic, but not always well directed, efforts to establish a useful tariff. We find all sorts of anomalies with which they had to deal, which undoubtedly make their work much more difficult and more liable to criticism at the hands of those who have to work under the conditions which they create. If honorable senators consider for a moment the varying nature of the industries and of the claims that have to . be considered as being of importance to Australia,they will realize the force of my meaning. For instance, provision is made in the schedule to further protect an industry which is already well able to undersell all competitors from outside Australia, and able, apparently, to make a profit. It is asking for further protection, which apparently it does . not need. That, however, I maintain, is not a matter for the Parliament itself to deal with. Honorable senators will realize in a moment the item to which I am referring. ‘ I am alluding not alone to the Australian whisky distilleries, but also to the match-making industry. The Australian manufacturers are selling matches at from 11/2d. to 2d. a dozen below the price at which imported matches are being sold, and yet we find a very large proportion of the Australian population still using imported matches.
– That shows what prejudice will do.
– I should like to have a proper definition of the word “prejudice.” It usually means what the other fellow thinks.
– I mean unreasonable prejudice.
– Exactly. I have very strong prejudices concerning certain proposals, but I do not so describe them. I refuse to recognize that they are prejudices. Some of my friends say I am a most prejudiced person ; I am not really so; it is that my friends are out of step with me. And so with respect to tariff matters. It is only by meeting together and arguing the matter reasonably, if wo can, and unreasonably if we cannot - by a sort of attrition of various minds, some hard, some soft - that we can some to a decision and frame atariff. I maintain that it is from this chamber, where there is not a preponderance of one- class of mind, where one is more apt to think of the people, and the interests of a State than of the party to which one belongs, that we are more likely to get a decent and workable tariff for the whole of Australia rather than from another place. There must be some underlying reason for the present state of affairs, which has continued for some years. We must discover that the remedy is to be found, not by using political influence or mere words to counteract it, but by following the methods of science employed in other countries. That is what this Government is bringing into being for the first time. I refer to the use of scientific methods. I am looking with pleasurable anticipation to the work that can be done in this direction by the two bodies being brought into existence - the Council of Science and Industry, and the somewhat nebulous and indefinite Commission of Migration and Development. Both of those bodies can do a great deal to mould public opinion concerning the tariff that we should be working under, and to put Australia on the same level of productive capacity as the outside world without interfering - I do not wish to see any interference - with the conditions of Australian industrialism as they exist to-day.
– A rule of more hard work would be useful.
– I do not blame one party or the other, but I feel that improvements in the overhead organization and the provision of up-to-date andproperly run machinery are of great importance in this connexion.
– That is not lacking at the Newcastle Steel Works, which are supposed to be the last word in organization and modern appliances.
– So we are always given to understand. I have heard many remarks concerning work and organization in the industrial arena, but, unfortunately, I have been the victim of so many bitter disappointments that I am inclined, somewhat late in life, to be disillusioned - to look upon statements made to me in some instances with a good deal of caution, and to have a desire to hear the other side before coming to a definite conclusion. The object of a tariff is, I take it, to create, not a healthy, fully employed, and prosperous class, but a healthy, fully employed and prosperous people. That is what we want in Australia. I hope I may say without offence that in the past the tendency has been to make two classes healthy, prosperous and well employed - the employers of labour and, later on, those employed by them. There is, however, an important third section to be considered - those who are working for themselves, who do not employ labour, and who, I maintain, are a great deal more important to Australia in the long-run than either of the classes I have mentioned. It has always been my ideal, political and practical, to see this Australia of ours a country of small holders in as great a proportion as is possible. I realize that we cannot have that altogether, but I also realize that the Australian seems to be losing that independence of character which once upon a time sent him out to look aft.eT himself, to make a place for himself in the world, to refuse to depend upon any other person for his daily bread, and to insist upon supporting himself by the work of his hands and his brains to as great an extent as he could. I fear the tendency to-day is for the Australian as soon as he reaches the years of what are considered discretion to look for some one that he can lean upon. That has not been the characteristic of the people of this country in the years past, and I hope it will not be in the years to come. It is a bitter reflection upon us as a nation that to-day we are looking to other countries for young men to settle upon our land instead of providing the means by which our own people can engage in rural pursuits. The present practice, I maintain, is encouraged to a great extent by high tariffs. I have mentioned two instances in which additional duties are being sought by Australian industries which apparently do not need further protection. Let me direct attention to one or two others. The Newcastle Steel Works to which Senator McLachlan referred is a case in point. In this connexion it is startling to find that, notwithstanding the magnificent machinery installed in those works, and the modern methods to which he alluded, in one instance their price was £14 6s. 6d. as against that of £9 19s. 3d. for British goods. Steel and iron are manufactures on which there is but a small margin, which can be overcome by a tariff that is fair and reasonable; but in this case the percentage is too enormous to be bridged in that way. The remedy has to be found somewhere else. I have often wondered whether the Tariff Board, when considering this and other public questions, has investigated the output, per man, employed . in industries here as compared with similar industries in other countries. Having done that, will it consider what is the cause of the difference in output ? We know that there is a very great difference, because it has been . alluded to very eloquently and forcibly by Senator Lynch in the admirable speech delivered by him this morning. We want to get to the root cause. I do not say that the fault is with the employees or the employers ; it lies probably between the two>. It may be due either to lack of enterprise on the part of employers in the application of improved modern methods to industry, or, on the other hand, it may be due to lack of interest, shall I say, on the part of employees in the work upon which they are engaged. Between these two causes, I suggest, lies the solution of the difficulty which should make these exorbitant tariffs no longer necessary in Australia.
– Canada’s solution was piece-work.
– That is a fairly obvious solution. Thirty years ago America passed through just such a state of industrial trouble that Australia is going through to-day, and America found the solution in getting her work people to accept the principle of piece-work. ‘Our difficulty is to get the industrialists of Australia to accept it. The industrialists of America are perhaps the most highlypaid workers in the world, they have the highest social and moral aspirations and realizations. America is in the fortunate position of being able, without the aid of a very exorbitant tariff, to manufacture and export her manufactures here at prices below those charged for local products. There is yet another point - I do not know whether it has any connexion with our present position or not - and it is that in America there is no political Labour party. I throw out the suggestion for the consideration of honorable senators.
– The honorable senator will not elaborate the point?
– I am not prepared to do so at the moment.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the tariff is a party matter ?
– No, I was merely pointing out - the honorable senator, I believe, was not in the chamber when I commenced my remarks - that for totally different motives both sides are supporting the tariff proposals of the Government. What those motives are I shall allow honorable senators to settle for themselves. I was remarking, when interrupted, that although America leads the world industrially and in the happiness and welfare of her people, who enjoy a uniformly high standard of living, the industrialists of that country are not represented by that ornament of the Australian parliamentary system - the political Labour party. I do not know whether it has any connexion with the question we are considering, but I leave it at that.
– But the honorable senator is endeavouring to show that it has a connexion.
– I shall try to work it out and give Senator Needham the benefit of my lucubrations at a later date.
– Never mind, the innuendo is quite sufficient. I am not asking for it.
– I understand very well why the honorable senator does not ask for it. I think now that I shall do so, and perhaps refer to certain other aspects of the political situation. The primary industries of Australia enjoy very little protection, and, unfortunately, there is not even a tendency to adopt measures for their protection. One such industry is that of wheat-growing. Every year we send away from Australia mil lions of tons of wheat as wheat instead of exporting it in the form of flour. Surely it should be a matter of national importance to return to the soil that which is taken from it in the process of wheat-growing. We should convert the whole of our wheat into flour and utilize the offal, such as bran, pollard, &c, in subsidiary primary industries.
– It is not economical to do what the honorable senator suggests.
– I find it hard to believe the honorable senator.
– Ask the flourmillers themselves. Trust them to get the best out of their industry.
– Our milling industry, I understand, is conducted under the most scientific and improved lines.
– But medical men say we are making the wrong kind of flour.
– I was not looking at the matter from that point of view. If we are making the wrong kind of flour from a health point of view, then the only thing to do is to export it for the use of people in other countries. Speaking seriously, however, there is a great deal in the point I am trying to make. If we are exhausting our soils to grow wheat, and if at the same time we are sending away the products of that exhaustion as wheat instead of grinding it into flour, and returning to the land those essential factors which make successful primary production possible, we are doing that which is economically unsound. From a national point of view, it is economically unsound to continue that policy, and I believe that some better solution of the difficulty can be found. There is another little industry which affects the interests of my State very materially. We talk about the folly of sending away our wool to be turned into material which is worn by every honorable senator, with the exception, perhaps, of Senator Guthrie, instead of manufacturing it for ourselves. But there is another substance, of which Australia is the largest producer in the world, that we send away to Central Europe, and especially to America, to be made up into such articles as buttons, without which not even Senator Guthrie, could wear his Australian-made clothes.
– It is quite possible that he could.
– That is true. I have seen copper wire, and sometimes hairpins, employed instead of buttons. But I was alluding to the fact that every year we send . away hundreds of tons of pearl shell from the north-western portion of Australia and Thursday Island to be manufactured in America and Central Europe into buttons, knife handles, and similar articles. The making of these articles may be described as a domestic industry ; it does not require a very costly plant. The necessary machinery, I understand, for the production of these things by the individual or in the home can be purchased for about £100, yet we allow all this wealth, which amounts to extraordinary figures, to pass away from us by exporting the raw material to be converted into the finished product in other countries and then returned to us. Instead of keeping many of our own people employed in converting pearl shell into the manufactured article we send it abroad to give employment to other people. I do not know that this is a matter for the Tariff Board, but it has a direct bearing on the welfare of many people in Australia. Any man who provides occupation for even ten persons in Australia is doing a good turn for his country, and a very great deal may be achieved if every man, and particularly members of Parliament, direct their thoughts to this end. For instance, we ought not to be importing an ounce of cigarette tobacco, which is the class of tobacco most in demand in Australia.
– Why do we import it?
– I want to find the reason. If we can ascertain the reason, we may find the remedy.
– We import it because the honorable senator supports a Government that carries out that policy.
– I am sorry that my honorable friend has been absent either in mind or body during the last few minutes.
– I have been here all the time.
– Then I still more deeply deplore the fact that the honorable senator has not followed what I have been saying, since it is evident that it was his mind, and not his body, that was absent.
– He would need to be a fiscal contortionist to follow the honorable senator’s explanation of his fiscal policy.
– I do not think so, but the honorable senator himself will have an opportunity to explain’ why he holds that view. The establishment of these industries has a very great deal to do with our tariff. The tariff, more particularly with regard to tobacco, is framed for two purposes, in the first place to gain revenue, and in the second place to encourage the tobacco industry in Australia. I have mentioned chances to establish industries which are being missed. Unfortunately, these high tariffs, as I have said, are made for city dwellers. If they are not framed with that intention, they have, at all events, the effect of drawing population from the country into the towns. There is, unfortunately, a tendency, not only in Australia, but also throughout the world, for people to congregate in large cities. Customs tariffs tend to build up great cities. They lead to some extent, I regret to say, to ineffi ciency, and to encourage the pleasure- loving tendencies of the people. There is another aspect of tariffs that issometimes not considered. They remind one of the essay on the horse written by a little boy, “ The horse is a noble animal, but he does not always do so.” So with tariffs. They may be noble in conception, but sometimes they do not achieve the object for which they are imposed. Let me refer now to a tariff that was imposed some time ago on bananas, with the object of helping primary producers in Queensland. The duty has protected the Queensland industry to a certain extent, but, it has, unfortunately, antagonized two very important commercial friends to a far greater extent.
– Why does not Western Australia grow bananas?
– Over there they sing, “ Yes, thank you, we have no bananas.”
– We do not grow bananas in my State; but that is not the national anthem of Western Australia. The duty on bananas has seriously prejudiced our trade with Java - a very serious matter for Western Australia - and also with Fiji. Another concession which has been given to Queensland, but which, I understand, is almost taboo in political circles, is the arrangement which has been responsible for the artificial aspect of the sugar industry.
Silting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
– In deference to the feelings of honorable senators from Queensland, I do not propose to make any further reference to the subject of sugar, with which I was dealing at the adjournment, for it is almost taboo in political circles. We will let it go at that. I take it that a tariff introduced by a government should be in accord,- or at least not in violent non -accord, with that government’s declared policy. For that reason, it hurts me somewhat to find in this tariff certain items which deal a direct blow at one of the pet propositions of the present Government. Honorable senators will recollect that a part of the Government policy - and one of the best parts of it - is the provision of a fund to assist the States to construct national roadways. It is becoming every day more essential to efficient and cheap production and distribution that we should have good roads. The resources of the States are becoming more and more limited to meet that need ; and the Commonwealth Government has determined to assist them. Yet one item in this tariff will have the effect of increasing the cost of machinery needed for road-making. That is an anomaly from which I, for one, intend to do my best to free the Government. I cannot see why the duty is there. It must be a mistake. It seems to me that the general tendency of this tariff is at variance with the latest announcement of government policy on the subject. In a statement submitted to the last interstate conference,’ at which the Commonwealth and State Governments were represented, the following paragraph appears : -
Tlie responsibility for the reduction of indirect taxation rests entirely on the Commonwealth, which has exclusive powers of impos ing Customs and excise duties. In 1901-2 the amount per head of the Customs and excise revenue was £2 5s. 6d.; in 1912-13, £3 5s. 8d.; whilst in 1925-6 the estimated yield is £6 4s. That shows that the tendency to which Senator Lynch alluded in his speech is very real. It is, as a matter of fact, a rapidly increasing tendency. The report also states -
This year relief from revenue duties to the amount of £750,000 per annuum has been granted.
That relief has, indeed, been granted; but I venture to say that the increased revenues which the Government will receive by the imposition of these new duties will more than compensate it for the £750,000 that it will lose annually in direct taxation. Another paragraph in the report is -
As soon as the finances permit, the question of giving further similar relief must be faced. Further relief will directly benefit national development and enable Australian industries better to compete in the overseas markets. A reduction of Customs duties or the substitution of bounties, resulting in the lowering of prices and the stimulation of production, might well prove to be of more benefit to some of the States than an equal amount provided by way of Commonwealth subsidy to the States.
That paragraph enunciates a commonsense and really progressive policy, with which I am in accord, but I do not see how effect can be given to it in the face of a tariff like the one before us. That is one of the anomalies which seem to crop up whenever the schedule is being revised. I w.as pleased to hear Senator Sampson’s remarks on the timber industry, although I am not altogether at one with him in his proposed cure. Looking at the matter from the scientific stand-point, and taking a longer view than it is the custom to take, I think it would be far better for us under existing conditions to UBe the softwood timber resources of other countries while we can get the timber at a cheap rate; and, in the meantime, to cultivate and foster our own undoubted resources of that nature so that, when the supplies abroad become exhausted, we shall be in a position to take care of ourselves. That is not a new proposition. The practice has been adopted in other industries. The United States of America has immense oil shale deposits which it is not using, but is holding in reserve against the time when the supply of flow oil has become practically exhausted, or at least very much diminished in quantity. Then it intends to exploit its shale oil deposits. Australia has considerable shale oil deposits also, and I submit that it would be wiser for Ker to take advantage of the supply of flow oil while it is cheap, than to develop her shale oil deposits now. If we do as the Americans are doing, and hold out shales in reserve until the flow oil supplies are more difficult to obtain, they will be much more valuable to us than they are now. I advocate the application of the same method to our timber industry. I do not wish to make reference to anomalies that every honorable senator could cite; but I have in my hand the cabinet-making timber price list for May of this year of one of the leading Melbourne timber merchants. A great proportion of our timber is suitable for cabinetmaking, and should be kept for it; but I find that imported timbers are competing successfully against Australian woods. There is something wrong when Honduras mahogany, which has been recognized for centuries as one of the finest timbers in any part of the world for cabinet-making, can be supplied in Melbourne this month for 2s. 9d. per foot, while our own figured blackwood, which is, indeed, a beautiful timber, and should be easily available for use here, is quoted at no less than 12s. 6d. per foot.
– Two shillings and ninepence as against 12s. 6d. ?
– That is so. It is a remarkable contrast.
– Blackwood is getting scarce.
– But it is hard to account for a difference like that. The gentleman who supplied me with this price list, which is published for public information, told me that he had recently visited Tasmania. Near one mill there he saw two> very fine logs of figured blackwood. He inquired whether they were for sale, and he was told “ Yes, we will sell them to you ; but you will not be able to take them away.” When my friend inquired the reason, he was told that the logs had been declared black.
– -Then they were really “ black “ wood.
– Yes; it seems like painting the lily, does it not? The sawmiller said, “If I ever knew the reason for it being declared black I have forgotten it; but I know that nobody will touch it.” I do not say that many of that kind are to be found; but that is an illustration of one of the disabilities that overtake the timber industry, and it perhaps throws a sidelight on others. . While a discrepancy of that kind exists, we have to go very warily in applying for an increased duty, or for any duty at all. I was glad to hear Senator Sampson’s remarks about the present Commonwealth forestry expert, Mr. Lane-Poole. The honorable senator may quite safely trust his case in Mr. LanePoole’s hands. But any forester who en ters the forests of our Australian States, where timber-milling has been carried on for any length of time, will come up against vested interests, which absolutely preclude the possibility of putting a progressive forestry policy into active operation. That handicap is a heritage from the years gone by, during which the British Empire neglected and ignored forestry. We have to pay the price tor that to-day. But I am afraid that I am wandering from the tariff. I was much touched by a remark of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), in which he accused me of being a contortionist. At least, he said one’ would need to be a contortionist to follow me. But the tariff is the one question in politics in which expediency is a virtue and not a vice. We are here representing not only our own individual opinions, but also those of such a widely differing constituency that they cannot by any means be reconciled. I have my own idea of what is best for the State I represent, and I know that the present tariff is about as bad for it as any could be. It and the Navigation Act combined have been the greatest obstacles to the progress of Western Australia that anybody could imagine. It is my duty, as I see it, although some other honorable senators who represent the State may see their duty differently, to improve the conditions as much as I can. That is the consideration that will guide me in dealing with the different items in this schedule. Some innocent person asked me some time ago whether I was a protectionist or a freetrader, and he seemed perfectly satisfied when I said, “ I am a West Australian.”
– That means that the honorable senator is both.
– I am quite content to accept that position without either contortion or distortion.
– “ Take-all “ is one of the chief troubles over there.
– We are not likely to suffer from that disease at the instigation of our nearest neighbour.
– We know that too well.
– I gather from remarks that have been made in regard to a certain duty, which I do not intend to refer to more definitely, that my attitude towards it has been somewhat misunderstood. Because I said that a locally-produced article which could be
Bold for considerably less than the imported article, did not need a duty, I did not mean it to be inferred that no duty should bbe placed on it. There are two kinds of tariff duties - duties for the purpose of encouraging industry, and duties for the purpose of providing revenue. It is idle to say that people with as much money and as strong predilections as the Australian people possess, will not use their money to purchase the articles that satisfy their predilections, no matter how much they cost. I have seen it done too often. I remember on one occasion meeting an acquaintance of mine in Perth. He came from the gold-fields. I asked him what kind of a time he was having, and he replied, “ A great time; a drink which costs ls. on the gold-fields costs 6d. only. Every time I have a drink I save 6d.” I told him that, judging by his appearance, he must by that time have saved £1. That expresses the Australian point of view. Not only have the people money, hut they have their likes and dislikes. They, perhaps, are improvident, but that is merely one of our national characteristics. The mere fact that the Government places a higher duty on a certain beverage does not necessarily mean a decreased consumption of that beverage. Australian people will have what they want, even if it costs more. The result is that more money finds its way into the Treasury.
– The Government disclaims the suggestion that this tariff is introduced for the purpose of producing greater revenue.
– The members of the Government are very modest. They remind me of the poet’s reference to the gentleman who did good by stealth and blushed to find it fame. The effect of this tariff will he to increase the already large surpluses. Unfortunately, this protective aim does not seem to be carried out to any extent.
– If the . additional duty is not required for revenue purposes, there is nothing to justify it.
– The additional revenue might be used to increase the salaries of honorable senators.
– Having regard to the source of that interjection, I must regard it as entirely disinterested; I say that to my sorrow.
– The consumption of Australian whisky has increased greatly since this duty was brought in.
– I have not, bo far as I know, contributed tto that result; but one never knows in these days. We may, however, rest assured that the consumption of imported whisky will not decrease because of the imposition of these increased duties.
– The consumption of imported whisky has decreased by 101,000 gallons since these increased duties were imposed about four months ago.
– When we know the worst, and are as yet unaware of the best, there are possibilities; and, especially in connexion with substances which can be kept in bond, there is always the tendency to take a chance.
– The imposition of the higher duties will not mean prohibition.
– No ; nor do I think that the duties will have any effect on the avenues of trade. In this matter I must be guided by my own opinion; and, unless weighty arguments are brought forward to alter the opinion I have already formed, I shall vote as I have indicated. I shall do so the more readily because I am convinced that the volume of trade will not be affected. Increased duties will not mean a loss to the retailer, because he will pass the duties on to the consumer; in fact, he will add a little to the price to make up for the higher duty and, in addition, something for himself. That is what is always done.
– It means penalizing the consumer unnecessarily, or driving him to consume other stuff which is not so good.
– Perhaps the honorable senator knows.
– I do.
– I may have imperfectly, and not too lucidly, indicated my views on this matter; but it is my intention to vote as I have stated.
– Does the honorable senator intend to vote for the increased duties?
– Then he is going to live up to the reputation just given him for being a contortionist!
– The reasons I have given are sufficient for me. I desire only to add that I wish to see an equitable adjustment in this chamber of the varying fiscal ideas which exist. In this chamber the States are represented on equal terms. If we consider this tariff fairly and reasonably we should arrive at a conclusion fair to the people of Australia - one which will be to their benefit and redound to their credit. If that happy consummation be achieved, we shall have done all that could be expected of us.
.- I have always been a fairly strong protectionist. The benefits conferred on this country by the adoption of that policy have caused me never to regret having adopted that policy in early life. I listened attentively to the remarks of Senator Lynch, whose speeches are always instructive and interesting; but this morning I was unable to follow him in his references to Canada. The honorable senator endeavoured to compare industrial conditions in Canada with those existing in Australia. ‘ Such a comparison is impossible. Canada is a much older country than Australia. Moreover, she is able to draw upon the best bone and muscle of European countries. The result has been that her primary resources have been developed to an extent that we can scarcely hope to equal for some time. Canada is in the position to demand good prices for her products, because, if she cannot get her price from one customer, she can get it from another. Australia is not in that position. Not only is Australia a much younger country, but its distance from the markets of the world is also much greater. We must depend upon our own resources and the energy and ability of our people to a much greater extent than is necessary in Canada. Nevertheless, the progress made by Australia is greater than that made by Canada in the same period. I claim also that the Australian race is superior to the Canadian, and I look forward to the time - and I do not refer to the distant future - when Australia will be a greater nation and a mightier people than our sister dominion. Our resources are probably not equalled by those of Canada; while our climate is far superior. Our people are energetic, intelligent, and ambitious. I predict s great destiny for Australia. British traditions are unchallenged; and so long as we have reasonable freedom to encourage our secondary industries, Australia must become a great nation. So far as the individual items in the tariff are concerned, I reserve to myself the right to vote as I think best. I claim that the protection which we have given to our industries during the past few years has placed them on a footing which has enabled them to compete with other countries. I remind Senator Lynch that since the first tariff was introduced the prices of agricultural implements in Australia have fallen. Some years ago the value of our primary production greatly exceeded that of our secondary industries; but since the introduction of the tariff that position has been reversed. In 1920 our primary production - agricultural and dairy produce - was valued at £92,774,000. By 1924 the amount had increased to £127,724,000. For the same years our secondary production was valued at £75,362,000 and £131,848,000 respectively.
– A very substantial increase.
– Yes. In every State of the Commonwealth the number of factories has increased since 1918. In that year 5,460 factories existed in New South Wales, 5,720 in Victoria, 1,778 in Queensland, 1,313 in South Australia, 553 in Tasmania, and 764 in Western Australia. The number of factories in 1924 was respectively 6,702, 7,096, 1,878, 1,609, 669, and 1,999. Those figures show that since 191S Western Australia has made great progress iri regard to her secondary industries. At the close of the war the hands employed in Australian factories numbered 340,475. In 1924 this number had increased to 412,410. I have a few figures in reference to agricultural machinery contradicting those given by Senator Lynch.
Naturally, as a producer, I am concerned about the price of these implements, but I realize that we cannot expect to get them nowadays for what we paid for them prior to the war. The economic conditions of every country have altered. Furthermore, the duty on these implements has been increased. In these circumstances one would expect to pay a little more for them, but, as a matter of fact, they are cheaper to-day. A 6-ft. stripper harvester, which cost £155 in. 1920, is listed at £128 to-day; an 8-ft. stripper harvester, listed at £192 10s. in 1920, costs £160 to-day; an 8-ft. header harvester, which cost £242 10s. in. 1920, is listed at £184 to-day. These figures prove that the manufacturers of these implements have not passed on the increased duty to the consumers, and I am hopeful that, as this industry becomes more efficient and their output grows as a result of the imposition of this duty, they will be able to sell their machines at still lower prices. I look forward to the day when Australian industries, primary and secondary, will be equal to those of Canada. With mass production we should be able to compete with the world. But, until we reach that stage, our secondary, as well as our primary, industries must have that consideration extended to them which they have enjoyed in the past. My vote will always go to assist them in every possible way.
Senator BARNES (Victoria) r2.34”l_. - The question before the Senate is of vital importance to the development of Australia. We are a young country. In our early stages it was only natural that we should be exploited by older countries; but, as we grew up, Ave discovered that, if we are not actually a nation, we are at least a nation in embryo. We looked at the vastness of other countries from which our parents had come, and thought of what they had done, and we asked ourselves, “Why do we, in a country like this, want assistance from or continue to be under a compliment to any other country?” We realized that we had here the manhood and the vigour required for the development of a nation, and, quite wisely, we set about organizing them. Wc made a start in our schools by providing the youth of our country with the best education. As a result, we have in Aus tralia to-day men and women capable of doing anything which is possible for any human being to do. Having these people here, our next task was to set to work to provide employment for them and prevent (hem from being victimized by the importation of the products of other countries whose general conditions are vastly below those of Australia. Very wisely our Government appointed a Tariff Board. Ministers cannot be expected to do everything. They must depend on the advice of experts. I take it that the members of the Tariff Board are reasonably honest and capable common-sense men whose task it is to call evidence, sift it, and submit to the Government reports based upon it. On the reports of the board the Government frames its tariff. I freely confess that I have not gone into all the recommendations of the Tariff Board. Like many other people in Australia, I am a busy man. I do not think there is any individual in this country who can follow everything that is being done. It is absolutely certain that no Government can directly follow everything that is being done in Commonwealth activities. That is why commissions are appointed. Their purpose is to obtain the best results for the benefit of every one. The Tariff Board has been appointed to obtain the best results for every one, and the Government acting on what the board has recommended is honestly trying to do something to benefit Australia. I arn an Australian. I am an out-and-out protectionist. I would protect the industries of this country from any possible competition. I am a great believer in my own country and in the methods we have adopted to train our people. Some may think there are great possibilities in keeping the people ignorant, but no country . can attain the best results unless its people are trained in the best means of developing it. We have done very well in that direction in Australia, and I postulate that our people are capable of doing anything. Other countries may be more developed, and their organization may be superior to ours, but their labour conditions may be so inferior to our own as to enable them to supply articles cheaply to Australia. If we are to build a nation here, as I know we shall do, we must protect ourselves from that kind of exploitation. Wo should not be expected to permit people of other countries to flood our land with articles we are capable of making ourselves. A nation whose people are practically slaves, could wipe out Australia, and in fact all civilization. But when we are dealing with an educated people such as we have in Australia, and with people who want to make the best of their country, we must be guided by the recommendations of the organization which the country provides to guide Parliament in the matter of what protection should be afforded to its young industries. I am wholeheartedly in support of the tariff before us. During the last few months I have had the opportunity of inspecting a glass works in Sydney. The people who invested their money in those works have been struggling for years, but as the result of the imposition of the present tariff they have now 2,000 men employed in their factory, and as soon as the necessary buildings can be completed they propose to give employment to a further 2,000 men. In Sydney I also inspected an engineering establishment where I saw young Australians, working under excellent conditions, turning out what appeared to me splendid work. I do not mention names. I am speaking as an Australian, whose desire it is, to see his country developed in the way it ought to be developed. These young men were engaged in the manufacture of motor accessories. I asked the manager why they could not produce motor cars, and he informed me that they hoped to be able to undertake that work when the tariff had been passed by Parliament. I also asked him whether it was not possible to undertake the manufacture of motor engines, and he said that that was also intended.
– It would not be economical to do that work in Australia,
Senator BARNES. When the tariff is passed it should be possible. Even if manufacturing costs in Australia are slightly higher than in other countries, we should have the work done here rather than allow our own people to be unemployed. It appears to be the desire of some honorable senators to see the citizens of other countries fully employed, and to allow our own people to be idle. One of freetrade Britain’s principal exports to-day is her manhood.
– There are not many British people coming here.
– No. Because the conditions are not sufficiently attractive. The establishment of new industries, and the development of those already in existence, is a means of providing work.
– We cannot get men to undertake road work.
– If the conditions of labour are satisfactory no difficulty is experienced in getting men to undertake road work. An attempt is being made to induce what are termed “ Little Brothers “ to come to settle on the land in Australia, but, so far as I can gather, the “Big Brothers,” who are supposed to be their .guardians, send them to “cockeys” in the country, who, in some cases, pay them about 2s. a week. In visiting the different States as a member of the Public Works Committee, I have had the opportunity of inspecting the manufacturing establishments in operation in different parts of the Commonwealth, and in doing so I have gathered sufficient information to show that industry will be extensively developed if the additional protection which is now sought is granted. The manufacturers generally wish the tariff to be passed in its present form, and if it is, it will give a wonderful impetus to trade throughout the Commonwealth. Although I have been a whisky drinker for many years, I did not know until recently the conditions under which the Australian spirit is produced. When visiting the distilleries I inspected the up-to-date plant, and also obtained a good deal of information concerning the strict supervision exercised by the Customs authorities over its manufacture. As approximately 50,000 bushels of barley are used annually in the manufacture of Australian whisky, the “industry should be of considerable assistance to those engaged in barley production. I am willing to support any legislation which will be the means of providing employment for our people, and if this schedule receives the general support of this Parliament there should not be any need to have immigration agents in Great Britain, or to have such organizations as the “ Big Brother “ movement.
– Our fathers came out without any guarantees at all.
– I know they did. They performed very valuable pioneer-ing work, which I hope will be followed up by their descendants. There are many in Great Britain who would be prepared almost to swim to Australia if they were offered a permanent job at £5 a week. Advertisements are displayed on railway stations throughout the States, asking the unemployed to apply to the Government employment bureau, but applicants usually find that the wages offered do not exceed 20s. a week. A high protective tariff encourages the establishment of industries which provide employment, and generally make a country prosperous. The Germans, for instance, were so enlightened and progressive that they were able to withstand the onslaught of the other nations for four years.
– They did not work only 44 hours a week.
– Conditions have changed. As Senator Lynch is aware, years ago men were compelled to work 12 hours a day, and were often assisted by their wives. Later there came the agitation which altered all that. Senator Lynch has known what it is to work twelve hours a day, and so have I. But we have progressed since then, and in my judgment the country that stands for twelve hours a day is not worthy of consideration. The intelligence of the people will not tolerate such conditions to-day. Senator Lynch can remember when, working on a railway job, he was told by the ganger to fill his shovel up to the maker’s name. That day has gone. I am a responsible officer of an important trade union organization, and I have never heard any member of my union, or any other union for that matter, submit a motion that the workers should take all they earn. Possibly that time will come. I have always found the men to be reasonable, and prepared to do the work of this country provided they were given decent hours of labour and decent conditions. I suppose I am as observant as the average man. I do not go about Australia with my eyes shut. When I was in Canberra not long ago I saw bricklayers working on the parliamentary buildings. They did not know me, and, as far as I know, they did not care who I was. They simply went ahead with their work like machines.
– Laying 316 bricks a day.
– 1 think the honorable senator is wrong. They were doing a great work, and as much as human beings should be expected to do. Men now expect to work under modern conditions. We do not want to hear a man standing on a bank telling men, in indescribable language, to put their backs into it, and to fill their shovels up to the maker’s name. We want Australia to be a decent place for white men and women. I stand for that ideal; and in connexion with the tariff I shall vote for protection to the limit, whether the item be whisky or any other commodity. I am not ashamed to let people know that I take a glass of whisky, and I am not sure that the country would be any better off if it were filled with “ wowsers.”. I intend to go the limit for the protection of existing industries and the establishment of new enterprises to enable Australia to become a great nation built up, preferably, from British stock. This tariff is the only means by which we can achieve that object. I have no fault to find with the Empire. It is all right. But I am no Empire screamer. I am only a White Australian^ and, knowing something of history, it is my desire that this country shall be a good place for those who follow us. In my own way I have done something to make Australia a white man’s country fit for my sons and daughters, and sons and daughters of other people, to live in, under reasonable conditions of labour.
– But what about the duty on the working man’s dungaree trousers ?
– From what I know very few men wear them now. I have worn them myself, and I can assure honorable senators that sometimes they are very cold. I remember many years ago, working in Broken Hill alongside a Cousin-Jack miner. Seeing that I was wearing dungaree trousers, he said to me, “Son, dp ‘ee wear flannel drawers? “ I said “No,” and he said “ Thee’s dam’ fool. They feel warm and dry when they do be wet and cold.” I have no more to say except that I intend to go the limit with the Government in connexion with these tariff duties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Amendment of tariff).
– I should like to know at this stage if honorable senators will be in order in moving a request to increase the duty on any item, or a request for the insertion of new items?
– I suggest that the honorable senator postpone his question until the items are before the committee.
– Then will the Minister give us a definition of “ intermediate tariff “ ?
– The intermediate tariff provides for concessions to other countries in connexion with reciprocal trade.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Date from which new duties commence) -
– I should like to know if the department will refund the duties paid in respect of items which may be either reduced or modified?
– Clause 4 answers the honorable senator’s question.
– That clause validates the collection of certain higher duties. Are we to understand that no refund will be made?
– That is so.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Validation of collection of certain higher duties) -
– The Minister said just now, in reply to Senator Lynch, that there would be no refund of duties in the event of any item being reduced or modified. That is most inequitable. There may be large stocks in hand on which duty has been paid when this measure receives the royal assent and becomes law. When a reduction is made the persons holding such stocks lose heavily unless a refund is made. I understand that the department contends that it would be impracticable to make a refund. I say it is not.
– Why is the money paid into a trust account ?
– Yes ; why is it paid into a trust account if the department considers that no refund should be made ? Stock could be taken under supervision, and, in the event of the duty on any item being reduced, a rebate allowed to those people with stocks in hand on the date that the new schedule becomes law. Another way in which it might be done is to assess a percentage which would cover possible loss and make an allowance for profits on the sold portion. The department Avould have all the data in its possession and could arrive at the fair thing without much trouble. The present position is absolutely unfair.
– In accordance with the Customs Act importers may have the duties they pay placed in a trust fund. I believe that that is done in the hope that in some way they may obtain a refund. Investigations made by the Customs Department show that it would be inequitable to refund duties, for in almost every instance the increase has been passed on to the purchaser of the goods.
– I should like to know from the Minister the procedure in cases where reduced duties are recommended in the schedule. Are goods on which reduced duties are proposed to be levied admitted duty free as soon as the schedule is tabled, or is the old duty charged until the bill has been passed, and the royal assent given to it? Senator Thompson need not worry about refunds of duty consequent upon alterations made in this schedule in the Senate. The duties set out in the schedule will be adopted. In any case the money will still be in the country.
– I cannot allow the Minister to get away with the statement that the duties have been distributed. Every trader in items on which increased duty is set out in this schedule had stock in hand on the date that it came into operation, and he had no hope of distributing the extra amount. He must bear the loss. The Minister’s statement is absurd.
– I cannot understand Senator Thompson’s assertion that the final purchaser of goods on which the new duty has been imposed could benefit by a refund to the importer. It would be practically impossible for every warehouse and retail shop to take stock as he suggests.
– I suggested an alternative which would be quite practicable.
– It was that the goods should be left in bond, and that is already done.
– Importers and others affected by this schedule have had long notice of the proposed alterations. The schedule was introduced in the House of Representatives in practically its present form last September. By the time it passes through the Senate nine months will have elapsed. When business men know that alterations in the schedule are intended they act accordingly; and adjust their business so that they will not have very large stocks in hand.
– The Minister has not answered my question.
– The increased duties operate from the time the schedule is tabled, but decreased duties do not become effective until the bill has passed through both Houses of Parliament and has received the royal assent.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Repeal of South African preference) -
– Why is the South African preference being repealed 1
– For the reason that it is not beneficial to us. The South Africans are getting a great deal more out of it than we are. Honorable senators will remember that when the previous tariff schedule was before them they requested an increase in the duty on maize and the request was granted. It was learned . afterwards that South Africa, which is Australia’s chief competitor in maize, still retained its duty of1s. per cental. African maize is produced by black labour. The natives in East Africa receive 10s. a month and their food - principally milled maize - for their labour, and I suppose the rate is similar in other parts of the country.
– Can the Minister tell us what disadvantage Australia will suffer in regard to the sale of her flour and wheat to South Africa?
– I am informed that the concession given by South Africa to Australian wheat and flour, which was about 3 per cent., has been nullified by the imposition of a dumping duty on it. We have been getting only very small concessions from South Africa for some time.
– Was not the dumping duty imposed because we were selling wheat and flour cheaper in South Africa than in Australia?
– That has been alleged. I suppose that it is the reason for the imposition of all dumping duties.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
– We shall now proceed to deal with the items in the schedule. I think I should explain to honorable senators that if more than one request is made for an increase in the duty on a specific item, the highest request will be considered first, and if that should not be carried the next highest will be taken, and so on ; if a decrease of duty is requested, the smallest decrease proposed will be considered first.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a. first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and Ton motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 3.29 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 May 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260528_senate_10_113/>.