13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President ( Senator the Hon. P. J. lynch) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer seen a statement in this morning’s press to the effect that the President of the United States of America has decided that what is known as the Hoover Debt Moratorium will not be renewed this year? If the Government of the United States of America persists in that attitude in regard to the war debts due to that country, what effect is it likely to have on the budget of this Government?
– Great Britain has suspended the payment of the interest due to her on our war debts during the currency of the Hoover Moratorium because of the relief which she has been granted from her obligation to pay certain sums to the United States of America. If Britain has to resume her payments to America, it is reasonable to suppose that she will ask us to resume our payments to her. To that extent the budget will be affected. r.85]
– In view of the statements which appear in this morning’s press regarding the war debt position as between the Imperial Government and the Government of the United States of America, is the Leader of the Government in this chamber prepared to announce this morning that the policy of his Government will be that there will be no further trade dealings between the United States of America and Australia if the moratorium is suspended?
– Statements of policy are not made in answer to questions.
Use of Machine Guns. Senator GUTHRIE. - “Will the Minister for Defence inform me whether the use of machine guns is really necessary for the destruction of emus in Western Australia, or whether these guns could not be dispensed with and some more humane and less dramatic method adopted ?
– They do a great deal of damage among ewes and lambs.
– Any one who has been i ti a district where emus are plentiful knows that the birds actually roll down the crops. They act in a crop much as. barnyard fowls act in a fowl yard. The crops in this part of Western Australia were just about ripe, it was explained to me that the use of rifles for the extinction of the birds was quite ineffective, because only one or two birds could bo shot before the remainder scattered far and wide. Ordinary fences such as keep out dingoes and kangaroos offer no obstacle to emus, for the birds take them in their stride, or knock them down, and thus let the rabbits into the crops. I was asked to allow machine guns belonging to the Defence Department to be used for the destruction of the birds, the farmers undertaking to pay for the necessary ammunition. I could not allow the machine guns to go into the hands of persons’ not under Commonwealth control or authority. The State Government associated itself with the request for the use of the guns, and I ultimately agreed to allow three members of the permanent military personnel to go into this district with the guns, on the State Government -undertaking to give them their railway fares and pay for the ammunition used. An arrangement on this point was made between the State Government and the fanners. No extra pay was to be made to the personnel, and the operation was not to cost the Commonwealth Government anything. This arrangement having been made, the guns and crew were despatched to the area where the birds were doing so much destruction. Subsequently paragraphs appeared in tho press of the eastern States to the effect that the machine gun shooting of the birds was not effective, as only a few birds had been shot. Assuming those paragraphs to be correct, I issued the instruction that the guns and crew should be withdrawn. This action caused a storm of protest from the people in these wheat areas, and also from the Premier of that State, and I was informed that the guns had been effective, for hundreds of birds had been shot, and that since the cessation of the shooting the birds had returned in thousands. I then agreed that the guns and crew should be returned to the area.
To the allegation of cruelty to the birds in shooting them by this means; my reply is that there is no more cruelty in shooting birds with a machine gun than with a rifle. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sent one of its officers into the district while the machine guns were being used, in order that the society might be satisfied that there was no unnecessary cruelty. Of course the taking of life by any means involves some measure of cruelty. Every thing possible is being done to ensure that the shooting shall be done as humanely as possible. “When the guns open fixe the. birds very quickly get out of range, and men are then sent among those which have been wounded to despatch them quickly. In all the circumstances I feel that the Government was justified in doing what it did in order to protect these settlers from the loss of their crops, which would have meant the loss of their living.
asked the Minister representing the “Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Tn view of the statements appearing in the Canberra Times that the children of Canberra were using the dining-rooms of. the Hotel Wellington for school classes and lessons, is it the intention of the Government to proceed at once with the erection of a new school for Canberra, now there is plenty of industrial labour available?
– The question is already under consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What lias been the total amount of subscriptions to the new Commonwealth loan since it was placed before the Australian public, up till the 16th November, 1932 j and who are the persons and companies assisting with amounts over £1,000?
– Information regarding the total amount subscribed to the loan will be furnished at a later date. As regards individual subscriptions, the Commonwealth is not at liberty to publish particulars except in those cases where the consent of the subscriber has been obtained. These cases are -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon, notice -
Is it a fact that Mr. Baldwin, the Deputy Leader of the British Government, in a speech delivered in the House of Commons, London, last week advocated the abolition of military aviation ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Government has received no official report on the subject, but the statement has appeared in the press that Mr. Baldwin expressed his . belief that if possible all air forces should be abolished.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I would refer the honorable senator to the statement made by the Assistant Minister (Senator Greene) on the 4th November (Mansard pages 1899 to 1901), and also to my reply to his question of the 17th November relating to unemployment Christmas relief.
asked the Leader of the Government’ in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Will the Government take into consideration the showing of the Commonwealth Government films regarding commerce to the members of the Federal Parliament on a morning to suit both Houses, and on a date that will meet with the wishes of all political parties ?
– My colleague the Minister for Commerce has already made arrangements with the management of the Capitol Picture Theatre, Canberra, to give a private screening in that theatre on a convenient morning before Parliament rises for the recess, of several sound films produced by the Cinema and Photographic Branch of the Department of Commerce. Honorable senators and members of the House erf Representatives will be cordially invited to be present, and intimation will be given later as to when the screening will take place.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Is the Government prepared to make a demand, either from the Cabinet or through Parliament, to the Commonwealth Bank Board for the urgent release of credits to the extent of £20,000,000, for the purpose of assisting and providing work for the unemployed of Australia?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE With the object of relieving unemployment, the States have adopted loan programmes providing for the expenditure of nearly £21,000,000 on public works during the present year. The Commonwealth Government, in accordance with decisions of the Loan Council, has taken steps to provide this money.
. ASSISTANCE TO WHEAT INDUSTRY.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The proposals of the Government will be submitted to Parliament next week.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator GREENE) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 17 th November (vide page 2508), on motion by Senator PEARCE -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- It is my belief that the Ottawa Conference, and the measure of agreement there arrived at, will constitute a landmark in history - a landmark pointing the way to world recovery. Our proximity to the event prevents a full appreciation of its immense import. We cannot yet see in true perspective what it connotes. Jaundiced political considerations almost forbid appreciation by factions. It behove3 us to consider how agreements which,’ perhaps, constitute the greatest protective gesture the world has ever seen, have been made possible between units of the Empire. A true appreciation of the underlying principles of the recent conference cannot be gained without a study of the evolutionary processes whereby the partners in the British Commonwealth of Nations reached their present standard of relationship. The subject of such relationship has been considerably affected by prejudices, the cant of “ anti-imperialists,” and a tendency to misconstrue the motives of certain of the partners - especially Great Britain. I do not think that I can better express the existing relationship of the members than by using the words of the Balfour “ Imperial Relations Committee “ of the Imperial Conference, 1926 -
They are autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The element of freedom and the status of independence implied in the above description cannot be too definitely emphasized.
– Is the Minister entitled to read his speech? Has every Minister the same privilege as was extended yesterday to the Leader of the Government in moving the second reading of this bill?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I ruled yesterday, on this point, that .the long-standing practice of the Senate in regard to the delivery of speeches has established, to a certain extent, a departure from the strict rule of the standing order, Ministers and other senators having been allowed, when making speeches on issues of great importance, to quote extensively from their notes, so that the Senate might enjoy the advantage of accurate and carefully prepared information. Although no senator is entitled to read a speech, he is entitled, on an occasion such as this, to quote extensively from his notes. This privilege will be allowed to every senator who wishes to avail himself of it during the present debate.
– I have carefully prepared my notes for this debate, which I regard as the most important that has occurred in the Senate since I have been associated with it. I propose to quote somewhat extensively from speeches that have been made regarding the growth of the imperial spirit.
There has been in Australia, at all times, a school of thought which seeks to convey the impression that, in conferences to promote inter-Empire trade, there has been some sinister influence. The insinuation is based upon the suggestion that opportunism on the part of Great Britain has been the controlling factor in all the deliberations at conferences which have been held in the past. Australia, having proceeded- by definite and progressive steps to constitutional autonomy, this school of thought has suggested that Great Britain was striving for “ economic or fiscal domination” to replace the constitutional’ domination of the British Parliament which obtained during the days” of the early Colonial Empire. It is time that the people of Australia, and the exponents of the above school of thought, particularly, were informed of the facts, and of the real processes underlying the present rapprochement between the component units of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
It is very difficult to dissociate considerations of trade from the subject of constitutional freedom ; but a study of history discloses how these two aspects of inter-Empire relationship proceeded on parallel lines. As a matter of fact, the period during which the full status of constitutional freedom was accorded the dominions was marked almost by indifference on the part of the British people. It is interesting to observe that this indifference contributed largely to the detachment of the dominions, orcolonies, in a constitutional sense. It has been said that, “ This indifference largely greased the ways for the large concessions of responsible government and of fiscal and diplomatic freedom, which were demanded by the dominions and conceded at their request “. The era of indifference was occasioned by the following factors : -
The defection of the American colonies, not only furnished a lesson as to the futility of coercion, but also engendered in the minds of the British people a feeling that the responsibility of colonial possessions, or the enlargement thereof, was a thankless task. They concluded that each colony would follow the example of America, as soon as it could stand alone. [b) After the Napoleonic War - the war- weary British people assumed that the army and navy expenditure would be reduced and, consequently, they resisted any enlargement of defence responsibility in respect of oversea colonics.
The following factors offset the drift due to indifference : -
By such steps,’ and under such circumstances, did the colonies reach a state of / constitutional freedom, and there waa never, at any time, a resistance on the part of the British people to the legitimate requests of the oversea colonies in this respect. The genius of the British people for evolving standards of constitutional freedom was responsible for this procedure. In the early days of the British Colonial Empire, the British Parliament purported to restrict the freedom of the colonies in certain respects. There were many disputes concerning tariff discriminations between upper and lower Canada, and between Tasmania and Victoria in pre-federation days. As a matter of fact, the restrictions went so far as to prohibit the manufacture of woollens, or of iron and steel in the colonies, and the cultivation of tobacco was prohibited in England. Also, by a sort of inverse procedure, Empire preference existed from the sixteenth until the middle of the nineteenth centuries. The Navigation Act laid it down that -
Curtain “ enumerated “ articles could not be exported direct from the colonies to foreign countries, but only to England. Among these articles were sugar, tobacco, cotton, molasses, furs and timber. .For a time considerable advantage accrued to the colonies concerned in respect of the products mentioned, but the element of coercion resulted in the abandonment of such a policy. Since 1850, dominion legislatures have been free by virtue of responsible government -
To enact tariffs with differential duties in order to effect agreements for reciprocal trade with each other, with Groat Britain, or with non-British countries.
To enact tariffs with retaliatory duties.
The power of the dominion legislatures to make such enactments has never been gainsaid. It wa3 ultimately realized that dominion tariffs were inevitable, and no protests were made in the British Parliam- - ment against them. The “ die-hard “ freetraders vanished, and a new attitude was adopted towards dominion fiscal policy and commercial systems. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain was the first statesman at Westminster to adopt and proclaim the new attitude. Upon his return from Canada in 1888 he said that it was “useless to expect that the colonies would abandon customs duties as their chief and principal source of revenue.” He added “It is hardly to be hoped that the protected industries fostered by their system will willingly surrender privileges which they now enjoy.” The first colonial conference was summoned by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, on the occasion of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations in London in 1887. The Premiers of all the Australian colonies were invited to it, as well as the Prime Ministers of Canada, New Zealand and other colonies. That conference necessity for fostering inter-imperial trade. The next conference was held in Ottawa in 1887, but the results were negligible. At the time that these conferences were held, interstate trade in Australia was not free, and tariffs were imposed by several States, discriminating against the goods of their neighbours. Accordingly, there was no authority capable of speaking for Australia as a whole. Indeed in view of the inability of the Australian States at that time to reconcile their own tariff differences, it was difficult to see how they could make any reciprocal arrangements with the British Government. Mr. Chamberlain had a great belief in the British race, which he described as the “greatest of the governing races the world has ever seen.” His political outlook was, as he himself put it, “modified by changing times and altered circumstances “. From the colonial office, he, probably the greatest and most far-sighted of all the distinguished men who have . occupied that post, in November, 1895, issued a circular which embodied in the form of a questionnaire the principles on which the present agreement is based. He proceeded : “I am impressed with the extreme importance of securing as large a share as possible of the mutual trade of the United Kingdom and the colonies for British producers and manufacturers, whether located in the colonies or in the United Kingdom. In the first place, therefore, I wish to investigate thoroughly the extent to which, in each of the colonies, foreign imports of any kind have displaced, or are displacing, similar British goods, and the cause of such displacement.”
The first important imperial conference was held in 1902. It affirmed the principle of preferential trade, and carried a resolution in the following terms : - . . . (IV.) That the Prime Ministers of the colonies respectively urge on His Majesty’s Government the expediency of granting in the United Kingdom preferential treatment to the products and manufactures of the colonies, either by exemption from or reduction of duties now or hereafter imposed.
It is significant that, at the various colonial conferences - as they were then called - the overseas representatives never failed to raise the question of the development of inter-imperial trade by means of tariff preferences. Reference has already been made to the fact that constitutional independence within the Empire was sought by the colonies consistently. It is now clear that they also sought the development of inter-imperial trade.
Mr. Chamberlain pointed out that while the Empire could be self-sustaining, and could provide itself within its own limits with every necessary and almost every luxury, it drew the greatest part of its supplies from, outside, and exported, the bulk of its surplus produce to foreign countries. All this trade, he urged, might be carried on within the Empire; but how could such an interchange of commodities . between different parts of the Empire be promoted by statesmanship? Under existing conditions in the colonies, it was not practicable to establish freedom of trade between them and the Mother Country. He followed this in his tariff reform agitation of 1903 by saying -
Why, at the present time we take from Germany about twice as much as she takes from us. We take from Prance about three times as much- From the United States of America we take about six times as much as they take from us. Who is it that stands to lose if there is to be a war of tariffs? And there is something else. We have what none of these countries have. We have something, the importance of which I am trying to impress upon my countrymen, which at present they have not sufficiently appreciated. We have a great reserve in the sons of Britain across the seas. There is nothing we want that they cannot supply. There is nothing we sell that they cannot buy. We do not ask you, the people of this country, to give anything for nothing, but we say that what you give will be met by what they give, and that the bargain is one that benefits both sides. I have known a great deal about business in my time, and I say I -have never cared for a bargain in which I thought I had gained everything. I do not think that is a lasting bargain. There must be something unfair about it, and no bargain is a good bargain which is not n bargain mutually satisfactory.
Contrast that with the speech made by the leader of the British delegation at Ottawa. Mr. Baldwin said -
While Ave have thus given what is, I think, the greatest privilege that can be extended to sister nations, namely, free entry, I want once again gratefully to acknowledge, as I have done on previous occasions, the help that our country has received from the preferences voluntarily given by the dominions, and in doing so I desire to express our warm appreciation of what has been done in that direction. Even now, however, we have by no means exhausted the field of mutual preference. Of the trade carried on by the Empire, 70 per cent, is still with foreign countries, only 30 per cent, among ourselves. Were conditions to remain as they are, the possibilities of expansion would be enormous, but looking to future generations, as population increases, the scope can hardly be measured. Development may come more quickly than we anticipate.
When George III. ascended the throne, the population of Great Britain was only 7,000,000. By the end of his reign it had doubled, and 100 years later that doubled population had trebled. In the life of a people, 100 years is but a brief span. The present universal depression makes the extension and improvement of imperial trade a matter of urgent importance to all parts of the Empire. It offers the most hopeful means of stimulating demand in the world markets, and of restoring to a sound level wholesale commodity prices. We are well aware that in every dominion there is a section of opinion - it may even attain the dignity of a party - which is almost avowedly anti-English. In ordinary times it is more or less manipulated by politicians who are bent on excluding commercial and industrial competition, and laying steady pressure on the local ministry to thwart any policy that may appear to be inspired from London or prove advantageous to the people of Great Britain. The exponents of this acrid patriotism have to withdraw to the background when a common danger threatens, or some single cause engages, the whole of the British race; but as soon as the hour of emergency has passed, they are at work again - stealthily or noisily, as the case may be.
The most important conference was that of 1907. The most definite steps were then taken towards ‘according preferences to British manufacturers. It might be interesting to set out at this stage the dates upon which each dominion commenced to accord preference to the exports of Great Britain -
It is necessary to mention that Canada became a confederation in 1867, and that Australia did not secure federation until 1901. Canada, however, was a pioneer in the matter of securing fiscal freedom.
In 1859, Sir A. Gait addressed a memorandum to this end to the British Government. Previously, Canada’s tariff policy had been directed from Great Britain.
Notwithstanding the resolutions in favour of preference on the part of Great Britain to dominion products, carried at the conferences of 1902 and 1907, the first British preferences were not accorded until 1919 - in Sir Austin Chamberlain’s budget. In that year, preference was given to certain dominion products, including currants, dried fruits, sugar, tobacco and wine. These preferences have been of considerable value to Australia. A measure of preference to the products mentioned has been accorded them ever since that year, and the list has been added to by the Import Duties Bill enacted in April of this year, in conformity with the new fiscal policy of the British Government.
This historical excursus is designed to illustrate the fact that the discussions with Great Britain on the part of the dominions have been those which actuate partners in a commonwealth of nations, the initiative, in the matter of interEmpire trade, being taken by the dominions. Now that Gr.eat Britain, through her change of fiscal policy, is in a position to reciprocate more fully in the enlargement of inter-Empire trade, it is difficult to understand how it can lie with any public men in Australia to decry the rationale underlying the recent conference at Ottawa.
During the war, consultations on matters of mutual concern were provided for, and the Imperial Conference of 1923 added to the conception of partners “ freely associated “ for mutual ends. The status expressed by the Balfour Committee had been recognized over and over again in documents and public acts since the conference of 1907. The 1926 conference was in the nature of a rediscovery of such a status - the war and its aftermath having made a definition of inter-imperial relations necessary. Many of the effects of the war upon world finance, trade and social conditions, and territorial alignments, generally, are patent to all. There are two important aspects of postwar conditions which should be borne in mind. The first aspect is the complete vindication of the role of the British dominions as autonomous bodies, enjoying diplomatic freedom in the international sphere. The signing of the pact of Locarno, and other activities connected with the Peace Treaty, and since, have ensured to the dominions their place as autonomous entities, with diplomatic freedom. They signed those undertakings as separate entities. Thus we find their sovereignty, their constitutional, autonomous and diplomatic freedom, completely vouchsafed them. The second view of the war aftermath, which is concerned with the new territorial alignment, is the engendering of an intense economic nationalism oh the part of all countries engaged in the- war, and the new countries arising out of the peace conferences. The . clash of tariffs, which are the instruments of the new economic nationalism, has been most severe, and the world has resolved itself into a number of trade-warring factions. Such a state of affairs can only end in one of two ways - (a) either the intense battle of tariffs will culminate in a battle of armaments; or (b) the nations indulging therein will become tired of the fight, or will realize the suicidal features of such a struggle, and attempt to make reciprocal treaties with their neighbours or with other countries. In such a welter of economic nationalism, the partners in the British Commonwealth of Nations can furnish to the other nations of the world an object lesson in the virtues of complementary trade arrangements between nations, making for the economic health and progress of the units concerned. Australia, endowed with unquestionable freedom in her constitutional status, fiscal freedom in the economic sense, and national independence in the diplomatic sense, is free to enter into trade arrangements at will. Whom should she choose but her fellow-partners in the British Commonwealth of Nations, as a first step towards a trade rapprochement?. It may be that, after a rationalization of Empire trade in the sense emphasized by the recent proceedings at Ottawa, the British Commonwealth may, on behalf of* all its partners, and in cooperation therewith, enter into trade treaties with other countries-.: “ For example, Australia has a huge quantityof wool and wheat which it must export, and sell at world’s parity, after the practical stock-taking involved in the implementation of the Ottawa conclusions, the partners in the Empire may join to negotiate with some other country, whose exclusive products they may agree to buy in return for preferential treatment of Australian wool and wheat.
I hope that honorable senators will approach consideration of the Ottawa agreement in the light of the conceptions which I have endeavoured to portray and emphasize herein. Underlying the reciprocal features of inter-Empire trade relations’ are ties based on common interests, traditions and ethical standards of national consciousness. It is difficult to express such sentiments without provoking the cynical jargon of those who make a play upon words, to whom the word “ Empire “ is anathema and synonymous with the “ imperialism “ of conquest and suppression of the. primitive days of colonization. This feature has long since ceased to be a characteristic of the nexus binding the partners of the British Commonwealth of Nations, “ freely associated “.
The opportunity for inter-Empire trade agreements ha3 come to us when our constitutional, fiscal, and diplomatic freedom is secure; dominance -in either sense is impossible and inconsistent with the thought and ethical standards of British communities. Less secure in the above qualities of our autonomous status, we might be apprehensive of “imperialism “. Prussia, in the German zollverein or customs union, used trade agreements and tariffs to inflict political domination upon the German States within the customs union, and thus established “ Imperial Germany “. To Britishers, such a procedure is an anachronism. That the political and fiscal freedom of the dominions is inviolate is mutually conceded by all parties to the agreement.
Finally, while it is an accepted principle of our form of government, that ono parliament cannot bind its successor, it is hoped that the goodwill, the good sense, and fraternity which has made the Ottawa agreement possible will not render facile the abrogation of the agreement before its expiry. During the war,
Australia entered upon its nationhood - it is now about to express that nationhood in what may be termed an intermediate sphere of international relationship within the British Commonwealth of Nations, a sphere, may I hope, in which treaties and their obligations will be considered binding according to all the sanctions of international law, notwithstanding that they purport to be made with partner-members of the British family of nations.
If it be true that the souls of the illustrious dead be susceptible to compliment, then the spirit of Joseph Chamberlain must surely feel flattered. Based on his proposals of 1895, the agreement gives effect to his well-known and well-expounded principles. It can, to use the words of Lord Rosebery. be said to “peg a claim for posterity”, a claim which, we all trust, will develop into a veritable bonanza of Empire prosperity.
May I conclude by endorsing the words of Mr. Baldwin : “ Our success should serve an even greater purpose. It should serve as an inspiration to action on an international basis which is essential if full prosperity is to be recaptured.”
– I congratulate the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) and also the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan) on their reading of the written word. The utterances* of Ministers in connexion with this agreement brings it home forcibly to us that this is a Government of loose words and constipated ideas. Wo have had read to us, at wearisome length, a policy which might more conveniently and pleasantly have been enclosed in an envelope and posted to us, as was Senator Hardy’s speech concerning the “Riverina Revolution”. It is evident that the Government is not only without a policy; it is also bereft of ideas.
We have witnessed the gathering of the political witch doctors before their Canberra ju-ju. We realized months ago, when members of this party which is now in power enunciated their policy from the hustings, that, if returned, they would be unable to honour their promises. They
Were elected to office, and promptly the brayings of discord were heard. The task of the Government became even more difficult when the British imperial bankers closed their cheque-books on dominion short-dated loans. Close on the heels of the unfortunate U.A.P.- “The United Asiatic Party” - came the U.C.P. - “ The United Coolie Party “-howling like a pack of dervishes In desperation, the tory witch doctors and political head.hunters took to the Canberra bush and placed their difficulties before their joss. The Government now advances a policy of “ isms “ which can get us nowhere.
Incidentally, I shall refer to that ardent young Country party senator from Victoria, who was sent overseas to test the feeling in Great Britain regarding the development of Empire markets; I refer to Senator R. D. Elliott, whom I shall hit hard politically. I hope that he will not “ squib “ the ordeal, because I assure him if he retaliates I shall take my medicine. The honorable senator was sent to London as the ambassador of that political Kelly gang, the Lyons Government. From his point of view he did his work well.
The scene was changed. We had enacted for our edification, a scene reminiscent of the Eatanswill election, so amusingly described by Dickens in the Pickwick Papers. Amidst the cheers of camp followers, to the beating of drums, and the blaring of brass trumpets, the great moguls of the political Kelly gang embarked upon the palatial Aorangi They were accompanied by a small army of intellectual public servants. I have nothing to say against those officers - highly qualified men who were carrying out their instructions. Also accompanying our political nabobs were -some delightful Arcadians, the squatters of King William-street, Adelaide, Flinders-lane and Swanstonstreet, Melbourne; and of Clarence and O’Connell streets, Sydney. Having embarked, it was found that a section was missing. Urgent messages went forth, and the galaxy of talent was reinforced by representatives of Mr. Baillieu, so that they should be kept well in the limelight while away from their native heath.
– Will the honorable senator connect his remarks with the bill?
– Immediately. I am merely providing a little parsley dressing. Supplementing Mr. Baillieu’s representatives were the representatives of Mr. Theodore Fink. As a result we had wirelessed to us from the Aorangi long screeds of press propaganda, describing how, day and night, the delegation worked assiduously at its task. Arriving at Vancouver, this picturesque, gang was met by the representatives of the Canadian Government, by whom, as it continued its meanderings along the Canadian-Pacific railway, it was appropriately feted. The party came to the Rockies and saw, probably for the first, time, the locale of that soulful masterpiece, “ Springtime in the Rockies “. Then they reached Ottawa, where the stage was set for the presentation of an Empire comedy. There appeared on the scene another delegation, consisting of the statesmen of imperialistic Great Britain. When these men got Mr. Bruce and Mr. Gullett at the conference table, they “ put it all over “ them. Let us for a moment examine the calibre of the British personnel at that gathering. It comprised Mr. Baldwin, the Leader of the House of Commons; Mr. Chamberlain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer; two eminent British- statesmen, and, no doubt, personally likeable gentlemen. To give a democratic touch to the British representation, the delegation included also Mr. “ Jimmie “ Thomas, ex-British Labour leader, a man who got into the Mother of Parliaments on the backs of the British workers. He was sent to Ottawa, there to act as the lick-spittle of his leaders, who, as Senator Crawford told us yesterday, were determined to drive a hard bargain with the dominions’ representatives.
I was much interested’ and impressed by Senator Crawford’s criticism of the work of the conference, and I was delighted to think that one of the rank .and file among Government supporters was courageous enough to state his opposition to certain articles in the agreement, particularly those which interfere with the protective policy of this country. But I was disappointed to hear Him say, towards the end of his speech, that he intended to support this
Government of exploded ideas, which is looking to the Ottawa agreement to get this country out of its present difficulties.
The foundations of the defeat of this Government were laid at Ottawa. This opinion is expressed in the latest circular issued by the influential Bank of New South Wales, which has played such an important part in the financial history of that State. The Government bitterly resents the criticism which Mr. Davidson, the general manager of the Bank of New South Wales, has directed against the Ottawa proposals. It objects also to criticism from our manufacturers, many of whom were given substantial tariff protection by the Scullin Administration, but when the political tide turned transferred their allegiance to the Lyons Administration, and connived with it and its supporters to break down our trade barriers. This alteration of the tariff policy will not benefit the workers of this country. Other honorable senators who have spoken from this side of the chamber have made it plain that the complete emancipation of the world from its troubles will be possible only when the present economic system is radically changed. The imperialist delegates to Ottawa, and the Governments which sent them there, have been, declaring through the press to the workers in the bush, to the primary producers, to the unemployed, and to the millions of workers in all Empire combines, that all will be well if only the Parliaments of the various dominions will accept this new policy for the promotion of intra-Empire trade. We have been told to look to Ottawa for a solution of our difficulties. But what has been the result? Senator Crawford reminded us yesterday that the British delegation had driven a hard bargain with the dominions and Crown colonies. I agree with him. The Ottawa Conference resolutions will not put right the balance of trade, but in all probability they will mean the disintegration of the British Empire. We shall not get out of our present difficulties until the workers of this and other countries have full control over the means of production, distribution and exchange. The right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) will no doubt suggest that I am one of the “ reds.”
But I am unconcerned about the opinion of this Minister of the “ emu war “ - this treacherous renegade of the Australian Labour movement, who in these days has become quite respectable.
– Order! The honorable senator must withdraw that remark.
– I am not sure that I will withdraw it. The Leader of the Senate sneers at people who differ from him on this important issue, who believe quite honestly that the policy laid down at Ottawa is wrong. I do not wish to be unfair, but since your elevation to the chair, Mr. President, a considerable latitude in debate has been shown to honorable senators, and I respectfully ask you to keep your right eye on the Leader of the Senate. If he is allowed to interject and sneer at me, I will deal with him. He has nothing on me, politically or personally.
– I again ask the honorable senator to withdraw the words “ treacherous renegade “.
– I withdraw them. I now direct attention to a remarkable report dealing with Australian, intercourse with Japan and China, compiled by Mr. A. C. V. Melbourne, M.A., and presented recently to the Senate of the University of Queensland. I take from it, the following : -
In recent years Australian economic policy has been directed towards establishing a favorable balance for Australian trade; towards maintaining over imports an excess of exports sufficient to meet external obligations. In principle this is eminently wise; but, unfortunately, the policy has been applied with little discretion. Australia has been too much inclined to shut herself off from commercial intercourse with foreign nations.
The Ottawa agreement will make our position worse -
In British and international law and practice, Australian nationalism has been given ample recognition; but Australian Governments have neither recognized in full the responsibilities, nor taken advantage of the opportunities implied by virtual independence They have, in fact, insisted on a status which they know not how to use. In the actual practice of to-day, Australia is tied to the apron strings of the Mother Country politically, commercially and financially, just as closely as when people began to discuss dominion status. It is true that recently, on account of the failing purchasing power of the United
Kingdom, .Australian Governments, business men and bankers, have manifested some inclination to establish closer contact with nonBritish countries; but they are doing this with so much hesitation that they are in danger of missing altogether opportunities which probably will not recur. Quite rightly they are thinking much of the imperial connexion; quite rightly they are thinking of imperial trade, but they should be thinking also of developing an intimacy with foreign peoples, and of building up a larger foreign trade Already it has been explained that this dual policy implies no inconsistency; that it implies no disloyalty to the imperial idea, to the United Kingdom, or to other self-governing dominions. Australia must partake of the responsibilities and privileges of Empire, but she cannot neglect her obligations to Australian nationalism. The Commonwealth must prepare itself to stand alone should world events place it in a position of isolation. In short Australia must work for and with the British Empire; but she must not ignore the possibility of imperial decay, or even dissolution. It may be said quite definitely that Australia has not yet recognized the significance of the latter implication. Political and economic foresight should not bo limited to years or decades; they should look centuries ahead. Consequently, it seems to be the case that, while Australia should play its part in working out a scheme of intra-imperial trade, in building up a self-efficient Empire, it should also - and it could do this without reproach - persist with the development 0t Australian nationalism.
Australia can quite consistently play its part within the British system and develop profitable relations with non-British States. From what has been said above, it will be clear that the Dominion of Canada is putting this dual policy into practice. Australia, on the other hand, while obviously anxious to play its part in one direction, is failing lamentably in the other. The Australian tariff law, indeed, by its intermediate rates, has made provision for the development of closer commercial intercourse with foreign people, but the provision lies neglected and unused. Commercially and financially, Australian nationalism has been given no expression outside the narrow circle of imperial interests.
Those statements were made to the Senate of the University of Queensland. The Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) when he looks at his reflection in the mirror, and observes .himself decked with the tinsel baubles of rank, may take what pleasure he can from the fact that he is a knight of the British Empire. The honorable gentleman was trained in the same university as I was, that of hard knocks; but later he became respectable, and joined the select band of knights. Had the statements which I have just quoted been made by some one less eminent than a professor of the Queensland University, the Leader of the Government would have branded him as a seditionist as a person disloyal to his King. During election time we hear a great deal about the Empire and the Flag. It is a regular catchery, trotted out every time by members of the party opposite, but the people, not only of Australia, but of England as well, are becoming weary of this talk. Flags are dry eating for the hungry. The people are calling for the right to. work and to eat, rights which are being denied them. When my friend, Senator Rae, gets up to speak, he is taunted with being a Communist, not only by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, but also by comrade Brennan, the Doctor of Laws from Melbourne; yet Senator Rae, like myself, is a- member of the Australian Labour party in the State of New South Wales. We are twitted with being Communists because we refuse to -be slavish followers of those who flaunt their imperialism.
Only the other day, in answer to a question, I was informed that the balance of trade between Australia and Russia was considerably in our favour. Speaking at the opening of the Ottawa conference, Mr. Bennett, Prime Minister of Canada, preached the doctrine of Imperial federation. At the very moment that he was tickling the ears of the delegates with those fine-sounding imperial sentiments, his Government was concluding arrangements with the Soviet Government of Russia for the interchange of oil and aluminium. I have before me a full account of this deal, which is more than the Leader of the Government can claim to have. It proves that a secret agree ment was entered into between the Canadian Government and the Soviet Government of Russia, and was signed by Mr. Bennett, as Prime Minister of Canada. Details of the transaction are as follow : -
New York, 17th September. With the arrival of the tanker Aase Maersk at Montreal with 9,000 tons of petroleum from Batoum, the Canadian Department of National Revenue has corrected an earlier report that it would refuse to sanction a deal whereby the Aluminium Company of Canada is exchanging aluminium for Russian oil. The Russian oil involved is crude, which is to be refined in Canada, and the present action by the Department of National Revenue sets at rest reports that petroleum would be added to the list of Russian commodities barred from entry into Canada. The crude oil will he refined by the La-Salle Oil Company, and its products sold through its facilities.
The Canadian Aluminium Company of Arvida, Quebec, a subsidiary of the Aluminium Corporation of America, a Mellon enterprise, will export $1,500,000 of aluminium wire to Russia to be used by the Soviets in furthering their economic development.
In return, Russia will ship $750,000 of crude oil to Montreal and will settle the balance in gold. This business will enable the Arvida plant to enlarge production at once and give employment immediately to 300 workmen, with an additional 700 men to be added to the pay roll in a few weeks’ time.
That account is authentic, and cannot he successfully challenged. Further details are supplied in the following account-
– From what document is the honorable senator quoting? Senator DUNN. - From a document prepared by Mr. Brown, the editor of the Argus newspaper, in Winnipeg. I trust that the Mansard reporter will take a note of this as I read it, because I cannot make the document itself available. It states -
When the Danish oil-tanker Aa.se Maersk steamed into Montreal on 14th September, carrying 9,000 tons of Russian oil, a political and commercial event of the first magnitude occurred in Canada. Details gradually becoming public reveal that the cargo is the first of several being sent to Canada in part payment for aluminium wire which is to be exported from Canada to Russia.
The docking of the A.ase Maersk is an event of outstanding importance because of past declarations by Mr. Bennett’s Government on trade with Russia, and also because of the determined effort made by Mr. Bennett during the Imperial Economic Conference to persuade British delegates to agree on a Russian embargo. It now emerges that the Bennett Government agreed to the present interchange of products with Russia during the conference, at the very time when the Canadian drive for a British embargo against Russian timber and wheat was at its zenith.
Earlier negotiations. - Russia appears to be badly in need of aluminium. Last summer Russia approached the Aluminium Company of Canada, a subsidiary of the Aluminium Corporation of America - a Mellon company - with a proposal for $1,500,000 worth of aluminium wire. Russia promised to pay by sending half the purchase price in crude oil and the other half in gold. The Aluminium Company of Canada, located at Arvide Quebec, is feeling the depression keenly. The plant is virtually closed down. This business would mean the immediate employment of 300 men and an additional 700 in the course of a few weeks.
The company’s officials came to Ottawa and arranged with the Bennett Government to allow the oil to enter Canada, to be refined by an independent oil company in Montreal, and to be sold in competition with the product of Canadian refineries.
Secret transaction. - The transaction was kept secret until the arrival of the tanker The Government delayed unloading for three days while the matter was reconsidered, but a permit was granted on Saturday. A great outcry by the Canadian refineries against competition by communistic Russia failed to impress the Government. There is tremendous surprise in the Dominion at this aboutface by the Bennett Government, but no explanation is yet forthcoming.
The attitude of the Bennett Government in the past has been one of consistent antagonism to Russia. When Russia offered to exchange coal for Canadian farm implements, Mr. Bennett intervened forbidding any trade withthe Soviet Government. In that month the Bennett Government put through an Order in Council banning imports of Russian coal, asbestos, wood products and furs. This order declared that the Government believed that political prisoners were being exploited, that standards erf living in Russia were below any level conceived of in Canada’. Broadly speaking, there is a Communist Government in control which regulates all conditions of work and seeks to impose its will on the world. This is communism, its creed and its fruits, which we as a country oppose and must refuse to support by interchange of trade.
This attitude was maintained vigorously by the Bennett Government during the Imperial Economic Conference when the demand for a British embargo against Russian timber and wheat was carried to the verge of breaking up the conference. To-day the presence of this Russian tanker at Montreal is a direct repudiation of the Government’s previous position. Canadian industries which hope to gain most from a British embargo feel that the Bennett Government has hopelessly compromised its position in respect of Great Britain by agreeing to the present interchange of trade.
While the Prime Minister of Canada was presiding at the Imperial Economic Conference at Ottawa he was actually negotiating a secret treaty between the Dominion of Canada and Soviet Russia. From what we have been able to learn, the Prime Minister of Canada bulldosed, not only the Canadian people and their representatives at the conference, but also the representatives of other dominions. For the information of honorable senators I quote the following editorial which appeared in a pillar of the British press - the Manchester. Guardian - of the 20th September of this year :-
The thing which would he really worth knowing about the 9.000 tons of Russian oil now being disembarked at Montreal is the date on which it was ordered. The oil is one side of a remarkable deal between Russia and Canada. The other side is an order for a quarter of a million pounds’ worth of aluminium wire. And the question is - was’ the bargain struck before or after Mr. Bennett, in righteous indignation against slave labour, stolen property, price cutting, and all other sins of communism, tried to insert an embargo on Russian goods into the text of the Canadian agreement with this country at Ottawa? When he made his gallant, if belated, stand did he know that a Russian order- worth a a quarter of a million pounds was in a Canadian manufacturer’s pocket? The evidence so far to hand suggests that he did know; that at the very time when he was trying to get this country .to forswear Russian wheat and Russian timber, negotiations for the exchange were going on under his nose. That is not the only amusing facet of this most unimperial affair. Canadian purchasers of oil are transferred from Trinidad to Russia. Canada enters the market - is it for the first time? - as an exporter of manufactured goods in competition with Great Britain.
That is sufficient to show how this gigantic swindle was worked by the gentleman who presided at the Ottawa Conference -
A Danish, and not a British vessel, is chartered to carry the oil, and the net profits on the transaction will find their way, in course of time, into the United States, for the Aluminium Company of Canada, Limited, is a subsidiary of Mr. Mellon’s famous corporation at Pittsburg. No wonder Mr. Bennett’s nerves became a little frayed’ towards the close of the Imperial Conference..
An eminent gentleman associated with the Queensland University said -
Australia has been too much inclined to shut herself off from commercial negotiations with foreign countries. We should be thinking of developing a greater commercial intimacy with foreign people, and of building up a larger foreign trade.
The Prime Minister of Canada knows that, as the people of that dominion cannot possibly consume all that they can produce, they must dispose of their surplus production in overseas markets. We are informed by those papers which support an imperial policy that many of the farmers on the Canadian prairies are in such financial difficulties that they are using their wheat for fuel. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) and his political offsider the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan) have asked us to support an agreement which they know is of greater benefit To Great Britain than it is . to Australia. Senator
They must realize that when the agreement is in operation Great Britain will have a better opportunity to exploit the Australian market, and this must have a detrimental effect upon our secondary industries, which have reached their present state of efficiency largely as a result of the Labour party’s policy. Mr. Mark, a past president of the Chamber of Manufactures in New South Wales, who receives a good deal of publicity through the bulletins issued by that chamber, and who goes out of his way to “ slangwang “ Mr. Lang, broadcast his opinion of the Ottawa agreement a few days ago. -Let us see what “ comrade “ Mark has to say -
The retention of world markets is vital to Britain. A tariff policy which discriminates in favour of the dominions may result in British products being penalized in some of her most important foreign markets, where she is already hard pressed to hold her own. In the Argentine, for instance, Britain was unchallenged until 15)14, but during the war the United States of America took advantage of this opportunity to break into this vast commercial field, and by 1923 had built up an export trade almost equal to that of Britain. By 1920 the United States of America exported to the Argentine £40,000,000 worth of goods, whilst Britain’s exports were valued at £31,000,000. Germany had also managed to secure a share of Argentine trade amounting to more than half that of Britain’s. The position of Brazil is somewhat similar, and, as over £1,000,000,000 of British capital is invested in South America, Britain cannot afford to take any action which will jeopardize her trade in that continent.
Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate imagine that Australia, as a# unit of the British Commonwealth, of Nations, will derive any benefit under the Ottawa agreement, particularly in the matter of meat exports, when £1,000,000,000 of British capital is invested in the Argentine republic? If the right honorable gentleman thinks that we shall, he is sadly mistaken. His early training in the Labour movement, and perhaps his recent activities as Minister for Defence in directing the destruction of emus in Western Australia, enables him to realize that the remarks of the president of the Chamber of Manufactures, New South Wales, are true. He knows that British imperialism is only a matter of pounds, shillings and pence. I ask honorable senators familiar with the record of the right honorable gentleman if there was ever a greater opponent of British imperialism than Senator Pearce was some years ago. Of course that was before he became politically “respectable.” In days gone by he used to throw out his political chest and move resolutions at May Day celebrations.
– I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the bill.
– I was merely referring to the imperialistic sympathies expressed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate in the speech which he read to the Senate yesterday, and in which he was so ably supported by his political off-sider, the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan).
Sitting suspended from 12.J/S to 2.15 p.m.
– The Australasian Manufacturer, a weekly publication devoted to industrial science, refers to the Ottawa agreement in the following terms : -
Tho humbug, hypocrisy and deception used by freetrade Australian newspapers in concealing the real objects o? the Ottawa conference should convince every manufacturer in Australia that most of our secondary industries are in danger of annihilation unless some means be found, even now, to curb the power of Stanley Melbourne Bruce in Ottawa. Let there be no mistake about our meaning. Stanley Melbourne Bruce will put up only the semblance of a light, at Ottawa, for Australian manufacturing interests. He will really be fighting, with all the power conferred upon him, for overseas interests.
Mr. Tout, one of the non official Australian delegates to Ottawa, was entertained at dinner by the Graziers Association of New South Wales on his return. The proceedings were reported in the press in the following terms: -
Will any good come out of Ottawa for our meat export industry? This question was asked at a meeting of the general council of the Graziers Association of New South Wales yesterday after the president (Mr. F. H. Tout) summarized the Ottawa proceedings in relation to moat. “ Our meat export industry,” he said, “ will’ benefit from the Ottawa agreement only if it is carried out in spirit as well as in letter.”
If the agreement has been signed and sealed, why does Mr. Tout speak in that way? While not wishing to appear an egoist, I invite Senators Cox, Greene, and Hardy to go with me to Lismore, on the north coast of New South Wales, and debate with me the action of the Government in throwing overboard the Australian banana industry in the interests of black-grown bananas from Fiji. Those honorable senators, when seeking election, were not told by the banana-growers that they were to injure this great primary industry.
– Is the honorable senator .prepared to issue the same challenge to Western Australian senators ?
– Yes. I am prepared to debate in Western Australia either this subject or the Government’s treatment of the wheat-growing industry with the honorable senator, or even with the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce). Britain will always buy in the cheapest market, and it is useless for the Government to try to camouflage the issue by sending out an expedition to shoot emus. Senator Hardy pleads the cause of the primary industries of New South Wales; yet he supports a government which is prepared to sacrifice thousands of men and women engaged in one of our principal primary industries. Many of our wheat-growers are to-day practically on the bread line. I say, without fear of successful contradiction, that what the Government has done, and what the Australian delegates to the Ottawa “Joss House” have done, will have a boomerang effect when government supporters come before the people in two years’ time.
– I wish to move a motion in relation to the speech of Senator Dunn. The honorable senator read from two documents, one of which he said was signed by a Mr. Brown. He added that he did not propose to hand it to Hansard. In view of the honorable senator’s reference to it as a secret document, I draw attention to Standing Order 364, which reads -
A document quoted f from by a senator not a Minister of the Crown may be ordered by the Senate to be laid upon the table…..
I, therefore, now move -
That the two documents quoted from by Senator Dunn be laid on the table of the Senate.
– The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) should advance some substantial reason in support of his motion, which involves a departure from the practice of the Senate. I have a recollection of another occasion on which the right honorable gentleman and his band of followers, who, at that time, formed the Opposition in the Senate, used this Standing Order to defeat the then Government’s attempt to mete out justice to the waterside workers. On that occasion they had a definite objective, which the right honorable gentleman fully explained to the Senate. To-day, he has given no reason why the Senate should accept his motion. I have no objection to the documents referred to being laid on the table; but I do object to our ordinary procedure being departed from without good reason. What benefit will the Senate derive from the tabling of the documents? Unless good reasons can be given in support of the motion, I shall oppose it.
– I support the motion. The Senate has a right to know who this mysterious Mr. Brown is, and whether or not he is connected with the Winnipeg Argus. When Senator Dunn was asked who was the author of the document from which he had quoted, he replied “ Mr. Brown “; I immediately thought of Mr. H. C. Brown, the secretary to the Department of the Interior, and Senator Brown. When further pressure was brought to bear on the honorable senator, he said that this mysterious Mr. Brown was associated with the Argus office, Winnipeg. From the jocular way in which he treated the inquiry, I imagined that difficulty would be experienced in locating any such Mr. Brown. Unless this matter is cleared up, inter-dominion complications may result, because the honorable senator said that Mr.. Brown was a prominent citizen of our sister dominion of Canada. If Canadian authorities are quoted in opposition to the Ottawa agreement, we should know who they are.
– I had thought that my reasons for moving the motion would have been apparent to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Halloran). Before quoting from the document, Senator Dunn said that it would place a sinister construction upon certain actions of Mr. Bennett, the Prime Minister of Canada. He hinted at some mysterious action which, would be detrimental to the agreement and the public. He then asked that Mansard should take down every word, because he did not intend to let the document go out of his hands. That seemed peculiar, and in view of all the circumstances, the Senate is entitled to see the document in order that members may judge its authenticity, and determine what reliance can be placed on the charges it contains.
– by leave - Since the speech, of the right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has closed the debate on his motion, I desire to make a personal explanation. I have nothing to hide from honorable senators, nor have I any desire to transgress the Standing Orders. Expecting that the right honorable gentleman the Leader of the Senate would desire to know the source of my information, I referred to the author of the document as one of the great family named Brown. My quotation was’ absolutely authentic; it was taken from the Manchester Guardian.
Motion agreed to.
Senator Dunn laid the documents on the table.
– I wish, in common with other honorable senators on this side of the chamber, to enter my emphatic protest against the ratification by this Parliament of the Ottawa agreement. I approach this subject without prejudice, but as a citizen of Australia with the interests of this country at heart. In developing our trade, we must first serve Australia, and afterwards other parts of the Empire. New Zealand should be first in the order of succession, because that dominion is our nearest neighbour, and is almost entirely populated with white people. Its defence policy is, to some extent, bound up with ours. There is, therefore, no reason why we should not encourage trade reciprocity ,with New Zealand. The next country to which we should give preference is Great Britain. Australia has for many years advocated trade preference within the British Empire. I was in the Old Country twenty years ago, when an imperial conference took place, and even at that time the dominions, which were then colonies,. pressed Great Britain - unsuccessfully, I admit - for trade preference. Great Britain has now changed its fiscal policy and, as is disclosed by this agreement, is prepared to exchange preference with Australia. The British Parliament has already ratified this agreement which binds Australia, so far as our fiscal policy is concerned, to the Mother Country. The home market for primary industries which the supporters of the Government are anxious to assist, has been severely protected. In 1911-12 Australia paid £9 Is. 6d. per head of population for agricultural produce, and in 1925-26, £13 15s. Id. ; an increase of 64 per cent. I admit that there is justification for protecting the home market for our primary industries, but a sterner measure of protection is required for our secondary industries. That measure of protection is by no means being given under the Ottawa agreement, because it seeks to share with the British manufacturers the local market which is now enjoyed by our own manufacturers. We must ask ourselves the question whether the Ottawa agreement is likely to be of any great importance to Australia. In the words of a great agnostic - la there beyond this night
A brighter day? Is this the door that leads to light?
They cannot say.
Can the supporters of the Government show definitely that the Ottawa agreement is likely to lead to a brighter day for Australia? I do not think that they can. Let me quote the opinions of men who are not Labour supporters to show that any prospect of a brighter day for Australia under this agreement is a mere will-o’-the wisp or Jack-o’-lantern.
– They are harmless, but the Ottawa agreement is undoubtedly harmful.
– As Senator O’Halloran says, this agreement will undoubtedly prove harmful to Australia. We have been accused, because of our opposition to the agreement, of being antiBritish. But my idea about world trade is that every country is influenced by self-interest. Australia in its trade relations with other countries is actuated by self-interest just as Great Britain has for many centuries been actuated by selfinterest in respect of its trade and commerce. Much has been said about our primary production and about what Great Britain has done in providing markets for us. Our wool industry is probably the only one in Australia that has to compete unaided against other countries in the open market of the world. There is scarcely any other industry in Australia not receiving assistance by way of tariff protection or bounty. Great Britain buys our wool not because of its affection for us, or because of its admiration for our physical or mental characteristics, but because it obtains from us cheaper and better wool than it can purchase from other countries. The same applies to our butter and. other products. Minerals, of course, sell themselves. That, I contend, is the basis of world trade. I submit that our secondary industries which will be adversely affected by the operation of the Ottawa agreement, deserve to be protected, even against Great Britain. We must have regard for our national welfare. The following is an extract from a book called The Case for Protection, by Ernest Edwin Williams, Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, and author of Made in Germany, a book which most of us read nearly a generation ago: -
The fostering of varied industries brings to a nation another advantage, in that its sons have a wider range in the selection of the industry for which they are best adapted. A variety of occupation in a country minimizes the national loss and individual distress which is caused by trade depressions. A nation’s prosperity in general depends less on the mass of wealth produced than upon the greatest possible diversity of industries so that all the phases of national productive energy may be well developed. A nation, when the whole field of industry is kept open, can pick and choose the industries with which it will occupy itself. A State should be economic and selfcontained. It is not really independent unless it be capable of producing at least the necessaries of life. Economic independence is the necessary support of political independence. A nation which depends for its food on another nation practically acknowledges that country as its suzerain. So as to be independent, a nation should strive to have all the important productive industries.
Great Britain has, for a generation or so, been in the unfortunate position of having to depend on other nations for necessaries of life. . A nation, to be independent, must have both primary and secondary industries. Great Britain is largely a country of secondary industries, while Australia is a land of primary production. But we must protect and encourage our secondary industries so that we may be a self-contained nation if at any time - and God forbid that it should happen - we may suddenly have our connexion with Great Britain severed. We must develop both our primary and secondary industries if we are to keep this nation compact and unsullied by the advent of foreigners, at the same time giving preference to other units of the Empire in respect of goods which we cannot manufacture ourselves. The meaning of article 12 of the agreement is that Great Britain is to have a reasonable opportunity of competition with us in our home market. Much will depend on the interpretation of the wording of that article, and I shall deal with that matter later. Mr. Williams continued-
Unlimited competition is no blessing, and can become a real curse by forcing workers to accept starvation wages until they are only fit for asylums and infirmaries, and the nation becomes a puny and weak race. The State should ward off unfair competition from countries with virgin abounding soils or with cheap, coloured labour.
If we are to encourage our secondary industries, we must protect them from the competition of other countries which use mass-production methods, and have lower wage and living standards than ours. Of course the Ottawa agreement is well supported by the merchants and wealthy importers with large interests in freetrade, and they are determined to force it upon us. Mr. Williams says - ~”
The interests of the whole people are not necessarily identical with the interests of tho merchants. The two interests are in opposition when merchants import products which compete with home labour and it is not sufficient reply to contend that imports can only be brought into the country in proportional extent to the exports.
The British sugar refining industry once flourishing was killed by protected foreign competition, bounty-fed competition.
As an illustration of the effect of this agreement, I may mention an industry in my own State. At Maryborough, a small but substantial town about 167 miles from Brisbane, there are large engineering works conducted by Walkers Limited, a firm that came to Queensland from Ballarat. At one time these works employed about 800 people, but through depression .and other causes, the number was reduced to 200, When I visited the works in 1930, Mr. H. S. Goldsmith, the general manager, took particular pride in showing to me a new branch for the construction of diesel engines. He looked forward confidently to a steady development of this business and to increasing the number of his employees to their former’ strength. Under the Ottawa agreement, Walkers Limited, will be prevented from constructing stationary engines above 350 horse-power, although in his evidence before the Tariff Board, Mr. Goldsmith strongly objected to any reduction of the duty on crude oil engines up to 1,500 horse-power in the stationary type, and 250 horse-power in the marine type. Other Australian makers of these engines are Ronaldson Brothers andTippett Proprietary Limited, of Ballarat, and A. H. McDonald and Company Proprietary Limited, of Richmond, Victoria. About two years ago, I visited a Bowen orchard, and the proprietor mentioned with particular satisfaction a crude oil engine manufactured by A. H. McDonald and Company, of Victoria, which, he said, suited his purposes admirably. As we have proved our capacity to manufacture these engines efficiently, there should be no limitation of our right to do so; Australian manufacturers should be protected even against the machinery makers of Great Britain.
Despite all we hear of the concessions given to our primary producers under the Ottawa agreement, Great Britain also is endeavouring to protect its home markets, and there is a large section of public opinion that has supported tariff reform or the imposition of protective duties because of the desire to protect British agriculture, particularly in respect of meat and butter. Even in 1900, Mr. Williams wrote of the British position -
Foreign markets, owing to protected industrial development, are being gradually placed beyond our reach. We should look to the Empire, bigger than the known world at one time. Preferential trade arrangements are necessary.
Mr. Williams there enunciates the policy for which Joseph Chamberlain fought 25 years ago, and which the dominion representatives pressed upon the Imperial conferences of 1907 and 1911. The
Labour party believes in preferential trade upon conditions that are fair to our own people. Mr. Williams attacked the Cobdenites in these words -
The Cobenite gang hated the Empire, despised it. To them the Empire consisted merely of plantations inhabited by disagreeable niggers, ruled over by yet more disagreeable planters; or of great wastes of territory fit only for penal settlements, and certainly not worth a moment’s consideration as the scene of great development.
Public opinion in the United Kingdom has changed a great deal in the last 25 years. Mr. Williams, an. Englishman, expressing the English point of view, wrote of the Cobdenite or Little England policy -
This policy, accompanied by the other policy of starving the colonies of capital in order to put more into foreign countries, has held back colonial development for half a century.
It must be admitted that British policy is directed towards the benefit of the United Kingdom rather than that of the colonies. The Australian Labour Party declares that Australian policy should be moulded for the benefit of Australia;
– If the honorable senator knew anything of British feeling to-day he would realize that British policy is designed for the benefit of British people in all parts of the Empire.
– In the long run, the ruling class in the United Kingdom has its way. I am assured by Senator Brown, himself an Englishman, that in many respects Australian people are far more loyal to the Royal Family and other British institutions than are the people of Great Britain.
– In any case, if they can afford it, parents should do as much for their children as the children should do for them.
– Australia, like the other children in the Empire, is growing up, and objects to be regarded merely as an exploiting ground for the vast financial organization known as Great Britain. British investors have invested £4,000,000,000 in various parts of the world.
– Of that sum, £2,000,000,000 is invested in British dominions.
– An equal amount is invested in Brazil, Argentine, Russia, ‘ and China. In fact, “ “ from
Greenland’s icy mountains to India’s coral strand” there is no corner of the earth where Great Britain has not invested millions of pounds.
– Apparently, it has a splendid investment in Russia !
– Karl Marx has rightly said that capital knows no country; it knows only cent, per cent. If enough profit is offering it will commit murder. Mr. Tom Johnston, a Labour member of the House of Commons, published an article in the Glasgow Forward that showed that the recent trouble between Paraguay and Bolivia, which seemed to be merely one of the periodical disputes that occur between South American Republics, had its origin in a conflict between American interests in Bolivia and British interests in Paraguay. Lord Luke is president of Bovril Limited, with steamers operating on the Paraguay River, and it was desired to prevent American interests from coming across the Gran Chaco and gaining access to the Atlantic Ocean via that river. Through this conflict of commercial interests a bloody war seemed likely.
– The British people were lending money to foreigners when they would not lend any to Australia.
– That is true. In 1920 the Government of Queensland wanted to raise a foreign loan; plenty of money was available in London, but because the Queensland Government of the day was showing some political independence, it was denied accommodation. But Sao Paulo, a large State in Brazil, populated by a mixture of Spaniards and Indians, was able to borrow £1,000,000 from good old John Bull, who professes so great a love for his children in Australia. I place no blame on the British people; they are distinct from the Government of Great Britain. The British Government consists of the representatives of big financiers and merchants whose centre of activity is London, and not of the real British people. Those commercial interests were willing to lend their money to black, brown, brindle, yellow or white people of any country, irrespective of the views of the governments they supported ; it mattered not to them whether governments were of the revolutionary type which retain office for six months, or of any other type, so long as there was a reasonable chance of getting “ shent per shent “ for the money lent; but they were not prepared to lend money to Australia when she needed it so badly a year or two ago. .
I come now to the subject of preferential trade. As Mr. “Williams has said, the representatives of the colonies first voiced the ideas of a commercial federation, but it was rejected by Breat Britain. I was in London when the 1911 Imperial Conference was being held, and I know how the idea was received. The British interests did not want to offend the people of the Argentine and Paraguay, and, probably at that time Russia also. Furthermore, they wanted to preserve good feeling with India, China, Peril and many other foreign countries. Mr. Williams said -
The guiding principle must be a graduated scale of duties which will protect the home producer in the first instance, and the colonial producer in the second.
He spoke as an Englishman to the English people, and he was right in doing so. But we should speak as Australians to the Australian people, and say that we will protect the Australian producer in the first instance, ‘and then the British producer. He went on -
I do not think it would be right, for after all, charity begins at home, to admit colonial produce free.
That is exactly our standpoint. The English view that Australian primary produce should not be allowed to enter into free competition with British primary produce is sound. Mr. Williams went on to say -
We must guard our home agriculture to some extent oven from colonial produce, and with industrial development in the colonies the time will come when it will be necessary to guard our home manufactures also from being swamped by the colonies.
That view can also be applied to Australia. We do not think that our home manufactures should be overwhelmed by British manufactures, although we are quite favorable to the giving to Great Britain of favoured nation treatment, and I hope that we shall always be willing to do so. I believe, with other honorable senators who have spoken from this side of the chamber, that the British race leads the world in intellectual attainments and scientific and Senator political institutions; but Australia must look after herself. As soon as a child is able to leave its mother’s knee it begins to take care of itself. That remark should be applied to the dominions within the Empire. Mr. Williams has a little to say on the other aspect of the subject, and I shall quote his remarks in that connexion, for I wish to be fair. He observed -
But the colonies will not demur at such a duty. I should say - Let us have a 10 per cent, duty on such colonial produce as come into competition with home produce, 25 per cent, on competing foreign merchandise, and 15 per cent, on foreign merchandise which competes only with colonial produce. There is no natural reason why we should go to foreign countries for our imports. If we trade within our own Empire, foreign nations may then starve their workmen, and grind them down with unremitting toil; they may play tricks with their currency, or do what they like.
That would be all right if the British Empire were only an Empire, but it is more than that. Senator Elliott admitted, in his speech, that Great Britain had £2,000,000,000 invested outside the Empire.
– What I said was that Great Britain had £2,000,000,000 invested in the outside sections of the Empire.
– According to my information, she has £2,000,000,000 invested quite outside of the Empire. The honorable senator admitted tha’t £400,000,000 was invested in the Argentine. I think that those investments could be valued more accurately at £800,000.000. This would certainly be so if we include Paraguay, which is just across a river from the Argentine. Senator Elliott has said that Britain has invested £2,000,000,000 within the Empire. It has a total world investment of £4,0.00,000,000 and therefore must have’ £2,000,000,000 invested outside the Empire in other countries.
– The honorable senator is quite right.
– Senator Guthrie - and we are all glad to see him in his place again after his recent serious illness - confirms my statement that Great Britain has £2,000,000,000 invested outside the British Empire. Its total investments abroad amount to £4,000,000,000.
– “What point is the honorable senator trying to make?
– My point is that we cannot make the British Empire an economic unit because the circumstances of Great Britain forbid it.
– Is it a crime to invest money outside the Empire ?
– Not at all; but in this debate we must see things jn their proper perspective, and realize that Britain has largely to consider countries outside the British Empire because of its financial investments. We, as politicians, must study our economic diseases just as a medical practitioner studies physical diseases. But I shall not labour this point, for an abundance of literature is available on the subject. I felt it necessary to reply to Senator Elliott’s arguments about the investments of Great Britain outside the Empire and particularly in the Argentine.
– Great Britain had £435,000,000 invested in the Argentine and those investments are probably worth to-day only about £200,000,000.
– I have a little property in Brisbane which I value at £1,200, but if I were to sell it to-day I should get only £700 or £800 for it. If we are to avoid revolution in this country, we must appreciate the facts of the situation which confronts us. If wo destroyed in the lower middle classes their ideas of thrift, we should probably find that three-quarters of our whole community would work for a change in our system of government which eventually might not be to their advantage.
I shall deal further with the influence of the agreement upon our primary industries and then with its effect upon our secondary industries. We have been told that the primary producers will derive a great deal of benefit from the agreement; but I have seen no statement to the effect that we shall obtain advantages worth more than £2,000,000 per annum as a result of the concessions by Britain to our primary producers. What Britain may get out of the agreement we do not know. because the tariff covers such a vast number of items. We are buying a pig in a poke, and I am afraid that our secondary industries will be smashed. If the party now in power remains in control, those industries undoubtedly will be brought to ruin. Let us assume that the value of the British concessions on our primary produce amount to £2,000,000 per annum. Mr. J. A. Heading, a prominent Nationalist of South Burnett, and chairman of directors of the South Burnett Co-operative Dairying Association, speaking at the half -yearly meeting of that body, referred to the prospects of the dairying industry. He said -
He had been in careful touch with the manager regarding the future of the industry, and lie was optimistic of slightly better prices in the near future. As far as the outcome of the Ottawa Conference was concerned, there was a considerable difference of opinion, and he could not agree with Mr. Lyons when he said that Australian dairymen would benefit by f 1,000,000 a year as a result of the proposed butter duty of 15s. per cwt.
For the sake of concessions estimated to be worth £2,000,000 a year, we are asked to give to British manufacfacturers the power to defeat our fiscal policy. This may cause the value of our manufactures, which in 1931 amounted to £112,000,000, to decline to £80,000,000 or £90,000,000, which would mean a loss of from £20,000,000 to £30,000,000 annually.
I now propose to quote the opinion of the Queensland Producer. Not many of the primary producers helped to give Senator Brown his huge vote of over 200,000 first preference votes. Generally speaking, the primary producers in Queensland are not supporters of the Labour party, and therefore honorable senators opposite should attach considerable weight to the opinions of their official organ. If they ceased to support the party now in power in this Parliament, and threw in their lot with the workers in the cities and towns, there would be no need to worry over the fiscal issue; it would then be merely a matter of deciding to what extent, consistent with the welfare of the nation, the policy of socialism could be put into operation. The Queensland Producer is not a Labour newspaper; it is the official organ of the Council of Agriculture and of the organized primary producers of Queensland. This journal states -
At the outset we feel that we are quite safe in asserting that the Ottawa concessions will bo of precious little practical value to the
Commonwealth, nor will they result in restoring prosperity to our primary industries.
According to an estimate prepared by the Secretary of the Federal Commerce Department (Mr. E. J. Mulvany), Australian primary producers, excluding the meat producers, should benefit by more than £1,000,000 from the agreement with Britain. If this is all the benefit our farmers can expect from British preferences on Australian primary products, the effect will be negligible in restoring prosperity.
It is very doubtful whether any benefit will be derived from the agreement so far ‘as meat is concerned. The Graziers Association, in an article in the Brisbane Courier, has pointed out that no benefit will be reaped in regard to the meat trade during 1933, whatever advantages may be derived in the future.
– Why are meat prices 11OW rising?
– If they are, I am pleased to hear of it.
– Prices of other commodities, too, are on the up grade.
– It was also stated in the Queensland Producer that at the 1921 census there were approximately 600,000 persons engaged in primary production in the Commonwealth. I estimate that the loss in manufacturing production in Australia, owing to the operation of the tariff, will amount to about £20,000,000 per annum. As a nation, we have, no doubt, been sold; but there will be just retribution. Who are Messrs. Bruce and Gullett?
– Good men.
– They are not true Australians in spirit. Although they were both born in this country, one of them lived for a score of years in England, and became imbued with British ideas. The other has also lived for a number of years in England, and is impregnated with similar views. I regard them merely as political agents for Britain. It is not necessary for mo to quote any further from this journal. Suffice it to say that it smashes the Ottawa agreement to bits in regard to the benefits that that agreement allegedly confers on primary producers.
For a brief space I wish to deal with the subject of bananas. This wonderful British Empire of which we form a part comprises about 60,000,000 or 70,000,000 white people, and 400,000,000 members of coloured races. The welding of those into one economic whole is a matter that presents difficulties of the most extreme character. The feeling is general in Queensland that the products of that State are being attacked; and any attack upon them is regarded as an attack upon every Queensland citizen. The introduction of the Fiji banana to Australia will upset the local trade, and prove most detrimental in its effect upon Australia’s national policy. For whom is this being done? I quote the following from the report of the Fijian Planters Association for 1922: -
Banana production has passed almost entirely into the hands of small settlers, Indian and Fijian. The decline in production is primarily due to attacks of disease, about which little is known.
From my knowledge of Fiji, I should say that there has been very little investigation into the causes of the disease, and unless we exercise care, we may find that our bananas and other tropical products have become affected. The report goes on to say -
The ravages of disease have largely discouraged cultivation. Cultural methods have been neglected. Fruit sent to New Zealand provoked complaints. In 1921, 582,925 bunches were exported, as against 1,051,629 in 1910.
Fiji is a small group of islands of a total area of about 7,500 miles - hardly as !big as a large Queensland cattlestation. According to the Statesmen’s Year-Boole for 1932, Fiji is doing very well. In 1930, it exported to British possessions products to the value of £1,167,000 and imported from them products valued at £1,077,000, the balance in its favour thus being £90,000. It is well known that Queensland had no representation at Ottawa ; and I maintain that the Australian view-point also was not truly represented there.
– The Queensland AgentGeneral had an office in the Ottawa parliamentary building.
– The acting representative of Queensland had neither power nor status. The Moore Government in Queensland did not appoint an. Agent-General when it had the opportunity to do so. Much has been said concerning the imports by Fiji from Australia. The Statesmen’s Y earBook places the value of those imports at £449,000, and also shows that we purchased from Fiji goods to the value of about £80,000. It must be remembered, however, that a considerable proportion of the goods sent to Fiji from Australia are really re-exports of goods imported to this country from Great Britain and other countries.
– On whose authority -docs the honorable senator make that statement I
– The statement has been made on several occasions in Queensland. But whether it is correct or not, I take my stand on the figures which show that the balance between exports and imports in the case of British possessions is in favour of 1’iji ; consequently, there is no need to make this .special concession in regard to bananas, and thus do harm to the great banana industry’ of !New South Wales and Queensland, to which Senator Greene on one occasion made very complimentary references.
The fact that Vestey’s have £4,000,000 invested in one meat works in the Argentine is indicative of the enormous interests that British financiers have outside the Empire. We members of the Labour party do not intend to allow ourselves to be fooled by the shibboleths that are uttered in regard to Umpire trade. We read a little, and know something. It is difficult to gauge what is happening, from what appears in Australian newspapers. British radical and Labour journals enable one to form a true perspective of the vast organization that is known as the British Empire, and to obtain an idea of the relative importance to British financial and commercial supremacy ‘of Australia and the other dominions and colonies. As a party, we do not regard fiscal issues as of the first importance. We do say, however, that Australia ought to be self-contained. We are protectionists for the good of Australia. As this agreement cannot be altered, we shall be hound to Britain’s chariot wheels, particularly while our political opponents arc in power; and we shall continue to bo bound so long as we are willing to be treated as children. That is how we are being treated in connexion with this legislation. 1 shall not refer to article 12 of the agreement; it is understandable to any one who can read, and it has been debated at great length in another place. It is plain that we have been sold into fiscal bondage.
– Just what is the honorable senator’s objection, if any, to the agreement?
– Unlike Senator Guthrie, who has made pertinent interjections, the honorable senator who has just interposed appears to be rather dense. I am sorry that I cannot supply him with a cerebrum that would enable him to meet, all emergencies. Probably his is so tightly packed scholastically that there is no room in it for other ideas. It is possible that a great deal of what he hears in this chamber has never previously entered his head. A man may be a university scholar and a barrister, and yet unread and even stupid on certain subjects. He may even believe in the Bible and Santa Claus, and may wander through fairy gardens during the whole of his lifetime.
I wish to say in conclusion that in all controversies upon fiscal issues the fact obtrudes that neither protection nor freetrade will settle the question that principally affects the masses, that of being ensured economic security, a reasonable standard of living, and the right to happiness during their brief sojourn on this rolling ball that we call the earth. We have a large measure of national cooperation at the present time, but there must be a greatly increased application of socialistic control before either Australia or any other country’ can achieve the status of a truly Christian nation That may appeal to Senator Brennan. 1 T we were efficiently organized in regard to production and distribution we could, in less than ten years, pay off our external debts and provide a consuming power for our products, leaving leisure for culture far greater than is at present dreamed of by our conservative opponents. After all, our cousins in the United States of America achieved political independence by cutting away from the British Empire.
– Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that we should cut away from the British
Kin pi re?
– I do not, but I object to our being treated like a lot of children. As Australians we should all stand up for Australia before any other nation, no matter what flag at flies.
Debate (on motion by Senator Payne) adjourned.
ORDER OF Business. Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [3.33].- I moveThat the House do now adjourn
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.We have to deal with the United Kingdom and Australian Trade Agreement Bill. the Sugar Agreement Bill, a Public Works Committee Bill, u measure providing relief from taxation, and relic to the wheat industry, an amending income tax assessment bill, and, possibly, a sales tax bill. There will also be a judiciary bill, and a’ small crimes hill, both minor measures. The majority of those are not contentious measures. So far as I can gather that will complete the programme, which will take us into December.
Question resolved in the affirmative
Senate adjourned at 3.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 November 1932, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1932/19321118_senate_13_137/>.