13th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Can the Leader of the Senate say if there is any truth in the rumour heard in the lobbies of this chamber that it is the intention to adjourn the Senate to-night at 6.30 for seven days or possibly more?
– There is no truth in the rumour, but probably the Senate will adjourn to-night until Wednesday next.
Mareeba Experimental Station
– I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council - (1) Is it the intention of the Government to vacate the tobacco experimental station at Mareeba? (2) Is it the function of the Commonwealth or the States to carry on experimental stations on the lines of Mareeba? (3) Can assurance be given that tobacco-growers in the Mareeba district will be provided with adequate instruction and assistance?
– Ianswered a similar question last week, but to clarify the position, I am now able to furnish fuller information, the honorable senator having given me notice of his question.
At a meeting in Hobart in February last of the Standing Committee on Agriculture, on which the States were represented by the permanent heads of the departments of Agriculture, agreement was reached unanimously that Commonwealth activities in respect of tobacco should be confined to research into disease and the conduct of tests of smoking quality, and that the States should assume full responsibility for field investigations into disease, selection, yield and quality improvement, and for instruction, demonstration, and field experimental work; further, that of the sum of £20,000 per annum provided by the Commonwealth for instruction in connexion with the tobacco industry, £15,000 per annum should be paid to the States and £5,000 per annum to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Queensland’s share is £3,750 per annum. In order that there should be no misunderstanding between the Comwealth and the State in regard to the conduct of the tobacco experimental station at Mareeba, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) informed the Acting Premier of Queensland by telegraph onthe 26th J une, 1934, that the station was not required by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for the conduct of the work allotted to it by the Standing Committee on Agriculture, and that, in these circumstances, advice would be appreciated as to whether it was considered that the station was of value from the point of view of the tobacco industry; also, if it was considered of value, why the Queensland Department of Agriculture declined to take it over, bearing in mind the functions allotted to the States and the funds provided from Commonwealth sources towards the cost of carrying out such functions. The Acting Premier replied by telegram on the 28th Juno as follows : -
Your telegram twenty-sixth connexion Mareeba tobacco experiment station, Department of Agriculture considers cost of maintaining station would be too great in relation to information to be gained therefrom which would be of value only to a limited number of growers even in Cairns hinterland. In view of wide variation in climate and soil types of tobacco lands in Queensland it is considered detailed information of greater value to growers generally and to individual tobacco-growing localities is to be obtained from our existing policy of extensive scheme of experiment plot work embracing trials in various districts and on the different soiltypes in each district.
– I ask you, Mr. President, as Chairman of the Joint House Committee, who authorized the locking of all doors and prevented access to the dining-rooms and lounge room for nearly three hours to-day? Was it for the purpose of excluding from those privileged places all members who did not desire to hear Mr. Latham’s stirring story of his adventures during hisjaunt to the East, at the expense of the Commonwealth? Will you see that members are not, in future, excluded from those privileged places in this building to suit the convenience of any Minister who desires to put over his “ thrillers”-
– Order !
– And will you compel them, if necessary, to “ strut their stuff “ in other places so that members will not be inconvenienced? Is the AttorneyGeneral, by these mysterious meetings, trying to outdo Inspector Scott, of New South Wales?
– The honorable senator’s questionis saturated with inferences and expressions of opinion. I therefore rule it out of order.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate if it is the intention of the Government to pass, before the impending election, the necessary legislation for the assistance and preservation of the wheat industry?
– A statement on this subject will be made at a later date.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Blacktown, New South Wales-For Postal purposes.
Nauru Island Agreement Act - Ordinances of 1933-
No.11 - Appropriation (Supplemental) 1932
No. 12 - Nauru Royalty Trust Fund Appropriation (Supplemental) 1932.
[3.9]. - I lay on the table the following paper: -
Statement of the receipts and expenditure of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, for the year ended 30th June, . 1934.
That the paper be printed.
When submitting the Supply Bill to the House of Representatives for consideration on the 28th June last, the Prime Minister informed members that he hoped to be in a position, within a few days, to submit a statement of the Consolidated Revenue Fund under various headings, showing the approximate results for the financial year 1933-34, which has just closed.
The financial returns for the year are not yet complete, but I am now able to give to honorable senators a statement showing the approximate results for the year. These results are subject to minor amendments when final returns come to hand.
The statement shows a balance of receipts over expenditure of £1,301,616, as compared with the deficit of £1,176,490 which was anticipated when the budget for 1933-34 was presented to Parliament. The results, therefore, indicate an improvement of approximately £2,478,000 as compared with the budget estimate. The budget did not include £3,045,000 provided during the year for relief to wheat-growers, of which £1,254,000 was obtained from the flour tax temporarily imposed subsequent to the budget. The relief to wheat-growers thus absorbed £1,791,000 of the ordinary revenue. Eliminating wheat relief expenditure and the flour tax, the total improvement in the budget may be set down at £4,269,000.
This improvement is principally due to increases in revenue as compared with the budget estimate, the chief increases being : -
The increased yields under all these heads of revenue are striking evidence of the general improvement of the conditions in Australia during the past year. In particular, the higher revenue from customs and excise, sales tax, and the post office, is a reflex of improved trade in many industries. The higher prices for wool also, of course, contributed to the general improvement.
The total expenditure for the year, including £3,045,000 provided for relief to wheat-growers, was £72,647,000, as compared with the estimated expenditure of £72,801,000. The actual expenditure thus closely approximates the expenditure provided for in the budget. No payments were made during the year in respect of Australia’s war indebtedness to the Government of the United Kingdom. The savings made by the conversion of Commonwealth debts in London in February last are not reflected in last year’s results, whilst the full annual cost of the concessions made last year in respect of pensions, salaries, and taxation, was not borne by last year’s budget.
When the budget is brought down, more detailed particulars of last year’s results will be submitted for the information of honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Will the Government, in interpreting the Ottawa agreement, consult beforehand with the States which would be affected by any decision it may make?
– I presume the honorable senator means the Governments of the States. It would certainly be a departure from all previous practice for the Commonwealth Government to confer with the government of a State in regard to a matter affecting, for instance, the tariff, which is wholly within the province of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Are not the various States sisters of the Commonwealth, and, in view of the fact that the Ottawa agreement is a unique compact, would not the Government be agreeable to a departure from the orthodox procedure ?
– It is impossible to discuss a matter of this kind by means of questions and answers. I suggest that the honorable senator should take some other opportunity to put his views before the Senate.
– I give notice of the question.
– In considering any scheme for effective coastal defence, will attention be given by the Government to the necessity for the provision at Fremantle of adequate docking facilities?
– That matter has been the subject of correspondence between the Premier of Western Australia and the Prime Minister, (Mr. Lyons), and has been considered by the Government from the point of view of defence. An answer has been sent to the Premier of Western Australia pointing out that no defence moneys are available for that work at the present juncture.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Senate been drawn to the following letter in the Melbourne Herald of the 4th July last: -
Leads in Vote at Australian Labour Patty Meeting.
Perth, Tuesday. The desirability of the Federal Labour party making another attempt to effect a settlement with the Lang party of New South Wales was the subject of a debate lasting nearly three hours at a meeting of the State executive of the Australian Labour party at Perth Trades Hall last night. The result of the voting showed that the Lang element was in ascendancy.
Is the right honorable gentleman still of the opinion which he expressed last night that the mission of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) and myself to Western Australia “ fell flat “?
Statement by Mr. Latham - Cost of Trip.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Senate been directed to the following item in the Sydney Sun, of the 5th July: -
Lathamon the East. (From our Special Representative).
Surprise has been caused by the actionof the Government in calling members of the Federal Parliament together for an informal private meeting to-morrow to hear a statement bythe Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) on the international situation in the East
It is stated that Mr. Latham considers his statement should be imparted privately to members rather than be made on the floor of the House.
What is the right honorable gentleman’s answer to those comments?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.My reply is that Mr. Latham will make a statement in the House of Representatives.
– In view of the fact that the cost of the Australian political mission to the East, headed by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham), will have to be paid by the Australian people, why have not the reports of the mission been made public ! What were the nature and names of the declarations and titles bestowed on Mr. Latham and other members of the delegation by the Governments of the countries, including Japan, through which the mission passed ?
– In referring to the delegation as a political mission the honorable senator is clearly expressing an opinion, and, therefore, his question cannot be allowed.
– The delegation headed by Mr. Latham was termed a diplomatic mission, but in the presence of the Sultan of Djokjakarta, and at other places at which it called, political speeches were made.
– Order ! The honorable senator will be in Order in referring to the delegation as a diplomatic mission, but not otherwise.
– I submit to your ruling, Mr. President, and substitute the word “ diplomatic “ for the word “ political. “
– As to the first part of the honorable senator’s question I have already said that Mr. Latham will make a report to Parliament. I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the second portion of the question.
– Will the Minister for Defence lay on the table of the Senate the written applications for positions in the Australian Navy forwarded to him during the last two and a half years by Senator Dunn ? Will he also state how many, if any, of such applications have been successful?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The matter will receive consideration.
– Will the Government, in framing its rural rehabilitation scheme, consider the inclusion of measures to protect mortgagors from being sold up before the effective introduction of that plan?
– The honorable senator’s question affects not only the policy of the Government, but also State legislation. It is not usual to make statements of policy in reply to questions. I can only say that the point raised in the question has not been overlooked.
– What was the reason for the concellation of the meeting at Hunter’s Hill at which the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) proposed to deliver a political speech in favour of the United Australia party candidate at the Martin by-election?
– If the honorable senator shows as much industry in reading the newspapers tomorrow as he has exhibited to-day he will see the reason there.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I have received from Senator Elliott an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate this afternoon for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The marketing of Australian products in overseas markets, particularly in regard to trade relations with Great Britain”.
Four honorable senators homing risen in support of the motion, ‘
.- I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till to-morrow at 9 a.m.
I do so because of the great uncertainty in the minds of the people of Australia, and even of members of this Parliament, in regard to the marketing policy of the Government, and the prospect of future markets in overseas countries, particu-1 larly the United Kingdom. That uht certainty ha3 been increased, rather than lessened, by the recent visit of the High Commissioner, Mr. Bruce. Many Australians, including myself, followed closely the newspaper reports of Mr. Bruce’s progress through Australia. Incidentally, I may say that most men in public life have come to regard newspaper reports of statements by public men as being like a child of which the speaker is the father and the reporter the mother. The child so often takes after the mother. Both in Western Australia and South Australia, Mr. Bruce emphasized the importance to Australia of the British market. He said that it represented practically the only overseas market for the things which Australia can produce. Those of us who hoped that his emphasis of the importance of that market would be realized by the governments of Australia, were disappointed when Mr Bruce, speaking at Melbourne, advocated a policy of reduction of production and restriction of exports. He said a good deal about quotas in relation to imports into the United Kingdom. Later, at Brisbane, he advocated a standstill policy for two years. The vacillating nature of his remarks left us bewildered. A stand-still policy is a policy of retreat. No country or individual can stand still; there must be either progress or retrogression. I had hoped that Mr. Bruce would bring home to the people of Australia the urgency of the Commonwealth Government establishing the closest possible relations with the Government of the United Kingdom. But apparently, as a result of the visit of Mr. Bruce, on the 22nd June, the Hobart Mercury informed its readers that a representative of the Commonwealth Government had expressed doubt regarding the possibility of expanding our trade with the United Kingdom, and had indicated the intention of the Government to concentrate on foreign markets. That report caused a sinking feeling within me, because I had hoped that there would be a better understanding by the leaders of public thought in Australia of the spirit and opinion of the people of Great Britain. Summarized, the report in the Mercury reads -
It is futile for lis to expect Great Britain to alter hor policy or to place our hopes in greater inter-Empire trade. I wish to refer to those who urge that Australia by some magical process should endeavour to foster greater Empire trade … It sounds very simple, but it displays an utter disregard for three paramount facts. The first ia that if we permit the unrestricted import of manufactured goods, many employees in secondary industries will be put out of work because 55 per cent, of our primary products are consumed in Australia the greater proportion of it by persons dependent upon the prosperity of our secondary industries. The second point that is overlooked is the crux of the whole position. It is this: Great Britain has decided to encourage her agriculture to the highest possible pitch of production. She has, in the last two years, evolved elaborate marketing machinery directed towards this end, and she has determined to make herself as far as possible economically self-contained, and will not be deflected in the slightest degree from her- declared agricultural policy. The third point disregarded is that the United Kingdom has contracted obligations in her treaties with foreign countries which prevent her imposing severe restrictions upon foreign meat and dairy products unless she also imposes restrictions upon dominion products of the same kind.
He went on to say -
These are not idle words because any one who has followed the trend of British thought in this direction must know that the present British Government is absolutely determined to pursue the course upon which it has embarked. Those who urge that the solution of our marketing difficulties is to be found in reduced tariffs for our secondary industries surely have forgotten what recently happened when New Zealand . . . made a similar proposal to Great Britain. Briefly, what New Zealand proposed was that in return for free entry of British manufactures there should be free entry into Britain of New Zealand products - chiefly dairy products. That proposal, so similar to that which is being Canvassed in Australia to-day by a small section, was not accepted by the British Government. The utterances of British leaders within recent months show how futile it is for us to expect Great Britain to alter her policy or place our hopes in greater inter-empire trade.
What, then, was Australia to do? If Britain, the greatest consumer of Australia’s primary products, flatly says, “ This much and no more,” two courses were open to the Commonwealth. The first was one to which every reasonable person must be opposed - that of restricting exports. The Government was opposed to that course. The second course was to seek vigorously for foreign markets. This the Government was doing.
To me that appears to be a hopeless statement so far as our trade with Great Britain is concerned, and is, I submit, a misinterpretation of public opinion in Great Britain to-day. Some honorable senators may 6ay that the New Zealand Government made a gesture to the British Government which waa rejected; but if they pursue the matter further, they will find that it was not an offer to Great Britain, but merely an inquiry submitted by Mr. Forbes to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs as to whether a proposal on such a basis would be considered by the British Government. I understand that a statement was made by Mr. Thomas, the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to the effect that the British Government could not deal with the Dominion of New Zealand alone, and that, if it had to reopen the issue, similar gestures should be made by the other oversea dominions. In discussing the Ottawa agreement or intra-Empire trade generally, it has never been suggested that there should be unrestricted imports of British goods into Australia. It has always been distinctly laid down that the dominions should have the right to develop their own secondary industries. This was specifically dealt with in the Ottawa agreement. Instead of jeopardizing the position of thousands of employees in our secondary industries, as was suggested by the representative of this Government, their position will be jeopardized unless we can devise some means whereby the purchasing power of those engaged in primary production can be .increased. Unless the Government is fully alive to the situation and increases our trade with Great Britain, it will not be acting in the best interests of the Australian people.
In the House of Commons on the 16th May last, I find that Mr. Neville Chamberlain said -
We shall have to adapt ourselves to new conditions and make up our minds to the fact that although we can still increase our export trade we cannot assume that we shall be able to export the quantity or value of goods which we did only a very short time ago. That being so there are two alternatives. One is a continued extension of the homo market. In my opinion we have not by any means at present reached the limit of the expansion of the home market. The other is to be found in the development of interImperial trade.
That is the opinion of a most influential member of the British Cabinet. His words are almost an invitation to the Commonwealth and the other dominions to meet at a round table conference in an endeavour to develop trade between the Old Country and the dominions. He went on to say -
It is a very striking fact that while our exports to foreign countries have decreased so considerably during the last twelve months our exports to the dominions and to the countries of the Empire have increased.
The dominions were in a worse condition than we were at the time of the Ottawa Conference. They are beginning to show very great improvement in their position. The first thing they had to do at that time wai to find a better market for their own production. The result of that is already beginning to show, and it will continue to increase as they feel more confident and show greater ability in buying for themselves.
Maintenance and expansion of the home market, the development of the inter-Imperial agreements, began and only began at Ottawa, in these two directions this country (United Kingdom) will have to find its compensation for losing so much foreign trade, which we shall probably not be able to recover in the lifetime of most of us here. Toward that end the policy of the Government is directed.
If that is not an invitation to Australia and to the other dominions to devise a means to cultivate our garden of empire, I do not know what it is. On the other hand, Mr. “Walter Runciman, one of the most able members of the British Government, on the 7 th May, said that - We have already made, outside the British Empire, trade agreements with nine foreign countries. We have seven more under negotiation at the present time, and I hope that before the end of this year there will be no important trading community in the world with whom we are not on more intimate terms than we are to-day.
That is the other side of the question, and emphasizes the urgency of Australia establishing the closest possible relationship with the British market, and of adopting an attitude other than that to which so much prominence has been given in the press, and by some public men in Australia to-day.
During April, Mr. Runciman struck another blow at the British and dominion farmers when the formal negotiations for a pact were resumed with representatives of the Dutch Government. Mr. Runciman has apparently made up his mind to give the Dutch farmers a specified portion of the British market in cheese, poultry, eggs, tinned milk, cream and other primary products. Meanwhile Dutch primary produce is being imported into the United Kingdom at prices that give the British farmer no chance of successful competition. This also can be regarded as a challenge to Australia and to the other dominions to consult with Great Britain in problems which vitally affect them. Lord Winterton, speaking in the House of Commons, said -
Empire trade is the ideal cherished by the vast majority of the Conservative party and Mr. Thomas gratuitously taxed it.
There again, we see a fertile field for successful representation for the purpose of securing increased trade. In this connexion, Mr. Amery said -
Empire trade is being strangled by the black pact with the Argentine.
Sir Herbert Samuels, a gentleman whom we did not expect to express this opinion, stated -
The way out of the glut of goods is not to restrict and contract supply, but to ^develop Britain and the dominions, expanding” purchasing power in the largest single unit in the world.
Those remarks were cheered by members of the House of Commons, but they are diametrically opposed to the present policy of the Commonwealth Government. We find farmers throughout the United Kingdom passing resolutions, affirming that, in the United Kingdom market, the British farmer should take first place, the dominion farmer second place, and the foreigner what was left. As many as fifteen meetings of this character were held on one day in various parts of Great Britain, and at all of them there was unmistakable evidence of the attitude of the people towards this marketing problem. Mr. L. S. Amery, speaking in the House of Commons, on the 7 th May, with regard to the British trade pact with Argentina, said -
I regard the Argentine Treaty as one of the most disastrous events of my lifetime. I do not blame members of any particular Ministry, but I doubt if any conservative ca.n have any great confidence in negotiations conducted by Mr. Runciman.
Mr. Runciman, the president of the British Board of Trade, has no sympathy at this juncture with the policy for which we stand. The debate in the House of Commons disclosed that in the view of Labour members, at all events, it was the foreign imports, and not the imports from the dominions, that had upset the British market for the home producer. The people of the Mother Country are now alive to the fact that the quota system is of no particular advantage to the British consumer or the British producer. Neither is it helping dominions development, but there is definite evidence that the foreign producer is taking advantage of the quota to secure much higher prices for the smaller quantity of goods he is permitted to export to Great Britain. For this reason, the people of Britain are now advocating a new policy - the substitution of duties for quotas; a policy of natural development of production instead of one of restriction and quotas.
My purpose is to emphasize the need to concentrate on the market that is ours - the market of the United Kingdom. It is open to us, and we should develop it. Last year, Denmark increased slightly her purchases from Britain. Whilst Britain sold to that country goods of a total value of £15,854,000, Denmark sold to Britain goods to a value of £34,606,000. At the present time, the Danish Government is negotiating a trade agreement with Germany, and to further those negotiations, refuses to grant to Danish merchants the necessary import licences to make purchases from Britain. Denmark, apparently, is prepared to grant extraordinary concessions to Germany, France, and other countries with which she is negotiating.
We have not had the vision to appreciate the possibilities of, and to live up to, the Ottawa* agreement. For the first four months of this year, compared with the same period of last year, the overseas dominions sent into Britain £3,918,000 less grain and flour, whilst foreign exports of those commodities to the United Kingdom increased by £2j074,000. For the first four months of this year, the imports of food, drink and tobacco into the United Kingdom were valued at £18,253,065 more than for the corresponding period in 1913.
I think the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce will agree with me that, at this juncture in our affairs, we want trade, not politics. He will also, I hope, agree with my contention that agriculture is Australia’s greatest industry, and that it is an efficient productive industry; but the key to agricultural prosperity is no longer skill in production, but ability to sell. Efficiency in production is no longer a protection against an overcrowded market. Rather is it a contributing cause. The battleground has been transferred from the farm to the market. “We in Australia should awaken to the need for a marketing sense. “There is not yet evidence of this in the community, or, I. fear, in the minds of the Australian Governments.
The solution of this problem is not to be found in reduced production, but in expanding markets. Where are we to find those markets? World markets are not going to be restored to us on the old international basis. International trade rests upon two rocks: firstly on the free exchange of commodities and money, and secondly on peace. The first has been shattered by economic warfare, and the second has been undermined by political dynamite. If we rely for our overseas trade upon foreign markets, our entire economic structure will collapse, and that will be a calamity* The British market presents the greatest field for the development of our industries. It should not be forgotten that it is the great market upon which converges the great bulk of the agricultural exports of the world. We are not alive to. its possibilities, nor do we realize the harvest that will be ours if we approach this business of developing the British market in a spirit of good will. Last year the
Mother Country took from the dominions 80 per cent, of its butter imports, and 79 per cent, of its beef imports. The yearly food bill of the United Kingdom amounts to £640,000,000, and, notwithstanding the development of British farming operations, following the encouragement given by Mr. Elliot, the Minister for Agriculture, the fanners of the Mother Country produced only 40 per cent, of the requirements of the home market. Foreign nations contributed 39 per cent., and the colonies and dominions of the Empire only 21 per cent. Although last year Great Britain took 56 per cent, of our exports, we are only on the fringe of chat great market. What a harvest awaits us if we approach it in a spirit of give and take. In 1932, Canada increased its exports of foodstuffs to the United Kingdom by 50 per cent.; New Zealand advanced its figures by 13 per cent. ; but Australia, I regret to say, increased its exports of foodstuffs by only 5 per cent.
We should regard the Ottawa agreement merely as a foundation upon which to build an edifice of intra-Empire trade. But we must approach it with a determination to honour and live up to the spirit as well as the letter of that document. We shall have to abandon the policy of death and despair, referred to by one honorable senator as represented by those three horrible words - restriction, reduction, and quotas. It is hardly necessary to question the meaning of the first two words. We know what they mean, but have forgotten that nature takes a strong hand in interpreting them. What is still worse, it would mean governmental and departmental control of our great producing industries. If once we allowed this to happen, we should never be able to shake the governments off, and the days of greatness for our industries would be numbered. Anything that interferes with private initiative and enterprise destroys individuality and the very citadel of man’s work.
Regarding the word “ quotas “ there is less understanding. Some Ministers and High Commissioners have described them as measures to restore prosperity to agriculture. They do nothing of the kind. The quota system is an iniquitous means of attempting salvation to stricken industry. Actually it will bind industry with fettei’3 of control more complete and unyielding than thi3 country has ever experienced. We have been told that it is necessary to develop agriculture in England. We have no objection to that policy. We support it, because a weak England means a weak British Empire. Those who have studied this subject intimately have come to the conclusion that Great Britain, under the best circumstances, could not produce more than 50 per cent, of its foodstuffs. This fact has, apparently, been overlooked by persons who are rather diffident about boldly approaching this great, problem. A self-contained Australia is a bankrupt Australia. One of my first lessons in economics was received from the present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) when . he was Premier of Tasmania. Speaking to me of the undeveloped forests and water resources of that State, he said, “We hear these spoken of as assets, hut they are liabilities until they are converted into earning power.” If the Governments of Australia would take that statement as their text, what a wonderful field of opportunity would open up for Australia in the markets of the British Empire !
In order to convey to honorable senators a graphic survey of the position of the British markets, I have prepared several diagrams showing the average exports and imports of the United Kingdom for the years 3928-1932. The imports into Britain averaged £879,684,000 a year. We are given the impression that, most of these goods came from British dominions or colonics, but that is not so, because goods to the value of £628,000,000 were obtained from foreign countries, and only £253,000,000 worth of goods was obtained from Britain’s overseas Empire. The cost of foodstuffs imported from foreign countries was £274,296,000, and £136,000,000 was paid for foreign raw materials, all of which could be produced within the British Empire. Over the same period the total exports from Groat Britain amounted in value to £513.966,000. of which only £286,000,000 worth went to foreign countries, and £227.000,000 worth to the overseas Empire n difference of only £60,000.000. The total commodity balance in favour of the foreigner was £341,500,000.
The adverse balance against the overseas Empire was only £24,000,000. We are told, sometimes, to remember the tremendous amount of British capital invested in foreign countries, as compared with the outer Empire. Well, let us see what it i3. According to Sir Robert Kindersley, writing in the Economic Journal for June, 1933, the nominal value in December, 1933, of investments in the overseas Empire, on which interest was payable in Britain, was £2,187,000,000 which -returned £109,000,000 a year in interest. The amount invested in foreign countries totalled £1,538,000,000, and returned an annual interest of £76,000,000. Over the period mentioned, the average quarterly adverse balance of British trade with the United States of America amounted to £125,000,000; with Argentina, £3S,000,000; with Germany, £31,000,000; with France, £13,000.000; with Belgium, £17,500,000; and ‘with Italy, £1S,900,000.
I have made a survey of the “ black “ pacts, as the foreign agreements negotiated by Mr. Runciman have been described. The countries which had negotiated commercial treaties with Britain are Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Argentina, Germany and Finland. The latest board of trade figures refer to the first quarter of this year and relate to a total trade of £45,000,000 with those six countries. Britain has gained an additional trade of £1,212,000 with them, compared with the first quarter of 1933, but they have increased their trade with Britain by £3,230,000. Those foreigner? have gained nearly two and a half times the advantage which has come to Britain. Other foreign countries, realizing the advantages of concluding trade agreements with Britain are now negotiating for similar pacts. A trade agreement with Russia wa3 signed in February, and negotiations are now in progress with Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Uruguay, Turkey, and Holland. A Dutch delegation was in London at the end of April. Holland’s hope is to become a more formidable rival to British and Empire dairy farmers. Under the AngloDanish agreement, Britain guaranteed to Denmark annually a market for 2,300,000 cwt. of butter. In the first three months of this year, Denmark sent to Britain 594,366 cwt., compared with 545,474 cwt. for the same period of last year, at an average price of 16s. per cwt. less than last year’s price. At the end of April Danish butter was 8’2s. a cwt. in London. In Denmark the domestic consumption price is stabilized at 102b. a cwt. Owing to the depreciated currency the Danish exporter receives in addition b subsidy equivalent to 20 per cent, ou all produce shipped to England. The Dutch butter exporters receive a subsidy of nearly 100 per cent. They ere quoting butter to Dutch consumers at 190s. per cwt. But they are exporting it. to England at 50s. per cwt. at their own ports.
Argentina sells to Britain £41,600,000 worth of goods a year, and Britain sells to Argentina £13,000,000 worth. The disparity is remarkable. The advantages which Britain confers on Argentina are astonishing.
The position in respect of imports of foreign agricultural products into Britain is serious to Australia as is shown by the following figures: -
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
[3.57]. - Senator Elliott courteously advised me last night that he intended to move the adjournment of the Senate to-day in order to discuss the marketing policy of the Government. I have listened with interest to his remarks, and while I do not pretend to be in a position to reply offhand to the whirlwind of figures with which he has overwhelmed us, I may say that the Government finds itself in agreement with the principle of the policy advocated by the British and Scottish farmers. Senator Elliott said that a motion had been carried at a meeting of farmers in Great Britain, who advocated that in trade Britain should come first, the Empire second. and foreign countries third. That is a very crude way of putting the position. The policy of this Government is to protect the people and industries of Australia first.
– That is recognized in Great Britain,
– Australia pioneered the policy of preference to British products. Tor more than a quarter of a century imperial preference has been advocated here, and it has found expression in the statute law of this country. Therefore, it cannot, be, alleged against this or preceding Governments that they have not adhered to the policy of promoting trade within the Empire. They have not advocated empire free trade, and the present Government, does not stand for that policy, but it does believe in trade reciprocity and trade preference, consistent with tho protection and conservation of Australian interests. #1 wish to remove what appeared to me to be misunderstandings regarding the policy of this Government. Senator Elliott is under a misapprehension as to the statements made by the High Commissioner. As a matter of fact, Mr. Bruce did not come to Australia to advocate any policy. That would not be within the scope of the duties and obligations of the High Commissioner. The policy of Australia is determined by the Government.
– But he made a policy speech.
– Did he not visit Australia as a British trade commissioner ?
– Honorable senators may make facetious observations of that kind, but the High
Commissioner did not advocate a reduction of production, nor did he ask for a restriction of exports.
– I mentioned that that was the impression given .by the press.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSONYes. The honorable senator stated, in effect, that Mr. Bruce’s statements were fathered by the man who was supposed to be making them, and mothered by the newspaper reporters, and sometimes the father did not recognize his offspring. The High Commissioner did not advocate a reduction of production or a restriction of exports, but he did advise this country of certain developments that were taking place overseas which might ultimately have &! adverse effect on the expansion of some of our industries, and he gave the Government the benefit of his advice and observation of the whole position. He made the Government acquainted with the “ atmosphere “ and the trend of events in European markets. He provided data and information as to negotiations of which he had a first-hand knowledge, to enable the Government to decide its policy and frame its course of action. I ask the Senate to accept this explanation as a true statement of the High Commissioner’s recent visit to Australia.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has made definite statements as to where the Government stands in regard to the export trade. I asked my colleague the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) for certain information, and he has furnished me with an interesting statement as to the general position. Time will not permit of my giving the whole of it, but one paragraph may advantageously be read. Referring to the visit of the High Commissioner, my colleague states -
The Commonweath Government gave the most careful consideration to the whole matter and called the State Premiers and Ministers for Agriculture into consultation. Subsequently, the Prime Minister announced, in clear and precise terms, the Commonwealth Government’s policy. On the 30th April, 1934, he carefully traversed the position and made the following declaration ‘‘The Commonwealth Government has always been opposed, and is still strongly opposed, to the policy of restrictions on production and export.”
We know that when matters of this kind were discussed at the World Economic Conference the High Commissioner declared that the reduction of production was a policy of despair. The statement by the Minister for Commerce continues -
It Bees in such a policy the direct opposite to that which is desirable for Australia, viz., one of continued expansion and development. In the interests of Australian primary, producers, the Government will not institute regulation of the export of butter and meat, unless, and until, it is absolutely unavoidable.
There can be no misunderstanding regarding the meaning of those words. Referring to the consideration which the Government was giving to the basis of consultation with the United Kingdom, the Prime Minister stated -
The Government of the United Kingdom has not yet made any proposal, nor has the Commonwealth Government. When the time ‘ conies for the consideration of quotas, thi* initiative, as regards quantities, will actually rest with the United Kingdom.
He then proceeded to indicate that the Government was considering the possibility of securing other markets, because the policy of the United Kingdom, while it might not cause a diminution of supplies from Australia, might impose a check on further expansion. The Prime Minister’s words do not permit of misunderstanding. They were -
The future of Australian development depends, not on a static condition in regard to the volume of export, but on an enlargement of the demand. If, therefore, owing to the protection of British agriculture, and the commitments of the United Kingdom in her foreign treaties, Australia is to be limited in the British market, we must do our utmost to secure foreign markets.
On the 8th May, 1934, Mr. Lyons amplified his statement in some respects. He then stated -
The best way to avoid the necessity to regulate the export of butter and meat is to expand foreign markets. In the past, Australia lias concentrated efforts chiefly on Empire markets, but must now seek an expansion of foreign trade. There is an ever increasing, disposition for countries to confine their pur chases to countries which buy from them. Australia will be forced to do the same. Foreign countries which do not buy freely from Australia cannot expect the continuance of Australia’s custom. On the contrary, we must aim to improve the relative position of our good customers in our import trade.
It is rather significant that the statement of the British Chancellor of the
Exchequer, to which Senator Elliott referred, in which he indicated three points of policy and urged that the Objective must be an increase of imperial trade, was made just after the declaration of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in regard to this matter at Adelaide. These facts will enable honorable senators, to draw their own conclusions. Australia is knocking at the .door of Britain all the time, and asking for a greater share of the British market. It must not be assumed - and I hope that Senator Elliott did not wish it to be inferred - that the Government has knocked with a palsied hand. Through the proper channels it has been pressing for a larger share of the British market, because it realizes that there ought to be an opportunity there for the disposal of more Australian produce. Honorable senators must, however, not lose sight of the fact that, notwithstanding the Ottawa agreement, and indeed, following that agreement, Great Britain concluded treaties with a number of foreign countries. Those treaties are an obstacle to the free development of our trade with Great Britain, and prevent us from obtaining a larger share of the British market.
– That is an admission.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.The Government has nothing to hide in this connexion. It realizes that if we are to get the right view of the position, we must know the facts. It is well known that world marketing conditions have presented colossal difficulties during the last few years. During the world depression, countries which were formerly important markets for agricultural products, have severely reduced their purchases, and have limited imports by prohibitive duties, quotas, and other forms of restriction. This contraction of foreign markets, accompanied, in some cases, by increased production in Empire countries, resulted in greater quantities of foodstuffs being1 thrown upon the United Kingdom market. Increased supplies, combined with the lower spending power of consumers in the United Kingdom, led to a serious fall of prices. That was the position when the Ottawa Conference met. At that gathering^ as the result of the policy decided upon by this
Government, preferences were secured ou a wide range of agricultural products. The preference for dominion meat was secured by the imposition of quotas upon foreign supplies. Preference for dairy products took the form of customs duties on foreign supplies, while dominion products were guaranteed free entry for three years. The British Government reserved the right, in the interests of British farmers, to include dominion products in plans for import regulation, after the 30th June, 1934, in regard to meat, and after August, 1935, in regard to dairy produce. Wheat produced in the dominions was guaranteed free entry, while wheat produced in foreign countries was to pay a customs duty of 2s. a quarter, subject to the condition that wheat produced in the dominions should be offered for sale at world parity prices in the United Kingdom. A similar proviso was made in the case of preference on metals. Other preferences took the form of specific ad valorem customs duties.
At the time of the Ottawa Conference, it was made clear by the United Kingdom delegation that the protection of the domestic producer was a definite part of the British Government’s policy. At the same time, subject to the limitations imposed by the preferences to the dominions, Great Britain retained freedom of action in regard to future relationships with foreign countries. Immediately after the Ottawa Conference the British Government commenced negotiations with foreign countries, and has since concluded trade treaties with a number of foreign primary-producing countries - Denmark, Argentina, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia - and negotiations are proceeding with ‘ Netherlands, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Lithuania and Uruguay. At the time when the United Kingdom was negotiating with Denmark and Argentina, the Commonwealth Government, through the High Commissioner, expressed concern lest treaties with those countries should re-act to the disadvantage of Australia. Those treaties, however, were concluded, and were followed, by others with the countries I have mentioned. I desire to make it clear that the British Government had a perfect right to conclude those treaties, and that, in doing so, it lias not infringed the provisions of the Ottawa agreement. Let me emphasize, however, that Great Britain commenced to negotiate those treaties immediately following the Ottawa Conference. That action was merely an indication of the British Government’s belief iu the importance of foreign trade, and of its determination to pursue &&- vantages in the markets of those foreign countries which were substantially dependent on the United Kingdom as an outlet for their produce.
– The Commonwealth Government should have taken advantage of the strong public opinion in England against it.
– I have already said that nothing has been, or will be, wanting on the part of the Government in vigorously urging the claims of Australia to a full and increasing share of the British market. I regret that time will not permit me to traverse in detail all the provisions of the foreign treaties made by the United Kingdom since the Ottawa Conference, but a brief reference to a few important products will be sufficient to indicate the general position.
In the agreement with Denmark, the United Kingdom undertakes not to charge on Danish butter a higher duty than 15s. a cwt. - the duty provided under the Ottawa agreement - and, in the event of the imposition of restrictions upon the importation of butter, to allot to Denmark a quota of not less than 115,000 tons. If the total permitted import of butter exceeds 405,000 tons, the share of Denmark is to be increased proportionately. Tha.t agreement, which was signed on the 24th April, 1933, came into force on the 20fh June. 1933, and is to remain in force till the 20th June, 1936. Similar Undertakings have been entered into with other foreign countries.
In the agreement with Argentina, which was signed on the 1st May, 1933, and which is to remain in force till the 3 st May, 1936, the United Kingdom Undertakes not to impose restrictions on chilled beef below the imports in the year ended the 30th June, 1932, unless such Action is necessary to secure a remunerative level of prices in the United Kingdom market and no such restrictions will be maintained -if it appears that the imports so excluded are being replaced by increased imports of other kinds of meal, other than experimental shipments of chilled beef from other parts of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The position is that Great Britain has entered into certain obligations, and its markets are not absolutely free to us. If we. in Australia, can do anything to increase the sentiment in favour of Empire trade reciprocity, it will be to our advantage.
– We might prevent other pacts from being entered into.
– A development of Empire sentiment might have the effect of freeing the British market from the entanglements which now exist, and be of great advantage to Australia. I hope that I have removed certain misunderstandings from the minds of honorable senators. Surely there can be now no ground for misrepresentation regarding the attitude of the Government to these vital issues. The charge is that the proposal to obtain a footing in foreign markets is opposed to the spirit of Empire. The answer to that charge is that Great Britain, which is vitally concerned in any matter affecting Empire unity and development, has not found it inconsistent with the Empire spirit to conclude trade treaties with foreign countries. Britain has always relied largely on foreign trade. It may be of interest to honorable senators to learn that the Federal Graziers Association has urged the Commonwealth Government to conclude treaties with foreign countries in the interests of Australia’s export trade in wool and wheat.
– Did not that association specifically mention Russia ?
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.I am not advised on that point. Presumably, the Federal Graziers Association is also guilty of having disregarded Empire interests.
In various quarters it has been urged that restrictions on imports from Australia have been imposed by various countries by way of reprisals against our tariff policy, and that if we were to slash into our customs tariff, Britain would respond nobly. In this connexion, 1 desire to quote from a document which will reveal to the Senate the negotiations which have taken place between the Governments of New Zealand and Great Britain. On the 25th October, 1933, the Governor-General of New Zealand sent to the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, the following telegram:-
My Prime Minister has asked me to send you the following telegram: -
With reference to question of quantitative regulation of agricultural produce imported into United Kingdom, there is a widespread belief on the part of producers in New Zealand that if we undertook a drastic reduction or removal of New Zealand’s protective tariff on United Kingdom goods His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom would guarantee continuance of unrestricted entry of New Zealand primary products. His Majesty’s Government in New Zealand would be grateful if His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom would indicate their attitude towards this suggestion. - Bledisloe.
The reply of the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, dated the 22nd December, 1933, was as follows : -
Your telegram No. 78 of 25th October. Please convey following message to your Prime Minister: -
I much regret delay in replying to your message, which required careful consideration in consultation with my colleagues.
We desire in the first place to make it clear that the policy adopted by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom is, designed to promote the planned marketing of argicultural products in the interests of all concerned and involves where necessary control of home production as well as of home marketing.Its object is, by correlating supply with demand, to raise the price of the commodities concerned, and to maintain it at a level at which it will once more becomes remunerative to all producers supplying the United Kingdom market.
It is true that in present circumstances regulation is likely to involve a check to immediate expansion, but orderly increase of production, as demand increases, with due regard to maintenance of a remunerative price, is of course contemplated.
The suggestion in your telegram would involve modification of United Kingdom policy indicated above, and could hardly be considered with reference to New Zealand alone. Norwe think could an examination of such a question take place on the basis of a suggestion put forward by particular trade interests. For this reason we feel hardly in a position to give any further indication of our attitude than that outlined above, though we are. of course, at all times ready to givefull and sympathetic consideration to any proposals of the New Zealand Government for the development of the mutual trade of the two countries. - Thomas.
Those cables supply an answer to the suggestion that the Australian tariff is an obstacle to increased intra-Empire trade.
– Mr. Thomas stated at the time that the Government of New Zealand was not prepared to submit a definite proposal.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.The honorable senator has possibly studied this subject more closely than I have, but the cablegrams which I have quoted indicate the view of the British Government at that time. It has been said that Australia’s tariff policy is prejudicial to more favorable marketing conditions in the United Kingdom. For many years Australia’s tariff policy has included preference to the United Kingdom over a wide range of commodities, and we have received in return preference on. only a few items, which do not include our major export products. Preference by the United Kingdom to Australia was not realized until 1932, whereas Australia, one of the pioneers of the principle of Empire preference, has been granting preference to the United Kingdom for a quarter of a century. The value of the preference granted by Australia to the United Kingdom is demonstrated by the balance of payments. While Australia was a borrowing country, the balance was strongly in favour of the United Kingdom; but, since the cessation of borrowing, the value of Australia’s exports to the United Kingdom has been sufficient to pay for imports and meet payments due in London for debt interest and various invisible items. I regret the necessity to emphasize these points; but I do so only to expose the disservice done to their country by those Australians who falsely represent their fellow citizens as members of a greedy and grasping community who wish to extract the utmost advantages from the Mother Country without making an adequate return. I am glad to have had the opportunity to present the case on behalf of the Government, to answer certain allegations and to remove wrong impressions and misconceptions. I desire to make it clear to the members of all political parties in this chamber that the Government is endeavouring in every possible way to increase production and find a profitable outlet for the products of our export industries, by developing our marketing activities, particularly in the direction so eloquently referred to by Senator Elliott.
– Will the Assistant Treasurer advise the British Government that that is the attitude of this Government?
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON The British Government knows our attitude in this matter. We have to face the position as it is, and, if markets’ are not available, we cannot secure them. The Government desires to exploit every possible market open to Australia’s producers, and to increase the activity of governmental marketing agencies. The Government can only encourage, inspire and advise private enterprise. It is not the duty of the Government to do more than that.
.- Statements have appeared in the press, and have been made on public platforms, concerning intra-Empire trade, which lead some to believe that Australia has to be wet-nursed by the Mother Country. I intend to place on record what Australia has done for Great Britain. During the war the British Government contracted to purchase the Australian wool clip for the four years 1916-17 to 1919-20, at ls. 3½d per lb.; this wool was eventually sold in London at 6s. per lb. The arrangement between Great Britain and Australia was that, in respect of any profits on wool sold for purposes other than military, one-half of the profits was to be paid to Australia. In addition to getting wool for naval and military requirements at one-quarter of its value, Great Britain made a profit of £35,000,000. According to the budget statement delivered on the 16th September, 1920, the payment made for Australia’s wool under the Imperial contract amounted to £159,000,000. Had Australia received 6s. per lb., Australia’s wool cheque would have been approximately £735,000,000, instead of £159,000,000, which represented a loss to Australia of over £500,000,000, or more than our total war debt. In 1919, the present member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), in referring to the sale of Australian wool, said -
Millions have been lost to this country on wool alone……
Had I known before what I know now, 1 should never have sold wool other than for the period of the war.
In connexion with the sale of Australian wheat, Mr. Lough, a member of the House of Commons, said -
I asked my friend, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Comptroller, whether he had not bought a great deal of cheap wheat, and he said “ Yes.”
When that gentleman asked where the wheat was situated, he said that it was in Australia. Mr. Prothero, president of the British Board of Agriculture, speaking in the House of Commons, said -
We have made, in times past, an appeal to Australia to sell us their wheat at a lower price than they could get it in the world market, because we are their kith and kin, and they have done so.
In the House of Commons, on the 4th August, 1922, Sir Newton Moore asked certain questions regarding contracts for the purchase of Australian wheat, and Sir. W. M. Thompson, parliamentary secretary to the Board of Trade, replied that “ the Government contract for the purchase of Australian wheat from 1916-17 to 1919-20 covered 5,000,000 tons. The contract was subject to a crude allowance of 58,000 tons for loss and damage.” The cost averaged 5s. 2d. a bushel f.o.b. in Australia, whereas the average price of wheat purchased elsewhere during the same period was 9s. 3d. f.o.b. in the country of origin. That meant a loss to Australian wheat-growers of £37,000,000, and that much gain to Great Britain.
The position with respect to meat is also interesting. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 27th March, 1919, Mr. Beale is reported to have stated -
Had Australia obtained for her meat of high quality the same price as America received for hers of low quality, namely 150 per cent, more, about 13d. instead of 5d., the position in Australia to-day would be vastly better.
It will be seen that again Britain made millions of pounds out of our meat industry. For electrolytic copper, the United States of America received £163 a ton from Great Britain as against £108 a ton paid to Australia for the same product. Mr. G. H. Roberts, the British food controller, stated that the Imperial Govern- ment was losing 10£d. per lb. on homeproduced cheese, but the loss would be met by the profits on imported cheese. The average price received by Australia for its butter was ls. 6d. per lb., although it was realizing as much as 7s. 6d. to 10s. per lb. in London. For all our primary products, we received much less than any other country in the world. “We lost millions of pounds, while Great Britain gained correspondingly.
For over twenty years Australia has granted tariff preferences to the United Kingdom, the value of which is estimated at from £7,000,000 to £8,000,000 per annum. These preferences have been given to Great Britain, without bargaining, in order to build up intra-Empire trade, and as a result, Australia became Britain’s second best market. According to the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs, Sir Henry Gullett, in 1929 the average margin of preferences granted by Australia upon goods of British origin was 15 per cent., and extended over almost the whole schedule. Mr. Latham, the AttorneyGeneral, when in London, referring to allegations concerning Australia’s tariff, declared, “ Our British preferences are real, not illusory.” The following table shows Australia’s trade balance with Great Britain prior to the Scullin Government assuming office: -
Under the Ottawa agreement, an endeavour was made to establish trade within the Empire upon a sound reciprocal basis. Great Britain secured conditions which enabled British goods to enter Australia, and to compete on equal terms with local products. Australia was to receive certain benefits from Great Britain with respect to the importation into that country of our primary produce, but while the benefits to Great Britain have materialized, we have not received a corresponding advantage. British manufacturers are now active competitors on an equal basis with Australian manufacturers. Some time ago, the Prime Minister said -
The Government has reduced the rates of the British preferential tariff on two-thirds of the items to the level of 1928’. There are 571 sets of duties which are lower than the comparable rates which operated Under the 1921-28 tariff.
The Government has made concessions to Great Britain, to the detriment of our secondary industries.
We have also to remember that during the war, Great .Britain lent between £1,500,000,000 and £1,800,000,000 to its allies. The Prime Minister of Great Britain, speaking at Retford, said that Great Britain had written off 60 per cent, of the debts due to it. The original rate of interest paid by Great Britain to America on its war debt, was 5 per cent. ; but Congress concluded that that rate was too high, and it was subsequently reduced to 4^ per cent. Britain lent money to France at a very much lower rate of interest than it required Australia to pay. The Mother Country also backed French credit during the war and had good cause to regret it. Britain lent France £65,000,000 when the franc stood at lOd. France repaid the loan when the franc was worth only 2d. Summarized, the position between Great Britain and Australia during and since the War is as follows: -
Australia lost over £600,000,000 in connexion with the sale of primary products to the United Kingdom during the war.
Great Britain asked Australia to sell wheat to the United Kingdom at less than world price. Australia did so.
Great Britain wiped off over one half of the war debt owing by foreign nations but did not reduce Australia’s war debt by one penny.
Great Britain funded its war debt with America at 3.3 per cent. and made Australia pay 5 per cent.
For over 20 years Australia has granted preferences to British goods to the value of £7,000,000 a year.
Australia made further concessions to Great Britain under the Ottawa agreement which enabled British manufacturers to compete seriously with our secondary industries.
It is but natural to think that, as Great Britain can produce only about 40 per cent. of its own food requirements, and as the Ottawa agreement was supposed to provide facilities for the development of intra-Empire trade, we should enjoy a greater share of the British market for primary products. The dominions are entitled to some portion of the 39 per cent. of imports of primary products from foreign countries into Great Britain. Australia has no apology to offer with regard to its preferential trade relations with Great Britain. All the facts show that for many years we have granted very important concessions to the Mother Country. We now feel that vre are justly entitled to a larger share of the British Market.
The High Commissioner a month or two ago endeavoured to persuade us that the proposals which he outlined would be of very great advantage to this country. The people generally were under the impression that Mr. Bruce was speaking entirely in the interests of people in Great Britain. I may be doing the High Commissioner an injustice in this matter, but I feel sure that 90 per cent. of the people of Australia are in agreement with me. Mr. Bruce spoke of the possibility of a further restriction of Australia’s export trade to the Mother Country. Apparently that view was not held in Great Britain itself, because not long ago the Minister for Agriculture (Mr.
Elliot) in reply to Mr. Forgan Smith, the Premier of Queensland, who visited Great Britain in connexion with the Queensland sugar industry, said that while it was true that Great Britain intended, if possible, to make itself economically self-contained, there was no thought of restricting Australian imports. It would appear, therefore, that the position was not quite as had been represented by the High Commissioner when he was in Australia.
– I congratulate Senator Elliott upon the wealth of detail with which he supplemented his remarks this afternoon. Altogether, his speech was a very fine effort. It was, no doubt, made with a view to his candidature for the Senate in September. The honorable gentleman, having control of a chain of newspapers in Victoria, obtains a wide circulation for his views, and his speech this afternoon was, I suppose, intended to tickle the ears of the farmers in his electorate. Let me again remind him that many farmers are in much the same position as many thousands of unemployed industrialists. They may have a job, but they want food. Above all they want some guarantee of security with reference to their production. Only recently representations were made to the Minister in charge of development (Senator McLachlan), that an inquiry be made as to the possibility of extracting petrol from wheat. Fancy growing wheat to drive motor cars!
Prior to his visit to Great Britain, a year or two ago, Senator Elliott was a firm advocate of the Ottawa agreement, the effects of which on our industries is now so clearly seen. At the annual conference of the Victorian Press Association, in Melbourne, the honorable gentleman delivered an interesting speech, in the course of which he warned his hearers that foreign countries were making insidious efforts to undermine the benefits conferred by the Ottawa Conference. He advised Australian producers and manufacturers to go to England to fight for their markets. Why should they have to do that ? During the last election the wealthy sections of our primary and secondary producers placed money at the disposal of government candidates, and also representatives of the Country party. Surely they were entitled to expect some quid pro quo.
– The honorable senator does not understand any one being consistent in any cause.
– Yes I do. It is the duty of this or any other Government to protect the primary producers and manufacturers of Australia. It should not be necessary for them to go overseas and fight for their markets. Senator Elliott went on to say at that conference -
England is the greatest market in the world to-day for Australia’s products. If we do not realize the chances, they will be taken from us, because foreign countries are watching and waiting to get in. If they do get in it will be very difficult to get them out.
Apparently what Senator Elliott then predicted is now taking place, and this Government is being asked to give its attention to the development of other markets. Only a few days ago the Graziers Association of New South Wales, in conference, carried a motion urging the Government to take steps to make a trade agreement with Soviet Russia - an agreement between a country that adheres to the principle of communism and a country under a democratic form of government. Senator Elliott and his political friends are always ready to link my section of the Labour party with communism, and all that it stands for, yet they are willing to make a trade agreement with Russia for the sale of Australian wheat and wool. Great Britain is now committed to a policy of economic nationalism. So must Australia be. We have come to realize that the home market is the best market. It is only natural that, in common with other countries, we should seek the further development of this market, in the interests of our people. Under the regime of this “ prosperity “ Government, 400,000 men and women are unemployed to-day, or working only on dole relief. Here is a market right at our door.
We are reminded that £500,000,000 of British capital is invested in Argentina. Does Senator Elliott imagine that those capitalists are concerned about Australia ?
– Those investments are now worth under £200,000,000.
– The only time Australia comes into the picture is when it is required to participate in the foreign wars of the Mother Country. To-day we find Britain entering into “ black “ pacts with six foreign countries, including Soviet Russia. According to the Melbourne Herald, Senator Elliott said that the Australian delegates at Ottawa were defeated on the meat question by the cleverness, and careful and intensive propaganda of their opponents. The honorable senator thus suggested that the representatives of the Lyons Government at Ottawa were politically stupid. Our delegates, he said, went in the wrong spirit - that of taking all and giving nothing. . On the same occasion, Senator Elliott was also reported to have said that the meat quota which the Australian delegates obtained would “ get Australia nowhere “, and that Argentina could more than make up its loss in the frozen meat trade by exporting more chilled meat. That was an admission from Senator Elliott himself that Australia has not much chance in the British meat market. The Australasian Manufacturer, of the 6th May, 1933, stated- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends” - the breach of the Ottawa agreement, committed by the British Government, first, in taking wheat from Russia when there waa ample wheat to be taken from the dominions; second, in taking meat from the Argentine, when all its requirements could have been taken from Australia; third, in giving an order for £7,000,000 worth of butter to Denmark, when this country could have supplied the lot. The Russian wheat was cheaper than Australian wheat - but what about “ the spirit of the Ottawa agreement”? British financiers have millions invested in the Argentine - but what about “a self-contained Empire”? Denmark trades with England - but in proportion to Australia’s trade with England, Denmark’s total is paltry.
In the face of this wanton smashing of the agreement, in spirit if not in letter, England demands more and more concessions from the dominions - and especially from Australia. She demands that her manufactures., under the Scrap of Paper, shall enter this country without effective tariff restrictions on goods that can be made here.
It is this sort of behaviour that eventually caused England to lose America. The colonists there were a long-suffering lot - as we are - but a point was reached at which further oppression was unbearable. The fault lay, of course, not with the English people, but with English statesmanship, which is forever the slave of financial interests that never hesitate to use British imperialism as a cloak for activities that are anti-Imperial.
So far as English statesmanship is concerned, the agreement is already a scrap of paper. So far as English industry is concerned, every advantage has been taken to use the agreement as an instrument to injure Australian manufactures. . . .
The Lyons Government, while it remains in power, will do nothing likely to annoy its overseas friends. . . .
It would seem from this that the Ottawa agreement has been scrapped, and one reason is that the British financiers have millions invested in Argentina. Notwithstanding the fact that there has been a secret conference and agreement between the Country party and the Lyons Government, the tariff barriers of this country must be greatly lowered to enable the coalitionists to go to the country with promises that will please the electors.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– When the Assistant Minister (Senator Lawson) was making his statement, I interjected that I should have something to say in rebuttal. Senator Sampson then interjected, and from his words I. inferred that he meant that any statement by me in rebuttal would not be prompted by proper motives, but would be made for the purpose of sheer obstruction. There can be no doubt in my mind as to what the High Commissioner said when he was in Australia. I did not have to read press reports to know it; I got it definitely from Mr. Bruce himself. Federal Labour members from Queensland were privileged to meet the High Commissioner in a friendly chat at the Bellevue Hotel, in Brisbane. Those present at that interview were the members in the House of Representatives for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), Oxley (Mr. Baker), Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson), Herbert (Mr. Martens), Senator Brown and myself. In a most informative talk Mr. Bruce showed himself entirely familiar with the exports and imports of the different countries of Europe, and was able to tell us almost to a bushel the exportable surpluses of wheat held by those countries; but he definitely stated that Australia’s way out was the restriction of its exports. At the conclusion of our interview Mr. Bruce also said, just as definitely, that the policy he was advocating would not be a trump-card political policy. He remarked that, as he was no longer in Parliament, he was not concerned with politics, but with a policy of safety for Australia. I then asked Mr. Bruce if the course he was advocating was not, at best, merely tinkering with the problem, and not touching its causes. I inquired whether it was not designed to prop up the capitalistic order of society, which everybody who takes an intelligent survey of world affairs knows to be tottering to its fall. Mr. Bruce replied, “ I agree with what you have said ; but I do not think capitalism is coming to an end this year, next year, or the year after. I am only concerned about seeing that Australia discovers a policy which will help it to escape the immediate danger that threatens her.” Yet this afternoon the Minister told us that such a policy as restriction of production was not advocated by Mr. Bruce. I do not know what he said at the conference attended by the Minister; hut I do know what he said at the interview to which I have referred.
It seems strange to me, if what the Minister said is correct, that so much correspondence by telegram should have taken place between the Acting Premier of Queensland, Mr. P. Pease, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) with regard to this very matter. I propose to read, in reply to Senator Elliott, extracts from that correspondence which will show what actually occurred. During Mr. Bruce’s presence in Australia the Prime Minister called a Premiers Conference for the purpose of conferring with the High Commissioner. The conference was held in camera at Canberra, and after Mr. Bruce had outlined the position, the Acting Premier asked him if the proposals he was placing before the conference had been sanctioned by the primary producers’ organizations of Great Britain alone, or whether the British Government had been consulted.
Mr. Bruce replied that the British Government had given its imprimatur to the quotas he had set forth. The Acting
Premier of Queensland reported the facts by cablegram to the Premier of that State, Mr. Forgan Smith, who was then in London, and received the following reply : -
Re your telegram outlining Bruce’s statement at Premiers Conference; have seen Major Elliott, Minister for Agriculture. He emphatically denies that Bruce had any authority to put forward any quota suggestions or similar matters of policy on behalf of. or at suggestions of, British Government. Advise me urgently exact term’s Bruce’s statement on that point.
Mr. Pease immediately wired to the Prime Minister as follows : -
In cabling my Premier, Bruce’s proposals, as set forth at Canberra, I stated those proposals were submitted with British Government’s authority. You will remember 1 specially asked Bruce whether proposals as outlined by him submitted with British Government’s approval, to which he replied “ Yes “.
-The honorable senator has not quoted the whole of the correspondence. He should also give the Prime Minister’s reply.
– I should like to do so because it would confirm what I have already said, and show that the Minister does not know what is going on, but, unfortunately, I have not the Prime Minister’s reply with me.
– The Prime Minister gave a complete denial to the allegations of Mr. Pease.
– It may interest the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to know that Mr. Bruce spoke to me in the following strain : “ Do you know, Collings, that at the World Conference I put Australia’s position,’, in relation to its primary products, and the need for an expansion of our export trade, very definitely, but of 66 nations represented at the conference, I could get only ten to support my proposals, and even their support was half-hearted, because they did not understand the position. What chance had I of making effective representations on behalf of Australia, in opposition to this policy.” That is the policy which the Commonwealth Government denies that it ever advocated. A prominent newspaper put the position well when it asked whether Mr. Bruce was Australia’s High Commissioner or Great Britain’s trade commissioner.
To the remark of Senator Elliott that a self-contained Australia would be a bankrupt Australia, I take the strongest exception. Does the honorable senator suggest that if Australia were cut off from supplies from other countries its 6,500,000 inhabitants would sit down and starve? There is nothing which is needed for the health, happiness, and prosperity of the Australian people which cannot be produced in Australia better than in any other one country. Australia with its six and a half millions of people has accomplished in little over a century a world’s record, and a seeming miracle. No similar number of people in the world’s history, in any country, has ever achieved such a wonderful record of splendid development and progress. It would appear that some honorable senators desire that this glorious country should become a vassal State of Great Britain. So long as I have breath in my body I shall fight any such proposal.
– No one has ever made such a suggestion.
– What does this policy of restriction of our exportable surplus mean? In my opinion, Australians are foolish to produce so much that they have a large surplus available for export. A sane policy for Australia would be to meet its own normal requirements, at the same time making provision for adverse seasons, and to refuse to send out of th» country the best of our goods be sold abroad at half theprice charged for similar goods in Australia. If the proposal of Mr. Bruce is to be recognized at all, it means, as one writer has satirically suggested, that every wool-grower should be compelled to reduce the cut per sheep by 2 lb.; that no wheat-grower be allowed to produce more than 12 bushels on any acre; that the dairyman should shoot at dawn any cow that gives more than one billycan of milk; that the poultry-farmer should send to the meat market any hen that lays eggs on more than three days a week; that every orchardist should destroy any apple tree that bears more than two dozen apples each year; and that no live-stock be mated for the next three years. Honorable senators smile, but they know that in
Tasmania and elsewhere fruit and livestock are destroyed, and production restricted, while thousands of persons live in a state of degradation, poverty and starvation
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– In supporting the motion, I appeal for greater consideration for our export industries. Senator Collings quoted Senator Elliott as having said that a self-contained Australia would be a bankrupt Australia. The world is troubled to-day because a policy of intense economic nationalism has been followed by many countries, including Australia. Indeed, Australia was one of the first nations of the world to preach the wild doctrine of economic nationalism and self-sufficiency. That policy has caused as great an interruption of commercial intercourse between nations as was caused by the Great War which preceded it. The experience of France, Germany, Italy, and other European countries during the war, led them to adopt a policy of more intense agricultural development in the interests of their own people. The result was that the wheat exporting countries found a restricted market for their produce. The average importation of wheat by France, Germany and Italy, for the years 1926 to 1930, was 206,000,000 bushels, whereas to-day not one bushel of wheat from Canada, Australia or Argentina enters those countries. Markets have been closed because European countries, like Australia, have adopted a policy of intense economic nationalism, and have endeavoured to become self-contained. The result of this policy in the countries mentioned is a greatly increased price for bread. In retaliation for Australia’s high tariff, France has increased the duty on Australian wheat by 4s. 6d. a bushel above the rates which operate in regard to other foreign wheat.
– What quantity of Australian wheat goes to France?
– Even before the higher duties were imposed, our exports of wheat to France were not considerable.
– Did not France purchase Australian wheat merely for blending?
– Not necessarily. The exclusion of Australian wheat from the French market has resulted in Australia having a carry-over of 100,000,000 bushels of wheat at the end of the cereal year.
– Is that carry-over due to the attitude of France?
– It is partly the result of our attempt to make Australia self contained. Australian over-production of wheat during the last five years is practically equivalent to the importation of wheat by France, Germany and Italy during the previous five years. That proves the fallacy of adopting a policy of economic nationalism. Other countries have followed Australia’s example and have refused to purchase goods made outside their o.wnOWN boundaries. Economic nationalism caused the great financial depression from which the world has not yet recovered. Those who say that the depression would have come in any case do not wish to place the blame in the right quarter, and so they will not attribute it to the policy of high tariffs, embargoes and restriction of output, which is the real cause. Australia’s unsound policy has had a boomerang effect.
-. - The honorable senator would sell South Australian wheat in exchange for motor bodies.
– As I have said, Australia’s attempt to be self-contained caused the depression.
– Was the depression in Britain due to the same causes
– It pains every true Australian to learn that the Government regards as futile any attempt to increase our exports to Britain. Only a small proportion of Britain’s requirements is supplied by Australia.
– That is because Britain does not care about Australia.
– Britain does care; but, unfortunately, Australians do not seem to realize the protection which Britain has afforded this country throughout its history. The great development which has taken place in Australia would not have been possible but for Britain’s assistance. Nevertheless, I think that Britain should offer to Australia a larger share of its market. The average annual exports from Denmark to Great Britain are valued at £46,000,000, while those from Australia are valued at over £40,000,000, but Aus-‘ tralia’s purchases from Great Britain amount to £7 5s. a head of our population, while the purchases made by Denmark are equal to only £2 15s. a head of its population. In other words, Australia’s purchases from Great Britain average £23,000,000, as against purchases by Denmark amounting to £10,500. 1 was interested to hear the Assistant Minister say that the policy of Commonwealth Governments has always been in favour of preferential trade with Great Britain; but what does that really mean? “While foreign countries exporting goods to Australia have to surmount a high tariff wall, British products entering this country have also to pay heavy customs duties. I do not blame Great Britain for declining to concede all that we may wish; if we do not extend consideration to Britain, we cannot expect its assistance in matters of trade. If we arc to meet our financial commitments to Great Britain - our interest bill alone amounts to about £28,000,000 annually - Great ‘ Britain must import large quantities of our produce. At present, owing to our high tariff, we have only one-way traffic between Australia and Great Britain. Wc export large quantities of wool and wheat to the United Kingdom, but owing to the high customs duties we impose, a comparatively small quantity of British goods is imported into Australia. This results in higher freights being charged. It is essential that we should export more of our produce to Great Britain than at present, and that can be done if the Government will urge the British Government to take larger quantities of those primary products which we can economically produce. Senator Collings said that Australia with a population of a little over 6,500,000 persons, has performed wonders, but we could not have made such progress but for the production of large quantities of wool and wheat. Objection, was raised in certain quarters to the imposition of a sales tax on flour to assist the wheatgrowers, hut that tax was rendered necessary owing to the high cost of producing wheat, due mainly to the excessive cost of agricultural machinery. Production costs have been increased by heavy customs duties. On behalf of the primary producers of Australia, whose life-blood i3 being sapped, I urge the Government to oppose any restriction of exports from Australia, which would only aggravate the present serious position.
– I regret that Senator Badman has seen fit to attack the protectionist policy of Australia. My only criticism of the help which the present Government has afforded to our secondary industries is that the present tariff is not sufficiently protective. If Australia is to be a self-contained nation we have to consider what we can produce, and what we should import. Senator Badman may be interested to hear some interesting facts that were contained in a report presented by a commission appointed .by the BrucePage Government, to which the honorable senator reverently referred. I may inform this champion of the primary producers that, under the tariff in operation when the Scullin Government came into power, sausage casings to the value of £561,000 were imported into Australia. This great representative of the primary producers may also be interested to learn that under that tariff, £116,000 worth of cheese also was imported. Apparently at that time it was considered easier to import cheese than to produce it. While a bounty was being paid on the production of dried fruits, the government of the day was so benevolent that in one year it allowed £182,000 worth to be imported.
– The honorable senator is referring to dates.
– I am referring to dried fruits generally. Although we can readily produce sufficient vegetables to supply our requirements, preserved fruit and vegetables valued at £236,000 were imported. Hides valued at £795,000 also came into Australia.
– What was exported during the same period?
–We were exporting wool which was paid for with artificial silk. Perhaps honorable senators opposite will be surprised when’. 1 tei] them that during the same period soap valued at £101,000 was imported. This document was not prepared by the Labour party ; it was the product of a commission set up by the Bruce-Page Government as a warning to this so-called Country party. It showed rural producers that the Labour party and the Nationalist party were trying to put the Country party on the right economic track. I urge Senator Badman and Senator Elliott to give serious consideration to the possible effect upon Australia of a lowering of the tariff. I. am not opposed to Empire trade. As a matter of fact, 1 believe we should do what we can to promote trade within the Empire. I am opposed to any alteration of our tariff to the detriment of Britain because I believe in the British Commonwealth of Nations; but any preferential arrangement should be reciprocal, and, as Senator Elliott pointed out in his excellent discourse this afternoon, there is no doubt that Great Britain is not playing the game by Australia.
– Neither is Australia playing the game by Great Britain.
– This discussion may give rise to serious thought as to the future development of British trade with Australia, and I hope also that it will receive the attention it deserves in other countries. We regard Australia as part of the British Empire, and we are anxious to improve our trade relations with our own kith and kin. But we want the Ottawa agreement to be interpreted, not so much in the letter as in the spirit of that document. In that respect we have fallen down, because hitherto we have been disposed to pay more regard to the letter than to the spirit of the agreement We have evidence of this in connexion with the motor body industry. I repeat that we should do what we can to observe the spirit of the Ottawa agreement, and as regards the motor body industry, I take this opportunity to say that I disagree entirely with the view of the representatives of the British motor body manufacturers who visited Australia recently and endeavoured to persuade us that, as British manufacturers could produce motor bodies more cheaply than Australian manufacturers, we should provide greater facilities for their importation and confine our attention to tha assembling of them in Australia. I wish British manufacturers to realize that, as one of the parties to the Ottawa agreement, we owe allegiance also to Canada, South Africa, and other dominions of the Empire. If the competition of any British industry displaced any considerable number of men employed in a like industry in Australia, the reduced purchasing power of our people, due to their unemployment, would, seriously affect the market enjoyed by other portions of the Empire. If we throw the Australian market open and allow it to be flooded with British goods, then because of unemployment the market for other customers will be reduced. An open market is valueless if it contains no purchasers. I would like Senator Badman, and those who think as he does, to endeavour to realize the futility of lowering the tariff merely to enable farmers to reduce the cost of ploughing by, say, 2d. or 3d. an acre.
– Why ridicule the farmers ?
– I am not ridiculing them. No one has exposed them to a greater amount of ridicule than their representatives in this chamber this afternoon. I have an intimate knowledge of the difficulties of the South. Australian farmers, and I can say definitely that they do not support Senator Badman’s anti-tariff views. For this reason, I am sorry that the honorable gentleman will not be called upon to face the electors in September. If he went before them simply as a representative of the Country party and without the support of the pair of crutches provided by the Liberal and Country League, his second preferences would go to the Liberal party. I have no fear about the next election so far as the tariff issue is concerned, because I know where the people of Australia stand. I advise Senator Badman to take a keener interest in the welfare of the farmers. If he had sounder knowledge of their difficulties he would realize that their interests would not be served by the lowering of the tariff wall, and the wholesale admission into Australia of that class of goods in respect of which the Scullin Government was obliged to take action some years ago. This Government has authorized inquiries into many tariff items brought down by the preceding Administration, and we are informed that 60 reports by the Tariff Board have yet to be dealt with. I hope that the Ministry will not interfere with the protection given to Australian industries, which means so much to our industrial stability.
– The next Government will do that.
– The next government will be one led by Mr. Scullin, and we may rest assured that it will rectify some of the anomalies that have arisen out of the actions of this Government. I must say, however, that the task will be somewhat easier, because, be it said to the credit of this Administration, it has not done so much injury to Australian industry as was caused by the Ministry which held office immediately prior to the Scullin Government. I am not opposed to the motion, but I hope there will be full recognition by all parties in the Senate that the destiny of Australia rests, not so much upon markets overseas, as upon the preservation of the home market for Australian industries. The security of the home market will make possible the development of a true national life. By recognition of that fact the interests of Great Britain will be better served than they would he by the lowering of the tariff barrier to enable British manufacturers to flood the Australian market, only to discover that there was nobody in the market-place with the money to buy their goods.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [5.44]. - I presume that we should not find fault with Great Britain for not giving us greater facilities in the British market, because the Mother Country is merely attempting to do what we also desire, namely, to become economically selfsufficient. As, obviously, that is the intention of the British . Government, what are we going to do about it ? Our powers are limited, and however admirable may have been the sentiments expressed by other honorable senators, Great Britain is merely aiming to remedy evils of which we also complain. Senator Daly mentioned one point to which other speakers had not referred. The honor able gentleman reminded us that the greatest evil from which we are suffering is the curtailment of the local market, due to the lessened purchasing power of our people. A similar position has arisen in other countries, and, for reasons akin to those operating here, their governments are endeavouring to make them selfcontained. The world war accentuated a position that had previously begun to manifest itself. The enormous destruction of the world’s wealth during those four years merely brought things to a head. The purchasing power of the people in every country having been mortgaged for generations ahead, a keener struggle for existing markets is inevitable. While that condition prevails, high tariffs or low tariffs will not of themselves suffice to get the world out of its troubles. It must surely occur at times to every Australian of average intelligence that it is absurd to send overseas the very best of our produce to be consumed by others while weare obliged to pay higher prices for the second quality goods which we keep for our own use. This is a form of economic lunacy, which, apparently, is inseparable from the capitalistic system. I am afraid that until that system is abandoned, we shall be called upon to suffer increasing evils of the like nature. On this subject of Empire trade, I quote the following from the Canberra Times of this date: -
It cannot be said that the immediate outlook is one that supports the view that an early election is a good move in political strategy. The next few weeks may see an intensification of conditions of serious menace to Australia. The position in Germany and the outlook of Germany towards imports of raw materials, such as wool, together with the impending action by Britain against German balances in Britain and elsewhere, render the future one of serious concern for the wool industry and therefore strike fundamentally at Australian prosperity.
That refers to the fact that all sorts of influences may, at any time, affect the trade balances between the various countries. As regards the latest development of British policy, can any one blame the farmers of the Mother Country for endeavouring to secure a greater measure of protection for their industry against foreign competition ? If we cannot blame the English farmer or stock-raiser for seeking greater security, neither can he logically blame us for desiring to protect our home market for our secondary industries. The policy operates both ways. If one nation attempts to benefit itself by a tariff, that nation has no logical ground for finding fault with any other nation that adopts the same policy. Therefore, the fact that some nations resolve no longer to trade with others is not due to any inherent wickedness in the government of any particular country. Its action is simply dictated by the belief that, in trade matters, there should be some measure of reciprocity. It is true that by our tariff policy we have to some extent estranged the goodwill of other countries. But what we have to do is to consider whether, on the whole, it is better for us to approve of a high tariff and accept the consequences, or in deference to the wishes of other countries, adopt a low tariff and become “wood and water joeys “ for the re3t of the world. The policy of Australia, however, is to build up its secondary industries. I scarcely agree with Senator Collings, who said that we could produce everything we required and exist in a state of perfect isolation.
– I remarked that wc would not starve.
– Of course, we could produce everything necessary for our sustenance, but I do not suggest that we could profitably produce everything we require. We could eat our own mutton, even if wc could not export any of it. We could find means of weaving our wool into clothing, and could consume Australiangrown sugar, even if we could not export the surplus. Twenty years ago, or more, I wrote an article in which I endeavoured to refute the common fallacy, which has survived to the present day, that unless we throw our ports open to the world, we are in danger of starvation and bankruptcy. If an enemy blockaded our ports, and prevented us from either importing or exporting goods, would we perish from the cold because of too much wool, or die of starvation because of too much foodstuffs? We all agree that it would be admirable if Britain would buy more of our primary products, but what steps can we take to bring about that result? If we must accept a flood of imports from Great Britain to enable us to export more of our primary products to the Old Country, we must either take the consequences of our tariff, or make wholesale reductions of duties. Whatever differences of opinion may prevail regarding the tariff, Australia’s policy for many years has been the building up of its secondary industries. Senator Badman, I understand, said that Denmark sold £23,000,000 worth of produce to Great Britain in a year, while Australia exported £10,000,000 worth to the same market; but Britain has trade relations with many countries, and cannot afford to shut out their products to please Australia and Canada. We cannot expect to monopolize the British markets. An absurd amount of credit i3 given to Britain for having protected this country for over a century. That praise is founded upon a ridiculous assumption. Unless a country is prepared to be dominated by another, it cannot allow even a square foot of its territory to be annexed, by another power.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– I do not agree with Senator Elliott that restriction of production by government action is always detrimental. I remarked by way of interjection, during his speech, that government interference with the export of stud rams to foreign countries that compete with Australia in the markets of the world would be desirable. I am glad that Senator Elliott has submitted this motion, for it has furnished an opportunity for the discussion of a most important subject. I am not so gloomy as Senator Rae, who thinks that whatever is said in this chamber will have no effect. After all, the members of this Senate, in conjunction with the members of the House of Representatives reflect the opinion of the people of Australia. In listening to the address by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) this morning, one realized that Australia is known in other countries, and I consider that the discussions in the Commonwealth Parliament will have some effect, even in London. It seems only a short time since members of this Senate expressed their views concerning the Ottawa agreement, yet it is nOw being thrown to the winds.
– By whom?
– For his answer, I ask the honorable senator to consider the treaties that have been made, by Britain with foreign countries since the conclusion of that agreement. The honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett), in his speech on the agreement, said -
The purpose of the Imperial Enonomic Conference at Ottawa was to review tho question of preferential trade within the British Empire, and to endeavour to establish it upon a sound reciprocal basis. . . . The case for a comprehensive scheme of preferential trade within the Empire rests upon the belief first that such a scheme is practicable and economically round, and, secondly, that it will prove a most powerful influence in strengthening all the other bonds which hold the British peoples together.
That was a sound argument, because at that time the policy of Empire nationalism was preached. Ours was to be a self-contained Empire, and Britain was to think first of Australia. Britain is undoubtedly the hub of the Empire, but London is the financial centre of international financial interests which extend to practically every part of the world. Senator Elliott, in his references to reductions, restrictions and: quotas, merely proved the soundness of the arguments advanced in this chamber last year by senators on the Opposition side. To some extent, Senator Badman anticipated me in giving some of his views on this subject, hut he has a free-trade complex. When interviewed by a representative of a newspaper in one of the .southern capitals regarding the restriction of exports, he said -
On an average, the Australian buys from Britain £7 5s. worth of goods each year. The Dane buys £2 15s. worth, and the American only 5s. worth. Yet we find that Great Britain has imported an average of £46,715,000 worth of produce from Denmark during the past three years’, while Australia’s share has averaged only £40,198,000. On the other hand, exports from Great Britain to Denmark have averaged £10,184,000 a year; but exports to Australia have averaged nearly £23j000,000 a year.
Following the Ottawa Agreement, Britain concluded a treaty with Den mark, which shows that all the highsounding phrases of the honorable member for Henty were so much hot air. Denmark exports much butter and other dairy produce to Great Britain, and this has a detrimental effect on the Australian butter trade. The agreements which Great Britain enters into with foreign countries, and which are of disadvantage to Australia, give us great concern. Argentina exports much chilled beef to Britain, and it has occurred to me that recent developments in regard to the Northern Territory should be closely watched. The attempt made last year to obtain control of that territory by means of chartered companies was due to the desire of British capitalists with international interests .to control our beef export trade, because, with the likely success of the latest process of chilling beef, the advent of Australian chilled meat upon the world’s markets, was greatly feared by Argentina. The attempt has failed because, as evidenced by the deputation of the Australian Natives Association to the Leader of the Senate, the Government has been shown that public opinion is against it. It is well known that British financiers have invested approximately £500,000,000 in Argentina, with the result that reciprocal trade within the Empire is seriously affected. Now that the proposal to develop the Northern Territory by ‘means of chartered companies has failed, the problem of developing that vast area is being attacked from a different angle by those who were interested in seeking control of it. Instead of saying that the Northern Territory is a profitable field for the investment of British capital, the Gilruths and others now declare that it is of no value. What is the reason for this change of attitude? As one who would welcome a gradual progress towards a socialistic state, I would rather have this country developed with Australian capital than with money provided by outsiders. Probably the activities of international financiers, who desire to wreck the Australian meat industry so far as the export of chilled beef is concerned, have influenced Dr. Gilruth and others.
Some honorable senators contend that Australia should always give way to Britain. The sacrifices which Australia made during the war, described by Senator Barnes as our free gift of £600,000,000 to Britain, are overlooked. I well recall Sir George Fairbairn diecussing in the Senate chamber in 1922 Australia’s contribution to the British Empire during the war as represented by the sacrifices made in respect of the prices obtained for our primary products, and, though an imperialist, reluctantly admitting what Senator Barnes has said to-day. A careful review will reveal that Australia has treated the Motherland generously. That policy of restriction of output and of quotas is entirely foreign to the spirit of the Ottawa agreement, and to the sentiments expressed by Sir Henry Gullett on his return from Ottawa, when he said that he commended the agreement to the House in the interests of Australia, and of the Empire as a whole, and asked all to accept -it for the sake of the Australian primary producers.
– ‘Some questions asked recently in the House of’ Commons may be of interest to honorable senators, in view of the imputation that Great Britain has not done a fair thing by Australia in the matter of trade agreements. On the 15th May of this year, Captain Spencer asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs the date on which he first made representations to the Australian Government on the prohibition of the importation into Australia of British sheet glass, and what reply, if any, he had received. Mr. J. H. Thomas replied that representations were first addressed to the Australian Government on this subject on the 25th January, 1933, and, although they had been repeated several times since then, no satisfactory reply had been received. Captain Spencer also asked that the British Government would continue .to urge upon the Commonwealth Government the necessity for action, and Mr. Thomas replied, “I hope that the reply which I have given to-day will provide the necessary incentive.” Captain Spencer then asked whether the Minister would name the articles of British manufacture, the importation of which into Australia had .been prohibited, or subjected to an increased duty since August, 1932, and Mr. Thomas replied, “ I am sending the honorable member a list of five cases in which the duties in the Commonwealth of Australia on goods manufactured in the United Kingdom have been increased since August, 1932. In one case, namely that of plain clear sheet glass, importation Ls at present prohibited.” When I spoke on this subject last year, I pointed out that, although we had received concessions from the Old Country covering a wide range of articles, all we had given in return was a general undertaking. I added that, unless we did our part, we would experience difficulty in getting these concessions extended or renewed. What I prophesied then is now coming to pass. The Minister stated that these quotas had no connexion with tariffs, but it stands to reason that, unless we fulfil our part of the bargain, it will be increasingly difficult to get any extension of these concessions.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers: - 1.716 are registered. 2.Recordsofalldependants are not available. Dependants of applicants for ration relief number619.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Under what conditions and to what extent was assistance given to fruit-growers in each State of the Commonwealth under the provisions of the Fruit Growers Relief Act 1933?
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.The answer to the honorable senator’s questions is as follows : -
The Fruit Growers Relief Act appropriated the following sums, to be paid to the States, for the benefit and assistance of necessitous fruit-growers who could satisfy an authority . nominated by the State that they had suffered losses in the export from Australia of apples and pears grown by them during the 1932-33 season : -
The following sums have been advanced to the States: -
The other States have not applied for any portion of the sums allocated to them.
Questions have arisen in regard to the interpretation of the word “ necessitous “. In order to assist the States in dealing with applications, the Prime Minister advised the States, in May last, that the best course to pursue was to obtain such particulars as would enable an opinion to be formed, firstly, whether the claimant had suffered losses in export during the 1932-33 season, and, secondly, whether, as a result of those losses, he had been placed in a position of financial difficulty.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What action, if any, has been taken to provide southern Tasmania with an aerodrome in the vicinity of Cambridge?
– A site for an aerodrome to serve Hobart has been selected. The acquisition of the site by the Commonwealth will be notified in theCommonwealth Gazette published to-day, and the necessary work to prepare the area for use by aircraft will be proceeded with.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : -
QueenslandB Class Stations - Kelso Station, Tasmania -Political Speeches.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What B class wireless stations have been licensed in Queensland?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following statement : -
The information sought by the honorable senator is incorporated in the following statement: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What reasons are advanced by the PostmasterGeneral for the refusal of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to allow Mr. Bcusley, M.P., leader of the Labour party. State of New South Wales, and Major Douglas, leader of the Douglas credit movement, the right to speak in the same manner as granted to other public men in Australia?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer : -
The matter is one for determination by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, ‘ and the Postmaster-General has no knowledge of any negotiations in regard to broadcasting by cither of the two gentlemen named.
Salaries of Deputy Commissioners
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.The Treasurer has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister administering the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Molonglo and Causeway Blouses
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What steps, if any, have been taken to remedy the housing position at Molonglo and Causeway to which Senator Collings drew the attention of the Senate on 1st December of last year?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers: -
The department is developing a scheme for the erection of 143 houses, which includes provision for about 50 workmen’s dwellings, and the construction is now proceeding.
It has not been possible so far to demolish any of thu Molonglo dwellings, as the demand for accommodation of any sort by workmen is even heavier than when this question was previously raised.
asked the Minister administering the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
The terms of reference to the committee are to report upon -
Some divergence of opinion exists among the States as to the proper location for a hydrogenation plant, and a good deal of additional information is required as to the merits of brown coal for production of petrol by the hydrogenation process. It is expected that valuable information on certain points will reach Australia from England during the present month, and in these circumstances Dr. Rivett deemed it desirable to defer calling a meeting of the committee until the information arrived. In the meantime, however, members of the committee are devoting their attention to certain aspects of the matter which have been brought to their notice by Dr. Rivett.
I can give an assurance that no delay will occur, hut it is imperative that the Government should be in possession of the fullest information before giving consideration to the question of establishing an industry of the magnitude mentioned.
Restoration of Salaries and Wages
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is the Government prepared to bring about the rescission of the emergency wage cuts, the stabilization of cost-of-living adjustments, and the payment of the basic wage to male employees on reaching adult age in the Federal Public Service; if not, why not?
– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answer: -
It would be contrary to established practice to make a statement of policy in reply to a question.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
How far has the Government used its powers concerning safety at Bea in the direction of demanding that all coastal vessels of 50 tons and over trading on the Australian coast should install wireless?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Commonwealth control of shipping covers only such vessels as are engaged in interstate or overseas trade. About 90 per cent. of the small craft of 50 tons and over trade within the limits of a State, and are subject to State laws. The matter of legislative control of these latter is at present the subject of negotiation with the State Governments concerned.
askedthe Minister for Defence, upon notice -
New South Wales, which have been caused by the depression and lack of oversea coal orders by countries using oil fuel?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
How many persons received passports during the last twelve months to enable them to travel on overseas steamers not registered in Australia and sailing to Port Moresby, Papua, Saraarai, Rabaul, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answer: -
The question presumably refers to overseas steamers not registered in Australia which undertake short round trip cruises from Sydney to Papua, New Guinea, and Solomon Islands. Australian passengers making round trips of this kind, either by vessels which are registered or not registered in Australia, are not required to obtain passports.
Restoration of Salaries
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the private trading banks of New South Wales increasing the wages of their employees by 8 per cent. of the total reductions of the 10 per cent, cut under the Premiers plan, will the Prime Minister approach the Commonwealth Bank Board with a view to the employees of the bank having restored to them the 10 per cent, which was taken from them in accordance with the Premiers plan; if not, why not?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The right honorable the Prime Minister states that inquiries are being made, and a reply will bo furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the tenor of the note recently addressed and conveyed to the President of the United States of America at Washington, United States of America, by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, M.P., was a justification of a British default and that the interest and wellbeing of the British people must take precedence over the claims of the American bondholders ?
– I would referthe honornble senator to the statement issued by the Prime Minister at Canberra on the 7th June on the subject of war debts.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
SenatorMcLACHLAN.- The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers: -
Motion (by Senator Sampson) agreed to-
That Senator Sir Walter Kingsmill be granted one month’s leave of absence on the ground of ill health.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till Wednesday next at 3 p.m.
Motion (by Senator SirGeorge Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I again enter my protest against the adjournment of the Senate for another week when there is work to be done.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 July 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1934/19340705_senate_13_144/>.