15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon.. P. J. Lynch) took the chairat 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I rise on a question of privilege and I propose tocon- clude my remarks with a motion. I direct the attention of the Senate to the following statement which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of to-day: -
The Federal Treasurer (Mr. Casey) in a speech at Geelong West expressed doubt whether there was a place for women in politics.
Mr. Casey saidthathe was extremely doubtful whether any women, intellectually endowed or otherwise, couldstand up to men of equal ability. He did not know of many women capable of taking up the rugged task of representing an important electorate in the Federal or State Parliaments. “If there is a place for women in politics.” added Mr. Casey, “ it is probably in the Legislative Council or in the Senate, where tilings are quieter, and old gentlemen occasionally drowse into their beards. My advice is, however good women may be, to leave to men what has always been recognized in the past as a man’s job.”
– Order ! The matter which the Leader of the Opposition desires to ventilate can hardlybe regarded as a breach of privilege. Questions of privilege are defined in the Senate Standing Orders as an interference with the privilege of a member of the Senate by a fellow senator or strangers. In this case, it would appear that the stranger is a newspaper. I doubt that the subject to which Senator Collings wishes to directhis remarks is covered by the Standing Orders relating to privilege.I, therefore, suggest that the honorable gentleman deal with it in the form of a question to the Leader of the Senate, or on a motion, for the adjournment, of the Senate.
– May I have leave to make a statement on the matter?
– Is it the pleasure of the Senate that the Leader of the Opposition have leave to make a statement?
– There being an objection, the leave of the Senate is not given.
– I desire to ask you, Mr. President-
– I am not going to allow my claim to be jumped by any one else.
– I am not jumping the honorable senator’s claim. I am asking -whether the attention of the President has been drawn-
– I object!
– I remind Senator Payne that the Leader of the Opposition had the call, and is entitled to be heard. I had informed the honorable gentleman that the matter which he had raised could be dealt with by a question to Ministers or to the Chair, or by a motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
– The Leader of the Opposition asked for leave to make a statement, and leave was refused.
– Mr. President, I should like you to put me right in this matter of procedure. I may- tell the Senate that it would have been very much pleasanter if I had been allowed to discuss this matter as one of privilege, but that right having been withheld from me 1” shall deal with it on a motion for the adjournment of the Senate; that will be very much less convenient for everybody.
– On the question of privilege, Standing Order 425 reads -
Any Senator may rise to speak “ To Order “ or upon a mutter of privilege which has arisen since the last Bitting of the Senate.
Standing Order 426 states -
All questions of order and matters of privilege which have arisen since the last sitting of the Senate, until decided, suspend the consideration and decision of every other question.
And Standing Order 427 reads -
Any Senator complaining to the Senate of a statement in a newspaper as a breach of privilege, shall produce a copy of the paper containing the statement in question-
I understand the Leader of the Opposition has done that - and bc prepared to give the name of the printer or publisher, and also submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt.
The point I raise is that although it may be customary to apply the Standing Orders relating to breaches of privilege only to members of the Senate, it is perfectly clear from the language of Standing Order 427 that a question of privilege may relate to statements made, not by members of this chamber at all, but by some one else.
– Senator DuncanHughes has read the relevant Standing Orders but I think the majority of the Senate will agree with me when I say that Standing Order 427 does not apply in this instance, because, as the Leader of the Opposition has explained, the breach of privilege relates to a statement made, not by the newspaper in question but by a Minister. Therefore it . cannot be argued that there has been a breach of privilege by the newspaper, which merely published a statement made by a Minister reflecting on this chamber.
– A rather fine distinction is sought to be drawn between a statement made by an individual and one made by a newspaper. I direct the attention of ‘ honorable senators to the concluding portion of Standing Order 427 which was read by Senator DuncanHughes, where the obligation is placed on an honorable senator raising a question of privilege to give “ the name of the printer or publisher and also to submit a substantive motion declaring the person in question to have been guilty of contempt. My reading of the Standing Order is that the statement referred to must be one by a newspaper and not by an individual. The Standing Order does not apply to the statement of the Minister.
– The newspaper reported the utterance of the Treasurer.
– As I have already stated the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) is entitled to” bring the matter up by way of a question, or by moving the adjournment of the Senate.
– I desire to ask you, Mr. President-
– If the question which the honorable senator proposes to ask has any bearing on the matter which I have already brought under the notice of the Senate, I object, because I have the floor.
- Senator Payne is entitled to ask a question.
– I desire to ask you, sir, if your attention has been drawn to a paragraph in the Melbourne Sun of of the 31st May, in which the federal Treasurer (Mr. Casey) is reported to have said at a meeting which he addressed at Geelong West on the 30th May -
If there was a place for women in politics it is probably in the Upper House or in the Senate where things are quieter and the old gentlemen drowse into their beards.
If so, will you, sir, take the necessary action to have this uncalled for reflection on this chamber publicly withdrawn by the Federal Treasurer if he has been correctly reported.
– My attention has been drawn to the statement of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) and I can only say that I assume that the honorable gentleman has been misreported. If he has not, I should say that since the women of Australia have probably given him some sleepless nights over the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill, his opinion of women and their use has become distorted. In regard to his other remark, that honorable senators are sometimes asleep when they should be at work, all I can say is that this chamber can well afford to rely upon its undisputed reputation for rectifying the very serious blunders of governments and also of the House of which Mr. Casey is a member. If proof of that statement is needed, it is to be found in the repeated votes of the people of this country in support of the Senate. I forbear to comment upon the suggestion regarding women becoming members of this chamber, beyond saying that if women are to sit in the Senate, they should be over 21 years, and preferably not over 30 years of age.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate (1) whether the remarks to which reference has been made, were made by the Treasurer; (2) if so, do they represent the sentiments of the Government in regard to the rights of Australian women, and in regard to the status of the Senate; (3) if not, is it the intention of the Treasurer to apologize to the Senate for his unwarranted reflection on the chamber, which, under the Australian Constitution, is more representative of the people than is the House of Representatives?
– I shall endeavour to answer, categorically, the questions asked by the honorable senator. First, I do not know whether the statements were made; secondly, if they were made, I am of the opinion they were made in flights of fancy at a political meeting. If the statements were made, I should imagine that they were made in the form of a light interlude in reply to some question, the importance of which, as Mark Twain said, concerning the report of his death, has been greatly exaggerated. If any reflection was cast upon this chamber, the Government dissociates itself from it. I am sure that if the Treasurer had had the opportunities that I have had to watch the Senate at work, and see how decorously its work is done, he would not have made the statement attributed to him. I would invite the members of the House of Representatives to pay a little more attention to the work done in this chamber, and if they do so they will realize that it is undertaken, not with a degree of semi-somnolence, but with marked aptitude and in a manner which is sometimes highly embarrassing to the Government. We need only look back a few years to see the value of the work that has been done. I have the greatest respect for women and their mentality. I really do not regard the Treasurer’s remarks so seriously as do some honorable senators, and I repeat that I believe the statement, if made at all, was made in a flight of fancy at some political meeting in a part of the Treasurer’s constituency.
– Did the Minister realize that this was coming, and so dispense with his beard?
– The matter has very definite reference to you, Mr. President, and the Leader of the Opposition, the only two gentlemen in this chamber who have that hirsute appendage. I am not now interested, as I found it necessary for my personal adornment to dispense with something which I once possessed.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation make available a copy of the replies received from the Repatriation Commission and the Entitlement Tribunal in connexion with the AuditorGeneral’s criticism of the twelve war pension cases referred to in his annual report ?
– I am not prepared to make the reports mentioned by the honorable senator available, because I believe that to do so would establish a bad precedent. It would be impossible for Ministers to obtain frank and unbiased reports from responsible officers it it were known that they might be made available to others than the Minister. I asked each of the tribunals concerned to supply a full report on the Auditor-General’s comments, and, if possible, to trace the cases referred to by him. I also received a full report from the commission on the matter. Those reports I took to Cabinet, where the whole matter was discussed, and the Government decided not to make any alteration in the present method of granting and assessing soldiers’ pensions.
– Can the Leader of the Senate say how many members of the Cabinet are company directors? Can he also give the names of such Ministers and the companies with which they are connected ?
– I do not know how many are directors of companies, but, no doubt, some are.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he has seen the paragraph in to-day’s Canberra Times in which the definite anouncement is made that senators-elect are tobe sworn in on the 1st July next? Is this announcement official? If so, are senatorselect expected to take their information from the press, or will they be informed officially in good time to enable them to make the necessary arrangements to be in Canberra on the appointed date?
– The Leader of the Opposition was good enough to mention this matter to’ me this morning. I’ had previously conferred with him regarding it, because I am strongly of opinion that senators-elect should be sworn in on the 1st July, and I was endeavouring to make arrangements accordingly. However, the decision in this matter does not rest with me, but with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). Now I am able to assure honorable senators that such an arrangement has definitely been decided upon. The statement which I made yesterday, that senators-elect were to be sworn in on the 1st July, was not definite, because I was not in a position to make such a statement without the approval of the Prime Minister.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Attorney-General’s Department - E. H. Mercer.
Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1938. No. 49.
formal Motion for Adjournment.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I have received from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The following remarks of the Honorable R. G. Casey, at Geelong West: If there is a place for women in politics it is probably in the Upper House or in the Senate, where things are quieter and the old gentlemen occasionally drowse in their beards’.”
Four honorable senators having risen
– I move-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 11 a.m.
The very objectionable statement to which I referred earlier this afternoon has several facets. First, I submit that there is no room whatever for decent levity regarding this matter. An important phase of it is that the remarks to which I take exception as a member of this chamber come from a source which is obviously determined to . belittle the Senate as a constituent part of the government of this country. That is a habit which is all too prevalent to-day, but I think this is the first occasion on which a member of this Parliament has erred so disgracefully. This sort of defamation of the Senate is being indulged in all too frequently, not only by public men other than legislators, but also by the public press of this country, from which issues an almost continuous chorus on the subject. Not only do the newspapers seek to belittle the Senate as a constituent part of the governmental machinery of this country, but they are also bringing into disrepute our British parliamentary method of government. That, I think, is the most serious phase of this matter. It is serious, because it is a reflection on every member of this chamber. It has been suggested, by way of interjection, that the remarks of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) refer pointedly to two honorable senators more than to others, but that is beside the question. We are running a grave national risk if we allow anybody to get away with the criticism that this chamber is composed of men in such an advanced stage of senility that they drowse in their beards, and, therefore, is a fit place for women whom Mr. Casey has ‘ described as incompetent and unfitted for public life. It is perfectly . well known to every member of the Senate that democracies are falling all over the world. We have the spectacle almost everywhere of democracies collapsing and their places being taken by dictatorships of various political colours. I hope that this will not be treated as a party question, for it is much more far reaching than party politics. Those of us who believe in democracy and in the soundness of our own democratic institutions surely feel that there is something to be proud of in British constitutional methods of government, as compared with the dictatorships in many other parts of the world. It looks as if dictatorships will be adopted by still more countries in the future. The subject is one of national importance, and when a public man holding the important and responsible position of Treasurer in this National Parliament joins the dangerous general chorus, it is time for members of this chamber and of the House of Representatives to take serious exception to his utterances.
I have referred to two phases of his remarks, but there is another. He reflected on honorable senators; that is a personal matter for us. He did not say that “ some senators drowsed in their beards “. We know what he meant. He means that we are not capable of doing, and do not do, our jobs. I say without . fear of contradiction that there is less factious opposition in this chamber and greater concentration on the business brought ‘before us than there is in the House of Representatives.
– There is rarely more than one Minister present in the other chamber.
– The Treasurer reflected on the womenfolk of this country - a reflection that responsible legislators ought not to allow to pass without protest. Women constitute more than half the people of this country, and they are bound by the laws passed by Parliament. I am not going to discuss the question of where women stand in point of. quality. All I can say is that they are the equals of men, when they are not our superiors, in any walk of life. Women in this country always get the worse of the deal at home, abroad and in public life. Upon their shoulders fall the greatest burdens of the world, and it ill becomes a gentleman of the importance of the Commonwealth Treasurer to make the disparaging remarks he did make about them.
– I regret that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has seen fit to amplify an incident that took place at a political meeting. I was not present at the meeting, and I do not know what took place. I do not know whether the press reports are correct. I was engaged at a Cabinet meeting this morning, and it was only when I left the meeting at two o’clock that I heard about the Treasurer’s speech. I agree with quite a lot of what the Leader of the Opposition has said, particularly in regard to reflections cast from time to time upon the parliamentary institutions of this country. Nothing is worse, particularly at this time of crises in world affairs, than reflections cast on our parliamentary systemof government - a system which, up to the present, has preserved the peace of the world. It is a system of government that permits of more freedom than any other system of government the world has ever known. I entirely deprecate light and airy references to matters that many of us regard as sacred, but one must consider the particular circumstances of the incident that hasbeen brought to the notice of the Senate. To a large extent, I regarded the remarks of the Treasurer, as more or less playful utterances designed to further the interests of a candidate in the constituency of Corio.
– Mr. W. M. Hughes described the Senate as a “ morgue “.
– There are persons whose thoughts run to morgues. I should say that the Treasurer has reason to be thankful for the existence of the Senate. What I would put to honorable senators, irrespective of their party, is that it is for all of them to uphold the traditions and dignity of the chamber to which they belong, and particularly of the parliamentary system of government, as opposed to other systems of government. Never was that so necessary as it is now. While I do not regard the observations of the Treasurer with the same seriousness as does the Leader of the Opposition, I agree with Pope, who wrote -
At every trifle scorn to take offence;
That always shows great pride or little sense.
As the Leader of the Opposition has submitted a motion, I can only say that I share his sentiments. I have noticed no remissness on the part of this chamber in dealing with legislation, which comes to us, I must say, somewhat laggardly. If comparisons were made between the two branches of this legislature in regard to the conduct of business, they would be favorable to the Senate.
I do not think the Leader of the Opposition was called upon to refer to something alleged to have been said regarding the other sex. I am sure that any such reflection does not express the views of the Government, and I have already informed honorable senators that 1 do not ally myself with any criticisms of that sort. In mental equipment and in many branches of activity women areour superiors.
– Not at chopping wood.
– They can chop wit sometimes. I am speaking of mental activity, which is quite different from chopping wood. They are our masters in many respects, and in the matter of culture they are entitled to all the credit and all the praise that has been given unstintedly to them in literature and in other ways. While I ask the Senate to reject the motion, I assure honorable senators that I am glad the Leader of the Opposition has had an opportunity of voicing sentiments that I fully share. It is for us in Parliament to create respect by the people for ourselves, and it is not for any persons to reflect on the parliamentary institutions, on which they are dependent for their peace and freedom.
.- It is right that this matter should be ventilated in the Senate, as a gross insult has been directed against two of its members, and a slur cast on the Senate generally. I had intended to ask you, sir, whether you would approach the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) and ask him if he did, in fact, use the words complained of, and if, on reflection, he would withdraw them and apologize to the Senate. Such a statement coming from the lips of a prominent public man casts a slur on the Senate and on the legislative councils of the States. As a responsible Minister, Mr. Casey should apologize to the Senate and make clear that he had no intention to cast a slur on its work, or to disparage senators because of any “ facial fungus” “which they may grow. It is true, as the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) has said, that the habit of disparaging Parliament, particularly the Senate, is far too common. In this connexion, the press of the country has not always set a good example. The Senate itself may be partly to blame, because during recent years it has not done all that it could have done to uphold its dignity as a branch of the legislature. It has allowed the House of Representatives to usurp its rights and privileges; the convenience nf members of that House has always beenconsidered whereas the convenience of the Senate has consistently been ignored. Senators are called back to these legislative halls without regard to their personal convenience.
– Members of the other chamber trespass on the accommodation provided for senators.
– I suggest, sir, that you, on behalf of the Senate, should approach Mr. Casey, and ask him whether the words complained of were uttered by him, and if so, whether he is prepared to apologize to the Senate and say that he had no intention to cast any serious simon it, or on its members. .Personally, I do not think that he had any such intention.
Senator ABBOTT (New South Wales) *3.43]. - Whilst I agree with much that has been said by the Leader of- the Opposition (Senator Collings), the leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan), and Senator Leckie, I hesitate to vote for the motion because it would be like trying a man behind his back.
– The motion is merely that the Senate adjourn.
– That makes a difference. We should not too readily assume that the Treasurer said the things attributed to him. Those of us who know Mr. Casey will agree that he would be one of the first to champion our democratic institutions.
– If he had the chance, he would become Australia’s first dictator.
– The Leader of the Opposition speaks of dictators. I agree that the tendency to belittle Parliament, which one notices in the press and among some sections of the people, is dangerous. British people have much to lose by their parliamentary institutions being brought into contempt. Without indulging in racial conceit, I believe that the .British peoples are 300 years ahead of the people of any other country in the use of democratic instruments of government. If we study happenings in other countries we shall see that many of them are passing through experiences which our forefathers went through 200 or 300 years ago. Those other nations have still to learn that the people of a country will not for ever support military dictatorships, which suppress the people. In those countries, as in British communities, the timemust come when the people will insist that they themselves shall rule through parliamentary institutions. They will demand the right of self-expression, and resist the exercise by dictators of powers of repression and suppression. The- countries which are passing through that stage to-day will find that they will have to undergo the same processes of evolution which happily the British race ha* already passed through. We have won something so valuable, as the result of those processes, that the protests made today will, I believe, receive the support of all thinking people throughout the nation.
I now call attention to a statement made publicly in Sydney recently by a Professor of Public Administration at the Sydney University, that Parliament had sat for only 29 working days in a long period. He stressed the word “working”. The professor did not tell the whole story; he did not tell of the work performed by members of Parliament in addition to that performed in these legislative halls. Honorable members of the House of Representatives can hardly call their souls their own, because of the amount of work they are called upon to do. Speaking in Parliament is by no means the greatest part of their work. I should like to refer particularly to the strain on Ministers and the sacrifices made by them. I regard Assistant Ministers as heroes. Generally they work, not eight or ten hours a day, as do mcn in other callings, but sixteen hours a day. Men holding ministerial office who live in the more distant States seldom see their homes, and are denied many of the joys of family life. On the other hand, they live constantly in the limelight, and are subjected to cheap criticism and abuse. It is time that the Parliament of this country protested. Last year, I mentioned this subject and my remarks were supported by Senator Pearce. It was pointed out then that, at times, even the press of Australia, for which I have a high respect, seemed to forget the struggle which gave to it the privilege of reporting the proceedings of Parliament. It is the duty of the -press and of all individuals in the community, particularly members of Parliament, to act in such a way that our parliamentary institutions shall continue to be regarded as among the most valuable possessions of every Britisher.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) is aware of the discussion which is now taking place in this chamber. On his behalf I can say that he had no intention whatever to cast any reflection on the Senate, or on the work that it performs. Nothing was further from his mind.
– Does he deny that he used the words complained of ?
– The statement which appeared in the press is merely an excerpt from a speech, which probably contained entirely different language.
– Surely the Treasurer does not blame the reporter?
– I am informed that in the course of his speech the Treasurer made a restrained reference to his belief that women in general would find it difficult to stand up to the strain imposed on a member of a lower House. Obviously he was referring to State parliaments, because he was taking part in a by-election, and he went on to say that the calmer atmosphere of the upper Houses might be more congenial to women. Any further references which the Treasurer may have made were offered in a light-hearted spirit, and were not in any way intended as a reflection on the Senate, as the Leader of the Opposition has suggested. The whole incident, was a little regrettable, <but I am sure that, as the Leader of the Senate has pointed out, the Treasurer had no inten tion to cast any reflection whatever on the Senate or any member of it.
.- I welcome the explanation given by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll), that the Treasurer, in his remarks at Geelong a few nights ago had no intention whatever of belittling the Senate. But the statement evidently was made.
– The Treasurer does not deny it.
– In view of the present state of public opinion, due largely to the A’ery curtailed reports in newspapers of the work of the Senate, the Treasurer should have been careful not to include the Senate in his remarks about the fitness or otherwise of women for public life. As we have been told-, he was taking part in a by-election for a State Parliament. Had he confined his remarks .to the Legislative Council there would have been no trouble in this chamber over the incident. Unfortunately he thought fit to include the Senate, but I do not for one moment believe that he intended to cast any reflection on this chamber. In all probability he was carried away in the excitement of the moment, and his reference to the Senate may have been, and probably was, unintentional. But it appears in black and white in a newspaper report, and by some it may be taken as confirmation of the value of the Senate as measured by the meagre press reports of the proceedings of this chamber. I, as a public man, on many occasions hear the Senate spoken of in terms of reproach. Some people sneeringly ask why we retain the Senate, which costs so much and has so little work to do. I have been a member of the Senate for eighteen years and I am leaving it shortly. Prior to my election I Avas for seventeen years a member of the Tasmanian Parliament, and I can say without hesitation that no other legislative chamber in Australia applies itself so diligently as the Senate does to the work which it has to do. I have listened to debates in the House of Representatives and the lower houses of various State parliaments, and have no reason at all to be ashamed of the manner in which the Senate does its work. Therefore, I deprecate strongly any suggestion or remark by public men or private individuals that might lower the status of the Senate in the opinion of the people. This chamber is the people’s greatest safeguard. As one of the representatives for Tasmania I have good reason to know how much the States depend upon this chamber to protect their interests. For this reason I ain glad that the Leader of the Opposition submitted his motion this afternoon. It has given us an opportunity to ventilate the subject. I feel that the discussion will do some good, and I hope that in future the Senate will occupy a higher position in the eyes of the people than it has during the last few years.
.- The apology of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) for the remarks made by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has not helped the position very much. The Minister did not deny that the Treasurer has made the remarks attributed to him. I happened to be in the House of Representatives early this afternoon when a question was put to the Prime Minister with regard to this matter, and the Treasurer did not deny having made the statement. The Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) has endeavoured to soothe us by saying that, the Treasurer’s references to the Senate were in jocular vein. That may be true, but the statement, nevertheless, was a reflection on this chamber and it should not have been made. On several occasions there have been slighting references in the press to the number of days on which the Senate sits, the inference being that this chamber has no work to do. I maintain, and 1 think most honorable senators will agree with me, that we are rapidly reaching the stage when we are governed by regulations instead of legislation. Regulations are being gazetted in such volume that honorable senators have no opportunity to consider them, except on the rare occasions when we are called together. That is not what the electors sent their representatives to the Senate for. It cannot be said that the Senate holds up public business. Such a charge may, at times, be levelled against members of the House of Representatives, but I do not wish to make any reflection on that branch of the legislature. The
Senate Ministers certainly do their job conscientiously. I wonder if the same can be said of Ministers in the House of Representatives. Sometimes when I have been listening to the debates there only one Minister has been in his place. For all I know, the others may have been asleep in their rooms. Senate Ministers are always in. attendance, and they certainly keep this chamber busy. Now, as bearing on my complaint with regard to regulations, I remind the Senate that the Treasurer is about to have a wonderful home built by the Government for him in Canberra. Parliament has not had an opportunity to express its opinion on that project. Members of the Senate have not been asked whether that house should be erected, or whether it would not have been better to utilize the money which it will cost in the erection of homes for the poor people al: the Molonglo settlement. If the Treasurer is to be allowed to make even jocular remarks about elderly gentlemen in the Senate, it is only right that we should have a chance occasionally to say what may be in our minds with regard to the position of the Treasurer. The Government will not be in quite the same position after the 30th June. Ministers will not then be so indifferent about antagonizing their supporters in this chamber. At present they have such a huge majority that, apparently, they think they can do what they like.
– lt is only fair to say that the Treasurer will pay rent for the house which is being erected for him in Canberra.
– I am glad that the Minister for Repatriation has mentioned that aspect of the proposal, because I recall a statement in. the local newspaper to the effect that, although the Treasurer may pay the interest on the -capital cost of the house, the amount so paid will not be anything like a fair return for the capital expenditure on essential services such as roads, sewerage, electric light, &c, to open up that area for buildings.
– On a point of order, I submit that reference to the Treasurer’s personal expenditure or housing arrangements has nothing whatever to do with the motion, and I do not think that you, Mr. President, would be well advised toallow this discussion to develop along those lines.
– Mr. Casey started the trouble.
– The subjectmatter of the motion is not in any way related to the financial transactions between the Government and the Treasurer. Therefore, reference to them is not relevant to the motion.
– Strictly speaking, the remarks by Senator Grant are not in order, but no one can deny that when a man is hit he likes to hit back.
– I shall not continue along those lines. “When the Leader of the Opposition raised the subject this afternoon, the Leader of the Senate seemed inclined to treat it in an offhand manner, implying that there was nothing in it, and that no reflection on the Senate was intended. In fact, the Minister gave us to understand that the Treasurer’s statement was merely jocular. I have yet to learn that the Leader of the Senate made any attempt to ascertain whether the newspaper report was true or otherwise. Later, the Minister for Repatriation gave us the Treasurer’s explanation.
– In justice to myself, I should say that an inquiry was made of the Treasurer but the reply did not reach me before. I spoke.
– I have no desire to do , an injustice to the Leader of the Senate, but Istill think that he could quite easily have found out earlier whether the Treasurer was correctly reported, because he know that a discussion would arise. Evidently he considered the incident as a subject for levi ty and not worth discussion. The Laader of the Opposition is to be commended for having submitted a motion and given us an opportunity to say what we think about the matter. If we have any moreremarks by a Minister of the Crown reflecting on the Senate, it may as necessary for some of us on this side to take some drastic action.
– in reply - I express no regret for having raisedthis matter. I am grateful totheSenatefor this oppor tunity to venti- late it, andgrateful also to those honorablesenatorswho have endorsed my action. Senator Grant’s resentment at the remarks of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) reflecting on the Senate was to be expected, and you, Mr. President, have told us that it is natural for any one who is attacked to hitback. But we should endeavour to avoid this sort of thing, because such incidents lead to reprisals, and they are to be deprecated in this chamber. I say, with all respect to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Poll), that his attempt to exculpate the Treasurer made the position infinitely worse. His explanation was childish in the extreme, and no one on this side believed it. Some of us may be elderly, but we are not altogether silly. The Minister for Repatriation wished it to be taken for granted that, in his interview with the Treasurer, the latter suggested that in the excitement of a political meeting he may have made a statement which, torn from its context, conveyed a meaning that was not intended.
Everybody who knows Mr. R. G. Casey is well aware that he is not a gentleman who, in the language of the street, “ does his block “ easily. On the contrary, under all conditions, he is a very calm and selfpossessed man. We are told that when the wine is in, the wit is out; but wine is not usually on tap at a political meeting in West Geelong. During the last week the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) have made derogatory statements concerning women. I shall conclude by reading the whole of the paragraph which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, to show that the portion which I quoted was not taken from its context, and that the same sentiments are expressed throughout.
SenatorFoll. - Will the honorable senator also read the report which appeared in the Geelong Advertiser?
– The statement on which I have based my remarks is the only one which has been brought into the debate, and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Poll) cannot trap me by asking me to read what has been published in some other newspaper. I have had an opportunity to read not only what has appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, but also similar paragraphs in other newspapers. One journal thought the statement of the Treasurer of sufficient importance to justify a subleader which was not very complimentary to the honorable gentleman. It is remarkable that of the twelve Sydney Morning Heralds distributed in this building, only two contained the offensive statement. That may be due to the fact that the Treasurer, having repented, took the earliest opportunity to have the paragraph removed. That, of course, is only surmise. The full report reads -
Federal Treasurer’s View. “A Man’s Job.”
MELBOURNE, Tuesday. - The Federal Treasurer (Mr. Casey) in a speech at Geelong West, expressed doubt whether there was a place for women in politics.
That is a reasonable expression of opinion. The paragraph continues -
Mr. Casey said that he was extremely doubtful whether any women intellectually endowed, or otherwise, could stand up to men of equal ability.
The Treasurer is, of course, entitled to that opinion. He has probably been keeping company with women intellectually inferior, and not up to his “ blue blood” standard.
He did not know of many women capable of taking up the rugged task of representing an important electorate in the Federal or State Parliaments.
He is also entitled to that opinion. I know of a woman who was once a member of the New South “Wales House of Assembly and was sufficiently rugged to stand up to any man. He goes on to say-
If there is a place for women in politics it probably is in a legislative council-
That too is an expression of opinion- or in the Senate-
That also is an expression of opinion. Buthe concludes - where things are quieter and the old gentlemen occasionally drowse into their beards.
That he intended to be accepted as a statement of fact. The Minister for Repatriation has, by his public apologetic effort, made the position of his colleague unenviable, and I suggest that if the Treasurer should get into a similar mess again, he should select a better champion. Having had an opportunity to ventilate the matter I now ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
As the Commonwealth Aircraft Manufacturing Company will shortly complete itsfirst defence aeroplane, will the Government approach the State Government of Victoria with a view of removing the overhead electric current wires at Fisherman’s Bend in order that tests may be carried out with safety?
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following a nswer : -
Action has already been taken on the lines suggested by the honorable senator.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What exports have been made from Australia of (a) iron ore; (b) pig iron; (c) all other smelted or other iron or steel products, during the past five years and to date to (a) Japan and (b) elsewhere?
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : - land 2. The quantity of these products which is exportedfrom Australia is comparatively small. The Government is, however, watching the position carefully.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of the occurrence of another serious accident to one of the planes of the Royal Australian Air Force, does the Government intend to continue to refuse the holding of open inquiries in such cases, or will it not attempt to reassure the public as to the position by holding a full and open inquiry as to the cause of the latest of these tragic occurrences, and as to the possibility of applying some precautions to avoid further loss of life and damage to valuable equipment?
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer : -
This occurrence is being investigated by an air force court of inquiry, by the independent Air Accidents Investigation Committee, and, of course, will also form the subject of a coroner’s inquiry, which is open to the public. It is not considered necessary to super-impose any other form of inquiry on these.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : - 1.I have not seen the statement in the Brisbane Courier-Mail referred to, but generally the policy of the department is to call for delivery into store or f.o.b. or f.o.r. at the capital city in the State of manufacture. For interstate supplies, freight is paid by the department, which also carries all risks after delivery has been made f.o.b. or f.o.r.
Under existing conditions, supplies are obtained on a competitive basis by public tender. Competition is keen and the question of whether profit is or is not included in the tendered prices is one for individual tenderers.
asked the Ministor representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– I hope to be in a position to furnish the honorable senator with a reply to his inquiries to-morrow.
Credit to Japanese Company
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer : -
Inquiries are being made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
Bill read a third time. ,
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 31st May, (vide page 1530), on motion by Senator foll.-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– It seems to me that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) was somewhat unwise in his second-reading speech yesterday, when he indulged in a fulsome paean of praise of the wonderful state of prosperity to which this country has been brought by the present Government. I realize, of course, that it is the easiest thing in the world to exhibit courage in other people’s troubles, and a great deal of weakness in one’s own. But it is unfortunate when a responsible Minister of the Crown makes such statements as were made by the Ministeryesterday. There is no doubt whatever, and at a later stage I shall deal particularly with this phase, that hundreds of customs tariff items have been dealt with during recent times in a way that was to the very definite detrimentof Australian industry.
Before I deal with that phase, I want to submit evidence that the boundless prosperity which the Minister proclaimed exists only in certain quarters. I should like him, if he will - I suspect thathe will not, of course - to draw the Prime Minister’s attention to some of the facts that I shall respectfully submit. It will be remembered that the Prime Minister, in his election speech, spoke grandiloquently to theeffect that Australia had climbed at last to the top of the hill, had come out of the mists and fogs of the valley of depression, and so on. It would be just as well if the members of this chamber would for a few brief moments cast their eyes across the valley. The latest figures available - I invite honorable senators to check their accuracy - show that 348,566 men and women workers are unemployed in Australia, and are forced to subsist - it cannot be said that they are living - on the miserable dole. The figures also show that 1,449,114 breadwinners are earning less than £2 a week. The unbounded prosperity has not percolated through to their homes. A further 375,686 breadwinners are earning less than £3 a week. No one can live on that, but some people do manage to eke out an existence. Then there are 307,199 breadwinners earning less than £4 a week. No one can live on that either. Another 240,280 are earning less than £5 a week, and they and their families have to live on that pittance. Thousands of families are forced to live in houses - I cannot call them homes - that have been declared by competent government commissions unfit for human habitation. I shall cite some further facts in substantiation of that remark. I would ask what the Government proposes, or has ever proposed, or is ever likely to propose, to remove the basic causes of these evils. When will the Government do something honestly and honorably to remove that blot from Australia ? It is all very well to produce budget statements and tariff proposals with which to smooth us over - I nearly said “ slime “ us over - with figures no one can understand. These conditions have become permanent. Nothing adequate is clone to alter them. The Government tinkers with tariffs but it cannot give another country tariff preference over this country without making it probable that Australians who are in work will bo dismissed, or making it impossible for others who are seeking work to obtain it.
There are two sides to a balance sheet, the debit and the credit sides. There are similarly two sides to a budget statement, and to tariffs. I presume that the wonderful figures that were in the Minister’s mind yesterday afternoon when he was making his eloquent dissertation on boundless prosperity, had reference to the fact that factory sales in New South Wales in March of this year, only two months ago, were reported to be 13 per cent, higher than in March, 1937. A well-known catering company in New South Wales announced a profit £2,000 higher than its profit last year, and more than £32,000 higher than its profit in 1933. A third company boasted a record profit and figures twice as large as those of last year. I could go on quoting interminably from the financial columns of business journals and the press to show that these companies and others have made record profits during the last twelve months. That is the credit side of the government balance sheet, which consists of its budgets and its tariff proposals. Now let me look at the debit side. On the same day as these figures were made public, an unemployed man, one of 32,000 in the State of New South Wales, arrived home after a vain search for work to find that his wife had used her last penny to end her life. We on the Opposition side of this Chamber say that such facts cannot be dodged. We shall never agree to any tariff proposals that whittle away the possibility of in creasing employment for Australian men and women. The Government must face up to the debit side of its balance-sheet. No legislation that has any detrimental effect whatever on the social life of the people of this country should be allowed to pass this chamber. Here is another extremely sad case that occurred also in New South Wales. A wife and mother committed suicide only three days ago. The family consisted of a thirteenyearold girl. The woman was worried because her husband was out of work, and she committed suicide by inhaling gas. The husband came home and discovered the tragedy, and he went away and committed suicide too.For two days the neighbours were wondering how they could break the news to the unfortunate 13-year-old girl. I do not want to labour this question; it is sad enough in all conscience. We who are in Opposition are in this chamber to place the facts of Australian working class life before the world. We are not here for any other purpose. We are not here to uphold procedure and methods. Whilst we have the greatest admiration for Australian parliamentary institutions, we are here to prevent the national wealth of this country from being inequitably distributed. That wealth never has been equitably distributed, and never will be while the present Government is in control. Therefore, I make no apology for trying to impress on honorable senators the facts of life as we know them, although we personally do not have to encounter them in all their bitterness.
– Has the honorable senator any scheme for the more equitable distribution of wealth ?
– The Labour party always has had a scheme for the equitable distribution of the national income of this country, and the only reasonwhy the Labour party is not in control of this Parliament is that honorable senators supporting the Government are determined that we shall never have the opportunity to alter the present unequal distribution, which they desire to have continued in their own interests.
– Was the State fish shop in Queensland in the honorable senator’s scheme?
– I am expressing my views in all earnestness. I am trying to be serious. I am trying not to offer mere captious criticism of the Government’s proposals. Yet, in the face of the tragic events I have recited, the honorable senator who has interjected can think of nothing .better to say than “ fried fish ! “ Such an interjection almost makes one despair of an alteration of the present tragic state of affairs ever being brought about. I am not going to fall into that frame of mind, however. We on. the Opposition side intend to debate fully at all times any proposal brought forward that has any bearing on the matter I am discussing. I understand that the Government has some idea that Parliament will adjourn shortly, but it will need a lot of luck to get away from Canberra before the snow is on the streets. In Melbourne there is a health officer, Doctor John Dale, who has an Australia-wide reputation. I suppose he is one of the most capable medical health officers in Australia. He has a tremendous job of medical officer of the large city of Melbourne. Exactly a week and one day ago, when he was speaking on slums to members of the Unitarian Church, Grey-street, East Melbourne, he declared that Australia was clamouring for population but denied to its own precious children the essentials of food, clothing, and shelter. These are not the idle words of a Labour agitator, or the idle words of the Leader of the Opposition in this Senate, who is so often castigated by members opposite for his utterances. They are, however, the words of a man whose duties and qualification entitle him to respect, because he knows what he is talking about.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - Will the honorable senator connect his remarks with the subject under discussion?
– I am pointing out that any whittling down of the Australian tariff, any proposal to give away to another country a preference over Australian industry, will not relieve poverty in Australia but will intensify it. We ought not to be guilty of that kind of action, and unless we in this chamber are prepared to tackle the problem of the unequal distribution of wealth, we have no right to implore the mothers of Australia to give us a natural increase of population, and the Government has no right to bring aliens to these shores to do jobs for which unemployed Australians are available. 1 should not have been tempted to speak on these lines were it not for the fact that the Minister in introducing the bill spent a great deal of time in telling us of the wonderful improvement which had been effected in secondary industry generally. Listening to him one would believe that “ God’s in his Heaven, all’s right with the world”. But that is not so. Dr. Dale’s statement continued -
Our population is decreasing, and sometimes I say to myself that it is good that children have the sense to make themselves scarce. Poverty is no longer unavoidable.
The Labour party agrees with that view. We contend that if Australia’s secondary industries be encouraged, poverty will be avoidable in this country. No doubt it will be argued by some honorable senators that our secondary industries as well as our primary industries must be prosperous, but members of the Country party, as they always do in this chamber, will qualify that statement by saying that we must first make our primary industries prosperous before we give consideration to our secondary industries. To those gentlemen I can do no better than quote the dictum of Abraham Lincoln when he was President of the United States of America - “If you will fill your factories first, your farms will automatically fill themselves “. No greater truism has been uttered in respect of tariff problems. Dr. Dale continued -
With the application of that very mechanization of industry which first produced the slums, production of all the essentials has been increased, but many of the people have not the money to buy them. We are living in an age of abundance, although our rulers seem loath to admit it, and there is no shortage of any essential commodity.
But although productivity has increased and wages are up, prices ure also up. The only way we can get an adequate supply of food and clothing to the people is by taking control of the purse strings out of private hands and putting it into the Government’s hands. Then the Government would be in a position to govern and not merely remain in office.
The following paragraph appeared recently iin a Sydney newspaper: -
Taking pity on a pretty young girl whom *he saw snatch tthe crusts of a sandwich from it garbage bin in George Street and hungrily devour them, Miss M. Milsop secured the girl ft job at the Girls’ Friendly Society Cafe in George Street, City.
Yesterday, the society made application to the Conciliation Commissioner, Mr. G. J. linker, for exemption from the Restaurant, <fcc, Employees’ (State) Award in respect of the girl. “ The girl had a half-penny left out of threepence given her by a woman three days before, “ said Miss Milsop. “ She said she had eaten no food for days, except scraps from dust bins
Surely we as legislators cannot ignore facts of this kind. We cannot sit complacently in this chamber merely amending our tariff schedules and, at the same time, overlooking the fact that immediately a preference is extended to a manufacturer in another country we take away a preference from an Australian manufacturer.
I propose now to deal with the point upon which I intended mainly to base roy remarks this afternoon. We of the Labour party have repeatedly voiced our opposition to the continued whittling away of Australia’s protective tariff. We do not claim that even in those case3 in which the Government is giving adequate protection to industries in this country the protection afforded is fully satisfactory. If we were in control of the Government, not only would we give absolute protection to an Australian industry once it could demonstrate its capacity to produce its particular commodity satisfactorily, but we would also demand that employers who shelter behind the tariff wall, and justly so, should pay adequate wages and give to their employees industrial conditions superior to those now being given by any court in Australia. That has been a plank of the Labour party’s platform for the last quarter of a century. Further we would set up the necessary machinery to ensure that those protected employers treated fairly the consumers of their products. We would put a stop to the making of exorbitant profits out of consumers. Op to the 30th June of last year, the duties on 1,350 items under the British preferential tariff, and 600 items under the general tariff, had been reduced below the levels in the Scullin tariff. Thus, in respect of nearly 2,000 items the preference enjoyed by the Australian manufacturer under the Scullin tariff has been reduced. We do not deny that industries have made progress; it would be foolish to do so. But industries have made progress in most of the countries of the world, and it cannot be said that improvement in their case has been due to the activities of the Lyons Government in Australia. When I interjected to that effect yesterday, some honorable senators opposite seemed to infer from my remarks that I had said something to the credit of the Government. When introducing this measure the Minister claimed that the boundless prosperity now being enjoyed by this country was due entirely to the policy of the Lyons Government. The Minister knows as well as I do that the industrial revival taking place throughout the world to-day is due largely to the fear of another world war. I venture to prophesy again that when the present expenditure of untold millions upon rearmament ceases there will be another depression compared with which that from which we recently emerged will seem insignificant. When I made a similar prophecy on previous occasions in this chamber my remarks were ridiculed by honorable senators opposite, hut I now repeat that prophecy. So afraid are the rulers of the world of the depression that is imminent, particularly those of the United Kingdom and other English speaking countries, that they have dropped the word “depression” and now talk about a “ recession “. . What a wonderful achievement! This Government and its supporters cannot get rid of the poverty in Australian homes of which I have given an example this afternoon by merely altering words. A depression is a depression and means increased poverty and not less poverty.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Labour party can get rid of such poverty hy increasing the tariff?
– I am not so foolish as to say that, but I submit tha* we can resolve this afternoon that by our individual votes on this matter we shall not do anything which will have the effect of putting one Australian out of a job,
Thus adding to the number already unemployed and intensifying this state of economic savagery.
– But the Scullin Government put Australians out of jobs.
- Senator Dein continues to reiterate remarks to the effect that the Scullin Government did the mischief, and that the present Government is the good fairy that is overcoming our economic difficulties.
– That is what the people of Australia said at the last general elections.
– If that is so, it is because too many men in public life are assiduously asserting what is false.
– Apparently the people of Australiabelieve the word of members of the Lyons Government.
– On the 1st July next we shall be able to give a visible demonstration of what the people of Australia thought at the last general elections, when, in voting for the Senate, they got an opportunity to express their opinions on large national questions, as distinct from. the smaller and more personal issues involved in elections for the House of Representatives. In effect, the people said, “ Away with the Tory government and give the Labour party a chance.” Thus, on the 1st July next, Senator Dein and his colleagues will need to be more assiduous in their duties in this chamber, or a legislative explosion will take place. Senator Dein knows perfectly well that all parties agreed absolutely to the financial emergency legislation passed in the disastrous years of the depression.
– Not all parties; half of the Labour party would not support the measure.
– As a matter of fact, a Labour Prime Minister was responsible for that drastic legislation.
– All of the Labour party members would not back him up.
– I repeat that all parties supported Mr. Scullin on that occasion. The fact that some members of the Labour party did not support him does not disprove my statement. Let us further review the position existing in this country when the financiers of Australia advised the Scullin Govern ment that from the 30th June, 1931, they would not make any more funds available to carry on the public services. The Scullin Government was faced with the fact that the Bruce Government had gone out of office, leaving the public finances in such a state that itwas impossible for its successor to borrow abroad. The first thing that it did was to appeal to the wheat-farmers of this country to grow more wheat. It knew that wheat could be more easily converted into cash than could any other crop. The farmers rallied to the call, and grew more wheat. The wheat was sent to the other side of the world, with beneficial results to our trade balance. It is known to all except Senator Dein that the Scullin Government converted an unfavorable trade balance into a favorable one - an almost miraculous accomplishment. The Scullin Government did its job, but no one at that time claimed, as the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Poll) claimed yesterday, unbounded prosperity in the industries of Australia generally. Everyone knew that, owing to the low prices obtained for our national products overseas, national disaster confronted Australia unless stern action were taken. The heroic action of the Scullin Government when, with the support of all parties, it placed embargoes on imports, enabled this nation to carry on. Yet Senator Dein continues to hurl across the chamber charges against the Scullin Government, and to claim that the Lyons Government put Australia on a sound basis again. Such statements are not worthy of an honorable senator with any sense of his responsibility to those who sent him here.
The Minister in charge of thebill should not lose sight of the fact that overseas manufacturers are not fighting so hard as formerly for a share of our trade. The reason is that they are working night and day fulfilling orders in connexion with the British Government’s defence scheme. What account has the Government taken of the fact that the expenditure of millions of pounds on armaments must some day come to an end? If we are willing to find millions of pounds for defence against external enemies, we should be willing to provide defence against Australia’s internal enemies - the people who are sucking the life-blood of the nation by reducing the poor to greater depths of poverty while increasing the wealth of those already indecently wealthy.
Tariff stability in Australia is an urgent necessity. I have been taken seriously to task for advocating that Australia should have its own foreign policy. I now urge that Australia should have its own tariff policy. It should tell Australian manufacturers that they need no longer live in fear from the passing of one tariff validation bill to another, but may go ahead in the knowledge that they will be allowed to develop their industries in the shelter of the protection already given to them.
– Statistics prove that that has been done.
– In common with most other countries, Australia is in a better position than during the depression, but if the honorable senator claims that that improvement is due to the actions of the Lyons Government, I ask him how it is that a similar state of affairs exists in other manufacturing countries ?
-Can the Leader of the Opposition name one industry which has been adversely affected by the Lyons Government’s tariff?
– I have referred to 1930 tariff items in respect of which duties were reduced up to the 30th June of last year.
– But how many of those industries have suffered?
– The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and General Motors (Holdens) Limited each made a profit of more than £1,000,000 last year.
– The honorable senator has not yet answered my question.
– Because of our protective tariff, certain things have been accomplished, but similar results have been achieved in other countries also. The reason is not the capacity of the Lyons Government. One reason for the increased prosperity of our manufacturing industries is the huge expenditure on armaments, which has increased factory production.
– That is not true of Australia.
– Another reason is that overseas manufacturers are not competing so actively as previously for the Australian trade. A wise government would not continueto whittle away the tariff protection, but would prepare for the depression which lies ahead. I am not a manufacturer, but I worked for 26 years in a manufacturing establishment, and accordingly have some knowledge of industry. When a measure of protection was afforded to the industry in which I was employed, the owner of the factory had no guarantee that it would be continued. I am merely stating a truism when I say that tariff stability is an urgent necessity. I should like the Government to declare to manufacturers that they need have no fear as to the future, because the protection already afforded to them will be maintained, and, if necessary, increased, so long as there is no profiteering and their employees are given a fair deal. If the Government were to proceed along those lines, stability in industry could be obtained. If men are given security from want and the fear of want through unemployment, they will marry and rear children, and we shall hear less of the need to increase the birth rate. Moreover, we should not then have a nation of C3 individuals, and we should not find mothers gassing themselves in order to escape from ghastly poverty. When I urge the stabilization of the tariff I do not mean that duties shall be fixed for long periods without review. I suggest that the situation be reviewed every five years, not with a view to reducing the protection already given, but in order to give more protection if necessary to Australian industries. About two months ago the Australian Natives Associationan organization which contains some of the leading citizens of Australia, including Sir Isaac Isaacs, a former Governor-General of the Commonwealth - held a conference, as the result of which its controlling board stated -
Any agreement which perpetuates the tragic position of Australia being deprived of her complete tariff autonomy cannot possibly be tolerated. Minus complete autonomy, national status is obviously meaningless.
Honorable senators know bow far we in this country fall short of complete autonomy. That this Parliament has handed over to the Tariff Board powers which make it superior to Parliament, and enable it to do things which are undeniably against the best interests of this nation, is a national disaster. I am happy to say that the Opposition strenuously opposed the ratification of the Ottawa Agreement. Events have proved that we were right. I now again urge that articles 9 to 13 of that agreement be repealed. At the present time several Ministers of the Crown are on the other side of the world for the purpose of reviewing the agreement. So far, they appear to have been treated with scant courtesy. They are now cooling their heels while awaiting an opportunity to let the listening world know why they left Australia.
Since the Ottawa Agreement was signed - and this is the gravamen of my charge against the tariff policy of this Government - no fewer than 1,200 items have been reduced in the British preferential tariff and 6S7 in the general tariff. In 1931-32, our imports from Great Britain were valued at £17,000,000. In 1936-37, the latest year for which I have been able to: get figures, our imports from the Mother Country totalled £38,000,000- more than double the total six years earlier, and financial journals in this country are commenting with regret on the adverse drift in our trade figures.
– Does the honorable senator intend to give the figures relating to exports as well as imports?
– Yes, I shall do that. The Labour party has a tariff policy.
– Let us have it.
– It is not necessary that I should state it here and now, nor is it the job of the Opposition to declare what we would do in similar circumstances. I am merely saying, and I think it ought to be obvious to every member of the Senate, that every tariff validating bill that comes before us is intended to get the Government out of the mess in which it finds itself, because it never attempts to grapple with particular problems j all it does is to tinker with effects.
I have no doubt that our friends in the Country party will again claim, as they always do, that in tariff matters everything which primary producers use must be on the lowest possible basis of cost - hence duties must be low - and that everything which they produce with the things which they use must be sold at the highest possible price. They want high protection on primary products, but they never support adequate protection of secondary industries which benefit the workers who alone produce the commodities which primary producers and others use. Make no mistake about it, an employer never by his own efforts made a plough, nor could he work one if bc did. The workers on wages and salaries are the people who make profits for the employing classes. Our tariff policy should be framed in such a way as to ensure a more equitable distribution of the national income so that those who arc poor may have their indecent conditions bettered, and those who are unduly rich may have their indecencies taken away from them.
– “What about the men on the land who are creating the wealth of this country?
– This Parliament has not been unmindful of their interests, as will be seen if we examine what has been done in recent years for our primary producers; and I would have the Senate remember that every member of the Labour party supported every proposal to improve the lot of our farmers. I wish I could say of some Government supporters with whom we voted on those occasions that they had been equally regardful of the interests of the workers in industry. My impression is that they were not always so much concerned about the welfare of the people whom we represent in this chamber. But that is by the way. In the six-year period, 1931-32 to 1936-37, the Commonwealth provision from loans and revenue for the relief and assistance of primary producers in various ways amounted to £19,000,000. If to this sum we add £12,000,000 for the adjustment of farmers’ debts., the total is £31,000,000. Then, if we add the cost to the community of higher domestic prices for primary products secured through the operation of pricestabilization schemes, we have another £5,550,000 a year, or £33.,000,000 for the six years under review. Further, in the same period, the exporters of primary products benefited through the exchange rate by the following amounts:- Butter, £8,000.000 wool, £39,000,000; wheat, £14,000,000. Thus, in the period under review, a total of £125,000,000 was made available, in one form or another, by the National Parliament for the assistance of our primary producers. I wish it to be clearly understood that we on this side have no objection whatever to this assistance. All we say is that, coincident with the making available of that vast sum, the Government should have been following a plan of national development which would ultimately render unnecessary the continuance of this policy of charitable doles. Abraham Lincoln, out of his wealth of wisdom in such matters, is credited with jointing the way even in his day. “Fill your factories “, he said, “ and the farms # will take care of themselves”. All I am asking of this Government is that it should give adequate protection to Australian industries. Every lowering of the tariff engenders in employees the fear of unemployment and in men who are without work the certainty of .nonemployment. We on thi3 side say that an end should be put to this interference with the protection of Australian industries. 1 could say a good deal more on this subject, but I shall not occupy the time of the Senate much longer. I would, however, direct attention to the following important statement made by the Prime Minister, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of yesterday -
The Prime Minister, Mr. Lyons, in officially opening a new section of the Botany mill of Australian Paper Manufacturers Limited yesterday, said that the Government had come lt> the conclusion that there was nothing in the manufacturing and commercial Spheres that could not be done by Australians.
AV’ith that statement I entirely agree. The burden of my story this afternoon is that because Australians can do this work, other people should not be allowed to do it for them. That, I submit, is ii definite tariff policy. Its adoption would enable Australian manufacturers to know where they stand and where they are going. They* would have some feelingof security in the future of their undertakings. Although the Prime Ministeraffirmed that there was nothing in themanufacturing sphere which could not bedona by Australians, this Government’s tariff policy, as outlined in the bill before the Senate, is a contradiction of the right honorable gentleman’s declaration. The Prime Minister went on to say -
There may have been some doubters in the past.
Always there have been doubters about the ability of Australians to do a job of work, especially when the Senate has been considering tariff items that sought to protect Australian industries. The Prime Minister went on to say - but they don’t seem to be about to-day.
They are about to-day. We have evidence of their existence in the validating bills that have come up to us from the House of Representatives. The Labour party, assisted by some Government supporters, had a win recently in that chamber in respect of one item which will not now come before this chamber, because we have asserted that sanitary earthenware can he produced in Australia equal in quality to that manufactured in any other country. I agree with the statement made by the Prime Minister at Botany. My complaint is that his remarks are not in line .with this tariff schedule. The report stated further -
Referring to the great part that secondary industries had played in the restoration of prosperity, Mr. Lyons said that they had provided employment, increased the national income and enabled Australia to secure a more even trade balance with outside countries. .For these reasons they were particularly welcome in a young country like Australia. He was glad to know that the Government’s protective policy was encouraging the investment of capital to establish new industries and expand existing industries in Australia.
We on this side agree entirely with that statement, -but we say that immediately the measure of protection given to Australian industries is reduced somebody somewhere in Australia’s industrial economy is going to be a little worse off than he was before, because he will either get the sack, or, if he is unemployed, a possible avenue of employment will be closed to him.
That is all I have to say. The bill itself is one for discussion in committee. The Opposition will do its best to prevent the Government from laying unholy hands on any Australian industry.I understand that the bill must be passed before the 6th June. If we delayed its passage till the newly elected senators took their place in this chamber after the 30th June the Government would have all its work cut out to get its reducing items through the Senate.
– I cannot allow the second reading of this bill to pass without offering a few comments on the general principle contained in it. I compliment the Minister (Senator Foll), who introduced it, on his adroitness in evading those features of the measure that might easily lead to criticism. Whilst the Minister was delivering his speech I had a feeling that if he had considered the effect of some of his statements he would have put his case somewhat differently. I shall deal with a few of them in order to show that the Government’s proposal might easily lead to misapprehension. In the first place the Minister offered as one reason why the bill should be passed, the fact that the duties had been on trial for some months, and that no ill effects had been noticed. Why should duties be allowed to operate for months before this Parliament has an opportunity to deal with them? Why should the Minister for Trade and Customs be allowed to introduce a schedule in the House of Representatives and deny to members of Parliament the right to discuss for several months various items which may damage irretrievably industries affected by them, and then be permitted to say that as’ the. duties had been on trial for some months, and had not done damage to any particular industry, they should be adopted ? What would be the position if a mistake had been made, and if a duty imposed had inflicted serious injury on an industry? What sort of plea would the Minister advance in circumstances like that? This practice of tabling tariff schedules, and then for so long evading discussion of them by Parliament, is altogether wrong. I am well aware that for the protection of the revenue, duties must be collected immediately a schedule is tabled. But some protection should be given to an industry that suffers a reduction of duty. There is no reason why lower duties should operate until Parliament considers them. I protest strongly against the practice, which was established about three years ago, of laying schedules before Parliament and preventing members from discussing them within a reasonable time. Sometimes twelve months has elapsed between the presentation of a new schedule and its discussion by Parliament. This practice places altogether too much power in the hands of the Minister. It could be used by an unscrupulous Minister to punish, if not ruin, an industry that did not do exactly what it was told to do. The Minister cited instances in which lower duties have actually led to reduced imports. Can any one imagine reduced importations being due to the imposition of lower duties ! Surely that is contrary to reason and business acumen. He also said that statistics proved that in spite of the fact that duties on cement have been reduced the Australian cement manufacturing companies have been extraordinarily prosperous. That is so, but the Minister should have given the reasons. The Australian cement manufacturers have been prosperous because there has been a boom in the building industry, not only in Australia, but also in competitive countries. Great Britain and Japan are both engaged in the erection of defence works, and consequently have not one ton of cement for export purposes. Every ton of cement produced in Great Britain is needed in connexion with its great defence programme. Moreover, house and road construction in that country is proceeding on an extensive scale. In these circumstances there is little likelihood of either Great Britain or Japan having a surplus of cement for export. The Australian cement industry has been prosperous because of the absence of competition from overseas, and because the boom in the building industry has enabled the companies to have a larger output.
– If there was no competition from exports, what caused the lowering of prices?
– The installation of more modern machinery, the introduction of new methods and mass production have enabled manufacturers to produce at a cheaper rate. The Minister should not throw dust in the eyes of the people by emphasizing the boom in the cement industry without giving the reasons for it. It must be patent to every one in the commercial world that conditions both in Australis and overseas, at present arc abnormal.
The Minister, who complimented the manufacturers generally upon their increased efficiency, said that their methods are improving under the Government’s fiscal policy, and that they are importing more modern machinery. That may be so to a large extent; but I should like to raise one or two points to show the extent to which the Parliament and the Government is handicapped under certain articles of the Ottawa Agreement, which I hope will be amended as the result of the representations to be made by our delegates who are now in London. L cite a specific instance of a big engineer in Victoria who wanted to bring his plant up to date by installing a machine for reconditioning some of the largest machine tools. As there is no machine made in Australia that is capable of carrying out the work, he went overseas to purchase” the best machine for his purpose. He visited, the United States of America, but found that owing to the licensing system under our trade diversion policy he could not do business in that country. Inquiries were then madein Great Britain, where he found that such machines were being made, but not exactly of the kind he wanted. He visited Germany, where he inspected a machine which he thought would meet his requirements, delivery of which could be given in four months. He asked the British manufacturer when delivery could be given of his machine, and was told that as the machine required was of special design delivery could not be given under 70 weeks. He then interviewed the authorities at Australia House, who said that he would be fairly safe in placing the order in Germany as no comparable machine was being manufactured in Great Britain, and that if he brought the matter under the notice of the customs authorities the machine would be admitted under by-law free of duty. On that understanding he bought the German machine, which is now on its way here, and returned to Australia. When he applied to the Customs Department for its free admission under by-law 415a, a difficulty arose. Honorable senators will recall that provision is made in the Ottawa Agreement that articles can be admitted free of duty under by-law if comparable goods are not made in Australia or in Great Britain. No such machine is made in Australia, and no competent engineer would say that the machine manufactured in Great Britain is comparable with the machine required. Moreover, the British manufacturer could not give delivery under 70 weeks, whereas a suitable machine could be obtained from Germany within four months. The customs authorities said that they would have to obtain the consent of the British Board of Trade before the German machine could be admitted under by-law, but that body refused permission on the ground that the British machine was comparable. I have seen photographs of the machine and, as I have been associated with machinery, I know th art it is not comparable with the German machine. I think that the Customs Department also was satisfied of that, nevertheless, it has again to approach the British Board of Trade to obtain its permission before this vital machine can be admitted into Australia free of duty. That is an instance of the way in which industry is being crippled under the Ottawa Agreement. The Government has been deprived of the power to admit such plant into Australia until the British Board of Trade has been consulted.
– What concessions are made to those engaged in primary production? Why should all the concessions be made to those engaged in secondary industries?
– Is not plant required in primary production allowed to enter Australia duty free? The machine I have mentioned is absolutely necessary for the reconditioning of heavy machine tools.
– And the agricultural implements are absolutely necessary to the farmer.
– They are made in Australia.
– Those engaged in secondary production want their instruments of production admitted free of duty. So do the primary producers. That is the position in a nutshell.-
– If the machinery could be made in Australia or in Great Britain, I would not raise any objection to it being dutiable; but I am speaking of a machine which is not manufactured in Great Britain, yet its importation is objected to by the British Board of Trade. The hands of the Government are tied, and a machine required for reconditioning tools cannot be imported free of duty. The position is absurd. I know that our delegates now in England have been fully advised of this and similar cases, and I trust that an alteration of the Ottawa Agreement will soon be made. The British Board of Trade should not have such extreme powers in matters of this kind.
– By-law admission applies to farming machinery.
– The honorable senator is referring to sugar-mill machinery.
– And farming machinery.
– What type?
– Rotary ploughs, for instance.
– I should like to give another example of the way in which wc have given away powers which we should possess. As I have said, certain goods which are not made in Australia are imported duty free under by-law. Sometimes an Australian manufacturer commences to produce articles, particularly machines, which previously hadbeen admitted under by-law, and such articles should automatically become dutiable. In order to ensure absolute fairness between Australian manufacturers and importers, a committee was set up with a customs official as chairman, a representative of Australian manufacturers, and a representative of British manufacturers. One of the duties of the committee is to determine whether certain goods should or should not be admitted under by-law, and everybody hoped that the representatives would act reasonably. But the decisions of the committee must be unanimous and what has happened? The representative of British manufacturers merely has to object to the free admission of any article under by-law without giving reasons. Merely because the committee cannot reach a unanimous decision the Australian importers are left in the cold. I am sure that that was not intended by the Government and I trust that it will take the earliest opportunity to make a change. 1 know of oneinstance in which the British representative on the committee objected to an article not made in England being admitted under by-law and when asked for reasons, said that British manufacturers were not making the article at present., but that they might be doing so in the future. E trust that the Minister wil] bring this matter under the notice of the Government to see if some alteration can be made.
Generally speaking, I am not opposed to the schedule submitted to the Senate. One of its objectionable features has been removed in the House of Representatives, and I believe that the duties proposed in respect of another item ‘are to be again referred to the Tariff Board. Like the Leader of the Opposition, I believe that the general tendency of the Government is to reduce duties all the time, and that the point may be reached when production in Australia may become unprofitable. Under the national insurance scheme another £4,000,000 wil] be added to the costs of manufacturers in Australia. It must be evident at once that the prices of many of the articles manufactured will be raised, and that particularly in respect of those competing on a narrow margin with the manufactures of other countries the insurance contributions will have to be taken into consideration by the Tariff Board and this Parliament when fixing rates of duty in the future. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) cited figures relating to the earnings of breadwinners. They were were very harrowing from his point of view. Those figures, however, are old.
– They were correct.
– They include juvenile labour, women, and domestic servants who are provided with board and lodging as well as wages. The Arbitration Court and State industrial tribunals have laid down a basic wage. The honorable senator has tried to create the impression that a breadwinner, in the census meaning, is a man with a wife and two or three children. When it is borne in mind that he claims that there are 1,400,000 workers receiving less than £2 a week, the contention becomes absurd. The basic wage is in the neighbourhood of £3 16s., and no adult male works for less than that. Most adult workers are employed under industrial a wards. The Leader of the Opposition said a lot about profits and the unequal distribution of wealth. May I ask him where the profits go after they have been made? Is it a crime to make profits? This country is crying out for efficiency, but as soon as a manufacturer becomes efficient - that is to say, when he makes a success of his business by showing a profit - members of the Opposition say “Hit him with a brick; he has no right to do that “. Are his profits put away into a bank and not used for the benefit of the community? Every one knows they are not putaway; they are used over and over again. The more profits manufacturers make the more prosperous is this country. It can be said for the present system of government that under it Australia is more prosperous, and the people in Australia are more contented, than the peoples of other countries. The Leader of the Opposition claims thathis party could create a land flowing with milk and honey, where every one would be contented, where there would be no poverty, and where no domestic tragedies would occur. He is asking us to believe something we cannot believe. He referred to two harrowing suicides.
– Due to poverty.
– I am extremely sorry that such tragedies should occur in this or any other country. All I have to say to the honorable senator is that his partyhas been in power in the Commonwealth Parliament, that there is a Labour government in his own State, where there have been Labour governments for many years, and that there are
Labour governments in other parts of the world. Tragedies caused by poverty, misery, and other things, happen in his State and in other parts of Australia where the Labour party is in power. As a matter of fact they happen less frequently now than when the Labour party was in power in this Parliament. 1 am in accord with his wish to make conditions easier. There seems to be a feeling that if we manufacture goods in Australia we shall not buy so much from Great Britain. The opposite of that, however, is true. The more we make in Australia the more prosperous we become, and the more we can buy from Great Britain and other countries overseas. Great Britain is gradually realizing that and accepting Australia’s policy.
– Suppose we make all we require.
– We cannot do that. We have to import many raw materials and machinery that cannot be made here. We import luxuries when we are prosperous. Themore people we have in employment the more prosperous the country is.
SenatorCollings. - What raw ma terialswould we buy?
– The value of rubber, petrol and oil imported runs to millions of pounds. In my business tin plate is needed, and thousands of other articles. Women want more fashionable goods in prosperous times.
Let me say one word about the claim that has been made for the return to Germany of its former colonies. Well meaning people are persuaded that if those colonies were restored to Germany it would have access to raw materials not otherwise available to it. Inferentially, that would seem to mean that Great Britain obtains its raw materials from its colonies or dependencies at a lower price than it could obtain them from the outside world. That is not true. Australia sells raw materials to Great Britain because Great Britain pays more for them than any other country would pay. If Germany had its colonies again it would not take raw materials from them for nothing,but would pay for them. If any country wants to buy raw materials available in Australia, it can have them if it pays for them. I do not know that the possession of colonies and dependencies overseas is of very great economic advantage .to Great Britain, although the national advantage may be considerable. We prefer to do business with people of our own race; we understand them, and can deal with them better than with foreigners. But if the people of any other country offer the best prices, Australia undoubtedly will sell in the best market, just as everyone else would. The statement that Germany could obtain raw materials more cheaply if it had its own colonies is just balderdash. I object to the Government’s interpretation of the Ottawa Agreement. I would have dealt largely with that subject but for the fact that our delegates recognize that we want certain alterations. I shall have a word or two to say on the details- of the schedule before us, but taking it as a whole I should say that the manufacturers of Australia have no fear of it or objection to it. By and large, manufacturers are fairly prosperous. I trust that that prosperity will continue, because it provides a big market for primary products. I hope, too, that secondary and primary industries will continue to work hand in hand.
– A new Daniel has come to judgment! Senator Leckie has solved the problem! The solutions consist only in producing more goods in Australia. The more we produce, he says3 the richer we shall be, because people will have more money with which to purchase goods from overseas. It is a remarkable argument. All we have to do in Australia, according to him, is to maintain the present economic system, and insist on producing more and more of the commodities essential for our own welfare. If we do that the women will have more money to buy dresses from overseas, manufacturers will have more money to buy raw materials, and altogether such a fillip will be given to the economic system as will cause unemployment to disappear! All will then be well in the economic world. I should be very pleased if the honorable senator’s logic were correct. All we should then need to do would be to get into our camp Senator Duncan-Hughes and a few of his colleagues, and convince them of Senator Leckie’s argument. Then with a united team we would be able to do these things, and, hey presto ! the problem would be solved. We have had tariff debates almost ad nauseam; yet it is remarkable that some honorable senators declare in all good faith that our economic problems can be solved merely by taking certain action in regard to the « tariff. Irrespective of what any other member of the Labour party may say, I contend that we cannot’ solve our economic problems merely by effecting decreases or increases of tariff duties. Such action may mitigate those problems, and, by safeguarding our industries, may also assist in the development of our country. To that extent supporters of such a policy are playing a part in the development of Australia, but I deny that it is possible to solve our economic problems, and chiefly that of unemployment, merely by tinkering with the tariff.
In his attack upon my leader, Senator Leckie said that whenever members of the Labour party see profit, we hurl a brick at the profit-maker. The honorable senator is completely wrong. The Labour party is not opposed to individual profit makers. What we object to is the present economic system under which, in the midst of plenty, we find thousands of our people compelled to suffer unemployment. The system breeds unemployment in cycles. We are opposed to the system as such ; we are not opposed to Senator Leckie, or any individual, making a profit under the system as it exists. It would be stupid for us to do so. Under the present economic system, which permits profit-taking and interestmongering, despite the fact that we have the men, the power and the machinery to produce our needs, a depression occurs every few years and thousands of our people are thrown out of work. We contend that the present system is not, operating for the well-being of the people as a whole. We do not attack any individual.
– The last depression was world-wide.
– Because the capitalistic system is world-wide. According to Sir Herbert Gepp, who recently returned from a visit overseas, the United States of America is experiencing a regression - they do not now say “ depression “ - and 12,000,000 men are unemployed. There is no doubt that unless the powers that be in the United States of America scotch this movement of regression, it will spread throughout the world. Despite the fact that we have increased our productive powers manifold, we shall be in the midst of a depression very shortly. Why laud such a system or be stupid enough to contend -that we can salve our economic problems under such a system, merely by increasing or decreasing tariff duties? Let us speak plainly on the subject. We of the Opposition believe that we should do everything in our power to produce in Australia all the articles we need, but we are not so stupid as to say that we shall solve all our economic problems by so doing. What is trade? It is simply the exchange of commodities and services ; we must export services or goods in order to pay for those which we import. If one by one we lop off our imports from England, and other countries within the British Commonwealth do likewise, the manufacturing industries of Great Britain must suffer, as the result of such decentralization of manufacture. In such circumstances, Great Britain will protest. In fact, Great Britain has already protested against the action of Australia in winning trade with New Zealand which previously had been held by Great Britain. In steel goods this country has competed with British manufacturers so successfully that Britain does not now send to New Zealand anything like the quantity of such goods that it previously exported to that dominion. Following this argument to its logical conclusion, it is apparent that if Australia produces more and more of the goods it now imports from Great Britain, British trade with this country must be adversely affected, and a protest by Britain must result. The illogical senator himself supplied us with illuminating information with regard to what is happening under the Ottawa Agreement; he pointed out that this country had to approach the British Board of Trade for consent to the admission into Australia of certain machinery free of duty. The honorable senator, like members of the Opposition, is opposed to the Ottawa Agreement because of certain powers which it gives to Great Britain in the Australian market. Why did Great Britain want such power? It was in order that it might maintain its markets in the countries comprising the British Commonwealth of Nations. Why do not honorable senators opposite face the facts? Great Britain does not want to see Australia producing those goods which it now sells to us. I agree with Senator Leckie that whilst we should produce in this country more and more of those commodities which we now import but are capable of producing ourselves, we should continue to import goods, such as surgical instruments, which we are not capable of producing? I point out to the honorable senator, however, that there are vested interests in Great Britain producing all kinds of goods, such as machinery and consumable goods, and those interests are particularly anxious to retain their trade with Australia. Today an Australian delegation, led by Sir Earle Page, is in Great Britain. No doubt our delegates will confer with industrial representatives in the Old Country and their idea will be to retain as much as possible of Britain’s present trade with this country. On the other hand, however, the British representatives will insist upon a continuation of the Ottawa Agreement so that they may maintain their present valuable market, in Australia. That is the position. Why should we be so stupid as to believe that Great Britain does not wish to hold the Australian market, or the markets it now enjoys in other British countries? Senator Leckie sought to minimize the importance of colonies, and asked why should Germany desire the return of its former colonies, because, he said, Germany, or any other country, could obtain all the commodities it needed just as easily as could Great Britain, provided it had the necessary cash to pay for them. If, as the honorable senator suggests, the possession of colonies does not matter, why is Britain so anxious to retain them ?
– I said that they were not of such great importance in’ respect of trade.
– In reply to that suggestion, I propose to submit a few figures showing the tremendous advantage over other countries which Britain enjoys in the markets of countries within the British Commonwealth. All the figures are in respect of the year 1930. They show that the value of British exports to India was £52,944,000, as compared with £9,039,000 of American exports to that country. Britain’s exports to the Irish Free State were valued at £34;4f)7,000, as compared with £2.745.000 worth of American exports, and British exports to Australia were valued at £31,678,000, as compared with £15,] 98,000 of American exports. The position of Canada in this respect is somewhat exceptional, and the argument which I am now putting forward does not quite apply to that country, because, ;is l ho result of its proximity to the United States of America, the latter country to-day economically dominates Canada. However, in 3910 American trade with Canada was 25 per cent., as compared with 75 per cent, of British trade, but in 1930 the value’ of British exports to Canada was £29,1.38,000 as compared with £.1.31,819,000 worth of American exports. Exports from Great Britain to South Africa in that year were valued at £26,462,000 as compared with, exports from the United States of America amounting in value to £7,616,000. The corresponding figures in respect of New Zealand were £17,867,000 and £5.965,000. Those figures show that Great ‘Britain is the dominating economic factor in any country to which it is closely allied. It is true that other nations may buy from those countries, but there are certain forces at work which make it possible for trade to be developed to a greater extent with Great Britain than with other countries. Germany wants its colonies back largely because their return would mean a great deal to German trade. Senator Leckie should realize that the possession of colonies is a powerful factor in the development of trade.
– Great Britain does not control Australia.
– The honorable senator showed that under the Ottawa
Agreement, Australia has to go cap in hand to the British Board of Trade in order to do what it wants to do. That i3 a sad commentary upon conditions in this country. I agree with Senator Leckie that those Articles to which he referred should be taken out of the Ottawa Agreement. The Labour party contends that Parliament should be supreme, and that the Tariff Board should not be able to do some of the things which it is now required to do under the Ottawa Agreement. Even when an industry had proved that it had not exploited the consuming public, but had- charged fair prices for its products, the Tariff Board reduced the protection which it previously enjoyed probably because it considered that, it must do something to justify its existence. In respect of iron pipes, evidence was given before the Board that the 1936 duties imposed no heavy burden on any one, that there was no delay in fulfilling orders, that the industry gave employment to many Australians because all the raw materials used were of Australian origin, and that the estimated value of the annual production was over £1,100,000 ; it is remarkable that no evidence from Great Britain was submitted. I am reminded of the story of an Irishman who was left in charge of another person’s business’. Before the owner of the business left he said “ Whatever you do, Pat, show your authority.” On his return after an absence of about twelve months he found that about half of his former employees had been sacked, although the orders received by the establishment had increased. He called the Irishman to him and asked the reason. Pat replied, “ You said that I was to show my authority. I showed it by sacking half of them.” The Tariff Board also must show its authority. In this instance, although the industry proved that it had acted fairly, the Board reduced the protection given to it. In an interesting speech the Minister for Repatriation (Senate Foll) said that more persons were employed in Australian industries to-day than ever before. There was a time when in both Great Britain and Australia comparisons were made between the number o;f persons unemployed at different periods, but the basis of comparison has been altered.
The comparison is now between the number of persons employed in factories at the present time and the number similarly employed a few years ago. That altered basis of comparison suits the Government’s purpose. Naturally as a country develops, employment should be found for more people. Those who claim that Australia has benefited from the Ottawa Agreement quote statistics showing the quantities of wheat, wool, meat, barley, butter, metals, and other products which have been exported to Great Britain since the agreement was signed. A better comparison would be obtained by considering percentages. We are sending to Great Britain commodities worth millions of pounds for which there is no return.
– The return came first.
– ‘Senator Brown has expressed the position correctly.
– In many instances, we have paid back more than the principal sum borrowed, but we shall still have to pay interest on it until the trumpet of the Angel Gabriel shall sound..
– We could pay the principal if we wished to do so.
– The honorable senator should know that under the modern capitalistic system the principal will never be paid. If it were paid, the system would break down.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Although there may be an actual increase of the volume of trade from Australia, to get the position in its true perspective, we must consider this trade in relation to the total volume of British imports. For example, in 1932 Australia exported to Great Britain 24,000,000 cwt. of wheat, representing 22.8 per cent, of Great Britain’s total imports of wheat in that year. In 1937 we exported 22,000,000’ bushels, representing 23.1 per cent. of Great Britain’s total wheat imports. The same argument may be applied to wages. On many occasions in this chamber we have beard arguments relating to the trend of wages without a distinction being made between real wages, relative wages, and nominal wages, and without recognition of the fact that in certain circumstances, nominal wages may have increased but real wages have declined.
In order to reach a true estimate of the trade position between Great Britain and Australia as a result of the Ottawa Agreement, we must take cognizance of the actual volume of commodities exported from this country to Great Britain in relation to the total trade of the Mother Country in those commodities. Thu figures - are clearly set out in the Overseas Trade Bulletin for last year. The3e show that Great Britain took 48.79 per cent, of Australia’s exports, as compared with 56.26 per cent, of our exports two years earlier, whilst our exports to the remainder of the Empire were 10.61 per cent, of our total exports, compared with 9.78 per cent, two years previously. Thus the Empire market in two years declined from 6G.04 per cent, to 59.4 pui- cent, of Australia’s total overseas trade. With regard to butter, in 1932 Great Britain purchased from Australia 1,790,000 cwt., representing 21.5 per cent, of its total imports. In 1937 it took from Australia 1,490,000 cwt., or 15.8 per cent, of its total imports.
– The honorable senator is quoting the volume, not the value, of trade.
– An increase or decrease of value will not affect my argument. If foreign countries are sending more primary products to Great Britain than they were a few years ago, and Australia is sending relatively less, surely it is obvious that despite the Ottawa Agreement Great Britain is doing a larger volume of trade with outside countries than with Empire countries.
– The seasonal conditions in Australia may be responsible for a falling off of our exports of primary products’.
– I do not follow the Minister for Repatriation. The figures which I have cited cover a period of years prior to, and since, the making of the Ottawa Agreement.
– Nevertheless, the United Kingdom market takes practically the whole of our export trade in butter, and the total varies according to the seasonal conditions.
– Relatively there has been a decline of our export trade to the United Kingdom. The Overseas Trade Bulletin states that although Great Britain’s purchases of butter have increased, both in quantity and percentage, imports from Australia in relation to total imports have decreased considerably.
It is only right that these facts should be made known to the people who have been led to believe that the signing of the Ottawa Agreement gave an impetus to our trade with the Mother Country.I have shown that, relatively, there has been a decline. Figures relating to barley and wine are of similar import, but there has been an increase of the trade in beef. It is well known that an important section in England is opposed to the Ottawa Agreement, and some people there think that Australia has not honoured its obligations under that arrangement. If Sir Otto Niemeyer, and some others who belong to his school of thought, had their way there would be an end to the development of Australian secondary industries. “We should be obliged to confine our attention to primary production, and take in return from the Mother Country secondary goods which at present are manufactured in Australia. Great Britain wishes to dominate, and I invite the attention of Senator Leckie to the following statement which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of to-day: -
BOYCOTT IS MOOTED.
Dominion Wool Sales.
Bradford Resentful. plan for abolition of draft allowance.
London, 3 1st May.
The prospect of the abolition of the draft allowance to buyers of Australian and New Zealand wool has aroused such resentment in Yorkshire that the British Wool Federation has sent circulars to its members, asking them whether, if the allowance is abolished, they will agree to boycott the dominion sales in the 1938-39 season.
The questionnaire makes it clear that such a boycott would be contingent upon 80 per cent, of the members of the federation agreeing to it. and “upon Japan taking the same action.
Thus we find “wool interests in Great Britain are prepared to make an agreement with Japan to boycott the Australian wool industry, because growers here are taking certain action with regard to the draft allowance, under which the buyer is allowed to deduct 1 lb. for every hundredweight bought at auction.
– The honorable senator docs not believe that report.
– It appears in the Sydney Morning Herald which, we are assured so often, never tells a lie, and that newspaper, I may add, supports this Government. I have no doubt that Senator Cooper will be able to verify this statement about the wool draft.
The situation that has developed discloses the existence of antagonism in other countries to our primary products. Senator Leckie, earlier in this debate, said something about the importation of machinery that cannot be made in Australia or in England, and complained that Australia had to go cap in hand to the Board of Trade for permission to admit the machinery under by-law free of duty. Notwithstanding any agreement that may be made, there is ample evidence of antagonism between manufacturers in the Mother County who are producing commodities similar to those manufactured in Australia. We must not blind ourselves to this fact, and we should be grossly misleading the people of this country if we did not tell them plainly that Great Britain has entered upon an era of intense primary production, so that in the not distant future, possibly, British primary producers will be marketing their goods in active competition with those of Australia whilst British manufacturers will be competing in the Australian market with our secondary products. It behoves us to take cognizance of the economic developments that are taking place in every country and do what we can to meet the position.
Earlier in my remarks I referred to the value of colonies in relation to the development of Empire interests, and referred to statements contained in John Strachey’s book The Coming Struggle for Power. This distinguished writer makes clear the reason for Germany’s desire to regain possession of colonies which it lost as a result of the Great War. The writer emphasizes the value of colonies in these words -
Hence people with money to invest are always looking for nice new countries bare of railways, mines and power stations to invest it in. As we have seen, however, they must first get the consent of the Government which possesses sovereignty over the new country in question.
That is why Germany is anxious to have its former colonies returned to it. The writer continues -
Now this Government will have to choose which enterprising entrepreneur it will select as the “ concessionaire “ who is to build, and afterwards own, some railway or power station in its colony.
On what principles do governments in fact proceed in the granting of these valuable concessions? Mr. Hawtrey, who. after sitting for many years in Treasury Chambers, Whitehall. London, has seen a good many of them given, tells us quite clearly. “ Thu principles on which applicants are favoured may never be perfectly formulated at all. lt may be a matter of tacit understandings. But the tendency almost invariably is to follow nationalist policy. The government favours applicants from among its own people and lays its plans to suit their interests. “This nationalist policy has far-reaching effects in that it makes sovereignty over new and undeveloped countries an object of cupidity. The profit-seekers are usually in a position to exercise influence over their own government, and governments regard the support of their profit-seekers’ activities in every part of the world as a highly important aim of public policy.”
That succinct statement is clear proof of my argument that it pays a country like Great Britain to gain sovereign power over colonies and dominions as an impetus to the development of its economic and financial resources.
Perhaps some of my comments have been somewhat irrelevant to a tariff discussion, but, like other honorable senators, I have taken full advantage of the opportunity afforded to place my views before the Senate.
– I had not intended to speak on this measure, but the .remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and Senator Brown have prompted me to offer a few observations. The Leader of the Opposition ‘brought forth what one might regard as his “hardy annual”. He told the same story as he had told on many occasions and drew harrowing pictures of what is alleged to be happening in certain parts of Australia. The honorable senator would have the people of Australia believe that the hardship which he says prevails is due to the Government’s tariff policy; but experience of the last few years shows that the position is quite the reverse of that which he stated. When the Scullin Government was in power prohibitive rates of duty and embargoes were imposed, with the object of increasing employment, but in consequence of its policy, unemployment increased tremendously and factories closed down because the high cost of production prevented the people from purchasing the goods which were being manufactured at that time. Since the advent of the Lyons Government duties have been reduced and the factories which were closed owing to the Scullin Government’s tariff policy have been re-opened, and tens of thousands more are employed now than at that time. I do not know bow the Leader of the Opposition can substantiate the statement he made that the Lyons Government tariff policy is responsible for the position which lie said exists. If h* compares the figures of to-day with those of a few years ago he will be compelled to admit that his statement is inaccurate. The Lyons Government tariff policy provides for the adequate protection of economic Australian industries. By adequate protection I mean a sufficient degree of protection, but not high enough to provide a cloak for inefficient industries or allow excessive profits to be made. Moreover, the tariff policy of the present Government preserves a market for Australian products.
– The honorable senator cannot cite an instance of the Scullin Government having encouraged an inefficient industry.
– I may mention the glass industry and also the Australian match-making industry. When the Ottawa Agreement was. under discussion in this chamber - I was then a member of the House of Representatives - the Leader of the Opposition said that, if the Government reduced the duty on matches, all sorts of disaster , would follow, but the Government proceeded with its policy, and since that time the industry has given even greater concessions to its employees, notwithstanding the fact that the price of matches has been reduced. I also remember listening to the honorable senator objecting to & reduction of the duty on bananas because, he said, that such a reduction would seriously interfere with the bananagrowing industry, particularly in Queensland. No serious results, however, have followed the imposition of lower duties, and, so far as I am aware, the Australian banana-growers are still operating on a satisfactory basis. When the duty on cement was reduced we heard more harrowing stories of what would happen to the cement industry. But, the profits of the manufacturing companies have increased, and the prices of their shares have risen.
Senator Brown, as usual, found fault with the present economic system, which, he says, is responsible for the ills with which we are confronted. What system does the honorable senator advocate? Has he a system of his own, or does he accept the policy or system advocated, supported and maintained by the Labour party? I have not heard of the Labour party being anxious to upset the present system.
– What system does the honorable senator support?
– I support the policy which has been in operation since the advent of the Lyons Government.
– We are opposed to that.
– The honorable senator is opposed to everything introduced by this Government because he does not know the difference between good and bad. Senator Brown also complained because millions ofpounds worth of products are exported to Great Britain, for which he contends we receive nothing in return. Since the advent of responsible governments in Australia, both State and Federal Governments at various times have gone almost on their knees to the people of Great Britain asking them to subscribe to our loans, at rates of interest and under terms and conditions fixed by us, so that Australia could be developed. We have undertaken that until the principal is repaid, we shall pay the rates of interest agreed to, but honorable senators opposite now object. What was done with the millions we borrowed, a large amount of which was contributed by small investors who accepted the promise of Australian governments? Roads, railways and bridges were built with this loan money.
– What has this to do with the tariff?
– It has a lot to do with it. I am answering a statement of Senator Brown. The utilities mentioned are used by those engaged in the production and marketing of goods, but Senator Brown, who objects to the present system, suggests that the small investors who loaned to us money when we asked for it, should now go and fish for their capital.
– I rise to a point of order. I did not say anything of the kind. The members of the Labour party believe that Australia should meet its obligations, but that under a rational system our obligations would be met in a proper way instead of by continuing to pay interest from generation to generation.
– That is merely a repetition of what the honorable senator previously said. If the honorable senator wishes to change the system does he wish to repudiate our obligations?
– The honorable senator has grossly misinterpreted what I said. I did not say that we should repudiate our obligations. The statement of the honorable senator is offensive and should be withdrawn.
– I merely asked the honorable senator if under the system he advocates, that would happen.
– Then why does he object to Australia exporting goods to meet obligations we have incurred? When we send goods abroad for which he claims we get no return, we are paying for the hundreds of millions of pounds which overseas investors have loaned to us at our request.
I agree that recent tariff policies have been in the direction of reducing duties, and although no serious injury has resulted we may reach a stage where industry may be adversely affected. There is a limit beyond which such a policy may not be safely carried. I should like to refer to one phase of the wool industry. At present we manufacture about 95 per cent, of our woollen requirements, the balance being obtained from overseas, but a certain amount of pressure has been used by some in an endeavour to get the duty on present importations further reduced. A reduction of one-fifth of the volume of our home consumption would perhaps affect about 4,000 Australian employees, which would mean the loss of about £500,000 or more of wages. An industry that is 100 per cent. Australian is the manufacture of woollen goods. I have something in my hand that indicates the danger before us. It is a sample of a material made in Japan to imitate Australian light-weight serges. At a glance it is difficult to distinguish it from serge. This material, 56 inches wide, can be sold in Australia at 2s. 6d. a yard. On close examination it is of very inferior quality, but it is nevertheless a very plausible imitation of serge. I also have a sample of a good quality serge made by John Vicars and Company Proprietary Limited, of Marrickville, Sydney. It is retailed at 6s. 6d. a yard, and its value is worth four or five times that of the cheaper article. It is quite easy for persons not skilled in judging the quality of serge, to buy and use the cheaper article. This fibre fabric constitutes a direct challenge to the Australian woollen industry. I intend to be as alert as I can to see that the scales are carefully weighted on the side of the Australian woollen manufacturer.
I am heartily in accord with the general tariff policy of the Government. I feel that the downward trend of the last few years has not been injurious; but we must keep a very watchful eye on alterations in future. I was a little concerned by the proposal of the Government to reduce the duty on sanitary earthenware, but the item does not now appear in the schedule. I felt that a 98 per cent. Australian industry was in danger. The fact that the item will not come before us for discussion is gratifying. I rose only to reply to some of the foolish statements we hear month after month when certain senators speak in condemnation of the Government’s tariff policy.
– “We have had tariffs before us so frequently, and I have spoken on the subject so often, that any one who desires to know my views can easily ascertain them. When Senator Brown was expressing his desire to reconstruct our economic system, his remarks recalled to my mind a story that might have interested him, about the late Mr. John Burns, a well-known English Minister of the Crown. In his early days he once said that no man was worth more than £500 a year. Eventually he became a Cabinet Minister, and by no means a bad one, because he was a man of much courage and ability. His salary as a Cabinet Minister was £5,000 a year. He was asked in the House of Commons whether he could reconcile his previous statement with the fact that he was now drawing ten times as much as he said any man was worth. His reply was, “ Yes, easily. My opinion of myself has gone up very much since I made- the first statement “. The first point I wish to emphasize regarding the schedule is the delay that has taken place in presenting it to the Senate. The schedule was laid on the table of the House on the 8th December last, but it includes schedules that were introduced on ‘the 26th June and the 7th September. In other words, the schedule itself is nearly six months o old, and portion of it was introduced nearly a year ago, and another portion nearly nine months ago. It will be within the memory of the older members of the Senate that Parliament, the Senate in particular, tried to prevent such a delay. Senator Colebatch played a leading part in that. In 1934 we made an amendment to the Customs Act to provide, in effect, that, unless tariff duties were ratified within six months of being laid on the table of Parliament, they should cease to operate. That provision has been overcome partly by validating laws and to some extent by the habit, which I do not. think is a reasonable one, of dropping an old schedule which has not been passed and placing parts of it in a new schedule. That means that, for all practical purposes, the provision we placed in the act, is ineffective, and the deliberate intention of Parliament, as laid down’ in this chamber and assented to in the other House, has been flouted. While the act was amended to prevent duties from continu- ing if they were not considered and validated within six months, in actual practice that is not .being done.
Then there is a matter on which the Minister, in introducing the schedule, laid stress. He said that the Government’s policy was to have a Tariff Board inquiry and not to make tariffs by arbitrary governmental action. I could hardly believe that the Minister was making that statement on his own initiative, but I have discovered that it was also made in the House of Representatives. I draw his attention to the fact that this Government has laid on the table another schedule which makes alterations of duties without Tariff Board inquiry and alters the trade diversion policy, which itself was formulated without Tariff Board inquiry. How a government can claim that its policy is to have a Tariff Board inquiry and not to take arbitrary government action, when1 there is actually another schedule before Parliament at the present time which is really government action without Tariff Board inquiry, I cannot understand. It has been laid down in the Tariff Board Act that the Government shall not -proceed without first receiving the recommendations of the Tariff Board. That stipulation has been broken in the most flagrant way by the trade diversion policy. I said what I thought about that two years ago. I am now going to quote some statements made by Professor L. P. Giblin in a lecture at Adelaide University on the 25th June,’ 1936. The title of the lecture was “ Some Economic Effects of the Australian Tariff”. No one who knows Professor Giblin, or who knows of him, would imagine that he is a rampant freetrader. In the days before he became a professor he was a member of the Labour party, and his lecture makes it clear that he regards himself as a protectionist. He stressed the importance of the Tariff Board, and then said -
The present Government has contributed greatly to that end. Its declared policy has been to refer all questions of protection to the Tariff Board, and to give great weight to its recommendations. That policy has up to the present been carried out in very fair measure, in spite of the obvious political difficulties which it entailed. There have been at times hesitations and postponements, but in the end the Tariff Board’s recommendations have been substantially carried out. It. appeared likely that this policy, if pursued, would give the board a status in public confidence that would be increasingly difficult to upset; so that even a die-hard freetrader or protectionist in the ministerial chair, though lie might impede, would find it impracticable entirely to frustrate the board’s guidance to a sane and balanced protective economy.
This pious hope has been somewhat rudely dashed by the new trade policy recently promulgated from Canberra. On two most important items of tariff policy (the protection of textiles from Japanese competition, and the protection of motor-car manufacture) the Government has taken drastic action, without, so far as the public has been informed, even referring these highly technical questions to the board. On another item (the increased protection of tobacco), action has been taken directly contrary to the board’s findings, without any reason being offered for rejecting them. By this action the Government appears to have undone the good work in the past, to have destroyed the promising building it has been patiently erecting, and to have exposed the whole structure of our tariff policy to the vagaries of future political expediency, and the log-rolling of interested parties. . . .
The first disturbing feature of the new trade policy is the absence of any rational principle behind it. . . .
Apart from the principles involved, the most dangerous feature of the new policy is the threat to wool, on which our whole economy is based. . . .
More broadly, looking at the gloomy international situation, one would have expected a conciliatory foreign policy for the next few years, until international relations arc improved, or we have at least done something adequate for defence. Two leading features of such a policy would be to enhance in every way our friendly relations with the United States of America, and to avoid with particular care any action calculated to provoke Japan. Both these important considerations appear to have been deliberately flouted.
I have already referred to the project for making motor-car chassis in Australia. This 13 the most important and difficult application of the protective policy that has ever been attempted in Australia. If ever there was a tariff item which required full public investigation and criticism, it is this. Yet this is the item on which, apparently, departmental advice is regarded as so competent as to make quite superfluous any reference to the experienced Tariff Board, until after the Government is committed to the project, and the industry, in fact, has been launched with the support of a heavy tariff and a large bounty. . . .
One can only hope that its operation will bc carried out with quietly diminishing vigour until in a year or two it passes into deserved oblivion.
I heard Professor Giblin deliver that speech, and I agree entirely with his views; I have said so previously in this Senate. It was a courageous speech and, looking back, there will be few who will stand up and say that the action taken by the Government two years ago was wise, and few who will not gladly see that which was then done pass into oblivion.
The third and last point to which I shall address myself is the view of the Tariff Board on the efficiency of Australian industries. I have often heard it stated in debates of this kind that an industry is efficient. What exactly is efficiency? How is it calculated? Is it efficiency not only inside Australia but also outside Australia, that is, in comparison with standards throughout the world at large? Some, no doubt, will answer that efficiency can be calculated by a survey of production costs, and, indeed, the Tariff Board itself has to some extent given that answer. It is perhaps the only answer it can give. The phrase commonly employed is “ efficient and economical production.” I suggest that the question of production costing is one of “ economical “ production rather than of “efficient” production. Efficiency, I believe, is something different, and should be taken to concern the quality and durability of the articles produced rather than the cost of their production. It is obvious that if you produce a wonderful article at a prohibitive cost, such production is not economical. Speaking generally, such goods will not be produced. Taking efficiency to involve the excellence and durability of the article produced, a decision as to whether an industry is efficient or not must fall mainly upon the Tariff Board. I do not anticipate that my proposal, will be adopted, but I suggest that the members of the Tariff Board should be given an opportunity to go overseas to study this aspect of their work. I understand that the chairman visited England and America two years ago. I am not criticizing the Tariff Board, but it seems perfectly obvious that it is impossible for a body of men who have hardly been out of Australia, or who have not been in Europe for maybe ten or twenty years, to -say whether an industry is efficient or not. Without pretending to be an expert on manufacturing, I should say that if a man is expected to give a reliable opinion as to the efficiency, or otherwise, of the manufactures of a country, he ought to have visited, preferably, at least, the United States of America and Great Britain, and, in respect of some lines, Germany, and other European countries, and, probably, Japan. All the members of the Tariff Board could not, of course, be sent to all of these places, but the investigatory tours might be shared, one member going to Great Britain, one to America and one to Japan. If this were done, they would be brought far more closely into touch with what is going on in these countries, and would become far better equipped to judge whether industries in Australia we’re truly efficient or not. Australian manufacturers themselves visit other countries in order to discover ways of improving their methods of manufacturing. Is it not almost essential, therefore, that the men who have to pass judgment on their work should have, at least, the opportunity to check properly what -is being done? Some will oppose my suggestion on the ground that it may prevent protection from being given to some industry, and thereby throw a good Australian out of a job ! Personally, however, I do not think it is the country’s obligation to keep a man in a job which is detrimental to the community or which is not economical. If the board is to judge of the efficiency of industries, I cannot see that there can be any justifiable objection to my suggestion. I have never heard this proposal mentioned in Parliament before, and it may carry little weight, but no deep thinking is required to convince one that it is absurd to expect a Tariff Board, consisting of hard working men whose experience has been confined almost wholly to this side of the world, to turn out satisfactorily report after report on the efficiency of various industries. The phrase, “ the industry is efficient “, has been used in innumerable reports of the board. How can members of the board pass such judgment unless they really know what is the standard of efficiency in other countries ? In improvtheir knowledge in that respect they will be better equipped to safeguard the interests of the consumers, which very few people seem to consider at all, and the interests of the people generally.
Senator Brown suggested that I was a representative of the farming community. That is not my idea of the capacity in which I serve in the Senate. I represent to some extent, I hope, all sections of the community. When I entered Parliament I believed in a higher measure of protection than I do now, for at that time tariffs were a good deal more reasonable than they are to-day. I have seen the level of duties rising and, as I witnessed the result of that trend - not only on the primary producers who sell on the world’s markets, but also on the huge mass of consumers who do not realize how they are paying all the time in respect of. every protected item - I have fallen back, not out of any antagonism to manufacturing industries, but out of a real desire to see that fairness is done to all sections of the community, on the idea that the man who cannot pass on an increase of cost should not be put in a position in which he is unable to compete at “all. Since I have been a member of the Senate my vote has nearly always been cast on the side of what Senator Brown would call the farmer, but it has been based on tha wide idea of protecting the interests of all sections of the community; or I have been actuated by the desire to see that those, who I thought were getting an increasingly preponderating advantage, should not go on adding to it, while the load on other sections - and, perhaps more than any other section, the consumers - was being made heavier.
– This debate has been very interesting, but so far honorable senators appear to have overlooked entirely the interests of one section of the community. Tariff duties afford an opportunity to manufacturers to price their goods for the purpose of beating the imported article, and so far as I am able to see, they do so to the very limit. When customs duties were first levied in Australia, the advocates of high duties said that such duties would promote the establishment of manufacturing industries within the Commonwealth and would keep prices within the means of the community. I am inclined, to think that that latter aspect of our tariff law has been largely overlooked, notwithstanding that it is an important factor, affecting the lives of the people. It would be well if Parliament were given the’ opportunity to review generally the whole tariff policy. As has been pointed out, the effect of the imposition of duties of varying degrees of severity is to either increase or decrease the volume of imports. lt seems to me that, as we establish industries for the manufacture- of goods, so must the importations of such goods decrease. The point then arises whether, in time, vessels will refuse to call at Australian ports to take away our surplus raw materials if they cannot bring something in their holds for disposal here. In my opinion, this aspect of the tariff law has not received the consideration from the masses of the people that its importance warrants. Senator DuncanHughes pointed out, in reply to a remark by Senator Brown, that the farmers of Australia are primary producers who use manufactured machinery for the purpose of carrying on their industry. Other primary producers, as, for example, those engaged in mining for gold and coal, are similarly situated, as are those who have timber for sale overseas as well as locally. In the fixing of duties, the interests of others besides manufacturers must be safeguarded. Since the first tariff law was placed on the statute-book, it has been altered on a number of occasions. That brings me to a subject which I have heard mentioned a number of times since I entered this chamber; I refer to the fiscal policy of the Scullin Government. That Government faced an extraordinary situation in that it took over from the outgoing Government an almost bankrupt Treasury. Moreover, it took over during a period when prices were low and world markets dislocated. At that time, Australia imported from one foreign country goods to the value of £35,000,000 a year, and, in return, exported to it products valued at only £5,000,000. Whatever government had been in power, the circumstances then existing would have compelled it to take remedial measures. There had to be an equalization scheme because, at that time, Australia had an adverse trade balance of £94,000,000. In order to meet the extraordinary situation which existed, embargoes and prohibitions were imposed. The policy following on that emergency should not be regarded as one of tariff stabilization. It is true that the Scullin Government took extreme measures; but that is not to say that, had a Labour administration continued in office, those measures would have continued. Once the situation had been taken in hand and a crisis averted, other action would naturally have followed. It, therefore, appears to be useless, in the present circumstances, to lay undue emphasis on the happenings of that time. Eather than call up the past, I prefer to face the position which now confronts us, with a view to preparing for the future. For that reason, I stress the desirability of a general review of the tariff law as applied to the industrial life of the people of - Australia. It is more than a matter of our overseas trade. The effect of the Ottawa Agreement must also be considered. The whole situation should be reviewed in the interests of all the people” of Australia. Particularly must we have regard to those who are carrying enormous burdens resulting from depressed prices. I shall avail myself of a later opportunity to deal with this subject at greater length.
Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) [9.9”. - There are several phases of tariff policy which are not often dealt with on the floor of this chamber. I cannot understand any government, whatever its political outlook, deliberately violating the Tariff Board Act which, in my opinion, is one of the most important laws on the statute-book. I took part in the discussion which preceded the passing of that legislation, and I remember distinctly the stress which was laid on the point that it would protect the community from alterations of the tariff until a report on the subject had been received from the Tariff Board. The existing legislation provides that every proposed amendment of the tariff shall be submitted to the Tariff Board for investigation and report; the Minister is precluded from taking action until the report of the board has been received. The terms of the provision are mandatory. The Minister has no option in the matter. It must be remembered that although duties become effective immediately the schedule containing them is laid on the table of Parliament, Ministers have acted in direct opposition to the provisions of the Tariff Board Act. I spoke in this strain on other occasions when another political party was in charge of the country. I repeat what I then said, notwithstanding that I am a supporter of the- present Government. Nothing can justify a Minister in breaking any law on the statute-book. If we desire that the laws of the country shall be respected by the community generally we, the representatives of the people in the Parliament of the Commonwealth, should set them an example of rigid adherence to the law. If we break the laws which we make, how can we expect the general community to respect them ?
From a study of the schedule, I am forced to the opinion that the Government’s tariff policy makes no contribution towards international goodwill, a subject which was discussed in this chamber only yesterday. In the few remarks which I made then, I said that the imposition of unnecessarily high customs duties had more to do with international ill-will than anything else. I find in the schedule that the rates of duty to be imposed on goods imported from other than British countries are at least seven times as great as those imposed on goods of British manufacture. Surely, in the interest of international goodwill we should be a little less selfish in our tariff policy. An extreme policy is not necessarily in the best interests of Australia. Nor is it necessarily in the best interests of Great Britain, from which we draw such a large proportion of our requirements. Does any one dare to say that the British manufacturer is not competent to market his goods in Australia without at least seven times the rate of duty that is imposed upon goods from other countries? To even suggest that is to reflect on British manufacturers, who for so long have held pride of place among world manufacturers, especially in the textile industry. It is unreasonable to suggest that the British preferential rate on certain textiles should be id. a yard and the rate on similar imports from other countries 3£d. a yard. Such a drastic tariff policy is not necessary in order to ensure a continuance of Empire trade. There is danger in this discriminatory legislation under the guise of protection and preference to Empire producers. If we continue this prohibitive policy against good customer countries, how can we expect to retain their trade; and looking at the matter from a higher viewpoint, how can we expect them to believe that we are sincere when we speak of our desire to cultivate international goodwill and bring about peace in the world? I hope that this matter will be dealt with by other honorable gentlemen, who, perhaps, have given a deeper study to the subject than I have, and that the Government may be induced to modify its policy. I repeat that I extremely regret that, for some reason of which I am not cognizant, it has felt it necessary to violate section 15 of the Tariff Board Act, which reads: -
The Minister shall refer to the board for inquiry and report the following matters: -
The necessity for new, increased, or reduced duties, and the deferment of existing or proposed deferred duties. and he shall not take any action in respect of any of those matters until he has received the report of the board.
I am sorry to be compelled to draw the attention of the Senate, and the people of the Commonwealth, to the fact that Parliament has on several occasions endorsed action by the Minister in violation of a law which has such an important bearing on the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth.
– I listened with much interest to the remarks of honorable senators who have preceded me, and I wish to direct attention to certain aspects that have been touched upon. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) told the Senate that the Country party is entirely a freetrade party.
-I said that the Country party members were freetraders in respect of the things they buy, and high protectionists with respect to the things that they sell.
– I deny the accusation that we are a freetrade party.
We realize that the best market for our products is the home market. Without it we should be entirely dependent for the sale of the bulk of our products on world markets, and would be forced to take world prices for them. Every nation looks to the healthy development of its secondary industries to give employment to the greater part of its increase of population. Primary industries alone are not able to do that. It would be absurd for Country party members in this chamber to shut their eyes to the advantages of a balanced fiscal policy, and to advocate freetrade. We acknowledge the advantages of a scientific tariff, and we appreciate the good work which this Government has done in safeguarding Australian industries during the last few years. This is one of the reasons for my support of the bill. Senator Collings also complained that Parliament had surrendered its powers in fiscal matters to the Tariff Board. The preparation of a scientific tariff schedule is essentially a matter for independent inquiry by a competent authority, after a careful examination of all the facts relating to industries affected. I also remind the Leader of the Opposition that action taken recently in the House of Representatives is a direct refutation of his claim that Parliament has surrendered its powers to the Tariff Board. During the discussion of the schedule in the other chamber, the recommendation of the board in respect of a particular item was rejected and Parliament insisted upon the retention of an earlier existing duty of which it had approved. Senator Leckie stated that it is impossible for us to manufacture immediately everything that we need. Senator Brown, on the other hand, argued that we should manufacture in this country the whole of our requirements. I agree with the honorable gentleman to a certain extent, but I realize that we cannot at once produce in this country all the secondary goods that are required. About a fortnight or three weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting the Small Arms Factory at Maribyrnong and saw there intricate machines which had been imported in order to carry out the Government’s defence programme. Machines of this type are not at present being manufactured in Australia. If we bad to wait until those machines could be manufactured in Australia, the production of certain munitions would probably be delayed for ten years. So intricate are some of the machines that certain parts have to be returned to Great Britain from time to time for adjustment, otherwise they would lose their efficiency. It is absurd to suggest that we shall be able to manufacture in this country everything that is required for our development as a nation. We must necessarily purchase some portion of our requirements abroad and pay for them in goods which we export. This applies particularly to that class of machinery which I may describe as the primary machinery of secondary industries and machinery required for the manufacture of the machines required in the equipment of our factories. I also had an opportunity to visit the aircraft factory and was informed that the management had to scour the world for some of’ the necessary machinery, but I was assured that ultimately most of it will be made in Australian foundries and factories. As a member of the Country party, I realize the necessity to protect our secondary industries, and that at present it is impossible for Australia to manufacture all the plant and equipment required in the development of such industries. During the last six years there has been a considerable increase of secondary production in Australia, and, according to the latest figures available, the number of hands employed in Australian factories in 1929-30 was 419,195, whereas in 1936-37 it had increased to 525,000. I know that the members of the Opposition will say that that increase is duo to the somewhat abnormal conditions prevailing, but it is largely attributable to the improved prices received for our primary products on the world’s markets, resulting in more money coming into the country. The main reason, however, is the confidence which the investing public lias in the security it has for its money. During the past six years our secondary industries have increased in number and become more prosperous than during any other period in our history.
I regret that secondary production has not increased to the extent that it should in Queensland, where, apart from the sugar milling industry, there has been practically no increase since 1914 in proportion to the increase of population.
– The honorable senator realizes that Queensland is not a manufacturing State.
– As Queensland has coal and other minerals there , is no reason why secondary industries should not flourish there. South Australia, which has to obtain coal from other States, has secondary industries, some of which are of considerable magnitude.
– If the honorable senator excludes the sugar milling industry in Queensland, why does he noi exclude Holdens motor-body building works in South Australia?
– I can exclude whatever I like, so long as I say what I am. omitting. Sugar production has increased to a large extent, and that primary industry is responsible for the only extension of secondary industry that has occurred in Queensland. That is one reason why the Government has been anxious to assist the industry under the agreements brought before Parliament from time to time. The new capital which has been invested in new industries in six years has been a3 follows: New South Wales, £2,000,000; Victoria, £606,000; South Australia, £20,000; Western Australia, £S0,000; and Queensland, nil. Those amounts do not, of course, include the now capital invested in old-established industries, which is estimated to have been £11,300,000 during the past six years. About £50,000 has been invested in extending established industries in Queensland during this period. These figures show that the Government has carefully considered the effects of its tariff policy upon primary industries, but more particularly upon secondary industries which can be conducted economically. I believe that the fiscal policy which has been in operation for the last six years has been an unqualified success, and has been the means of finding employment for our people, and so assisting in the disposal of the greater proportion of Australia’s products at profitable prices.
– >I do not desire to prolong the debate unduly, but I should like to comment, upon some of the points raised by previous speakers. On. the last occasion
On which a tariff schedule was before the Senate, I said, amongst other things, that “ If more persons are diverted from the cities to the country, they will become a. greater burden on the State than they are at present.” To that observation the present Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) replied :. “ What nonsense.” The logic of events has caused many persons to change their minds, and to-day the idea that the encouragement of secondary industries is injurious to primary producers seems to have completely faded out. In confirmation of that assertion I quote the following from the report of a speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in Sydney on Monday last : -
The Government had come to the conclusion that the expansion of the great secondary industries was the only means by which additional settlers could be brought into Australia without inflicting hardship on local people by jeopardizing their employment. However, room for any number of migrants could not be made unless additional industries were established or the existing ones extended.
I assume that the Prime Minister was speaking on behalf of the Government, and that his statement embodied the considered policy to which the Government would give effect. Recently I attended, as a delegate, a conference of Empire primary producers convened by the Government of New South Wales in connexion with the sesquicentenary celebrations of that State. Representatives from practically every portion of the Empire were present, and most, if not all, of the primary industries of Australia were represented. The consensus of opinion at that gathering was that Great Britain cannot take a larger quantity of our primary products than we are exporting to-day, and that there is little hope of obtaining markets in other countries.
– Unless Britain excludes foreign goods.
– Yes ; the position of Great Britain has to be studied from various angles. Great Britain is not far removed from potential enemy countries, and in the present state of world affairs Britain cannot afford to quarrel with any of its immediate neighbours. It is a mistake to allege that most wars have been caused by customs tariffs. I cannot recall one war of which such tariffs have been the basic cause. I do not think it can be said that the Crimean War, which began in 1853, nor the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, nor the American civil war of 1S60, were due to tariffs. No’ one, surely, will allege that the’ Great War of 1914, which lasted until nearly the end of 1918, was a trade war due to the tariffs of any country engaged in the conflict. Every nation has its problems, and if we give consideration to that fact we shall realize that every country has some justification for its internal p’olicy. Certainly Australia has. We have a big and a rich territory which is under-populated. We. are embarrassed by the fact that the only way we can provide for a substantial increase of population is, as the Prime Minister said on Monday, by establishing new industries and expanding those already in existence. That seems to be a complete answer to the statement that there is natural antagonism between primary and secondary industries; the truth is that each is dependent upon the other. There is such a close inter-dependence that their interests cannot be separated. I know there are many persons who contend that secondary industries have not “been assisted by the Government and the people to the same extent as primary industries. Those who make that allegation overlook the fact that in recent years primary industries have been assisted by the people of Australia through the high exchange rate to an amount bordering on £200,000,000. I said something on those lines at the Empire Conference of Primary Producers held in Sydney recently, and I was taken to task for the statement, not by any ‘one present, but by the Roma, branch of the Selectors Association of Queensland, the members of which apparently did not know that the wool industry was being helped, by the high exchange rate. Australia’s exports for the year ended the 30th June, 1937, were valued at £160,000,000. The exchange on exports of that value would mean no less a sum than £32,000,000, and in addition many of the exporting industries are also protected by the tariff. I believe a large number of primary producers are unaware of the extent to which they are helped by the exchange rate. They would goon wake up if there was a proposal to reduce the rate by even 5 per cent. They do not give the’ people of Australia credit for the assistance provided in this way. They think that only secondary industries receive substantial assistance. The Government has been taking too much credit to itself for the tariff. Secondary industries have undoubtedly been helped by the fact that wages and conditions of labour in Great Britain and other countries have improved until there is not the same margin between them and the wages paid in this country as there used to be. There have been references in the newspapers lately to a hostile feeling that has developed in some cities of the Mother Country because manufacturers there feel that the benefits of the Ottawa Agreement have not been given to them in full measure. The views of manufacturers in this country are no doubt different from those of oversea manufacturers, who probably do not know that all the preference accorded to Australia by the Mother Country is on goods that the Mother Country has to import, and that therefore nothing on which Australia has received preference competes with British production. On the other hand, according to the terms of the Ottawa Agreement, Australia is supposed to admit British manufactures at rates of duty that will enable them to compete on even terms with the manufactures of Australia. I said when the Ottawa Agreement was under discussion in the Senate that Great Britain had driven a hard bargain. Experience has proved that to be so, and when we remember the important part Mr. J. H. Thomas took in the negotiations none of us is surprised. It was said, and I do not think the statement has ever been contradicted, that while the Ottawa Agreement was being negotiated the. graziers of Argentina spent £100,000 on publicity. It is held by those in a position to speak with authority that the £100,Q00 was not spent in vain.
– I do not think that statement is quite correct.
– I know it was published. In view of certain events that have happened since, there are some grounds for suspicion. I do not say that the present British Government is not prepared to treat this country fairly. It knows that the people of Australia are of the same race as the people still in England, and that should the Empire ever be in need we are prepared to play the part of true Britishers. At the same time, there are misunderstandings in Great Britain with regard to the relative benefits conferred upon the producers of this country and those of the Mother Country. Something should be done to clear up that misunderstanding. I give credit to the High Commissioner for what he has done in London. My regret is that, because of calls on his time and talents in other directions, he has not been able to give the amount of attention to the question of our trade relations with the Mother Country that circumstances have demanded. Nevertheless, 1 am hoping that some of the worst features of the Ottawa Agreement in its application to Australia will be removed as the outcome of the negotiations that are proceeding at the present time. I feel very hopeful about the future of Australia, because of the considerable change there has been in Australian public opinion on tariff policy. Not enough credit has been given to those at the head of the manufacturing businesses of Australia. For years they have had a very trying time. Many companies failed to pay dividends, and a number of big businesses made heavy losses. In all fairness to secondary industries generally, the losses made in those times should be set off against the profits now being made. This country must increasingly depend on its secondary industries. Even other countries realize that. There has grown up all over’ the world what is termed “ economic nationalism “, but no one has yet been able, so far as I am aware, to point out that the policy of self-sufficiency has injured any country that has adopted it. Great Britain in recent years has gone nearly as far as any other country. I spent a few months in England in 1936, and I was surprised at the unanimity with which the people had accepted the change from freetrade to protect iOn. and at the evident prosperity almost throughout the country. No doubt other countries have- had the same experience. At any rate, there is no evidence that any country which has adopted a policy of self-sufficiency has grown tired of it. We all know that just a few years ago the Democratic party in the United States of America scored a -signal victory by the election of Mr. Roosevelt as President, and by achieving majorities in both branches of Congress. One of the leading planks, if not the leading plank, of the policy on which he was first elected, was a reduction of customs duties, but so far as I am aware, and I have followed fairly closely what has happened in America in the meantime, not a single duty has been reduced. The same may be said in respect of other countries. They have tasted the fruits of economic nationalism, and have found it to their liking, and they have no desire to abandon that policy. I am sure that popular feeling in Australia towards our secondary industries is becoming more and more favorable, because the logic of events has proved that there is no other policy which this country can safely adopt.
– In reply - Dealing first with the remarks of Senator Crawford regarding Australian primary products exported to Great Britain, it is only fair to point out that many of these commodities compete with British produce. Great Britain could purchase at cheaper prices from non-British countries the primary products it now imports from Australia and from the other dominions. Because of his close -association with the sugar industry, I have no doubt that the honorable senator will agree that in respect of sugar, for example, Great Britain extends to Australia a very valuable preference, because it could buy sugar at much lower prices from foreign countries.
– My point was that the primary products we export to Great Britain do not compete with British, crops.
– They do. I recall that when I was in Great Britain a few years ago an outcry was raised by some sections of the farming community in that respect. For instance, the levy which Britain -places upon beef imported from Argentina is used as a bounty to assist beefproducers in the United Kingdom itself by giving them a guaranteed price for their product.
Senator Brown also referred? to the purchases of primary products by Great Britain, and cited figures showing the variations in percentages which had taken place during recent years. We know that the last twelve months has been a tragic period for many sections of our primary producers. The cream cheques of many of our dairy farmers have almost dropped to nothing, whereas in the preceding year, due to favorable seasons, the output of our butter factories was very much larger. However, within the last year, several butter factories were not exporting at all; they were merely manufacturing for local requirements. In order to emphasize the value of the British market to our primary producers I feel justified in mentioning the following figures showing the proportion of our primary products bought by Great Britain during 1936-37: Butter 92.1, cheese 92.8, eggs 99.1, beef 91.8, mutton and lamb 98.1, currants 77.2, raisins 50.1, apples 83.7, pears 95.0, preserved fruits 79.6, flour 31.4, rice 74.7, sugar 84.1, wine 94.7, hides 23.6 per cent. Despite criticism to the contrary, therefore, it is obvious that our primary producers would be in an almost hopeless position were it not for the fact that they enjoy substantia] preference on the British market.
– Great Britain does not pay extra for our products for love of us; it takes our products because it needs them.
– If Great Britain did not take these goods from us it could buy them at cheaper prices from other countries.
The speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition was not entirely a newspeech; we have heard portions of it from the honorable senator before. I am sorry that he is contracting the very bad habit of using figures in an endeavour to get away with statements which are not quite accurate. A few days ago he said that metal prices were soaring. In reply to his remarks on that point the Leader of the Senate cited market quotations showing that instead of soaring, metal prices were to-day less than half of what they were twelve months ago. In Lis characteristically clever manner, the honorable senator adduced certain figures in respect of the average earnings of the breadwinners of this country, and suggested that such figures revealed the position of the average worker at the present time. I took the trouble to check up those figures, and found that they were taken from the 1933 census return. ‘They were compiled in respect of the year 1932, when this country was experiencing the worst depression of its history. Yet the honorable senator cited them as revealing the position existing at present, and endeavoured to lead honorable senators to believe that that position was the result of the tariff policy of this Government, and of the actions generally of this Government, whereas he knew perfectly well that the statistics related to the year 1932. He mentioned, for instance, the number of bread-winners I take this opportunity to explain just what classes of persons come within the category of bread-winners for census purposes. In 1936 there were in Australia 3,156,000 bread-winners, and threefourths of that number were men and boys, and one-fourth women and girls. They included persons of all ages and of both sexes, those who work on their own account, wage and salaryearners, apprentices, all the old-age and invalid pensioners, those of so-called independent means, those who were unemployed, and those on relief work. A “ bread-winner “ for census purposes is, broadly speaking, no more nor less than a person of any age or sex who has or who seeks to have any money coming in - and is far removed from the popular conception of a bread-winner, namely, the head of a family on whom alone depends the fortunes and well-being of the family. Yet the honorable senator would have us believe that the bread-winners earning the average rates, he mentioned were the fathers of families.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– The honorable senator’s object in quoting those figures was to suggest that hundreds of thousands of families in Australia were earning less than £2 a week. Actually, the census of five years ago shows that there were 3,156,000 so-called bread-winner? in Australia, or practically half of the total population. As the Leader of the Opposion aspires some day to be the Leader of the Senate, he -should be more careful in his use of information of this kind, and realize his responsibility as a public man. Without wishing to criticize him unduly, I say that he was not fair to this country in reading from papers sordid details concerning some of the more unfortunate individual cases in our midst. One would imagine when he quoted the case of that unfortunate woman who committed suicide with her last penny, that he was describing average conditions in Australia. The honorable senator knows perfectly well that in every country unfortunate individual cases of that kind exist, and no public man should attempt to make political capital out of such tragedies. Eather should we deplore the existence of such distress and seek to remove the causes of it. He also mentioned the case of an unfortunate girl in Sydney who was found grabbing a crust from a dust-bin. I read the account of that case, but I read more of it than was disclosed by the honorable senator. The unfortunate girl had been sent on a shopping errand, and, having lost the money, had been frightened to return home; she had been found wandering in the street. Does the honorable senator say that such a case is typical of conditions existing in this country to-day? He understands perfectly well the reason for the existence of isolated cases of misfortune in this, as in every other country. The fact is that hundreds of thousands of people in Australia are earning good salaries, building up homes, educating families, and enjoying all those good tilings which Australia offers to every one who is prepared to work .out industriously his or her destiny. It is a pity that an honorable senator should, through Hansard, give such a bad advertisement of Aus- tralia by quoting sordid details of unfortunate cases in such a way as to give the impression that they reflected average conditions in this country.
In reply to the statement that the Government ignored the Tariff Board Act when.it recently brought down a new tariff schedule, I point out that when the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins) tabled that schedule in the House of Representatives Lc explained the reasons necessitating his action, and stressed the fact that it was purely a temporary measure. Honorable senators will recollect that both the Acting Minister and I, us his representative in this chamber, read a statement sonic months ago pointing out that it waa the intention of the Government to abolish the system of embargoes and importation under licence in respect of our trade with the United States of America. lt was done, as Senator Payne suggested it should bc, largely as a gesture of goodwill towards that country, and also because the policy was not achieving any real good. Protective duties were substituted for embargoes. Would Senator DuncanHughes or Senator Payne say that no protection should be afforded to the industries which sprang up in Australia during the period for which the embargoes operated?
– We say that no change should have been made without a report from the Tariff Board.
– When the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs introduced ibo amending schedule into the House of Representatives, he said that these matters would be submitted to the Tariff Board, and that pending the furnishing of reports by that body, temporary protective duties would be imposed.
Senator Dein referred to staple fibre piece goods and mentioned one class of goods which competed with worsted goods. The Tariff Board recently held an inquiry into this subject and is now preparing its report. I expect that it will be furnished shortly.
Senator Leckie and also the Leader oi the Opposition referred to the importation of cement, and criticized my remarks as to the benefits which Australia had derived from the altered duties. They said that activity in connexion with armaments prevented British manufacturers from exporting cement in anything like the quantities formerly exported. The following table shows the exports of cement from the United Kingdom to all countries since 1935 : -
Vor cbe first three months of 1937, the export of cement from Great Britain totalled 169,000 tons.
– What are the figures in respect of exports to Australia?
– I was answering the contention that the total exports of cement from Great Britain had decreased because Great Britain’s own requirements were greater than formerly. As n result of a reduction of the cost of cement, duc to the lower duties, users of cement in this country have saved approximately £300,000. Notwithstanding that saving, the greater output of cement has enabled manufacturers to maintain, a sound position.
I have already answered the point raised by Senator Payne, that in formulating its fiscal policy, the Government should have regard to the importance of establishing and maintaining friendly relations with other countries, and I have ako explained the benefit of substituting protective duties for the system of licensing imports.
The Leader .of the Opposition accused the Government of whittling down duties and withdrawing protection from Australian industries.
– Since the Ottawa Agreement was signed, the duties on nearly 2,000 items have been reduced.
– Of that number, 500 items come under the category of machines and machine tools, many of which are not manufactured in Australia. Other items relate to machinery imported by manufacturers in order to improve their own plant. Others again relate to machinery used by primary producers. On a large proportion of such items the duties were imposed by the Scullin
Government solely for revenue purposes. The fiscal policy of the present Government is to steer a fair middle course, by giving to both primary and secondary industries reasonable opportunities for development, so that employment at decent wages may be provided for Australians. The absorption of large numbers of workers in industry and the improvement of their conditions during the present Government’s term of office justify my commendation of its policy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Prefatory note agreed to.
Motion (by Senator A. J. McLach lan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– In the course of his speech, Senator Cooper cited some figures relating to Queensland. I have here the latest Year-Book from Which I shall quote figures to show that those cited by the honorable member were inaccurate. If he will look at page773 he will find figures for the years 1931-32 to 1935-36, giving the number of factories in the different States. These figures show that the percentage increases in the various States were : - New South Wales, 14 per cent.; Victoria, 11.6 per cent.; Queensland, 23 per cent. - nearly twice the percentage increase in Victoria - South Australia, 14 per cent.; Western Australia, 30 per cent. ; Tasmania, 4 per cent. The percentage increase of the number of factories in Queensland was greater than in any other part of the Commonwealth with the exception of “Western Australia. Senator Cooper’s other figures were equallyastray.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 June 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19380601_senate_15_156/>.