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Wednesday, 2 December 1936


Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - I deplore the fact that the Senate is so unwise as to be sitting at this late hour of the night, when all honorable senators, should be in bed enjoying an honest sleep'. Seeing that it is so, however, and that honorable senators are to continue to talk for some time yet, I shall endeavour to deal with the bill now before the Senate from the Labour party's point of view. From the remarks which have been passed by a number of honorable senators who have already spoken to the bill, a wrong impression as to the attitude of the Labour party is likely to be created outside of this Parliament. I shall not do as an old friend of mine in Canada did many years ago. We were dealing with certain problems, and whenever we got into difficulties he expounded the philosophy of Josef Dietezgen, that mobile stability and stable motion constitute the reconciling contradiction that reconciles all contradictions. I do not know whether honorable senators can understand that or not; possibly if they can it may help them to explain many of the contradictions we find in our modern economic system. I am pleased to know that the Minister in charge of the bill is being brought to a realization that we are facing . certain very revolutionary changes at the present time. The honorable senator has admitted that the way to recovery is not along the old track. That, at any rate, is something. He went on to discuss and condemn self-sufficiency, and . pointed out that history does not encourage us to return to the old ways of international trade.

Yet, while on the one hand the Government deplores the development of selfsufficiency, on the other it brings down a measure which has for its very aim selfsufficiency, that is to say, within the bounds of the Empire. As I have pointed out on many occasions, this development will go on until most of our needs are manufactured in this country by Australian workmen. After all, if we limit our trade with Japan and with other countries, including the United States of America, and confine it within the bounds of the Empire, gradually the stage will be reached at which it will be said that the only way out of the difficulty is further to limit the Australian market to Australians. I have said repeatedly that the way we are travelling will not lead us to a solution of our problems. The Minister pointed out that raw material countries were giving up triangular trade, and reverting to a system of barter. If I remember rightly, he instanced the barter agreements entered into with other countries by Germany, and used that as an argument why we should cease to concern ourselves with triangular trade. As a matter of fact, we cannot do so, because world trade is triangular. Bilateral trade agreements cannot be wholly successful because, when all is said and done, trade really means the exchange of commodities, not merely between one country and another, but between one country and the rest of the world. The Minister went on to say that the Government decided on its fiscal policy because circumstances compelled it to do so, and that it would mean an increase of work for immigrants. I question very much whether the mere diversion of trade will result in any improvement of the employment position. I could concede the logic of the honorable senator's argument had he said that Australian trade should be developed within the borders of Australia; that would, for the time being, increase employment in this country ; but mere diversion of trade from, say, Japan to Great Britain will not increase our powers of employment.


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The honorable senator has misunderstood me; I used that argument in reference to the establishment of the motor car industry.


Senator BROWN - The Minister evidently does not contend that the mere diversion of trade from Japan and the United States of America to Great Britain will increase employment in this country.


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It will not increase it ; but it will at least maintain it at its present level.


Senator BROWN - I am sorry that I have misunderstood the honorable senator. I certainly do not hold that the mere diversion of trade from one channel to another will increase employment. That argument should not be used to influence the people of Australia, because it is grossly misleading. If by changing our tariff policy, it is possible to build up in Australia new factories, utilizing new machinery, while the factories are being built and the new machinery installed, a certain amount of employment will be provided for our people; but if the world is taken as an economic unit that policy will not solve the problem of unemployment generally.

Sitting suspended from 11.30 p.m. to 12.15 a.m. (Thursday).







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