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Wednesday, 20 June 1906


Mr McCAY (Corinella) . - The honorable member who has just resumed his seat will not, I think, consider it an unfair summary of his speech to say that he is ready to support the measure as an experiment which he expects to fail.


Mr Watson - Just so, though that does not apply to Part III.


Mr McCAY - The honorable' member pointed out very fairly and clearly the object of the party with which he is associated. In its view, the only way to cure the evils attendant upon the aggregation of industry and its controlby a few hands is to make those hands the hands of the State, that in that way alone is to be found a cure for what he describes, as a cancer in the body politic. He thinks that when the organization of an industry has become so centralized as to give it the character of what we, in general language, term a monopoly, the State should intervene, and, to use his own words, exercise collective control. By collective control I took him to mean public ownership.


Mr Watson - Yes ; in some shape.


Mr McCAY - The profits of the industry would go into the coffers of the public, and' would form part either of the consolidated revenue fund, or of some special fund. I also understood the honorable gentleman to say that the tendency of modern industry - and he twitted the honorable member for Parramatta with having made a similarstatement - is towards the aggregation and centralization of control, and that that tendency cannot be resisted, being to all intents and purposes a natural law, if we accept the ordinary definition of the term as a' tendency which human effort cannot alter or prevent. By taking the honorable member's two assertions together, we arrive at the position that, when an industry is centralized in a comparatively few hands, and is capable of becoming a monopoly, it must be subjected to the collective ownership of the community, and, consequently, that all industrial enterprise of any importance is tending to that end. He says, in other words,, that all industry will sooner or later come under State control, though he would! not at once bring that about- ^because, I presume, he knows that he cannot. I trust that this collective control or public ownership of industries which, he says, must come about sooner or later as the operation of the inevitable tendency to which he has referred, will come about later rather than sooner.


Mr Watson - Our argument is that the only choice is between private and public ownership.


Mr McCAY - I am endeavouring ;to state fairly what I take to be the honorable member's position, and the unavoidable inference to be drawn from his remarks. The condition of things to which he looks forward is what I call Socialism.


Mr Watson - It is certainly not antiSocialism.


Mr McCAY - I ventured to interject that social action is not Socialism.


Mr Watson - It is socialistic.


Mr McCAY - That word is, to my honorable friends in the Labour corner, as great a source of comfort as the blessed word Mesopotamia was to a certain old lady.


Mr Watson - And as the word " antiSocialism " is to honorable members in the Opposition corner.


Mr McCAY - I trust that the Minister will give as much consideration to the suggestions from this corner as he gives to those from the Labour corner. We, at all events, shall not ask him to tumble down to meet our desires, as he is tumbling down to meet the desires of the members of the Labour corner.


Mr Higgins - What harm is there in a name? Why does not the honorable and learned member suggest another?


Mr McCAY - I am stating what I take to be the position of the members of the Labour Party.


Mr Higgins - What is the honorable and learned member's position?


Mr Kelly - We should like to know what is the position of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne.


Mr McCAY - I wish to be allowed to develop my argument, and ought not to be asked to rush to the end of my speech before I have uttered the beginning of it. The position of the honorable member for Bland - arid he stated that he spoke for his party - is, in mv opinion, socialistic, and that is why I think that the methods proposed by the Bill are permissible and proper, while those proposed by him and his party are not proper. I do not agree with those who say that legislation to control or regulate industries is socialistic. My definition of a Socialist is one who believes in and advocates Socialism, and I define Socialism as collective ownership. No other test of Socialism is known to any writer of standing or. the subject, and in support of that assertion I could quote the statements of socialistic leaders of thought, beginning with Lassalles, and coming right down, through Karl Marx and others, to the leader of the Labour Party, who, in a letter which he recently wrote to a correspondent, appearing in this month's Australian Review of Reviews, says that, to his mind, Socialism means anything intended to improve the social condition of the community. If that be so, all legislation is socialistic, because all legislation aims at improving the social condition of the community. He went on to say that Socialism has acquired a technical meaning, implying the collective ownership of land and capital. The Brisbane Worker was asked its definition of Socialism, and, in the article to which I am referring, says that it is satisfied with that of the Queensland Labour Party - the nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and) exchange, to be attained by the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the State. The Labour Party of Australia has stated its objective to be the nationalization of monopolies, and the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the State, but while adopting the means which would be used bv the Queensland Labour Party to attain Socialism, it leaves out the Socialist's definition of the objective. I venture to say that there is really verv little difference between the objective of the Queensland Labour Party and that of the Australian Labour Party. though one statement may be plainer than the other.


Mr Batchelor - What about the South Australian platform?


Mr McCAY - I do not know what has been adopted by the Labour Party of South Australia. All these definitions, however, say that Socialism is one thing, the collective ownership of all means of production, distribution, and exchange - the collective ownership of all the sources of wealth. That is what we, who do not be- lieve in Socialism, are fighting.


Sir William Lyne - The honorable and learned member is a Socialist, all the same.


Mr McCAY - I am quite aware that I might quote definitions to the Minister until the day of judgment. He would never listen to them, or try to understand them, nor would he be influenced in the least degree by even an avalanche of them. I might tell the Minister, who is now awake, that a Socialist is a man who believes in the collective ownership of the sources of wealth. Unless he believes in that he is not a Socialist. To use the word " Socialist ' ' in any other way is an abuse of terms, and the device that has been adopted of adding two or three letters to the term, and making it "socialistic," does not make any difference. " Socialistic " means something that will tend towards Socialism, and it does not necessarily apply to measures which are intended to ameliorate the human lot. It must tend towards the socialistic objective - that Socialism which we, on this side of the House, are united in opposing. We are glad to say that in this respect we have the alliance of members on the other side of the House, in. the persons of the Ministry and their supporters.


Sir William Lyne - Would the honorable and learned member kindly say what portion of the Bill he is discussing?


Mr McCAY - I am discussing the question whether a measure of this kind can properly be supported by those who do not believe in Socialism - that is exactly the way in which every honorable member who has taken part in this discussion has begun. The Minister in charge of the Bill knows nothing about the debate that has been going on, and consequently it surprises him to find that that line of discussion has been followed.


Mr Higgins - I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, whether it is in order to discuss a proposal which it would be impossible for us to carry out under the Constitution - has this Parliament anything to do with the question of nationalizing industries ?


Mr SPEAKER - I would remind honorable members that the present incident indicates the necessity, which I know honorable members sometimes resent, for keeping strictly to the point under discussion. I permitted the honorable member for Parramatta to depart somewhat from the exact subject of the Bill, because I thought that he was entitled to incidentally refer to certain points. His remarks were made the basis of certain observations by the honorable member for Bland, with whom I did not feel called upon to interfere, since he was replying to the honoraBle member for Parramatta. Now, further remarks are being made in reply to the honorable member for Bland, and, so far as I can see, the whole question as to what is or is not Socialism will be opened up for discussion. I cannot permit of anything of that kind. All that I can allow the honorable and learned member for Corinella to do is to make an incidental reference to the argument of the honorable member for Bland that the Bill is a socialistic measure. In reply to the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I may remark that it is not for me to say what is constitutionally possible or impossible. That is for others to determine.


Mr McCAY - When the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne rose, I was about to say that this was not a socialistic measure, and that therefore those who were not Socialists were in a position to support it, if they thought fit. We are all agreed that the growth of monopolies may be, and is, in fact, accompanied - we have the example of the United States - by evils which it is not only the right, but the duty, of the Legislature to combat. It is because I believe that we have in Australia what are virtually monopolies, and because threats have been made to injure Australian interests by means of dumping - both evils are either present or threaten to be present in Australia - that I say that it is not only the right, but the duty, of this Parliament to deal with these matters. Differences of opinion, may arise between us as to the methods to be adopted, but as to the object to be attained - the preventionof injury to our industries through the operation of monopolies and by the dumping of good's on our shores - we must be al! agreed, and I have no fear with regard toany legislation of this kind. I have always believed in the right and the duty of the State to regulate industry in order to see that no section of the community, or even an individual, suffers by reason of an abuse of the powers of individual action which the State gives to its citizens.


Mr Thomas - Does the honorable and* learned member support the Bill ?


Mr McCAY - Most undoubtedly I do.


Mr Thomas - I did not think the honorable and learned member could sink so low.


Mr McCAY - The honorable member's political ideas are at such a low level that most people have to stoop to look at them. The Bill deals with two entirely different subjects. It aims at achieving two entirely different results, and it strikes at two entirely different evils. Except for the convenience of procedure, it would have been better to deal with these subjects in two separate Bills. Part II. of the measure relates to the repression of monopolies; that is to say, it aims at preventing prices from being raised to the detriment of the consumer. Part III. deals with dumping, the object of which is to temporarily lower the selling price, to the detriment of the local producer, though the ultimate object is to furnish an opportunity for the creation of a monopoly which will result in increased prices, to the detriment of the consumer. But the immediate evils to be dealt with are entirely different, and the subject inevitably divides itself into two parts, which have to be separately discussed, and viewed from an entirely different stand-point. Part II. of the measure, which proposes to restrain monopolies, is based on the Sherman A:t, which, as has been pointed out, has not achieved! its object as fully and as entirely as, I presume, was hoped by those who introduced it. It has, however, made the career of monopoly in the United States a much more difficult one to pursue. It has made the assured existence of monopolies much more difficult, because, but for the corporation law of New Jersey - which is the biggest enemy the Sherman Act has to fight in the United States - the methods pursued prior to the putting into operation of the Act would have been brought to an end through the application pf the Act to the circumstances of each case. Even as it is, monopolies in the United States have been driven back to a large extent - I do not say entirely - to their original forms of pools, or secret understandings, which, while they are just as effective as the more definite and legal forms of existence whilst they continue, ate far ' more liable to come to an end through the falling away of one or more members of the combination. So that, even if the Sherman Act had done no more than this, its existence would have been justified, although there would be no ground for saying that no other legislation was necessary. I would remind honorable members that, whilst trusts in the United States have worked great injury to the people, their history is not very encouraging to trust-mongers. A very large number of them have come to grief, and have caused great financial loss to those who have brought them into existence, or who have endeavoured to engineer them. Most trusts that have not been held together by legal obligations between the members have sooner or later failed to keep intact, and have consequently failed to carry out the maleficent objects which they have endeavoured to attain. If this measure renders the course of the trust promoter more difficult, and precludes him from relying on those associated with the trusts to carry out their bargain, it will be justified, provided always that in endeavouring to meet an ev.il which is not very great in Australia, but which mav become greater, we do not create greater evils. We must always remember that it is of no use to apply a remedy if it is likely to prove worse than the disease. Consequently, in connexion with Part II. of the Bill, honorable members have to consider whether it threatens to produce evil results which would be worse than those now apprehended. If we can answer that question in the negative, the second point upon which we have to satisfy ourselves is whether the proposals are sufficient to secure the object aimed' at. There is an intermediate course open to us. We may say that the Bill requires modification in order to avoid apparently mischievous results. I do not believe that Australian producers or consumers have suffered verv seriously from trusts up to the present time. To institute a comparison between the present state of affairs in Australia and the conditions that have existed at any time during the past twenty years in the United States is to bring into contrast a comparatively small evil and a very large one. At the same time, to use the figure of speech adopted by an honorable member opposite, it is desirable to catch the tiger and shackle him while he is young. If there is a combination in Australia which, in the words of the Bill, is in restraint of trade or commerce, or is operating to the detriment of the public, it is our duty to see that it ceases to have such effects. I think that the words " to the detriment of the public," which have been inserted in' this measure, remove many of the objections that were urged, and with some reason, against the Sherman Act. A decision was given in certain freight cases in the United States that, whether the restraint was* reasonable or unreasonable, or wise or unwise, it was prohibited by the Sherman Act. That objection does not apply to the Bill now before us.


Mr Higgins - How would the honorable and learned member .show detriment ?


Mr McCAY - That question goes to the root, not only of this particular proposal, but of the whole of the proposals in this measure, or in any other measure of the same kind, because unless these combinations detrimentally affect others who are not members of them the State is not called upon to interfere.


Mr Glynn - Every Board and jury will become a Tariff Commission.


Mr McCAY - I do not think so. I think that detriment could be shown in this way : If it were found that a combination existed, and that the price of an article: which it supplied had increased without any increase having taken place in the cost of its material, or in other directions, no jury would have/ any difficulty in concluding that that particular combination was to the detriment of the public. After all, this Bill relates in effect to increases in price, or to the limitation of the markets in which one may purchase, owing to the formation of combines.


Mr Higgins - It would not apply to a brewer's tying lease. The Leer might not be increased in price,


Mr McCAY - The Bill would not apply to a brewer's tying lease, ever, in the absence of the words to which I have referred. If the brewer were in one State and the tied house in- another, such a lease might possibly come under the provisions of this Bill, if it could be shown that it was to the detriment of the public.


Mr Higgins - How could that, be shown ?


Mr McCAY - If worse beer were supplied at the same price-


Mr Higgins - Let us assume that it is of the same Quality and price.


Mr McCAY - If it were of the same quality arid price I do not know what the public would have to do with it from the point' of view of the repression of monopolies. It might be attacked on other grounds, and in other directions. But this part of the Bill is headed " Repres sion of monopolies," and it deals with that particular form of evil. When I was drawn off the track by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I was about to remark that we have to consider whether this clause will meet the evil that we fear, and also whether it will create evils which we have to apprehend. I am not prepared to say that this portion of the measure meets with my unqualified approval. Like the next part, it requires some amendment, but in my opinion these matters can be better discussed in Committee. In spite of the addition which makes this part of the Bill less wide than is the Sherman Act, in its terms and in its application, it is undoubtedly much wider than is that Act. There are those who will welcome that fact, and others who will view it with modified approval, because they do not know exactly how far it will carry them. I do not think that I should serve any useful purpose by discussing the clauses in 'detail at the present moment. So far as I am concerned, I believe that we have reason to fear that monopolies - even if they do not exist now - may spring into existence in Australia at no distant date to the detriment of the public, and this Parliament in exercising the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution in respect of trade and commerce, is bound to see that it does regulate commerce in such a way that the public do not suffer. But to call such action socialistic is the wildest misuse of terms, and one would not need to take notice of it if the statement were not so persistently repeated in quarters where better knowledge should certainly prevail. In discussing Part III. of the Bill, which relates to proposals for the stoppage of dumping, one gets on to newer and much more difficult ground. I cannot agree with the leader of the Labour Party that Tariff issues, at any rate, cannot be raised in connexion with this part of the measure.


Mr Wilks - It is simply buttressing the Tariffthat is all.


Mr McCAY - I will not say that, although' I think that, in some directions, perhaps, the present Tariff requires some buttressing.


Mr Cameron - I think that it wants knocking down.


Mr McCAY - I know tHat the honorable member does, but T am Hopeful enough to believe that my aspirations are more likely to be fulfilled than are his. I do not think that this Bill, or any measure except a Tariff, should' be used for the purpose of buttressing duties in such a way as to produce results which could not be produced by the duties themselves. I acquit the Government of any intention to pass this legislation for the purpose of producing results to which it could not induce this House to subscribe upon straight-out Tariff proposals. But the Minister of Trade and Customs was very unfortunate - to say the very least of it- in the expressions he used in moving the second reading of this Bill, because if Tariff issues have been raised in connexion with it, he is the gentleman who is responsible for having raised them. In listening to his protectionist utterances upon that occasion, I certainly would have thought - had I not known otherwise - that he was speaking of proposals to increase duties in the Tariff. I do think that in the course of his remarks he did' - intentionally or unintentionally - bring the question of the rates of the Tariff duties before the minds of honorable members. However, I do not believe that the Government have brought forward this part of the Bill for that purpose. I believe that dumping, as we understand it - that is, dumping at unremunerative prices for the express purpose of destroying local competitors, and thereafter dumping at highly remunerative prices - is threatened in Australia, and that such a practice as that cannot be met by ordinary Tariff remedies. But I do not believe that it will occur in many cases. So far as I know, it has not occurred at the present time. Perhaps the Minister will correct me, "if I am not as familiar with the facts of Australian commerce in this respect as he is. I would ask him whether there are any cases within his cognisance in which dumping has taken place to the substantial detriment of Australian industries?


Sir William Lyne - I think so, most certainly.


Mr McCAY - That is information which honorable members are entitled to Have in their possession. If the evil be pressing, we are justified in taking more strenuous steps and incurring more risks to cope with it than would1 be the case if it were not urgent and pressing. Will the Minister be good enough to tell the House in what industries his experience leads him to suppose that dumping of the kind to which he objects is taking place?


Sir William Lyne - I shall reply to that question at the close of the debate.


Mr McCAY - I think that free-traders and protectionists alike are entitled to know from the Minister in what industries dumping is taking place, in order that they may realize the character and extent of the evil which they are called upon to fight. The Minister should have given us that information in moving the second reading of the Bill, but he failed to do so. Every honorable member who has addressed himself to this subject should have had in his possession, through the Minister and through Hansard, all the information relating to monopolistic a;tion and to dumping that is available in the Department over which he presides. The honorable gentleman has not given us that data, and he has thereby placed us at a great disadvantage. Consequently, it is only fair that I should ask him what are the industries in which dumping is taking place, or in which his Department has reasonable grounds for apprehending dumping.


Mr Kelly - He does not know.


Mr McCAY - I presume that he is cognisant of cases, though he did not tell us what they were when he moved the second reading of the (Bill.


Sir William Lyne - Had I done so, I should not have had anything to say subsequently.


Mr McCAY - In concluding the debate, it is the Minister's business to sum up upon the arguments which have been advanced on the second reading of the measure. But it was his duty, in introducing the Bill, to give us all the information in his possession. I am just as earnest as he is in my desire to support a fair protectionist policy in this country, and I resent being placed at a disadvantage by his refusal to give information which it is his duty to supply.


Sir William Lyne - I am very glad to hear that the honorable member is a protectionist.


Mr Wilks - He is the Minister's warmest supporter upon this Bill.


Mr McCAY - The Minister has said that there are cases in which dumping is taking place, or is threatened, but he refuses to tell us what they are.


Mr Higgins - It would be disorderly to speak now.


Mr McCAY - Then why is the honorable and learned member speaking? I venture to say that if a member of the Labour Party had asked the same question that I have asked, the Minister would have given an answer - and a. much more definite one - than he has condescended to give me.


Sir William Lyne - I said " Yes, Mr. McCay."


Mr McCAY - I resent the refusal of the Minister to supply me with the information that I desire. The proposals in this part of the Bill, in effect, set out that if the Comptroller- General thinks that any Australian industry is likely to suffer from any importation that is likely to take place, he may so report to the Minister. That officer may call it dumping, and the Minister may then appoint a Board to determine if it is dumping. Should it be decided that dumping is taking place, and that Australian industries are likely to suffer therefrom, the Government may prohibit further importation of the goods in question. In this connexion, I should like the attention of the Attorney-General. I wish to know whether he thinks that the reference to injury to industry which is contained in Part III. of the measure would be satisfied - so far as proof is concerned - if it could be shown that one manufactory engaged in a particular industry was suffering from the importation which was taking, place,or whether it would be necessary to show that all the factories in that industry were suffering. Suppose that there are twenty factories making jam tins in Australia - I select jam tins because they have never so far been a live subject in this House, and have never given rise to keen party feeling - and that a foreign trust starts to send jam tins into Australia and secures so much of the market as to compel one of the smaller factories in Australia to stop work, would that be dumping within the meaning of this part of the Bill?


Mr Isaacs - On the facts recited, I should rather think not.


Mr Robinson - The question is what would the Board say?


Mr Isaacs - I should not think that that would be an injury to the industry.


Mr McCAY - That is what I wish to get at; and, having secured that answer from the Attorney-General, I direct the honorable and learned gentleman's attention to the fact that the vagueness of this part of the Bill in that respect is undesirable. What is "injury to an industry"? We should in some way give the Board, or whatever the authority dealing with such matters is to be, some guide as to what is to be regarded as " injury to an industry," because otherwise I think that the Board would probably regard the instance I have given as one involving injury to the industry mentioned, since the action of the foreign trust would certainly have the effect of throwing Australian workers out of employment.


Mr Isaacs - The honorable and learned gentleman is now referring, not to injury to an industry, but to unfair competition. That is another matter, and is only one ingredient of what might be " injury to an industry."


Mr McCAY - I know that it is only one ingredient, but I have mentioned that which I think relevant to the particular inquiry I am making.


Mr Isaacs - That was hardly the honorable and learned gentleman's question.


Mr McCAY - The object of the measure is the preservation of industries advantageous to the Commonwealth. In the instance I have quoted one-twentieth of such an industry is destroyedby means of importations, and the Board might say: " We are afraid that the other nineteen-twentieths will be destroyed hereafter, and therefore we say that this kind of dumping is forbidden by the Bill," and the Government might consequently prohibit importation altogether in that particular line.


Mr Isaacs - I understood the honorable and learned gentleman's question to be practically - Is one factory synonymous with the whole industry?


Mr McCAY - No; but if dumping or injury to an industry begins by so small an interference, I still say that there is a weapon here that can be used practically to prohibit almost all importations, and that would be an unfair thing for any one, however ardent a protectionist he might be, to propose


Mr Mauger - The honorable and learned gentleman does not think that the Board would do such a thing?


Mr McCAY - I think that under the Bill as it stands such a result might be possible.


Sir William Lyne - It is a possible, but not a probable, result.


Mr McCAY - I am coming to that. I used the word "possible" deliberately. I agree with the Minister that it is a possible rather than a probable result, but the honorable gentleman knows that extreme cases very often, though not always, give the best test of the effects of legislation, because they


Mr Hutchison - Would importations likely to injure one factory not be likely to injure all engaged in the same business ?


Mr McCAY - It is possible in some circumstances. I selected the example I gave as the simplest illustration, and not as necessarily the most likely example to occur. I say that this measure does make what I have suggested, a possibility, if not a probability. Though it is not probable that in its administration or operation such a result would follow, it is not desirable that our legislation should be passed in such a form as to leave such a result a possible one. There are two ways in which it can be avoided. The one is by amending the language of the Bill, and I think that some amendment of this part of the Bill will be required,and the other is to strengthen the tribunal or tribunals that will have to deal with these matters. The series of tribunals concerned, as the Bill stands at present, are first, the ComptrollerGeneral, second the Ministry, third the Hoard, though I admit that the Minister has agreed to amend that, and fourth the Cabinet.


Sir William Lyne - I was not in favour of a Board from the first.


Mr McCAY - I am aware that the Minister proposes to amend that provision, but I am dealing with the Bill as it stands. I have not heard what amendment the Minister proposes, but if he proposes to substitute a jury for the Board I should prefer the Board.


Mr Isaacs - We could not have a jury to deal with these matters.


Mr McCAY - I understood the Minister to say that it was the intention to bring a jury into this in some way.


Sir William Lyne - No.


Mr McCAY - Then I misunderstood the honorable gentleman. I have mentioned the tribunal proposed in the measure as it stand's. Probably the ComptrollerGeneral is the proper person to put this portion of the law in operation. He is the permanent' head of the Department which has to deal with all these matters,


Mr Isaacs - And he has no fiscal opinions.


Mr McCAY - He has no personal views in the matter, though he may have a personal unconscious bias. Then there is the Minister, and the matter must come before him, because as the political head of. the Department the Minister must take responsibility. Then it comes to the Board. I think that undoubtedly the proposal should be so far framed in the nature of a judicial proceeding as to enable it to be dealt with by a Justice of the High Court.


Sir William Lyne - So do I.


Mr McCAY - I see no reason why the clause dealing with the matter should not be amended in such a way as to produce that result.


Mr Isaacs - It can be done when we get the Justice.


Mr McCAY - If the appointment of an extra Justice be necessary, I would prefer to pay for an extra Justice to deal with these matters, rather than that they should be dealt with by a Board. I think the House generally is of the same opinion. The Attorney-General will agree with me that it would be wise to so alter the proceedings to be taken under this part of the Bill as to make them of a judicial character, and thus enable a judicial decision to be given upon them.


Mr Isaacs - We might make provision for a judicial decision by providing for a form of injunction.


Mr McCAY - The question is, who is to act upon the decision ? It is clear that it might easily have the effect of a Tariff decision. Honorable members will recollect that last session the Minister of Trade and Customs introduced a Bill to amend division 6a of the Tariff, which, after the amendments to which the honorable gentleman agreed had been made in it, left matters practically as they werebefore the measure was introduced.


Sir William Lyne - That is not so.


Mr McCAY - In my opinion it is. The honorable gentleman brought in a proposal to enable division 6a of the Tariff to be made operative after a decision of the GovernorGeneral in Council. That was the effective alteration proposed, but that was struck out, and we went back to the provision then in the Tariff, that division 6a could only be brought into operation by a resolution of the two Houses. The honorable gentleman admitted, in answer to the honorable member for Bland I think it was - it usually is--


Sir William Lyne - The honorable and learned gentleman appears to be very jealous of the honorable member for Bland.


Mr McCAY - Not in the least, but I confess that I am a little jealous that the honorable member for Bland should be able to get answers from the Minister when I cannot. I think the humblest member of the House is just as much entitled to an answer from the Minister on a relevant matter as is the most important member.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Still, the honorable and learned gentleman will admit that there is a difference.


Mr McCAY - There is, I admit, a great deal of difference.


Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the honorable and learned gentleman will give the Minister some votes, he will quickly get some information.


Mr McCAY - I am not bargaining at present in that way. I think that the measure to which the Minister eventually agreed last session carried us back to the provision which then existed - that alterations in division 6a of the Tariff should not be brought into, operation until both Houses had passed a resolution. I say that under this part of this Bill it is highly possible, and even reasonably probable, that results just as important as an alteration of a duty in the Tariff mayfollow, and if this part of this Bill is to be applied in its present form, then, after a decision that dumping is going on has been arrived at by a judicial tribunal, it ought to be by a resolution of both Houses of this Parliament that such a decision should be put into operation. If the increase or diminution of a duty by 1 per cent, is a power which Parliament will not part with, surely the imposition of prohibition, which is the imposition of a duty of any percentage one pleases, should in some way be an act of Parliament, and not an administrative act? Otherwise, I say most unhesitatingly that there is a temptation to persons interested to endeavour to corrupt an honest Minister, and that is something to which no Minister, however honest and incorruptible, should be exposed. That is a danger we do not desire to create, and it is the kind of danger which does lead to wrong-doing. Personally , I may say that I think the Canadian system of dealing with dumping, or threatened dumping, is safer and more reliable than is this, but I shall not quarrel with the Bill on that account.


Mr Wilks - That is the raising of duties.


Mr McCAY - Yes, the raising of the duty on a particular article which is below a fair market price. There are details of this Bill with which I do not at all agree. I am dealing now only with general principles, and I do not wish it to be understood that because I am not criticising particular clauses I agree with everything in the Bill as it stands. I think that the Canadian system which enables the State to get the benefit by means of the duty to the extent of the difference between the dumping price and the fair market price is a very wholesome corrective which would operate very satisfactorily, and it is free from the dangers that are to be found in this measure. If dumping were really taking place, the dumping importers would at once raise their price to the fair market price, as they would be making no profits out of their transactions. The Canadian system properly worked operates almost automatically, and gives no encouragement to any one to use the measure as a means of practically raising the Tariff. As honorable members are aware, there are some articles included in the Tariff the duties on which oughtto be raised, but, I think that they should be raisedby putting the necessary alterations plainly in the Customs Tariff Act, and I do not desire thatthey should be dealt with under this measure, as they might be, if passed in its present form. There is much else that I should like to say, but I am very anxious to see the debate on this measure and others confined within reasonable limits. I am very anxious to assist the Government to get on with business, and I am anxious, for example, to see the Tariff Commission's reports, and what the Government propose to do with them. I shall consequently now terminatemy remarks,only summarizing my position by saying that I do not believe that the evils threatening at the present time are great, although they may be sufficient to justify us in using reasonable means to prevent them from growing great ; that Part II. of the Bill, with some amendments, cannot reasonably- be quarrelled with by any one who believes as I do that the State is justified in regulating industry; that Part III. of the Bill aims at a danger which I do not think is an actual danger to any great extent, so much as an apprehended danger; that it contains within its provisions elements of danger in the remedy which may be equal to the danger in the disease; that it does lend itself to a marked extent to heated partisanship, and that I do commend seriously to the consideration of the Government the adoption of some such method as the Canadian method of dealing with dumping as a substitute for the method proposed in Part III.


Mr Isaacs - That could not be done in this Bill.


Mr McCAY - Perhaps not ; but the fact that it cannot be done in this Bill is no real objection to whatI suggest. If that be the proper thing to do, let us do it, if not in this Bill then in some other Bill. Finally, I wish to say that if the Government will not do that, as I think they should, I hope they will give to prohibitions of importations at least the samedignity that is given to limitations of importations by the imposition of Tariff duties, and that, just as this Parliament will not allow out of its control an alteration of Tariff duties, so it should not allow to pass from its control the entire prohibition of imports. To say that the goods would be delayed in the meantime is to say nothing, because, under the Bill as it stands, good's would have to be delayed, or distributed only under conditions. And in a matter of this' kind, which amounts to a general prohibition, - not merely a prohibition of any imports at the moment on the water, but a prohibition of imports until the prohibition is removed - which might be a prohibition lasting for ever, because under this measure the mere fact that a commercial trust sends goods to Australia is evidence in itself of unfair competition and dumping


Mr Isaacs - No, no.


Mr McCAY - I shall be prepared to deal with that more fully in Committee.


Sir William Lyne - What would the honorable and learned gentleman do if Parliament were not in session?


Mr McCAY - We should have to wait, that is all ; and I remind the honorable gentleman that goods can be held up under the Bill as it stands. The inquiry by a Board may take a long time, and it should not be forgotten that it is a serious thing to prohibit altogether the imports of any particular line of goods. It is at least of as great importance as would be the placing of a duty on that line of goods, and I do not desire that it should be said "that this part of this measure might be used for party or corrupt purposes.


Sir William Lyne - The honorable and learned gentleman might trust Ministers a little more than he does.


Mr McCAY - Even Ministers are human, and inother countries they have not proved themselves superior to the frailties of humanity. I admit that in Australia we have a record which, despite an occasional blot, is clean enough to make any man proud. I do not suppose or believe that that record will not be maintained, but I do not approve of proposals of this kind, which make such risks as I have indicated possible. While approving of the two objects . which the Government desires to achieve, I urge upon them some consideration of what I think are the fair remarks which I have made, in no hostility to the measure, but with an honest desire for its improvement, that it may be made reasonably operative, and that its operation may be attended by no unnecessary evils or risks.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Deakin) adjourned until after the consideration of the motion for the election of a Chairman of Committees.

Sitting suspended from 6.35 to 7.35 p.m.







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