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Wednesday, 20 June 1906

Mr MAUGER (Melbourne Ports) . - I Have listened to the honorable member for Echuca with very great pleasure, and with very great surprise. Like his confreres upon the other side of the Chamber, he urged that this evil should be met by an adequate Tariff, and he then proceeded to point out some imaginary evils that might arise from a defective Tariff. What does the honorable member mean ? It appears to me that he has adopted a ' ' yes-no " attitude.

Mr McColl - It all depends upon what one means by " effective."

Mr MAUGER - By "effective" I mean a Tariff that will secure for the Australian manufacturer the home market.


Mr MAUGER - The honorable member may call it what he chooses. I want a Tariff that will be effective enough to secure for the Australian manufacturer the home market.

Mr Cameron - The honorable member will not get it.

Mr MAUGER - I am quite sure I will not if my honorable friend has the giving of it. I am exceedingly sorry that the honorable member for Echuca should have raised the cry of town versus country, because he must know from hisown experience that what he calls the "centralized workmen ' ' in Victoria have always been allied with the party which has assisted in. every possible way the farming industry. Who gave that industry the benefit of the butter bonus? Who opened up the land and brought about the irrigation schemes in which my honorable friend is so deeply interested? . Undoubtedly it was the protectionist party who fought the battle for protection in the city. If anything is of a socialistic character, surely action of that sort is.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member said the same thing of protection a few weeks ago.

Mr MAUGER - I think that protection is essentially socialistic. I do not see how ' it can be regarded in any other light. I also say that the proposals to which effect was given in Victoria by the very Government of which the honorable member for Echuca was a Minister, emanated from a protectionist party, and that all the privileges which Victorian farmers enjoy to-day were conferred by that party. When the honorable member talks about theworkmenwho are centralized in Melbourne being desirous of crushing out the farming industry, he is indulging in so much idle twaddle.

Mr McColl - I neither said that nor meant it.

Mr MAUGER - Did not the honorable member assert that the Bill was introduced in the interests of the centralized workmen, who did not consider the great natural industries of Australia? I contend that he did. His statement was altogether inaccurate, and he knows it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will not honorable members be able to get a road built if they vote against the Bill?

Mr MAUGER - My honorable friend is looking at this matter through New South Wales spectacles. He is altogether too parochial. This Parliament has never dealt with roads and bridges and culverts, but only with great national questions. The honorable member does not realize what these proposals mean. There is no danger of the farming interests being deprived by workmen in the cities of Sydney or Melbourne of any of the privileges which this Parliament can confer upon them.

Mr McColl - There is a danger that the farmers will have to pay very dearly for their implements.

Mr MAUGER - My honorable friend knows very well that protection does not raise the price of implements to the farmer. He has been a consistent member of the party, which rightly contends that the farmer is better and more cheaply served under a protective tariff than he is under a free-trade system. It is too late in the day for him to turn a somersault upon his own principles, and I sincerely hope that he has no desire todo so. I have heard him telling the farmers from the public platform that if adequate duties were imposed, their machinery would become cheaper, they would be able to get the parts which they desired more readily, and that not only themselves, but the community generally would be benefited in every way. Why is he raising a bogey now ?

Mr McColl - I was discussing the Bill.

Mr MAUGER - The honorable member went on to say that we had not reached the stage in Australia when such legislation as that proposed in the Bill was required. Just imagine us waiting until Melbourne was burnt down before we established a fire brigade ! I am aware that the illus tration is a familiar one, but it is, nevertheless, a good one. The devastating influence of trusts in America is not one whit less than that which would be occasioned by a fire in Melbourne. As late as the 6th January, 1903, Senator Hoar, speaking in the American Senate - the quotation is taken from a very excellent State paper which was laid upon the table of the New Zealand Parliament some time ago, and which was sent to me by the late Prime Minister of that country, Mr. Seddon - said -

Happy is the people whose statesmen foresee and prevent grievances instead of waiting to experience them and to cure them. In dealing with this trust problem, and the dangers of vast accumulations of wealth in private hands, we are seeking to lay down beforehand the law of a healthly national, life, and not groping after the cure of a deadly sickness when once it has laid us on a bed of trial.

I quite recognise with the deputy leader of the Opposition that the day of combinations and corporations has come to stay. It would be quite impossible under our present complex industrial' and commercial conditions to conduct business without them. I have in my mind's eye a very striking illustration of that fact. Some fifteen years ago the ironmasters of Melbourne determined to form a trade combination. One of the most successful houses which was presided over by one of the most reputable men in Victoria declined to join it. Last year, after struggling for about fifteen years, that house failed with a tremendous deficit. I realize that just as trade unions are essential for the success of corporate labour, so combinations are necessary for the success of commercial life. What would the banks or the insurance companies do without their corporations? I recognise that corporations are necessary, and this Bill does not attempt to abolish them. If itdid it would be simple madness to endeavour to give effect to it. All that it asks is that reasonable power shall be given to the Minister to prevent dumping and the destruction of our local industries.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable member believe in nationalization ?

Mr MAUGER - I believe with Frances Willard that, in the fullness of time, great changes, of which we do not dream now, must come about. She said -

I would take not by force, but by the slow process of lawful acquisition, those great trusts and combines which are proving such a menace to the people of America. I would nationalize them. I would use all their magnificent machinery, all their magnificent organization and combination, not for a few shareholders, but for the benefit of the people of this great Continent.

The same writer also pointed out that the future will unfold problems of which we little dream. I think it is a mistake for any section of the community to label themselves by any name whatever, because it often means a great deal more or less than they intend it to convey. Every proposal, coming from whatever quarter it may - whether it emanates from the Trades Hall or from the commercial institution of which the honorable member for Kooyong is so proud to be a representative - should be judged entirely upon its merits, and the test to be applied to it should be " Will it, in the last resort, be for the benefit of the vast majority of the people?"

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the whole question.

Mr MAUGER - I recollect a speech which was delivered by Mr. John Burns, in the course of which he spoke of the time when there would be universal cooperation. An excited auditor thereupon asked, " Will you name the date, John?" His very thoughtful and telling reply was, " As soon as we have the co-operators." That is just my position. I believe that as men become better educated, wiser, and obtain a better knowledge of their possibilities, many of the evils existing at the present time will no longer be tolerated, and some system of cooperation will take the place of the present impossible cut-throat competitive system. I do not support this Bill because I am opposed' to organizationsper se. I am not. I believe, with the honorable member who spoke last, that these trusts and combines have taught us a very great lesson. They have taught the value of organization and concentration, and how much can be saved by those methods. I believe, and my belief is backed up by the conclusions of the last Conference of Trades Unionists held atChicago, that in many cases combines have tended to the bettering of working conditions and the raising of wages. That can be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. But I cannot get away from the appalling facts revealed in this paper, to which I earnestly direct the attention of honorable members. I find the following statement made : -

Judge Grosscup, on the18th February, 1903, gave a decision against the Meat Trust, and among some of the charges he considered as proved being " in restraint of trade " between States were : The combining firms had forced down live-stock prices by agreeing to refrain from bidding against each other in the market; they had regulated selling prices; they had bid up the prices of cattle to stimulate shipment ; they had limited the quantity of meat shipped to agents. Whether such practices are harmful in themselves or not the result seem to have been that the profits of the Meat Trust in1901 amounted to nearly $100,000,000 more than in 1900, whilst the price of meat to the public increased by 3 to 5 cents. This is an example how a combination can affect the price of commodities. Wages, however, do not rise in the proportion the price of commodities can be made to do. Two hundred and fifty thousand organized workmen of New York received between the years1897 and 1901 a total advance in wages of 7 per cent. (to be exact, 7.4 per cent. See "State Bureau of Labour Statistics)." The prices of commodities rose from July, 1897, to July, 1901, about 27 per cent. From the 2nd January, 1902, to the 2nd January, 1903, the price of beef rose 40 per cent., thanks to the Meat Trust. (These figures are those of the Treasury Department). So that labour was powerless to increase its wages as capital had increased the price of commodities. Moreover, ground-rents near the great cities rise year by year, and the workman has to pay an increasing tax to landlords without an increase in value received, to the further depreciation of the apparent advance in wages.

I could give a number of similar quotations, which go to prove that there are trusts in America doing their blighting, deadly work in a way we ought to dread even to think of. It is because I wish to prevent a similar state of affairs arising in Australia that I think there is a need for such a Bill as this.

Mr Cameron - I thought the prosperity of America was due to her Tariff.

Mr MAUGER - If America were not in a prosperous state, such a condition of things could not exist. That it does exist proves conclusively the commercial prosperity of the country. But it is not always the greatest amount of wealth that produces the greatest amount of happiness. It is wealth best used which is the test of genuine prosperity. I think it is Ruskin who says -

That land is greatest which nourishes the largest number of happy, contented human beings.

And there can be no happiness or contentment under such conditions as those to which I have referred.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I noticethat all the honorable member's authorities are sound economists - Ruskin and Frances Willard, for example.

Mr MAUGER - They are sound economists, and' that is perhaps more than all my companions are. However, I do not desire to bring up the past. I have no wish to think of the time when the deputy leader of the Opposition was a protectionist. I prefer to look forward to the time when the honorable member will be a protectionist again.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable member remember the time when Socialists were described as "spielers"?

Mr MAUGER - I should like to point out that although there is in Canada a very much higher Tariff than I am afraid we can hope to get in Australia - and I should very much like to be able to secure a Tariff as high as the Canadian Tariff - they have found such legislation necessary. In the last session of their national Parliament, the Canadians passed' special legislation dealing with dumping, and directed even against Great Britain. Yet no one will charge the Canadian people with being disloyal.

Mr Wilks - Their special legislation was to raise duties.

Mr MAUGER - It was passed to deal with dumping, and especially dumping on the part of British manufacturers. It was urged that whilst Canada was prepared to deal with Great Britain in preference to her next door neighbour, the United States, or any European country, the Canadian workman must not be brought down to the level of the British workman, as indicated by the last speaker. The honorable member for Echuca has just been to England, and has also visited America. He knows all about Canadian conditions, and urges as a reason for opposing this Bill that the wages paid to artisans in England' are so much lower than those paid in America, that the effect of the measure may be tb press heavily upon the people of the old country. He has contended that it is un-British and disloyal, that the measure is a cut against the old' country, and has pointed out that American artisans are better housed, clothed, paid and educated than are British workmen. That is a reason which the honorable member advances why this measure ought not to be placed on our statute-book. It is a most remarkable reason, coming from a protectionist. I could understand it from the leader of the Opposition or from honorable members opposite, but I fail to understand it from an honorable member who professes to be a protectionist, and whose theory is that the Australian workman ought to be protected from the low wages which he has pointed out are paid in Great Britain. One other matter to which I should like to direct attention is that the opposition to this measure comes with very bad grace from honorable members who took great pains and went to no end of trouble to prevent trade unions becoming so strong as to be able to dominate those outside trade unions. Honorable members urged that if trade unions were not checked and certain steps were not taken, no end of harm would follow, and when we propose to apply the same reasoning to these great trusts we are told that all sorts of bogus dangers are going to overtake the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Echuca said, amongst other things, that the cry " Australia for the Australians " is disloyal. I cannot for the life of me understand how he arrives at that conclusion. If Australia is not going to be loyal to itself, and is not to be for Australians, who is it to be for - for the foreigner, the American, or the German ? The honorable member says that we should say "Australia for Australians and the Empire." Surely he must see that we can be of very little use to the Empire unless we are strong in ourselves? Unless we are strong in our commercial and industrial life we can render very little assistance to the Empire. We were able to help the Empire in her time of trial, because we had strong, stalwart sons who had grown up under the southern skies under wholesome conditions, and who therefore were in a position to help her. If we are to make of them only hewers of wood and drawers of water, they; will not be able to help the Empire in the hour of difficulty. I say that " Australia for Australians " is a national cry, a fair cry, and a loyal cry, and it ought to be supported by every true Australian.

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