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Wednesday, 20 June 1906

Mr KELLY (Wentworth) .- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat can always be trusted to put the tenets of his fiscal faith in the most appetizing way. I do not propose, in a discussion of this Bill, to be led into any of the bypaths of the fiscal question, but there were one or two things said by the honorable member upon which I feel it is the duty of a free-trade representative to offer some observations. In the first place, the honorable member seemed to claim, on behalf of the party to which he belongs, all the benefits enjoyed by the farmers throughout Aus- tralia. I believe that the reason why the farmers of Victoria have been protectionists in the past is that they believed that the establishment of industries in the State under a system of Tariff protection would bring to Victoria a new market for themselves in the employes who would come to Australia to be engaged in those industries. The new protection, however, now tends to prevent immigrants landing.

Mr Mauger - I did not say a word about the farmers being protectionists, and' the honorable member has lost the whole point of my remarks.

Mr KELLY - The honorable member's remarks were not so pointed that it was easy to understand them, but I gathered from him that he claimed that the farmers of Victoria have .received all their benefits at the hands of protectionists and protection.

Mr Mauger - At the hands of the protectionist party.

Mr KELLY - Then we have the definite statement that they did not receive them at the hands of protection? The honorable member, in quoting the anti-dumping precedents of Canada and other parts of the world, asked why, if Canada had passed anti-dumping legislation, we in Australia should not pass similar legislation. I say frankly that if we are to have anti-dumping legislation, and a majority of honorable members seem to think we should, the precedent which Canada has set us is an infinitely more honest, open, and straightforward way of dealing with the matter than the method proposed in this Bill. The Canadian Act provides roughly that whenever it appears to the satisfaction of the Minister of Customs that the export price of any article imported into Canada is less than the fair market value in the country of origin, such article shall, in addition to the duty otherwise established, be subject to a special duty of customs equal to the difference between such fair market value and such selling price. That is a fair way to deal with the alleged evil of dumping. If it is found that goods are being sold in Canada for less than in the United States, a special duty is put on to meet the case. The Canadian Parliament decides what is to be done in these emergencies, and prescribes what action the Minister shall take. But in this Bill we are asked to forego our privileges, and to allow the Minister to say what shall be done. In pointing to the Canadian precedent, the honorable gentleman who last addressed you, sir, did us a service, because the method adopted in Canada is much more straightforward and adaptable to the circumstances which have to be met than is that now proposed. I deeply regret that, throughout this discussion, the House has found it difficult to arrive at a true estimate of the scope of the measure. The Minister who introduced it dealt at length with a number of the cases which it is intended to meet; but, in his anxiety to hit certain political rivals, forgot to explain its scope ; while, last night, the Attorney-General gave a lucid exposition of the meaning which he attaches to each of its clauses, and explained what he would do if he had to administer them, but did not tell us exactly what is comprised by the measure. To show that those who are most interested are firmly of opinion that the Bill requires the fullest consideration, and the frankest criticism and scrutiny. I propose to read a telegram received this afternoon from the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, and signed by its acting-president. It is as follows : -

Chamber condemns Anti-Trust Bill as excessively hostile to trade, and tending to disturb the whole foundation upon which commerce rests and always has rested. Are certain the results of such a Bill passing will not only be the abandonment of many useful and almost indispensable industries, but block any introduction of capital and immigration. Every effort should be made to defeat its passing. Consider it quite unworkable.

The telegram concludes with the statement that the report of the sub-committee is being forwarded.

Mr Frazer - Has any Bill been introduced by this Government which they have not condemned ?

Mr KELLY - If I were in order in doing so, I could mention a large number of Bills which have not been so condemned, and have been supported by every party and every industry in the State. Surely the opinion of those who will have to work under the Bill is entitled to respect at our hands. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie may have a lofty contempt for the members of the Chamber of Commerce, but, as a deliberative assembly which has in its keeping the progress and prosperity of Australia, we should pay attention to all the information brought before us, whether coming from experts, or merely from interested political parties. The Government have not put us in a position to exercise the scrutiny which the Bill requires. There was a curious difference between the methods of the Minister of Trade and Customs and those of the Attorney-General. The former hit out recklessly- - I use the word advisedly - at his political rivals and enemies.

Sir William Lyne - I would rather do that than stab them under the fifth rib.

Mr KELLY - The Attorney-General preferred not to stab them at all, and said, in effect, that he would rather not speak of the matters with which the Bill is supposed to deal, because so many of them are sub judice. I do not know if his colleague regards that as a reflection on his action in bludgeoning those concerned in those cases, but it seemed so to me, and to others on this side of the House who have so tender a regard for him.

Sir William Lyne - They would bludgeon me if they got half a chance.

Mr KELLY - To whom does the honorable member refer?

Sir William Lyne - To the honorable member's friends the trusts.

Mr KELLY - Here is a pretty state of things. ! An honorable member has only to ask the Minister to explain a measure of which he is in charge to be accused of being a friend of the " criminals " with whom it has been introduced to deal. Last session the Minister of Trade and Customs, or the Prime Minister, explained that the real urgency of the measure lay in one case, and that the Bill had been introduced! to deal with the importation of har- 1vesters and nothing else.

Sir William Lyne - I did not say nothing else.

Mr KELLY - It was that matter which made the measure an urgent one, we were told.

Sir William Lyne - No.

Mr KELLY - Then the pages of Hansard must be misleading.

Sir William Lyne - It was not the sole reason for urgency.

Mr KELLY - In that particular matter lay the extreme urgency of the measure. That was why it was thought that it should have been passed last session. Last night, however, the Attorney-General told us that, while only extraordinary developments! of trade were proposed to be dealt with under Part III., they were altogether too numerous to allow Parliament itself to deal with, them. Here we have another curious difference of opinion between two responsible Ministers. These numerous differences lead me to ask, with the utmost respect, whether the Bill has received the corporate consideration of the Cabinet. Still, as it is not in many of its provisions a party measure, I do not propose to approach its consideration in a party spirit, and therefore shall not labour the question. I wish, however, to deal briefly with one curious point in the speech of the Attorney-General. According to the Melbourne Age, which usually reports him fairly, he said -

Those members who were strong in support of individual liberty should assist the Government in passing this Bill, because it was a measure for the maintenance of true individualism.

The Attorney-General asks honorable members on this side of the House to support the measure as one which will increase private enterprise ; and, at the same time, we are told that the Bill has the support of the party which has sworn to stamp out individual enterprise, so far as it is possible for it to do so.

Mr Carpenter - That is incorrect.

Mr KELLY - Am I to understand that my honorable. friend is no longer a Socialist?

Mr Page - What nonsense !

Mr KELLY - I believe that the honorable member has subscribed to an objective which aims at the nationalization* of all the means of production, distribution and exchange.

Mr Page - The honorable member is a bit too previous.

Mr KELLY - Then I take it that the honorable member will not indorse that objective ?

Mr Page - The honorable member will take what he can get.

Mr KELLY - It is hard to draw my honorable friend; but the Federal Labour Party of Australia has indorsed a socialistic objective, and its members having done so, must, therefore, be Socialists. As Socialists, the majority of them are warmlysupporting a proposal which, the AttorneyGeneral says, is worthy of the support of every individualist in the Chamber. This is a curious state of affairs. The honorable and learned gentleman either had! his tongue in his cheek when he was talking to us, or he was fooling his supporters in the Labour corner.

Mr Carpenter - Those on the Opposition side of the Chamber are demoralized, and do not know where they are in respect to this Bill.

Mr KELLY - The honorable member's party is, no doubt, better seized of the actual scope of the measure than is that to which I have the honour to belong, but I believe that they have received private assurances as to its effect, while we have only the utterances of Ministers in this Chamber. There is something sinister in the change of attitude towards the Bill on the part of those in the Labour corner. Last year they were singularly anxious as to 'its scope, and wished to know if it would affect the large organizations of which they are members; but that anxiety was completely dissipated before the introduction of the Bill this session. Therefore, I infer that honorable members in the Labour corner have privately became better seized of the actual scope of this measure than have honorable members on this side of the House. The Bill is in three parts. The first portion is simply preliminary. With the objects of the second part honorable members on this side have no quarrel. It deals with the repression of monopolies, and members of all parties desire to make' the provisions adequate, while not too comprehensive. The third part of the Bill, to which a certain section of the Opposition is absolutely opposed, should not distract our attention from the good objects which are sought to be attained by other provisions in the measure. So far as the repression of local trusts is concerned, I am sure that the Minister knows that he will have the support of every, member of the Opposition. We should first of all, however, be informed as to what these proposals really amount to. A number of terms have been used, which, so far, have not been explained, and unless we receive some enlightenment with regard to them, it will be impossible to avoid a large amount of useless discussion in Committee. The Minister of Trade and Customs was asked, by the honorable and learned member for; Corinella, for an explanation of one or two provisions of the measure. He seemed to think, however, that his duty to the House would be discharged if he refused to give a simple answer to a simple question until he made his general reply at the close of the debate. That might be an appropriate attitude to adopt in respect to a bitterly controversial measure, but I do not think that the Minister was justified in assuming that position towards an honorable member who is sympathetic to a measure which is not controversial in all its aspects. All we know, with regard to the second part of the Bill, is that it is based on the Sherman Act of the United States. To those who wish to see anti-trust legislation made effective, that fact does not convey very much comfort, because we know that the Sherman Act has absolutely failed to accomplish the object with which it was designed. When the Act was introduced into the United States in 1890 trusts and combinations were in their infancy. Now, after the Act has been in force for sixteen years, they are in full operation, and have become a by-word throughout the civilized world. All that we 'know at present is that the Act upon which this measure has been framed has proved a failure. We know, in a vague way, the ends that the Bill is intended to accomplish. The Attorney-General has explained some, of the objects, and has told us how he would administer the measure. As a deliberative assembly, however, we are concerned, not so much with the intentions of the Ministry, as with the manner in which those intentions are expressed iri the measure. We should assure ourselves that our intentions are made clear, and that they cannot be distorted. Our Courts of Law will not hear evidence with respect to the reasons which led up to the framing of any Statute. They simply take the Statute as it stands. Therefore, we must be absolutely certain that, by the time the Bill leaves this Chamber, it will clearly express our intention, and nothing more and nothing less. Several terms are used which require to be carefully denned. The second portion of the Bill deals, as I have said, with " the repression of monopolies," but the measure contains no definition of the term "monopoly." It is presumed that the repression is intended to apply to bad monopolies, but the Socialist Party seem to think that all monopolies are bad, because one of the planks of their platform aims at the nationalization of all monopolies.

Mr Webster - The honorabls member is again indulging in misrepresentation.

Mr KELLY - I do not suppose that the honorable member will deny that there is a plank in the platform to which he subscribes which aims at " the nationalization of all monopolies."

Mr Poynton - All monopolies which are injurious to the public interests.

Mr KELLY - The platform does not contain any qualifications. It aims at the nationalization of all monopolies, and we may assume that the members of the Labour Party imagine that all monopolies are harmful in their action. It is singular that the party whose object it is to convert the State into one huge monopoly should think that abuses arise in connexion with all monopolies. These gentlemen will probably be the administrators of the cooperative Commonwealth - if such a tiling ever comes to pass. Are they so conscious of their own frailties that they imagine that' their own monopoly will be the subject of abuse? If, on the other hand, they hold that their own monopoly will be free from all abuses, they must admit the possibility of other monopolies also being beneficent. If we once admit the possibility of some trusts and monopolies being beneficent in their operation, we should do something to differentiate between good trusts and bad trusts, and good' monopolies and bad monopolies. I hope that honorable members will insist upon a clear definition of the term "monopolies" being inserted in the Bill. The members of the Labour Party have for years past enlarged upon the iniquities of the tobacco monopoly., and yet their own partisan Commission have declared that the tobacco monopoly is only " a partial monopoly." They have explained that this hideous octopus that has been represented as holding within its grasp all the tobacco interests of the Commonwealth is only a "partial monopoly" - that it- controls only a little more than three-quarters of the plug k tobacco trade, less than one-half of the cigar trade, and only three-quarters of the cigarette trade. Is it intended that the Bill shall deal with partial monopolies? If honorable members consult a dictionary they will find that the term "monopoly" does not mean a partial monopoly, and therefore, unless we clearly define what we mean, the Bill might not apply to the tobacco monopoly.

Mr Page - Does the honorable member want the Bill to apply to partial monopolies ?

Mr KELLY - I want it to regulate any kind of combination or trust that is harmful.

Mr Page - The Bill car. easily be amended to provide for its application to partial monopolies.

Mr KELLY - I am merely pointing out that the Bill does not contain any definition of the term " monopoly- " To the mind of a Socialist, a monopolist is anyone who possesses anything worth having.

Mr Page - The honorable member knows that that is not right.

Mr KELLY - I do not suggest that the honorable member wishes to possess anything belonging to another, or that he would seek to obtain it unfairly, but the honorable member's associates in the Labour Party are, for instance, constantly referring to the land monopoly in Queesland.

Mr Page - There is plenty of land there for those who want it.

Mr KELLY - I am glad that my honorable friend is so frank. Other members, of his party are constantly declaiming against land monopoly in Australia.. And yet the land monopolist in Australia does not hold all the land in his own grasp, and refuse to part with any of it. He happens to be a man who has had the foresight and industry in the course of his pioneering work to possess himself of some of the best land in the Commonwealth, and who is not prepared to forego all his rights of ownership for less than the fair market value of his property. He will not refuse to part with his land under any conditions, but will stand out for its fair market value. The terms " monopoly " and " monopolist " have been so loosely used that if the House wishes to clearly express its intentions we shall have to use explicit language in the Bill. If it is proposed to deal with every kind of monopolist in Australia, and we adopt the Labour Party's definition of the term, we shall be kept very busy. There are monopolists even in the labour ranks. I know of a monopolistic labour press which has the sole right to report the proceedings at all labour conferences. Is that hateful monopoly to be allowed to continue?

Mr Page - The honorable member knows more than I do.

Mr KELLY - Does not the honorable member know that the Labour Conferences have for some years past declined to allow any press representatives other than those of the labour organs to be present at their conferences ?

Mr Page - No. At every conference at which I have been present the repre- sentatives of the press have been freely admitted.

Mr KELLY - Then the honorable member has not attended any of the New South Wales Labour Conferences. Then again, there are many labour men who have turned lawyers, and many lawyers who have turned labour men, in order to obtain a monopoly of the briefs for labour in the Arbitration Court. Is that hateful monopoly to be allowed to continue? I merely put forward these considerations with a view to show that we entertain extremely vague impressions as to what constitutes a monopoly. Again, there are certain philosophic radicals who callously hang on to monopolies in constituencies like Clifton. Are these gentlemen to be allowed to breathe the same air as those disinterested patriots who wish them to go forth as the advance agents of the Labour Party in other electorates, and give them a chance in their own?

Mr Mauger - What is the honorable member giving us?

Mr KELLY - I am giving certain reasonswhich should make the honorable member seriously consider whether he understands this Bill?

Mr Tudor - Where is Clifton ?

Mr KELLY - The honorable member knows perfectly well that it is the anxiety of the party to which he belongs to upset the monopolywhich the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is suspected of enjoying in that locality. The word "monopoly " must be clearly defined. The same remark is applicable to the term " restraint of trade." In this connexion I desire to make a brief reference to the shipping combine. Some of the actions of that combine maybe bad, and' others may be good, but before the Bill reaches the Committee stage I wish the House to consider carefully which of its actions are bad and which are good. In the first place, I would point out that the combine insures the regular sailing of vessels between various ports of the Commonwealth. Is that a restraint of trade which this House desires to see penalized ?

Mr Kennedy - It would not be a bad line if the honorable member read the Bill.

Mr KELLY - Does the honorable member for Moira, after having read the Bill, think that the term "restraint of trade" is so well understood as not to require a clear definition?

Mr Kennedy - The case presented by the honorable member would not be put forward if he had read the measure.

Mr KELLY - I have read it with extreme care, and others whose interests depend upon it have seen fit to send a long wire protesting against its passage. No doubt the honorable member is thoroughly satisfied', fromhis brief perusal of it, that the Bill is everything that his intelligence can desire. There are others, however, who are equally intelligent, and equally- capable of forming a correct judgment of legislative enactments, who are profoundly dismayed at the prospect of its passing.

Mr Kennedy - Not upon the hypothetical case set up by the honorable member.

Mr KELLY - I may tell the honorable member for Moira that I have had that very hypothetical case presented to me. Under the Bill a combination of shipping companies, for whatever object, would be for the purpose of restraining trade.

Mr Kennedy - But the Bill contains the qualifying words " to the detriment of the public."

Mr KELLY - I wish to know what those words mean. Do honorable members think that a combination of shipping companies, to insure the regular sailing of vessels, would be to the detriment of the public ?

Mr Kennedy - The argument is too absurd to seriously consider.

Mr KELLY - The authority which is to decide whether combinations are detrimental to the public is a jury. Let us assume that the agriculturists of South Australia or Victoria who are anxious to supply the Western Australian market with their produce, entered into some arrangement with the shipping companies, under which they gained the advantage of low freights to assist them in their very laudable ambition. Would such a combination be prejudicial to the public interest, and, therefore, subject to penalties under this measure ?

Mr.Chanter. - The shipping ring will take care that the farmers do not secure low freights.

Mr KELLY - I can tell the honorable member that there are some other persons who will endeavour to prevent them from doing so. In Western Australia the agriculturists are keenly interested in maintaining the shipping rates as high as possible, in order that they may prevent the produce of the eastern States from entering into competition with them in their own markets. Would it be a combination " detrimental to the public interests" if the Western Australian farmers combined with the shipping companies to maintain high freights upon produce from South Australia or Victoria? If so, how is the matter to be determined? If the case were tried in Western Australia, a jury in that State would no doubt declare that low rates of freight were detrimental to the public interest, whereas, if it were tried in Victoria, we should be told the reverse. Thus the verdict arrived at will depend entirely upon where the case is tried. In this connexion, let me instance the coal trade between New South Wales and Victoria. The Victorian collieries are vitally interested in keeping the rates upon coal between Newcastle. and the southern coal ports of New South Wales and Melbourne as high as possible. Upon the other hand, the New South Wales collieries are equally interested in securing the lowest freight. If any of these collieries entered into an arrangement with the shipping companies regarding the freight to be charged upon coal, would that be a combination detrimental to the- public interest? In this instance, as in the other illustration which I gave, the decision would depend entirely upon where the case was heard. Consequently, I hold that honorable members should be given a proper explanation of this portion of the Bill before it reaches the Committee stage. It is a curious thing that all the parties who attended the South African Shipping Conference, which was held some years ago, made it a condition precedent to any action being taken by that body, that freights should not be fluctuating. "How can we prevent freights from fluctuating except by combination? Personally, I do not agree with the decisions in this regard arrived at by the South African Conference. I prefer to see open competition working out the freights upon economic lines. But still, the considerations which influenced that Conference in coming to its conclusions should be worthy of our attention, even if they do not secure our indorsement. There is just one other matter in connexion with this portion of the Bill to which I desire to direct attention. Of course, the common carriers of Australia - the great' railway ssystems of the Commonwealth - will be immune from the operations of this Bill. I should like to ask the Minister if that is not so?

Sir William Lyne - Does the honorable member call them a trust?

Mr KELLY - I do. Will they come within the provisions of this measure ?

Sir William Lyne - My impression is that they will not.

Mr KELLY - There is no doubt that there is a combination between the railway managements of the different States regarding the rates to be charged upon certain goods.

Sir William Lyne - Why_ did not the Opposition assist me to pass the Inter-State Commission Bill when I brought it forward?

Mr KELLY - The Minister is prepared to discuss anything except the Bill that is under consideration.

Sir William Lyne - I have stated my impression, but I have not looked into the matter to which the honorable member refers.

Mr KELLY - I cannot myself see how they can, constitutionally, be brought under the Bill. Those in charge of these railways could not be prevented from cutting rates and arranging freights in any way they pleased, whilst the sea-carrying companies, who must compete with these land common carriers, are to be prevented from cutting rates and arranging freights. The managers of the States railways can enter into any combination they please, and can arrange a vast Australian trust, without coming under this measure, though a considerable proportion of the Inter-State trade of the Commonwealth, which is one of the few things over which we have power, is carried on over the States railways. Whilst those in charge of the States railways may do this with impunity, those controlling the carriage of goods by sea will be penalized under clause 6 of this measure, if they attempt to arrange freights and cut rates. That is aw anomaly worthy of the consideration of the House. I ask what is a " restraint of trade?" I wish to ask honorable members of the Labour Party whether they think that the corporations to which they belong, the great .industrial organizations and trade unions, of which thev are members, are trusts within the meaning of this Bill, and whether some of their actions might not constitute a restraint of trade? My honorable friends are always dealing in words, and I direct their attention to the definition in this Bill of a " commercial trust," and remind them that, wherever the term is used im this measure, this is one of the things meant.

Commercial Trust includes a combination . . . whose voting power or determinations are controlled .... by the creation of aboard of management or its equivalent.

I should like to know whether the determinations of a trades union are governed by a board of management or its equivalent.

Mr Page - They generally are.

Mr KELLY - Then, according to this definition, they constitute a " commercial trust,"

Sir William Lyne -But they do not bring down wages ; they put them up.

Mr KELLY - The Minister's interjection only helps us further. We may assume that trades unions constitue a ' ' commercial trust " under this Bill.

Sir William Lyne - Who says so?

Mr KELLY - The Bill says so. and includes them specifically. A trade union decides, we will say, on preference to unionists, which is undoubtedly a restraint of trade.

Mr Page - Why is the honorable member "stone-walling" the Bill?

Mr KELLY - I am not " stone-walling " the measure, but I am trying to make honorable members recognise the necessity of reading it. Apparently, my honorable friends appear to think that the moment one asks their attention to a matter of public concern one is doing them some injury. Has the honorable member for Maranoa read this measure?

Mr Page - Yes.

Mr KELLY - I think it is evident that some honorable members have not read it. A trade union, which is a " commercial trust " under this Bill, decides, through its board of management, to exact preference to unionists. I do not propose now to deal with the question whether preference to unionists is good or bad, but it undoubtedly constitutes a restraint of trade. It may have the effect of limiting output, and so disturbing trade at its very fountain-head. In so far it is a restraint of trade, and honorable members who are members of these organizations, if they do not look to it, may, as a result of the passing of this measure, be penalizedin a way the House does not intend.

Mr Page - It would not be a commercial transaction.

Mr KELLY - Is it not a commercial transaction for any man to sell his labour?

Mr Page - The trade union does not sell his labour.

Mr KELLY - If the union refuses to sell his labour or to permit' any one else to do so, unless certain conditions are enacted, isnot that a restraint of trade? If a huge conspiracy is formed to prevent any man selling his labour, unless upon compliance with certain conditions, in which other people believe, is not that a restraint of trade ?

Mr Page - No.

Mr KELLY - The point is worthy of the honorable member's consideration. Then there is another point in connexion with this part of the Bill which I wish made clear, and that is the meaning of the phrase " to the detriment of the public."

Sir William Lyne - It is highly to the detriment of the public that the honorable member should be wasting so much time.

Mr KELLY - I think I may here fittingly pay some little attention to the Minister of Trade and Customs. The honorable gentleman who talks about wasting time when an honorable member addresses himself seriously to the consideration of this question should be careful that he is not throwing stones from a glass house. He addressed himself last week to an explanation of this measure, and all that he succeeded in doing was to make a number of misrepresentations and a number of misstatements of fact, unintentionally, I daresay, which do not reflect credit upon his preparation of his speech or his knowledge of the business with which he was dealing. Quoting from page 247 of Hansard, I find that the honorable gentleman made the following statement in referring to the Massey-Harris harvester -

It has been stated that in pushing the machines commissions to the extent of , £26 and£30 have been given for selling single harvesters, which it has been said only cost£40 each.

Sir William Lyne - That is right.

Mr KELLY - The honorable gentleman now repeats the statement. We have claimed that before dealing with a matter of that kind the House should be given an opportunity of making itself conversant with, the Tariff Commission's report. Now even the Minister would appear not to have taken the trouble to do so.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I understood the honorable gentleman to say that that was in the Tariff Commission's report.

Mr KELLY - Then I am afraid that the honorable gentleman's factsare not such as are usually given to a House of Parliament by a responsible Minister. There was an exhibit marked No. 3, submitted to the Tariff Commission by the companies, interested, which set put the actual expenses in connexion with harvesters from the moment they left the factory to' the moment they reach the consumer in Australia. This sworn exhibit was within the Minister's reach, but he had not the energy or public spirit to find it, and made a completely misleading statement to the House. So far from the commission granted being£26 or£30 on an article valued £40 the commissions granted averaged£6 os. 9d. on an article that costs £38.

Mr Webster - What is the article sold at?

Mr KELLY - I will give the honorable member the whole of the facts from the statement sworn to before the Tariff Commission. These are the figures. The invoice price at Toronto is£38 os. 3d., the import charges amount, in all, to £20 is.1d., and include charges for packing, inland freight. Toronto to New York, ocean freight, insurance, wharfage, stacking, cartage, and receiving and Customs duty, 121/2 per cent. on , £38 plus 10 per cent. That makes the total cost of a machine landed on a Melbourne wharf£58 1s. 4d. The setting-up, warehouse, and shipping expenses amount to £2, and selling expensesinclude commission, £6 os. 9d. ; and then there are salaries of local agents and travellers, amounting to£3 17s.1d.; and travelling expenses of local agents and travellers, amounting to£2 9s.10d. ; making, all told,£6 6s.11d. for expenses of local agents and travellers.

Mr Webster - In addition to the commission ?

Mr KELLY - As the honorable member must be aware, that is entirely separate from the commission, and, even though it were not so regarded, the amount would then be only£12 odd on a machine costing£38, and not £26 or £30 on a machine costing£40, as the Minister told us was the case. These are the figures of a sworn return furnished to the Tariff Commission. Yet the Minister, who is so adverse to a consideration of this Bill, managed to misrepresent the facts, and say that the commission paid amounted to more than the total cost.

Sir William Lyne - The commission and cost is what I said.

Mr KELLY - Hansard has a better memory than has the honorable gentleman ! The Minister has had an opportunity of seeing that Hansard has reported him correctly, and has decided to permit the report to stand. He now says that the amount to which he referred covers commission and extras, but Hansard reports the honorable gentleman as having said that "commissions to the extent of£26 or £30 " have been given for the selling of a single harvester. When he now discovers the facts with which he should have been conversant in the first place, he tries to hedge, and to escape responsibility for giving the House false information. I hope that, considering the way in which he has wasted the time of the House, he will not further worry other honorable members in the performance of their public duty. There is another point in the Bill which I wish to have explained, and that is what is meant by the order of the words in the phrase, " producers, workers, and consumers." All through the Bill these three separate sections of the community are named in that order. Is that intended to give an indication of their relative importance in the community ? Are we to consider the producers as more important than either the workers or the consumers? I also wish to have it clearly laid down in Committee whether "producers" in this connexion means producers in general or only the particular producers affected in the matter in dispute. Because honorable gentlemen will see that, if these clauses are applied to small isolated bodies of producers, the Bill will be absolutely prohibitive of trade, internal and external. That is a matter which wants clearing up. I also desire to draw the attention of the Minister to paragraph c of clause 6, which says -

For the purposes of the last two preceding sections, unfair competition means competition which is, in the opinion of the jury, unfair in the circumstances ; and in the following cases the competition shall be deemed to be unfair until the contrary is proved -

(c)   If the provision would probably, or does in fact, result in throwing workers out of employment.

Does it mean throwing out of employment any workers, or does it mean throwing out of employment considerable bodies of workers ? That is a point which must be cleared up in Committee, because it is evident that we cannot have competition without affecting employment.

Mr Wilson - But competition increases employment.

Mr KELLY - Competition, I said, affects employment. Successful competition increases employment in the successful industry, but decreases employment in the unsuccessful industry. All competition affects employment, and the mere fact that in this world every one lives off every one else, more or less, should make it necessary to lay down in the clearest possible terms in Committee what is meant by that phrase. This afternoon the Attorney-General was asked by the honorable member for Corinella what would constitute throwing workers out' of employment. He replied that, in his opinion, if there were twenty firms engaged in an industry, and one of the firms was losing its employes as the result of competition and the others were not, that would not be " throwing workers out of employment " ; but, in the opinion of somebody else, it might. So far as a layman can read the provisions of the Bill, it certainly would. That is a matter which will be well worthy Of our serious consideration in Committee. 1 also want to get a clear difference drawn in, Committee between a combine that .is beneficent in its results and one that is not. The Postmaster-General has recently asked for a combination of ship-owners to provide a working postal contract.

Mr Watson - Where did he say that?

Mr KELLY - Does not the honorable gentleman know that?

Mr Watson - I am asking for information; I thought that he had only asked for tenders.

Mr KELLY - I cannot give my honorable friend my authority. If I am wrong I shall very much regret it, but I have been told that the Postmaster-General has actually asked for a combination of shipowners to give a good mail contract. I have not been able to test the accuracy of my informant, but it is m.v belief that the Postmaster-General has asked for such a combination. It is obvious to honorable members that such a combination might possibly be in the public interests. Therefore I want the clearest possible definition of what class of combines is intended to be got at under the Bill. There is another curious anomaly which may be worth the consideration of honorable members. We all wish to see employes get better terms, and to organize for that purpose, and although the Arbitration Court actually asks them to organize with that object, yet this Bill, in effect, proposes to penalize another section of the community for organizing to fix such rates and freights as wiM insure the payment of those higher wages and better conditions. I have not the slightest sympathy with any combination, either for purposes of spoliation or for the purpose of paying high wages, without consideration of the public interests generally. But it might: reasonably be asked by an extreme logician why is not sauce for the goose sauce for the gander also? It might be asked, Why should we in this measure penalize any organization on one side whilst fostering organization on the other ? The only body which I feel called upon in my public capacity to stand up for is the vast body of the Australian public, to which every man, woman, and child belongs, and that is the consumers. It would be absolutely against the public interest if we were to encourage the workers in an industry to organize to get higher wages, and to allow the employers therein to organize to pay those higher wages, without considering the great mass of the people of Australia - the consumers - who would have to bear the financial burden. Yet this is a matter which I repeat is well worthy the consideration of all' honorable members. Every one wishes to get this second part of the Bill put in the best possible working order, and therefore I hope that in Committee the Minister will accept suggestions from this side as readily as he will accept suggestions from any quarter. I do not think that is too much to ask at his hands. No honorable member 011 this side has done more than criticise in a most friendly way this part of the measure, and I do ask that our suggestions shall receive the same immediate courtesy as the honorable gentleman always extends to those members who sit in the Ministerial corner. The next part of the Bill is one with which, in view of the late hour, I propose to deal very briefly.

Mr Page - We shall have to apply the new standing order to the honorable member.

Mr KELLY - I do not know what the honorable gentleman's constituents will think of him if he tries to apply the new standing order to a speech against these provisions for trade prohibition. The honorable member is as much interested as I am, or as any other free-trader is, in combating this part of the measure.

Mr Page - I will help the honorable member in that, only Jet us pet into Committee, so that we can knock out this part.

Mr KELLY - If I were certain that that would be done, I should be ready to go to a vote on the Question at once. Before proposing to deal so drastically with' dumping, the Minister should have proved the existence of that evil. It is a singular thing that some protectionists in the 'Chamber are so impressed with the stringency of the proposals and their far-reaching character that they have, urged upon the Minister a similar request. Part III., if enforced, will defeat the avowed object of Part II. It aims, not so much at the repression of dumping, as at the prohibition of importation. I do not say that that is the avowed object of the Ministry, but it would certainly be the effect of these provisions if enforced in law. Furthermore, this prohibition is to be sanctioned, not by Parliament coming to a decision in the open light of day, but by the Minister acting at the request of certain rich manufacturers, having no responsibility to the public. I should be the last to suggest that the Minister might prove weak in the presence of temptation ; but it is not right for Parliament to almost offer inducements, if I may use the phrase, for the creation of corrupt practices.' I think that the House has no fear that the present Minister will be tempted; but he might be succeeded bv one who would prove frail. Before we pass provisions such as these, we should know that the dumping and malpractices which have been alleged actually exist. It is under the Constitution one of the first duties of this House to deal with all Tariff matters; and are we now going to say that w:e are unable to carry out this trust, and must hand it over to some omniscient person like the Minister of Trade and Customs? Surely the work is such as should be done in the open light of day, and by Parliament, instead of by the Minister in his sanctum, or in a board room, over cigars and a bottle of wine. There are other phases of the matter with which I had intended to deal, but, as the hour is rather late, I shall reserve my criticism, on the understanding that we shall have an opportunity to full v state our objections to Part III. when, in Committee, we come to deal with the first clause of that part.

Sir William Lyne - Does the honorable member wish to deliver another secondreading speech then?

Mr KELLY - The Government will not allow me to resume my remarks to-morrow, and I do not wish to detain the House longer to-night. I think that the course which I propose would save time. In m« opinion, Parts II. and III. of the Bill should be kept absolutely separate. Both the members of the Opposition and the members of the Government party are agreed that monopolies and combines should be subject to proper regulation - the only persons who do not believe in the efficacy of such regulation being the members of the Labour Party, who keep the Government in power. But many of us are absolutely opposed to the proposed prohibition of imports, which raises a controversial question which must be fought out to the bitter end. For this reason, I shall not tack on to my criticisms of Part II. the strong objections which I have to Fart III., but shall re- - serve what more I have to say until the Bill gets into Committee. Those whom I represent regard Fart III. as the most serious menace this Chamber has yet threatened to the interests of the people of Australia, and I shall use all the forms of the House open to me and all my powers to resist its passing.

Motion (by Mr. Fuller) proposed -

That the debate be now adjourned.

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