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Thursday, 1 July 1920

Mr CONSIDINE - It is a doubtful compliment to say that they work harder for a " boss " than the other fellow.

Mr GREGORY (DAMPIER, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - What did your committee report concerning the Cockatoo Island dockyard?

Mr TUDOR - I do not know.

Mr Riley - We can build ships cheaper here than they can in England.

Mr Gregory - No.

Mr TUDOR - The honorable member for Dampier (Mr. Gregory) is always anxious to ridicule the Australian workman.

Mr Gregory - He is all right if left alone.

Mr TUDOR - The honorable member for Dampier is continually " slinging mud " at the Australian workman, and is a member of what is known as the " stinking fish " party, which oan see no good in anything Australian. These honorable members have never been connected with a trade union, and as many of them were born with a 'silver spoon in their mouth they have had better opportunities of education than others who have had to struggle f or_ an existence. One would think to listen to the honorable member for Dampier that the trade union officials elected themselves, but he must remember that every member of a union votes for or against their appointment. I have had. as much experience of working as a journeyman in other countries as any honorable member in this House, so that I am better able than most to compare the abilities of Australians with those of workers elsewhere. And I say that, given the training and the opportunity, the Australian is always as good as any other who could he set against him. I am anxious to see the

Tariff placed upon a sound basis, so that our artisans shall be properly trained in Australian industries.

We have, by medium of this Tariff, an opportunity to place Australia's industries upon a better footing than hitherto.

The Minister for Trade and Customs has stated - comparing the 1914 Tariff, which I had the honour to introduce, with this latest Tariff - that there are 538 items among those inregard to which British preference figures, where the duty will remain exactly as before. Two-thirds of Australia's imports come from Great Britain; and, in regard to more than 500 of those items, there is no alteration. That fact is important. Since the introduction of the 1914 Tariff there have been five years of war, and to-day there is greater need than ever for Australia to open out industrially in new directions. Yet in 538 items--

Mr Corser - Such as cotton goods, for instance.

Mr TUDOR - With regard to those, I would do the same as in the matter of corsets and cotton hosiery. I would make them subject to a deferred duty.

Mr Corser - You can get the necessary machinery from the British makers to-day.

Mr TUDOR - If the honorable member suggests that he can buy machinery for cotton spinning and weaving, I tell him emphatically that it cannot be obtained at present.

Mr Corser - You can get people in Great Britain to send it out here to-day.

Mr TUDOR - The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. Nobody can get machinery out to Australia to-day for cotton spinning and weaving. No one could get sufficient to equip one mill in this country.

Mr Blundell - The arguments which the honorable member is now putting forward are exactly the same as those which were used when the first duty was put on woollen goods.

Mr TUDOR - That is not so. Since cotton manufacturing machinery was first invented there has never been such a shortage as at present.

Mr Blundell - If the honorable member will turn up the record of the debates when the first duty was placed on woollen goods, he will find that exactly the same arguments were used as he is advancing now.

Mr TUDOR - No such thing ! There has been no serious endeavour to manufacture cotton piecegoods in Australia.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - We are not placing a duty on that line.

Mr TUDOR - I know that, and it is really a proof of my point. A duty has been placed on cotton hosiery; but, to the best of my knowledge, no such article has been manufactured here.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I have already promised that I will provide the fullest information available in this matter; but I can say now that, with the machinery which is being installed, plus that which is already in operation, our output within the next twelve months will be over; 3,000,000 pairs of cotton sox.

Mr TUDOR - That is something for the future. The Minister has promised to furnish complete information, and, of course, we have every right to look for it. But, with all respect to the Minister, I have never yet been able to ascertain where any of these goods are being made.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - I will give full information when the item is being dealt with.

Mr Blundell - The honorable member for Corio (Mr. Lister) has already been approached with regard to a protective duty on corsets..

Mr TUDOR - About 1 per cent, of requirements is made in Australia.

Mr Blundell - When the first Tariff was introduced, there was only about 1 per cent, of woollen requirements manufactured here.

Mr TUDOR - That is certainly not the case to-day. Honorable members lose sight of the fact that during the years, of war more machinery for the manufacture of woollen goods was destroyed than in regard to any other industry. The north of France was the home of the light woollens industry, but the whole of the machinery in that part of the world has been destroyed or taken to Germany. There was one. corset factory established in Belgium which turned out many thousands of articles every day, but during the war the machinery was shifted bodily into Germany.

Mr Gregory - What will be the effect of 'this new Tariff on the poorer people of the community ?

Mr TUDOR - The general effect will be that, in view of the fact that on more than 500 items imported from Great Britain the duty will remain the same, there will not be very much alteration noted. That is why I believe that even this Tariff could have been improved upon. Let us examine for a moment the item, "Wool felt hats and fur felt hats, 15s. a dozen." Ninety per cent, of the imported felt hats during the past fifteen years came from Great Britain. It is a fact that probably 90 per cent, of the wool felt hats worn in Australia to-day have been manufactured here, but there are still certain expensive lines imported. In this respect the policy adopted in Canada appeals to me. Why should not those people who insist on purchasing high-priced imported articles, no matter what it may cost them, rather than patronize an Australian industry, be made to pay a form of taxation through the shops which they patronize ? It would be a very good way of hitting those extravagant folk who insist upon having the imported article at any cost. The fact that in the case of 537 items there is no alteration proposed in the duties on imports from Great Britain shows that the Tariff which was introduced by the Labour Government in 1914 may be said to have reached high-water mark. We have since then had five years' of experience, from which we should have learned something.

If honorable members will look at the. comparative tables supplied to them they will find that the alterations proposed by the Tariff now under consideration are chiefly confined to the last column, under the heading " General Tariff." I believe that in some cases mistakes have been made. For instance, I pointed out, when the Minister for Trade and Customs introduced this Tariff, that, in my judgment, a mistake had been made in connexion with the duties imposed upon metals. I suppose that copper, after smelting and refining, is as cheap in Australia as in any other part of the world.

Mr Gregory - It is cheaper.

Mr TUDOR - If we take the cost of freight on imported copper into consideration, it is cheaper, or at least as cheap, in Australia as in any other part of the world. Honorable members will see from item 140 that a duty of 10 per cent, is proposed on blocks, ingots, pigs, and scrap imported from Great Britain, 15 per cent, in the Intermediate Tariff and 20 per cent, on imports from any other country. It is quite certain that these duties will not be operative, but when we come to deal with the duties imposed on copper imported in angles, bars, plates, rods, sheets, strips, and tees, not plated, polished, decorated or further manufactured, but including plain tinned, we find, that it is proposed that the impost should be 25 per cent, on imports from Great Britain, 30 per cent, under the Intermediate Tariff, and 40 per cent, on imports from any other country. It should be remembered that these imports are purely machine production. I do not profess to know anything about the metal industry, but I believe that £3 per ton would cover the whole of the wages cost in the manufacture of these imports. With copper at £80 per ton, the duty proposed upon these imports from Great Britain represents a protection of £20 per ton upon an article which it costs only £3 per ton in wages to produce. There is some fear that this industry may get into the hands of one or two big companies. Within the last week or so we have seen that the Cloncurry mine has been shut clown because its products are waiting at Mount Kembla and cannot be refined. I say that to give more than ample protection, in view of the difference between the wages paid in Australia and in other countries of the world with which our industries compete, must tend to create a monopoly. I am willing to give protection to local manufacturers to the full extent of the difference in wages paid here and elsewhere, but, in my opinion, the duties proposed on the imports of copper manufactured to which I have referred, represent protection to a far greater extent than the difference between the wages cost in Australia and elsewhere in the production of these articles. Whether we are Protectionists or not, we should see that industries are not given into the hands of one or two big companies. The Mount Kembla Electrolytic Smelting and Refining Company should not be given the opportunity to corner the whole of the business and prevent the working of mines as the working of the Cloncurry mines are being prevented at the present time. We saw within the last few weeks that the Commonwealth Bank refused to increase the overdraft of the Cloncurry mines, and they have been closed down. I am aware that the Queeusland Government are making keep the work going, but the mines have been closed down because there is at present so much of the material obtained from them at Mount Kembla that it cannot be refined. I am anxious that copper should be refined here. It is my desire that the natural products of Australia should be brought to as complete a stage of manufacture in this country as possible. I shall be glad to hear the Minister for Trade and Customs give some explanation of the duties proposed in connexion with the imports of copper and many other items dealt with in the Tariff. We should, as far as possible, carry out the work of producing copper in the form of ancles, rods, and even wire, in Australia, but I fear that we shall not do so by imposing the duties proposed in this Tariff, and that their effect will only be to put the business into the hands of one or two rich companies.

Mr Gregory - The Mount Kembla people do not do any work except electrolytic refining.

Mr TUDOR - I understand that there was a proposal that at Mount Kembla they should manufacture copper, and turn out rods, and even wire, for telephone lines.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - That is being done, but not by the Mount Kembla people.

Mr TUDOR - I understand that that is so. I believe that we should carry out the refining of copper here. Sometimes the impurities in copper are gold or silver, and that should not be overlooked. We should get the fullest information in connexion with these items before being asked to vote upon them. I believe that the duties at present proposed in connexion with imports of copper represent to some extent a blot on the Tariff.

I am glad that under the Standing Orders honorable members will be able to speak as often as they please on the Tariff, because some may have a better knowledge of particular items than all the res L of the members of the Committee, and if they were confined to speaking but once or twice upon an item which they fully understood, they would perhaps be prevented from correcting the misunderstandings of other members of the Committee. I am glad to have the opportunity to consider this Tariff. In 1914 it was my privilege to introduce the highest Tariff up to that time introduced into any Parliament in Australia. We nev:r had the opportunity to discuss it because, owing to the war, it was considered that it was not desirable to do so.

Mr Richard Foster - We had the opportunity of collecting revenue under it.

Mr TUDOR - That is so. While there may not be much alteration of the duties proposed in the British preference column, there are alterations proposed in the other columns of this Tariff. I have never been anxious that we should collect a great deal of revenue through the Tariff, but that industries should 'be established in Australia.

Mr Richard Foster - It would' be very convenient to collect revenue through the Tariff just now.

Mr TUDOR - That may be so, but it might bring about the position we have recently had ,put before us in the newspapers. It has been shown that importers have added their profits to the original cost of the articles they import plus the duties imposed on them by the Tariff. We have an object lesson in the statement made in to-day's press that, in the early stages of the gas stokers' strike, lamps, which were imported at a cost of 4s. Sd., within twenty-four hours changed hands at least half-a-dozen times, and were finally sold at a price five or six times in excess of that at which they had been landed.

Mr Richard Foster - We have been told that the Government are going ito follow up the imported goods, and see that the prices charged are not excessive.

Mr TUDOR - It was in 190S, or ther abouts, that the policy of the New Protection was passed under which an endeavour was made to secure for the worker in every protected industry a fair wage, and at the same time to protect the consumer. That policy was initiated in connexion with the manufacture of farming implements, and the men who fought the worker on the one hand, and the farmer on the other, in order r.o defeat that legislation were members, not of the Labour party, but of the party to which the honorable' member for Wakefield (Mr. Foster) belongs. The validity of this legislation was challenged in South Australia, as well as in Victoria.

The Minister has done well in providing for deferred duties, and the principle might well be followed up. I do not know whether it has been applied to cast-iron pipes.

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - It has been applied, not to cast, but to wrought-iron pipes.

Mr TUDOR - It should be applied to wrought-iron pipes of small diameter for house reticulation purposes. I hope that, during this discussia honorable members will not hesitate to point to any defects in the Tariff. I shall be quite ready to do so, and I shall be pleased to know that we shall have an opportunity to alter and amend it. No Minister - no matter to what party he belongs - can claim to have that general knowledge of the industries of Australia which is possessed by the House as a whole. The Minister in charge should be glad to avail himself of the combined knowledge of honorable members. Every honorable member has a knowledge of the particular industries in his own electorate, and the extent to which they affect it, and I hope that we shall be guided in our deliberations by a desire to make Australia as self-contained as possible. We have been told by one daily newspaper that we have no right to consider such a matter; but I, for one, care not for the opinions expressed in the newspapers. It is our duty to make Australia less dependent upon other countries than she has hitherto been. During the war we found that we were able to manufacture much that we had never attempted before, and I am convinced that the Australian workman, when supplied with the necessary machinery and tools, can hold his own with the most skilled workers of any other country.

Mr.GREGORY (Dampier) I should like at the outset to refer to a remark made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor), who, in reply to an interjection made by me, classed me as one of the " Stinking-fish " party, so far as the progress of Australia was concerned.

Mr Tudor - If the honorable member objects to the remark I shall have pleasure in withdrawing it.

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