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Wednesday, 14 July 1920

Mr PROWSE (SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Does the honorable member think that the price ought to be cheaper, in the circumstances?

Mr TUDOR - I have said before, and I say again, that whilst some honorable members are making human life cheap by rendering it more difficult for people to get a living, they are adding to the value of land and beef. The late Sir Thomas Bent used to say that he " took off his hat to a cow "; I prefer to take off my hat to a human being. If the Creator had intended that beasts should be considered of more importance than human beings, He would not have endowed us with superior powers of thought and reason. There is an endeavour on the part of a section of the community to make land and animals' of more value than human life. My policy is the reverse of that-

Mr Hill - If that is the honorable member's belief, he would take off his hat to the farmers in the north to-day.

Mr Gregory - Was it because of this opinion that the honorable member for Yarra, when Minister for Customs, imposed a duty of 2d. per tin on New Zealand milk food for infants?

Mr TUDOR - The honorable member is asking whether Glaxo should not be imported free of duty, and whether I was right in continuing protection to an industry which produces the same kind of food at Bacchus Marsh. I shall always give first consideration to Australian industries. Unfortunately, every one of my children has had to be reared artificially, so that I appreciate the advisability of encouraging tie production of these artificial foods which are of such value to infant life ; but I do not agree that we should treat a New Zealand product better than we treat a similar article produced in Australia. Continuing my argument regarding food prices, I remind the House that sugar which in 1915 was 2f d. per lb. retail is to-day 6d. per lb.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - Did not the honorable member support the new sugar agreement?

Mr TUDOR - Yes, but I did not agree with the Prime Minister in regard to the retail price. Twice I tried to get a vote of the House on the question, and twice I was blocked by Ministerial members. I held the view that if the growers and ' millers were receiving only .£30 6s. 8d. per ton, or 3£d. per lb., there was no justification for adding a further 2$d. to the price before the article reached the consumer. Out of that large margin between the price to the . producer and the price to the consumer, some persons are making a big profit.

Mr Hill - That argument applies also to bread.

Mr TUDOR - That may be true. I stated in July of last year that the millers had so combined that they could charge the people any price they chose for their flour, and that they refused to supply any baker who sold bread at less than the price fixed by the millers. There was a co-operative flour mill at Wedderburn, in the electorate of Grampians, which was selling below the price fixed by the Combine, and its product was prevented from coming to the city.

Mr Jowett -That is quite true.

Mr TUDOR - And I have mentioned also the cases of the Civil Service Cooperative Bakery, which was (prevented by the " Car-gear " Committee from obtaining supplies of flour, and of customers who were not allowed to change their bakers. The master millers shut the product of the Wedderburn mill out of the market, and subsequently the mill was burnt down. Of course, I do not say that the millers were responsible for its destruction. The average wholesale price of butter in Melbourne in 1914 was 1s.01/2d;to-day it is about 2s. per lb., and the farmers are asking for 3s. per lb. I wonder why they stop at 3s. ; why do they not ask for 33s. ?

Mr Hill - I wonder, too, seeing that it is costing from 4s. to 4s.11/2d., to produce a pound of butter to-day.

Mr TUDOR - The Government have done nothing to keep down the price of butter.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - In quoting1 Is. 01/2d. per lb., is the honorable member referring to the time when he placed an embargo on the export of butter?

Mr TUDOR - No ; I was not in office until nearly the end of 1914. I know that the butter exporters have never forgiven me for my action in connexion with the embargo.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - Does the honorable member think they should?

Mr TUDOR - Yes. But, at any rate, the people of Australia appreciated what I did. I objected to the exporters creating an artificial shortage of butter in Australia in order to force up the price. The people of Australia consume 4 lbs. out of every 5 lbs. produced locally, and they are entitled to first consideration. They consume, too, more beef than is exported

Mr Prowse - Could we get meat, butter, and wheat cheaper from any other country?

Mr TUDOR - Of course we could not ; nor could we import more cheaply than' we can produce a lot of articles which the honorable member thinks should he brought into the country duty free. The farmers say, "Give us a big duty upon products from other countries; let no potatoes come from New Zealand and no onions from America or anywhere else. Place a big duty on onions and potatoes, but let us import all our farming implements free of duty." That is the attitude taken up by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse) and other honorable members ofhis party. How absurd it is !

Mr Prowse - You give us import prices, and you can put on all the other items of Protection that you like.

Mr TUDOR - These "country gentlemen now want import parity, and at a time when freight is higher than ever before. I desire to give protection to Australian industries. When Mr. " jock " Troup - who has lost his deposit, I am very glad to say - entered himself for the Ballarat race, he took good care to tell the electors that he was a Protectionist. When some members of the Country party come into this place they take equally good care to say that they are Protectionists.

Mr Prowse - That is why Mr. Troup lost his deposit, perhaps.

Mr TUDOR - Apparently, it was that the Ballarat electors considered he was no good.

With regard to the item of meat, the increase has been greater than upon all the other domestic lines which I have mentioned put together. No honorable member will dare to say that the prices which I have quoted are an undervalue for 1914, or an overvalue with respect to today's prices.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - Do you do any fattening?

Mr Blakeley - Your crowd doesn't seem to get very good grazing at Ballarat.

Mr TUDOR - I know all about you men, who would take off your hats to a cow before you would to an individual. You have never known what it is to worry about the cost of living; you have never had to struggle for a living.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - I have struggled harder than the honorable member has ever done.

Mr TUDOR - That is certainly not a fact; but I am aware that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Robert Cook) and those around him are more concerned about fattening stock than they are to permit me to state a consecutive case today.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - Nothing of the sort! How many head of stock have died-

Mr TUDOR - I do not want to listen to any more inane interjections. I would like an opportunity to say that meat, which cost 22s. per 100 lbs. in 1914, was quoted in January- June this year at an average of 53s. 2d. per 100 lbs. Will any honorable member say that the average retail price to-day is only 6id. per lb ? The honorable member for Indi knows the position in which the unhappy consumer finds himself, and he must have some idea of the purchasing power of the sovereign to-day, compared with 1914. The people are not concerned with Mr. Knibbs' statistics, or with weighted averages, and that kind of thing. But they know how much it costs to procure a loaf of bread to-day, compared with a few years ago. When I have spoken to metropolitan audiences, and to the people at Ballarat and elsewhere, and I have set forth details of the sugar agreement, showing that the producer is getting only a penny out of the increased price, the people have naturally wanted to know what has become of the rest of it. And they have every right to know why the price should have gone up 2£d. per lb., although the sugar farmer and miller get only Id. per lb extra.

Now, let us take the item of bread. At the rate of consumption of 5 lbs. per week-

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - Have you finished with meat?

Mr TUDOR - Another idiotic interjection.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - Do you know how many head of cattle have died-

Mr TUDOR - I am anxious to get on, but do not seem to have an opportunity to do so.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! Interjections must cease.

Mr TUDOR - Of course, I know that first of all the Government objected to take this censure motion. Secondly, they put up one of their supporters* - a man who will feed out of their hands - to block it on Friday. And, now that the Ballarat election is over, they appear to be willing to get to the motion; but the Ministerial Corner party is evidently anxious that I shall not have a fair run. They put up a man to make inane interjections

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - I rise to a point of order. I would not have made one interjection in the course of the honorable member's remarks-

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