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Friday, 14 October 1910

Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) . - Although I have been connected with the sugar industry in one way or another for the last thirty years, the sugar question is such a huge one that I doubt whether it is possible, without wearying honorable senators, to deal with it very fully. The sugar industry extends along 1 . 000 miles of coast-land.

Senator McGregor - With a very big gap.

Senator CHATAWAY - That makes it all the worse. In New South Wales the sugar industry is on the 29th parallel of south latitude, and the most extreme northern point of the industry is on the 19th parallel. That, if worked out, will be found to be a distance of 1,000 miles. Between those points there are differences of climate, and an argument which might apply aptly to New South Wales or to the extreme south of Queensland is inapplicable in such places as Port Douglas, the Johnstone River, and so forth. I still hold the views which I expressed a long time ago, when Senator de Largie was rather amused at hearing me say that some of the people connected with the sugar industry had stated that it could not be carried on with white labour. I have never taken thetrouble to put myself right on this point, if that is necessary. But I now propose to do so definitely and clearly.I intend to read a brief extract from a leading article in the Sugar Journal, which I conducted for about twelve years. It was written at the time when the whole coloured labour question was before this Parliament. Honorable senators who have taken an interest in the question will remember that Dr. Maxwell, from Hawaii - a man who, I believe, is recognised to be a thoroughly competent authority on this question - made a report to Mr., now Sir Edmund, Barton.

Senator de Largie - He did very good work for Queensland, anyhow, in the shape of getting bounties for its people, and so on.

Senator CHATAWAY - I do not know, but I hope that my honorable friend will allow me to make my speech. I am not defending Dr. Maxwell, but if he needs defending or attacking, I can do both, if necessary.

SenatorLe Largie. - Do both.

Senator CHATAWAY -On some points 1 agree with Dr. Maxwell, and on others I do not He made a report which was the subject of a good deal , of comment in the Federal Parliament, and which largely underlay the policy adopted. What I wrote on the subject at that time appeared in a leading article in the Sugar Journal, of September, 1901 -

There is a class of sugar producers, and of their injudicious friends, who absolutely decline to be moderate in the matter of coloured labour. They talk of cheap and reliable labour, and decline absolutely to discuss the possibilityof ever or by any method conducting the sugar industry without the use of coloured labour. To these Dr. Maxwell's report was a keen disappointment. They believed that it would reecho their sentiments, and loudly assert that the coloured man must remain or the industry will perish. To those, and they are the great majority of people informed on the subject, who, like ourselves, hold what may be called moderate views in this matter. Dr. Maxwell's report is entirely satisfactory.

I make that quotation once and for all. 1 do not propose to refer again to what may have been my attitude in the past in connexion with coloured labour. I say that there is a definite expression of opinion indicating that I disagreed with a large number of people - people whose opinion I admit can be quoted - in regard to coloured labour. I ask honorable senators to accept that statement, and not again to sneer at me in regard to this matter.

Senator Givens - Is it not a fact that for years' the Sugar Journal was the grea test barracker for black labour in Queensland ?

Senator CHATAWAY - No, it is not a fact.

Senator Givens - An absolute fact ; I can produce a dozen copies of the Journal.

Senator CHATAWAY - I do notsay that there were not letters written to that Journal in advocacy of the employment of coloured labour.

Senator Givens - And expressions of opinion by the newspaper itself.

Senator CHATAWAY - I say no; and what I have read is the best possible proof. On a previous occasion my honorable friend said that it was another journal, called the

Mackay Mercury,which was a great barracker for coloured labour. 1 asked him to produce it, and to show that that newspaper, during the time I was connected with it, had done any of the things that he accused me of doing.

Senator Givens - I do not go round with a file of a newspaper in my possession.

Senator CHATAWAY - The statement, of course, is an easy one to make. It took me a considerable time to obtain a file of this newspaper from Queensland.

Senator Givens - Where did the honorable senator get it from? I searched in the Mackay School of Arts for a file of the paper, and found that it had been removed.

Senator CHATAWAY - Is the honorable senator referring to the Sugar Journal now f

Senator Givens - No, to the Mackay Mercury

Senator CHATAWAY - My honorable friend can buy a complete file of the Sugar Journal from the beginning if he likes.

Senator Fraser - He can get a barrow - ful of copies from Messrs. Gordon and Gotch.

Senator CHATAWAY - Turning now to the Bill, I hold' the view first of all that you cannot lay down a hard-and-fast rule for the sugar industry, applicable from the Tweed Heads right up to Port Douglas. As far as concerns people north of Mackay, the wages paid there are higher than the wages that the Minister has ordered to be paid. I went up to Queensland last December, and met there a committee representative of a large section of the sugar growers from the northern area, and I am pleased to say that they were distinctly in favour of a Wages Board. 1 am glad that this Bill effects a great improvement in that direction. It gives power for Wages Boards when established to regulate wages locally, and, as I hope, according to the circumstances of particular districts. Away up in the Herbert' and the far north, men employed for ordinary field labour have been engaged at wages as high as 35s. per week and board and lodging. In the extreme south of Queensland many of the farmers have complained that a wage of £1 a week and keep is too high. The managing director of one of the large mills in the north 1.0 whom I wrote on the question, said, " As long as YOU do not make the wages £5 a week and keep I do not care what they are." On the other hand, the men in the extreme south have been agitating for higher wages. But there are evidences that the prevailing view on this question is an improvement on that which has prevailed in the past. First of all under this Bill the employes may have their wages regulated by local Wages Boards; and if there are no Wages Boards or similar tribunals, the scale fixed by the Minister will apply. That provision puts the matter into the hands of the parties interested. The men can meet their employers and settle the thing over a table. To that extent the question of wages is by this Bill placed on a better footing than it was under the existing Act.

Senator Givens - Does the honorable senator say that the planters in the northhave invariably been paying more than the amounts directed by the Minister?

Senator CHATAWAY - I did not u settle word "invariably." I do not doubt that, just as my honorable friend will not pay more rent for his house than he can help, so if there happens to be an excess of labour, and there is no Wages Board, a farmer will, I suppose, pay only the amount that he is compelled to pay to his men.

Senator Givens - Will the honorable senator say that the planters generally were, paying more than directed by the Minister ?

Senator CHATAWAY - My information is that at Mackay - to take that as an instance - the general rate is 25s. a week and keep for field labour.

Senator Givens - Then where was the necessity for the honorable senator to introduce a deputation to the Minister asking for a reduction in the wages rate?

Senator CHATAWAY - I do not know why my honorable friend should be so angry about this matter. I think he will admit that my statement is true, that generally speaking - I cannot, of course, speak for every individual case - everywhere north of the twenty-first parallel, that is north of Cape Capricorn, the wages paid for ordinary field labour are in excess of the wages ordered to be paid by the Minister. 1 arn not now talking of wages paid for harvest work, for which higher rates were paid than those laid down by the Minister.

Senator Givens - If that be true, wherewas the necessity, I ask again, for thehonorable senator to introduce a deputationto the Minister asking him to reduce the. scale ?

Senator CHATAWAY - I introduced a deputation to the Minister asking him to make inquiries before he gazetted the scale.

Senator Givens - And asking him to reduce the scale ; I can quote from the report of the deputation to that effect.

Senator CHATAWAY - I have a copy of it, and I can tell the honorable senator that when he starts quoting he will drop me like a hot potato. .He will begin to talk of what other members of the deputation said, and not of what I said. He did that on a previous occasion when he spoke on the subject. As a matter of fact, what I did ask the Minister to do was to make an investigation before he issued his scale ot wages - an investigation into the condition of things not only around Bundaberg, but along the whole coast-line. Because, as I have said before, the conditions in the north are radically different from those which prevail in the south. My main point now is that this Bil! effects an immense improvement, inasmuch as it gives an opportunity for the creation of Wages Boards or local tribunals to fix wages according to the circumstances of various localities. That is an advantage. One other point in connexion with the men employed, which is often carefully avoided - or, perhaps, I should rather say generally overlooked - by a great many people who discuss the matter, is that in Queensland we have what is called a Shearers and Sugar Workers' Accommodation Act. As far as the accommodation of the workers is concerned - that is, as far as relates to housing, washing arrangements, and so forth - there is a staff of something like forty-two inspectors, whose business it is to see that the workers are provided with proper accommodation according to conditions laid down in the Act. It has been stated in certain quarters that the inspectors do not do their duty. I suppose that a statement of that kind could probably be made about one or two persons in any large staff of men. But I am satisfied that, generally speaking, these officers do make it their business to see that the accommodation arranged for the employes in the industry is as it ought to be. If they fail to do their duty, however, that has nothing to do with the Federal Parliament. The fault lies with the State Government in not enforcing its own law. But, as a matter of fact, if any one likes to take up the last copy of the Queensland Agricultural Department's report - which came to hand about a week ago - he will find a statement, not only as to the number of inspectors employed, but also as to the number of inspections made; and most satisfactory reports are printed as to the way in which employers are even anticipating the visits of the inspectors, and doing everything they can to make the conditions most reasonable. So far as Wages Boards are concerned, this Bill provides for the establishment of a proper system; and as accommodation to the State Act supplies the necessary regulations under which the men must be properly housed and treated. In regard to the employes of the industry, therefore, I contend that when this Bill is passed it will thoroughly remove whatever faults there may have been in the past in connexion with wages.

Let me now turn to the position of the sugar industry as it affects the consumer. The consumer is supposed to have suffered very heavily under Federal legislation.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - So he has.

Senator CHATAWAY - My honorable friend comes from South Australia. I am prepared to show him that the price of sugar, in spite of the fact that a sort of sugar famine has prevailed, only went up quite a trifle during the first five years of Federation, as compared with the five years immediately preceding Federation.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If the honorable senator had to 'keep a family in South Australia he would know better.

Senator CHATAWAY - The people of Victoria and Tasmania during the first five years after Federation were getting their sugar for £2 5s. per ton cheaper than during the five years immediately preceding Federation. I will admit at once that Western Australia has some ground of complaint. The price of sugar in that State has gone up as compared with the price before Federation. But Western Australia, before the passing of the Federal Tariff, had Free Trade in sugar. The result has been that the price of sugar in that State - we will leave out the last few weeks during which there has been a constant fall - has been £5 per ton more than it was before. But this increase was not wholly in consequence of Federal legislation. If there had been no Federation at all, Western Australia would have had to pay more than she did before Federation, because of a rise in the world's markets. As a matter of fact, the Queenslanders are paying £5 more for their sugar than they did before Federation.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - And the producer derives no advantage from the increase?

Senator CHATAWAY - I admit that the producer has the advantage of the Australian market.

Senate W. Russell. - The combine gets the advantage.

Senator CHATAWAY - The combine dees not affect the price of sugar in the world's markets. Immediately after Federation the price of sugar all over the world was very low indeed. At that time the sugar-grower got the full advantage of the duty. Now, however, the producers are getting little or no advantage from the duty. I propose to prove that statement.

Senator Clemons - Surely they are selling it at the same price as that at which imported sugar can be sold, duty paid?

Senator CHATAWAY - No ; nothing like it. I shall prove my statement. I should like, first of all, to say that when we make comparisons it is only fair that we should compare similar things and things of equal value. One must not compare a horse with a cow. It is similarly of no use to compare 88 per. cent, beet sugar with 99.6 per cent, cane sugar. I was very much amused to End that a member of the Federal Parliament, who may not be considered friendly to the Government, since he sits on the Opposition side, described 88 per cent, beet sugar as a sort of fluid. I say that if that is what he says, the honorable gentleman could never have seen that beet sugar in his life. I had intended to exhibit some 88 per cent, beet sugar; but I thought that might be going too far, and that it would not be worth while. Honorable senators who have been long enough in Australia will recall the time when what was called ration sugar was used on stations. That ration sugar was infinitely worse than 88 per cent, beet sugar, which has a certain quality. It is a greeny sort of sugar, with a small grain. The price of this wonderful " fluid " sugar was compared with the price of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company's iA sugar. That is not a fair comparison. We might as well compare a horse with a cow. I went to some trouble to find out, if I could, what exactly were the prices in London and in Australia for a sugar that might be considered exactly equal in quality. There has been a drop of £2 per ton in the price since then ; but, at the time I made the calculation, I found that the price of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company's iA sugar was £23 2s. 6d. per ton. Allowing for discount, which is a trade matter, the net price was £21; 19s. 4éd. Now, the net export price in London of Tait's granulated sugar, which, according to analysis, is only about J per cent, inferior to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company's iA sugar, was £18 15s. per ton. It would weary the Senate to give details of freight, landing charges, insurance, and exchange ; but they amounted in all to £1 18s. nd. per ton. The duty is £6 ; and these figures show that the cost of this sugar landed here duty paid would be £26 13s. nd., as against £21 19s. 4jd., the price charged for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company's. 1 A sugar. it would, 1 hereford, cost the consumer £4 14s. 6|d. more if he imported sugar of equal value with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company's iA sugar, and' paid £6 duty. It is admitted by Mr. Tudor - though whether it will be admitted by my honorable friends opposite I do not know - that Australian sugar contributes the difference between the bounty and Excise, namely, £x per ton, to the Commonwealth Treasury - that is, to the people of Australia. Therefore, the actual benefit of the £6 per ton duty to the Australian industry is £6, less £4 14s. 6kl. plus £1 ; or 5s. 5½d. per ton.

Senator Findley - How does the honorable senator get those figures ?

Senator CHATAWAY - The honorable senator might as well ask me where do I get the argument I am using. He will be able to study the figures later; and 1 venture to say he will not dispute their accuracy when he sees them in print. I put the matter in another way. The price of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company's 1 A sugar is £21 19s. 4&d. The .price of Tait's granulated imported sugar, less the £6 duty, is £20 13s. nd. The price of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company's sugar above the landed cost of Tait's granulated sugar, less duty, would, therefore, be £1 5s. 5jd. But, again, we have to remember that the Australian sugar industry pays an Excise duty of £4 per ton, and receives a bounty of £?> per ton. Assuming that no coloured labour is employed anywhere in the local production, the difference of £1 per ton must be taken from the excess price of the Australian sugar ; and the figures show that the Australian industry takes advantage of the £6 per ton duty to the extent, as I have shown by the previous figures, of only 5s. 5½d. per ton.

Now, I have to refer to a point which I do not think is recognised by many of my honorable friends. If the price of sugar were to fall to anything like what it was in 1902, the Australians engaged in the sugar industry would take the greatest possible advantage of the duty. When prices are high all over the world, the duty is not of very much importance to us ; but when the prices fall, as they are falling now, the duty becomes of very considerable importance. While at the present time it is true to .say that the sugar industry is deriving from the duty an advantage of only 5s. 5£d. per ton, I frankly admit that if the price of sugar all over the world were to fall by £3 or £4 per ton, we should be taking advantage of the duty to the extent of £3 ros. or £"3 15s. per ton.

Senator Findley - The Colonial Sugar Refining Company take .advantage of every rise in price. When the price was raised in Europe, they increased the price in Australia.

Senator CHATAWAY - Just so; but the honorable senator will find it impossible to escape the conclusions to be drawn from the figures I have_ given. They will appear in Hansard, and he is welcome to prove that they are wrong if he can.

Senator Findley - I say that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, in common with every other big company, take advantage of every circumstance.

Senator Sayers - In common with every little company, and of every individual also.

Senator CHATAWAY - I will say that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are wiser than the man in the fable. They never kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Senator Lynch - They are killing the planters all the time.

Senator CHATAWAY - I shall be able to prove the opposite. Now I come to the. question of granulated beet sugar. Imported beet sugar, as honorable senators are no doubt aware, has a duty of £10 per ton against it. Exactly why that duty was imposed, unless it was with some idea that it would resurrect the beet sugar industry in Australia, I do not know. The price of granulated beet sugar which analyzes 96 per cent, f.o.b. at Hamburg is £16 per ton; freight and other charges, as in the other case, would amount to £1 18s. nd. per ton, making the price £17 18s. 1 id. landed in Australia without the duty. The price of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company's iA sugar I have given already at £21 19s. 4&d., leaving a balance of £4 os. 5½d., as, apparently, the amount by which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company take advantage of the duty. But there is, again, the £1 difference between bounty and Excise to he deducted, which makes the value of the £10 duty "on beet sugar to our industry os. 5½d. So that in competition with beet sugar, we only take advantage of 33 per cent, of the duty.

We have to remember the fact that we are dealing with an industry which is assisting us to solve one of the most difficult problems we have to face, namely, the settlement of a portion of Australia where, owing to heat, rainfall, and other climatic conditions, wheat, maize, and other cereals cannot be grown. Over and over again we have tried to grow maize, as far south as the district of Mackay ; and while we have grown maize in that district in a season which would result in an absolute failure of the sugar crop, it cannot ordinarily be grown there with success.

Senator Givens - Maize is grown as far south as Victoria.

Senator CHATAWAY - I am aware of that. I am pointing out that along our coast-line in the north, where the rainfall is very heavy, maize cannot be grown successfully. I admit that it is grown on the Atherton plateau ; but, even there, there are difficulties which have not yet been successfully overcome.

Coming again to the question of the price paid by the consumer, I worked out another calculation comparing the prices of sugar in Australia and in England for the year ending 30th June, 1909, and the year ending 30th June, 1910. I find that in the first year mentioned the average price of our standard sugar, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company's iA. was ^20 10s. liU. Less discount and duty, that would make the price in bond £"13 15s. lod. per ton. In the year ending 30th June last - and I again direct attention to the fact that the sugar famine is only just beginning to be alleviated - the average price for the whole year, less discount and duty, was £14 15s. 10d. That represents an average rise in the price for the whole year of £1 per ton. I should mention that out here discount is estimated at 5f per cent., and in London at 2\ per cent. Any one who studies the Economist will find that that is so. The average price of Tail's granulated sugar during the year ending

June. 1909.. in bond in London, was £14 8s. And during the year ending June. 1910, the average price was £16 15s. 1 id. per ton. Iu other words, the price went up in London by £2 7s- 11d. P61 ton, whi'st it only went up by £1 per ton during the same period in Australia. So far as the consumer is concerned, I venture to say that if honorable senators will compare like with like, and will go to the world's markets to see what is happening, they will discover that, while the price remains high, the refineries in Australia, whether it be the Millaquin-Yengarie, or the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, do not charge anything more than the smallest possible margin over and above what the article could be imported for, if there were no duty at all.

I may be faced at once with the statement that my argument shows that we do not need the duty.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I thought the honorable senator wanted a Commission to inquire into this matter?

Senator CHATAWAY - I want it still ; but I do not see what the interjection has to do with my statement.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Then what is the use of this Bill?

Senator CHATAWAY - I do not know yet. I have never discovered what is its use. Perhaps the Minister will explain that by-and-by. I understand that the object is to tide the Government over until the referendum is taken next year. Honorable senators will find, from the Melbourne Argus, which, it will be admitted, is not very strong on Protection, that in 1902 the price of sugar was so low that, in a special comment-

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I read the Age.

Senator CHATAWAY -Will my honorable friend take a rest for a moment? The Melbourne Argus, in a special comment in its market report, stated that, unless the prices of Australian sugar were further lowered, the duty would not keep out foreign sugar.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I would expect that statement to come from the Argus.

Senator CHATAWAY - Then possibly the honorable senator would not expect it from me. I repeat that that journal pointed out that an import duty of £6 per ton upon sugar was not sufficient to exclude foreign sugar if the prices of that commodity were low. At the present time the prices are so high that we could almost get along without any protective duty. But that is no argument why we should abolish such a duty, lt merely shows that, whilst prices were high all over, the world, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company did not take undue advantage of the protective duty. Naturally, when prices were low, they took as much advantage of them as was necessary to enable them to sell their commodity at a profit.

I have dealt with the relations which exist between the farmer and the labourer, and the refiners and the consumer, and I come now to the relations which exist between the refiner and the mill-owner. The refiner is supposed to be paying the mill-owner so little for his sugar that the latter is unable to pay the farmer a reasonable price for his cane. In this connexion I have gone back a period of nearly ten years to obtain statistics, and I wish to compare the figures of 1898-9 with those of 1909. I find that for the year ended June, 1899, the refiners paid £8 ns. o|d. per ton for their raw sugar. At that time the Ripple Creek Factory, which has since been closed, but which was then making a white sugar for the open market which was only slightly inferior to the ordinary iA sugar, was selling its commodity at £19 per ton. In 1909 MillaquinYengarie sugar was selling for £21 per ton, or an increase of £2 per ton. For the year ended 30th June last, I find that the refiners paid the sugar mills £12 2s. 5½d. per ton for their raw sugar. So that whilst sugar was £2 per ton higher to the consumer than it was previously, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company paid the mills £3 1 is. 4½d. per ton more than they did previously. In other words, unless the company are making money in some other direction, they have gone to the bad to the extent of £1 ns. 4jd. per ton. These figures disclose that they appear to be treating the mills fairly. Let me give an instance of this. The other day a gentleman named F. C. McNish proposed to establish a central refinery in Queensland, which various co-operative mills would use for refining their sugars. His proposal was discussed in the different sugar districts, and in one of the biggest of these the managing directors of the mills positively declined to contribute £25 each towards the preliminary expense of investigating it. As a matter of fact, the mills consider, on the whole, that they are being well treated, although there may be places in the extreme south of Queensland where the mill-owners tell the farmers that they cannot pay them more for their cane because they are receiving so little themselves from the refiners. It is a significant fact, however, that the greatest complaints in regard to the price of cane come from places which have nothing whatever to do with the Colonial Sugar Refining" Company. I learn from Hansard that that company has expressed its willingness for the fullest investigation to be conducted into its affairs by a Royal Commission. Without posing as an apologist for the company, I venture to say that, if it be only given fair play before such a tribunal, honorable senators who imagine that it is a sort of octopus will be agreeably astonished to find that the reverse is the case.

Senator McGregor - Then, where does the money go which we are paying for sugar ?

Senator CHATAWAY - I cannot repeat the whole of my statement merely to suit my honorable friend. Take the figures relating to the prices which the refiners are paying the mills for their raw sugar. A modern sugar mill, which has a tramway system of its own, represents a capital cost of about £75,000. Of course, there are mills which cost considerably less. The cheapest mill of which I know - outside of "tin-pot" establishments - originally cost from £"20,000 to £"25,000, and since then an additional £20,000 has been expended upon it. Most of the mills are huge establishments, and during the years 1907, 1908, 1909, and 1 910, they were paid by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company £10 14s. 8d., £io 9s. id., £11 3s. sd., and £12 2s. 5½d. per ton, respectively, for their raw sugar. I do not know whether honorable senators are aware that the refiners pay the manufacturers of raw sugar upon the basis of a certain price. For example, if refined sugar be worth £19 10s. per ton, they pay them, say, £"9 7s. 6d. per ton for the raw sugar. If the price of refined sugar rises, the refiners pay the manufacturers 18s. a ton out of every £1 per ton of the increase. The result is that only refiners who handle their own raw sugar make any profit out of a rise in price. The refiner who does not handle his own sugar pays away the 2s. per ton which he would otherwise receive, in discounts, 8rc. As the refiners do not manufacture the bulk of the sugar, it is obvious that the farmers and the raw sugar mills get the benefit of any rise in the price of that commodity.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The honorable senator is not now quoting from the Sugar Journal.

Senator CHATAWAY - I was. I had no idea that the honorable senator desired me to quote the whole article. If my honorable friend doubts my statement, I will make him a present of the Journal.

I would further point out that the bulk of the sugar produced in Queensland is manufactured by mills which are owned by the farmers themselves. Thirteen or fourteen large factories in that State are controlled by the farmers, just as the Byron Bay butter factory is controlled by them. When the sugar season is over, the directors, knowing how much money they ha've made, distribute a bonus amongst the farmers who have supplied these factories with cane. I admit that, in the case of factories which are owned by persons who wish to make a profit out of the mills, the farmer does not get so much. If I own a butter factory, and the farmers supply me with cream, I must endeavour to make a profit out of it. But where the farmers themselves own a factory, they distribute any profit which they may make amongst the suppliers to it. In the south of Queensland, in the Bundaberg district, there are a number of farmers who consider that they are being badly treated, and their cases are always being quoted. I pass over the Mackay district, because there is no growling there, although one or two farmers have been writing to the newspapers, pointing out that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has been paying higher prices for cane than have other companies. On the Johnstone River the other day, when it was put to me as a reasonable argument that the farmer should receive something extra for his cane when the price of sugar went up, I suggested to my friend that that object could be most readily attained by a certain form of agreement. I then verbally outlined an agreement, whereupon he exclaimed, " Why, that is the form of agreement which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company forwarded to us the other day, and which we rejected, because we did not understand it." Thereupon, I said plainly to him, " You have missed the bus, and now you are complaining because you have missed it." I understand, however, that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is about to renew Bie offer. The trouble in regard to paying thefarmer an extra price for his cane when the price of sugar is high, is the- same that is experienced in other avocations, in which men demand an additional advantage when the profits are big, but object to being subjected to disadvantage when there are no profits. Anyhow, that is a matter between the people themselves.

The industry has certainly gone back a little in connexion with the acreage, but, generally speaking, there are plenty more farmers who are willing to enter into it if they know what the future is likely to be. I wish to refer to one or two matters which were mentioned by Senator Pearce, who has been good enough to allow me to see a proof of his speech. He said -

We also have to remember that there is still in Queensland a very large floating coloured population, and it is not the desire of the Government that these people should again be attracted to the sugar iindustry.

That is perfectly true, and it is not the desire, either, of people in connexion with the industry. At Cairns, last June, they passed a resolution which is to be found in our Journals in connexion with a question I asked. They asked that the Government should invite Parliament to legislate straight-out that no coloured labour shall be employed in any shape or form in connexion with the industry.

Senator Givens - That is a remarkable change.

Senator CHATAWAY - That may be so, but they appear not to have changed in a moment, because they took some time for consideration. So far back as February, 1 9 10 - that is, long before the Federal elections took place, so that the, change cannot be ascribed to that event - Messrs. Ruthning and Jensen, solicitors to the Australian Sugar Producers' Association, stated a case for. the opinion of counsel, and the opinion was obtained of Mr. Frank Gavan Duffy, who, I understand, is a barrister of very high standing in Victoria. I propose to read only a short extract from the case -

Can a law be enacted to entirely prohibit the employment of coloured labour in the sugar industry, and to prohibit the growth of sugar-cane and manufacture of sugar by coloured labour?

In his opinion, a copy of which I have here, Mr. Duffy says -

If by the word " law " in this question is meant a Statute of the Commonwealth Parliament, the answer to this question is " Yes." If a Statute of the Queensland Parliament is meant the answer is " Yes."

I shall not weary honorable senators by reading all the arguments with which Mr. Duffy backed up that statement, but if the

Minister wishes to see the opinion he is welcome to see it afterwards. In February, 1910 - that is before the elections were held, and before this Government came into power - a question was put by the Australian Sugar Producers' Association, and it was replied to by Mr. Duffy on the 23rd March, which, I may remind my honorable friends, preceded the 13th April. The next half-yearly meeting of the Association was held in June, and at the very first moment they adopted a resolution which honorable senators can see by referring to our Journals. The Minister of Defence should not have said quite so much about a large c coloured population in Queensland. Leaving out Thursday Island, he will find that the coloured population of Queensland is less than that of New South Wales. According to the last census there were 9,800 Chinamen in Queensland, 11,000 odd Chinamen in New South Wales, and 8.000 odd Chinamen in Victoria. Seeing that the kanakas who left on their own account, or who were deported by the Commonwealth, numbered 8,000 or 9,000, it is very doubtful whether the Minister's statement is accurate. Why should Queensland be singled out more than any other State as a State having a big floating coloured population?

Senator Pearce - I was referring to Queensland as the home of the sugar industry, and not particularly to that matter.

Senator CHATAWAY - I admit at once that a very big section of the farmers are afraid that the operation of Wages Boards in the sugar districts will have the effect of driving about 400 or 500 coloured men, who are employed in various ways, out of the sugar mills, and enabling them to go and take up land. On the last occasion when I met the representatives of the sugar industry up there, one point which they urged very strongly was that they must have some means to prevent those men from leaving the mills and going on the land, because, in their opinion, that would do them harm. But, more important still than that, they reckoned that the very moment any evidence was shown by a return that the proportion of coloured-grown sugar-cane had risen above 6 or 7 per cent, and approached 8 or 9 per cent., there was a very serious danger of the Commonwealth Parliament not realizing exactly what was the cause of it all, and insisting upon reducing the import duty.

It is, of course, on the import duty that we entirely rely. On the question of who pays the Excise, which Senator Pearce rather carefully avoided, 1 do not wish to speak at very great length. 1 want to refer him to what was said by Mr. Tudor, Mr. Fisher, and other persons. Their statements are reported in Hansard, and can easily be seen. I may even quote what is probably more to the point here, and that is what Senator Givens said on the subject. I had made a suggestion that the Government - the first Fisher Government, I think - should have an investigation made of various points in connexion with the sugar industry, and amongst other things Senator Givens said on page 2945 of Hansard, 1908 -

I would remind honorable senators that in a short time, under the present law, the sugar bounty will disappear. Of course, the Excise duty will also disappear. That, from my point of view, will be an exceedingly good thing, as I consider that it is the worst possible policy to impose an Excise duty upon an article of Austraiian production which is essential to the sustenance of the people. People like Senator Chataway have, I think, been designedly trying to lead the sugar-growers of Queensland to believe that when the bounty disappears they will be in a very bad state. It is not so. They will be in exactly the same position as they are in now.

Honorable senators will see that even Senator Givens-

Senator Givens - Why "even"?

Senator CHATAWAY - If I have any recollection at all the honorable senator flatly denied this quotation during the last election. He knows as well as can be that' he made the statement. Of course, he is laughing up his sleeve now because he got through in spite of it.

Senator Givens - I shall tell the honorable senator all about it.

Senator CHATAWAY - Possibly my -honorable friend may be able to explain it. Perhaps he does not think that the farmers will be in a bad state if the Excise duty "is repealed. According to a letter, in the Brisbane Courier, from the secretary of the Australian Sugar Producers' Association -

Mr. Tudor,when moving, on the 10th ultimo, the second reading of the Sugar Bounty Bill (No. 2) said : - " The term 1 bounty ' is a misnomer. It is not a bounty in the sense in which we ordinarily understand the word. The position is that before any sugar-grower in Australia can receive a bounty he must have paid £4 per ton Excise. As I said in 1905, if any of us had to give £4 away and received only ^3 back, he would not consider that he was receiving a bounty of £3, but would rather think that he was losing £1 over the transaction." Sir John Quick here interjected : *' It is a rebate under the name of a bounty," to which Mr. Tudor replied, " That is so. The growers are -getting back £3 out of the £t, which they pay in, provided that they comply with certain stipulations as to the employment of white labour and as to labour conditions."

The report of Mr. Tudor's speech can be found in Hansard, at page 1375- Seeing that Mr. Tudor is really the Minister in charge of this measure in Parliament it is not unreasonable to join his remarks with those which the Prime Minister has made on various occasions, and to assume, once for all, that the question of who pays the ' Excise does not amount to anything. As Senator Givens said, if you abolish the Excise and the bounty the position of the producer will be the same as it is now.

Senator Givens - So far as the protection is concerned.

Senator CHATAWAY - -Keep the protection going, and that is the sole thing. Indeed, I go further and say that, in the event of our making the Excise and the bounty equal - that is, assuming that we increase the bounty to the same amount as the Excise - the farmers who are growing sugar-cane will probably earn from 2s. 6d. to 3s. a ton more. As it is, there is no getting away from the fact that the Treasury is making, not only £4. a ton Excise out of all the sugar produced in Australia by coloured labour, but also £1 a ton out of ail the sugar produced here by white labour.

Senator Givens - Less the expense of administration.

Senator CHATAWAY - Less £6,000, I think. I was rather amused the other day to read in a newspaper the statement that a one-man deputation had waited upon the Minister of Trade and Customs. So that there shall be no suggestion that any discourtesy was intended, let me explain that Mr. Swayne, a member of the Queensland Parliament, came down to Melbourne with certain resolutions which had been passed by various bodies in Queensland to present them to the Minister of Trade and Customs. Just before he arrived I received from the Mulgrave Central Mill a telegram, asking me to join Mr. Swayne and represent that mill, and the farmers connected with it. After he arrived Mr. Swayne, on his own initiative, decided that he would go to the Victorian Government and ask that Mr. Easterby, who is looking after the beet sugar business, should join the deputation, and, consequently, it consisted of Mr. Easterby representing Victoria, myself representing the Mulgrave Central Mill, and Mr. Swayne representing a considerable number of bodies in various parts of Queensland. Then we had to cast round for some person to introduce the deputation, and we chose one gentleman. We might have chosen Senator St. Ledger, or Senator Sayers, or Senator Givens-

Senator Givens - No, Senator Givens is a white-labour man.

Senator St Ledger - So is Senator St. Ledger.

Senator Givens - What !

Senator St Ledger - So is Senator St. Ledger.

Senator Givens - Oh !

Senator St Ledger - Yes, all his life.

Senator Findley - Not all his life.

Senator CHATAWAY - There was no discourtesy intended in asking only one member of the Federal Parliament to introduce the deputation.

Senator Pearce,in the course of his speech, said -

The question of having an inquiry is under consideration at the present time, and I can inform honorable senators that if there is an inquiry the Government will take good care that one of the subjects of the inquiry will be the refining business.

I interjected that the last Government proposed the same thing, and Senator Pearce replied -

I believe that when this becomes known some of those who are now crying out for an inquiry will not be so keen about it.

I think it is a matter of great regret that Senator Pearce should have given the impression that when an investigation is held, those who conduct it will have made up their minds beforehand. I forget whether it is in Alice in Wonderland, or in some other humorous book, that we are told of a Court that decided that a man should be hanged, and that afterwards he should be tried to determine whether he was guilty. Senator Pearce gives the impression that he has made up his mind beforehand as to the refiners, and that the members of any Commission that might be appointed would be chosen for the very purpose of supporting his conclusion. To show that the last Government did not ignore the point of viewas it affects the refiners, I propose to read a statement of the matters which the Commission that they proposed to appoint was to inquire into. I understand that the proposition for the appointment of the Commission actually went before the Executive Council. On 3rd March the Argus published a statement, which I am informed was officially communicated, as to the scope of the Commission's inquiry. The report stated -

The duties of the commission, as officially fixed, will be - To inquire and report on the present and prospective condition of the sugar industry in Australia as affected by existing legislation, and the necessity, if any, for further legislation, so as to insure its permanent establishment on the basis of white labour, an adequate return to the producers, and fair Tales of remuneration to the workers.

To inquire into and report on the question of payment of bounty by the Commonwealth ; the incidence of the present import duties on sugar and any modification or revision of the amount of bounty or Excise which would tend to insure the more successful development of the industry under white labour conditions ; and particularly inquire and report whether, in the . opinion of the Commission, the operations of the Sugar Bounty and Excise Acts have fulfilled or are fulfilling their purpose, and if so (a) whether such result promises to be permanent; (4) whether the expiration of the bounty and Excise would lead wholly or in part to a reversion to coloured labour ; (c) whether the continuance of the bounty and Excise, or of an Excise only, is necessary in the interests of the refiners, mill-owners, growers, and employes, or any of them, to continue the industry on a white labour basis; (d) whether the consumer in Australia has been specially burdened by the bounty and Excise legislation.

It will also be part of the duty of the Commission to inquire if the Act's have failed, or partially failed, to develop the sugar industry by white labour; is such failure attributable to insufficient encouragement and protection ; diversion of the bounties to other than the canegrowers and their employes; the failure of the Administration to carry out the intentions of the Legislature ; or any other cause.

In regard to the permanency of the industry under white labour conditions, the report will say - What causes have led to the areas under cane being reduced since 1905 ; have agricultural methods been modified by white labour employment, and if so, beneficially or otherwise? To what extent has co-operation amongst growers enabled the latter to own the mills, and is cooperation increasing ; is there opportunity for expansion of co-operative efforts, and, if so, in what direction ; and by what means may they be encouraged? What are the possibilities of conditions of field labour being modified by the invention of mechanical appliances for the harvesting of the crops and other operations? Is the industry likely to be beneficially affected in such a manner as to secure a permanent and settled working population throughout the year in the sugar areas or in the adjacent highlands? And to what extent at present are the earnings of harvesters withdrawn from the sugar districts each year?

If the continuance of the bounty be recommended by the Commission, it will proceed to investigate questions of the cost of production and manufacture, the relation of cost and revenue to the invested capital, and the hours, pay, and other conditions of labour. It will consider whether wages boards would adequately replace the present Ministerial control of field wages, and will also examine the general administration of the bounty Acts.

Dealing with the cost of sugar to the consumer, the Commission will report as to the average cost to wholesale buyers during periods of years before and since Federation, and the cost of refining imported raw sugars.

Other matters to be considered will be the regulation and employment of labour (black or white), commercial protection to the grower and the maker of raw sugar, the efficiency of labour, the uses of by-products, and whether there is any improper control or monopoly likely to divert the bounty into channels for which it was not designed.

I remember that at the time I suggested a Commission should be appointed my honorable friend Senator Givens had the idea that what I wanted, too, was to make out a case for coloured labour.

Senator Givens - I had that idea then, and I have the same idea now.

Senator CHATAWAY - Apparently he entertained the belief that the main idea at the bottom of the application for a Commission was to abolish the sugar bounty and the sugar Excise so that the planters might be able to employ any labour they pleased when the Commonwealth lost all control over the labour conditions. But, as a matter of fact, my honorable friend himself advocated the abolition of the Excise.

Senator Givens - I did not advocate it at all. I will tell the Senate directly what I did.

Senator CHATAWAY - My honorable friend may explain away his own statements if he can. But what did he mean by the expression that -

People like Senator Chataway have been designedly trying to lead the sugar-growers of Queensland to believe that when the bounty disappeared they will be in a very bad state. It is not so. They will be in exactly the same position as they are in now.

If my honorable friend did not mean what appeared in Hansard, or if his statement had some other meaning than that which 1 have attributed to it, I shall only be too glad if he will explain it.

Senator Givens - My statement does not need any explaining. My meaning is there for any one who has the intelligence to discern it.

Senator CHATAWAY - That may be so, but I think my honorable friend ought to have made his meaning so plain that it would be discernible even to inferior intelligences like mine. When Senator Pearce stated that the Government would take good care " that one of the subjects of an inquiry will be the refining business," he was not breaking any new ground. The last Government proposed that the Commission to be appointed by it should deal with the refining business. I am not now discussing whether the members proposed to be appointed on that Commission were the best people for the purpose. As far as I understand it, the intention of the late Government was that there should be no politicians on the Commission; that they would not appoint any but men who were in public employment. The members were to be Mr. Justice Cohen, of New South Wales; Mr. W. E. Desplace, the manager of a mill and inspector of mills under the Queensland Government ; and Mr. G. H. Crompton, who for the last twelve years at least has been a member of the Audit Department of Queensland, and whose special business it is to go round auditing the accounts of the various sugar mills to which the Government have lent money. I venture to say that the scope of the inquiryproposed to be made by the late Government was wide and complete. I think that it will be impossible for the present Government, if they appoint a Commission, to widen the scope, though it has been suggested that they will do so. In the interests of- the country it would be very desirable that they should not appoint politicians who have made up their minds beforehand. That, however, is a matter for the Government.

Before I sit down I wish to say that though I am supporting the Bill, I am somewhat disappointed with it. At the same time, I recognise that it is an improvement upon the existing Act, and that is one advantage. I am still more disappointed with the speech in which Senator Pearce introduced the matter, or, rather, with one portion of that speech in which he said -

We are hoping that before very long the Commonwealth will be given full power to legislate in regard to the industrial condition of the people in all industries.

Senator Fraser - In all States, too?

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