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Friday, 14 October 1910


Senator GIVENS (Queensland) - - The subject we are now discussing is a very important one, and it is somewhat complicated. I do not know of any Commonwealth legislation in connexion with which there has been so much misconception and misunderstanding as there has been about our legislation affecting the sugar industry. It is the duty of those of us who claim to know something about it, and who are largely interested in it, because it is one of the principal industries of the State we represent, to remove a little of the misconception, and refute some of the misrepresentations concerning it, and in the brief speech I intend to make on the second reading of the Bill I hope to be able to do so. No legislation passed by this Parliament since the inception of Federation has done more than has our legislation affecting the sugar industry to settle the northern portion of Australia with a thriving and prosperous white population. The wine industry of Australia is the only other industry in connexion with which the policy of Protection adopted by the Commonwealth Parliament has been attended with anything like the same success. Both these industries go far towards supplying the whole of the requirements of Australia for their products. One of the chief justifications for a - Protectionist policy is the extent to which it enables a protected industry to supply the whole of the requirements of the people in the protected country. Applying this test to the protection afforded the sugar industry, I say that we have reason' to be proud of the results achieved. We have transformed the industry from a coloured-labour industry to one carried on on a purely white basis, or so nearly so that we may hope in a very few years, if a wise policy is continued, to see coloured labour entirely abolished in the industry. That being so, I fail to see how any one can cavil at a proposal to continue the operation of legislation which has been proved to be so successful.


Senator St Ledger - Does the honorable senator want protection or the bounty ?


Senator GIVENS - What I want is protection, but I shall deal with the matter fully. It has frequently been thrown in the face of representatives of Queensland in this Parliament, even by Ministers, that Queensland reaps an enormous advantage as compared with every other State in the Commonwealth from the protection afforded to the sugar industry. That is a statement which I totally and emphatically deny. I shall be able to prove that the statement is entirely incorrect. I do not deny that the sugar industry of Queensland receives fair protection. I have no desire to minimize in any way the benefits conferred upon the industry by our protective legislation, but I insist that those engaged in the production of sugar in Queensland receive no greater advantage than is enjoyed by those engaged in various other protected industries carried on in other States of Australia'.


Senator McGregor - The protection of which was not supported by a number of representatives of Queensland.


Senator GIVENS - I can say, in reply, that the legislation passed for the protection of the sugar industry was not supported by a number of the representatives of States other than Queensland. So that honours are easy on that score. I wish to show that there is a grave misconception as to the advantage which Queensland derives from the protection afforded the sugar industry. We are told that we get protection, and £500,000 a year in bounty. Even such a great newspaper as the Melbourne Age fell into that error. In a leading article which appeared in that paper quite recently, the statement was made that Queensland is receiving from the Commonwealth both protection and a bounty. She is not receiving anything of the sort. She is receiving protection from ihe Commonwealth for the sugar industry, and out of that protection the industry is providing its own bounty. The whole advantage to the sugar industry of Australia lies in the protective duty. There is under our Tariff an import duty on cane sugar °f £fi Per ton> an£6 per ton on cane sugar. Of that amount the man who grows cane solely by white labour gets a protection of £5 per ton. That is brought about in this way : There is an Excise duty of £4 per ton on sugar grown in Australia, and out of that Excise the man who grows sugar with white labour only is returned £3 per ton by way of bounty. Adding to the bounty of £3 per ton the difference of £2 between the import and Excise duties, it will be seen that the man who grows cane sugar in Australia with white labour only is given a protection of £5 per ton. Honorable senators will see that the Excise and bounty have nothing whatever to do with this question. They have been instituted merely as internal machinery adopted to enable the Commonwealth to exercise some control over the conditions of labour in the industry.


Senator St Ledger - That is exactly what I told the people of Queensland at the last election, and the honorable senator was against me.


Senator GIVENS - The honorable senator need not tell me what he told the people of Queensland at the last election, when I know that he went around the State 'a few years ago as the paid organizer of the black labour party in that State.


Senator St Ledger - The honorable senator may make that assertion if he pleases.


Senator GIVENS - Will " the honorable senator deny that he was a paid organizer of the black labour party in Queensland?


Senator St Ledger - If the honorable senator chooses to disgrace himself by saying so, he may do so.


Senator GIVENS - I am not disgracing myself in any way. I am merely stating a fact, and if the fact is disgraceful, so much the worse for Senator St. Ledger.


Senator St Ledger - Not at all ; but I am prepared to withdraw the word " disgraceful " if it is not considered parliamentary.


Senator GIVENS - The honorable senator need not trouble himself to withdraw it on my account, I say that honorable senators in discussing this question may disregard the bounty and Excise. They have nothing to do with any advantage given by this Parliament to the sugar industry. The whole of the advantage is given by the protective duty. The bounty was adopted in the first place to enable the Commonwealth to differentiate between sugar grown by white labour and sugar grown by coloured labour. I have said that it has been thrown in the face' of Queensland representatives time after time, and even by members of the Commonwealth Government, that the State of Queensland in this regard receives special advantages, and I have mentioned the fact that the Age newspaper has fallen into the same error. It is said that we get, not only protection, but a bounty as well, and that the bounty amounts to £500,000 a year. I wish to point out that every other protected industry carried on in any of the States might be given a bounty on exactly the same terms without it costing the Commonwealth one farthing. On the contrary, the Commonwealth might derive a handsome increase in revenue from the adoption of a similar course with respect to other protected industries. I have taken the trouble to look up one or two of the protected industries of States other than Queensland. The people in Australia who first growled very much over the protection given to the sugar industry were the jam-makers. Now, let us see what are the facts concerning the jammaking industry. The facts are that, whereas, in round figures, sugar is given a protection of |d. per lb., when 'it is put into jam., the maker of the jam gets a protection of another 1½d. per lb. If. honorable senators will look at page 569 of the Commonwealth Year-Book, they will find there the statement that there is a protective duty on all jam coming from abroad into Australia of 2d. per lb. The duty is reduced to 1½d. per lb. on jam imported from Great Britain. In 1908 the jam and fruit preserving factories of Australia had a total output of the value of £1,190,000. The total quantity of jam produced was 74,1.33,000 lbs. On that output the jam manufacturers received a protection of 2d. per lb. In the manufacture of jam 1 lb. of sugar is required for every 1 lb. of fruit. It will be seen that every pound of sugar put into that quantity of jam produced had a protection of 2d. per lb., whereas every pound of sugar produced by the sugar industry had a protection of only £d. per lb. Yet the jam-makers were the first people to raise their voice in complaint against the protection afforded to the sugar industry. I say that they have been given generous and ample protection as compared with the protection given to those engaged in the sugar industry. I refer honorable senators now to page 406 of the Commonwealth Year-Book, where there are particulars given respecting another Austraiian product, wine. I find that the total production of wine in Australia for the year 1908-9 was 5,500,000 gallons. There is a protective duty of 6s. per gallon on wine, and on 5,500,000 gallons this represents no less than a protection of £1,650,000 per annum for the wine industry of Australia. If we adopted the same principle that has been adopted in connexion with the sugar industry, and imposed an Excise duty of 3s. per gallon, we could pay a bounty of 3s. per gallon, that is half the duty, amounting to no less than £825,000 per annum, without the Commonwealth being one farthing the poorer for it. Whilst we give our wine producers an advantage every year over the foreign producers of wine amounting to £1,650,000, no one has made a single complaint about it. I agree that it is in accordance with a proper policy. I wish to see the wine industry protected, but I point out that it is receiving a far greater advantage under the Commonwealth Tariff than is the sugar industry of Queensland. South Australia derives the greatest benefit from the duty on wine. I do not grudge the wine producers of that State the benefit they derive from the operation of our Tariff. I consider it is a good thing for Australia that they are able to produce the wine required by our people rather than that we should have to send abroad for it. I have heard a great many Tasmanians complaining of what they re'ferred to as the special advantages derived by Queensland from the protection of the sugar industry. There is a great deal of jam manufactured in Tasmania, and I have already referred to the splendid protection afforded to the jam industry. But there is another item on which there is a very high rate of protection, and of which Tasmania is the chief producer. I refer to hops.


Senator Sayers - The honorable senator is giving the Senate the benefit of some very good information, and I think he should have a quorum of honorable senators to listen to him. [Quorum formed.]


Senator GIVENS - Hops enjoy a protection of 6d. per lb. ; and I find that the imports for the last year for which the figures are available amounted to 944.940 lbs. Thus, everybody who bought a lb. of imported hops had to pay 6d. upon it in order to encourage an industry in Tasmania. I have absolutely no grudge against any industry. It is a wise policy to encourage the growth of sufficient hops in Australia. But why the representatives of Tasmania should urge that Queensland is always deriving an advantage at the expense of the Commonwealth, when, as a matter of fact, their own State is deriving an even greater advantage, is difficult to understand.


Senator McGregor - Poor Senator Dobson is gone.


Senator GIVENS - I am not endeavouring to belittle any honorable senator, or any State - I am merely pointing out the actual condition of affairs. I wish to rebut the base slander which has constantly been uttered that Queensland has derived special advantages from the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, it has not received as high a measure of protection for its chief industry as the other States have received.


Senator McGregor - It was never very generous to the other States.


Senator GIVENS - The Vice-President of the Executive Council has never known me to vote for anything but the highest duty to protect an industry in any State. Last year, the production of hops in the Commonwealth amounted to only 11, 2 41 cwts., and during the same period, we imported 944,940 lbs. of that commodity. Now the chief justification for affording protection to any industry is the hope that it will develop to such an extent that it will be able to supply the requirements of the whole of the citizens of the country. If it cannot do that after it has been protected a few years, it is scarcely worth protecting. Now, the only protected industries which have succeeded in doing this are the sugar industry in the northern portion of Queensland, and the wine industry in the southern portion of the Commonwealth. Nobody begrudges Tasmania the advantages which she derives in connexion with the hop-growing and jam in dustries. But why the representatives of that State should affirm that Queensland is getting something for which she is giving nothing in return, perhaps Senator Cameron will explain.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Cameron. - Queensland is not giving us a quid fro quo.


Senator GIVENS - Tasmanian industries are protected to a greater extent than is the Queensland sugar industry. I would further point out that there is. another industry which, so far, has not justified its existence by supplying the needs of the Commonwealth, and which, nevertheless, receives a generous measure of protection. I refer to salt, which is one of the necessaries of life - even a greater necessary perhaps than is sugar. At the present time, we have an import duty of £1 per ton upon salt. To protect what State? Is it to protect Queensland or New South Wales ? No. The chief State which produces salt is South Australia, although western Victoria and Western Australia each produce a little. We have imposed a duty upon that article of no less than ,£i per ton.. I wish to point out that a protection of £5 per ton upon sugar amounts to only about 25 per cent, of the value of that article, whereas a duty of £I per ton upon salt is equivalent to 35 or 40 per cent, of its value. As a matter of fact, upon the value of raw salt, the protection amounts to 200 per cent. I find from the Yearbook of Australia, page 527, that South Australia annually produces 75,000 tons of salt, which is valued at only £37,500. Vet that commodity receives a protection of £1 per ton. In other words, it receives a protection which is equal to twice the value of the raw salt. Yet we hear South Australian representatives talking about the protection which Queensland gets upon sugar.


Senator Long - The sugar industry is not a Queensland matter, but a national one.


Senator GIVENS - Exactly. In point of fact, the Commonwealth could have paid a bounty' of 15s. per ton upon the salt produced in South Australia on the same principle as the sugar bounty is paid, without being a penny the worse off. There is still (another South Australian industry which receives an enormous advantage. I refer to the olive oil industry. Upon that article there is a protection of 2s. per gallon, which is equivalent to at least 50 per cent. I am very glad that that State produces the oil, and receives that measure of protection. But it is a far higher measure of protection than is that which is accorded to the sugar industry. So that why South Australia should be constantly crying out about the protection which is accorded to the Queensland sugar industry would require a Philadelphia lawyer to explain. The total production of wine in the Commonwealth is 5,500,000 gallons per annum. Of course, South Australia produces the larger share of that quantity, but in a very short time I believe the production of Western Australia will equal, if it does not exceed, the production of that State. Queensland representatives do not complain because of the protection which these industries receive. Why, then, all this outcry against the protecLion accorded to the sugar industry, which is the one industry that has justified its existence by supplying nearly, if not quite, the whole of the sugar requirements of the Commonwealth ? Now, let us pass from the primary to the manufactured products. We impose a specific duty of £12 per machine on the importation of stripper harvesters. That is equivalent to 30 per cent, upon their invoiced value. We endeavoured to impose an Excise duty upon these machines in order that we might control the conditions of labour, but, unfortunately, the High Court has declared that law to be ultra vires of the Constitution. That is only one instance, and I could quote innumerable others, on all of which we could pay a bounty similar to the sugar bounty without a penny of cost to the Commonwealth, Every industry which has a chance of surviving, and of supplying the needs of Australia, should be protected to the fullest possible extent. I hope that I have said enough to refute the old fallacy that Queensland is deriving a special concession from the Commonwealth. I admit that in regard to the sugar industry she has received fair treatment. She does not complain of her treatment. But she has received no fairer treatment than have the other States in regard to their protected industries. The Commonwealth, I repeat, is not paying the sugar bounty, as well as affording the industry the benefit of a protective Tariff. What happens is that a portion of the protection is pooled, and out of that pool the bounty is paid. The fact is that there is no industry in Australia which has been so successful under a protective Tariff as has the sugar industry. Within the short space of eight years we have converted it from an almost exclusively black labour industry into an almost purely white labour industry. Thousands of successful farmers are engaged in it to-day, where formerly there were only a few nabobs. Thirty thousand white men are now employed in the industry, where formerly only kanakas and Chinamen were employed. Further, we are producing a greater quantity of cane per acre, and the aggregate output has also increased. It has been estimated that in Queensland and New South Wales, during the year ended 31st December, 1909, 30,584 white men were engaged in the industry, in addition to 335 others who were growing sugar which was not exclusively produced by that class of labour. In other words, nearly 31,000 white men are employed in it instead of a horde of coloured labourers. Such a result is remarkable. It proves conclusively that those who contended that the industry could be carried on by white labour were absolutely right. After a trial extending over eight years, it has been demonstrated that the industry can be successfully conducted exclusively by white labour, and not even the most ardent champion of black labour would dare to advocate a return to the old conditions. The total quantity of sugar produced last year did not nearly approach the requirements of Australia. \Ve had to import between 70,000 and 80,000 tons. But that circumstance was largely due to the fact that in some localities the crop was not so good as was anticipated on account of the prevalence of adverse conditions. But I venture to say that, in the near future, once we have settled legislation on the subject, once the people have confidence that the protection will be continued, we shall have a sufficient influx of enterprise into the industry to put enough land under cane, and to manufacture a sufficient quantity of sugar, to provide Australia with all the sugar which will be required for domestic and other purposes. The dissatisfaction which has existed in some quarters regarding our legislation was, I believe, fomented by interested persons. But I am glad to say that they have now realized the futility of their efforts to upset or discredit our legislation. I believe that they have now adopted the better part of complying fully with the spirit and the letter of the law, and, as time goes on, there will be no more of the friction which has been so deplorable in the past, and no more of the howl of blue ruin which we have heard here so frequently, but everything will work more in unison and harmony. But there is one thing which is essential if the sugar industry is to forge ahead as it should do. Not only should we supply the present requirements of sugar, but, as time goes on and the population increases, we should also be able to produce all the sugar required, even for 20,000,000 persons. The expansion of our population affords, I think, the surest guarantee to the people engaged in the industrythat, no matter how much sugar they may produce in the future, there will always be a market for it in Australia. I think that the Government are to be commended for bringing down this legislation. Formerly it was complained that the sugar industry had no stability ; that is, that there was no guarantee that the sugar legislation would last for a longer period than was named therein, and that, therefore, people were not justified in venturing to lay out the very large capital which was necessary in order to engage in the industry. Honorable senators ought to remember that there are a few difficulties to be encountered. In the first place, in order to build a modern sugar-mill, a capital of from £60,000 to £100,000 is required, and all that one can ever hope to do, even in a most successful season, is to have the mill occupied and working for six months in each year. During the remainder of the year it must necessarily remain idle. As a matter of fact, from four to six months is the' longest period which any mill remains working. That is due to the circumstance that it is only in six months of the year that the cane can be cut. During the growing period it has hardly any sugar contents, and, consequently, it is useless to cut it then. Therefore, from £60,000 to £100,000 worth of machinery must be lying idle during onehalf of the year. That money has to be utilized in such a way, when you build a mill, that it will be able to provide a sufficient profit on the outlay from six months' work. It was because of these disadvantages, because of the enormous outlay which was required, that there has not been that expansion of the sugar industry which we were entitled to expect. Our Acts have always had a definite period at which to end. The Acts which we are asked to supersede will cease to operate at the end of 1912. The people engaged in the sugar industry had not a sufficient guarantee thereunder to encourage them to lay out such a large sum as would be required for successfully spreading out the industry in new directions. As the mills already in Queensland were occupied to about their full capacity, it was not to be expected that large sums would be expended in building new mills, clearing fresh land, and putting in new crops unless there was some certainty that our legislation would be more than tentative. I am glad to see that the Government have recognised that position, and propose to place the sugar industry in Queensland on exactly the same basis as every other protected industry in Australia - that is, with no definite period of termination, and always relying on the protective policy of the people and the good faith of this Parliament. That is an ample guarantee to the sugar industry, as well as to every other industry in Australia. I feel perfectly satisfied that the people will adhere to the Protective policy which they have adopted. I believe that, as l!ie years go by, they will become seized with the national necessity of continuing the Protective policy, and making it more and more effective. In their protective national feeling and the policy which will necessarily follow will lay the security of the Queensland sugar industry, and every other protected industry in Australia. A great deal has been said about the cost of the sugar industry to the Commonwealth. Now it is the only industry in Australia producing a necessary of life which is contributing to the revenue. Last year it con- tributed between £140,000 and £150,000, because the Treasury has always got £1, less the cost of administration, on every ton. of sugar grown by white labour, and £4 on every ton of sugar produced by coloured labour. In my opinion, the Treasuryshould not get a single farthing from sugar, which is one of the chief necessaries of life. I have never been in favour of getting revenue from that source. When I first asked the people of Queensland to return me to this Parliament, I pointed out to them that if I had my way I should abolish every fraction of protection which was given to the sugar-cane produced by black labour, and give every farthing of the protection on the statute-book to the cane and sugar produced by white labour only.


Senator St Ledger - Evidently the honorable senator is relying strongly on Protection.


Senator GIVENS - I am relying on Protection, because that is the only thing which gives us the advantage. In most countries where they have adopted anything like a proper fiscal system, they have recognised that the necessaries of life should not be subject to taxation.


Senator St Ledger - A free breakfasttable is the object of Revenue-Tariffists and Free Traders.


Senator GIVENS - The RevenueTariffists would tax anything and everything.


Senator St Ledger - No.


Senator GIVENS - I have no time for the Revenue-Tariffist at all. There may be something to be said in favour of the Free Trader, but there is nothing to be said in favour of the Revenue-Tariffist.


Senator Pearce - He believes in taxing those articles which go into general use.


Senator GIVENS - He believes that by imposing small duties which the people will unconsciously pay when purchasing goods, the country will be able to collect a large revenue on articles of everyday use. But it is a recognised principle of taxation that the necessaries of life should not be taxed.


Senator St Ledger - That is the cardinal doctrine of Free Trade.


Senator GIVENS - That is an entirely different thing from Revenue-Tariffism. Why should we in Australia expect to get a revenue of £150,000 or £200,000 a year from such a necessary of life as sugar? There is no reason why it should contribute to the revenue. We impose protective duties on salt, jam, olive oil, and a hundredandone other things in daily use, and they are raising revenue. If I had my way, I would not get a farthing of revenue from any one of those articles. The only use I have for a Tariff of that sort at all is to foster existing industries and to create new ones ; I have no use for it as a taxing machine to put money in the Treasury. I would abolish every farthing of revenue, and I regret very much that the Government has not seen its way to forego the revenue which they are raising from the sugar industry. The people engaged therein are entitled to every farthing of protection which this Parliament thinks is fair, and it thought that a protection of £6 a ton was fair when it enacted the Tariff. The men engaged in the sugar industry are entitled to every farthing of that protection. But, instead of that, the Treasury gets £1 on every ton of sugar grown by white labour and £4 on every ton of sugar grown by black labour. I hope the time will come when that will be abolished. And here let me say, notwithstanding Senator Chataway, that I agree with the Minister in pointing out that if we get an amendment of the Constitution giving us control over industrial conditions, and power to, if necessary, nationalize industries which may be oppressive or injurious to the public, there will be no need for the continuation of the bounty and Excise systems. We can wipe them out, and give to the sugar-growers that protection which we have already on the Tariff; and they will be better off then than they are at present.


Senator St Ledger - Both Senator Chataway and myself strongly recommended the growers in Queensland to come under the Wages Board. What more do you want?


Senator GIVENS - I should like to know how long we have had a Wages Board applied to the sugar industry in Queensland?


Senator St Ledger - I do not know. When it was there I recommended that the growers should come under it.


Senator GIVENS - Will the honorable senator say that a Wages Board is there now, and if it is not, how can the sugargrowers come under it?


Senator St Ledger - We advised them to come under the Wages Board when it was established.


Senator GIVENS - But it is not there yet. The honorable senator was a member of a deputation which " barracked " as strongly as they knew how for a wage of 3s. 9d. a day to casual labourers.


Senator St Ledger - No. I stopped the Minister when he wanted to make that misrepresentation. I shall give the history of that deputation.


Senator GIVENS - I have a report of the deputation here, and, possibly before I have finished, I may put on record a few extracts from it.


Senator St Ledger - There is nothing I am more satisfied with and proud about than that deputation.


Senator GIVENS - The honorable senator was a member of a deputation which went to the Minister to protest against a wage of 30s. per week to casual labourers engaged by the hour and paid by the hour.


Senator St Ledger - On thecontrary, a Melbourne newspaper reports me as saying that it was insufficient.


Senator GIVENS - I have here the official report of what took place, and I hope the honorable senator will not say that the official falsified it. However, that is beside the question. What we are considering now are the conditions of the sugar industry generally. I want to point out to the Senate that when we get such an amendment of the Constitution as will give this Parliament ample control over industrial conditions and industries which assume the form of oppressive monopolies, it will be able to dispense with die. bounty and Excise system, and to accomplish our object without its aid. Our aim in establishing that system was not to give an additional advantage to the sugar-growers, because it does not, but to give us control over the labour conditions in the industry, and to enable us to differentiate between sugar grown by white labour and sugar grown by coloured labour. If, by an amendment of the Constitution, we can get power to do that in a direct way, we can abolish the bounty and Excise system, and leave the sugar-grower better off than he is now, because then we should give him the full benefit of the £6 a ton. Whilst I am on this point, I might as well refer to a statement made by Senator Chataway a little while ago. He read from Hansard an extract from a speech of mine to show that I had advocated the abolition of the bounty and Excise system, and had said it would be a good thing for the sugar-grower. That is an extraordinary reading of my statement. What I said was that honorable senators would have to remember that if the sugar bounty went the Excise must go also; and I pointed out that that would be a good thing for the sugar industry, as the growers would then get £i per ton more protection than they have now. Thus, I alluded to the abolition of the Excise as a good thing ; and I say now that it would be an excellent thing. But in the same speech I pointed out - as I point out now - that, while from many points of view it might be wise to abolish such a cumbersome system for accomplishing our object as the bounty and Excise system, yet, while the conditions remain as they are, it is absolutely essential that we should keep that system going, in order to give the Commonwealth control over the labour conditions, and to insure to the growers, whom this Parliament designed primarily to protect, that they shall get at least a portion of the protection placed directly in their hands. That is exactly what I said at the time re ferred to, and what I repeat now. The statement requires neither explanation, excuse, nor apology, nor shall I make any.


Senator O'Keefe - Could we not accomplish something better all round if the Commonwealth had power to take over the refining industry?


Senator GIVENS - That is one of the points which will occur for consideration when we have control over the industries of the Commonwealth, and have secured authority to nationalize monopolies. We shall then be able to deal with every condition affecting the sugar industry, including the conditions affecting the workers and the growers, and every man engaged in the various branches of it.


Senator O'Keefe - Until then the honorable senator thinks the bounty is essential f


Senator GIVENS - It is essential. If we were to break off the system now, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company would rake up every Chinaman, it could find in Queensland to work its plantations. I know of a plantation belonging to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company that has none but Chinamen upon it. There is another estate known to me which, while it was under the domination of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, had nothing but Chinamen upon it. The company, as I have said, if the bounty were abolished, would rake Australia with the object of renting its lands to Chinese who would grow cane, because the Chinese are more subservient and much cheaper than white men. If we drop the bounty system, we shall have cane grown by coloured labour, instead of, as it is now, by white labour. While the growers have nothing to complain about, and while I admit that they have received complete protection from the Commonwealth Parliament, there is, nevertheless, a serious disadvantage under which they are placed, and of which, I hope, this Parliament will have power within a year or two to relieve them-that is to say, when we secure the necessary amendment of the Constitution. I allude to the fact that the grower, and pretty well every one else engaged in the sugar industry, is practically in the hands of one monopoly. I allude, of course, to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. That company practically has control of the whole business of refining and distributing sugar in every part of Australia.


Senator St Ledger - Is the company exercising its monopoly, supposing that it has one, unfairly?


Senator GIVENS - I shall be able to prove that conclusively. That the company has a monopoly cannot be denied. There was a little opposition for a year or two, until the company bought out Poolman and Company, of Melbourne.


Senator St Ledger - Which of the two does the honorable senator think was the worse, if either was bad?


Senator GIVENS - There is but one company now, so that there is no question of better or worse. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company uses its monopoly, as I intend to prove, in a most arbitrary fashion. In addition to that, it is enabled, by reason of its monopoly, to exact for itself the lion's share of the protection which this Parliament has afforded to the sugar industry. Moreover, in addition to its monopoly of refining and distributing, it grows a large quantity of the raw sugar produced in Australia. I shall begin by showing the difference in the prices paid to men growing sugar for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and those paid to men growing sugar for themselves. I have before me a list of prices which were paid in the same district, in the one case by the Mulgrave Central Mill, which is a cooperative mill, run by the farmers and growers themselves, and in the other case by the Hambleton Mill, which is owned by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Both mills are in the same district. Sometimes the cane grown for the two has only a dividing fence between the crops. Will honorable senators be astonished when I tell them that last year the Colonial Sugar Refining Company paid 14s. per ton for cane, without the bounty, whilst the Mulgrave Central Mill paid from 18s. to 21s, per ton?


Senator Pearce - On the same dates?


Senator GIVENS - On the same dates. I am giving the average price for the whole season.


Senator Lynch - For the same quality of cane?


Senator GIVENS - For the same quality of cane, grown on precisely the same kind of land, in precisely the same district. Moreover, the Mulgrave Central Mill paid an additional bonus of is. per ton for cane grown on the high lands, on which the return per acre is smaller, though the cane has a higher density; and it also paid is. 6d. extra per ton for cane [i653 of a particular kind. Thus the Mulgrave Central Mill paid 50 per cent, more for cane than did the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.


Senator Pearce - In what season was. that ?


Senator GIVENS - Last year. I am,, fortunately, able to give the figures for a series of years, though last year afforded a shining example. Honorable senators mayask why the Colonial Sugar Refining Company could purchase cane for so much less.The answer is simply because more cane is; grown in the district than the Mulgrave Central Mill can crush. It cannot even crush the whole of the cane that is grown by its own shareholders. Therefore, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has a monopoly with respect to all the cane that is grown by every one else in the whole district, and all the growers are at the mercy of the company, which can dictate its own terms. The unfortunate grower has to accept whatever the company chooses to pay. Is that a sufficient reply to Senator St. Ledger's question as to whether the Colonial Sugar Refining Company uses its monopoly harshly and unfairly?


Senator St Ledger - I will give instances on the other side.


Senator GIVENS - I shall be glad to hear them. Going back as far as 1902, in. that year the Colonial Sugar Refining Company paid 15s. 9d. per ton for cane, whilst the Mulgrave Central Mill paid 16s. 6d. ; in 1903 the Hambleton Mill paid 15s. 10d. and the Mulgrave Mill 16s. 5d. ; in 1904 the Hambleton Mill paid 17s. 7fd., and the Mulgrave Mill 18s. 10d ; in 1905 the Hambleton Mill paid 14s. 1½d., and the Mulgrave Mill £1 os. 3d. ; in 1906 the Hambleton Mill paid 13s. 6d., and the Mulgrave Mill 15s. 2d. ; in 1907 the Hambleton Mill paid 12s. 10d., and the Mulgrave Mill 15s. 5d. ; in 1908 the Hambleton Mill paid 13s. 7£d., and the Mulgrave Mill 16s.


Senator Pearce - The Mulgrave Central Mill is a co-operative mill, is it not?


Senator GIVENS - Yes ; and, as I have explained, the Hambleton Mill is owned by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company not only controls the price that it pays for the cane delivered to its own mills, but also controls the price of cane delivered to the Mulgrave Central Mill, by the fact that the price paid by the Mulgrave Central Mill is affected by the price obtained for raw sugar; and I say emphatically, and I without fear of contradiction, that if the Mul grave Central Mill got the price itought to get from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for its raw sugar, instead of paying the growers from 18s. to£1 per ton for their cane, it could afford to pay them 25s. per ton. If a Commission of inquiry is appointed I venture to say that facts will be brought to light proving my statement up to the hilt. The mere fact that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is the sole buyer of the. raw sugar produced enables it to dictate the price which the sugar farmersshall get for their cane, because the co-operative and private mill's can only pay a price for cane in accordance with what they receive for their raw sugar. I should like, before leaving this part of the subject, to state that, owing to the monopoly which it possesses, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is enabled to make enormous profits. Exactly what the profits are no one in Australia, apart from those behind the scenes in the company, is in a position to state.


Senator St Ledger - Is the company better or worse in that respect than any other great manufacturing firm?


Senator Vardon - Does the company make all its profits out of sugar, or has it any other interests ?


Senator GIVENS - As far as I know, the company makes all its profits out of sugar. Moreover, as far as I know, it is by far the worst monopoly in Australia.


Senator St Ledger - Then there certainly ought to be an inquiry.


Senator GIVENS - Those who keep in touch with matters of importance in Australia are aware that during the past few years the company has twice watered its shares out of its accumulated profits. Two years ago it did that to no less an extent than £350,000. That is to say, it created £350,000 of new shares, making a present of them to its shareholders without cost, and adding that amount to its capitalization.


Senator St Ledger - I have known gold-mining companies to do far more than that.


Senator GIVENS - But gold-mining companies do not make their profits by squeezing all those who do business with them. The profits made by a gold-mining company are very much a matter of luck; but the profits made by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are the result of squeezing the sugar-growers, the consumers, and every one else whom it is in a position to squeeze. This Parliament, which has taken the- sugar industry under its wing, should not allow that industry to be crushed by any private "monopoly whatever. Although the company watered its shares to no less an extent than £350,000, there is not the slightest doubt that we shall be told about the enormous amount of money that the shareholders have sunk in their industry. The apologists for the company will not tell us that, to a large extent, they have squeezed those millions out of. the people concerned in the sugar industry, and out of the consumers of Australia.


Senator St Ledger - Can the honorable senator mention the average holding of shares in the company ?


Senator GIVENS - I do not know what it is ; and it has nothing to do with the question, from my point of view.


Senator St Ledger - There is a number of small, as well as some very large; shareholders.


Senator GIVENS - That does not touch the question. If 500 small boys combine to murder a man, the result is as bad for the murdered man as if the murder was committed by one big hulking giant.


Senator Lynch - What dividends are the company paying?


Senator GIVENS - A dividend of 10 per cent. every year, with a bonus occasionally. They have been paying enormous dividends. But no one can really tell what their profits are, because they are covered up by an undervaluation of property. After the last watering of capital, the company was capitalized to the extent of £2,850,000.On that enormous capitalization, largely consisting of water, as I have pointed out, they are expected to pay their shareholders. 10 per cent. dividends all the time. In order to do so, they must squeeze their profit out of the growers on the one hand and out of the consumers on the other. I say that it should be the duty of the Commonwealth Parliament in the case, not only of this industry, but of every other industry of national concern to Australia, and on which our future prosperity must largely depend, to step in and protect the industry and the people from the claws of a monopoly. It is no wonder that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have been deriving enormous profits from their business. The difference between the price of raw and refined sugar in Australia is between £6 and £7 per ton, and is sometimes as high as £8 per ton. Whilst central mills and private mills- get from £10 to ,£-12 .per ton for raw sugar, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company gets from £18 to £21 per ton for refined .sugar. This leaves the refining company -a margin of from £6 to £& per ton to cover the cost of 'refining and distribution. In the Old Country, the difference between the price of raw and refined .sugar is .about £2 per ton; and it is never more than .from £2 to £2 10s per -ton. Yet refiners in -the Old 'Country make a handsome .profit from their .business. In the case of the operations of the private mills, we have to remember that the land has ito .be purchased in the first instance. It has to be cleared and planted ; the grower must take all risks of bad seasons, .grubs, and other pests, and fire; he has to cut the cane and cart it to the mill ; large capital must be sunk in the mill ; the cane has to be crushed and converted into raw sugar ; and while all this labour and expenditure has Ito be met by a price of from £10 10 £12 per -ton for the raw sugar, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, for refining .the sugar and putting it upon the market, gets an additional £6 or £8 per ton. This is a species of legalized robbery which should not be tolerated in any civilized country.


Senator St Ledger - All the work referred to by the honorable senator has to be done in every country where sugar is grown by coloured labour.


Senator GIVENS - The honorable senator forgets that a large quantity of sugar is grown by white labour in other countries; though I admit that cane sugar grown elsewhere is grown by coloured labour. I have shown that from .£10 to £12 per ton :is all that the growers get for the whole of the labour and expense involved in the production of raw sugar, whilst the Colonial Sugar Refining Company get from £6 to £8 per ton for merely refining the sugar and putting it upon the market.


Senator St Ledger - The honorable senator is not allowing for the extra cost of labour in refining the sugar.


Senator GIVENS - The extra cost of labour is very little. The refining of sugar in Great Britain is carried on by white labour.


Senator St Ledger - Great ' Britain does not rule the prices for refining sugar.


Senator GIVENS - Senator Chataway quoted figures to show that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company do not charge excessive prices to the consumer ; and that, as a matter, nf fact, they do not take ad- vantage of the full protective duty. I say that I totally .disbelieve that statement.


Senator St Ledger - Senator Chataway did not quite say that. He guarded himself on that point.


Senator GIVENS - What did the honorable senator say?


Senator St Ledger - He said that when the price of sugar is low, the company take advantage of the duty, and that the higher the price of sugar the less the advantage they take of the duty


Senator GIVENS - Senator Chatawayquoted figures to prove, as he said, that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company donot take advantage of the duty. 1 say that I totally disbelieve that statement, because I believe that those who are conducting the affairs of the company are keen business men, who do not allow the slightest commercial advantage to escape them. I believe that they get the last farthing out of the industry that it is possible for them to get ; and whether it is the consumer or producer who suffers is a matter of indifference to them.


Senator St Ledger - It is good policy to keep the goose; and Senator Chataway mentioned that.


Senator GIVENS - In this matter, it is not the Colonial Sugar Refining Company that is the goose that lays the golden eggs. The public of Australia represent the goose, and the company collars the golden eggs every time. Now, what are the facts with regard to price? Senator Chataway gave us a quotation for Tait's special granulated sugar ; but I have nothing to do with any special article of that .kind. Honorable senators have only to look at the commercial intelligence column of the newspapers to discover the difference between the prices of local and imported sugar. During the lunch-hour, I looked at three or four newspapers in (he Library, and .1 found that raw sugar is selling in London at the present time at .£10 per ton. I find that 1st October granulated sugar is selling at £12 3s. 4d. per ton. If we assume that it would cost £2 per ton to bring that sugar to Australia, that would mean a cost °f £r4 3s- 4fl- If we add the duty of £6 per ton to that, it would bring the cost to £20 3s. 4d. What are the Colonial Sugar Refining Company charging for sugar ? They charge for their 1 A sugar £21 per ton. This shows that they are taking full advantage, as every one expected they would, and knows they do, of the protective Tariff of the Commonwealth.


Senator St Ledger - That is almost exactly what Senator Chataway said.


Senator GIVENS - No; it is not. I do not blame the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for taking advantage of our protective Tariff and selling their sugar at the highest price they can get for it. That is mere commercialism, and every one knows that commercial people everywhere take advantage of the market when they can.


Senator St Ledger - If the honorable senator and I were in the business, we should do the same.


Senator GIVENS - I grant that. We are neither saints nor philanthropists ; and I have no doubt that we should be willing to exercise our legal right to secure the highest price we could get for our product. But I say that here we are charged with looking after the interests and welfare of the people of Australia, and it is our duty to do our best to see that they are not unfairly treated or unduly fleeced. In this particular matter, I say that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, that great cormorant monopoly controlling the whole of the sugar industry of Australia, is deriving an undue advantage at the expense of the workmen and farmers engaged in growing the cane on the one hand, and of the consumers on the other hand. It is not the business of the Commonwealth Parliament to foster the interests of the huge cormorant monopoly, but of the big mass of the people who are placed at so great a disadvantage by the operations of the monopoly. ' The Commonwealth Parliament is practically helpless in the matter, because it is held that, under our constitutional' limitations, we have not the power to deal with a monopoly of this kind. That is one of the reasons why the party to which I belong hope to get such an amendment of the Constitution as will enable them to effectively deal with monopolies in the interests of the people of Australia.


Senator St Ledger - If honorable senators get that power, I suppose the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is one of the first they will attack?


Senator GIVENS - I think that it ought to be. Before Senator St. Ledger entered the Senate, I succeeded in getting a motion passed unanimously by the Senate in favour of the nationalization of the industry of refining sugar.


Senator Vardon - Unanimously ?


Senator GIVENS - Yes ; the motion was carried on the voices.


Senator Vardon - That is " nem.con.," not " unanimously."


Senator GIVENS - I shall not split straws with the honorable senator. It is sufficient for me that there is to be found on the records of the Senate a motion in favour of the nationalization of this monopoly. I hope it will be done,, because, so far as I can see, it is the only means by which we can put the great sugar industry of Australia on such a broad, liberal, and sure foundation as to insure its prosperity for all time. ' There is no reason why the sugar industry should be confined to New South Wales and Queensland, as at present. I believe that an experiment is now being tried to ascertain whether it is not possible to revive the beet sugar industry in Australia. That experiment may be successful.


Senator Lynch - Not while other things may be grown more profitably.


Senator GIVENS - I believe that other crops can be grown more profitably in Victoria. But, apart altogether from the production of beet sugar, there are still great possibilities of development for cane sugar production. There is an enormous area of country outside Queensland and New South Wales suitable for the growth of cane sugar. In the Northern Territory, there must be extensive tracts of country suitable for sugar-growing ; and I do not see why the industry should not be successfully carried on on the north-west coast of Western Australia. In my opinion, the industry will each year gravitate more and more to the tropical portions of Australia, because it is in the tropical region that the most favorable conditions exist for the profitable pursuit of the industry. In a cold climate, no matter how rich the soil, though the cane may grow well, the sugar contents are very low as compared with the sugar contents of cane grown in a warmer climate. In the Cairns district, for instance, a ton of sugar can be produced from 7 tons of cane, whilst in the southern portions of Queensland it often' takes from jo to 15 tons of cane to produce 1 ton of sugar. This shows that the home of the sugar-cane is in the tropics; and it is in the tropical, regions that we must expect the development ot thu industry. It is one of the great industries on which we have to depend to settle our great tropical areas with people of our own race. That is one of the reasons why I urge that no effort should be spared by this Parliament to put the industry on such a sure foundation as to enable it to be successfully carried on for all time, and to induce people to engage in it with confidence. I do not intend to deal further with the general principles of the Bill. I may have something to say about the conditions of labour and wages in the industry; but I shall leave these matters to the Committee stage. I thank honorable senators for the attention they have given me ; and I hope that the facts I have been able to place before them will remove some of the misconceptions, and counteract some of the misrepresentations that have been made concerning this industry in the past.

Debate (on motion by Senator St. Ledger) adjourned.







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