Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 26 September 1912


Senator VARDON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - But Senator Stewart wants to appropriate for the Commonwealth the. community-created value of land, which is the same position as that taken up by the single tax people. The honorable senator would have no revenue derived from a protective Tariff. He would put prohibitive duties upon all goods that could be manufactured in the country, and goods that could npt be manufactured here he would admit duty free.


Senator Stewart - That is a very fair statement of my position.


Senator VARDON - I confess that the difficulty is as to how we should start to carry out the honorable senator's idea.


Senator Ready - Is the honorable senator a single taxer in theory ?


Senator VARDON - No; I am not. Senator Stewart says that we need to establish industries. We all admit that, and we need also to extend those we have. The honorable senator mentioned two industries in particular, but I could not exactly understand how he proposed to deal with them. He asked why we should not establish a cotton industry; but his idea at the same time is that there should be no duty on imported cotton. He thinks we should pay a bounty on cotton grown in the Commonwealth. I know that cotton grows very well in the Northern Territory. The Curator of the Botanical Gardens at Port Darwin planted cotton seed there some time ago, and very fine cotton is produced there. But if there is to be no duty on imported cotton, and we are to grow cotton in Australia in competition with that grown by coloured labour in other countries, where they pay only as much for labour in a month as we should have to pay in a day, I wonder what sort of a bounty will be necessary, and what price will have to be paid for the cotton grown in Australia after it is manufactured.


Senator Findley - In some States in America, cotton is grown and treated by white labour.


Senator VARDON - I am aware that, in many industries, black labour may be replaced by white labour with advantage. I was saying that if we are to grow cotton by white labour in Australia, in competi tion with coloured labour receiving only asmuch in amonth as we should have to pay in a day, I should like to know what sort of a bounty we should have to pay on Australiangrown cotton, and what price weshould have to pay for cotton goods manufactured from it.


Senator Stewart - Sugar-cane is grown by coloured labour in almost every other country but Australia, and yet I believethat, with good administration, we might continue to grow it in Australia without any duty on sugar.


Senator VARDON - We have a duty of £6 per ton on sugar, and we have also a bounty and an Excise duty in connexion with the industry.


Senator Stewart - Those are included in the£6.


Senator VARDON - If the bounty and Excise are included in the£6 Customs duty,why do we not do away with them, and depend simply on the Customs duty?


Senator Stewart - I do not know.


Senator VARDON - Why should we not get over the difficulty in that fashion? I do not see how we are to grow cotton profitably by white labour in Australia under the conditions which Senator Stewart suggests. The honorable senator also made reference to the woollen industry. That is already established here, and I believe that our woollen mills have as much or more work than they can get through at the present time. If the proprietors had only a little more pluck and enterprise, and would import up-to-date plant and extend their operations, they would find plenty of business.


Senator Stewart - A great quantity of woollens is imported.


Senator VARDON - I admit that; but why that should be so is somewhat difficult to understand. The foreign manufacturer has to pay freight and charges on the wool to Europe, and after it is made up, he has to pay the same charges to bring the manufactured goods to Australia, and also a Customs duty of from 30 to 35 per cent. That, it seems to me, should be a sufficient handicap upon the foreign manufacturer to enable the local manufacturer to compete with success. I think that it is, because, from what I can learn, the industry here is very fully employed, and there is no lack of work in any of the factories. They are extending their plants in all the States. I know that, last year, when on my way to London, I met a manufacturer who was going there from

Geelong with the express purpose of materially increasing his plant in order to carry out the additional business which he knew was waiting for him. Senator Stewart has said that, although our factories are in-; creasing, they are not increasing anything like as fast as they ought to. I am not quite sure on that point, because I find that, while in 1901 we had 11,143 factories in the Commonwealth, in 19 10, the number had increased to 13,822. An increase of 3,679 factories in ten years is not, I think, a bad rate of increase. In 1901, the number of employes in our factories was I97>783, and, in 1910, the number had increased to 286,831, or an increase in ten years of 89,048. From these figures, it would appear that our industries have not been languishing very much. They have made fairly satisfactory progress, and I have no doubt that there would have been a very much larger local output if sufficient labour had been available for the manning of our factories. During the last few years, we have had good seasons, and a big demand for the products of our factories, and the output of many of them has not been nearly what it would have been if more labour had been available. Reference was made yesterday to the value of the output of our factories. I have looked up the figures given on the subject by Mr. Knibbs, and I notice that Sir. Sholl, the Statistician of South Australia, supplies very similar figures. I find that of the value of the output of our factories the raw material represents 60.22 per cent. ; fuel and light, 2.18 per cent. ; salaries and wages, 19.77 per cent. ; and other expenses, including interest and profit, 17.83 per cent. It has to be remembered "that from the 17.83 per cent., the manufacturer has to pay fire and industrial insurance. I am not complaining that he should have to pay for industrial insurance, because I recognise that that is a very fair burden upon any industry. It is necessary that the manufacturer should insure himself in order to be able to meet any claims that might be made upon him under the Workmen's Compensation Act, the Employers' Liability Act, the Workmen's Lien Act, or at common law. I think that is quite right, but I say that it is out of the 17.83 per cent, that these charges have to be met. The premium charge for industrial insurance is about 12s. 6d. per cent, on the wages actually paid, so that it represents a substantial burden upon any industry. After all these charges are accounted for, I think it will be found that the manufacturer is left with about 7 per cent., and, when we remember that there is invested in land and buildings in connexion with our factories, something like ^20,000,000, and in plant and machinery another ,£29,000,000, it will be admitted that the manufacturer's profit cannot be regarded as extravagant. In all the circumstances, our industries appear to me to have made very fair progress under the existing Tariff.


Senator de Largie - Everything has progressed very satisfactorily, ' except wages.


Senator VARDON - I take exception to that statement. I guarantee that if the matter is investigated, it will be found that within the last ten years, the wages in every industry have been substantially increased. I challenge the honorable senator to disprove that statement. Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts have brought up wages in every industry, and the total wage list for the Commonwealth has been increased, according to figures which were published here not long ago, by millions sterling. We are told that we now require to have the new Protection. The old idea of Protection, as I understood it, was that a duty should be placed upon an imported article to enable the local manufacturer of it to compete with the underpaid labour in other countries, and, at the same time, pay a fair wage to his employes. I do not know that any one could complain of that. Senator Stewart is anxious now for what is called the new Protection, which, according to a statement made in Melbourne not long since by the present Attorney-General, is intended to protect the local manufacturer by means of a Customs duty, and also to provide better wages for his work-people, and, further, to protect the consumer in connexion with the selling price. I do not exactly know how it is to be done, especially if the producer is, under Senator Stewart's scheme, to pay a land tax up to the economic rent of his land, or up to the full community created value of it. I do not know how any member of the Government is going to fix the price of a pound of wool, a bushel of wheat, a gallon of wine, a pound of butter, or any other commodity. The prices of these commodities are determined by the markets of the world, and I fail to see how the new Protection can succeed in protecting the consumer if we increase the duties which are levied upon various articles, or the wages of the persons who are engaged in their production. Only one individual will pay this increased cost, and that is the individual who consumes the goods.


Senator de Largie - New Protection does not necessarily mean an increase of duties.


Senator VARDON - If wages are increased so that the local manufacturer cannot compete with the foreign manufacturer, what does the. former naturally want ? A higher duty. Universal Free Trade is a very fine theory, but, unfortunately, we cannot 'put it into practice.


Senator Guthrie - Not while we have a typotheae. - Senator VARDON.- If the honorable senator is referring to arrangements in trade, I think they are very good things sometimes.


Senator Guthrie - They crush somebody.


Senator VARDON - Will the honorable senator give me the name of any person who has been crushed?


Senator Guthrie - Let the honorable senator look up Wimble, and he will tell him.


Senator VARDON - If Senator Guthrie will get Wimble's Guide, I think he will find that it contains articles which very strongly urge the adoption of a typothetae. Therefore, he cannot claim that it has been the means of crushing persons out of existence.


Senator Guthrie - Those articles did say that if a man obtained a contract from a person outside the typothetae, he never got it again.


Senator VARDON - I have never heard of that sort of thing being done, and I have been in the trade for over forty years. But I have heard of combinations amongst seamen and shipping people, whereby wages have been raised - a nice little arrangement to protect both parties.


Senator Guthrie - And amongst the printers. When did the honorable senator hear of that?


Senator VARDON - I have heard something about it from the honorable senator himself.


Senator Guthrie - I rise to a point of order. Senator Vardon has just stated that he heard from myself that a certain thing had taken place. I deny his statement, and ask that it should be withdrawn.







Suggest corrections