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Wednesday, 4 May 1921


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) -. D. Millen. - The answer would be " Yes."


Senator GARDINER - And when Senator Guthrie continued on similar lines I felt quite sure that everything was topsy-turvy. Frequent reference has from time to time .been made to the action of " red-raggers " and the advocates of the " go-slow " policy, particularly from the

Government benches, and the Government are now advocating a similar policy. The Government do not intend legislating in this matter, but are adopting a short cut to do what they desire by regulation.


Senator Crawford - That is not going slow.


Senator GARDINER - But it is allowing the people who have the wool to sell tq go slow.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - It is not going slow, but merely limiting the sales.


Senator GARDINER -We have heard a good deal of the pernicious system of " go-slow" adopted by the workers.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Not by all of them.


Senator GARDINER - I desire to say most emphatically that I am not' in agreement with the go-slow principle adopted by some workers. I think I may say that 1 have worked hard all my life, and I ha.ve always been opposed to any such system. In this case, however, we are protecting the interests of those who have done handsomely for a number oi' years, and who now wish to go slow. Is it not logical for a workman to say that if he * produces less more employment will be available to others? What are the Government proposing? In effect, they are saying that if they can stop the "blackleg" or the " scab " who will not agree to this scheme, and who will persist in selling his wool in the open market, they will be the means of allowing the producer to secure a higher price for his product.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - It is an endeavour to stop a hopeless slump. There is no suggestion of putting the price up.


Senator GARDINER - Why should there be any such suggestion, when we consider that during the last few years the wool-growers have reaped a handsome profit ?


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Hd less some such provision is made the wool-growing industry will be ruined.


Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator says that there is no suggestion of putting up the price, but he must remember that during the last few years the wool-growers have received a substantial return for their product. It may not be a question of increasing the price, but it is an endeavour to improve the wool position.

Let us consider the methods the Government are adopting, and see how they compare with the iron law of supply and demand. Let us see how they compare with the attitude of a workman who is regarded as a "scab" or a " Hackleg." The iron law of supply and demand would compel the wool-grower in ordinary circumstances to sell in the open market; but the suggestion now is that if the wool is held for a certain period, or if export is prohibited for six months, the conditions may improve.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Some have sold the whole of their Bawra wool, and we are up against that. The proposition is to sell two bales of Bawra wool with every four bales of free wool.


Senator GARDINER - I quite see how the honorable senator thinks it will be a benefit to the producers, and following that line of thought he endeavours to prove why it is necessary for the Government to come in and force 10 per cent, of tha wool-growers, who will not agree to any restrictions, in order to prevent a slump. It is easy to realize that that 10 per cent, will have to be disciplined like the unionist, who has to be disciplined to prevent a slump in wages.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - What about 5 per cent. ?


Senator GARDINER - I do not care whether it is 3 or 5 per cent., that is the position as I understand it. I am at a loss to understand why the Government and certain honorable senators should be anxious to hurry out of the difficulty in this way instead of handling the proposition fully and thoroughly. This is a House of review, and, without any previous discussion, the Minister for Repatriation (.Senator E. D. Millen), after a short statement, announces the policy of the Government, and concludes with a motion that the paper be printed. If we agree to the motion moved .by the Minister, we shall be responsible for everything that is done by the Government in connexion with the handling of wool.

Let us go back a couple of years, and consider why there is at present such a huge surplus of wool. The Government - I hold them responsible - did all in their vower to prevent America getting wool.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - What?


Senator GARDINER - The Government did all they could to prevent America getting wool.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - We have sold a lot to America.


Senator GARDINER - The Government placed all sorts of restrictions in the way.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - America placed a prohibitive Tariff on importations of wool.


Senator GARDINER - When?


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Quite recently.


Senator GARDINER - Let us consider why America has imposed a prohibitive Tariff. Is it not because a heavyduty was imposed on American articles imported into this country?


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator will have an opportunity of amending the Tariff when it is under consideration by the Senate.


Senator GARDINER - The Minister knows that I will have what is commonly known as "Buckley's chance." If the American Tariff is one of the causes, we can see how it has arisen.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - In "some cases the

Tariff imposes a duty of 22£d. per lb.


Senator GARDINER - Let us try to view the position from the American stand-point. During the war the Government prevented Australian wool from going to America, with the result that the American manufacturers were unable to use it; and the position now is that America has put on a Protectionist Tariff with the idea of encouraging the production of wool in America.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That is not correct. America had large quantities of wool out of the Pool during the war, and when the issue ceased she refused to take 400,000 bales.


Senator Crawford - Is not the Tariff, the cause of the. big stocks at present in America.?


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The Americans are endeavouring to build up their woollen industry.


Senator GARDINER - If I get an opportunity of. saying a word here and there, I may be able to explain what I mean. About twelve months ago we practically prohibited trade between Australia and America, and now, owing to their increased Tariff, we are prevented from profitably selling wool to that country. If we do not buy from America, America will not buy from us. We are faced with the fact that this Parliament and this Government have deliberately said that we must be a self-contained country, and produce everything we require ourselves, so there will be no necessity to trade with other nations..

Immediately the war ended, we were told by every opponent of Labour that we had to produce more, that the workmen would have to be employed for longer hours to achieve that end, and it now appears that the wool-grower has produced more, and we are in a tighter corner than ever.


Senator Crawford - Have we not fewer sheep in Australia than. we had six years ago?


Senator GARDINER - The number is always fluctuating - that is only natural. In periods of drought the number rapidly decreases, but when the' seasons improve it is not long before the flocks become reestablished; and it is useless submitting such an argument, because Australia is always confronted with the question of a large production.


Senator Crawford - The consumption is too small.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - The production has not increased.


Senator GARDINER - I do not care what term honorable senators may use, because they will serve my purpose just the same. I am endeavouring to compare the wool producer with the representatives of the I.W.W., or the men who are supposed to believe in destruction.


Senator Crawford - There is no analogy.


Senator GARDINER - 1 have heard this question discussed from the standpoint* of destroying the surplus.


Senator Crawford - Not in this Chamber.


Senator GARDINER - I believe such a proposal was mentioned by Senator Pratten, who 'said' that the wool should be sold even if it were dumped into the sea. The I.W.W. thought is there.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - They would dump it without purchasing it.


Senator GARDINER - I do not want to infer that Senator Pratten advocated the destruction of our stocks, but he said that it. should be sold, even if it were dumped into the sea. I have heard the proposition of destroying the wool discussed as a way out of the difficulty.


Senator Duncan - It was advocated by correspondence in the newspapers.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Surely the honorable senator is not going to discuss letters in the press in this Chamber?


Senator GARDINER - No, but if there is anything in my argument, it shows that there is little difference between these people and those members of the community who would scratch the back of a pastoralist to strike a unionist. The unionist's aim is to look after his own interests, and I am not blaming him for acting in such a manner.

The proposition, to my mind, appears to be that there is likelihood of a reduction in the price of wool, with the result that there will be a serious loss not only to. the pastoralists of Australia, but to the people generally, and if any one can submit a proposal to effectively meet the situation it will have my support. Senator Crawford said, by interjection, that the position had arisen in consequence of a reduced consumption. Why is it? When the pastoralists were having their turn during a very prosperous period, who was it that was going without wool ? The women who had to knit socks for their children, and who could not get it at a reasonable price.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - It was the middlemen who put ur> the price.


Senator GARDINER - I know all about the middleman, and have come to the conclusion that he is in the position where no one can touch him.-


Senator Crawford - The Australian people have never been better dressed.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - They have been living extravagantly.


Senator GARDINER - The position has arisen owing to the high prices that have been ruling, and we are waiting, as Senator Fairbairn said, until wool drops in price. There are many who are refraining from purchasing clothing until prices are easier. The price of wool has been so high that millions of people ceased to use it, and, therefore, Senator Crawford is quite right in his suggestion that the situation has arisen owing to decreased consumption. That is the position we are in, and we have to consider the best way out of it. With Senator Pratten, I think that we are only postponing the difficulty. Apparently, it is true that those controlling the industry are unable to solve the problem, and, having failed to complete their work, are now asking for the assistance of the Government to force these obstinate " black.leggers " who insist on selling in the open market. The Senate, if it approves of what is proposed, will put the Government in the position of disciplining that 5 or 10 per cent, by the issue of a Customs regulation to prevent their wool being exported. "We will, in effect, be saying to this section of our woolproducers, " Your wool shall not pass. You shall not get it to any other country, even though you may want to trade. We have a regulation to stop you. You would be interfering with the organization in this country," The Government propose to interfere with a small section of the people of Australia who are engaged in wool-growing, and in their interests to say that a man who desires to trade in wool outside of Australia shall not be permitted to do so unless he agrees not to sell his wool at less than the fixed price. That is a most pernicious system to adopt.

I ask the Government to introduce a short Bill dealing with this matter, instead of attempting to deal with it by manipulating the regulations under our Customs Act. If the Minister will follow the course which I have suggested I shall not utter a single word in opposition to the measure. ' Of course, I shall be told that the reason underlying this proposal i3 the need for expedition,. But if the Minister will announce his intention to introduce to-morrow a Bill dealing with , the question, time will undoubtedly be saved. A majority of members in both branches of the Legislature will offer no opposition to it. It is much preferable to deal with the matter in that way rather than to allow the Government to manipulate a regulation which is now in existence, and which may be used illegally. If I understand this proposition aright it means that no wool shall be allowed to pass outside of Australia which has been or is to be sold for less than 8d. per lb. But suppose that I were able to sell wool at ls. per lb., what could prevent me doing so?


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - There will be nothing to prevent that.


Senator GARDINER - And suppose that' the purchaser of the wool afterwards handed me back 4d. per lb. upon it?


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That would be an illegal rebate.


Senator GARDINER - But the honorable senator must surely realize the possibilities in that direction.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - But there are possibilities of prosecution for conspiracy.


Senator GARDINER - I think that we ought " to look at the way ,in which Trusts have operated in connexion with every concern which they have controlled, because, after all, it is a Trust which the Government propose to establish.


Senator Fairbairn - The honorable senator is referring to Labour Trusts?


Senator GARDINER - Yes. Unfortunately, our Trusts are without capital, although they contain men with a good deal of intellect and a fine capacity for propaganda. I always find that the things which the Governnent have condemned in the past are all right when they suit their own purposes. If we are about to establish a Wool Trust to prevent the price of wool slumping, unless we do not make the position quite clear, the speculators whose business it is to make money out of it, will take a good many risks of conviction for conspiracy in the matter of fixing prices, just as the Trusts have done in every other case. Nobody can read the history of the United States of America without realizing that. The proposal to restrict the price of wool in Australia will prove abortive. I might sell wool to a man, and when once I got to Germany, from where could the interference come? i


Senator Crawford - But an honest man could not do that.


Senator GARDINER - I know that the speculators are all honest. There used to be an axiom about being poor and honest, but I never heard one about being rich and honest. Will the Government really accomplish what they desire by the method which they now propose ? I have already given one instance of what appears to be a weakness in the proposal even to stop the sale of wool. But the Government will take very fine care that no wool leaves this country except Bawra wool.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Free wool may go out just as well under this scheme.


Senator GARDINER - Yes ; but when the Minister for Trade and Customs has power to regulate export, it will not go out.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It will po out just the same.


Senator GARDINER - If the Government are interfering to prevent the export of wool by the 5 per cent, of woolgrowers who will not fall in with their proposals they will take good care, when once they possess the requisite power, to prevent that section from exporting wool. The Minister of Repatriation says that free wool can go out just as well as can other wool. But when the Government are armed, with this power, I predict that it will not go out.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Whether wool goes out in large or small quantities will not affect this scheme.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - We have not yet been told whether this power is to be administered bv the Minister for Trade and Customs or by the Bawra directors.


Senator GARDINER - That is so.

At a later stage I intend to 'move a further amendment, which I hope the Government will accept. The amendment will be to add the words: -

That the Senate is of opinion that the Government should give effect to their proposals by legislation and not resort to regulations.

They can well afford to do that. Here we are confronted with a big question which, if dealt with in a separate Bill, could be disposed of in about one sitting of each House. No time need be wasted in discussing it. But honorable senators are entitled to know precisely what the Government expect of us and what they are going to accomplish, either by legislation or regulations. A general statement has been made upon this matter by the Minister for Repatriation. But three months or six months hence an honorable senator may say. " We were not aware that the Ministry intended to do this or that." The reply would probably be Why ! That went without saying when you agreed to our proposals." If the Government will not bring forward a Bill dealing with this matter I shall simply oppose anything that they may do, because of the manner in which, they are doing it.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - But the honorable senator is opposed to the principle of the thing irrespective of whether it is1 done by Bill or regulation.


Senator GARDINER - Nothing of the kind, I have gone a long distance out of my way to show that the Government are right in touch with the extreme sections of the Labour party - the members of the Industrial Workers of the World and the Red-flaggers. But the Ministers may say there is something in the " go slow " policy.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Something bad.


Senator GARDINER - There is something in it when it goes to the extent of preventing people from trading freely. Senator Guthrie cannot convince me that the chief object of the Government is to prevent wool speculators causing the market to slump, in order that they may obtain control of it for their own purposes. In the Labour movement, we have organized for years to prevent one section of the community from getting control of the labour market. We have no time for the men who come in. and who are willing to drag down the price of labour.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No time for the 5 per cent. ?


Senator GARDINER - No. They are about the same everywhere. The Government would, therefore, be wise if they introduced a short Bill covering these proposals. So far as the Labour section in another place is concerned, there will be just as much division of opinion amongst its members as there is » here in regard to the procedure which the Government are adopting. If there be one thing more pernicious than another, it is Government interference through the Customs Houses with trade. At any rate if we permit Ministers to interfere with the export of wool by regulations, we shall be saying that we approve df them doing in an indirect way that which they should do in a direct way.


Senator de Largie - The Minister for Trade and Customs prohibited the importation of sheep dip into Australia by means of .regulations.


Senator GARDINER - Yes, and he did so to benefit one firm as against another.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - To prevent the destruction of an industry which had been started in Australia to meet the' conditions arising out of the war.


Senator GARDINER - He did so in the interests of certain industries as against other industries. I do not think that .the Minister for Trade and Customs should be given that power. I hold that Parliament is the place where these matters should be threshed out, and the law should determine what industries should be helped.


Senator Fairbairn - This regulation has been threshed out both here and in the other Chamber.


Senator GARDINER - The Senate ought not to consent to the illegitimate use of such a regulation. We have no right to leave in the hands of a Minister the conditions upon which wool grown in Australia shall be sold, in any market in the world.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - They cannot be left in the hands of the Minister, because the proposal of the Government sets out what are those conditions. The Senate does not anticipate that there will be another- Government in power at an early date?


Senator GARDINER - No, considering the difficult problems with which Ministers are struggling.


Senator de Largie - Does not the honorable senator think that shearers would support a proposal such as this?


Senator GARDINER - It is very difficult to say. One cannot speak for people with whom he is not acquainted. After all, the shearers are very much the same as is every other body of men. Out of every ten of them, probably five will be found upon one side and five upon the other.

The Minister has just interjected that if this motion is passed we shall have agreed to the proposal. We are being asked only to agree that a certain paper shall be printed, and we are given no chance to say whether we agree to the proposal or not. A suggestion might be made which every member of the Senate would recognise as an improvement upon the Government proposal, but in the way in which the matter has been submitted to us it could not be embodied in it. I realize that an attempt is being made by Senator Guthrie to -'improve the price of wool; but if "we agree to what the honorable senator proposes, that will not bind the' Government.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable senator think that that would be an improvement on the proposal?


Senator GARDINER - It would certainly improve the price. I am, with Senator E. D. Millen, a representative of probably the majority of the wool-growers of Australia, and I say that if it is as easy to fix the price at 9d. as at 8d. per 1b., we should fix it at 9d. per lb. If we are going to help the wool-growers, we should do the best we can for them, and not the second .best. Some one else, of course; might suggest that the price should be fixed at lOd. per lb. ; but the difficulty in dealing with such an amendment as Senator Guthrie proposes- is that we do not know if the Government will accept it. They might take the carrying of the amendment as an instruction to the Government, but it would represent merely the opinion of the Senate ; and what will happen if in another place there is an overwhelming majority in favour- of fixing the price at 7d. per lb..? I suppose that in that case the- Government would compromise and stick to the price they have, themselves suggested.

I am using these arguments- in order to show that we should not attempt to transact business in this manner. If the case is desperate and must be dealt with in some way at once, this- is certainly a quick way to deal with the matter. I have given notice of an amendment, and it is my intention to move it. The Government might deal with this matter as quickly by the introduction of a Bill as by the making of a regulation. If the Government dealt with the matter by the introduction of a Bill, Senator Pratten, or other honorable senators who have " considered the question, might submit amendments which would be considered beneficial by even so great an authority on wool as Sir John Higgins. I think that there is something to be gained by adjourning this debate, and enabling the Government to deal with thi3 important matter in the only way in. which this Australian Parliament should deal with it. Our Standing Orders have been most carefully prepared, with a view to having everything done by the Senate, that is to have the force of law, considered in a proper manner. A Bill is taken to one stage, at which objections may be urged against it. It is then taken to other stages, so that the people may have confidence that no measure can be hurried through Parliament. I do not think that the wool position is so terrible, that we need to break away from the precedents of Parliament, in Great Britain for centuries and in Australia in this Parliament for twenty years, in order to cope with it. I do not see why we should lay aside all the safeguards that have been provided against hasty legislation. I feel somewhat elated at being in a position to protest against hasty legislation.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - To defend law and order.


Senator GARDINER - Yes, to defend law and order. If I could only recall all the hard things said about the Labour party during the last quarter of a century, I might make use of them all to condemn the method of' procedure now adopted by the Government. Legislative Councils have been elected, and some nominated, and we have often been told that they were deliberately brought into existence to prevent hasty legislation.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable senator is now playing the part of a Legislative Council.


Senator GARDINER - I feel that I am. I am in the position of a mau who, having been opposed for trying to do a certain thing for a quarter of a century, can now see the wisdom of avoiding hasty legislation. I am in a position now to tell the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and those supporting him, that there is little or no difference between them and the Industrial Workers of the World, because they are all believers in direct action. They do not in this case adopt the usual method of dealing with such matters in- Parliament. They propose to go direct, and to pull down oldestablished practices and every obstacle which would be set up by the rules of Parliament to prevent them from carrying their design into effect immediately.

The Government introduced this matter, and it has been discussed by Senators Guthrie, Fairbairn, and Pratten in a manner which must have been enlightening to members of the Government, as it was to the rest of the Senate. These honorable senators have discussed the question from the point of view of those interested in the wool industry. Senator Pratten has taken a view in opposition to the Bawra proposals, or, shall I say, to the proposals of Sir John Higgins. He considers that there is danger in them. He has not spoken in opposition to the interests of the wool industry. No man in Australia in his senses would oppose the best interests of the wool industry. No man in Australia - should be hurried into doing anything which might not be in 'he best interests of the wool industry and the wool producers of Australia. Just as we are all reluctant to do any thing which would injure the wool industry, we should take very fine care that we shall not be asking to-morrow why we allowed, ourselves to be stampeded into taking the action proposed by the Government.

I might indicate what has led to the stampede. The' first step was taken by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) at Bendigo in a gloomy and pessimistic atterance which should never have been made in Australia. The right, honorable gentleman must have had a bad night, because he made a worse speech still in the House of Representatives. That speech was calculated to injure all the interests of Australia. Coming from myself, it would not have mattered but coming from the Prime Minister, it was a most gloomy picture of our position. We were told that banks were tottering, businesses were failing, the bottom had dropped out of the wool market, and I do not know what , disaster was not foreshadowed. Then the panic started, and now we are to be hurried into action. I think there is no occasion for hurry. Bad as it no doubt would be for the wool market to drop just at the present below pre-war prices, it would not be the worst thing that could happen if people could buy a suit of clothes for £4 10s. which they cannot get to-day for less than £18. I think that I might very quickly make a suggestion which would overcome the difficulty. We have been told that we produce at present only 5 per cent, of the woollen materials we require.


Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - No. I said that we use only 5 per cent, of our annual production of wool in Australia, but we produce 50 per cent, of the woollen material we require.


Senator GARDINER - I might put forward a proposal which would immediately double the quantity of wool we use. We might make our woollen mills work three shifts instead of one. That might be done if the people who are controlling wool in Australia are in earnest. There are a great many unemployed, who could be readily broken into" the new business of manufacturing wool.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If we turned all the wool produced in Australia into cloth, who is going to buy it? The honorable senator's proposal would not relieve the position one bit.


Senator GARDINER - Would it not?

Sitting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.


Senator GARDINER - I have been advancing a helpful suggestion for Australia to takes? action, in order to show that she could increase her trade, employ her people, and consume her own wool. When I suggested that the mills should be set to work in three shifts, Senator E. D. Millen interjected, " Where would we get the market for our products t" We would get it by reducing the price of our tweeds and woollen goods generally to somewhere near pre-war rates.. There are many thousands of people in Australia who would purchase woollen goods if their prices were brought down to the popular purchasing power; and, throughout the rest of the world, the same- applies. There is an enormous opening for Australian manufactured goods if we cared to put them on the world's market at reasonable prices. Moreover, such action would be letting the world see that Australia was attempting to overcome the situation by more work and greater production. I realize that in speaking to this effect I am taking up. the .old Conservative cry, "Work harder and produce more;" but' I repeat that sincerely at this stage. If we do not go in for such a policy .we shall not get out of the financial tangle into which the people, guided by private enterprise, have got themselves.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not private enterprise, but Government control.


Senator GARDINER - Private enterprise has run us on the' rocks.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have been objecting to Government control time without number, and I repeat that that is the trouble to-day.


Senator GARDINER - It is of no use to allege that the Government have had any hand in the critical situation of Australia at this moment.. The private Combines, in managing their own affairs, have done so in such a way that to-day we are on the rocks,, and private enterprise is now approaching the Government to float us off. My suggestion of the way out is to work out. The sooner we realize that the impoverishment of a country is not brought about by pushing the sales of the products of that country in other lands, the better for us. The < sooner we learn that the interchange of commodities between nations makes for the enrichment of all, the better for Australia.

The present position is due largely to the loss of the American trade. The official Year-Book informs me that in 1914-15 the United States of America took, in round quantities, 61,000,000 lbs. of our wool; in 1915:16, 115,000,000 lbs.; and in 1916-17, owing to the Pool, only 16,000 lbs.


Senator Fairbairn - There was a suspicion that our wool was going to Germany, via America.


Senator GARDINER - That does not matter. My point is . that our loss of the American market accounts for the wool surplus to-day, and, consequently, for our critical difficulties. I note, further, that of scoured wool there was exported to America in 1915-16, 27,000,000 lbs. In 1916-17 no scoured wool was exported to the United States of America.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That was when we had sold all our wool to the British Government.


Senator GARDINER - There is no doubt concerning what became of it. I am content to show that the cause of the present surplus is our loss of the American market. In the zeal of our patriotism - if I may put it in that way - we have cut off one of our best customers. I remarked on one occasion that patriotism would kill trade, or trade would kill patriotism; and that is quite true. Reverting to the American purchases of our scoured . wool, the quantity for 1917-18 was 1,446,501 lbs.; and in 1918-19, 1,460,000 lbs. It is evident, then, that we have not recovered that lost trade. We have reached a stage when we should not go in for fantastic methods of overcoming our difficulties. We need to know how and why we have lost our wool custom, and how we can get it back. We have lost the trade of America in wool.


Senator Payne - We cannot help that.


Senator GARDINER - We had a good customer, to whom we refused to supply further goods. Now we must try and get that customer back.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did not the American trade practically go through London"?


Senator GARDINER - I think not.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I recollect a sale, in one lot, of 500,000 bales, during the period of control.'


Senator GARDINER - During 1916- 1917, there was certainly nothing of that kind, and America was left practically without wool. I fear that the present Government proposal will not have the required effect of 'regaining the American trade. The scheme simply involves the putting off of the evil day for six. months, after which there may be a further extension of six months; and, meanwhile, this enormous weight of wool will continue to hang over our heads. We should endeavour to get back and extend our trade with all the nations, and, on the most favorable terms, to get our wool away. Senator E. D. Millen will remember the cry in the wool-sheds, "We want the wool out of the way."' To-day our wool is blocking operations, interfering with trade, and affecting all our businesses at a time when the world is crying for woollen goods. If we cannot manufacture our wool into woollen goods for- the world's markets, let us sell to the countries which will do so, and which will give us the best prices for our raw material - this great primary product of Australia.


Senator Crawford - Hasnot wool already been sold on long terms?


Senator GARDINER - There has been some little of it sold, but there is an enormous accumulation ahead, and the utmost of our export in normal times has been but 2,000,000 bales. It is of no use to try to build up our secondary interests if primary products are placed at hazard. The sooner we induce people to trade with us, the better for Australia. My advice to the Government is, " Extend Australia's trade with other nations." Let us get into contact with Russia.

That country will take all our products.


Senator Payne - And pay for them?


Senator GARDINER - Of course!


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - But all the gold has already been taken out of the Kremlin.


Senator GARDINER - I do not hold that payment is any the less tangible or satisfactory because it is in kind, and not in cash.


Senator Crawford - Is the honorable senator advocating dumping?


Senator GARDINER - I can refer the honorable senator to many thousands of families who would be only too glad to be enriched at this moment by having goods from other countries dumped into theirbackyards. All the nations are waiting for Australia's primary products, and Australia is idiotically saying, "You may buy our. goods, but we will not undertake to purchase yours, for that would, be dumping." Letis demonstrate willingness to enter whole-heartedly into trade in regard to our great primary products.

I now move -

That the following words be added to the amendment: - "and that the Government should give effect to their, proposals by legislation, and not resort to regulations."'

I do not move this amendment in any hostile spirit, but because I am firmly convinced that whatever the Government may do should, be done in the proper legislative manner. I will not be a party to giving the Government a free hand to do as they like by regulation. If my amendment is not agreed to, I shall still vote against the proposal of the Government, because I am not satisfied that . anything will be achieved other than the postponement of the evil day.







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