Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 13 July 1921
Page: 9950


The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens - Order! I ask honorable senators to allow Senator Gardiner to proceed without interruption.


Senator GARDINER - It is quite possible that during the war period importations were a little below normal ; but, as Senator Drake-Brockman suggests, the values were considerably higher, and this increased the figures to a serious extent. We have possibly the richest country in the world, and when we consider the position in its true aspects and realize what it is capable of producing, we must admit that we possess advantages which are not enjoyed by such countries as Canada or the United States of America. We have a country so favorably circumstanced that it is capable of producing almost anything that the mind of man can conceive if it is given a free opportunity to develop. But, instead of every opportunity being given for its free development, restrictions are imposed by means of a high Tariff.


Senator DE LARGIE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - You had that freedom long enough in New South Wales, and you made a mess of it.


Senator GARDINER - Apart from Queensland, New South Wales is, perhaps, the richest portion of the Commonwealth, and it is ridiculous to suggest that under Free Trade New South Wales did not progress to the same extent as other parts of the Commonwealth.

Victoria's Protective policy can be dated from about 1870, when, by some means, a Protectionist Government came into being, and from that year until 1900 New South Wales was practically operating under a Free Trade policy. During those years Victoria was operating under Protection, and what was the result of the growth in these two States? Victoria was leading in population by many thousands in 1870, but after a race of thirty years side by side, New South Wales progressed to such an extent that she has not only made up her deficiency in population, but out-distanced Victoria by many thousands.


Senator Bakhap - Because, so far as we know, New South Wales possesses the best coal in Australia.


Senator GARDINER - I agree that New South Wales is immensely rich in coal. If Victoria was not rich in coal, it was rich in other resources. It had the advantage of a Protectionist Tariff. I say this because the Victorian people had to pay for it, and they should certainly have derived some benefit from it. My honorable friend will not contend that Victoria, during the time to which I have referred, fell behind in the race with New South Wales merely because New South Wales was rich in coal?


Senator de Largie - Undoubtedly, that was the great advantage New South Wales had.


Senator GARDINER - I have shown what were the results of the two policies in New South Wales and in Victoria over a term of thirty years. I need not quote actual facts, for the reason that twenty years ago Senator Pearce did this when Senator de Largie was here,and showed in a most effective way that the workers were better off in Free Trade New South Wales than in Protective Victoria.. I could point to the Australian Workers Union, with which I have been associated. I might produce agreements entered into during all those years to show that members of that union were able to arrive. at amicable arrangements with the pastoralists, fixing the rate of wages to be paid for the shearing of 100 sheep in New South Wales at a certain price, and in Victoria at 5s. less than that price. When it came to the wages to be paid to rouseabouts or general labourers, the same principle operated, and we could readily induce pastoralists to agree to pay £1 per week and keep in Free Trade New South Wales, though under the same agreement pastoralists in Victoria were, called upon to pay only 15s. per week and keep. In no matter what direction a comparison is instituted between conditions in New South Wales and in Victoria during the thirty years to which I have referred, it can be shown that better conditions prevailed in New South Wales.


Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -Bkockman. - Was not the cost of living higher in New South Wales?


Senator GARDINER - On the contrary,it was lower than in Victoria. I take, for instance, the cost, of one of the staple foods. At that time, Victoria was encouraging her farmers to grow beef, and her people were called upon to pay £1 per head for every beast that was taken across the Murray River, whether from Queensland, New South Wales, or South Australia. This represented about half the price of the beast at the time. The people of New South Wales were getting cheap meat, and the people of Victoria had to pay for dear meat. The same might be said with respect to almost every other staple food. This may be readily understood when it is remembered that the ports of New South Wales were open to the free admission of foods from other, countries, including her neighbour States. Tasmanian fruits and potatoes were admitted free to New South Wales, but they had to pay duty in Victoria, while that State was building up her local industries. Consequently, living was cheaper in New South Wales than in Victoria ; wages were higher there, the people were better off, and commercial businesses and interests advanced with strides ahead of those in Victoria.

I describe the effect of a Protectionist Tariff in this way. The Parliament of a country, with a view to the establishment of a master class, decides that if any of the masters consent to put money into a business they will tax the people of the community sufficiently high to make that business profitable. - Itake it that that represents the whole of the . argument in support of Protection. When I speak of the establishment of a master class,I have to recognise that that policy is supported by some ' of the representatives of the party of which I am a member. I should like' to say something with regard to the party aspect of the matter. I have been a member of' the Labour party for a great many years.' During all that time I have never felt bound to refrain from expressing the views which I conscientiously hold. I have often found % myself out of touch with other members of the party on the question of Protection, but I have never found the party generally take any exception to the honest expression of my views.


Senator Payne - The honorable senator's party believes in a master class.


Senator GARDINER - -The honorable senator may be excused for holding that view in the light of debates which have recently taken place elsewhere. There are some great men in our party, and some great Victorians amongst them. I will instance three men who are typical Labour men, honest, and straightforward. Two of these are members of the Labour party, and the third is a little too extreme to belong to it. It will be agreed that Mr. Fenton is quite a typical and very creditable Victorian Labour representative. He is one of the lions of the Labour movement. I next take Mr. Anstey, and when' we read his books The Kingdom of Shi/lock, Money Power, and Red Europe, we may reasonably assume that he is also a lion of the Labour movement. Then there is Mr. Considine, who is not actually within the Labour movement, because it is not extreme enough and does not go fast enough for him.


Senator Duncan - He is a lion that will not lie down with the lamb.


Senator GARDINER - He is another lion of the movement, a member of an extreme section who will not' walk side by side with mild and peaceable persons like myself. When these lions roar at the master class the very air around them vibrates, and persons are led to imagine how, if they had the power, they would ride roughshod over the rest of the community. But when we come to the consideration of a Tariff like this, what is the attitude of these gentlemen, judging, if not by their words, at least by their votes ? They practically say that by inducing a master class to put money into industries, and by taxing the rest of the community to induce' them to do so, they may be looked to to find employment, to use their own term, " for the proletariat." That is what certain lions of the Labour movement are saying with regard to a Tariff like this. I am not one of those lions.' I do not roar very much about the master class. I say that until the Labour movement is prepared, to employ its own people without establishing a master class- to find employment for them, those conducting it have not begun to consider the possibilities of 'the movement, though they may write books and make eloquent speeches on the subject.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What does the honorable senator mean by that, exactly ?


Senator GARDINER - -I mean that foremost men, lions of the movement, who write books and make speeches, when it comes to a matter of constructive statesmanship are found able only to suggest the taxing of millions of people in order to induce a few of the master class to put money into industries to give employment to the rest. I say that until they can suggest better constructive statesmanship than this, they will not begin to realize the possibilities of. the Labour movement.


Senator Crawford - Is there not a master class in Free Trade England ?


Senator GARDINER - I do not honestly believe that my remarks can have led any one to think that I regard either Free Trade or Protection as the be-all and end-all of the labour question. My reference to Free Trade Britain must be that, while she has often been referred to by Protectionists as poor, old, and decrepit, it was found by the test of war that she was financially rich enough and industrially sufficiently well organized to win the war, and, at the same time, support half of the staggering Protectionist countries and keep them up to the collar by financing them while they were fighting. That may be referred to as an illustration to show that seventy years of Free Trade did not impoverish Great Britain, and did not prevent the establishment of her industries.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What about Protectionist Germany?


Senator GARDINER - I am glad that in the honorable senator we have a man who is capable of making a fair comparison. Protectionist Germany was not able to compete with Free Trade England.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Was it never a marvel to the honorable senator how long she kept going ?


Senator GARDINER - It was, until 1 became closely associated in this chamber with some of the generals.' who led our Army. I do not marvel about' it any longer. I was referring to1 a section of the Labour movement whose members roar like lions, but when it comes to a question of constructive statesmanship, want to establish a master class to enable us to employ our own people. If I thought that Protection would give employment, and make things better for the people, I should favour it. Perhaps we are what we are because of our environment, and I may be a Free Trader because at the time I reached the age at which young men begin to think I became saturated with the' literature of the "Prophet of San Francisco," Henry George. I read his Progress and Poverty, Free Trade and Protection^ and all that I could lay hands on that he had written. I believed it, and I looked upon him as a philosopher with a doctrine for theenefit of mankind. Possibly, absorbing that literature at that particular period made me a Free Trader. During all the years I have 'been in public life in this country, I have never had occasion to alter the opinions I then formed.


Senator Reid - Henry George's theory, of Free Trade was based on the adoption of the single tax-. '


Senator GARDINER - The man who can see only the single tax in Henry George's writings, cannot see very much-.


Senator de Largie - It was his one big principle.


Senator GARDINER - His treatment of the , question of Free Trade was so con:vincingly true that ' I have never, heard or read anything which, has caused me to alter the opinions I formed upon it. I considered his theory calculated to build up the greatness, especially of a country like Australia, which is blessed with con*ditions and resources possessed by no other country iri the world. For the rearing of stock our climate in winter is as good as that of the summers of other countries. ,

If we could expend as much in developing Australia each year, as we .spend in the development of secondary industries, . we should not need , Protection to encourage investments in industries.. W,e.-. should have such an influx, of population -that in a short time, our population , would be ten times what it. is to-day.,. . We- have, a country which, if developed,, is capable qf absorbing a great -population .and .main taining its 'people in conditions of richness ' undreamt of by people in other countries. Last year the revenue from Customs duties was £31,928,000. . We may assume that the prices of our manufactures were increased to within a margin of the cost of similar imported articles, and in some cases to a margin above the cost of importations. It is, therefore, not unreasonable to estimate that the cost of the Tariff to the people of Australia runs into not less than £50,000,000 a year. The people cannot have Protection without paying for it. That is" why I object to it.


Senator Crawford - Think of the other good things you can have.


Senator GARDINER - The difference between the two policies is this : . Free Trade costs the public nothing, Protection costs 5,000,000 of people £50,000,000 per annum, and the bulk of this burden is laid on the shoulders of the people least able to bear it. With Protection costing us millions of pounds, I- should say we want, something a good deal better than the equivalent of Free Trade to compensate the people.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the honorable senator admit that if we had been manufacturing some of the things we imported during the -wax we would have got them cheaper.?' ,


Senator GARDINER - Yes ; I admit that' if we had been manufacturing certain articles when the war started we would have got them cheaper, during the war if the Government had taken control of the industries 'and regulated prices. That was the only way we could have expected to get cheap commodities from the protected industries of this country during the war. I was .for1 fifteen months associated with the 'Defence Department during the war period, and I had as good an insight into trading' conditions in this country as any other man. No' firm was doing the business.' of ' the Department at that time, and I .can say . that in ' almost every case the1 price charged the Department was not a fair margin above cost of production, but the very highest price the protected manufacturers could squeeze from the Governni.ent,,; notwithstanding that these industries had been nurtured and paid for by the.' people. When war came the protected industries, of Australia, almost without exception, charged the highest possible price for their products.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did not the Department itself fix the price for many articles?


Senator GARDINER - Yes.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Right!


Senator Senior - The same conditions obtained in Free Trade countries during the war.


Senator GARDINER - Two interjections on the same lines. My argument is that Protection is costing, this country £50,000,000 per annum, while Free Trade would cost us nothing. I go further, and say that as population increases so will the burden of taxation through the Customs increase, and, therefore, we want something better than the equal of Free Trade.


Senator Payne - The honorable senator is assuming that the protected industries have drawn more revenue from the people than is being obtained through the Customs.


Senator GARDINER - I am not assuming anything of the kind. . I am speaking from the experience of many years. When we cease to collect duties through the ' Customs we reach the stage when the country might get some benefit from Protection. The output of our protected adult industries is not becoming any cheaper.

When I was a lad people used to talk about the need to protect our native and infant industries. It was only a question of establishing ' these industries, so we were told then, and before long we would get our commodities at a cheaper rate as the result of internal competition. I need not ask honorable senators if they believe that now. They know there is no competition in these days between the big trading concerns of this country. At Lithgow there is a protected iron industry, in the hands of Hoskins Brothers, to whom this country has paid, by way of bonus or bounties, over £209,000, notwithstanding that there is an enormous duty upon iron. To illustrate my argument that we get no benefit from protected industries, I quote the iron industry of Lithgow as a case in point. This country, as I have said, has paid £209,000 on account of this industry, and at the same time has given it a handsome duty, but if I were a resident of Bourke at the present time, and endeavoured to purchase direct from the manufacturers, say, 1 ton or 20 tons of iron, they would refer me to a Sydney merchant, and the Sydney merchant would record my order, charge me freight on the product from Lithgow to Sydney, and again from Sydney to Bourke.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are you quite sure of your facts?


Senator GARDINER - Quite sure. The honorable senator ought to know that. He ought to know that before I offer a statement on a matter like this I make myself acquainted with all the details. I say it is impossible to buy direct from the manufacturers, and, therefore, people in the western district of New South Wales have to bear the burden of rail freights to and from Sydney on some manufactured products.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Have the special railway freights for distribution been abolished ?


Senator GARDINER - I do not know what special freights there are unless for the conveyance of the raw material.

Before the Government introduced this Tariff they should have called the masters of industries together to ascertain what class of Tariff would benefit them. I do not know whether 'other honorable senators have the same experience as I have, but I know that every increase of duty that was imposed- by the House of Representatives affected some industry in my State, and representations were' made to me pointing out that because of the increase in the duty on their raw material they could not manufacture as cheaply as formerly. And because of this they put it to me this way: "Well, even if you are a Free Trader, you ought to put up a fight in our interests so that we may be on the same level as the other fellow." We have- protected industries in Sydney as well as in Melbourne, and when the duty on timber for box -making was imposed, in another place, our box manufacturers were obliged to increase their prices, with the result that certain business concerns sent their orders to America, Sweden, or Norway, or anywhere else, where they could get boxes made up more cheaply. Sydney employers now tell me that their men must go out of employment.


Senator Fairbairn - They have been at me, too.


Senator GARDINER - My experience, throughout the entire debate, confirms me in my Free Trade views, that even if an industry is getting protection to the extent of 60 per cent. by way of duty, it is probably losing 10, 20. 30, and even up to 60 per cent. through increased duties on the raw materials. Very few industries can benefit by a general Protective Tariff. We can build up our industries if we Tike" in this way, and delude ourselves into the belief that higher wages are being paid. I suppose that if I were to suggest that Protection reduced wages, my Protectionist friends would declare at once that I had a bad case. .As a matter of fact, I do claim that wages are reduced by Protection. Wages are reduced when they cease to purchase. in proportion to their value. Let me try to make myself clear. If I, as a carpenter, twenty years ago could earn £3 per week, and at present got £5 a week, but if this £5 would not buy me more in the way of house covering, clothing, groceries, and other necessaries of life, it would not be a higher wage than £3 per week. Protection creates a false impression in the matter of wages. And it is intended that this should be so. The purpose is to increase the cost of manufactured products in order to induce the local master class to invest their capital in new industries, and so provide employment . for the people, who, all the time, are being called upon to pay higher prices for the commodities.

This policy hits Australia in the place where it hurts the most. It hits Australia's primary producing interests. " Build up your secondary industries," say the Protectionists, " and your country will progress." That, of course, is a most desirable doctrine . to preach, but I contend that the secondary industries should not be fostered at the expense of our primary industries. Nine out of every ten men to-day will admit that the greatest curse at the present time is the crowding of our people into the big cities and towns, and this infernal doctrine of Protection is specially designed to bring about that undesirable state of affairs. What is its purpose but to insure the establishment of secondary industries, and where can they be established but in the great cities, where labour is easily obtainable and, in our seaports, where the raw products may be most readily secured ? Of course, in a Democracy like ours, the organized workers will, in the long run, secure their share by an increase in .wages, chargeable against the industry and passed on to the consumer.


Senator Wilson - And a very big share, too.


Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator may think so. I am sorry to say that I have not been long enough away from the bench, nor am I sufficiently safeguarded against a return to the bench, to share his belief. I do not think that £5 per' week to-day for a carpenter is out of the way, especially when a four or fiveroomed house will cost' at least 25s. ai week, and other articles are high in proportion. It cannot.be said that this is a big wage.


Senator Reid - It is the unskilled worker, not the mechanic, who is receiving the biggest wage to-day.


Senator GARDINER - I do not wish to be drawn off my main argument by these side issues, but, at the same time, I do not think any honorable senator will say that the unskilled labourer of this country has ever got too much for the work he has been called upon to do.


Senator de Largie - He gets more in proportion than the skilled artisan in Australia.


Senator GARDINER - Even if that is so, I do not think Senator de Largie would say he is getting too much. The wage for the unskilled man ranges from £3 to £5 a week. Probably the average is below £4 a week, and so we cannot say that he is getting too much. But what is happening iri this country? We are taxing the general community in order to build up our secondary industries. We are taxing tens of thousands of workmen who cannot themselves be protected. Can we protect the coal miners or the miners at Broken Hill by a Tariff ? Can we give any protection to the public servants of this country by a Tariff? Can we give protection to any of those trades and occupations in Sydney and other capital cities that are not concerned in the- actual production of protected commodities?


Senator Fairbairn - Or the poor pastoralists ?


Senator GARDINER - Yes, or the pastoral industry, which is the very foundation of our prosperity. Take the great wool industry. What, protection can we give the pastoralists or the men they employ ? None whatever. Can we protect our wheat-grower ? In this-Tariff the Government have done something for the wheat-grower by providing that his implements shall cost him more than ever before! The wool-grower- and the wheatgrower are going to get some benefit at a distant date from this scientific Protectionist Tariff, which heralds the dawn of the millennium. What protection can we afford, by means of this Tariff, to. the metalliferous miners generally ? We cannot, of course, give them any! By this Tariff we are driving employees from our primary industries to the great cities, where our secondary industries ; are, protected at the cost of the people generally. People ask why the country is becoming more sparsely populated whilst our cities are becoming overcrowded.


Senator Crawford - Suppose that we were producing ten times as much copper as we are, what could we do with it?


Senator GARDINER - A portion of it might profitably be devoted to supplying the needs of those people in Australia who are crying out for telephone communication. When the honorable senator asks what we could do with an increased supply of copper, I would recommend him to go into a store and endeavour to purchase such a simple little article as a copper kettle. He will then find that there are ample uses towhich copper may be put.

If we will only consent to trade with the world we shall get . the riches of other countries in return for the riches of our own. But to do that we must abandon the extremely selfish policy which some honorable senators opposite so vigorously, advocate. When I mention the possibilities of trade with Japan and China, I shall probably be met by some Protectionists with the insinuation that I desire to trade- with cheap labour countries. But, if those countries will take what we can produce, I am prepared to take what they can produce in exchange for it. I am content to leave the whole business of exchange to the people who are engaged in it, and who will see that they get a square deal. Of course, I have no wish to imply that the Government are out to strike a blow at the Empire. But let us take as an illustration our attitude towards some of the Mandated . Territories. Or, better still, let me point to our recent action in regard to Fiji. As everybody is aware, we recently imposed upon Fijian bananas a duty which has the effect of preventing our own people from eating those bananas. Why did we do that? Was it because our own banana-growers upon the north coast of New South Wales,- and in Queensland are not doing sufficiently well out of the industry ?


Senator Reid - The duty was. imposed to maintain the present standard of living.


Senator Wilson - And good bananas are a luxury.


Senator GARDINER - And the little toddlers about the miserable alleys in Sydney are to be denied the right to get that fruit because of the action of this Parliament.


Senator Wilson - Sydney is not ' the only city in the Commonwealth.


Senator GARDINER - I do not speak for Brisbane, because it has so many able representatives here; nor do I speak for Melbourne, which is similarly represented ; but' I do speak for Sydney, the queen city of the south, of which I have the honour to be a representative.


Senator Crawford - The honorable senator has just told us about its miserable little alleys which have been created under Free Trade.


Senator GARDINER - I admit that Sydney has its depressing places, as well as its beauty spots; and I am just as earnest to-day in wiping out those black spots as I was thirty years ago.


Senator Crawford - I thought that Lambert was doing that pretty well now.


Senator GARDINER - It' is not so many years ago when people were saying much the same thing about William Morris Hughes that they are saying today about Mr. Lambert, the Lord Mayor of Sydney. Reverting to the fiscal question, I hold that even a Protectionist will admit that Protection ought not to be extended to an industry which does not require it. I hold in my hand an auctioneer's advertisement in . a Tweed daily newspaper of the 24th May last. It is instructive, because it throws a considerable light upon the value of banana plantations. It reads-

A.   E. BUDD & SON,

Auctioneers.

Lease of ten acres, choice banana land, beau tiful soil, north-easterly aspect, overlooking ocean; nine years' lease, at £3 per acre; eight acres in full bearing, first crop being cut now; one acre bunching, another planted about six months; balance ready to plant;,. packing shed, plough, and scuffler; comfortable dwelling of four rooms and kitchen, verandah on three sides, which tenant has right to remove on termination of lease. £1,750. Terms can be' arranged. This is a handy place, close to school, and we can confidently recommend any one in search of a good banana proposition to make an early inspection.

The lessee is thus required to pay a rental of £3 per acre, in addition to the sum of £1,750, and his only assets are the cottage, which is already there, and which he may pull down and carry away-


Senator Crawford - There is the crop.







Suggest corrections