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Wednesday, 13 July 1921

The PRESIDENT - Yes, on the first reading of the Bill.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Should net the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the honorable senator to. proceed? -

The PRESIDENT - No; the Standing Orders provide that an additional thirty minutes may be granted on motion ; but a longer extension could not be granted without suspending the Standing Orders.

Senator GARDINER - I thank honorable senators for the courtesy extended to me. This question exceeds in importance any other matter I have ever addressed myself to in the Senate, and as my time is limited under the Standing Orders, it makes it absolutely impossible for me to place my views before honorable senators. After much labour and investigation, I have collected a good deal of information concerning the industries of Australia to ascertain the value of their production, and the number of men they employ. The schedule consists of hundreds of items, embracing thousands of articles, and honorable senators will readily admit that it is impossible in the limited time at my disposal to deal with the matter in' a proper way. I know I will be told that these items can be discussed in Committee, but I think it would be better on a matter of this sort if I exhausted the

Subject - if that were possible - at this juncture.*

Senator Pearce - The honorable sena. tor will have another opportunity on the second reading. -

Senator GARDINER - I am not seeking that opportunity, and that is why I am speaking on the first reading. What is important to me to-day will, I am sure, be important to other honorable senators later on. It is unwise to have one's time limited to a number of minutes when questions of this magnitude have to be considered.

Senator Rowell__You gave us nine hours on one occasion, and we do not want that again.

Senator GARDINER - Perhaps- not. I have not as yet touched the basis of this matter.

The Tariff proposals of the Government affect' the whole business of the Commonwealth, and I would like the Government and the Senate, even at this late hour, to delay the passage of the Bill. They could then call together the manufacturers of Australia and place this Tariff before them, so they may have an opportunity of saying whether it will injure their businesses or what benefits, if any, will result from its operations.

Senator Reid - Many of them have been clamouring for it, as the honorable senator knows.

Senator GARDINER - I do not know that. I know that people engaged in the manufacture of artificial flowers complain that the Tariff interferes with them most seriously by imposing duties on materials which they use. They say that they may be compelled to cease manufacturing in Sydney and in Melbourne because of the Tariff. I might refer honorable members to the box-makers. One of these, in conversation with me, said that certain big companies - I shall not mention their names, since I have had no opportunity of testing the truth of his statement - who use his boxes, as soon as increased duties were imposed on timber immediately cabled orders to other places for boxes already made, because the Tariff would make the locally-manufactured boxes more costly. I have shown how we protected the sugar industry to the extent of £21,000,000 in twenty years, or over £1,000,000 in a year. I ask honorable senators to say whether that has been any help to the fruit-growers in Tasmania or the makers of jam in this country? I am aware that the makers of jam are given a rebate on the sugar exported in their jam. They do not obtain any rebate on sugar used in the manufacture of jam for consumption in Australia. We have imposed Customs duties for the benefit of the users of rich sugar lands and the richer sugar companies, but what are we doing for those . who are carrying on businesses that are not nearly so profitable, but which require sugar ?

Senator Crawford - The honorable senator's arguments are especially directed against the industries of Queensland.

Senator GARDINER - I hope the honorable senator will not be biased against me.

Senator Crawford -i promise' not to be as biased as Senator Gardiner has been.

Senator GARDINER - I hope that we can discuss this question without bias.

Senator Crawford - I wish the honorable senator would do so.

Senator GARDINER - I dealt with bananas and sugar because they were the first products of primary production that are given protection under the Tariff. If time- permitted I might show that there is not a single industry which has been given protection which has on this account been of benefit to the people. Senator Crawford should be prepared to admit that a man who reaps a crop worth £45 an acre receives very handsome protection as against another whose crop is worth no more than £2 5s. per acre. No one can question that sugar is a very fine food, but I do not see why we should impose duties for the benefit of the ownersof rich sugar lands in Queensland and in the north, of New South Wales, who make moreout of primary production than do those engaged in fruit-growing, wheatgrowing, and the production of other articles of food.

Senator Rowell - Was not the protection of sugar due to members of the party to which the honorable senator belonged, preventing the introduction of indented labour to Queensland ?

Senator GARDINER - Perhaps the most laudable thing for which the party to which I belong can claim credit was the prevention of the admission of indentured labour, which was but another name for slavery.

Senator Crawford - I can inform the honorable senator that Queensland would be very glad, of the opportunity to get out of the Federation,, even though she should lose the benefit of the duty on sugar.

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator had better get behind the Country party, who, apparently, desire to create a number of small . States in the Federation.

I have already mentioned that twenty years ago Senator . Pearce proved conclusively that Victorian workmen worked under worse conditions and for poorer pay than did those of the other States. Let us see what Protection has done for the building up of industry. Take, for instance, the manufacture of boots. I have to-day to pay for a pair of boots double the price for which I could have obtained them forty years ' ago from the old shoemaker, who made them, on his knee.

Senator Bolton - And they are of inferior quality to-day, also.

Senator GARDINER - There can be no comparison in the matter of quality. The old time hand-made boot, I suppose, lasted as many years as the machinemade boot of to-day will last months. That is what Protection has done for the manufacture of boots.

Senator Crawford - The price of unprotected commodities has risen in the same degree.

Senator GARDINER -Then', what need is there for a Tariff?

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - What were the wages of the bootmaker thirty years ago compared to those now paid in the trade?

Senator GARDINER - I suppose that the labour cost of a pair of boots to-day is about 3s. Machinery does the rest. I remind Senator Glasgow that wages depend upon their purchasing value. Thirty years ago ls. would purchase 5 lbs. of beef j to-day, ls. will not purchase more than 1 lb. Considering the purchasing value of wages, the wages paid thirty years ago are about equal to the wages paid to-day. The manufacture of boots has been protected in Victoria for fifty years. Protectionists have constantly said, " Let us build up our industries by protective duties, and then local competition will settle the prices." Yet, after fifty years of Protection in Victoria, the boot manufacturing industry is apparently as much in need of propping up by Protection as it ever was.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is it not a fact that boots are cheaper in Melbourne than they are in the Old Country ?

Senator GARDINER - I do not think it is. In the old days it was the custom of Protectionists to say that it was necessary to protect local industries from the products of cheap labour in all the countries of the world, and we were often reminded of the cheap labour of Great Britain. One result of the war was to increase wages in Great Britain, and there is not nearly the same difference today between the wages of the bootmaker in Australia and in Great Britain as there was thirty years ago.

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

Senator GARDINER - I shall conclude my remarks with some figures dealing with the statement made by Senator de Largie as to the relative progress of Victoria and New South Wales during the 30 years from 1871 to 1901, with Victoria under Protection, and New South Wales under a Free Trade policy, the figures in each case being taken from the Census returns. In .1871 the population of Victoria was 730,198, and of New South Wales 502,998, the difference in favour of Victoria being 227,200. In 1901, after New South Wales had enjoyed 30 years of Free Trade, and Victoria. 30 years of Protection, the population'^ New South Wales was 1,354,846, and of Victoria 1,201,070, the difference in favour of New South -Wales being 153,776. During the 30 years- 1871 to 1901 - the population of the two States increased as follows: - Victoria by 470,872; New South Wales by 851,848.

Senator Russell - Would it not have been strange if New South Wales had not increased her population to that extent?

Senator GARDINER - Here are two States populated with the same class of people, one imbued with the ideals of Protection which is indorsed by honorable senators opposite, and the other living under a system of Free Trade, particularly in the closing years of the period; and as we have seen New South Wales outpaced the Protectionist State.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - -What about the difference in the area of the two States?

Senator GARDINER - Can it be said that Victoria, with a population of 1,000,000 people, is overcrowded?

Senator Bolton - What is the population per square mile?

Senator GARDINER - I know honorable senators opposite can find an answer if they wish to do so, but the plain fact is. that New South Wales under a system of Free Trade increased her population at a much greater rate than Victoria, and the people are the best judges of the conditions under which they live. I had no intention of endeavouring to place Queensland at a disadvantage. My purpose -was to ' deal with every industry affected by the Tariff, commencing with that of primary production. When we reach the Committee stages on the Tariff, I trust that we shall do something to knock out the duties on all motor tractors and implements required by the farming community, and also on motor cars and motor cycles used for the convenience of the people.

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