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Friday, 15 July 1921


The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens (QUEENSLAND) - Order! The honorable senator's time has expired.

Extension of time granted, on motion by Senator Thomas.


Senator GARDINER - We have also, to remember that the cost of Protection is a recurring cost. It is true that a strike this year may involve a loss of millions sterling, but under a . Protective Tariff the fleecing of the workers continues day after day and year after year. That is my reply to the statements of Senator Earle.


Senator Earle - It is a very feeble reply.


Senator GARDINER - So much the better for the honorable senator. He seemed to discuss the Tariff from the stand-point of the miner. Upon any evening that he may be free, I shall be glad to debate with him upon the public platform in Tasmania, before an audience of miners, the question of Free Trade versus Protection.

I have already directed attention to the fact that . the average duty which the manufacturers of Great Britain will be required to pay under our Tariff is 22-½ per cent. Yet the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) had the temerity to emphasize the preference that we are extending to Britain . It is true that we admit cocoa-nuts free, but Great Britain does not produce any. When, however, it comes to the admission of motor cars, woollen goods, and agricultural machinery, we say to the manufacturers of the Old Country, " We cannot be as generous towards you in respect of these goods as we are in the matter of cocoanuts!"


Senator Russell - They get a preference upon most of the items mentioned by the honorable senator over the manufacturers of other countries.


Senator de Largie - Great Britain gets more preference from the Commonwealth than she extends to it.


Senator GARDINER - That statement is as much over the odds as it could possibly be. Britain has opened her market to our people ever since we have' been connected with her.


Senator de Largie - Upon the same terms as she offers it to Germany, the; Argentine, and other countries.


Senator GARDINER - Seeing that she raises no' fiscal barriers, what more could she do? Yet we say to her "We will admit cocoanuts free, but you must pay a duty of 40 per cent, upon agricultural implements. Coccanuts may come in free, but upon mining machinery which we want, and which we cannot manufacture here, you must pay a duty of 30 per cent."


Senator Russell - We were making mining machinery here fifty years ago. Within 70 miles of this building we are making the best mining machinery in the world.


Senator GARDINER - And does an industry which is fifty years old still require to be spoon fed ? Let business be business, but the Minister ought not to pretend that we are granting a preference to Great Britain when in respect of her most important products we are doing no such thing.

I had the pleasure of looking through some of the mighty industries of the Old Country ten years ago.


Senator Crawford - Would' not the honorable senator like to see them duplicated here?


Senator GARDINER - Yes . And I would like to see a population in Australia greater than that of Great Britain. But that result will never be . achieved until 'we recognise that we have a country which is capable of supplying hundreds of millions of people with the products which they require.


Senator Duncan - Does the honorable senator supportFree Trade in immigrants ?


Senator GARDINER - If we will only give our country a chance, we should be able to take from the best races of the world 100,000,000 immigrants. At the same time, I am not going to favour bringing immigrants to Australia while the men who fought for us overseas cannot get work.


Senator Duncan - That is the same statement as the Protectionist makes.


Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator is getting in one of those chippy arguments of which he is so fond. I have publicly proclaimed in the press within the past month that Australia is capable of supporting 100,000,000 of people.


Senator Bakhap - The scientists say that when we have a population of 62,000,000 we shall have reached saturation point in regard to Australian facilities for settlement.


Senator GARDINER - I have never claimed to set my opinion against that of scientists. But I do claim to have seen more acres in Australia than any scientist Senator Bakhap can name, and I think that my judgment of the value of this country from a productive standpoint is just as good as is the honorable senator's.


Senator Bakhap - I . have been right round Australia.


Senator GARDINER - Then the honorable senator ought to know its possibilities. Give me the £50,000,000 which we shall be taking from the pockets of the people under this Tariff, and with it I will undertake to irrigate the western lands of New South Wales and to provideemployment for more people than we at present dream of. I will develop the mining industry, and I will provide cheap water power.


Senator Bakhap - Where would the honorable senator get the capital with which to develop the mining industry ?


Senator GARDINER - I would get it from the same source as it is proposed to get it under the Tariff. I come now to the duties upon timber.

Referring to timber, we have heard Tasmanians claiming that we should put a tax upon the rest of Australia because there are a few little forests of timber in Tasmania. We have some valuable timbers in New. South ' Wales, and I can speak on the subject of timber as a practical builder. I served a master for five years, and carried out exactly the terms of an indenture which, as closely as possible, represented slavery in a free country like this. I undertook to serve the interests of my master day and night, and to obey his lawful orders day and night. Having served for five years under an indenture of that kind, I developed so far that I dared to make up estimates and put in tenders for buildings myself . I have seen my own father, as a wheelwright, -many a time cut his own timber, and often helped him to make waggons and wheels. I can pose, shall I say, as a "scientist" on timber, and I hold that for building purposes there is no timber in Australia equal to American Oregon.


Senator Reid - For certain purposes only.


Senator GARDINER - I shall say for ceilings and roofing purposes. For fitting and joinery we have in Australia some of the most magnificent timbers to be found in any part of the world. Senator Russell has said that Australian timber is good enough for his building. I have never seen the inside of the honorable senator's house, but I say that if the ceiling joists are of hardwood from Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, or Western Australia, and his ceilings are plain lath and plaster ceilings, they will not be up for two years before every, ceil- ing in his house is cracked. If the ceiling joists are of American Oregon there should not be a crack in them.


Senator Reid - We can get Queensland pine that is as good as' Oregon for ceiling joists.


Senator GARDINER - We cannot. I. am dealing with a subject which I knowsomething about. I am now comparing Oregon with Australian hardwoods for use as ceiling joists. If you have a ceiling with an ordinary span of . 16 feet, with laths nailed on to hardwood joists and plaster put up on to the laths, the ceiling will be so heavy in itself that the timber will warp and twist, and the plaster is sure to crack.


Senator Wilson - The honorable senator has some experience in jerry-building.


Senator GARDINER - I have had a* good deal of experience in building. Within the last twelve months I undertook the construction of a building. I made, out estimates, accepted a price, and had the building constructed. I gave the work no more supervision than can be given by the ca'sual eye of a man who knows when work is being properly carried out, and no man working on the job loafed, whilst every one did his utmost. I put that forward in reply. to remarks which have been made by Senator Wilson, who takes advantage of every opportunity in this chamber to refer to the go-slow and' loafing habits of the workers. There are duties imposed on timber under , the Tariff.


Senator Bakhap - Not nearly heavy enough.


Senator GARDINER - Tasmania has: some very beautiful timbers, and if the. supply should run short the . senators representing that State have only to put. their heads together to increase the supply. I Have a short quotation here from a. great man of his time, and, indeed, of all time. I refer to Abraham Lincoln. He said, on 21st March, 1864 -

Property. is the fruit of labour; property isdesirable ; 'it is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich shows that others, may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise.

Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for''himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violencewhen built.

Let not honorable senators who havehouses of iheir own make it impossible for. other people to obtain houses. If there is a real grievance in. the city of Sydney to-day it is the lack of house accommodation. Three times as ' much is being charged for Australian timbers today as I used to pay for them before I entered Parliament.


Senator Crawford - Probably three times the wages are being paid to cut them.


Senator GARDINER - I am sure that that is not so. The lowest wage for which I worked as a tradesman, out of my time, was 10s. per day. I worked for wages in excess of that amount up to 14s. 6d. per day, and I sup-pose that now about the best wages paid to carpenters runs from £1 to 23s. per day.-


Senator Crawford - I was referringto the wages of saw-miller's and timbergetters.


Senator GARDINER - There may have been a slight increase in their wages,, but it has not, ; I think, been material. Notwithstanding years of Protection and' the operation of this scientific instrument, - the prices charged for timber in Australia, to-day are- exorbitant. I do not deny that it is possible, to find pine- in some places which, for certain purposes, might take the place of American pine.But for general: utility there is noAustralian pine equal to Oregon, and it would be a distinct advantage to import. as much as possible of it. It is useless to compare with it Australian timbers, because they may be better adapted to other purposes.


Senator Vardon - Is it not a waste of our good timbers to put them into roofs ?

SenatorGARDINER. - I think that sufficient consideration is not given to our valuable timbers. They should be considered in view of the areas which they occupy, and it will then, I think, be admitted that, on the whole, Australia is a, lightly-timbered country.


Senator Crawford -Has not the price of bricks advanced as much as the price of timber?


Senator GARDINER - Yes, under Protection. In the days of Free Trade, in New South Wales, I could go to the kiln and buy 1,000 bricks for 30s. If I go to the kiln to-day to buy 1,000 bricks of the same quality I shall have to pay about £3 for them.

I propose to submit an amendment and then, after a few . words in conclusion, I shall permit honorable senators to go through the schedule of the Bill in Committee as rapidly as they can without interference from me." I do not intend to sit here . and' worry over every item of the Tariff. He is not much of a Free Trader who will support that principle only in so far as* it affects the interests of voters in his own district.


Senator Crawford - The honorable senator is not a geographical Protectionist.'


Senator GARDINER - Nor a discriminating one either. I move -

That all the words after the word " be " be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words "returned tothe House of Representatives with a request for the insertion of an amendment to reduce, by 2½ per cent., the duty on all good; imported in vessels owned and controlled by the Commonwealth Government."

Protectionists are looking forward to the day when,, to use their own phrase, we shall, in Australia, be " self-contained," and will not require, to import any goods from other countries of the world. When we reach that stage and we desire to send the products or manufactures of Australia to other countries of the . world, ships will have to come empty from those countries to load up with our exports. This will mean double- freights on our exports. I do not believe that Free Trade will bring about the millennium any more than do other honorable senators. I believe that there will be poverty in Free Trade as well as in Protectionist countries, because neither Free Traders nor Protectionists will tackle the problem of giving the worker what he earns. But Free Trade will remove the barriers to trade set up by Protection. We want shipping to come here from other parts of the world.' If we were self-contained and produced everything we required, the people of other countries would have to send empty ships to Australia to take our wheat. My idea is that we should try to get our goods to market as cheaply as possible, and we can only do that by encouraging trade with other countries of the world. I indulge no racial 'animosities, and if men of another race and country produce goods which the people of Australia are willing to buy, I consider that it- is a reasonable policy that we should be prepared to trade with them, irrespective of colour or creed.

These are, perhaps, my last observations in this chamber for the next week or two. I hope that honorable senators will direct their energies to the removal of the duties imposed on machinery required for the mining and agricultural industries. I especially plead with honorable senators that, if they are concerned about the defence of their country, they should be careful to strike out' all duties proposed on motor traction, in order that we may have the greatest assistance to* our defence by admitting freely to this country, and at once, as much motor traction as possible. Holding the views to which I have given expression, I content myself with having spoken on the first and second readings of this measure.


Senator Pearce - I wish to raise a point of order as to whether the amendment moved by Senator Gardiner can be accepted in its present form'. I do so because I find that in section 55 of the Constitution it is provided that -

Laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation, and any provision therein dealing with any other matter shall be of no effect. but laws imposing duties of Customs shall deal with duties of Customs only, and laws imposing duties of Excise shall deal with duties of Excise only.

It is clear that Senator Gardiner's amendment deals with something more than taxation and something more than duties of Customs. It deals with, the carriage of goods in a certain line of steamers.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Only another preference.


Senator Wilson - It is purely a freight question.


Senator Pearce - The interjections do not in any way affect what I have said. The amendment deals with a question that is not one of taxation, nor is it a question of Customs duties. Whether the reference is to a particular line of boats is immaterial, because the fact remains that the amendment deals with something other than taxation, or Customs duties. I know that many Presidents, including yourself, have said that it is not their duty to interpret the Constitution, but I take it that the Constitution is really a part of our Standing Orders, because it is the parent of our Standing Orders. It is the root from which the tree of our Standing Orders grows, and, therefore, we1 are governed by the Constitution as if it were part of our Standing Orders. For instance, no honorable senator can move an amendment to this Bill. That is because it is so provided in" the Constitution. Neither can we move to reduce or increase an item by way of amendment. We must do it by way of request in this particular class of Bill. I submit, therefore, that the President is bound to take notice of this particular prohibition in the Constitution, just as he is bound to take notice of the other prohibition that alterations in this Bill must be made by request and not by direct amendment. This point is of great importance also, because if the course' proposed by Senator' Gardiner is in order - no matter whether his proposal passes or not - the fact that the Senate has allowed the question to be discussed and to be put from the Chair will have established the principle that the Senate can, in a Bill to impose duties of Customs, tack on provisions affecting some other matter whether it is freight, shipping, or ' anything else. Clearly, that cannot be said of the preferential duties. In that case it is' simply a question of the place of origin' of the goods which are the subject of the duty, and that is clearly relevant to the duty itself. But to say that if goods are carried in a ship owned by a certain firm or by the Commonwealth they shall carry a differential rate of duty is, I think, going beyond the scope of the Bill and comes into direct conflict with the prohibition of section 55 of the Constitution. If the Senate were to accept an unconstitutional position or procedure, it would be bound to lose in the long run. If this proposal, could be passed, and the Bill came into law and - was found to be in conflict with the Constitution, it could be declared by the High Court to be ultra vires. Therefore, it would be extremely unwise for the Senate, in its procedure, to adopt anything that is in conflict with the Constitution. As the Senate is the guardian of its own procedure, I submit the point of order in order that we may obtain your view thereon. Itis a matter of such importance that it should not go without being challenged.


The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens - I do not think much time need be taken up in deciding this point of order, because it has been more than once decided already in the Senate. It is my plain duty to follow out the practice of the Senate, and I do so the more readily because it coincides with what, in my view, is the clear interpretation of both the Constitution and the Standing Orders. It is quite true, as the Minister for Defence has said, that section 55 cf the Constitution ' provides that laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation. That provision was put into the Constitution for the protection of the Senate, in order that nothing in the shape of a tack, ais it has been called in .other Legislatures, should be at- . tempted in an effort to coerce the Senate into doing something which it would hot otherwise do. That is the specific purpose for which that provision was included in the Constitution.' I fail to see, then, how the Senate, by deliberately preferring a request, as it is entitled to do, will abrogate any of its own rights in that regard, more particularly as, in my view, it is not tacking anything on to the Bill. It is merely imposing a condition. This Bill is full of conditions attached to the Tariff. Not only can Parliament prescribe those conditions, but it is laid down that the Minister can prescribe them. Honorable senators will find the words ' ' as prescribed by the Minister " in various items. Surely if the Minister has the right to impose conditions in regard to the Tariff the Senate or Parliament has the right to prescribe them. My ruling would, therefore, be that this proposal is not tacking any extraneous matter on to the Tariff. Above and beyond that, there is in the

Constitution itself a provision which binds the Senate. The fourth paragraph of section 53 provides; -

The Senate may, at. any stage, return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting by message the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein.

That is plain and mandatory language. The Senate must have the power to do what is there stated, and I hold that that provision in itself gives the Senate the right to make almost any request that it wishes. We are not seeking, and, indeed, have no power, to tack on to this Bill anything that is extraneous or not relevant to the Bill. The utmost we can do is to request the House of Representatives to do something. In the session of 1906, it is recorded in Notes on the Practice and Procedure of the Senate in Relation to A'p'pro'priation, Tarnation, and Other Money Billa, that a Bill which came before the Senate for imposing duties of Customs on agricultural machinery contained, - in addition, a clause for regulating the prices at which manufacturers of such machinery should sell their goods. The point was taken "That the Bill was not in order, and could not be proceeded with in the Senate, as it dealt with a matter other than the imposition of duties of Customs, and to that extent violated the provision of the Constitution that ' laws imposing duties of Customs shall deal with duties of Customs only That will be found recorded at page 5949 of volume 35 of the Parliamentary debates. After a lengthy debate on the question, the then President - Sir Richard Baker - declined to rule the Bill out of order, basing his decision on the following ruling laid down by himself in the early days of the Senate, which had been accepted ever since by the Senate -

It does not seem to me that I should from the Chair undertake the responsibility of interpreting all the provisions of the Constitution. The Constitution itself has provided for a tribunal, the High Court, which, after argument and consideration such as would be impossible and undesirable in this Senate,- is empowered to finally determine its meaning in most of the cases which will arise. It is my duty to interpret and determine the Standing Orders, and to regulate the procedure 'of the Senate, and, perhaps, to interpret the Constitution so far as the conduct of the business of the Senate is concerned.

That is recorded at page 5967 of volume 35' of the Parliamentary Debates. The then President further stated Chat he did not think he should undertake the responsibility of ruling the Bill out of order, but that if the clause to which exception was taken ought not to be in the Bill, it was for the Senate in Committee to vote it out. In Committee, .as recorded at page 5968 of the same volume, it was moved to amend clause 4, whereupon the Chairman ruled that as the Bill was a taxation measure the method of procedure should be by way of request. From this course the Committee dissented, and the matter, was referred to the President, but as the point at issue in that case was not the same as the one now before the Senate, it is not necessary to quote the record further. It has been ruled by the President over and over again that, except so far as it related to the rights and proceedings of the Senate, the Presiding Officer of the Senate was not the proper person to interpret the Constitution, but that where there is a clear direction in the Constitution as to the powers of the Senate, that direction overrides any standing order or practice of the Parliament. We are bound by the terms of the Constitution, and the Constitution clearly provid.es that it is the right of the Senate to return a Bill of this character to the House of Representatives at any - time with a request. I have, therefore, to rule that Senator Gardiner's amendment is 'in order. '







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