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Tuesday, 19 July 1921

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - So far as I can make out, black labour in those islands has not yet been brought into competition with Australian industries to any appreciable extent. The imports to Australia from Papua, New Guinea, and other Pacific Territories, so far as my information goes, are not produced in Australia, or are produced here only to a very small degree, and the amount of hardship that would be imposed on Australian workmen by coming into competition with black labour from the islands is practically negligible. It is, of course, quite possible that when the islands develop in the future, as we hope they will, they may come into competition with Australia. If so, the position may then have to be reconsidered, butat the present time I can see no reason, although the Minister may be able to furnish some, why the Protection that we are establishing for Australia by this Tariff should not be extended also to the Pacific Islands.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Bananas, for instance?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Bananas come from Fiji and Queensland.'

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And, other tropical islands.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Bana'nas are not imported to Australia from any ' other island 'except Fiji. Fiji belongsi to- the British 'Empire; and1 not to< Australia in the same' way as- the other island's to which I have referred. I have indicated to the Minister my ideas on' the subject, and have asked him, after- warming him in advance that I: would ask him, for full information concerning the intentions of the Government with regard to these islands.

As i -to the general principles' which should govern the framing of Tariffs, let me say first that I propose- to support the second reading of the Bill, but do not propose to follow the request made to- all 8enators''by the Minister to follow blindly the leadershipi of the! Government' in this matter.

Senator Russell -I did not aski that I asked honorable- senators to remember the pledges that they. gave behind. the Gor verriment. That is a very different thing from what the honorable senator, says..

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - If the Minister had allowed me to continue he would; have- found-, that I was, not going to be- unfair to him-. He reminded us that, at the- last election we> were all r&turned pledged to support -Protection, but I do not remember giving a pledge- ito support: any' particular Tariff; BUI, or any particular duty:-

Senator Russell - I "recognised the right of an individual . senator on parti- . cular items, but I' said- that the Senate should' hot reduce the' average below a fair and: reasonable Protection for, Australia.

Senator DRAKEBROCKMAN.Precisely,and if the Minister had | only al-i lowed me to continue I wpuld;have; quoted from . his speech, almost the- exact words that . he has now used.. I propose -to exercise my discretion as: to. what; is a fair average: Protection for the industries of Australia. I do' not- intend' to follow bEndly what the Government, or the Min*ister in charge of the Bill, or- anybody else, thinks is a fair average Protection. The only pledges which I have given- arethose I gave to the people of Western Australia.. I have given no pledge to any

Government, and do. . not- p-cqposfe to> be bound, -by. the- ppinipSs. expressed the Government in this measure.

In- my -view; Protection has a threefold' object-^fjrst, th e " establishment of industries,* second, ' th'e protection of industries already established,, and, third and least important, the raising of revenue.. If we are to have a Tariff w.hich will assist u3 to establish industries! that are essential to. Australia and that, do, not already exist , in: Australia, then, I say, "make your Tariff as- high as. you like." ' Butt where: we- already, have industries . existing in, Australia which can carry, on in competition with-, the -rest of the world,- 1 see no -reason for giving 'them greater - protection- where they, are already flourishing '.under the -. protection, which they Yet I find;: on examining the Tariff schedule now beforei us, that in many instances, where" we hav;e; flourishing industries1 in Australia, by means of which great profits and great -fortunes' are being' made, the Ministry, in spite ' of those facts, ask us to increase the 'duties on their productions. -

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - And the people are being -already, exploited.

SenatorDRAKE-BROCKMAN.- That is so. In those cases I do 'not propose to give my 'support to the proposals brought down by the Government. It seems to me that the very first duty . of a Government in Australia is to fill' up the empty spaces of! the continent. . 1 think a Tariff used, for that purpose,, and a, . Tariff, can be used to, prevent" that- purpose. The so? called scientific Tariff, which- we are now considering does, in effect, in a great meaT sure. prevent. the. peopling; and developing of our, great empty spaces., Senator. Var* do% speaking, I am sure, without^ having quite fully considered this aspect pf the question, said that the only steel rails that 'he - would' allow' to be used-' in Australia, if . he, bad his' way,; would be-' steel rails, from . Australian, furnaces. Steel rails made in - A-ustran lia tor-day may be the best in the.- world; I am npt saying that they are not, but. . I . do say that they are- to-day about, eight, -times as expensive - as steel rails bought- by Victoria for the building pf Victorian railways a number- of. years- ago,and they- ' . are-, more- expensive than, steel rails-, procurable elsewhere. The greatest necessity in this country, particularly in Western Australia, is the construction of . railways, so that we may have agricultural and pastoral development, and anything which we do in this Tariff which makes 'the construction of those railways more expensive is detrimental, to Australia.I had placed before me recently by a very able gentleman a number of facts and figures concerning the steel industry of New SouthWales. I warned him before he started that if he wanted my assistance to get even further protection than is provided in this schedule, and that is what he was after, he would have to put up a very strong case to convince me. He said he could do -so.' As he proceeded I began to think he was putting -up a very strong case, until -finally I asked him, " What about your profits 1" Even then, on the balance-sheets, it looked as though the profits were not too great, but when I began to analyze them, instead of being a modest 4 or 5 per cent, as was shown last year, and 9 or 10 per cent. >a few years ago, they averaged out at something like from 18 to 20 per cent. That is the result of my analysis of the very 'strong case put before me for my consideration, and yet this. is an industry which -demands even greater protection than has been given to it in the past, . and greater protection than is actually given to dt in this -schedule. If we give the industry . more protection than it has . now, we shall be . doing great damage to Australia, i looking at the position from a -broad and national point, of view.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the < honorable senator >, speaking of the iron 'and steel duties?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Yes. Until we. get . Australia 'developed, . we want. to . procure our . rails from wherever we can get them . cheapest.

Senator Duncan - And Ithe honorable senator is prepared tto kill . the local industry to . ?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - I am prepared, to place the development and peopling of Australia first, because, until we people Australia, we- . can never guarantee. that we can. hold it.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Can that be . done with . cheap iron rails,?

SenatorDRAKE-BROCKMAN.- rThat is one of- the items.; -but -I could -mention -others. Everything we do to ^penalize Ithe man on the land, -and make it more expensive to produce, . particularly pri mary products, makes it more difficult for others to take up rural pursuits, and thus increase development.

Proposals have been, placed before us for imposing high duties- on agricultural implements. I admit . that it is desirable that agricultural implements, should be manufactured in Australia, but when we consider that the men controlling the industry have made,, and are still making huge' fortunes 'out of the poor unfortunate " cocky " in the back blocks, we. have to consider whether. we are not acting detrimentally to Australia in giving further protection to such industries. We. are damning the man on the land, and interfering with our prospects of holding Australia so long as we continue on these lines.

Senator Earle - The "cocky" in New "Zealand has to pay £26 more for his -reaper and binder than the " cocky " in* Australia.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - At the moment I do not intend to quote the figures I have at my disposal, although I am prepared to admit that agricultural machinery in New Zealand under -a policy of Free . Trade is dearer, generally speaking, than it is in Australia, at least that is what one would surmise from a perusal of the figures supplied toy the Massey-Harris Company. There is no occasion to give established industries -in Australia any further protection, particularly when they are flourishing.

Senator Earle - But it is necessary to allow them . to continue.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Of course it is, arid if the honorable senator can show me that the imposition of the proposed duties is necessary to -enable them to continue 'in business, he -will have assisted in breaking down my opposition. Butsb long- as an industry is able to hold its own, and, perhaps; a -little more, against outside competition, we have done ail ' that is necessary. In connexion -with agricultural implements we- are going further than is necessary.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) -We are spoonfeeding the millionaire and starving the " cocky.''

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Exactly. I have viewed the matter from its various aspects* arid consider that1 our first . 'responsibility is 'to people the country.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Cannot -that be done -by finding' employment for them?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Yes, on the land.

Senator Guthriedirected attention to the absurd duties proposed to be placed on motor chassis, and in this country of huge distances, where we are not allowed to import cheap rails, for Heaven's sake let us have cheap motor transport. By all means give whatever protection is necessary to the body-building industry, particularly in connexion with the bodies which are used for luxurious cars employed in and around the city; but the man on the land, who has to cover great distances, should have motor transport made available at the cheapest possible rates.

I have indicated on fairly broad lines my attitude towards certain items in the schedule. Unfortunately, I belong to that class for which I fear Senator Bakhap has great contempt. Unlike the honorable senator I am not a "whole hogger"; nor am I like Senator Gardiner, who is a " whole hogger " in another direction. I trust the honorable senators to whom I have referred will not regard the term as in any sense offensive, because it is not intended as such.

Senator Duncan - Did not the honorable senator ask me if I was a Free Trader or a Protectionist?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - Yes, and I am not yet satisfied.

Senator Russell - If chassis are assembled in Australia a duty of only 5 per cent, is imposed.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - That is capable of very careful analysis. It sounds very simple on the prompting of the expert sitting behind the Minister, but there are other experts who could show that it is more than 5 per cent., as it appears on paper. I have great admiration for those honorable senators who have so fearlessly expressed their opinions on this subject. Senator Bakhap even went so far as to say that he would favour what really amounts to absolute prohibition.

Senator Earle - If it were necessary to protect an industry. He qualified his statement.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - If Senator Bakhap qualified it in any way he is quite capable of explaining on his own behalf. Senator Bakhap was even prepared to encourage - I think he said he preferred - immigrants settling in the cities rather than going on the land, and much as I admire the honorable senator for his fearless attitude and ' the sentiments he expressed, I cannot agree with his methods of attaining the ends which

Ave all desire to see attained. I have indicated the lines upon which. I propose to vote iii connexion with some of the items in the schedule, and I have made it fairly clear to the Minister where I stand in regard to the proposals of the Government.

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