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Tuesday, 23 August 1921


Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I propose .to put before the Committee figures relating to the wages and labour conditions obtaining in the countries from which o.ur imports of machinery of this class come. I would point out in the first place that we are not dealing with an infant industry. The "infant industry" .cock will not fight this time. Nor are we up against the black-labour product of other countries, so that that argument also goes by the board. The industry, so far as I am aware, has not to compete with cheap European labour. It is up against the competition of two sturdy Commonwealths of the Northern Hemisphere - Canada and the United States. Imports from the Mother Country for the moment do not come into consideration. We have heard something as to the world-wide organization known as the International Harvester Company. I have here some' information regarding that mammoth concern, which, like the

Colonial Sugar Refining Company, may be an admirably-managed organization. It is bringing agricultural machinery within the reach of the American farmerat anything within the neighbourhood of from 30 per cent, to 40 per cent, less than the Australian manufacturing industry is prepared to sell its products to the Australian farmer. This is being done by a concern that we are asked to regard as being almost akin to one of the Beasts of Revelations.


Senator Vardon - To what is the honorable senator referring ? The Tariff ?


Senator LYNCH - I do not believe that Senator Vardon has come here to be convinced. There are none so blind as those who will not see. I have here some information regarding the operations of the International Harvester Company, which I have taken from the Farm Implement News, a well known Chicago publication of which, perhaps, Senator Vardon has not heard. It is an interesting story. I only wish we had a story of the same kind regarding the agricultural implement makers of Australia. I should be glad if they would give us information concerning their doings, even if they did not ask for any duty. In its issue of 21st April last, the Farm Implement News, of Chicago, writes -

The annual report of the International Harvester Company, made public 14th April, shows that while the company's volume of business in 1920 was the largest in its history, the net profit was smaller than in 1919.

The total of sales of all classes was, approximately, §225,000,000. The total in 1919 was 5212,000,000, and in 1918, 3204,000,000. The net profit in 1920 was 316,655,000, which compares with a profit of $20,011,000. in 1919, before deducting the balance of war losses charged off that year.

The percentage of net profit to the capital invested was 7.9 per cent, in 1920, and 9.6 per cent, in 1919 before charging off war losses.

This is not a statement by the company itself ; it is a statement published in the Farm Implement News, which sums up the financial position of every company of the kind operating in the United States of America. I have already quoted figures showing that the Newcastle company for the year 1920 averaged 15 per cent, upon its subscribed capital, yet we have given it increased protection.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the honorable senator sure that the International Harvester Company is not interlocked with some other financial institutions in the good old American way?


Senator LYNCH - I do not propose to give a hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question. We have heard a lot as to the reduced wages paid in the competing countries. I invite honorable senators to draw their own deductions, as I have done, from the following statement in the article from which I have just been quoting regarding the International Harvester Company: -

The average number of employees on the pay rolls in 1920 was 48,280, and the total compensation $89,930,000 compared with 40,480 employees and $63,040,000 compensation in

1919.

Honorable senators may work out their own calculations. I may be wrong, but I gather from these figures that the average wage of all employees of the International Harvester Company in 1919 was £306 per annum, while the average wage in 1920 was £361, a clear increase of £55 per employee in 1920 as compared with the average for 1919. And yet we are told that wagesare tumbling in every country except Australia. I come now to the position in Canada, information as to which can be obtained in the Parliamentary Library. According to the Commonwealth Year-book, No. XII., for the year 1918, the salaried employees in the industry in Australia numbered 346, and the average salary paid to them was £170 2s. In Canada, in the same year, according to the Census of Manufacturers, there were in the Dominion of Canada 1,129 salaried employees in the industry, and the average salary was £292 10s. The average salary in the Canadian industry was thus very much greater than that paid in the industry here. Then, again, in Australia the wages for 2,846 operatives averaged £12918s., whereas in Canada the factory operatives numbered 8,966, and their average wage was £192 12s. It will thus be seen that in respect of both salaries and wages the Canadian average per employee is much higher than the Australian.


Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did not the article quoted by the honorable senator in regard to the employees in the International Harvester Company use the word " compensation " not " wages " ?


Senator LYNCH - That, I presume, is an Americanism for wages.


Senator Duncan - According to the honorable senator's figures, the agricul tural machinery makers of the United States of America and Canada should be shrieking for protection against imports from this country.


Senator LYNCH - So it would seem. I leave these figures in the possession of the Committee. Are we to increase these duties against competitors whose rates of wages and labour conditions are at least as good as, if not better than, those prevailing here ? It is not a fair thing to impose a duty of 35 per cent. plus the natural protection. For the men engaged in the industry here, from Mr. McKay downwards, I have nothing but the highest praise. I want to see them prosper, and hold their own; but I hope that the Minister (Senator Pearce), in reply, will give us Mr. H. V. McKay's balancesheet. Let the local manufacturers lay all their cards on the table, just as I have laid on the table the cards of these, overseas concerns, so that honorable senators may be guided to a safe and creditable conclusion. Let us hold the scale with equal poise. I ask the Minister to give us further information to warrant the proposed duty of 35 per cent., which, with the natural protection, means anything in the region of from 60 to 70 per cent. protection for the local manufacturers.







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