Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 16 November 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - By way of preamble to what I have to say on this item I wish. to refer to the soothing words of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen), who said that the acceptance by the other Chamber of half of our requests was a prompting to us to approach the subject in the same spirit. Although the. House of Representatives has accepted virtually half of our requests, we have to consider, side by side with that fact, the nature of the requests to which they agreed. Turn to such trifles as " lemon peel" - no doubt that amendment represents a resounding reform in this country. Turn to "Parisian flowers" - I suppose about a barrow load of those would be used in the Commonwealth in a year. That is another one of the Senate's requests to which the House of Representatives has agreed. The list is full of them. Another one of the same class is "waste for engine cleaning."

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss requests that have been agreed to unless they are very relevant to the items before the Committee.

Senator LYNCH - If we consider the nature and character of the requests to which the House of Representatives has agreed, as well as the number of them, it means that they have surrendered the shadow while hanging on to the substance. I do not want any apologies to be made in this Chamber. If this Tariff is going to have stamped upon it the imprimatur of this Parliament, it is about time the Senate made its influence and voice felt inthe country. It is also time that the Government listened with a willing ear, not only to what is spoken in the other House, but also to what is uttered in this Senate. In regard to bananas, I indorse thoroughly what Senator Gardiner has said about the prevalent tendency of people in favorable positions to seek still more and more favours. It is about time to raise a protest on behalf of those who, at least, have not lost their sense of decency, and have not been filled to the eyelids with unseemly selfishness. This item is a typical example of the selfish action of these men. We have it on the authority of Senator Crawford that arable lands in the Queensland jungle are commanding £30 an acre, and that the axe is going into them. He also said that labour in North Queensland was commanding a wage of £9 a week. For dairying and wheat-growing, which employ the overwhelming bulk of land workers, these conditions would be impossible. The wheat-growers would have to go out of business. I re-echo what Senator Gardiner has said with full justification, that it is time we called a halt to the extremely mad, preposterous demands of those who come to Parliament and ask for favours to which they are not justly entitled. A duty of1s. 6d. per 100 lbs. on bananas was considered to be sufficient, and has been proved to be sufficient, to establish the industry in this country. The Government came down and asked for an increase. A suggestion was made by a member of another House, and the duty was bumped up, even against the expectation of the member who asked for it, to 8s. 4d. This Chamber, in the exercise of its constitutional power, which, I hope, it will always jealously hang fast to and assert, said that 8s. 4d. was too much, and cut the figure down to 4s. 2d. Now we are told that we must accept what the other place has put before us.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I never said that. I never said that this Senate "must" take anything. On the contrary, I said that this Committee has a right to insist upon its opinions as far as it likes.

Senator LYNCH - The Minister proposed that this Senate should agree to what the other place has proposed. That means that the other place shouldbe supreme. It is time that we set a period to these extra demands upon Parliament. I do not wish to obtrude the circumstances of my own State, although Western Australia offers no apology for the stand it has taken in this Chamber. It has shown, if any State has shown, a characteristic unselfishness whenever it was a question of establishing a truly fair and scientific Tariff. When it comes to the balance of equity being tilted, and of men temporarily forgetting themselves, then I must look to the interests of my own State. It has been said by previous speakers that . Western Australia can never hope to get bananas from within the continental area. It is physically and commercially impossible, except, of course, at a prohibitive price. I saw samples of bananas in the western State the other day priced at1s. 6d. a dozen. No one would have taken them out of a rubbish tip in the eastern States. The voice of Western Australiamay not be listened to, but we are not going to be submerged without a protest. In the past we have had to rely upon supplies from eastern countries. A duty of1d. per lb. means that the Java trade is cut out by the root. The policy of revenge or aggressiveness can be carried to such an extreme point that it will land us in trouble. The eastern countries are talking of Tariffs against Australian products. The markets for temperate-climate fruits of the western state are being narrowed. Does not the same statement apply to the eastern fruit-growers as well? If we are going to have a Tariff, let us have a reasonable one, and not stark, staring prohibition. We ought not to have a Tariff which says to the natives of the South Sea Islands or elsewhere, " Stand off the grass. You do not exist as far as this item is concerned." That is not a sound policy. We have Mandated Territories, and howare we going to treat them ? Are they going to be taxed and take our products, and put no impediment in our way ? They would be less than' human if they did. As one who is, and hopes to be, inseparably associated with country interests, I say this proposition of the banana-growers of this country is absurd, unreasonable, and unjust. I have much pleasure in supporting Senator Wilson's proposition, believing that it is the minimum that we should get. If I do not succeed, then, like the beggar of old, I shall have to accept the crumbs that fall from the table of Dives, some of whose progeny are well developed in this country. In order to build up ain industry under fair terms and to give the consuming population a fair deal, the Senate should press this request.

Suggest corrections