Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 26 May 1926

Senator GRAHAM (Western Australia) . - I am sorry that Senator Guthrie is not present to-day. All honorable senators are well aware of the challenge the honorable senator threw out on Friday with reference to the use of Australianmade matches, and the wearing of Australian-made clothing. I think I dealt pretty exhaustively in my remarks on Friday with the composition of the honorable senator's own suit of clothes, and in his absence I do not wish to proceed further with that aspect of the question. The challenge the honorable senator threw out was accepted by me, as I think it will be accepted by other honorable senators of the Opposition when they speak on this bill.

Senator Findley - Surely the honorable senator does not take seriously what Senator Guthrie says.

Senator GRAHAM - In order to show the inconsistency of Senator Guthrie, I shall quote from his speech on the Customs Tariff Bill in 1921. To-day he claims to be an all-wool Australian and to favour absolute protection for all Australian industries against the outside world regardless of cost, yet in 1921 he said : -

On principle I shall support every proposed reduction of duty on tools of trade and agri-cultural machinery.

I am prepared to go the whole hog with the honorable senator when he says that he is prepared to protect right up to the hilt everything made in -Australia; but

I cannot understand him saying that today wheal in 1921 he said -

I cannot understand the attitude taken up by the Government. It seems to me that they have- made up their minds to be as stubborn as a mule. They are not prepared to accept any advice from their own supporters, but, on the contrary, seem to antagonize them. They have not even the courtesy to reply to the arguments that have been advanced in favour of a reduction of the duty on British imports under this sub-item.

Apparently when it suits the honorable senator to import things from the Old Country he is prepared to be a freetrader.

Senator Elliott - That statement cannot be justified by the extract the honorable member has just read.

Senator GRAHAM - I shall go a little further. The honorable senator also said -

The Minister in charge of the bill stands stubbornly to the duties proposed by the Government, because he knows that he has here some supporters who will vote as the Government please at any hour of the day or night.

Apparently the honorable senator was then prepared to throw his Government overboard when it suited him to do so. His attitude in 1921 does not coincide with his attitude on Friday last. Reading between the lines, I can only say that he is neither a protectionist nor a freetrader.

Senator Findley - He is a freetraderevenuetariffprotectionist.

Senator GRAHAM - As we know that Senator Guthrie is one of the heads of the woollen industry in Australia, we can only remark that he is taking up a peculiar stand.

Senator Findley - Not at all. He was a freetrader before he became interested in the woollen industry.

Senator GRAHAM - Apparently he is prepared to shift his ground at will. He also said, in 1921 -

If they think they can pull the strings, and induce a majority of honorable senators to vote as they please, without debate, and without offering any defence of a tariff which is absolutely ridiculous, they are making a mistake. . . . They talk of being Britishers, 3'et when they have a chance of giving a little preference to British imports, they are practically anti-British.

He was alluding to honorable senators of his own party. The same thoughts are in his mind to-day, but he is swallowing holus bolus the tariff pro- posals of the present Government. I said at the outset of my remarks on Friday that I was prepared to accept the tariff proposals of the present Government, but that is because I am a protectionist. There are some honorable senators of the Labour party who are not protectionists - members of the Labour party have a free hand on fiscal matters - but I have always held that Australian industries should be protected. My investigations of various industries have led me to realize that they have attained a . position which is not equalled in any other part of the world. The honorable senator went on to say -

The Government want to penalize our own kith and kin. They want to penalize the manufacturers of the Motherland by imposing a tariff which is almost prohibitive.

Such statements do not coincide with the remarks uttered by the honorable senator on Friday last. Senator Guthrie also stated that -

The Government appointed a commission, which recommended the payment of the basic wage of £5 16s. a week, and the cost of living, owing to this policy of protection run mad, will soon become so high that we shall have to pay that basic wage.

That is the opinion of an honorable senator who has said that he is always anxious to see the conditions of the workers improved, but on that occasion he was afraid that the recommendation of the commission would be adopted, and that wages would be increased. Senator Guthrie challenged honorable senators on this side of the chamber to produce the matches in their possession so that he could see if they were of Australian manufacture. He did not ask honorable senators opposite to produce their matches, but in their desire to foster Australian industries, I feel sure that they, like honorable senators on this side, would use only those manufactured in Australia. I proved conclusively on Friday that a good deal of the material in the suit of clothes which Senator Guthrie said was of Australian manufacture was made in other parts of the world. Senator Guthrie's argument reminds me of a story concerning the manager of a rabbit canning factory, who when there was shortage in the supply of rabbits, substituted horse-flesh. Later, when complaints were made by consumers concerning the coarse nature of the tinned product, the manager was approached by one of the directors concerning the complaint. The manager explained that, as there had been a shortage of rabbits, he had used some horseflesh. He said, " I have used it on a fifty-fifty basis - one horse, one rabbit." An examination of Senator Guthrie's Australian suit would show that 50 per cent, of the material was manufactured in Australia, and the balance in other parts of the world.

SenatorCrawford. - It was as Australian as any suit could be.

Senator GRAHAM - The honorable senator told us that it was absolutely Australian. This is not the first occasion on which I have discovered inconsistencies in the honorable senator's utterances. Under a protective policy many of our industries have been firmly established, and the working conditions and wages of the employees are much better than they would be under a freetrade policy. " Certain commodities which have to be imported, because they cannot be manufactured here, should be admitted almost duty free. There are other manufacturing establishments in Australia which I have visited, to which I have not referred, but as I do not wish to unnecessarily delay the Senate I shall refrain from making any further comment at this stage.

Suggest corrections