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Thursday, 27 May 1926

Senator HOARE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That may be so; but in 1921 it was £46 a ton. I venture to say that if no move had been made to manufacture it in Australia the price would not be anything like as low as it is. Senator Payne argued that, as Great Britain has been our best customer for our wool clip, we should allow her to send her manufactures here duty free. Surely Senator Payne does not suggest that the commercial interests of Great Britain purchase our wool merely to benefit Australian wool-growers. They do so because it is the best obtainable, and they know that it is a product on which they can obtain a good profit. If satisfactory supplies of wool of a similar quality were obtainable in other countries at a cheaper rate, Australiawould not receive the business. The climatic conditions in Australia, and the care with which sheep are bred, are responsible for the excellent quality of Australian wool.

Senator Ogden - Great Britain lost £25,000,000 over the purchase of zinc.

Senator HOARE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - A careful investigation into the whole of the facts surrounding the transaction would, I think, show that the amount is not so great. Senator Payne, who suggested that greater consideration should be shown to British manufacturers, forgot to mention the fact that when those engaged in the woollen manufacturing industry in Australia desired to purchase machinery for manufacturing textiles they appealed to British manufacturers with most unsatisfactory results. Later, they asked the Federal Government to take the matter up on their behalf, and it was ascertained that the British manufacturers had exported to other countries nearly £500,000 worth of the type of machinery they required. Did the British manufacturers say that because the Australian manufacturers were operating in the do minions they would give them preference over others? They did not do anything of the kind. Of the £500,000 worth of textile machinery exported from Great Britain Australia received only £78,000 worth, and Japan the balance. The British manufacturers showed preference bo Japan instead of Australia, which is a portion of the Empire. Senator Payne boasted about what we should do for Great Britain, but Great Britain should show how she is prepared to assist Australia.

Senator Drake-Brockman - The honorable senator is referring to the action of certain British merchants, and not to any action on the part of the British Government.

Senator HOARE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes. We are obliging British merchants by sending our wool to Great Britain.

Senator Drake-Brockman - We are obliging ourselves by selling in the best market.

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - What country takes the greatest portion of our surplus produce?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - Order! I ask the honorable senator not to reply to the question, as a discussion on that subject would be irrelevant. The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the bill now under consideration.

Senator HOARE - Reference has been made to the high price of goods manufactured in Australia, which, in many cases, is due to the costs incurred in their distribution. Tweed manufactured in the Commonwealth Woollen Mills, and distributed by the Returned Sailors and Soldiers' Imperial League, could be purchased at 30s. a suit length, which, when taken to a tailor could be made into a suit at a cost of from £4 10s. to £5. The total cost of such a suit would not be more than £6 to £6 10s. Similar material purchased from the private mills, and which passed through the wholesale houses, when made into a suit would cost from £11 to £12, which shows that the costs of distribution are largely responsible for high prices. In Australia there are importers who, when speaking of Australian materials, are decidedly untruthful, dishonest and unfair. I can quote, for instance, the experience of an inspector who visited two or three warehouses in New South Wales. When the inspector visited the firm of Robert Reid and Company he asked if they had any Australian tweeds, twills or serges in their stock, and he received a most emphatic reply in the negative. As the inspector was doubtful, he examined the stocks and found that tweed which was being sold as British tweed was manufactured in Australian mills. He went to another firm in Sydney, the name of whichI cannot at the moment recall, where the representative scorned the idea of having Australian-made material on the premises. He said,' "No, we keep only the best imported article, so that we can meet the demand."

Senator Duncan - Was he a Government inspector?

Senator HOARE - Yes; appointed by the New South Wales Government.

Senator Duncan - Was his report published ?

Senator HOARE - Yes, information was available in South Australia.

Senator Reid - What authority had the inspector to visit the warehouses?

Senator HOARE - He was appointed by the New South Wales Government to ascertain if Australian importers were handling Australian tweeds. At the three warehouses he visited he discovered that Australian-made material was being passed on to the public as the best imported article.

Senator Thompson - Where did the inspector obtain his authority to make these investigations?

Senator Duncan - I wish the honorable senator would supply me with further particulars.

Senator HOARE - I shall do so. Persons living in Ballarat, other than employees of the mills, could not obtain even 1 oz. of material produced in the Ballarat mills before it had been forwarded 75 miles to Melbourne, passed through the warehouses, and returned to Ballarat, which, of course, increased the cost enormously. The Returned Soldiers and Sailors' League were satisfied with a profit of1s. 6d. a yard.

Senator Reid - Did it pay them to sell at that profit?

Senator HOARE - Yes, it found that a profit of1s. a yard was insufficient, and the price was later increased so that a profit of1s. 6d. could be obtained. The representatives of the league said that that price paid well.

Senator Thompson - Wages are the major factor in distribution, and the worker gets it all the time.

Senator HOARE - I do not think so. If the league could sell at the profit I have mentioned, why could not other distributing agents do so?

Senator Drake-Brockman - They had underpaid labour and free warehouses. No delivery costs were incurred.

Senator HOARE - Senator McLach- lan referred to over-production, but in the matter of woollen goods we are manufacturing only about 25 per cent. of our requirements. Considerable expansion can occur in the woollen manufacturing industry before there is any possibility of over-production. We should manufacture the whole of our woollen requirements, even if we cannot produce them at a sufficiently cheap rate to enable us to enter the export trade. Possibly even that could be done. There is a possible danger of over-production in cotton tweeds, but there is no harm in manufacturing all that the Australian people require. Senator H. Hays said that Australian cotton tweeds cost 50 per cent. more than imported tweeds, but I was informed by a representative of Bond's in Sydney, that the price of Australian cotton tweeds, which I saw them making, varied very little from that of the imported article. Bond's are also manufacturing towelling, the price of which they have reduced, which has also been responsible for a reduction in the price of imported towelling. Increased duties, therefore, do not always mean increased prices. If the Australian manufacturer reduces his price the importer must do likewise. The employees of Bond and Co. enjoy ideal working conditions. They are. happy. On every floor in the factory I visited I questioned several of the girls engaged at their tasks, asking them quietly, so that the manager would not hear me, whether they were satisfied with the conditions under which they were working. Without any hesitation they all said that they were being well treated.

Senator Thompson - Does the honorable senator know whether Bond and Co. are using Australian cotton?

Senator HOARE - They are using about 80 per cent, of Australian-grown cotton. The honorable senator, who has several times in the Senate spoken of what the growing of cotton means to Australia, has now an opportunity to foster the cotton-growing industry by helping a firm like Bond and Co., which is using so large a proportion of Australian cotton in the goods it produces.

Senator Thompson - We shall have to put a duty on cotton yarn.

Senator Duncan - Bond and Co. do not want that.

Senator HOARE - They are asking for a bounty, which is the same thing.

Senator Duncan - No, it is not.

Senator HOARE - There is not a great deal of difference. The bounty for which they are asking, they tell me, will tide them over their present difficulty; but as they go ahead they will ask for a duty.

Senator Duncan - Yes, later on.

Senator HOARE - If they used the whole of the cotton output of Australia, it would represent only 50 per cent, of their requirements, so that if a duty was placed on cotton yarn, the cost of the other 50 per cent, of their requirements would be materially increased.

Senator Thompson - lt is inconsistent to ask for a bounty, and allow cotton yarn to come in at a low rate of duty.

Senator HOARE - It is inconsistent; but perhaps, with the honorable senator's assistance, we shall later on place a duty on cotton yarn, and thus enable the cotton-growers of Australia to increase their output. I paid a visit to a mill in Melbourne, where a commencement has been made with the manufacture of cotton tweed. There is a lot of machinery lying idle in that factory ; but I was told that, if the duty were increased, as they anticipated it would be, that machinery would be set in motion. This firm has told me, in all sincerity, I believe, that it is now waiting to start the machinery already installed, and that, as it makes progress, it will give the people of Australia a cheaper article. If Bond and Co. and other firms extend their operations in the manner indicated, we shall soon have far more people employed in Australia than we have now, and, perhaps, we may bring here from Great Britain people who have worked in the cotton industry all their lives, and provide immediate employment for them.

One very pleasing feature of the operations of Bond and Co., and other firms, is the fixation of prices. The man who buys two pairs of socks can get them from Bond and Co. at the same price as is paid by the man who may give an order for a thousand pairs.

Senator Reid - There is no chance of that being done. They cannot run their business on those lines, selling a pair of socks at the same price as is charged when an order is given for a thousand pairs.

Senator HOARE - I was assured that a buyer could get one pair of socks at 4s. 6d., which was their fixed price.

Senator Reid - The man who is buying a thousand pairs makes a bargain with the firm, and secures a cheaper rate.

Senator HOARE - He does not get them any cheaper than the man who buys half a dozen pairs. I know that the big establishments in various parts of Australia can generally buy huge quantities of goods from the manufacturers, and sell them at a price lower than a man buying smaller quantities is able to charge, but that cannot be done in the case of the output of Bond and Co. When I was in Adelaide recently I was asked why I did not seek to reduce the duty on the lines made by Bond and Co. and the Pelaco firm. I asked why I should do so, and was told that these firms fixed prices, and that although retailers could afford to sell them at lower prices, the manufacturers would not allow them to do so. When I was visiting Bond and Co.'s factory 1 asked the reason for this fixation of prices, and the manager told me that it was done so that the small buyer could be treated just as fairly as the big buyer. I think that is the right principle to adopt. Senator Barwell spoke as if the primary producers were to be regarded as absolutely apart from those engaged in secondary industries, and he claimed that a rural industry should receive special treatment. I should like to know how the honorable senator can draw a line of demarcation between secondary and primary industries. To my mind, the two are absolutely interwoven. They are part and parcel of each other. The plough used by the farmer is the output of a secondary industry, and the railway that conveys it from the manufacturer to the farmer is a secondary industry in so far as it is acting as a conveyor for a secondary industry. But immediately the plough reaches the farmer and touches the soil it becomes part and parcel of a primary industry, and when the railway conveys the farmer's produce to the market, it becomes part and parcel of a primary industry, inasmuch as it is conveying the output of a primary industry to a market. As a matter of fact, the wharf labourers who receive wheat or wool from the railways and place them on board a vessel are part and parcel of a primary industry. Therefore, secondary and primary industries are so interwoven that I cannot see how any honorable senator can readily draw a line of demarcation between them. They are linked up, and it is our duty to do justice to both of them, and thus make Australia more progressive than it is to-day. Senator Barwell probably meant well when he predicted that in the near future the person who is asking for freetrade will get the confidence of the people of Australia, and that the man who is still standing out for protection will lose their confidence, and, likewise, his seat in this Parliament. But I do not think that the honorable senator's forecast is likely to be fulfilled. I do not think there is likely to be any departure from the protective policy which has been adopted in this country, and which has really become a part of the lives of the Australian people. Can any one demonstrate clearly to me that we should bo better off as a nation under a freetrade policy? If we are to judge the greatness of a nation by the prosperity of the many and not by the richness or banking accounts of the few, we have in Great Britain an example of the folly of adopting freetrade. Great Britain ha? a freetrade policy, but it raises Customs taxation for revenue purposes. A revenue of over £11,500,000 was derived from tea in 1924. That amount was not paid by the rich people of the Old Country. It was the toiling masses who contributed the greater part of it. Purchasing better brands of tea, the rich people consumed smaller quantities of it. The toiling masses bought the rubbish, and consequently had to buy greater quantities in order to get the same result as was obtained by the richer people, who could afford to pay a high price for a better quality of tea. Are the working people of Great Britain any better off than the working people of the United States of America? They may be better off than the workers of Germany, but I do not think they are any better off than the workers of protected America, and I am sure that the people of Australia are the best fed and the best clothed people in the world. We have here, under a system of protection, attained a high standard of living, and, I claim, we should use every endeavour to maintain it. I can look back to the time when we had many thousands of unemployed throughout the Commonwealth, but, with the adoption of protection, factories began to spring up here and there, and unemployment became less acute. Protection has thus done much for the people of Australia. Last night Senator Ogden said that under a system of protection we work in a vicious circle, and that with every increase in the cost of production there comes an increase of wages, and so on. If the workmen are not better off so far as their wages are concerned, they are most assuredly better off in every other respect, and particularly in regard to employment. As a matter of fact the working people of Australia generally are now more prosperous than they were prior to the adoption of a protective policy. I am hoping that Australia will continue to grow under a system of protection, but I want that protection to be fair all round.. Duties should not be placed on articles that cannot be produced in Australia, and if such duties are imposed the object must be solely to raise revenue. That is a policy which, I think, should not be tolerated. On the other hand we should endeavour to manufacture in Australia all articles that can be produced here. We should endeavour to build up our industries. If those nations I quoted when I first began to speak became mighty under a system of protection, surely we can do the same in Australia. I think our people are just as efficient and equipped with the same amount of knowledge and intelligence as people in any other part of the world, and if given the opportunity will hold their own with the people of any other nation. I am hopeful, therefore, that the increased duties proposed will help them in every way and enable Australia to become the great nation it deserves to be.

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