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Friday, 28 May 1926


Senator BARNES (VICTORIA) - No. Because the conditions are not sufficiently attractive. The establishment of new industries, and the development of those already in existence, is a means of providing work.


Senator Lynch - We cannot get men to undertake road work.


Senator BARNES - If the conditions of labour are satisfactory no difficulty is experienced in getting men to undertake road work. An attempt is being made to induce what are termed " Little Brothers " to come to settle on the land in Australia, but, so far as I can gather, the "Big Brothers," who are supposed to be their .guardians, send them to "cockeys" in the country, who, in some cases, pay them about 2s. a week. In visiting the different States as a member of the Public Works Committee, I have had the opportunity of inspecting the manufacturing establishments in operation in different parts of the Commonwealth, and in doing so I have gathered sufficient information to show that industry will be extensively developed if the additional protection which is now sought is granted. The manufacturers generally wish the tariff to be passed in its present form, and if it is, it will give a wonderful impetus to trade throughout the Commonwealth. Although I have been a whisky drinker for many years, I did not know until recently the conditions under which the Australian spirit is produced. When visiting the distilleries I inspected the up-to-date plant, and also obtained a good deal of information concerning the strict supervision exercised by the Customs authorities over its manufacture. As approximately 50,000 bushels of barley are used annually in the manufacture of Australian whisky, the "industry should be of considerable assistance to those engaged in barley production. I am willing to support any legislation which will be the means of providing employment for our people, and if this schedule receives the general support of this Parliament there should not be any need to have immigration agents in Great Britain, or to have such organizations as the " Big Brother " movement.


Senator Thompson - Our fathers came out without any guarantees at all.


Senator BARNES - I know they did. They performed very valuable pioneer-ing work, which I hope will be followed up by their descendants. There are many in Great Britain who would be prepared almost to swim to Australia if they were offered a permanent job at £5 a week. Advertisements are displayed on railway stations throughout the States, asking the unemployed to apply to the Government employment bureau, but applicants usually find that the wages offered do not exceed 20s. a week. A high protective tariff encourages the establishment of industries which provide employment, and generally make a country prosperous. The Germans, for instance, were so enlightened and progressive that they were able to withstand the onslaught of the other nations for four years.


Senator Lynch - They did not work only 44 hours a week.


Senator BARNES - Conditions have changed. As Senator Lynch is aware, years ago men were compelled to work 12 hours a day, and were often assisted by their wives. Later there came the agitation which altered all that. Senator Lynch has known what it is to work twelve hours a day, and so have I. But we have progressed since then, and in my judgment the country that stands for twelve hours a day is not worthy of consideration. The intelligence of the people will not tolerate such conditions to-day. Senator Lynch can remember when, working on a railway job, he was told by the ganger to fill his shovel up to the maker's name. That day has gone. I am a responsible officer of an important trade union organization, and I have never heard any member of my union, or any other union for that matter, submit a motion that the workers should take all they earn. Possibly that time will come. I have always found the men to be reasonable, and prepared to do the work of this country provided they were given decent hours of labour and decent conditions. I suppose I am as observant as the average man. I do not go about Australia with my eyes shut. When I was in Canberra not long ago I saw bricklayers working on the parliamentary buildings. They did not know me, and, as far as I know, they did not care who I was. They simply went ahead with their work like machines.


Senator Ogden - Laying 316 bricks a day.


Senator BARNES - 1 think the honorable senator is wrong. They were doing a great work, and as much as human beings should be expected to do. Men now expect to work under modern conditions. We do not want to hear a man standing on a bank telling men, in indescribable language, to put their backs into it, and to fill their shovels up to the maker's name. We want Australia to be a decent place for white men and women. I stand for that ideal; and in connexion with the tariff I shall vote for protection to the limit, whether the item be whisky or any other commodity. I am not ashamed to let people know that I take a glass of whisky, and I am not sure that the country would be any better off if it were filled with " wowsers.". I intend to go the limit for the protection of existing industries and the establishment of new enterprises to enable Australia to become a great nation built up, preferably, from British stock. This tariff is the only means by which we can achieve that object. I have no fault to find with the Empire. It is all right. But I am no Empire screamer. I am only a White Australian^ and, knowing something of history, it is my desire that this country shall be a good place for those who follow us. In my own way I have done something to make Australia a white man's country fit for my sons and daughters, and sons and daughters of other people, to live in, under reasonable conditions of labour.


Senator Ogden - But what about the duty on the working man's dungaree trousers ?


Senator BARNES - From what I know very few men wear them now. I have worn them myself, and I can assure honorable senators that sometimes they are very cold. I remember many years ago, working in Broken Hill alongside a Cousin-Jack miner. Seeing that I was wearing dungaree trousers, he said to me, "Son, dp 'ee wear flannel drawers? " I said "No," and he said " Thee's dam' fool. They feel warm and dry when they do be wet and cold." I have no more to say except that I intend to go the limit with the Government in connexion with these tariff duties.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (Amendment of tariff).







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