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Thursday, 3 June 1926

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - I am not in the least surprised at Senator Findley's proposal. In dealing with this item we are suffering under the disability with which we have been affected during the discussion on the whole of this schedule, and that is lack of information as to what is happening in this industry. Senator Findley has told us that an increase of 90 per cent, is required. We do not know what has happened in the past, because those who are engaged in the manufacture of caps have been very close to the Seat of Government, with a press at their command to voice their grievances, real and imaginary - particularly imaginary - whereas with the users of caps it has been a case of " What is everybody's business is nobody's business." Nobody has ever dreamed of putting the case for the wearers of caps. In the absence of information from the Government we have to look abroad. Senator Findley has told us that boys' caps are being made in the Commonwealth with such a measure of success that they have succeeded in capturing the entire market. Almost before those words were out of his mouth he said that the manufacturers of boys' caps could not make men's caps. Could anything be more absurd ? Take thb case of boots. Has it ever been urged that the manufacturers of boys' boots could not make men's boots ? It has not, the reason being that the labour involved in the manufacture of boys' boots is common to the manufacture of men's boots. We have passed a schedule in which practically no distinction is made between men's and boys' wearing apparel. Where, then, is the justification for a 90 per cent, increase on men's caps? Senator Elliott's contribution to the discussion was welcome. He referred to the problem that is exercising the mind of every honorable senator - where is this demand for more and more protection going to end, and what will be the effect upon production and the economic position of Australia ? He also mentioned the man in the country. I can set his mind at rest upon that point by informing him that the man in the country very rarely uses a cap. The old hat, with his hair showing through the crown, is his lot. A cap would be a luxury to him. Is there to be no end to this policy of piling on duties? Is it to be like time, or eternity? Are the Australian manufacturers to be always coddled and given encouragement ? The time is overripe for us to say to them, " Thus far shalt thou go, and no further. It is about time you toed the scratch as citizens of this country, did your duty towards your fellow citizens, and assisted to build up Australia." What can be said of - Senator Grant, a disciple of Henry George 1 He now sits cheek by jowl with the Government and votes for higher duties. If the shade of Henry George could return to . this earth it would scowl upon this false disciple, and say, " Away, you betrayer, you traitor; you are not of my following; you are a spurious counterfeit. I never dreamed that my name would be besmirched by association with that of a counterfeit like you." Why does the honorable senator vote for these high duties? Because he must. Senator Needham must do so, and Senator Barnes, and also Senator Graham, although he may have opinions to the contrary. But that is the difference between the party on that side of the chamber and the party on the Government side. I am here a free man. Honorable senators opposite are not free. The Government is in the happy position that it has only to lift its little finger and honorable senators opposite come to its support in regard to matters relating to a protective tariff. The halter is on them, and when a pull is given to it they must move in response to it. They have no option in the matter. It is fixed, pre-ordained, as it were, copper fastened, that they must have no conscience in such matters, but must vote for protective duties, for the simple reason that it is the policy to which they are signed up. We on this side are free. That marks the gulf of difference between their unfortunate party and our own. Here am I, pitching into the Government, whereas they dare not do it, otherwise the frowning legions behind them would cast such a withering glance at them that it would be the end of them, and they would lose their jobs in Parliament. I can understand Senator Findley moving as he has done, because his doctrine is to have higher duties without any thought of the consequences. It secures him in his seat in this chamber. He has been sent here as a protectionist, although his leanings may be the other way. He knows that, in this schedule, he must not touch a comma, delete a period, dot an i, or alter it in any respect, except to increase it. He must say ditto to everything, and be humble. He must not have an opinion except that which is manufactured for him and thrown at him. He dare not have a contrary opinion to that which is thrown at him to make use ofIt is childish nonsense for him to tell us that boys' caps are made in Australia, and not men's. He had not the hardihood to tell us that boys' boots could be made in Australia, and not men's. I have never heard such a lame excuse. Yet it is in keeping with what has been going on during the debate on this schedule. It will go a certain length, but only a certain length. Things will have to be very bad before the crisis is reached ; but that crisis is coming. Public opinion moves slowly and clumsily; but nevertheless it moves. The ferment is at work even now. Men who voted solidly for protection in the past are to-day thinking what they ought to do in regard to this schedule. They realize that things are not going well in Australia. They see that our production is decreasing and that the country-side is becoming deserted, as it will continue to do despite the fact that we are making efforts to beckon men from the fringe of the continent to the interior. They realize that the secondary industries are making no progress. Take up any book of statistics and you will see that the very life-blood of this country - its primary production - is stagnant. That is an unhealthy condition of affairs in any land. But we see the trend of affairs. Senator Elliott, a staunch protectionist, has his misgivings. He is a Victorian senator, but he is beginning to see the light. It is high time we called a halt and told mcn engaged in the secondary industries to bc up and doing and to do their duty towards the country that has been so kind to them. I have given the Canadian experience, showing the maximum duty in times gone by which enabled that country to forge ahead and be the independent State it is. And that maximum in Canada was never more than 35 per cent, on the ordinary lines. Yet here we are seeking duties of 45 and 60 per cent, in this scratching community of ours; because it is only scratching so far. We in this last court of appeal - a chamber specially fited to shape public policy in this regard - should consider our position very carefully and ask ourselves, before we take many more steps in the wrong direction, where we ore going - whether we are right or not. For mv part I think we are drifting sadly. But there is one consolation - that there are rumblings of discontent and gleams of hope in a murky sky, and realizations that we are going too far in the direction of encouraging an already pampered class. The point I have been continually hammering at is that if these people think they have not enough, and are in a bad way, they have only to look to Parliament to have their position righted. I say, " Let them do more -work, and do it faithfully." In an obscure page in the Commonwealth Tear-Book there is a fateful table showing that the production per man to-day as compared with thirteen years ago has declined. As far as primary production is concerned - it is, of course, included - the maximum effort made to-day is what it was thirteen years ago. Those engaged in primary production have not slackened. They are not resting on their oars. The slackness which has accounted for the decline in our production per man is in the secondary industries alone, and if the men engaged in those industries are in a bad way, employers and employees, it is up to them as Australians - if they have any claim, flimsy or otherwise, to patriotism - not to loaf any longer on their fellow citizens, but to put forward as good an effort as is made by those engaged in primary production. If they do so there will be less reason for these outrageous schedules of increased duties. That is the keynote of my message to this chamber. I not? what has happened in other countries, and I' apply it to what I see here. Having done so, I say, it is time a halt was called. Senator Elliott is on the right line when he fears that this application for an increased, duty will be followed by yet another appeal for a higher Tate and for easier conditions of labour. Let us by all means give better conditions of labour so long as we do not place others in the community in a more unfavorable position. It is not progress to give high rates of pay and short hours of labour to one section of the community and call on another section to pay for these improved conditions. That is only progressing in a circle. Therefore in these matters we need to be exceedingly careful. Senator Findley proposes a step in one direction which I realize the committee will not follow, but I shall move to reduce the duty on. caps from 10s. to 8s. One half of the cap-making industry - that of making boys' caps - has already been established on a duty of 8s., and I see no reason for any alteration.

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