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Wednesday, 9 June 1926

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) . - Before the committee accepts the request submitted by the honorable senator, I wish to say a few words in reply to Senator Findley. I am aware of course that the Government is anxious to pass the schedule.

Senator Pearce - We want to get the tariff through some time this year.

Senator LYNCH - There- is plenty of time. Even if we have to sit a few weeks extra, that time wil] be well spent if we succeed in removing even one injustice to any section of the community caused by the imposition of these high duties that so vitally effect primary production. Let me tell honorable senators that some people are looking to this branch of the legislature for justice in connexion with these duties, and I appeal to that other section, which has had so many favours from this Parliament to be satisfied with a fair measure of protection.

Senator Duncan - Senator Findley asks not for justice, but for mercy for our secondary industries.

Senator LYNCH - Yes. I do not forget that Senator Findley did me an honour by making special reference to my remarks, and I wish to refresh his memory with regard to certain matters. He said just now that I described the Australian artisans as a set of loafers. I do not wish to withdraw anything that I said, but I may be permitted to explain that I was comparing the lot of our urban workers with that of the people living in our rural districts, and I stated that as the figures showed that they were not putting forth the same effort as people living in the country were, to that extent they could be regarded as loafers. I leave the matter there.

Senator Findley - We all know the honorable senator's attitude towards our party.

Senator LYNCH - I go further, and remind Senator Findley that although he and other members of his party may not specifically charge urban industrialists with an insufficiency of effort as compared with their output in earlier years, they at all events acknowledge the truth of my charge. They admit that the output to-day is not comparable with the output of 15 or 20 years ago.

Senator Findley - I have never made any such statement.

Senator LYNCH - I am prepared to prove everything I say, and I remind the honorable senator that the party to which he belongs has smashed to smithereens a traditional plank of its platform, viz., day labour on government contracts. Is not that an admission that the individual effort of the Australian workman is not as great to-day as it was a few years ago? Day labour on government contracts used to be a prominent plank in

Labour's platform, but that was when the "goods" were delivered, and when men did an honest day's work. That plank, as I can show, if it has not been withdrawn, is violated every time latterday Labour members have anything to do with public policy.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the item before the committee. A good deal of latitude has been permitted in the debate up .till now, and I find honora*ble senators are making secondreading speeches. I intend, for the future, to confine them strictly to the item before the committee.

Senator Findley - If Senator Lynch continues in this strain I shall have something more to say.

Senator LYNCH - Senator Reid, as a member of the Public Works Committee, is a living witness to my statement that the Labour party, for very good reasons, has abandoned that plank of its policy. If further evidence is wanted it is to be found in this demand for increased duties which, in my view, are rendered necessary by inefficiency. For this reason the case for increased duties rests on a false basis. It is evident to all observers that in our industrial enterprises we are getting short measure. If you will allow me, Mr. Chairman, I will point also to the fact that the Trades Hall in Perth, was built by contract labour.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator knows perfectly well that that has nothing whatever to do with the item before the committee.

Senator LYNCH - I turn then to page 136 of the Commonwealth Year-Book.

Senator Needham - Why not say something about locomotives?

Senator LYNCH - They are included in the reference I am about to make, as Senator Needham will learn if he studies the volume as he should. The figures in this fatal page, which should be read and studied much more than it is, are of supreme importance. They tell a story, not of progress, but of retrogression. Senator Barwell .has mentioned the matter in the course of this debate. These figures show that there has been a marked reduction in the rate of production per man in our secondary industries. Taking 1911 as the basic year, and allowing for the change in the commodity prices in the meantime, we find that there has been a decline of 10 per cent, from a loaded average of 1,000 in 1911 down to 893 for the year 1923-24. This suggests, of course, a lessened efficiency in one field of industrial activity.

Senator Findley - Chop that out !

Senator LYNCH - We all had to listen to Senator Findley a little while ago, talking with his tongue in his cheek about these tariff items. I am now putting the other side.

Senator Findley - I get sick of the honorable senator's constant slandering of the Australian workman. According to him the working people of every other country, except Australia, are efficient.

Senator LYNCH - These figures prove conclusively that there has been a decline in production, so this plea for increased duties rests on a false basis. It is "up" to this chamber to do something to remove the cause. The only way I know of, and it cannot be regarded as completely effective, is to call attention to the position and challenge it. We are entitled to expect a protagonist like Senator Findley to state his case. I am stating mine, and I rest it on the authority of the Commonwealth Statistician. The figures which I have just quoted indicate that those engaged in our secondary industries are not putting the same energy into their work as are those connected with our primary industries. Therefore, they should not get additional protection from this Parliament. In this item, the Government is asking for a 40 per cent, duty on locomotives, notwithstanding that their manufacture in Australia has been going on for many years under a very much lower rate of duty. Senator McHugh's references to my attitude in the debate on earlier tariffs " cuts no ice." If he will read my speeches further, he will see that I succeeded in getting the rates on mining machinery cut down. For what I did in that matter, 1 received the thanks of those engaged in mining in Western Australia and elsewhere. The honorable senator is merely directing attention to the fact that my attitude on fiscal matters has always been consistent. Do some honorable senators contend that the primary producers of Australia do not use the railways as a means of transporting their produce to market ? It is of vital importance that the wheatgrowers, wool-producers and dairymen should be able to dispose of their produce with the greatest possible expedition, and at the lowest possible cost. I have cited many cases in which those engaged in primary forms of endeavour are not assisted by protective duties, but, on the other hand, are involved in considerable expense in consequence of duties such as are proposed in this instance. How can the dairymen of Australia successfully compete against those in other parts of the world, particularly in Denmark, who are more", favorably situated. The land in Australia, which can be regarded as the raw material of the dairymen, is much higher in price ' than it is in other countries. There is excellent dairying land in the Western District of Victoria and in the Northern Rivers District of New South Wales, both of which are served by railways. There, I venture to assert, land is sold at anything in the neighbourhood of £80 to £100 per acre; but dairying land in Denmark, a country with which our dairymen have to compete, is available at a much lower price. In response to a request concerning land values in Denmark, the Danish Consul has courteously supplied me with the following information : -

In regard to your question to-day about land in Denmark, I beg to state that" 15 acres is equivalent to the Danish measure 11 tender. I cannot state the price of good dairy land quite definitely, but I understand that it is sold at about £50 to £60 per tonder, which would be about £36 to £45 per acre.

That indicates the way in which the Australian dairymen are already handicapped. I am speaking on behalf of the dairymen in Western Australia, and particularly those in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland. In New South Wales and Victoria land suitable for dairying purposes is sold from £80 to £100 per acre.

Senator Duncan - Some in the Northern Rivers District brings up to £130 per acre.

Senator LYNCH - That is so. Senator Findley should realize that an Australian dairy farmer's produce has, in most cases, to be hauled to the seaboard by locomotives, for which service he has to pay, to enable it to be placed on the market. If he has to purchase land at £60 per acre, how can he stand up against the sturdy Danish farmers, who can acquire their land at about £40 per acre ? Surely it is unjust to penalize those engaged in primary production by imposing a duty of 40 per cent, on loco- motives. I can recall my boyhood experiences in Ireland, where my father rented land at £3 10s. to £5 an acre, which price, when multiplied by twenty, according to Lord Ashbourne's theory, made its value £70 or £100 an acre.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Newlands - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.

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