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Wednesday, 7 March 1928


Senator GRAHAM (Western Australia) . - As Australians, it is our duty to encourage the production of goods in our own country for the benefit of the people, and to ensure the general prosperity of the Commonwealth. Under a protective policy, the Australian workers have received higher wages and have enjoyed better conditions than they experienced under any other system. If we were to revert to freetrade, the Australian workers, in less than twelve months, would be brought down to the level of cheap labour countries in other parts the world. That I am sure no one '.desires. We should produce all we require for local consumption and have an exportable surplus. Although our wheat and wool growers do not receive assistance in the form of bounties, they are able without tariff protection to produce commodities which are recognized as superior to any in the world, and are in a better position than they have ever been. I trust that satisfactory prices for wheat and wool will continue to be realized so that those engaged in primary production will benefit and the ''future development and prosperity of , Australia will be assisted. Prior "to' 1914 Russia was producing 75 per cent, of the world's requirements of wheat at ls. lOd. a bushel, but if production had continued at that price the'- Australian wheat producer would have been in an unfortunate position. It has been mentioned during the debate that when lamb was selling at from 8d. to 10d: per lb. in Australia, it was being exported 13,000 miles and sold in Great Britain at 4ld. per lb. Similar conditions obtained1 in New Zealand some years ago, when the consumers in that dominion were paying 6d. to 8d. for mutton while it was1 being sold in London at 3-Jd. a lb. It is,£he duty of honorable senators to support the imposition of duties to enable our industries to compete with those in countries where the wages are lower and the standards of living much below that which we enjoy. When I was associated with the softgoods business, men's and women's underwear was often branded "British Manufacture." I should like to know what guarantee we have that such goods are of British manufacture. At present Great Britain is receiving goods from Germany in lieu of cash, and this is forcing thousands of industrialists out of employment. Is it not possible that some of these goods which are manufactured in Germany are being brought out here as being of British manufacture ? Australian industries are producing articles as good as, and in many cases superior, to those supposed to be of British manufacture, but which may be made by cheap labour. About twelve months' ago I visited a factory where ladies' singlets were being cut off a machine 'in tubular length by the thousand, finished and boxed up in a few moments, and sold at 2s. lOd." each. I was informed that, the price of a similar article of Japanese^ manufacture was about ls. 4d., and that of German manufacture ls. lOd/ each This is the competition with which. the Australian manu- featurer has to contend. Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been invested in plant, two-thirds of which is now lying idle.


Senator Thompson - When our manufacturers more than meet home requirements what is going to happen ?


Senator GRAHAM - I do not intend to be drawn off my argument by the honorable senator's interjection. I- am concerned about the immediate future; I wish to see more of our people properly employed in our secondary industries. I no not favour taxing people off the face of the earth so to speak, but I believe that some protection is necessary to enable our secondary industries to maintain their footing and provide employment for Australians under Australian conditions.


Senator Ogden - That would be all right if the protected industry did not put up prices following an increase in the tariff.


Senator GRAHAM - Many industries are in a bad way. The worsted woollen mill at Albany in Western Australia is as well equipped as any similar industry in Australia, and yet 75 per cent.' of its product is sold in South Australia simply because the people in Western Australia do not demand the local article. As a rule Australians do ' not realize that if they wish our secondary industries to prosper they should insist upon getting Australian products. One honorable senator this afternoon declared that he was an Australian from head to heel. No man can be certain that every portion of his clothing is Australian made. I stand for Australian industries and, wherever possible buy Australian made goods.


Senator Ogden - What guarantee has one that everything one buys is Australian? -


Senator GRAHAM - I make sure that my suits are Australian made because I obtain the tweed from the mills. As for the principle of preference to goods of British origin, it is doubtful if, in every instance, imports from Britain are British made. Prior to the war there was a considerable importation of German goods branded as British. There is every probability, therefore, that the same practice now. obtains. Australia has not, so far, reaped the whirlwind of the war. We have not yet experienced the full economic effects of that terrible conflict between the nations. It is important, therefore, that we should do all that is possible to encourage Australian industries.

I do not wish to weary the Senate, but I should like to place on record certain figures dealing with imports of commodities the bulk of which could be manufactured in Australia. The following were among the list of imports for 1926-27 : -

 

The imports for 1926-27 showed an increase of £13,106,749 over those for 1925-26. It is not too much to say that 90 per cent, of the goods mentioned in the list quoted could be produced in Australia. If our secondary industries were developed along these lines we should not have the spectacle of 100,000 persons out of employment at the present time.


Senator Thompson - How does the honorable senator explain the depression in the United States of America, the most prosperous country in the world? There are some millions of unemployed there. - Senator GRAHAM. - I am not in a position to answer the honorable senator's question. I do know, however, that effective protection built up the secondary industries in that country and made it a self-contained nation. Why should not we follow the example of Uncle Sam and start to properly protect our industries so as to become self-contained?


Senator Foll - America became great because she did not restrict migration.


Senator GRAHAM - Nor is there a desire to restrict migration in Australia provided we can be sure of the profitable employment of all those who come here. Unfortunately, many migrants have very bitter experiences. Only, to-day the newspapers reported the case of two men who had been encouraged by officials of Australia House to go on the land in Western Australia. They were advised that if they knew nothing about farming they would get all the necessary instruction and, therefore, need have no fear. One man who came here with £800 lost every penny of it, and a day or two ago was wandering about Perth demented. Is this the proper way to deal with migrants? There are scores of instances of men who come to Australia and. lose every penny they possessed when they landed on our shores.

I was interested in Senator Chapman's rather startling suggestion for the solution of the unemployment problem. His proposal was a ridiculous one. The honorable senator referred also to the difficulty experienced by producers in his State in disposing of their wine and dried fruits overseas. His complaint was really an indictment of the Development and Migration Commission. It is possible, of course, that the fault lies with the- producers themselves. When Sir Victor Wilson returned from the Wembley Exhibition he stated that on one occasion tins labelled as pears proved, when opened, to be pineapples; and similarly tins branded as pineapple conserve proved to be tins of peaches. Carelessness in the packing and branding of products may be, in some measure, responsiblefor difficulties experienced in marketing them abroad. I have a lively recollection of a conversation which I had with a gentleman who came fromChicago about nine months ago. He told me that one of the storekeepers in that city, desiring to encourage Australian trade, displayed in his window a notice advising his customers to buy Australian fruits. He filledhis shop with Australian products, but within two hours was compelled, by his angry customers and the general public, to shift it all out and stock American products. They insisted upon getting the Cali.fornian products. ' "Wo want something of the same spirit in Australia. We should see that all Australian products intended for export are in good condition. What is the good of exporting primary products if they are not up to the necessary standard? There must be something wrong with the packing at this end if out fruits do not find favour with the people of other countries, because they will bear comparison with those produced in any other part of the world. The same applies to meat, wool, wheat, butter, and cheese. We must secure wider markets overseas. Although canning factories are established in Australia, it is a common sight to witness displays of Californian tinned fruits in our retail establishments. Is that an encouragement for those who are endeavouring to earn a living from the soil? Every town should have an Australia day upon which all retailers would exhibit only those goods that are produced in Australia. The middleman now calls the tune, and the consumer is obliged to dance to it. In nine oases out of ten he does not ask whether the goods which he purchases have been made in Australia or

Japan.

We must make Australia selfcontained. Up to "the present we have been relying for our protection largely upon the Mother Country. The time has arrived for us to demonstrate our ability to protect ourselves. . We should not have battleships built in Scotland to relieve the unemployment in that country when our own artisans and mechanics are walking the streets looking for work. The only obstacle in our path recently, when we decided upon the construction of two cruisers, was a roller 'to roll the plates. Certainly it would have cost £1,000,000; but consider the .millions of pounds that are sent abroad for commodities that could be manufactured ' in Australia ! We are relying too greatly upon other countries for goods that we should produce ourselves. Senator Chapman read a report of the League of Nations to the effect that we should exercise care in regard to tariff imposts lest international complications ensue, and a disagreement arise with some other nation. I say, " Let it come." We must stand on our own, and do all that we can to benefit not only our own people, but also those who are coming from Great Britain to assist us in making Australia the nation it should be. We should not be afraid to stand up in defence of our country.

Debate (on motion by Senator Reid) adjourned.

Senate adjourned at 10.1 p.m.







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