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Friday, 15 November 1935


Senator HARDY (New South Wales) . - I fully anticipated that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), in discussing this hill, would deal with the relations, particularly the trade relations, -between Great Britain and Australia at the present time. I also expected that he would trot out the old bogey of Argentina, and try to show that the United Kingdom, in spite of its political and sentimental links with the dominions, is really discarding preference to the dominions in favour of Argentina. Early in his speech, the honorable senator referred to capital which he claimed the United Kingdom had invested in Argentina. He declared that the amount of those investments was greater than the amount of British capital invested in Australia, and that the "commercial magnates" and the British Government would naturally favour Argentina in trade arrangements. As he has often clone before, the honorable senator pointed out that cold, hard commercial logic governs Great Britain's trade relations with other countries. Not only does the idea persist in some quarters in this chamber, hut the nian in the street also believes that the British Government has infinitely more capital invested in Argentina than in Australia. A cursory examination of the facts will show that the reverse is the case. Some time ago, 1 inquired into this matter, first to find out how much British governmental capital is invested in Argentina, and secondly, >t>he .amount of British private capital invested in that country. A leading economist points out -

So far as can be found, the British Government has not itself made any investments in Argentina. A search of the finance accounts in British Parliamentary Papers, shows no mention of any Government loan nor Governmentguaranteed loan to that country, -and I think it would be correct to say that all British investments in Argentina, whether in the form of Government or other bonds, railways, or miscellaneous industry concerns, have been made by British individuals or companies.


Senator Collings - Is that a report prepared by the Bank of New South Wales?


Senator HARDY - No, it has been compiled by an economist who has no association with that institution. ' If the Leader of the Opposition desires further proof as to whether the British. Government has a definite official stake in Argentina, I suggest that he should read the report of the British Department of Overseas Trade on Economic Conditions in the Argentine Republic, which was published in 1932.


Senator Collings - I did not say that the British Government had any money invested in the Argentine; I said British capital.


Senator HARDY - Perhaps the honorable senator did not say so in so many words, but he implied that because of such investments the trade relations between Great Britain and Australia is being adversely affected.


Senator Collings - Certainly !


Senator HARDY - The honorable senator also implied that favouritism was being shown to Argentina. I am endeavouring to prove that the honorable, senator was wrong. On page 25 of th& report to which I have just referred calculations made by the South American Journal are quoted giving the total amount of British capital in Argentina at the end of 1930 at £435,128,4S2, of which £271,277,626 was invested in railways, £58,714,253 in Government 'bonds, and £105,136,603 in miscellaneous undertakings. An important point to be noted here is that ail of this capital was invested by private people, and not by the British Government.


Senator Collings - I pointed that out.


Senator HARDY - 'How can the honorable senator contend that the investment of British private capital in Argentina must influence British governmental policy in trade matters?


Senator Collings - Because the money power always influences governments.


Senator HARDY - As there is only £435,12S,482 of British capital invested in Argentina, and a greater amount of British capital is invested in Australia, Australia should, according to the honorable senator's logic, enjoy more trade with Great Britain to-day.


Senator Collings - That is my argument.


Senator HARDY - I remind the honorable senator that he said that Britain will deal with its trade with Australia on a hard and cold commercial basis. I tried to make him use the word " harsh " in this connexion, but he saw the pitfall and skilfully skidded around it. He said that we can only expect a hard commercial deal from Great Britain. This, I presume, means that Australia must make concessions equally with Britain. But the honorable senator apparently failed to take the precaution to inform his mind regarding the balance of trade between the United Kingdom and Australia. Had he done so, he would have received a distinct shock; because the actual figures show that England has indeed been more than generous to Australia in this respect. The details of trade between Australia and Great Britain since 1929, are as follows: -

 

Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.


Senator HARDY - I have submitted those figures, because the Leader of the Opposition has implied that Great Britain is endeavouring to make a hard and cold commercial bargain with Australia. Taking the whole of the figures we find that for the period mentioned the actual balance of trade in favour of Australia was £164,759,659. Had the Leader of the Opposition taken the troubleto check the trade figures, he would not have argued as he did. He also stressed the point that Great Britain had favoured Argentina as against the dominions, and was more or less insisting upon placing restrictions upon Australian exports of meat. Since the Ottawa agreement was entered into the value of meat exported from Australia to the United Kingdom has been as follows: In 1932, £45,900,000; 1933, £48,500,000; and in 1934, £50,000,000. How can the Leader of the Opposition say that Argentina is given preferential treatment, and that Australia has been subjected to undue restriction ? A study of the comparative figures shows that in 1932 Argentina sold to the United Kingdom meat valued at £50,000,000; in 1933, £41,000,000; and in 1934, £47,000,000. The quantity of Australian beef exported to the United Kingdom in 1935, after the signing of the Ottawa agreement, was 84,000 tons. The Leader of the Opposition said that that agreement had not assisted the Australian industry, but the figures show an increase of 49 per cent. above the 1931-32 level. The reductions of the quantities supplied by Argentina after the adoption of the Ottawa agreement, based on supplies prior to that time, were: - Mutton and lamb, 35 per cent.; frozen beef, 35 per cent. ; and chilled beef, 10 per cent. Apparently those figures do not mean anything to the Leader of the Opposition, who, for party purposes, claims that Great Britain has imposed hardships upon Australia. I understand that the Government wishes to dispose of this measure this afternoon, and as I do not wish to deprive other honorable senators of the opportunity to speak, I shall refer to only one other point - the representation to be granted to the Southern Riverina on the Australian Meat Board. Some honorable senators may say that in this respect it is proposed to give representation to a minority, but I can assure them that if they analyse the figures for the Southern Riverina they will find that such is not the case. In 1927-28, the production of mutton and lamb in New South "Wales was 504,953 carcasses, but in 1933-34, it had increased to 1,981,666 carcasses, or 293 per cent. Practically the whole of that increased production has been in the southern portion of the State. In these circumstances the producers in Southern Riverina are entitled to the representation proposed to be given to them on the Australian Meat Board.

SenatorFOLL (Queensland) [2.22].- I am glad that the Government has decided to introduce this bill which provides machinery to ensure the effective marketing of Australian meat overseas. The measure is long overdue, because if there are any producers in Australia who have not received any practical assistance they are those engaged in producing and exporting meat. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and Senator Hardy have spoken concerning the relations between Argentina and Great Britain. Argentine beef has secured an extensive market in the United Kingdom, owing to the careful manner in which it is selected, handled and marketed until it ultimately reaches the consumers. In the past Australian producers and exporters have been inclined to place their product on a ship and, after giving it a " sailor's farewell," allow it to take its chance in the British market. Argentine producers have adopted totally different methods. They select the right type of beef, and watch carefully the details of slaughtering, shipments and marketing. They engage in extensive advertising, study the requirements1 of the consumers, and watch the possible market demand almost from day to day. They have also derived great advantage by shipping smaller beef. These and other factors were responsible for the paramount position they occupied in the market in the pea.k year 1933. I. agree very largely with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) regarding the effrontery of Argentine producers, who believe that they should be placed in a position superior to that of the producers in the dominions. The conclusion I reached when in London recently was that a majority of the present British Government is overwhelmingly opposed to the attitude of Argentine producers; but at least three of its members are willing to place Argentina on the same basis as any of the dominions. The Australian delegation, led by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), and supported by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies), and other Ministers who were in London, was largely responsible for the improved position in which Australian exporters are now placed. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the members of- the Australian delegation left the vessel on which they were proceeding to Great Britain at Naples, and travelled overland to London to place the views of the Commonwealth Government before the British authorities at the earliest possible moment. I do not agree with the Leader of the Opposition when he says that the delegation did not accomplish any good, because I know from personal experience that, as a result of Australia's representations, Argentine interests were compelled to recognize that they must take a somewhat inferior position to thedominions. The Leader of the Opposition also referred to extensive sales of Argentine beef in Britain ; but, as I have said, this is due largely to the manne* in which the Argentine product is handled and marketed. Considerable work will have to be done before Australia will be able to compete successfully with Argentina, particularly as regards the type of beef produced. Owing to low prices many meat producers in Queensland, in the Riverina, and in other parts of Australia, have been unable to improve their herds. This has prevented them from producing meat of the type required, and has resulted in their being unable to secure a larger share of the London market. It will be the responsibility of the board to improve the marketing methods in London, and this should result in Australian exporters receiving a larger share of Great Britain's meat business. Australian producers are compelled to face fierce opposition, particularly from certain members of the British Cabinet. I was privileged to hear a speech delivered by Mr. 'Walter Runciman, when he addressed a conference attended by the delegates of the Empire Parliamentary Association at Westminster Hall, in London. I recognized in that gentleman a hard-headed business man, who is prepared to do business in the best market regardless of whether supplies came from Argentina or any other foreign country or the dominions. I should like to correct a few of the figures quoted by Senator Hardy regarding trade between Australia and Great Britain between 1920 and 1933. The honorable senator endeavoured to substantiate his arguments by quoting figures for certain selected years. Speaking on this subject in London, I said -

In 1934 Great Britain sold more than halt her exports of manufactured goods to Empire countries, and of the many types of highlyfinished goods, the Empire took from AO to 70 per cent, of Great Britain's total -exports.

The four dominions - Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - are sparsely populated countries. Their combined populations represent only 1.3 per cent, of the world's total, yet they bought in 1934 no loss than 22 per cent, of the total exports of the United Kingdom. The emphasis which must inevitably be laid upon the foregoing important facts should not blind us to the importance which Great Britain, as a great trading nation, must attach to the maintenance of satisfactory commercial relations with foreign countries. During the fourteen years from 1920 to 1933 Australia bought from the United Kingdom no less than £667,000,000 worth of goods on a sterling valuation, and during the same period the value of Australian imports retained in the United Kingdom was £635,300,000, leaving a balance of nearly £32,000,000 against Australia.


Senator HARDY - I quoted figures over a period of six years.







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