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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator BROWN (Queensland) . -I rise-

Senator Guthrie - To support monopolies.

Senator BROWN - I do not support monopolies. The Labour party is opposed to any exploitation of the workers by monopolies, private individuals, or pastoral associations. The workers are doing the work of the country, and should receive the reward of their labours. The constant attacks made on Australian industry, ostensibly on the ground that they are making huge profits, but really for other reasons, are not justified. Running through the arguments of those who are opposed to Labour is the idea that conditions in Australia can be improved by dividing with overseas competitors the trade which should be given to local manufacturers. Labour is opposed to monopolies, and to all who would sweat the workers and reduce their wages. (Senator Toll interjected just now that the Australian Glass Manufacturers Company Limited recently applied to the Arbitration Court for a reduction of the wages of its employees. If that be so, the fighting forces of Labour will be ranged against it. Credit is due to the Labour movement for having fought to raise the standard of living in this country.

Senator Hardy - Is that the exclusive privilege of Labour?

Senator BROWN - Practically all the fighting for a better standard of living has been carried on by Labour, and paid for by Labour.

Senator Badman - The honorable senator supports monopolies.

Senator BROWN - I remind Senator Badman that when the duties on cement were before the committee I pointed out that there was a proper way to deal with monopolies. The Government has never exercised its powers under the Tariff Board Act. It has ample power to deal with any monopoly which makes undue profits, or causes restraint of trade, but its supporters, rather than adopt the procedure laid down in the Tariff Board Act, prefer to continue their sniping, in order that cheap glass from Japan or Belgium may enter this country.

Senator Guthrie - Why should Australia not trade with Belgium?

Senator BROWN - I am fighting for ideas which I hold strongly. I know better than do most honorable senators that, before long, those ideas will be dominant in Australia. We have heard a good deal about over-capitalization, in relation to certain industries. Australian manufacturers having erected factories to produce glass, Australian workers should be given the opportunity to work in them and to supply this country's requirements. We should not do anything which might reduce the output of those factories. In saying that, I do not suggest that there is any justification for inordinate profits or unfair treatment of the workers. I have here a statement which sets out -

The landed duty-paid value of the glass and glassware and lightingware, of all kinds, that will be imported this year will approach £1,500,000. That is in Australian currency. We are deterred in going after that business by lack of confidence in the Government's policy in regard to the extension of secondary industries. We do not know what support will be given us.

The Labour party contends that, if Australian capital is invested in factories for the production of glassware, those factories should be given the opportunity to produce the goods required by the people of this country. Were it not that the Government consists of canting humbugs, it would ask the Tariff Board to make inquiries into this industry. Why does the Government treat the various industries of this country differently? I am, naturally, one of the least suspicious of men, but in regard to the Government's treatment of Australian industries I am becoming suspicious. Why is not the Government fair? Why does it not say that, because it is opposed to monopolies and undue exploitation, it intends to use its power so make full inquiry into all alleged monopolies, and to take action provided for in the act should it find that undue exploitation has taken place? The Government does not take that stand, and, therefore, I cannot help thinking that it is guilty of cant and humbug. Yesterday, the Header of the Senate (Senator Pearce) misled the chamber with a lot of canting humbug in regard to the Ottawa agreement. Wool is being drawn over the eyes of the people of Australia.It is time that the Government acted honestly, and refrained from accusing the Labour party of standing for things for which it does not stand. Those who on numerous occasions have heard the ideals of the Labour movement expounded in this chamber should be fair. "Fairplay is bonnie play " not only in Scotland but also in this chamber; yet the Government and its supporters are so devoid of intelligence and argument that they can only attack the Labour party by accusing it of not believing the things that it does believe, and of standing for things for which it does not stand.

Senator Hardy - I have known the honorable senator to vote for lower duties than the Government has proposed.

Senator BROWN - I strongly resent the unfair and lying statements of those morons who say that the Labour party stands for monopolies and undue profits.

Senator Hardy - Are we not entitled to the opinion that the Labour party does support monopolies?

Senator BROWN - I am a believer in free speech, and, because of that belief, have, at times, suffered unjustly. Sena tor Hardy has a right to his opinion, but no senator has the right to malign me or the party with which I am associated by deliberately telling lies.

Senator Arkins -The trouble is that the honorable senator is too free with his speech.

Senator BROWN - I believe in being frank. In good English, those who accuse the Labour party of standing for things for which it does not stand are liars.

Senator Hardy - I rise to a point of order. The remarks of the honorable senator are offensive to me, and doubtless to other honorable senators also. I am certain that no honorable senator deliberately tells lies about another honorable senator or his party. Any opinion that they express regarding the attitude of the Labour party towards monopolies is based on remarks made by honorable senators of that party. I ask the honorable senator to withdraw his remark, which is definitely offensive to me personally. I do not lie about any one.

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