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Friday, 15 July 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - In rising . to address myself to the second reading of this Bill, I should like to say that when the high praise given by Senator Pratten to the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) for the speech with which he moved the second reading of the measure received the applause of Senator Bakhap, nothing further need be said on that subject. Senator Pratten alluded to the high level of the general debate on the Tariff, but he rose in his own speech to heights I should have thought unattainable even with an aeroplane. In dealing with the practical business proposition presented to us in the Tariff, he soared beyond the clouds. There was one somewhat surprising feature common to the speeches of both Senators Russell and Pratten to which I should like to direct attention. In somewhat different phrases each honorable senator gave ex pression to practically the same idea as to the primary producer. Honorable senators will recall the remarkable picture of the primary producer which Senator Russell painted for us last evening in contrasting the farmer of to-day with the farmer of a few years ago. He drew for us a picture of the primary producer travelling over his farm on a machine, carrying his youngster on his knee, and smoking a cigar.

Senator Russell - I did not say a cigar.

Senator GARDINER - Was it a pipe? I should regret above all things misrepresenting the honorable senator in this matter. He told us that instead of labouring as he had to do in years gone by, the primary producer of to-day rides along nursing his youngster and smoking a pipe. Is that a fair representation of what the honorable senator said?

Senator Russell - Yes ; I have seen that on more than one occasion.

Senator GARDINER - I find that Senator Pratten is also very deeply interested in the primary producer. He had something to say on the subject of droughts, and he said that they are not ' an unmixed evil. That is the honorable senator's view of a, drought.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the honorable senator kindly quote me- fully.

Senator GARDINER - I have quoted a part of the honorable senator's speech which struck me particularly.

He has asked me to quote him fully, but I have already said that he reached an altitude to which I cannot hope to follow him. I do know that- he « said that to trie farmer a drought is not an unmixed evil. We "have heard that to-day the farmer is not a hard-worked man as he was some years ago. He now rides, and smokes, and nurses his youngster while at work, and a drought is not an unmixed evil to him.- If this be so, it seems to me that good reasons have been afforded for increasing the number of farmers, and filling up the vacant spaces of Australia, where men can get work under conditions to which factory hands and city unionists can never hope to attain.

We have been told that the farmer, toils from early morning until late at night, and giving all that in, I still believe that the conditions of his employment are better than are those of the man who works eight hours a day in a coal mine or in a factory, with walls all around him. The Tariff aims at putting population into factories and mines, and employing people in uncongenial occupations^ and cutting them off from the more congenial and attractive occupations of farming and primary production. In my view, the people might be expected to develop mentally and physically greater parts if employed in the open air in the work of primary production in the country.

Senator Wilson - The honorable senator must recognise . that the facts seem to be. against him, because young men are leaving the country and coming into the factories. The honorable senator will agree with that. .

Senator GARDINER - We will agree that young men are leaving the country and coming into the city, and why?

Senator Wilson - Because the conditions in the cities are so much better.'

Senator GARDINER - Because in the cities they can secure employment at good wages and for short hours. In the country there is no opportunity of securing employment, because the development of farming on proper lines is prevented by Protectionists who desire to develop secondary production.

Senator Senior - No; the increase in the use of machinery for farming has reduced the number of hands required to carry on the industry.

Senator GARDINER - I know Australia; and I am satisfied that if we could get farming implements and machinery into-this country at reasonable prices for the production of wealth from the soil, we might produce sufficient in the course of ten years to pay off our national debt. That, inmy view, would be possible if we put into primary production the money we are putting into secondary production.

I have no ..objection to the development of secondary production, and I should not object to Protection if it really developed secondary production. On the contrary,' it retards it. Let honorable senators consider the correspondence which they have had since the introduction of the Tariff. There is scarcely an industry affected by this Bill in connexion with which we have not been communicated with personally or by letter by persons who claim that the Tariff injuriously affects their interests. The stone-masons refer us to the duty imposed on Italian marble which they require for certain kinds of work, for which the local article is unsuitable. I have received a communication, in, common, I suppose, with other honorable senators, in which it is shown that nine-tenths of the marble-workers of Australia -ask for a reduction of the duty on Italian marble.

Senator Senior - On that specific kind of marble.

Senator GARDINER - Just so. A particular kind of marble with which Australian marble cannot come into competition.

Senator Senior - The same- would apply to marble from any other country.

Senator GARDINER - I might refer to a number of other industries in connexion with' which we are- up' against a similar proposition. Although honorable senators will claim that by the Tariff they are protecting industries, those concerned in many of them complain that the advantage . they are given by the duty on the finished article of their manufacture is lost in the increased price they are required to pay for their raw materials, because of the duty imposed on them.. If we put a heavy duty on hides and a heavy duty on leather, what is the use of saying that we are going to protect the bootmaker by putting a heavy duty on boots? First, we make the hide and the leather more costly, and the boot manufacturer finds that the . benefit he obtains from a duty of 35 or 45 per cent, on boots is eaten up by the price he has to pay for his raw material.

Senator Elliott - He can get his raw material for almost nothing to-day.

Senator GARDINER - Then why does the honorable senator want to put a duty on it ?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - For fun.

Senator GARDINER - Senator Thomas has an awkward habit of blurting out the truth in these matters. I like the manner, in which Senator Duncan quite openly and candidly admitted the fact that increased Protective duties increase prices. It is something to get Protectionists to admit the truth of the proposition they are dealing with.

Senator Bakhap - It is undoubtedly so at the inception of the operation of the Tariff.

Senator GARDINER - I am glad to have the statement indorsed by practically the whole of the Nationalist party. , If the Tariff increases prices at the beginning, as Senator Bakhap- admits, I take it that in course of time he believes, that prices will again find a. normal or lower level. Sometimes we have a yearning for something of which we are altogether incapable.

If I had the capacity of an artist I should select Senator Russell as a subject, and paint him as the picture of "Innocence." He delivered here last night a speech in favour of Protection. He pointed out, with an innocence to which no one else can pretend, the awful position in which we found ourselves- during the war through the absence of many trivial- things that could have been manufactured in Australia, but'' which have not been; made here owing "tq the; fact that thexe was- no> Protection. The honorable: senator appeared to assuane that it was the absence of- this scientific- Tariff that put Australia in. the; false position of not possessing the. factories,, to produce the- things- that wei-e wanted.

Senator Russell - I also blamed the indifference of the people., of Australia.

Senator GARDINER - I have an idea that the honorable senator has- stirred) them up this time with- his scientific Tariff.. ...

Senator Wilson - You, admit that it is a scientific Tariff,, then,?

Senator GARDINER - I think I drew that information fconii theMinister (Senator Russell). During many yearis of- discussion on the question of Protection, I never yet met a Protectionist wiho-. did, not side-step the question by saying-, " You are discussing' the- present Tariff,, but that is not scientific Protection." I propose to discuss, now a Tariff which the Minister- says, is scientific.

Senator Drake-Brockman - The honorable senator agrees. -with me. that scienceia a wonderful thing?

Senator GARDINER - Yes, a marvellous, thing, The Minister- tells- us. that in 191.4, the war found, us- unable, to produce for ourselves many. simple . little, essentials whichi we had. been; in the habit of buying from other - countries,, because, we. hftd. established. no industries to. manufacture them, here. Why. was . that, so ? Victoria offered Protection for those* industries before, the Minister wasborn, and has offered it ever since. That is the whole of the difference between a Protectionist and myself. A Protectionist believes that if we put on a heavy Tariff industries will grow, but I do not believe anything of the kind. A heavy Tariff is one of' the things most calculated to prevent industries from growing. The man who gets in first under it. is put in a very strong position.. Take, for instance, -the Sunshine , Harvester Works. The owner, under the Tariff paid by the people of Australia, has established an enormous business and installed great machinery, but, in that case, instead! 'of helping to develop business and1 competition, the Tariff has cut. out competition. Who can now compete with the business built up- by subsidies taken from the pockets' of the Australian taxpayers? Senator Russell drew a picture of the lack of the- simple- yarn required for knitting socks for' the soldiers. He said! we did- not. mate the yarn in Australia, Victoria has had' fifty years of Protection, and yet did- not produce a> simple' article of- that, description-.Fifty years ago there was unlimited wool in this State,., and! there has been unlimited' wool every year, since. During, all that* time there was a. Tariff, sufficien^lyi high to induce some manufacturer to invest his money in the production of woollen yarn. Perhaps this- scientific Tariff is a Betterbrand of protection- than the old V ictorian Tariff was, but the fact remains that after fifty years of: Protection in a. country which possesses the best wool! in the- world, and the largest' supplies of it, we- did- not* have one industry that could produce the material' required, t'o make a pair- of socks ,

Senator Senior - After fifty, years of Free Trade; England had' no dyes to dye: her woollen materials with.

Senator GARDINER - There" is a difference' between German scientific discovery and British scientific -discovery. In the- past, if ai British- scientist made- a . valuable industrial* : discovery, nothingfurther was -done with if.It- was1 not applied to- industry; If'the- same' discovery was made in Germany, it was, owing ti>the.< system: which' the 'G ermans had', a.p'plied to industry: The result was that* the dye< tirade wasr developed! in Germany* toi an ex-ten tf quite- undreamt/ off- in- Great Britain or any. other country-. Socks made in the. woollen- mills- of Gceat-

Britain had actually* to "be sent to 'Germany to be dyed before they were placed on the market.

I recognise the apparent hopelessness of getting the Free Trade argument generally accepted, but I am not altogether without hope that this , Tariff will awaken the people, of . Australia to" the absurdity of. trying to djevelop a country by making' 'everything dearer in it. It is said that it is the last straw that breaks the camel's back. Senator Pratten drew a picture of the old-time Australian, and all he could buy on 30e. a week. He said he wore an American hat. I suppose; it was a Stetson, worth about £2 2s. now. He smoked a Manila cigar. I do not know whether he carried a cane from Jamaica,' but he wore American boots. Probably his,, flannels were made in Germany, the cloth from which his clothes were made was Scotch or Irish tweed, and bis dollar was from Belfast. That is the picture the honorable senatordrew of the average Australian in the good old Free Trade days.. I think the honorable senator added that he drank Highland whisky. We have Protection now, but with all his increased wage, the average Australian cannot buy an Ameripan hat, or smoke an imported cigar, or drink Highland whisky. These things are nearly all cut out. The higher wages have brought with them a higher cost of living. The honorablesenator said the average Australian was now getting £5 a week. I should like to know where that happens. The Government the honorable senator' supports would not give that wage to the public servants, although a Commission appointed by the Government recommended a living wage of £4 16s. 6d.

Senator Russell - Some of them are getting a good deal more than that, with the bonus.

Senator GARDINER - Some men are worth . a good deal more. The Minister cannot lay his hand on one man in the Public Service who is getting more than he is worth, but I can lay my hands: on thousands who are not paid half- what they are worth.

Senator Wilson - I think I could pick a few who are getting more than ' they are -worth. . .

Senator GARDINER - No doubt the honorable senator could, but if he is worth a thousand a year he cannot. I do not know if Senator Pratten was ac curate in his comparisons' between the amounts earned in the good old Free Trade days and those earned in these 'better Protectionist days,, for I suppose alt Protectionists consider that they are- better, but I . have some interesting figures concerning the output of our factories and the wages paid to their employees. In 1908 the average value of the output of, the factories in the several States per employee* amounted to £387, and the average amount of wage's and salaries paid per employee was £81. In 1918 the average value of -, the output of the factories in ' the several States per employee amounted to £688, andthe average amount ' of salary and wages paid "-per employee was £121 15s. It will be noted, that during 1908 the average value of the output of factories per employee was 4.77 greater than the average value of wages paid per employee in. factories. In 1918, "however, the average value of' She output of factories per employee was 5.65- greater than the average value of wages paid per employee."

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What is the use- of' quoting those figures unless you give, the cost of the material.

Senator GARDINER - This is not unfair argument, because I have quoted the. wages paid and the cost of the goods per employee t.en> years- ago and to-day.' Both sets of figures have been taken from the same source - the Government statistician - and the figures include the cost of material. Notwithstanding the criticisms of Senator Wilson and others concerning the -"so-called go-slow policy, . the quantity produced per employee in 1918 was infinitely greater than it was in 1908.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The value may be greater, but the quantity less.

Senator GARDINER - Senator Pratten suggested, that, unless the value of the material was given, the information was useless. When I was speaking on the first reading of the Bill, Senator Pratten, by interjection, said that there had been very little falling off in imports during the war period, and I shall, therefore, quote for the honorable senator's' information the following figures-: - Our imports were valued as follows - In 1913, £79,749,653; 1914-15, £64,431,83? ; 1915-16, £77,521,142; 1916-17, £76,228,679 ; ' 1917-18, £60,822,164.- Senator Pratten suggested that there had been scarcely any difference in the import trade, but the figures' Ihave quoted show that in 1917-18 our imports were valued at £60,872,164, and in 1913, £79,749,653.. According to the honorable senator's argument, these figures are useless unless, the value of the material is. given' but, if. we measure our imports by their value in . 1913, the £60,822,164, which was the value of the 1917-18 imports, would not, on the 1913 values, amount to more than £20,000,000, because values, had increased by approximately 300 per cent. In view of these figures I presume that the honorable senator will have to seek in some other direction for information to support his contention. The figures which I have quoted are to be found in the Commonwealth Year-Book, No. 13, page 606.

When speaking 'on this measure before I referred to the previous attitude adopted by the present Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) on the fiscal question; and, as a speech he delivered on the 14th May. 1902, may., be of interest^ to honor- able senators, I quote the following ex-' tract from Hansard of that date: -

Iam sure that all those who have studied the Labour movement in England must recognise the service that has been rendered to the movement by the . newspaper known as the Clarion. In an article which appeared in that publication from the pen of Robert Blatchford, entitled "The Wisdom of the Times,'' the writer, after dealing -with the opposition of the Tories to the social reform movement, says, " They are not the most ominous signs of the times. No; by far the* ugliest sign of the times is the fact that of late years two words which for half a century have been tabooed in British politics are now, after some whispering and stealthy hintings, beginning tobe spoken trippingly on the tongue. These words are " Protection " and " conscription." They are the words of abomination and dcso- lation ; words that, being openly spoken, should be resented by the . people as an insult to their understanding and a threat to their liberty..

Honorable senators will notice that the concluding words are those of Robert Blatchford.

Senator de Largie - Mr. Blatchford advocated conscription during the war.

Senator GARDINER - Perhaps so. In the words of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen), the speech of Senator Pearce on that occasion was the most able one ever' delivered on the fiscal issue by a Labour man. , The speech is full of information and interest, and is one which should be carefully considered by the Protectionists in this Chamber.

Senator de Largie - They have both changed their opinions on the question of conscription, at any rate.

Senator GARDINER - I cannot speak for Mr.Blatchford, but I believe I am safe in 'saying that, although the debate on the Tariff will proceed for many weeks, we shall not hear the Minister for Defence utter one word in favour of a Protective policy.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator knows that Mr. Blatchford advocated conscription.

Senator GARDINER - I am quite prepared to admit that the writer in the Clarion was driven to support conscrip- tion by stress of circumstances, but I am not willing to make a similar admission concerning the Minister for Defence as to Protection, although the pressure may be great.

We may assume that this highly Protective Tariff is going to cost Australia £50,000,000, and the people will have to find the money, and, seeing that the Government are submitting such a proposal, surely they should be prepared to show the people in what way the expenditure is justified. Of . course, we shall be told that there will be direct and indirect benefits - some will argue one way and some another - but we should have some tangible proof that high Protective duties are going to benefit the whole of the community, particularly ' when our taxation and expenditure are on the increase. Two British union secretaries - Mr. Thorpeof the Gas-workers Union and Mr. Inskip of the Boot and Shoe Operators Union - were sent as Labour delegates to represent Great Britain at the convention of the American Federation of Labour, held in Kansas City early in 1919, and on their return these statements were made : Mr. Thorpe said, "As a working man, I would not choose the United States as a home." Mr. Inskip ' came to the same conclusion. Speaking with . deference to., his American brethren, he is, nevertheless, of the opinion that the workers in England are better off than the workmen in the United States, for while the latter may earn more in actualcash, the purchasing capacity of their wages, for the necessaries of life is less, by comparison, than in England.

Senator Senior - That is merely an opinion; it is not argument.

Senator GARDINER - I know it is not argument; but it is the opinion of two gentlemen who went from England, which had been operating under a Free Trade policy for seventy years, to Protectionist America, and when they returned to their old home after exchanging opinions with the workers of the United States of America, they were of the opinion that the working men in poor, decrepit, old Free Trade England were better off than their fellows in the United States of America.

Senator Senior - There are thousands of people who, after remaining in Australia for a little while, would not go back to- England on any account.

Senator GARDINER - I know that association alters the aspect of life, but I can quite understand Englishmen, coming from those beautiful islands with their fine old home and park-like lands, having a natural longing to return to the country of their birth. My desire is to see this country thickly populated and developed in such a way that we shall be able to make use of the enormous resources at our disposal. If the resources of Australia are to be fully' utilized, the £50,000,000 which we will take out of the pockets of the Australian people by means of this Tariff could be spent in the development of the primary industries 'of Australia. If such a policy as that were adopted, we would have, not only 5,500,000 occupying this great continent, but a population of 50,000,000 and instead of looking for markets for our produce we would have sufficient people here to purchase and consume it.

What has Victoria accomplished in fifty years under a policy of Protection? In leaving Melbourne this afternoon for Sydney I shall travel through 180 miles of Victorian territory. What will I see?

Senator Duncan - Struggling industries.

Senator GARDINER - Virgin land, unimproved, untouched, and in practically the same condition as it was fifty years ago. That is Protection.

Senator Crawford - The honorable senator will see a lot of the poorest land in the State.

Senator GARDINER - Not at all. I feel like saying that it is in its present state because we have been working under a policy that makes the rich man richer and the poor poorer. Queensland has rich land.

Senator Crawford - And if one resides in Queensland it is not long before he realizes the difference between the taxation imposed in Victoria and in Queensland. <

Senator GARDINER - Queensland has rich sugar and banana land - in fact, the richest in the world.

Senator Wilson - And the most capable taxing Government in Australia.

Senator GARDINER - A very . fine Government. It is interesting to note that in connexion with the forthcoming by-election in Queensland this Government are not game enough to send a candidate to contest it. I was directing attention to the results which have been achieved in this State, with its English climate and beautiful land, during the last fifty years. I venture to say that after the first 30 miles on leaving Melbourne this afternoon I will see undulating lands, green verdure, a few sheep and cattle, but no' workmen. When we reach the' River Murray, what do we find ? On the Victorian side there is the struggling township of Wodonga, which has been under Protection for thirty years, and on the other - the prosperous side - the town df Albury, which has developed and progressed under Free Trade.

Senator Senior - In South Australia we have Tailem. Bend on one side and Murray Bridge on the other - both in the same State - and, similar conditions exist.

Senator GARDINER - In the good old days, when South Australia had a Protective Tariff, the South Australian people used to go to New South Wales to purchase material and take it back to South Australia to have it made up. They purchased in , ' New South Wales, where material was cheaper, and had it handled in South Australia, where wages were lower.

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.

Senator GARDINER - It is my intention to move that the Bill be returned to the House of Representatives, requesting the insertion of an amendment to reduce by 2½ per cent, the duty on all goods carried in vessels owned by the" Commonwealth Government.

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