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Wednesday, 9 June 1926

Senator McHUGH (South Australia) . - I have listened with interest to the debate, and to the case presented by Senators McLachlan and Barwell. If I needed convincing, those honorable senators have certainly convinced me that the duty should, if .necessary, be 50 rather than 40 per cent.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - If a duty of 100 per cent, were demanded, the honorable senator would vote for

Senator McHUGH - It is a pity Senator Barwell does not exhibit the same patriotic spirit that has been displayed by Mr. Webb, the South Australian Railways Commissioner in relation to the country from which he comes.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - He Lad nothing to do with the matter; it was settled by the State Government, entirely.

Senator McHUGH - When South Australia required some trucks and louvre cars, the Barwell Government was prepared to send £1,000,000 to the United States of America for them. Incidentally, the Railways Commissioner - and Senator Barwell boasted of it this afternoon - found it convenient to " sack " 340 good South Australian workmen, so that employment could be found in America in the construction of those vehicles.

Senator Findley - Then the reason for the men's dismissal was that the Government had sent work out of the country?

Senator McHUGH - That is so. We know that there was a shortage of trucks and other rolling-stock in South Australia; but Senator Barwell had been in office for six or seven years, and he took a long time to realize the position. Then suddenly he took a trip to Great Britain, and America, and selected a good American to manage the South Australian railways. I claim that Australia can furnish men as competent as Mr. Webb in the management of railways, and having a better acquaintance with Australian conditions. It is regrettable that men like Senator Barwell, who have no love for their native country, are placed in governmental control. Their sympathies lie with foreigners. We have heard a good deal about engines of the Mountain, Pacific, and Mikado types, and I accept the figures compiled, evidently at considerable trouble to himself, by Senator McLachlan. He has informed us of the difference between the cost of obtaining the engines from Messrs. Armstrong, Whitworth and Company, and the sum they would have cost if built in Australia. Senator McLachlan laid stress upon the time required for delivery, but he did not say that the engines that were now arriving should have reached Australia last October. They have not yet been assembled .

Senator McLachlan - One of them has.

Senator McHUGH - Yes, and it has spread the rails in the locality where it has been run.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - That is not so.

Senator McHUGH - During the next six months I would not ride behind one of them for £100.

Senator McLachlan - Then the honorable senator will require leave of absence from the Senate.

Senator McHUGH - I should prefer to motor from Adelaide to Melbourne.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - Where have rails been spread by one of these engines ?

Senator McHUGH - Near the Adelaide jail.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - I do not believe it.

Senator McHUGH - I do. A good many more rails will be spread by these engines. They range in weight from 180 to 234 tons, and are among the heaviest in the world. Senator Barwell did not tell us what it has cost to rehabilitate the South Australian railway system. The expenditure runs into many thousands of pounds. Hundreds of men are employed at rates of 16s. and 17s. a day in preparing the lines for the heavy locomotives. But the engine-drivers are refusing to go upon the new engine.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - That has always been the spirit of Labour. It refuses to accept new machinery.

Senator McHUGH - Labour does nothing of the sort. It simply makes its motto " Safety first." It also contends that engines suitable for Australian requirements can be built in this country.

Senator Kingsmill - What did the engineer say?

Senator McHUGH - Mr. Webb is not an engineer, but he sent a young man named Rhea to have a look at them. This individual boasted that in the United States of America the engines were sometimes slowed down to 60 miles an hour ! The population of South Australia is only 600,000. New South Wales has a population of 2,250,000; yet she makes her own engines. The South Australian Railways Commissioner was obtained from a country where the population is 110,000,000. Forty-ton trucks have been introduced in South Australia, but they will only be running for about three months in the year. Sixteen and 20-ton trucks are ample for the ordinary requirements of that State.

Senator Pearce - Why not transfer this domestic quarrel to the South Aus tralian Parliament?

Senator McHUGH - I have not wasted any time during this debate; I am merely replying to the arguments that have been advanced. This is only the third occasion on which I have spoken on the schedule. Senator Barwell stated that, for efficency, Australian railway workshops were not comparable with those of the United States of America. Naturally so; but so long as we continue to send railway work out of the country we shall never be able to reach the standard of efficiency that has been attained abroad.

Senator Findley - I decline to believe that our standards of workmanship are not equal to those of America.

Senator Thompson - The proof is in the price.

Senator McHUGH - Adopting that line of argument, we should advocate that our sugar should be procured, not from Queensland, but from the East, If we. are to buy in the cheapest markets, we should obtain our sugar from black-labour countries for perhaps 2d. per lb., and get, bananas from Fiji.

Senator Foll - The honorable senator is "off the rails " now.

Senator McHUGH - I invite honorable senators to forget parish-pump politics, and protect a big Australian industry. Australia stands for bounties on sugar, beef, and fruit, and is even prepared to help Tasmania with its hops. The following is portion of a speech made in this chamber some years ago: -

Senator LYNCH - I am submitting this request quite as much in the interests of the primary producers, who seem to be specially catered for here, as in the interests of any other section of the community,I appeal to those who are bent upon securing a protectionist tariff to take heed of the total value of the importations at the old rate of 12? per cent. It ought to be a sufficient ground to a protectionist to increase the rate when ha is reminded that in . 1906 our imports under this item were valued at ?162,172, Those figures include articles which come under item 146, and perhaps other items.

Senator Trenwith.That total covers a large number of items.

Senator LYNCH - It should be an unchallengeable argument with any person who wants to see a. reasonable protectionist duty imposed on item 145. Let me take the articles which it includes. Cane loaders on wheels are farming implements for Hie use of canegrowers in Queensland and New South Wales, whale we give a protection of ?6 per ton to cane-growers in Australia, I do not see any logic in not asking them to stand a reasonable burden of protection in order that their farming implements may be made locally.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Newlands - Does the honorable senator intend to connect his remarks with the item before the committee?

Senator McHUGH - Yes. On that occasion, Senator Lynch continued -

If we protect the products of the primary producers - for instance, their butter, cheese, bacon, hay, corn, and other articles - is there any injustice in asking them in their turn to bear a share of the burden of protection in order to help a large body of consumers alongside them?

Senator Millen - It is a burden, then?

Senator LYNCH - It will be a burden until such time as our industries arc firmly established', and then I believe that the farmers will get their implements very much more cheaply than they do at the present time.

I take that from a speech delivered by Senator Lynch in 1908. Honorable senators can see howhe has somersaulted since then. Later in the debate, Senator W. Russell said -

As a friend, I ask Senator Lynch to withdraw his 'request. I recognize in him a genuine protectionist, but with' a tendency sometimes to go a bit too far.

Senator Lynch - What was the dutythen?

Senator McHUGH - The proposal was to increase the duty from 12? per cent, to 20 per cent. The honorable senator's action since then proves conclusively that environment frequently alters men.

Senator Lynch - There was no 40 per cent. then.

Senator McHUGH - A protection of 40 per cent. was not necessary then; but it is now. I object to these incursions being made by foreigners.

Senator H Hays - The British workman is not a foreigner.

Senator McHUGH - Any one born outside Australia is a foreigner. If I went bo England I should be a foreigner. I hope that the item will' be agreed to, because, as an Australian, I desire to see this country self-contained. The best way to achieve that end is by a scientific protective tariff which will make for efficiency and provide good conditions for Australian workmen.

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