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Wednesday, 16 October 1901
Page: 6118

Mr MA°UGER () - It is a sign that the honorable and learned member does not play fair himself or he would not impute motives to others. My right honorable friend the leader of the Opposition urged that New South Wales under his free-trade policy had made rapid progress industrially. What are the facts ? If a beginning is made from the year 1896, when the advantages of the free-trade policy commenced - or the nearest approach to free-trade New South Wales has yet possessed - it will be seen, ona comparison, that the progress of the five leading Australian States has been something as under. I am now quoting Coghlan's Seven Colonies ofAustralasia, at pages 598 to 601. My honorable friend the member for West Sydney can check my figures.

Mr McCay () - Possibly it will be said that Coghlan is paid by the manufacturers to say these things !

Mr MAUGER () - I suppose my honorable and learned friend, the member for Werriwa, would say so. But I am not imputing motives ; I am simply stating facts. In 1896 the number of hands employed in Victorian factories was 50,448, and in 1899 the number had increased to 60,070. These figures are up to the latest date I can get.

The increase in Victoria, therefore, in that period was 9,622. In Queensland there were 19,733 in 1896, and by 1899 the number had increased by 7,467. In South Australia there was an increase of 2,370. In New South Wales there was only an increase of 5,806. All the other States under protection had shown a greater ratio in their industrial expansion than had the great State of New South Wales.

Mr Hughes () - What industries are included in those figures ?

Mr MAUGER () - The whole of the industries which the factory inspector gives returns for. I am glad that the honorable member interjects with that question, because it enables me to state that the industries included in the New South Wales figures embrace 1,168 men in connexion with the sugar industry - an industry on which it was found necessary to continue the protection, or else these men would not have been maintained in their employment. It also includes 2,616 men employed in connexion with the Smelting Works. That makes the position of New South Wales worse than it would have been under other circumstances. My honorable friend claims that New South Wales is infinitely more prosperous than Victoria. The leader of the Opposition did the same. After three years' experience of that policy in the sister State, what was the right honorable member's view? I hold in my hand the first progress report of the Unemployed Advisory Board of New South Wales. Just a little time before the right honorable the leader of the Opposition vacated office as Premier of New South Wales he penned the following minute on it : -

For many years, at intervals, and constantly since 1890, the question of the unemployed and what to do with them has been pressing itself upon public notice.

Public works have been pressed on from time to time, but the trouble has proved to be one which is not to be solved in that way.

Honorable members will find that these public works werepressed on and paid for out of borrowed money, and that if Victoria had borrowed to the same extent during the same years, the men that my honorable friend talks of would have been employed in Victoria instead of being out of employment in New South Wales.

Mr Thomson () - Victoria borrowed just as much as New South Wales did in those years.

Mr MAUGER () - My honorable friend is wrong.

Mr Thomson () - If we include the borrowings of the subsidiary bodies, she did.

Mr MAUGER () - The honorable member is wrong again. They left off borrowing before that date.

Mr Crouch () - The last Metropolitan Board of Works loan was floated in 1891.

Mr MAUGER () - And the Harbor Trust left off borrowing beforethat time.

Mr Hughes () - There is at least one thing we have not done in New South Wales; we have not reduced our old-age pensions.

Mr MAUGER () - We have not done it yet.

Mr Hughes () - The Victorian Government is talking about doing so.

Mr MAUGER () - Let my honorable friend wait until Victoria does reduce the old-age pensions. The minute proceeds -

On Monday last Ireceived a deputation consisting of a number of citizens and some representatives of the unemployed who have devoted much time and evident ability to this subject, and these gentlemen have submitted an outline scheme. Without entering upon the various proposals therein set forth, at the present time, I consider that something should be done at once to deal with the evils made so manifest.

This is signed by " George Houstoun Reid," and it shows the result of his policy after only a three years' trial. Had not federation come about, and had not those manufacturers, who have urged that this is acceptable protection, been rescued, it is impossible to say what would have been the condition of New South Wales in another ten years. I have not given the whole of this interesting report. My honorable friend, the member for Macquarie, who addressed the House yesterday and this afternoon, was chairman of this unemployed board, and this is what he has to say about it--

Mr Harper () - What, the honorable member for Macquarie?

Mr MAUGER () - Yes, and he must admit that I am giving authorities. I am not making a wild statement and telling fairy tales for the amusement of the House. I am stating my authorities, their date and their page. The report is signed by Mr. Sydney Smith, the honorable member for Macquarie, and it sets forth that -

Efforts were made by the board to obtain reliable information as to the numbers and classes of persons at the present time out of employment in the colony. The board however, early recognised that, while there can be no doubt whatever as to the existence of deep and widespread distress, resulting from the want of employment by a large body of willing workers, no really reliable data can be obtained as to the actual number of persons so unemployed and of those more or less dependent upon them.

Mr Sydney Smith () - The honorable member must remember that we had had five years' drought in New South Wales.

Mr MAUGER () - We had had not only a drought, but a financial crisis unparalleled in the history of any of the States.

Mr Sydney Smith () - Will the honorable member quote from the report of the Victorian Unemployed Board, of which he was a member?

Mr MAUGER () - My board never reported ; a minority presented a report, and an effort was made by some of the members to use it for free-trade purposes ; but they were thwarted in their purpose.

Mr Sydney Smith () - The protectionists stopped it.

Mr MAUGER () - My honorable friend does not like it, although he is so exceedingly good tempered. This is his own report coming home to condemn him.

Mr Sydney Smith () - I am perfectly prepared to stand by every word I wrote in that report.

Mr MAUGER () - The report continues -

The number registered at the Government Labour Bureau is very large, and the superintendent (Mr. Creer) estimates the number of men at present unemployed, in Sydney and suburbs, at between 3,000 and 4,000, and from 8,000 to 10,000 in the whole colony, with a strong tendency to increase.

Mr Wilks () - In May last, according to her own reports, Victoria had 14,000 unemployed.

Mr MAUGER () - The honorable member is wrong again. The New South Wales Labour Commissioners were here in May last.

Mr SPEAKER () - I must ask honorable members to refrain from conversing in such a tone as to be heard all over the chamber, and to refrain from such continuous interjections'. It is impossible for the honorable member to make his speech in such a way as he ought to do while these interruptions are going on.

Mr MAUGER () - In New South Wales there are commissioners permanently appointed for looking after the unemployed problem, and those commissioners were among the guests at the opening of the Federal Parliament. I have it on their authority that there are as many thousands unemployed in New South Wales as there are hundreds in Victoria. I give my authority, and surely that is enough. But that is not all.

Mr Wilks () - If this Tariff is carried we shall be all unemployed in New South Wales.

Mr MAUGER () - The Ladies Benevolent Society of New South Wales reported, in the year that the right honorable the leader of the Opposition vacated office as Premier of that State, that there had been more cases of distress, more intense poverty, and more want of employment in that and the preceding year than ever there had been before in the history of their society. That is another evidence of the immense prosperity of New South Wales.

Mr Chanter () - And there were more blankets distributed among the poor during that time than ever there had been before.

Mr MAUGER () - The honorable member for Gippsland alluded to the Savings Banks deposits. I shall endeavour to avoid going over the same ground, but I wish to direct attention to another social indication of the position of the people afforded by the position of the friendly societies. Comparing the friendly societies of New South Wales with those of Victoria I find that in the first-named State the societies have £561,813 in funds, or 8s. 4d. per inhabitant, while in Victoria they have £l,15o,40S in funds, or 19s. lOd. per inhabitant. These splendid thrift organizations in Victoria have twice as much funds as the friendly societies of free-trade New South Wales. I could go on quoting statistics in regard to a number of other matters, but I should like, first of all, to call the attention of honorable members to a statement made by the honorable member for Macquarie as to the figures quoted by the Prime Minister relative to wages in the boot trade in Victoria. If he will look again at the schedule from which he quoted, he will find that the Prime Minister was exactly right in his quotations, while the honorable member was wrong altogether. I will not say that the honorable member was wilfully misrepresenting the facts, but it was a gross misrepresentation. He said that 37s. 6d. was the average wage paid to bootmakers in Victoria, and not 44s. 9d. per week as stated by the Prime Minister. Now what are the facts? The wage of 37s. 6d. per week is the minimum rate paid to 58 workers who have special permits. The average wage of 44s. 9d. per week is paid to 1,564 male employes in the boot trade in Victoria, so that the right honorable the Prime Minister was correct. The honorable member for Macquarie quoted the average wage paid to 58 men having special permits, and he omitted, wilfully or otherwise, the wages paid to the vast bulk of the employes. 1 have shown the House what are the wages and conditions of boot operatives in New South Wales. I have quoted authorities who ought to know better than does the wealthy importer whose telegram the leader of the Opposition read last evening. I should like briefly to allude to the remarks made by the honorable member for Macquarie this afternoon, in regard to the position of the working classes in England. Has the honorable member never heard of Tlie Bitter Cry ofOutcastLondon ? Has he never read of the white slaves of England ?

Mr Wilks () - The outcasts of New York.

Mr MAUGER () - I am dealing just now with London, and not with New York. That is a way which the free-traders have. Whenever we press them home, they want to shunt off somewhere else. Does the honorable member remember hearing of The Submerged Tenth ? I am going to quote the opinion of an honorable member of this House, who is a prominent free-trader, and of whose integrity there can be no question, in order to show the conditions of free-trade England within the last ten years. It is the opinion of the honorable member for Parramatta. He says -

I have seen with mine own eyes men with pretty constant work die like rats from sheer starvation, and all because of the decline of the export trade, and the increase of the imported article.

These words appear in a letter which v the honorable member for Parramatta published in the AustralianStar. Surely the honorable member for Dalley will not contend that free-trade England has been turned into a paradise during the last decade ! This is the evidence of an eye-witness who saw these things for himself, and who is a prominent member of the party to which the honorable member for Dalley belongs. The honorable member for Parramatta further says -

We sell at the lowest analysis our flesh and blood, our independence, our credit; and persistence in this kind of barter will lead to ruinous results.

I commend this to the attention of my honorable friends opposite. Then I hold in my hand a leaflet issued by the Fabian Society of London, and revised in February, 1898. I should like to mention, for the information of my honorable friends opposite, that men like Mr. Sydney Webb Mr. Bernard Shaw, Dr. Clifford, the Rev. Hugh Price Hughes, and others belong to this organization.

Mr Fowler () - They are all free-traders.

Mr MAUGER () - The honorable member does not realize that free-trade and protection are variable expedients.

Mr Fowler () - The honorable member wants to argue that the conditions which he pictures are inseparable from free-trade.

Mr MAUGER () - Nothing of the kind. I merely wish to show that the contention that free-trade has made a paradise of England has no foundation in fact.

Mr Fowler () - That is never contended.

Mr MAUGER () - Then I have yet to learn what is contended. The same thing has been contended to-day. It has been urged that free-trade has given a paradise to the people of England. It is said that there is no pauperism there, but that the sunshine of prosperity is blazing away in a manner unexampled in the world's history. Yet, in this leaflet - and every one of these leaflets is subjected to supervision before it is issued - it is stated -

Each day in the year about 1,000,000 persons in the United Kingdom are driven to accept relief as paupers. In the course of every year more than 2,000,000 of separate individuals are thus relieved. At least one in five persons over 65 is a pauper. In London alone there were on 1st January, 1897, 68,302 indoor, and 53,657 outdoor paupers, over 280,000 separate individuals falling for longer or shorter periods into this condition in the course of the year. One in every eight of deaths in London takes place in a workhouse or other Poor Law Institution.

This is not the worst side of the story. Over 50,000 children in England alone are in charge of the poor law authorities. No less an authority than John Burns has stated within the last two years that the London school boards estimate that there are 40,000 children daily attending their schools who are hungry, not having partaken of breakfast. Is there any such condition as that obtaining in any protectionist country to which honorable members can point 1 I have not heard of one.

Mr Wilks () - Any amount of them.

Mr MAUGER () - I have heard statements, but I have not heard of authorities, and I quote my authorities.

Mr Wilks () - What cure does this society provide ? Is it not socialism 1

Mr Higgins () - Their evidence is unimpeachable, because they are impartial.

Mr MAUGER () - I am endeavouring to point out that the rosy condition of England pictured by my honorable friends opposite, and which they attribute to freetrade, is altogether contrary to fact. I have alluded to the condition of England, as it is brought out in such books as The Bitter Cry qf Outcast London and Frank Heard's Cry qf the Children. I have also quoted as an authority an honorable member of this House. I have not been in England myself, and therefore cannot do more than quote my authorities.

Mr Wilks () - All these authorities are opposed to protection !

Mr MAUGER () - The honorable member seems to think that protection begins and ends with the Custom-house. Nothing of the kind. With me protection only begins there. It does not finish till it embraces in an Arbitration Act every toiler throughout Australia.

Mr Thomson () - How will the honorable member protect the primary producer 1

Mr MAUGER () - We are not dealing with the primary producer just now ; but if the honorable member will earnestly endeavour to protect the primary producer, I have no doubt that he will succeed in so doing. But carping at the statements of these men will not afford the primary producer any protection. Let me give some further evidence. I learn from the Manchester News that at a recent public meeting which was held in Manchester, the Rev. H. Mills moved -

That this meeting deplores the long hours which so many women and girls are compelled to labour, the scanty remuneration which they receive, and the insanitary conditions of so many work-rooms ; and calls upon all lovers of justice to endeavour to promote a happier state of things.

Speaking to this resolution Lady Dilke said : -

To show how necessary it was that women's wages should be raised, she. would quote a few cases. A Birmingham girl was making pens at 2s. per gross. A London woman made fancy aprons at 2s. 6d. a dozen, and could only earn lOd. a day by working sixteen hours. Hatch makers had 2id. per gross, and they had to find tow and paste, and in damp weather fire to dry the boxes.

Honorable members on the opposite side of the House talk about the duty upon nails, and yet they want to bring Victorian and Australian manufacturers into competition with this kind of thing. The same lady says : -

At Cradley Heath, where I was last year, I found girls working 75 hours in the week receiving 2s. 6d.

That is in free-trade England. I do not wish to weary tho House by dealing with the question of female labour, but I earnestly commend to the attention of my free-trade friends Hobson's Evolution of Modern Capitalism, in which book they will find it stated that all over the industrial world female labour is displacing male labour. Hobson says -

Modern manufacture with machinery favours the employment of women as compared with men. Each census during the last half-century shows that in England women are entering more largely into every department of manufacture, excepting certain branches of metal-work, machinemaking, and ship-building, &c, where great muscular strength is a prime factor in success.

From the table which is published by Hobson, we perceive that, while the number of males engaged in these manufactures in Great Britain has increased by 53 per cent, during the half century, from 1841 to 1891, the number of females has increased by 221 per cent. ; showing conclusively that the question of female labour displacing male labour has nothing whatever to with the fiscal issue, or with the question of free-trade or protection. . I would also commend to honorable members, if they are desirous of getting more information upon this subject, the recently published volumes of Women in Industrial Life.

Mr Tudor () - Who is the author ?

Mr MAUGER () - There are a number of authors, and Mrs. Sidney Webb edits the book. At page 182 of the volume it is stated -

In London alone there are 30,000 tailoresses, 20,000 of whom are in the East End, and 10 per cent, are always out of employment, while from 60 to 70 per cent, are earning less than 8s. per week.

That is in free-trade London.

Sir Edward Braddon () - How many of them are foreigners ?

Mr MAUGER () - I do not think my honorable friend is in earnest in asking that question.

Sir Edward Braddon () - I am very much in earnest.

Mr MAUGER () - I should like to say that in very many instances the foreign sweater is working these girls to death, but the girls themselves are daughters of Britain and are not foreigners.

Sir George Turner () - At all events, they are human beings.

Mr MAUGER () - At all events, as the Treasurer says, they are human beings, and whether they are foreigners or not does not affect my argument. Twenty thousand in London are earning 8s. a week, and the minimum wage under the Victorian Factories Act is £1 per week. Will any honorable friend tell me how a tailor could hope to compete with such conditions? In the old country they work for 8s. per week, when they can get work, and they work for fourteen hours a-day. In Victoria they are protected by legislation under which they get £1 per week, and work for 48 hours per week. Is competition under such circumstances as these anything like fair, or anything like possible?

Mr Thomson () - Have we not the natural protection ?

Mr MAUGER () - My honorable friend as a commercial man knows the value of natural protection.

Mr Thomson () - I do.

Mr MAUGER () - The honorable member knows, or he ought to know, that many of our commodities are absolutely brought out as ballast.

Mr Thomson () - What about wool ?

Mr MAUGER () - And then he talks about natural protection in the way of transit. In a number of cases shippers even pay to get goods to bring out as ballast for their vessels, that they may take back the wool the honorable member refers to. My honorable friend would send the wool back, have it made up in the old country, and have the manufactured article sent back here. That natural protection, so-called, goes for nothing, no one knows better than my honorable friend himself. He knows that the means of transit are being improved every day. He knows that the large oceangoing steamers are greatly reducing their freight charges, and he knows very well that, as time goes on, the distance between London and Melbourne, Manchester and Melbourne, and New York and Melbourne is becoming less as regards the transit of goods.

Sir George Turner () - And they allow discount to cover it.

Mr MAUGER () - And as my right honorable friend says they allow discount to cover it. I intended to refer to America, and before concluding I may be excused for reading one extract from a lecture delivered as late as July, this year, in America, by Professor Gunton, before the Institute of' Social Economics. The Institute of Social Economics is comprised of the leading men in New York and in America. The Chancellor of the New York University is president and the Chancellor of the Cornell University is a member. All the leading literary and intellectual men belong to this institute. Speaking of the progress of America and the working classes, the professor said -

As an index to this, we find that the consumption per capita in the United States is higher than that of any other country.

Then he quoted Mulhall, the great English authority, who had no prejudice in favour of that country, and he said -

He tells us that in 1894, for instance, the consumption of textiles, hardware, leather, and other manufactures per inhabitant in England (which is the highest of any country outside of the United States) was 138s. a year; in the United States 148s. So of the earnings per capita, of the population. He says it is £36 per inhabitant in England ; £31 in France ; £25 in Germany ; £17 in Austria ; £14 in Italy ; and £44 in the United States. In other words that, measured in pence, the daily earnings per inhabitant are 24 in Great Britain and Canada ; 20 in France ; 16 in Germany ; 11 in Austria ; 10 in Italy ; and 30 in the United States.

My honorable friend the member for West Sydney spoke about strikes in the United States, and when I asked him what the present strike was over, he did not appear to know. I shall tell honorable members. The great strike in connexion with the Steel Trust in America is not for higher wages. The men are evidently satisfied with their wages. It is not for shorter hours.

Mr Wilks () - It is for the fun of it.

Mr MAUGER () - It is not for the fun of it. The honorable member thinks of nothing but fun, and that is one of the difficulties in dealing with a serious matter like this. The strike in America at the present time is for the principle of unionism. There are a number of engineer shops in America that have not yet come under the influence of the Engineers' Union of that great continent, and the struggle going on at the present time is conducted by men who are in a sufficiently comfortable position to wage industrial warfare in the interests of unionism, in order to embrace in the union the whole of the employes in the trade. When does my honorable friend remember a strike of such magnitude for such a cause in any free-trade country ? I have not time to quote statistics in connexion with a dozen different trades, showing the relative amount of wages paid in America and in England, but I shall quote a few words of the late esteemed President McKinley in regard to a Tariff, and in regard to fiscal proposals. Let me say that as a protectionist, as one who is in no way directly interested in manufacturing concerns in Victoria, but as one who knows all about the requirements of these industries and the competition they have got to face, the Victorian manufacturers in many instances are dissatisfied with this Tariff - not because it is too high, but because such enormous reductions upon the Victorian Tariff have been made in it. I say that advisedly. Take, for instance, the shirt and collar trade. The Government make a reduction at one swoop in that trade from 35 per cent. to 20 per cent., and then add 10 per cent. and 15 per cent. to the raw material. Take the industry of hats: they reduce the protection there from 24s. and 34s. a dozen down to 10s. a dozen and 15 per cent. Then my honorable friends talk about the poor working farmer. The farmer is getting a better and a cheaper hat now than he ever did before in the history of Victoria.

Mr Thomson () - Then what is the good of that big duty?

Mr MAUGER () - My honorable friend is sufficiently well acquainted with commercial life to know that, so far as the cheaper article is concerned, it would not matter if they reduced the duty by one-half. The cheaper hat would not come into Victoria. There is no labour in connexion with it. It is made of a little wool, and by machinery. It is the better class of hats that will be imported, the hat that needs workmanship and skill of the' highest class. And that is the sort of hat we should insist upon the workmen of Victoria producing.

Mr Thomson () - Then will the honorable member say why there is a duty on the lower class article?

Sir George Turner () - Because they would swamp us.

Mr MAUGER () - Because by supporting our Australian mills in regard to the higher class article we shall get well served in regard to the lower class article. The farmer and the artisan can get for1s.11d. as good a hat as any working man desires to wear. The hat can be produced for that, and can be bought for 2s. 6d. in almost every country town in Victoria. Then; too, a farmer can buy a pair of boots for from 3s. l1d. to 4s. 6d. Where does the bleeding and the taxation come in 1 Take the glass industry. In that industry the duty has been reduced by 40 or 50 per cent., and a new duty for revenue purposes has been put upon raw material. The House must carefully consider these anomalies, and earnestly try to carry out the programme of the Government without the destruction of any industry. I am prepared to admit that Victoria must make sacrifices as New South Wales must make sacrifices. Under our present Constitution we cannot get an ideal Tariff; we cannot get the Tariff which I desire.

Mr Cameron () - I hope not.

Mr MAUGER () - If we did, there would be a very big free list, with adequate protection for the articles we can produce ; and the effect would be more local consumption, more local work, and better conditions for the employer and the purchaser.

Mr Cameron () - And no revenue for the States.

Mr MAUGER () - I admit that it' is the exigencies of revenue which require the passing of the Tariff which has been introduced. We cannot get what we desire, and what I believe to be absolutely necessary to pay the minimum wage provided for under our Factories Act. In connexion with the hatting industry we have a trades union which is as powerful as any legal enactment. Every man and woman employed in the hatting industry of Victoria - and there is no hatting industry worthy of the name in any of the other States - belongs to a trades union, and receives a minimum weekly wage - not an average wage - of £3.

Mr Page () - The women as well?

Mr MAUGER () - The women receive 25s. a week. If new machinery is introduced, the trades union is strong enough to require that a journeyman, and not a boy, shall be told off to work and take care of it. Do honorable members mean to' say that under such conditions the Victorian manufacturers could, without protection, compete with Italian manufacturers, who pay per day no more than we are called upon to payper hour ?

Sir Edward Braddon () - That is in protectionist Italy !

Mr MAUGER () - My right honorable friend appears to think that protection at the Custom-house is the beginning and the end. He does not know the alphabet of the science he is talking about. If it stopped there, it would be absolutely futile. I have tried to show that protection without trades unions, Arbitration Acts, and wages boards is protection only in name - protection for the employer and not for the community.

Sir Edward Braddon () - There is no man living but knows that it is futile.

Mr MAUGER () - President McKinley is not living, it is true, but his words live after him, and I venture to think that he was as great, self-sacrificing, and noble as is the right honorable gentleman. Men like Horace Greeley, Garfield, and Lincoln were not fools. They guided successfully the destinies of one of the greatest countries in the world. I could quote, did time permit, the opinions of the leading professors of economy in the German universities. Is my right honorable friend not going to take into consideration the economic thought of the times, or does he contend that the last word has been spoken upon the subject of political economy ? Will he contend that political economy is not a progressive science ? Will he not agree with Ruskin that it is the corelation of facts pertaining to the times to which they relate ? What are the words of wisdom spoken by President McKinley on this subject ? -

A low Tariff or no Tariff has always increased the importation of foreign goods until our money ran out ; multiplied our foreign obligations ; produced a balance of trade against the country ; supplanted the domestic producer and manufacturer ; impaired the farmer's home market without improving his market abroad ; undermined domestic prosperity ; decreased the industries of the nation ; diminished the value of nearly all our property and investments ; and robbed labour of its just rewards. . . . This is the verdict of our history, and .... the verdict of history in the case of other nations.

Are these words to be ignored? Are they meaningless? Was it a fool who spoke them ? Is all the wisdom of the world on the side of the economists represented by my right honorable friend ? I could quote Cardinal Manning, Horace Greeley, and the author of Alton Locke, to show the condition which free-trade brought about in England, but time will not permit. As a native of the Commonwealth, I am anxious to do all I can for this young nation, in view of the possibilities of industrial and national development. Looking at the nations of the earth - above all, looking at the federated nations - I can come to no other conclusion than that those which have adopted the policy I have the honour to be associated' with have found progress attendant upon its wake, and neither Germany, Switzerland, Canada, nor America has ever attempted to plunge into the gulf of despair which my honorablefriends opposite would lead the Commonwealth into.

Mr Sydney Smith () - By way of personal explanation, I should like to say that I would not willingly misquote any document I might give to the House. During this debate I took the opportunity to quote from an official document prepared by the Government of Victoria, giving the rate of wages paid in the various trades, but the honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that I misrepresented it. What are the facts? Just as I stated them. The Prime Minister said that in boots and shoes the general average wage paid to males was 44s. 9d. for 48 hours. I showed that according to Appendix B the average rate for 2,628 - not 58 - was 34s. 5d.

Sir George Turner () - That includes piece-work.

Mr Mauger () - To what report is the. honorable member referring ?

Mr Sydney Smith () - The report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops for 1900. The Prime Minister said that for females the average rate was 22s.; but according to this report, for 1,304 females it is 14s. 7d. Then I pointed out that in the cabinet-making trade the Prime Minister had said that the average rate was 44s. 9d. for 48 hours. I find that I did misquote him in that respect. Instead of putting it at 40s. 5d. I gave the workers the benefit by taking the figures above, 42s. 4d. The 40s. 5d. is the exact rate fixed by the inspector, and quoted in this report as against 44s. 9d. stated by the right honorable gentleman. Then I pointed out that in regard to the shirt-making trade he said that 21s. per week is the average rate, whereas, according to this report, it is 14s. 4d. I only make this explanation to show that I was perfectly correct, notwithstanding the contradictions of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, in giving the rates as fixed by the chief inspectors in Victoria. What does he say to that?

Mr. Mauger,in explanation : I was particularly careful not to impute motives, but to say that I believed the honorable member for Macquarie had made a mistake. I repeat, the fact that he has quoted the piecework figures does not in any way alter the statement I made that the average he quoted this afternoon related to the small number I was speaking of.

Motion (by Mr. Poynton) negatived -

That the debate be now adjourned.