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Thursday, 12 June 1902

Mr HUGHES (West Sydney) - I ask any reasonable man how much progress we can expect to make with this Bill to-night? Presumably, if we get on well now, we shall have another "go" to-morrow morning; and, if we do not get on well, the Bill will be thrown under the table.

Mr Kingston - No, no.

Mr Deakin - We have to deal with Supply to-morrow.

Mr HUGHES - Then it appears that if we get on well to-night, we may deal with Supply to-morrow, and then resume the consideration of this Bill. It is not fair to make such a request to an Opposition which would have been where the Government now are had it not been for an unkind stroke from a non-combatant - from one of the ambulance corps, so to speak. The Government ought to help honorable members and the country by getting on with the Electoral Bill, and allow us to go home. It is unreasonable, in the absence of 35 members, to ask honorable members to deal with a Bill of this nature, especially as we know very well that when it reaches another place, there will be found against it a majority which will send it flying. In the whole history of bonus Bills, nothing more extraordinary has been introduced, and to allow it to leave this Chamber in its present form would be a reflection on the intelligence of honorable members.

Motion negatived.

Mr. THOMSON(North Sydney).- According to Division VIa. in the Tariff Bill, a proclamation is to issue when it is certified by the Minister that the manufacture has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth " according to the provisions of any law relating to bonuses." I should say that that means the insertion in the Bill of some provisions to indicate what will be considered a sufficient establishment of the industry. I should like an expression of opinion from the Minister as to whether he deems the Bill as it stands sufficient to meet the conditions laid down in Division VIa. of the Tariff.

Mr KINGSTON - I think the provisions in the Bill are quite sufficient ; in fact, I do not entertain any doubt on the point. If necessary, any further provisions could be inserted in the regulations, or in some portion of the Bill.

Mr. FOWLER(Perth).- I suggest to the Government that a more correct title would be the "Manufactures Discouragement Act," in view of the fact that if the price of iron is to be anything like that which the Minister anticipates, the measure will prove one of the greatest discouragements imaginable to the manufacturers who have to use the raw material.

Mr. HUGHES(West Sydney).- I regard "Manufactures Encouragement Act" as a very inappropriate short title. The Bill is ill-adapted to encourage manufactures, though well adapted for the encouragement of monopolies. The Bill is certainly not calculated to encourage manufactures, and I intend to test the opinion of the committee upon the question whether it should not be labelled with its true title, as a Bill to encourage a direct monopoly. We on this side wish to establish the iron industry as a monopoly under the control of either the States or the Commonwealth ; and, although the Minister told us that he had in South Australia supported State enterprise, and found it good, we must judge him, not by what he says, but by what he does. We find that he has on this occasion deliberately turned his back upon the establishment of the iron industry as a State or Commonwealth monopoly. And a monopoly it must be in any case. It is practically impossible unless they can get completecontrol of the Australian market to get any body of men to embark as much money in this enterprise as will lead to the production of a sufficiently large quantity of iron or steel to entitle them to receive the promised bonus. There is not room in. Australia for two enterprises of the kind. We must always have a large volume of imports, and as the keen competition of older countries is continually increasing the productivity of their machinery and work-shops, those imports will be cheaper than our own productions. Thus, even without a competitor in Australia, any company starting here will have all it can do to stand against foreign manufacturers. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports must support my proposal, because he wishes to give the Commonwealth power to resume these works if they pay. But I have shown that they can pay only under one set of circumstances - if they are a monopoly. Therefore, with that native consistency which marks all the representatives of this State, he will have to cast his vote with those on this side of the Chamber. It will be a change for him, but it will teach the Government the frailty of human support. If lam asked by my constituents - "Did you vote against a Bill for the encouragement of manufactures VI wish to be able to answer - " No ; but I voted against a Bill to encourage monopolies." Therefore, that the true title of the Bill may be set out on its face, so that all may read it, I move -

That the word " manufactures " be omitted, with a view to the insertion of the word " monopolies."

The CHAIRMAN - I cannot accept the amendment, because both the GovernorGeneral's message and the order of leave provide for the introduction of a Bill relating to bonuses -for the encouragement of manufactures, and contain no mention of monopolies.

Mr. BATCHELOR(South Australia).No doubt the ruling of the Chairman is the right one; but I suggest - with no intention of stone- walling - that, in order that honorable members may not have cast upon them the obloquy of voting against a Bill to give encouragement to manufactures, we should adopt a title which will set forth its real effect. It is not a measure to encourage manufactures generally ; it is a Bill having for its object the offering of inducements for the establishment of a certain industry. To some extent it isa Bill to discourage manufactures, inasmuch as it holds out to investors the inducement to hang back until they can obtain from the Government bonuses for the establishment of their enterprises. I therefore move -

That the word "encouragement" be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " bonus." 3S t 2

Mr. WILKS(Dalley).- I am actuated by motives similar to those which actuated the last speaker. Now that the Minister has determined to proceed with the Bill, I desire to assist him. It is a remarkable thing, however, that the two last speakers, who are well known and trusted representatives of labour, both consider the Bill, not a measure for the encouragement of manufactures, but a measure for the encouragement of monopolies. In point of fact it cannot becalled a " Manufactures EncouragementBill," because its effect will undoubtedly be to cause all intending manufacturers to hang back until they can obtain bonuses. Noticehas already been given of amendments forapplying the provisions of the Bill to otherindustries besides the iron industry. For the Minister to expect to establish the iron industry by the offer of a bonus of £250,000, which is to be doled out over a period of five years, is absurd. Do honorable gentlemen know the extent of the iron industry in America ? According to Bothwell, the total production of pig-iron there in 1900 was 14,000,000 tons, and of steel 10,250,000 tons; while the capital invested in the industry amounts to £2,000,000,000. The Age, in an issue of the 11th June, 1891, speaking upon the bonus system, says -

The object of protection is to protect the native producer in the home market, and not to give him an advantage abroad. All attempts to give him this advantage have failed, because it is found that in practice the bonus is appropriated, by the exporter or his agent, and never reaches the actual producer at all. This is, perhaps, why the bonus system is so much approved by the foreign trade party, and disliked by protectionists.

I shall support the amendment, because I consider that the Bill is wrongly named, and that it is really a measure to make a free gift on behalf of the Commonwealth to mere speculators.

Mr. HUGHES(West Sydney).- I am sorry that I did not quite catch the Chairman's ruling that my amendment was out of order. The best thing I can do now is to support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor. I wish to explain why his, amendment is not only in order, but is admirably descriptive of the object of the measure. This is a Bill to give bonuses to manufacturers. If it is not intended to give bonuses to manufacturers, to whom are the bonuses to be paid? If A were a manufacturer, it would not be proposed under this Bill to pay a bonus to B because he happened to be a half-brother, or uncle, or some other relative of A's. Myamendmentexpressed ina few blunt words what I thought to be the objectof themeasure, and although theChairman was doubtless right within the narrow limits of parliamentary practice, the truth will prevail outside, and the world will know what the real object of the Bill is. I do not see why the Government should oppose the amendment of the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, which is a very proper one.

Mr. McDONALD(Kennedy ).- The exact object of this measure should be expressed in its title. The title which now appears in the Bill was framed in order to lead people outside to believe that the Government were making every effort to encourage various forms of industry, but if an industry does not prove successful, it will receive no encouragement whatever under the provisions of the Bill. I think the amendment proposed by the honorable member for South Australia is a good one. If the Bill is passed in its present form it must create a monopoly. We are told that one large company has been formed, with a capital of £700,000, to carry on the iron industry, and it cannot be seriously contended that any other company is likely to enter the field. It would be better for the whole community if any profits derived from carrying on the industry were appropriated for the benefit of the community as a whole, instead of being passed into the pockets of a few individuals. Does the Minister for Trade and Customs expect that a bonus of £250,000 will afford local manufacturers sufficient protection against the huge steel trust in America, which has a capital of £260,000,000? The competition of such a combination is not to be " snuffed out " by means of a paltry £250,000. The only way in which we can successfully maintain the iron industry within the Commonwealth is by making it a State monopoly.

Mr Salmon - How would the honorable member overcome outside competition ?

Mr McDONALD - If the iron industry werea State monopoly, I should be prepared to support measures which would have the effect of excluding all iron manufactures from foreign countries, which would come into competition with our own products. I should be sufficiently a protectionist , to adopt that course. The amendment, should be agreed to, so that people outside may have a proper idea of the scope and purpose of the Bill. It is undesirable that we should proceed with a detailed discussion of the provisions of the measure at present. Several honorable members desire to propose amendments, and these should be printed and circulated, so that we may have an opportunity of considering them.

Mr. FOWLER(Perth).- The present title of the Bill is far too general to indicate exactly what is intended. If this measure should prove successful, I have no doubt that the Government will propose to offer bonuses for the encouragement of other industries, and in that event, they will have some difficulty in fixing upon a title for any new measure. Would they call it - " Manufactures Encouragement Bill, No. 21" The title of the Bill should specifically state the form of encouragement that is to be given and the industries to which it is to be extended - iron and zinc. Other manufacturers will then know exactly where they are, and may possibly be encouraged to apply to the Government for a proportionate share of the taxation imposed upon this unfortunate community.

Mr. BATCHELOR(South Australia).Does the Minister agree to change the title of the measure to that of " The Manufactures Bonus Act " '?

Mr Kingston - I do not think so.

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