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Friday, 26 June 1903

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - I entirely differ from the honorable member for Parramatta in the view which he entertains of this proposal. What is the attitude which he adopts ? In effect, he says that we should not sanction the payment of any bonus to encourage the cotton industry, because it is a tropical industry. He alleges that in other countries all such industries lead to trouble because they are carried on by coloured labour. His statement is practically equivalent to a declaration that, in the framing of a Tariff having a protective incidence, the whole of the northern portions of South Australia, Western Australia, and Queensland should be accorded no consideration. Apparently we are to look only to the southern portion of Australia - to those regions south of a line extending from Brisbane across the continent. We are to bring allthe people to the southern districts and to let the north go hang. Was that his idea in advocating a white Australia policy?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is a figment of the honorable and learned member's own fancy.

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - I am very glad to hear that it is not the honorable member's idea. Here is an industry which we know from experience can be successfully carried on by white labour.

Mr Page - What was the experience in Queensland?

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - I will give the honorable member the figures -

Beginning in 1862, when 14,344 lbs. of cotton were exported, of an average value of1s.11d. per lb., and up to the year 1871, during which period 20,000,000 lbs. were exported, the cotton industry flourished. Then came a gradual decline, and finally abandonment of production.

Special reasons contributed to that result. What I have read is an extract from an article in the Queensland Agricultural Journal of 1st February, 1901, by Mr. D. Jones, on the cotton industry, and it shows the growth and expansion which took place in Queensland. I think I am right in saying that at that time the industry was carried on almost exclusively by white labour, to which it is our desire to give every possible employment. I have in my possession a book written by Dr. Lang, and published in 186 1, in which awhiteAustralia policy was advocated. Amongst other questions Dr. Lang asked was as to what was to be the mission of Queensl and as a com ponen t part of the Empire, the writer, even at that early stage, standing out as an Imperialist. He regarded Queensland as a desirable field for immigration; and he endeavoured to prove that there was a possibility of successfully establishing in Australia, even in what are called tropical regions, a white population engaged in the production of such staples as cotton and sugar. Dr. Lang devoted a great deal of time and energy to this matter. He went to the old country and published pamphlet after pamphlet, and in his book there is a long chapter on the question of cotton growing. The result of his effort was that a large number of immigrants came to Queensland from Great Britain and engaged in the cotton industry, and these people now form some of the best colonists possessed by that State. I am sure that it is the desire of the honorable member for Parramatta to have as many white people as possible settled in all parts of Australia.


Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - -My position is that cotton-growing is an industry which can give employment to white people, and that if it can be promoted by a small bonus, sympathy and encouragement ought to be extended to it. It has been proved that cotton can be grown in Australia if encouragement be given.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Pine-apples could be grown at the North Pole with " encouragement."

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - I trust we are speaking within the bounds of reason, and not resorting to exaggerated or absurd arguments. We hear a good deal at the present time about trade reciprocity, and in England there is a great demand for cotton, which may open the way for trade reciprocity. In the London Daily Mail, of the 23rd March last, there is an article on the question, in which the following occurs : -

There hits been a scarcity of raw cotton for three years past, although the demand is constantly increasing, and most of the Lancashire mills hare hari to work short time for a part of each year, because they could not get cotton enough to spin, and, for that which was to be had, exorbitant prices were demanded. This caused great loss to the employers last year, and the Operatives' Society spent £10,000 in outofwork pay in Oldham alone.

That shows clearly that in England there is a shortage, and the article, which gives the reason, proceeds -

In 1890 the cotton crop was 7,311. 302 bales : of that Great Britain took 38 per- cent, and the States 32 percent. In 1902. the crop was some 10,700,000 bales, of which the United States took 37 per cent, and Great Britain 28 per cent.

Then come the significant words -

The greater the demand America places on her own crop, the greater is the anxiety of the English manufacturers to protect themselves by finding fresh sources of supply, for while cotton consumption has increased by only 3'G per cent, in Britain in the last ten years, the increase in the States has been 00 '75 per cent.

That is to say, there is such great demand for the raw material in the United States, that there is at the present time a shortage in the old country ; and the British Cotton Growers' Association has been formed with the view of promoting the growth of cotton within the British Empire, their attention being directed to Australia, amongst other countries. As shown in another book which I recently read, the cotton industry is not only possible in Queensland, but, according to some experts, could l>e successfully carried on even as far south as Victoria, and in many parts of New South Wales. Undoubtedly, there is a large area in Australia where the commodity could be produced. The honorable member for Moreton has done valuable service in bringing this matter before us. The fact has been emphasized that there is a great demand for raw cotton in England, and we have had undoubted testimony, afforded in the samples submitted for inspection in the chamber, that the industry can be carried on successfully in Australia. The desire of the honorable member is not to give the subsidy to any particular company ; his desire is that some encouragement should be given to any factory in Australia, and that a market should at the same time be found for an additional product of white labour. Under the circumstances, however, I feel that the honorable member for Moreton cannot do otherwise than withdraw the motion, as suggested by the Minister for Trade and .Customs.

Mr. HENRYWILLIS (Robertson).The honorable member for Moreton is to be congratulated on bringing forward this question, and presenting to the House all the facts connected with the cotton industry. This is one of the many industries which cannot possibly be established in Australia without assistance, and the usual experience is that when such an industry has been set on foot, the required quantity of the material cannot be produced without the employment of inferior labour. We have enacted legislation to prevent the importation of inferior labour into Australia, and the people who are interested in this industry say that the next best thing for them is a bonus. There is no doubt that with the assistance of a bonus it is possible to fully carry out the undertaking made with the Government; but we may rest assured that immediately the bonus is exhausted the factory will be closed up, and, as was pointed out by the Minister for Trade and Customs, the whole of the .-610,000 worth of machinery left idle. The bonus of £5,000 offered by the Queensland Government having become exhausted, those engaged in the industry find that they are unable to proceed without either cheap labour or further financial assistance, and they therefore now appeal to the Federal Government for a second instalment in the terms of this motion. I am of opinion- that, like many other industries, cannot be regarded as an industry native to Australia, seeing that it cannot possibly be carried on without inferior labour or a bonus ; and the bonus system is one of the most pernicious that can be introduced in a young community. I am further of opinion that this is not a social question, but purely a fiscal question. So long as the law against the importation of inferior labour remains, such labour cannot be employed in a cotton factory, so that no social question is raised in the sense expressed by the honorable member for Parramatta. It is purely a fiscal question - whether there shall be a bonus, or whether there shall be an excessive protective duty. The Queensland firm engaged in the cotton industry have found that the Minister for Trade and Customs has a weakness for bonuses, and they have been able to influence the honorable member for Moreton to bring forward this motion, believing that they are as much entitled to assistance in this shape as those engaged in the sugar industry or in the iron industry, whose cause the Minister for Trade and Customs has taken up so enthusiastically. It has been found in the case of the cotton industry, as in the case of other industries elsewhere, that immediately a bonus is exhausted, and employes are to be discharged, an application is made for an increased bonus or protection. . History is repeating itself in this country, as it has repeated itself in every other country where a bounty system has been established. I am pleased to find that the Government have no intention of supporting this motion beyond affording the cold and unsympathetic statement? that at some future time it may be considered.

Mr Page - How does the honorable member know that?

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