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Friday, 11 March 1904

The SPEAKER - Order ! The right honorable member will have the right to speak later.

Mr Watson - What has Federation to do with the construction of a railway to Esperance any more than with the construction of developmental railways anywhere else ?

Mr KINGSTON - The construction of this line is necessary to improve the communication between different parts of the Commonwealth.

Mr Watson - But the same might be said of railways in other States.

Mr KINGSTON - If there are any such, to which my remarks can be applied, let them be attended to. The honorable member will not find me advocating one policy for one State and a different policy for another.

Mr Watson - This opens up a very wide vista.

Mr KINGSTON - All I can say is that the opening up of a port by railway extension may be an improvement in communication of the very greatest importance.

Sir John Forrest - Why not a line from Penola to Casterton?

Mr KINGSTON - All right; the right honorable gentleman had better look into it.

Sir John Forrest - The right honorable gentleman would not support it.

Mr Tudor - Or from Mount Gambier to Portland?

Mr KINGSTON - I hope that if the Federal construction of a railway is advocated from Mount Gambier, it will be such an extension as will be to the best advantage of the whole Commonwealth.

Sir John Forrest - Why did the right honorable gentleman promise to do this making no mention of Esperance Bay ?

Mr KINGSTON - Would it not mean a double advantage. Does the right honorable gentleman want to block up Esperance Bay so that everything will have to go to Perth and Fremantle?

Sir John Forrest - What about the right honorable gentleman's promise?

Mr SPEAKER - Order. The Minister for Home Affairs will have an opportunity of speaking later, if he so desires.

Sir John Forrest - The right honorable gentleman is departing altogether from his promise to me.

Mr KINGSTON - What an unruly looking object ! I say that we need to exercise every care in dealing with this and other matters to see that the best result is secured. I remember that when Federation was proposed it was argued that Western Australia was, as regards her Customs, entitled to special consideration. We were asked to consider what her loss would be through intercolonial free-trade. It was contended that hers was a special case, and that she must have special provision made to meet it. We were told that there was no other State in a similar position ; that on account of the amount of her Inter- State imports, on which in the ordinary course she would lose duty after Federation, no State stood to sacrifice so much as Western Australia. I confess I was impressed with those state ments. They impressed the whole Convention very much. I do not hesitate to say now that they impressed the Convention too much.

Sir John Forrest - The right honorable gentleman was never very much in favour of the proposal made.

Mr KINGSTON - I never was very much in favour of it. I think that all along I was against the right of Western Australia to continue to tax Australian goods. I may tell honorable members that this was granted only on the representation that her case was exceptional, and that on account of her losing Inter-State duties, she would sacrifice more than would any other State. But the position, to my mind, was not put quite as it ought to have been. The members of the Convention would never have consented to give Western Australia that power if they had not believed that her position was exceptional, and that she would lose more than would any other State. By the light of events, the representation then made has beenaltogether falsified. Western Australia's position was not the worst, nor was it anything like the worst. Two things should have been considered : There was the loss to the State on Inter-State duties by the establishment of Inter-State freetrade ; but there was another feature which to some extent was overlooked, and that was the way in which the Federal Tariff would compare with the Tariff of Western Australia. Was the Western Australian Tariff a high one, or was it not?

Sir John Forrest - It was not very high.

Mr KINGSTON - There was an impression which has been dispelled only by the light of subsequent events, that it was a high Tariff. No doubt there were large receipts, but that was due, not to the scale of the Western Australian Tariff, but to the volume of trade.

Mr Fowler - And the general prosperity of the State, with its greater consuming power in proportion to population.

Mr KINGSTON - Just so. As a matter of fact, the Western Australian Tariff was a low Tariff. It was lower than the Tariff of South Australia. I tell honorable members that it was so low that although that State would have lost on her Inter-State duties if she had not been permitted to continue to exercise the power of taxation on Australian goods, she gained so very largely from the higher rate of the Federal Tariff, that her receipt's on foreign imports in the first year of the Federal Tariff were on over-sea imports only, more than £100,000 greater than were her receipts from all imports in the year before the Federal Tariff was enforced. But she industriously claimed, and was successful in getting, a special provision on the plea I have stated - -

Sir John Forrest - Well it was a bonâ fide plea at the time. The right honorable gentleman must admit that? We could not look into the future and forecast what was going to takeplace.

Mr KINGSTON - Western Australia got a special relaxation of one of the vital conditions of the Constitution, on the ground of impending loss.

Sir John Forrest - She would not have joined the Federation without it if I could have helped it. I should never have been a party to her joining without it.

Mr KINGSTON - But instead of being a loser, in the first year of the Federal Tariff, on oversea imports alone, she received £100,000 more than she got the year before Federation on all imports.

Sir John Forrest - She would have lost without it, as the right honorable and learned member knows.

Mr KINGSTON -And what has she got under the special Tariff? In the first year she got £275,000, and in the second year, I think, about£2 2 5,000. During the two years' operation of the Federal Tariff not only has there been no loss, but she has received £680,000 more than she would have received if she had not joined the Federation.

Sir John Forrest - The population had increased, as the right honorable and learned member knows.

Mr KINGSTON - If the right honorable gentleman tells me that it was because the population had increased, I would point out that a sum of at least £400,000 was obtained owing to the reservation of a special power of taxation.

Sir John Forrest - No.

Mr KINGSTON - And, in addition, she got £200,000 odd, because of the provisions which were inserted in the Constitution, to recoup only. There was no loss to recoup ; there was gain, and, in addition, she uses to the full extent the powers which, for the purpose of indemnity, were granted to her in the respect to which I have referred.

Sir John Forrest - The right honorable and learned member seems to have a "down" on Western Australia.

Mr KINGSTON - I have no "down" on the State.

Sir John Forrest - It seems to me that the right honorable and learned member has.

Mr KINGSTON - I have many friends in that State - men who have gone from my own dear State, and between whom and myself the best relations continue to exist.

Sir John Forrest - What does the right honorable and learned member want to do?

Mr KINGSTON - I submit that, under all the circumstances, it is well that we should know what mistakes were made. I wish the facts to be made known, and to be considered. Let honorable members bear this in mind : Western Australia posed as the State most likely to be unfortunate under all the conditions, and it received special assistance. Has it proved its right to this special assistance by the realization of the state of affairs which was forecast, and on which this claim was based ?

Sir John Forrest - It has kept a large proportion of the people in the other States for many a year. The right honorable and learned member need not be "down" on it.

Mr SPEAKER - Order !

Mr KINGSTON - There are States which were entitled to consideration. Which are they ? Queensland, in the north, has been a sufferer.

Sir John Forrest - We helped her with the Tariff and the sugar bounty.

Mr Deakin - Chair !

Mr KINGSTON - We are not helping Queensland on the ground of any claim upon our forbearance on account of the alteration of her Tariff. Queensland had a 25 per cent. Tariff,Western Australia, a 15 per cent. Tariff, and Tasmania a 20 per cent. Tariff. Instead of the Tariffs of Queensland and Tasmania being raised like that of Western Australia, they were reduced, and Queensland suffers a loss of £200,000 a year, and little Tasmania a loss of £100,000 a year. There is no special consideration shown for those States.

Mr McWilliams - In Tasmania we have lost 30 per cent. of our Customs revenue.

Mr KINGSTON - These are the States which were fairly entitled to consideration but which are not receiving any.

Sir John Forrest - We paid the money out of our own pockets, as the right honorable and learned member must remember.

Mr KINGSTON - All I can say is that Western Australia raised £400,000 of the money by a tax on Australian goods, thereby depriving the rest of the. States for a limited term to the chief benefit which each State expected to derive from Federation - InterState free-trade.

Sir John Forrest - We buy £3,000,000 worth of goods from the other States every year, anyway.

Mr KINGSTON - The position is that Western Australia was not entitled to special consideration, while Queensland and Tasmania - who were deprived of their Tariffs - have received no consideration.

Sir John Forrest - We get no consideration.

Mr Deakin - Chair !

Sir John Forrest - We get nothing from any one. We pay everything out of our own pockets, as the right honorable and learned member knows.

Mr KINGSTON - I have no doubt that Western Australia pays nothing which she can avoid.

Sir John Forrest - No other State pays anything to Western Australia; the people tax themselves and pay.

Mr KINGSTON - I have referred to these matters in order that honorable members may appreciate the position as it is, and with a full recognition of the facts, come to the conclusions which ought to be reached. I am sorry that I have taken up so much time, but on an occasion of this kind it is just as well that we should speak our minds.

Sir John Forrest - Poor old Western Australia !

Mr KINGSTON -" Poor old Western Australia." Of course, there are some things on which Western Australia may be congratulated, and one is the fact that the right honorable gentleman is here instead of elsewhere. I hope that when this debate is concluded, the Government will let us have the work in the most convenient shape, and I promise them it shall receive my best consideration.

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