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Tuesday, 19 July 1904

Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) - The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is, in my opinion, perfectly justified in bringing this question before the House. I was a little surprised when I heard the honorable member for Parramatta say that this is not the place in which to ventilate the miseries of the people outside.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I said nothing of the kind.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I took the words down as the honorable member said them, and they were almost identical with those I have used.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They are nothing like the words I used.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - This of all places is the one where the miseries of the people should be ventilated.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I never said anything to the contrary.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member for Melbourne Ports certainly deserves the thanks of the suffering unemployed for the course he has taken this afternoon.

Mr Reid - Give him a monument at Tooma.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I should not like to say what sort of monument I would suggest for the right honorable member for East Sydney.

Mr Mauger - A gold monument.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am afraid it would be a leather monument. I have listened with interest to the speeches this afternoon, especially to the speech of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. The honorable member said that there is to be fiscal peace, and in the next breath asserted that the question of preferential trade must be raised. ' I should like to know how there can be fiscal peace if the other question is raised. I recognise that it is with great difficulty the late Government passed the Tariff ; but that was due not so much to the " weak-kneed " protectionists who have been referred to, as to members of the Opposition, headed by the right honorable member for East Sydney.

Mr Reid - Is this hatred of me to go on for ever?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The right honorable member will not succeed in laughing this matter " out of Court " even with the assistance of his henchmen. The question is one which ought to be seriously considered. It was, as I say, very difficult to pass a Tariff, and the result was not satisfactory, so far as regards the employment of our own people. That is, to some extent, the cause of the dearth of employment, but it is not the whole cause; there are many reasons for the present enforced idleness.

Mr Reid - The honorable member's being out of office is one, I suppose ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - When the right honorable member for East Sydney was attacking me for my administration of the Works Department in New South Wales-

Mr Reid - How many years ago?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Will the right honorable member be quiet.

Mr Reid -I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether these ancient questions about the administration pf the Works Department in New South Wales have anything to do with the subject before the Chair?

Mr SPEAKER - I took it that the honorable member for Hume was discussing the administration of the Public- Works Department, but not necessarily the Public Works Department of New South Wales.

Mr Reid - The honorable member referred to New South Wales.

Mr SPEAKER - If the honorable member for Hume referred to New South Wales, I cannot see what the Public Works Department of that State has to do with the want of employment here. I ask the honorable member to confine himself to the question under discussion.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I was about to directly bring the administration of the Works Department of New South Wales to bear on the question under consideration.

Mr Reid - The honorable member could not do it.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to prevent the right honorable member for East Sydney from carrying on his buffoonery.

Mr SPEAKER - I ask the right honorable member for East Sydney not to interrupt the honorable member for Hume, and I ask the honorable member for Hume not to speak of an honorable member's "buffoonery."

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It is like buffoonery.

Mr SPEAKER - The remark is not in order.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The remark was drawn from me. I was proceeding to point out that I administered the Public Works Department of New South Wales in such a way that-

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I rise to order. You, Sir, have already ruled that no references to the New South Wales -Public Works Department are permissible. The honorable member for Hume is trying to get behind your ruling in, the most audacious wav.

Mr SPEAKER - If the honorable member for Parramatta had given time to the honorable member for Hume to develop his argument, it might not have been necessary to call attention to his remarks. It seems to me that the honorable member for Hume was simply making an incidental remark; but statements as to the administration of the Public Works Department of New South Wales by the honorable member for Hume or any one else would not be in -order.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - You, Sir, have interpreted my intention. In the administration" of the Public Works Department of New South Wales, as might be the case in the administration of the Department of Home Affairs, my endeavour was to have the work done in Australia. Such a policy might not be satisfactory to the same extent in the case of the Department for Home Affairs, but in New South Wales it enabled firms to start factories and employ labour. In one of the States this policy was adopted in the carrying out of a water supply scheme; and it might be adopted to a large extent by the Commonwealth Departments.

Mr Reid - That is all moonshine.

Mr Conroy - The less the honorable member for Hume says about the pipe contracts the better.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I hope the honorable member for Werriwa will not continue his stupidity. If the Federal Departments were administered as I administered the Public Works Department of New South Wales, a great deal of relief might be given to the unemployed in Victoria. Reference has been made by one or two honorable members to the fact that the firm of Robinson Brothers, harvester machine manufacturers, are doing very well; but what is the reason? The reason is that last year we had one of the finest harvests we ever had, and more machinery was urgently required than ever had been the case before'. But I am satisfied from what I know of Victoria, that the firms in that State are not doing very well ; in fact, I believe that a great many have had to discharge men. Previously this evening I referred, in a question to the Prime Minister, to what is commonlv known as the Iron Bonus Bill, or the Bonuses to Manufactures Bill. What chance would that Bill have with the honorable members of the Opposition? I hope the Ministry will take that matter up, because I feel sure that by so doing they will, to a great extent, relieve the tension caused by the dearth of employment. If the Government do not deal with that measure, I ask them to give me, as a private member, an opportunity, because I am satisfied that in this and the other Chamber there are sufficient honorable members to carry it through. The results would eventually absorb the unemployed in the whole of the States.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - For three years the honorable member had an opportunity of introducing that measure.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Will the honorable member be quiet ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And the honorable member did nothing.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member says that I did nothing ; but it must be remembered that I was only one of a Cabinet. Before this Parliament is over I shall teach honorable members whether I will do nothing in connexion with the matter. If the Tariff were to be again presented to this Chamber, I feel sure that Parliament, constituted as it now is, would turn out quite a different measure.

Mr Reid - And the honorable member savs that, after obtaining a fiscal truce?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Will the right honorable gentleman be quiet ?

Mr Reid - The honorable member asked for a truce.

Mr SPEAKER -It is impossible for the honorable member for Hume to proceed while interjections are so frequent. I ask honorable members to listen to the honorable member, who is expressing his own views, and, naturally, is not attempting to express the views of others. I ask the honorable member for Hume, who, on occasions, does interject himself, not to be too touchy about interjections by other honorable members. Sir WILLIAM LYNE.-I have been restraining myself very considerably lately, thinking that a bad example might be followed. It was to be expected that there should be complaints inregard to the Tariff, when its operation has shown that harm instead of good has resulted. I do not think anything was said or any decision was arrived at to the effect that if it were found, as has been described by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, that the Tariff prevented employment by imposing a duty on raw material, while a lower duty than previously prevailed was being imposed on the manufactured article, no action should be taken. I do not think that the House or the country would allow the Tariff to remain dormant while serious damage was being done in that way. I venture to think that, despite compacts which may be attempted at the present time - and this is where the "weak-kneed" protectionists come in - there are sufficient means to remove anomalies and alter the Tariff to the benefit of the whole community.

Mr SPEAKER -The time for the consideration of this motion has expired.

Mr. WATSON(Bland- Treasurer).- I wish to say a word or two in reply to some observations which have been made. I therefore move -

That the orders of the day be postponed until after the debate' on the motion now before the Chair is concluded.

Mr Conroy - I should like to ask a question. Does this motion mean that the debate is to conclude after the Prime Minister has made a statement? Otherwise, I certainly shall object to it.

TheSPEAKER. - The motion means that the orders of the day will be postponed until any honorable member who desires to do so has spoken on the motion for the adjournment.

Mr WATSON - I desire an opportunity to say one or two words in reply. I gave way a little earlier, thinking that the right honorable member for East Sydney desired to speak. Otherwise, I should have spoken at that time.

Mr Conroy - Under those circumstances I shall not object.

Motion agreed to; orders of the day postponed.

Sir WILLIAMLYNE (Hume).- One honorable member who spoke this afternoon suggested that the Government should appoint a Select Committee to ascertain what was the effect of the working of the Tariff, and whether it was, in their opinion, doing harm by decreasing employment. I do not think there is any necessity to appoint such a Committee. Having been in the Customs Department for a considerable time, my opinion is that if the Prime Minister will make inquiries of the Minister of Trade and Customs, and examine some of the officers of the Department, he will easily be able to ascertain where the trouble lies. No time should be lost in bringing the matter forward and dealing with it, so that there may be no necessity again tq move the adjournment of the House. No Minister can be long at the head of the Customs Department without knowing perfectly well in what respects the Tariff is defective. Of course, Mr. Speaker, all those who know me are perfectly well aware that the present Tariff was not of my framing, and that I do not agree with it as it stands. If I had had my way, we should have had enacted a more reasonable Tariff in the interests of Australia. It does seem to me to be an anomaly that a number of honorable members, and some gentlemen outside, who are in favour of keeping cheap labour out of australia, are nevertheless in favour of importing the products of that cheap labour, thereby doing greater harm than if they permitted the cheap labour itself to come here and be fed and clothed by our workmen.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have heard that before !

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If the honorable member were able to derive some benefit from what he heard, he would probably be able to do more good to the people of this country. The honorable member was formerly a great protectionist, and I hold the letter in which he practically repudiated his views.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I was as big a simpleton then as the honorable member is now.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not question that the honorable member was a simpleton then, and there is not the slightest doubt that he is a greater one now. What we all desire is as far as we can to make Australia a country worth living in, where good wages are earned, and where the conditions of living are tolerable. Even if, in consequence of this policy, prices are a little higher, those who buy will have no reason to complain, because they will know that " the labourer is worthy of his hire," and is receiving good wages for what he makes. We have sufficient raw material in Australia to give employment to three times the population we now have in the country in turning it into manufactured goods. One of the directions in which employment can be promoted is by establishing an iron industry. We have in Australia iron deposits as large and as rich as almost any in any part of the world. But at the present moment there is not one man in the whole of Australia employed in converting that raw material into manufactured articles. It is a disgrace to our legislation, and a disgrace to the Commonwealth, that that should be so. The Government should take the matter up and see to it that we turn to good account the wealth that we have in the soil. One honorable member referred to the necessity for giving bonuses to assist industries in various parts of the Commonwealth. Surely, the Commonwealth Par liament is not prepared to sit down for some years and allow these matters to drift whilst there are thousands - perhaps tens of thousands - of people in Australia looking for work, and unable to find it. Something should also be done in respect to mining. The object of assisting those who are suffering cannot be attained in a better way than by the proper administration of the Departments. I admit that the States Governments can do more than the Commonwealth Government in reference to mining. It is quite true that they have to deal with many subjects with which the Commonwealth has nothing to do.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member's time has expired

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - In conclusion, I would say that I recognise that the Commonwealth cannot compel the States to deal with matters of this kind. That being so, we can take action only to such a limited extent as the Constitution will permit. But the Prime Minister might reasonably communicate with the States Governments, and ask them to put machinery into operation with a view to the employment of the large number of people who are now crying out for bread.

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