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Friday, 7 October 1904


Mr SPEAKER - That is not a point of order.


Mr Mauger - The point of order I raise is that I am accused of advocating a duty on an article in which I am monetarily and personally interested, and thus seeking to benefit myself. The honorable member knows well that that is not so..


Mr Kelly - On the point of order, I desire to say that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has told us- that he does not advocate a further duty on this particular article.


Mr Mauger - I did not say that.


Mr SPEAKER - What is the point of order ?


Mr Kelly - I do not . know whether I aim within my rights in discussing the point of order, but I understood the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to say that he is not asking for an increase of duty ; and consequently could not be held to be interested, other than in the general sense indicated by the honorable member for Robertson.


Mr SPEAKER - There is no point of order in the matter raised. The honorable member for Robertson is well within his rights.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - I had no intention to suggest that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports had any pecuniary interest in the Denton Hat Mills. Indeed, the Denton Hat Mills Company, which is a very close corporation, composed of not so many men as I have fingers, will take good care that the honorable member has no share in such a "good thing." Moreover, if the honorable member for Melbourne Ports deals with the company, they will see that he sells no hats but those they manufacture, because that is their plan amongst their customers. If the honorable member were known to be in favour of introducing competition in this particular industry the company would take away his opportunity to sell their hats. As they had a monopoly of that industry until the Tariff came into operation, in all probability the honorable member would: have to shift his place of business from No. 66 Bourke-street.


Mr Mauger - The honorable member does not know what hs is talking about.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - Perhaps I know more than the honorable member imagines. I have read volumes of evidence on this subject.


Mr Page - Does the honorable member insinuate that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has done something corrupt ?


Mr HENRY WILLIS - No,. I am not here to make personal charges. I am pointing out how the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would be persecuted by that company,, if he dared to say what I am saying, about it.


Mr Mauger - I. have not the faintest connexion with the company.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - It is said that the tobacco industry has disappeared from Western Australia. I think it will also be found that several, industries- have disappeared from other States. Many of them had gone to Sydney before the Commonwealth was established. One of Mr. Speaker's constituents informed me that he was- about to establish a branch in Sydney of large works which are now conducted in South Australia Why are manufacturers taking their business to Sydney ? It is because of the- natural facilities which Sydney offers. There they can have water, tight up to their places of business, a plentiful supply of coal at low rates, and all the advantages in connexion . with manufacture and exchange to a greater degree than elsewhere. These advantages must tell against the other States, and in favour of New South Wales. If the people of Victoria thought that in consequence of their high protective Tariff, before the Commonwealth was established, they would continue after Federation to do the trade of New South Wales as they did previously, they were bound to be disillusioned.


Mr Mauger - We do more trade with New South Wales to-day than we ever did.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - The trade of New South Wales must continue to increase in volume because of the natural advantages possessed by that State over every other State in the Union. Much has been said concerning the fiscal truce. I trust that that truce will continue to be honored, to the end that we may get on with some useful domestic legislation. I also hope that we shall soon get into recess, so that honorable members may have an opportunity to follow their ordinary avocations, instead of being kept lounging about Parliament House for months together. If the Federal Parliament falls into disrepute, it will be because business men cannot afford to waste their time here for the greater part of the year.


Mr Mauger - Who 'has made the honorable member lecturer-general ? '


Mr HENRY WILLIS - I do not speak unless I have something to say, and when I speak, I do not swell myself out to make believe that I am a more important person than I really am. T hope that when I have anything to 'say, I shall say it intelligently, and I am not always interjecting in order to get paragraphs about myself in the daily papers. It would 'not further my interests in my constituency to be known as an obstructionist, and a general ' interjector of nonsense, or as a man with a big voice. The honorable member reminds me of an Arabian' proverb, which says that if houses could be built by means of a loud voice, the ass could build three houses every day.


Mr Mauger - Just fancy that !


Mr HENRY WILLIS - The honorable member for Hume has given .notice of his intention to submit a motion in favour of opening up negotiations with the Imperial Government, with a view to establish' preference in trade between Great Britain and Australia. I remember a declaration that was made by Sir Edmund Barton when he returned from England after the Coronation Conference, in which he said that a certain understanding had been arrived at between the delegates to Downing-street, and Mr. Chamberlain. The honorable member for Hume then declared himself to be opposed to preferential trade. But I have no objection to his moving in favour of it, and shall be happy to discuss it with him.


Mr Groom - It is out of order to discuss it now, as there is a motion upon the paper.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - It is u proposal that will receive the attention of the House. The manifesto of the alliance contains the item, " Preferential trade to be discussed by the joint parties at an early date." I intend to discuss it at this date. On the 6th of this month, exactly a year had passed since Mr. Chamberlain delivered his famous speech at Glasgow.


Mr Mauger - Is not the honorable member out of order in discussing a matter concerning which a motion appears upon the notice-paper?


Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is quite correct. I was .looking up the notice-paper when he rose, and was about to call the attention of the honorable member for Robertson to it. If he looks at page 352 of the notice-paper, he will see that there is a contingent notice of motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Hume. That notice precludes any detailed discussion of the same question. As other honorable members have, ^however, referred to the subject, the honorable member for -Robertson can allude to it incidentally, but not in detail.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - I shall bow to your ruling, sir, .and shall refer to the subject only incidentally. It is part of the indictment against the Government that they have not brought forward a policy of preferential trade. It is said that the Deakin Government hae! declared itself in favour of that policy, and that the constituencies supported it. In his Glasgow speech, Mr. Chamberlain pointed out that the industries of Great Britain were languishing, and that trade had fallen off to the extent of some £46,000,000, in -consequence of the lack of [protection to British industries. He said that Great Britain's Colonies were better customers than the whole of the European nations put together,; that he had initiated his .new policy in 'order that by making arrangements -with -Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, 9 a 2 and the other British Possessions, the trade of England might be resuscitated; and that while ,£40,000,000 represented the trade at present done with Great Britain, that trade could be increased very considerably by a compact with the Australian people through their representatives in Parliament. At the Conference held during the Coronation period, Mr. Chamberlain h~ad certain admissions from Colonial Prime Ministers to the effect that they were prepared to make concessions to Great Britain in the way of preference. He says that the necessity for it comes now, that the opportunity, if allowed to pass, will not occur again, and that in twenty years it will be too late. The United States of America, he adds, is practically selfcontained, and has a trade of not more than 6s. per head of her population, and that state of things may become the rule in Canada and in British North America. In order to prevent the establishment of new industries, a compact should be arrived at with Australia and other British Possessions, so that this trade for the future should be retained for Great Britain, for, while the population is now not more than 11,000,000, in the course of years it will amount to 40,000,000, and the trade will equal in volume that of the United States. So he says that a great opportunity presents itself - at this moment. We must remember that Australia will not always be a onehorse country with a single industry, and no diversity of employment ; so we should say to the Australian people, " Do not increase your Tariff walls against us, but pull them down where that is necessary to the success of this policy, to which you are committed." Every industry established in Australia is to remain as it is. We are not to increase our Tariff walls, nor are we to establish any new industries. We are to allow our tin-plate and" iron industries to remain in abeyance, so that our trade with Great Britain shall be in the products of those industries, and of others which have not yet been established here.


Mr Mauger - Mr. Chamberlain corrected that afterwards.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - Just as the United States of America has covered all the ground of the primary and secondary industries, so in Canada they have covered all the ground of the primary industries and a great deal of the ground of the secondary industries. But in Australia, while we have covered some of the ground in the primary industries, we have so far covered very little of the ground of the secondary industries ; and therefore Mr. Chamberlain would say to Australia, "You should stop; you should raise your Tariff no higher."


Mr Mauger - " Against us "?


Mr HENRY WILLIS - Exactly; against Great Britain.. His contention is that we should allow our industries to remain as they are, and should establish no new industries.


Mr Mauger - He corrected that afterwards.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has read the compilation of speeches . delivered by Mr. Chamberlain to which I am referring, he will find that that statement has never been denied or corrected in any way.


Mr Mauger - I beg the honorable member's pardon, it has.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - I give honorable members my word of honour that I have looked for such a correction in vain, because I knew that protectionists when they were driven into a coiner would say that Mr. Chamberlain had changed his mind. Looking through this compilation of his speeches, I cannot find that Mr. Chamberlain has ever said anything contrary to what I have stated.


Mr Mauger - Does the honorable member assume that because he has not seen a correction of the statement, no such correction has ever been made?


Mr HENRY WILLIS - I may tell the honorable member that there is a preface by Mr. Chamberlain himself to this compilation of speeches, in which he says that he has corrected them all, and yet there is no correction of the statement to which I have referred.


Mr Mauger - He has made the correction in a later speech.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - Mr. Chamberlainfurther says : - " Do this as kinsmen - without regard to your important interests." "This," he says, "is the parting of the ways." In twenty years' time it will be too late, and if no action is taken Canada will fall to the level of the United States of America, and Australia and South Africa will ultimately follow. He says tha't in return for moderate preference the Colonies will give Great Britain substantial advantages. This is his statement, made from one end of England to the other, and he has no intention that Australia should raise her Tariff against Great Britain, or establish any industry which she has not already established.


Mr Mauger - "Utter rubbish.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - He says, further -

They will not arrange for Tariffs in future to start industries in competition with those which are in existence in the mother country.

He agrees that they will maintain their existing industries, but says that they will not establish others. What, then, becomes of this profession of belief in preferential trade by honorable members led by the honorable and learned member for Indi?


Mr Isaacs - Does the honorable member ' for Robertson oppose preferential trade ?


Mr HENRY WILLIS - I shall tell the honorable and learned member for Indi what I am in favour of at a later stage. Just now I desire to say something about what the honorable and learned member is himself in favour of. Mr. Chamberlain further says that, according to the Board of Trade, what he proposes will result in the employment in England of 166,000 men at 30s. a week. How are more men to be employed unless there are more manufactures? Does this not mean that there should be increased employment in industry? Honorable members will read in to-day's newspapers that in Bedfordshire, Mr. Chamberlain, on the 6th October, repeated the very same argument. He inquires what it is that the Colonies ask for, and he says that Great Britain cannot give them a preference on raw material. This is common-sense on Mr. Chamberlain's part. When he is dealing with protection he is not so foolish as to propose to tax raw material required by the manufacturer. A few days ago, I met a manufacturer in Sydney, who was talking free-trade, and I said to him, " I thought you were a protectionist." " 0,h, yes," he replied, " we get 12$ per cent, under the Tariff, but I find that I could do much better under free-trade." This gentleman is Mr. Wearne, whose industry is the manufacture of fireproof safes, and he has found that owing to the duties imposed, the increased cost of the material he uses in the manufacture of his safes more than balances the protection he is given on the manufactured article. It is foolish of protectionists to try to protect everybody, because it is impossible to give every man protection without doing injustice to some. Every man is protected when commerce is untrammelled. It appears to me that Mr. Wearne's industry will be stamped out by the taxation which has been imposed on the raw materials he uses. Mr. Chamberlain proposes to increase the duties on importations of flour in order to re-establish the milling industry in Great Britain. So that our milling industry must suffer under this policy of preferential trade, because Mr. Chamberlain desires to retain the manufacture of flour for Great Britain - an industry that has gone very largely out of existence, because -of the importations to that country.


Sir John Forrest - Flour is not exported now - wheat is.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - Exactly ; but from other parts of the Empire which do supply breadstuffs it is quite possible that flour might find its way into Great Britain.


Sir John Forrest - It does now.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - However, in investigating the matter, Mr. Chamberlain finds that it would be necessary to stipulate that there should be a duty on flour, so as to re-establish the milling industry. But under his scheme, the bacon industry would receive no consideration. There would be a preference given to Colonial wines. It is shown that the wine industry of Australia does not amount to £200,000 per year, so that the preference to Australian wine would not be great. Mr. Chamberlain expects to receive about £^9,000,000 on manufactures from foreign countries, but my chief consideration at this moment is to show who would have to pay for this preference given to the Colonies, and that Australia would not benefit to any great extent ; indeed, she would lose,' and would be detrimentally affected in every way under his proposals. The duty on foreign manufactures is nor to exceed an average of 10 per cent, ad valorem, and presumably Colonial manufactures are to be .admitted free: The fallacies of the scheme are exposed in the Daily News of 8th October by Mr: Chiozza-Money. Taking food alone the imports in 1892 from self-governing Colonies were: - From Canada, £13,381,000; from Australia, £3,01 1,000; from New Zealand, £4,839,000; and from South Africa nothing. It is clear, therefore, that Mr. Chamberlain's scheme would do nothing for South Africa, and chiefly concerns Canada. Taking the corn tax of 2 s. per quarter, the Treasury would receive 6d. per cwt. on the foreign supply, representing a sum of only £3,300,000; the consumer would pay 6d. per cwt. on the whole supply, representing £8,175,000 ; but the Colonies would get only , £875,000, Australia getting less than one-seventh. Taking the meat tax of 5 per cent., the Treasury would receive 5 per cent, on the foreign supply only, equal to £1,350,000 ; and the masses of the people would pay on the whole importation £3,975,000; but the Colonies would get only£375,000.


Mr SPEAKER - I am afraid that the honorable member is . entering rather into detail.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - It is necessary to give so much detail, because I intend to show presently what all these sums amount to. Taking the dairy produce tax of 5 per cent., the Treasury would receive 5 per cent, on the foreign supply only, amounting to £1,300,000 ; and the consumer would pay on the whole importation , £4, 1 50,000 ; but the Colonies would get only £350,000. To sum up in a sentence, the consumer would pay £16,300,000 to give the Treasury only £5,950,000 and British Colonies only £1,500,000. To put it in another way, the British people would have to pay £11 to put £1 into colonial pockets, or more truly, into Canadian pockets, as Australians would receive but 2s. 6d. of this sum. This is the amount of taxation' upon the foodstuffs of Great Britain for the benefit of the Colonies. In the course of his remarks, Mr. Chamberlain went onto show that in Great Britain, where breadstuffs are raised to the extent of one-half of the consumption, the proposal would give to the land-owners the opportunity of gaining a larger amount of rent for their holdings, and it might to some extent be the means of putting larger areas under cultivation. But he says further that while the tax would be paid on all foreign imports, the duty would be paid by the foreigner. That fallacy, of course, is exploded. If the foreigner is to pay the duty on these breadstuffs, does it not go to show that the Australian people would get no higher price for their goods. The whole scheme has broken down under its own weight, and the people of Great Britain are not likely to grant to the Colonies a concession of such a character as would penalize the masses of the people of Great Britain to the extent of depriving the poorest of them of their daily bread. Karl Marx, the great apostle whom the labour members follow, says that when free-trade came in in Great Britain, between the forties and the sixties, it wasfound that, in the trade union centres, where the artisans of the highest class were employed, the men were not receiving sufficient nourishment from the food they were able to procure with their earnings ; in fact, they were getting even less than sufficient to prevent diseases caused by hunger. We are asked to put back the clock. After their great fight, the repealers of the corn laws put away their battle-axes, and disbanded their union. For a second time the union has had to be brought into existence for the purpose of preventing the people of Great Britain from losing the privilege of gaining their daily bread at the lowest possible cost, so that their wages might be relatively raised. Let honorable members listen to a protest recently cabled to the honorable member for Bland by the trade unionists of England, and published in the press here under the headings - " Preferential trade. Appeal by British workers to their Australian brethren. Higher " motives than Tariffs. Chamberlainism refuted. The feeling of mutual kinship. Is it based on sordid considerations?" It is as follows: -

In connexion with the attitude of the Australian Labour Party towards preferential trade, Mr. John Burns (Radical member in the House . of Commons for Battersea), has cabled as follows to Mr. J. C. Watson, ex-Prime Minister of Australia, and leader of the Australian Labour Party : - " I adhere to the facts and the appeal set forth in the manifesto issued by the British labour representatives in the House of Commons in August, 1903, to the labour representatives in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Mr. Chamberlain's proposals for preferential Tariffs,' whatever their application to Australian products, would undoubtedly mean a rise in the price of foodstuffs for British workers."

Yet honorable members of this Parliament who claim to represent the masses, are pledging themselves in favour of preferential trade proposals which will put £16, 000,000 of taxation on the people of Great Britain, or, if the remission of the tea and sugar duties suggested by Mr. Chamberlain takes place,, a taxation of £9,009,000. Mr. Burns goes on . to say -

I still believe that the Australasian workers will not ask for anything, imposing this disability upon the workers of the mother land. I appeal to them to seriously bear this in mind when considering fiscal proposals of any . description.

Is the appeal of this great leader to be in vain ? Are honorable members greater than their leaders? Mr. Burns continues-

I do not share Mr. Chamberlain's assumption that preferential Tariffs provide the only system which will keep the Empire together. I would be surprised to hear that the kindly feelings which Australians entertain towards the mother land were based on such sordid considerations.

Those are the sordid considerations of the party in alliance with the honorable and learned member for Indi -

A feeling of mutual kinship, when it does come, must spring from higher motives than Tariffs can ever possibly supply.

Then Mr. Richard Bell, M.P., and chairman of the Leeds Trades Union Congress, cables -

I feel sure that the Australian Labour Party does not desire to adopt anything which, while it might offer some little advantage tothem, would entail tremendous sacrifices upon British workers and their families. I believe that labour, both in the Colonies and in the mother land, does hot desire to gain anyadvantage for itself, in each instance at great expenseto the other.

These men speak on behalf of the masses of England. They speak for many who are practically in a state of starvation, because the number of deaths from starvation in England to-day isappalling. Mr. Bell continues-

I appeal to Australian workers to respect the feelings of their British comrades, so emphatically expressed at the Congress, where representatives of all sections of British labour unanimously, declared against any system of preference.

These leaders of the working people of Great Britain say to the honorable member for Bland and his party, " You either do not understand the facts, or you are insincere." In their cablegramsto. their Australian comrades-


Mr SPEAKER - I have been listening for some time past to the honorable member's remarks, to see if he was referring only incidentally to this question; but as it appears to me that he is discussing it very fully, I cannot, in view of the fact that there is upon the business paper a notice of motion dealing with the question, allow him to proceed further on his present line of argument.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - I ask leave, Mr. Speaker, to continue my remarks on the. next day of sitting.

Leave granted ; debate adjourned.







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