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Monday, 18 December 1905

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) - This, I understand, is the clause on which it is considered that the debate on the Bill can most conveniently be taken, as it involves the whole principle of the measure. The necessity for introducing this Bill this year was very great. In order to engage in the sugar industry, it is necessary first to clear the land, and go to considerable expense in breaking it up; then to plant the crop; after which, the sugar-grower cannot possibly secure any return until over eighteen months, or, in some cases, two years, have elapsed. It is necessary, therefore, that the sugar-growers of Queensland and New South Wales should know what course this Parliament proposes to take, so that they may have a reasonable idea of what conditions will prevail when they get a return from the crop they put in.

Senator de Largie - We legislated five years ago, and the growers ought to know what the Act provides.

Senator GIVENS - I do not think if was contemplated five years ago that the present system would end in1906. If it did collapse at the end of 1906 the growers of white sugar would be getting a greater protection than they have now, and the growers of black sugar would be getting an equally great protection. They would all get a protection of JQ6 per ton, because the Sugar Bounty Act and the Excise Act terminate at the same time. The finances of some States would be seriously affected, and the growers of sugar by coloured labour would in 1906 get the same protection as the growers of sugar by white labour. That position, I am sure, was not contemplated by Senator de Largie or any member of the Legislature. Therefore, it cannot be said that the question was settled. It must have been seriously contemplated that some action would be taken prior to the expiration of the present legislation. There would be no need for the bounty or for the Excise duty, were it not for the necessity of differentiating between sugar produced by white labour and black. It would be much better for those engaged in the sugar industry if there were no necessity for this differentiation. Just as great a cost is involved to the consumers in the case of other commodities which are highly protected - and properly so - as in the case of an Excise and bounty on sugar.

Senator Best - Competition makes all the difference.

Senator de Largie - What industry in Western Australia is enjoying the privilege of protection?

Senator GIVENS - If there is no industry in Western Australia that is enjoying that privilege, it is because Western Australia is a comparatively young country, and has not yet established her industries sufficiently to supply herself and other portions of the Commonwealth with commodities.

Senator de Largie - Western Australia is an older State than Queensland.

Senator GIVENS - At any rate, her industries are not very well established. She had not a very large population prior to the discovery of the gold-fields ten or twelve years ago.

Senator de Largie - It cannot be said that the gold industry is not well established : Western Australia produces more gold than all the other States of the Commonwealth put together.

Senator GIVENS - The industries of Western Australia, apart from mining, are not large. She has no important producing or manufacturing industries.

Senator de Largie - Is the honorable senator aware that the timber industry is the greatest of its kind in Australia? Would he make an exception in the case of timber also?

Senator GIVENS - If my vote could do it, I would protect the timber industry as well as every other industry.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator is ready to promise anything just now.

Senator GIVENS - That is an unworthy insinuation, because the honorable senator knows that I do not bargain on the protectionist question.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator is extremely reasonable just now.

Senator GIVENS - I do not bargain with regard to any Australian industry. An industry which gets a certain amount of protection is just as costly to the States as if the Commonwealth imposed an Excise duty and paid a bounty out of that Excise for its benefit.

Senator Best - I do not admit that for a moment.

Senator GIVENS - Let me explain it. Suppose 'for a moment that it was not necessary to differentiate between sugar produced, and that there was no difference between sugar produced by black and white labour. All that would be required would be the same amount of protection as the industry now receives. Would not the sugar which went into consumption in the various States then cost just as much to the consumer as it does now? If we had the same amount of protection, without a bonus and an excise duty, it would come to the same thing.

Senator Best - No ; as a rule, protection does not increase the price to the consumer.

Senator de Largie - It does in the case of sugar.

Senator GIVENS - Until an industry is so well established that its production has overtaken local consumption, there is always some slight increase in price. The increase in the case of sugar has not been very great. Take the case of Tasmania in this connexion. Take her production of jam and hops. I believe these are more highly protected than any other articles produced in the Commonwealth. I have no objection to that, but I point out that the people of the other States have to pay just as severely by this means as if there had been an Excise duty, and it was returned in the way of bounty to the grower. What controls the price of sugar in Australia is not the Excise or the bounty, but the import duty of £6 per ton.

Senator Fraser - The Excise duty also helps to control the price.

Senator GIVENS - If there were an Excise duty of £6 per ton that would be exactly equivalent to free-trade, so that the Excise duty has absolutely no effect on the price to the consumer.

Senator Fraser - Both Excise duty and import duty control the price.

Senator GIVENS - Will the honorable senator show me how the Excise duty has the remotest relation to the price? Sugar from the outside world has to jump a fence in the shape of a duty of £6 per ton.

Senator Fraser - The grower must pay Excise duty, and wages besides.

Senator GIVENS - Exactly; but until the local consumption is overtaken, the Excise duty has nothing to do with the matter. For instance, if the local producer attempted to put the price too high-

Senator Fraser - Of course, the local producer cannot go above the import duty - he can go as high, but not higher.

Senator GIVENS - That is so. I look forward to the time when Australia will produce as much, if not more, sugar than is necessary to meet the total requirements of the Commonwealth.

Senator Fraser - It is very near that now.

Senator GIVENS - It is not far from it. None of us, however, expect that the population of Australia will remain stationary ; on the contrary, we believe that it will increase by leaps and bounds. That, of course, will mean a greater demand for sugar, and in this industry, as in all others, there is ample room for expansion. The value of the sugar industry to Australia is extremely great.

Senator Pulsford - The cost of it is also extremely great.

Senator GIVENS - The cost is not greater than that in connexion with other protected industries in the Commonwealth.

Senator Fraser - The wheat-grower is not protected.

Senotor GIVENS. - The wheat-grower is protected.

Senator Fraser - How?

Senator GIVENS - There are corn duties in Australia. The highest protection given to agricultural products is in connexion with hops, and there is also a considerable duty on jam. We have heard a great deal about the enormous benefit which Queensland enjoys in consequence of Federation. But any person, who looks through the Treasurer's figures, will find that, if one State has made sacrifices, and has been sacrificed on the altar of Federation, it is Queensland.

Senator de Largie - That is pretty rich !

Senator GIVENS - If we look at the figures we must admit that industries which were very prominent in Queensland have been pretty well killed by Federation.

Senator de Largie - Killed?

Senator GIVENS - Yes, owing to competition.

Senator de Largie - I should say that those industries were half dead at the time of Federation, so that if they have been killed since, it does not very much matter.

Senator GIVENS - These industries were flourishing and extending steadily when the Colonies federated.

Senator de Largie - Some of the ' Queensland industries have been revived by Federation; for instance, the timber trade at Maryborough was never so brisk before.

Senator GIVENS - To my own knowledge the timber trade

Senator de Largie -That was not the opinion of the owner of a factory at Maryborough which we visited.

Senator Turley - That factory-owner was not speaking of years ago.

Senator de Largie - That factory-owner was of opinion that Federation had been a Godsend.

Senator GIVENS - I knew Maryborough when many more men were engaged than now find employment in the timber trade. In any case, I have official figures which justify me in my present attitude. In 1899, prior to Federation, the number of factories in Queensland was 214, whereas in 1904 it was 181, or 33 factories less. The number of hands employed in 1899 was 5,342 as against 4,593in1904, a decrease of nearly 1,000, while the -value of the output had decreased from . £1,398,116 in. 1899 to £981,155 in 1904- It will be seen that Queensland has not had all gain from Federation, though the people of that State voted for . Federation, and are still in favour of it. All I desire to show is that, to use a vulgar phrase, Federation has not proved " all beer and skittles " to the State I represent.

SenatorFraser. - That is quite true, but the same may be said of Tasmania.

Senator de Largie - All this, of course, is simply due to the operation of InterState free-trade, without which" the sugar industry could not have been placed upon its present basis.

Senator GIVENS - No doubt there are compensating advantages, though, of course, there are disadvantages. My own belief is that in regard to every State the balance of advantage is in favour of Federation.

Senator de Largie - Will the honorable senator tell me what advantage Western Australia has gained from Federation ? .

Senator GIVENS - If Western Australia has not gained trade advantages up to the present time' from Federation, it is owing to the fact that, apart from the timber industry and mining, her industries are of comparatively recent origin, and have not sufficiently developed.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator's assertions are altogether too sweeping.

Senator GIVENS - I have made no assertions ; I have simply quoted official figures.

Senator de Largie - I am not referring to the figures.

Senator GIVENS - In the same document, from which I have already quoted, there are figures showing the value of Australian manufactured goods transferred to Queensland from other States, and these appear to have increased at an enormous rate since Federation. I draw Senator Dobson 's attention to the fact that Tasmania's exports in jam, dried fruit, and other products to Queensland have been largely increased by the substitution of white labour for coloured labour in the sugar industry. The black serf does not consume large quantities of fruit and jam ; these products are demanded by the white worker.

Senator Fraser - Is the honorable senator still of opinion that white labour can be employed in the sugar industry at Cairns ?

Senator GIVENS - Certainly; that is an established fact.

Senator de Largie - If Senator Givens wishes the support of Tasmanian senators, he must convince them that the black fellows do not eat jam.

Senator GIVENS - I shall not labour that point. There is a law in Queensland that no kanaka or aboriginal shall be supplied with intoxicating liquor, and yet a large quantity of Tasmanian beer is imported, and is, I suppose, consumed by the white workers. The value of Australian manufactured! goods! transferred to Queensland in the year 1899 was £91, 523, as against £616,228 in 1904.

Senator Fraser - What were the goods?

Senator GIVENS - Beer, wine, tobacco, cigars, cigarettes, biscuits, fruit, boots and shoes, and a variety of articles. As to boots and shoes, there was, at one time, a flourishing industry,; in Queensland, but the figures I have here show that, while in 1899, the value of these articles imported from the other States amounted to only £929 ; in 1904, the value was no less than £106,000. The beer imported into Queensland is mostly from Tasmania, and the value of the importation, in 1904, was . £21,747,as against a paltry £694 in 1899. The value of the (fermented wine imported in 1899 was £6,823, as against £17,044 in 1904. Queensland had a promising jam industry prior to Federation, but the figures show that, while the importations amounted to £1,340 in. 1899, the value in 1904 was £57,746".

Senator Playford - Those importations were, I suppose, from Tasmania ?

Senator GIVENS - Mainly from Tasmania. I find no fault on that score, because, I suppose, the people find the Tasmanian jams good and cheap.

Senator Playford - But Tasmania is the State which is said to have lost so much by Federation.

Senator GIVENS - Tasmania is the chief producer of hops, and I find that the Queensland imiportation of that product amounted, in 1904, to no less than £6.028. Another important item, that of dried fruits, amounted to £7,457 in 1899, as against -£24,168 in 1904. I could go on reading item after item, but I am afraid that I should weary the Committee. The figures show that the importation of Australian products into Queensland has increased to an enormous extent since Federation. Will anybody deny that there has been a great advantage to the southern States owing to this large market being; opened out to them? As I have already said, it is not the black labourers who consume these southern products, but the white labourer, and, as the former is displaced, so will the importations be increased. I maintain that the 'Substitution of white labour has been of special advantage to the southern States, as well1 as to the national life of Queensland. When the southern States point to the cost of the White Australia policy, they ought to remember that there are compensating advantages - they ought to remember that Queensland is paying largely for goods which are manufactured under a protective Tariff, in the cooler parts of the Colony. The White Australia policy costs Queensland quite as much as it does the other States. I admit at once- that this portion of my argument has very little force so far as Western Australia is concerned. That is owing to the industrial life of Western Australia having been of recent development.

Senator de Largie - That is not the reason at all. It is because, having to pay higher rates of wages, they cannot compete with the niggers up in the north.

Senator GIVENS - I have no desire that they should. Senator de Largie is aware that there is no stronger opponent of the nigger in Queensland than I have been, and no one desires more than I do that high rates of wages should rule in every part of the Commonwealth.

Senator de Largie - I cannot compliment the honorable senator upon his success in that direction in Queensland.

Senator GIVENS - The wages paid in some parts of Queensland compare favorably with those paid in any other State of the Commonwealth. The wages paid in the shearing industry in Queensland are as high as those paid in that industry in any other State. On some of the mining fields of Queensland the rate of wages is as high as that in any other State. Senator Dawson, who was an old resident of Charters Towers, will bear me out when I say -that the ruling rate of wages in the mines there is 10s. a shift, and machine-men get about the same wages there as do those in Western Australia, although the cost of living is perhaps not so high on the Towers as it 5s on some of the gold-fields of Western Australia. At all events, a man has not to pay is. for a beer if he is thirsty, as he would have to do at Kalgoorlie. I suppose honorable senators are aware of the number of white and black growers in Queensland, and the quantity of cane they produce. They will have seen the figures set out on pages 7 and 8 di the Treasurer's tables, and I desire only to emphasize the fact that a great many people have gone in for growing sugar with white labour. The number of white growers has very greatly increased, although the total area cultivated does not appear to be great in. comparison with that cultivated by coloured labour. Roughly speaking, one-third of the sugar produced' in Queensland is now produced by white labour.

Senator Fraser - It is not one-third; it is very little more than one-fourth.

Senator GIVENS - Senator Fraser will accept the authority of Dr. Maxwell, who puts the quantity at 28.62 of the total production, but he was unable to estimate what the total production will be at the end of this year, when it is certain that the figures will have to be revised. When at the end of next year the kanaka has to go willynilly, I fervently hope and believe that it will be found that three-fourths of the sugar produced will be produced by white labour, and one-fourth or less by coloured labour.

Senator Fraser - Does the honorable senator mean that it will be grown in the south and not in the north?

Senator GIVENS - I do not mean anything of the kind. The south cannot hope to compete with the north in the production of sugar-cane, because there is not the same quantity of suitable land available in the south; the climate is not so suitable, and tha quality of cane grown is not so rich as that which is grown in the north. The statement that white men cannot work in the north has been proved over and over again to be false. It is proved! now by actual facts, because even since this legislation was passed gangs of white workmen have been employed in the production of sugar-cane.

Senator Fraser - At Cairns?

Senator GIVENS - Yes.

Senator Fraser - Can the honorable senator prove that?

Senator GIVENS - Undoubtedly I can. One of the largest growers of cane for the Mulgrave Central Mill has, since this legislation was passed, employed white labour in harvesting his cane, and has secured the bounty. Only quite recently we had Mr. Andrew Jack, a cane-grower on the Mosman, engaging white labourers in Victoria to work for him next year. I understand that he took twentyseven labourers with him, and has agreed to pay them 25s. a week and "tucker " in the off-season, and 30s. and "tucker" in the crushing season. The Mosman Central Mill is the most northern mill in Australia, and ever since this" legislation was passed, white labour has been successfully performing every kind of work in the sugar industry in the north. Honorable senators have an entirely exaggerated idea of the severity of the climate of North Queensland. In the crushing season, from the end of June to the beginning of December, the climate of North Queensland is quite temperate. The worst portion of the year is there, as it is here, just after Christmas, in January and in February, and I can, say that during my twenty-three years' experience of North Queensland, I never found it so hot as I found Melbourne in last January and February.

Senator Trenwith - What about the nights ?

Senator GIVENS - They are much hotter here than they are in North Queensland.

Senator Best - The honorable senator is referring to spells of hot weather which do not last here for more than a few days.

Senator GIVENS - I know that one hot spell here lasted for a week. When a wind is blowing such as we have here to-day, the more it blows the hotter it becomes, while in North Queensland, the wind is cool, no matter from what quarter it blows. This legislation is bringing about a very desirable condition of things in North Australia. It is helping to settle the sugar districts with a large number of small farmers, and it must be recognised that that is very much better for Australia than to have lands in the hands of a few big nabobs surrounded by gangs of inferior coloured labourers. If in the future our national independence should ever be challenged, we shall have no better means of defending it than that afforded by the settlement on the soil of small growers. If honorable senators will look at the figures supplied in Dr. Maxwell's report, they will find that in 1902 in the Northern District there were 36 white growers, and in 1905 that number had increased to 124, the number being more than trebled in three years. In the Central District, the numbers were for 1902, 519 ; and for 1905, 977; Southern District, 617 in 1902; and 937 in 1905. In the extreme south the numbers were 349 in 1902, and 643 in 1905, the totals being 1,521 in 1902, and 2,681 in 1905. This is a most gratifying increase. The fact that small men are continually going into the. sugar industry, and growing sugar by white labour under Commonwealth conditions, should be gratifying to every one who assisted to pass this legislation.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - The figures quoted do not include the number of men engaged during the cutting season.

Senator GIVENS - No; they represent only the number of white growers settled on the land, and carrying on the business of sugar cultivation for themselves. There are no returns showing the number of these employes, but, in view of the quantity of sugar produced, it is clear that a very considerable number ot white men must be engaged in the industry during the crushing season. The increase in the number of white growers, gratifying as it is, is nothing like what Parliament had a right to expect, and the reason for that is that Parliament made a mistake in giving the growers of cane by coloured labour so large a protection as it did. Had Parliament given the growers of cane by white labour as much protection as could have been afforded to them, and as little as possible to those growing cane with coloured labour, better results would have followed. Those growing cane with coloured labour could have had nothing to complain of, because, so long as they continued to employ coloured labour, they would have had to compete in the market only on precisely the same terms as they would have had to meet if there had been no Federation at all.

Senator Fraser - Provided that the Parliament had left them alone entirely, I suppose that they would have been satisfied'.

Senator GIVENS - I do not think so, because, if there had been no Federation, no man could have grown sugar successfully in Australia in 1902 and 1903 with any sort of labour.

Senator Fraser - But the Parliament might have left the industry to go on as it was.

Senator GIVENS - Suppose that the Parliament had made no change, then there would have been no duty and no bounty.

Senator Fraser - They could have put on a duty

Senator GIVENS - But to put on a duty would not have been to leave the industry alone. If the conditions had been exactly the same in 1902 and 1903, as before Federation, there would not have been a planter who, during those two years, could have successfully grown sugar in Queensland or elsewhere in Australia. They were not competing against the world when sugar could be landed at 1^7 10s. a ton.

Senator Fraser - Is not the honorable member aware that for years, they were competing against the world.

Senator GIVENS - Yes; but I am reminding the honorable senator that the planters were not competing against the world when sugar could be landed at £7 1 os. a ton.

Senator Fraser - Sugar is £20 a ton now.

Senator GIVENS - Yes. When the outcry for coloured labour was greater than ever it has been, when thev were getting £28 a ton, they complained that they could not make the industry pay. if they were to work with white labour.

Senator Mulcahy - But they did not have as good appliances then as now.

Senator GIVENS - I admit that since that time there have been considerable improvements. All these circumstances have to be taken into account. I believe that were it not for the fact that the big planters in Queensland set their faces against the Commonwealth legislation the increase in the number df growers, the area of "whitegrown sugar, and the total production of white-grown sugar, would have been immensely greater than it has been. They set their faces absolutely against our legislation. They did everything in their power to discredit it as I 'have proved here by documentary evidence over and over again. They threw every block in the way of its successful operation, because they thought that th'ey had only to kick up noise enough, or to cry "blue ruin " often enough, to be able to convince this Parliament that it was necessary to retrace its steps. But they see now that it is not possible for them to accomplish that object. I am glad to see that a better spirit is beginning to prevail. I believe that this Bill will induce them to considerably alter their opinions and their attitude. It is a step in the right direction, because, while it will leave the protection to growers by white labour exactly where it is, it will reduce the protection to colouredgrown sugar bv £i a ton. Under the present Act, which will remain in force until the end of this year, the grower by white labour got a protection of ^3 a ton - that is the difference between the Excise duty and the Customs duty - and a bounty of £2 a ton, whereas the grower by coloured labour got a protection of a ton.

To the latter planter the protection was altogether too high; it was a direct encouragement to him to continue to use coloured labour, and that was a bar to the success of our White Australia legislation. Under this Bill, the grower by white labour will get a protection of only £2 a ton, and a bonus of £3 a ton, amounting to £5, being exactly the same as he had before, but the grower by coloured labour will get a protection of £,2, instead of £3. That will mean so much less encouragement to a grower to continue to use coloured labour, and so much more encouragement to a planter to go on growing sugar by white labour. I believe that the effect of the Bill will be that a very much' larger number of men will go in for growing sugar with white labour than have done so in the past, especially when they realize that by the enactment of its provisions, the Australian Parliament will have indicated its determination not to reverse its original decision. Let us now consider what effect the measure may have upon the revenue of the States. From that stand-point I. believe that it will have a very beneficial effect, because the sugar produced by white labour will not get any more protection from the revenue of the States than it has been getting, while the sugar produced by coloured labour will pay more to the State revenue than it has been paying. Instead of paying only £3 a ton as Excise duty, it will have to pay -£4. a ton, and if anything like, or nearly like, the same proportions of white and coloured sugar be produced in the future, then the States will benefit very considerably by this alteration in the law. In my opinion, sugar is not a proper article of taxation. I should not support the imposition of an Excise duty on sugar, were it not for the fact that it is necessary to differentiate between white and coloured labour. In England it is recognised that sugar is one of the necessaries of life, and, therefore, is not a fit subject for taxation. But they tax nearly everything which is not an absolute necessary of life, in order to raise revenue.

Senator de LARGIE - Does the honorable senator say that in England almost everything is taxed?

Senator GIVENS -In England they tax almost everything which is regarded as a luxury. Sugar is admitted duty free.

Senator de Largie - And so are most food commodities !

Senator GIVENS - Most food's which are recognised as necessaries of life are admitted duty free, but where they suspect that an article is a luxury it is taxed. Freetrade England, for instance, derives a very considerable revenue from a duty on tea, because they have an idea that that article is a luxury. For these reasons, I believe that the Bill will commend itself to the representatives of the States more than does the present Act. It is much more welcome to me, as a Queenslander, than would be a. continuation of that Act, although it gives that State less protection than it has, inasmuch as it reduces by £i a ton the protection enjoyed by coloured labour. I do not want any protection for the users of coloured labour. I desire all the protection that Parliament can afford to give to every industry in Australia which can be successfully carried on by white labour, "but I do not want any protection for an industry which can only be conducted by coloured labour. Apart from the manufacture of spirits or narcotics, the sugar industry is the only_ one which is subject to an .Excise d!uty, and that duty is only necessary in order to enable a differentiation to be made. Therefore, those who advocate the substitution of white for coloured labour should support this Bill. Of course, I do not expect my arguments to appeal to those who believe in absolute free-trade, and especially in the right of every man to employ whomsoever he may please, black, coloured, white, or brindle. I believe that this legislation will have the effect of establishing in Queensland, and ultimately, I hope in other parts of the Commonwealth, an industry which will be of immense advantage to Australia. There is no reason why it should not produce an immensely larger quantity of sugar than is now produced. By-and-by, when the Commonwealth is populated by its tens of millions, I hope that enough sugar will be produced in order to supply the local demand. As the Bill wilh I believe, have the effect^ of firmly establishing the industry on a White Australia basis, and making it as prosperous, if not more prosperous, than ever, it has my cordial support. I believe that the Government are to_ be commended for its introduction, and I nope that honorable senators on both sides will agree to its enactment as being a continuation, in a more effective form, of the beneficial, policy of establishing industries on a White Australia basis, which was initiated by the first Parliament.

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