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Friday, 10 August 1906

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) . - After the speeches which have teen delivered by Senators Symon, Millen, and Gould, it is scarcely necessary for me to say anything on the second reading of this Bill. But there are one or two points to which I propose to briefly allude. I agree with those who have already said that this is really a prohibition Bill. I dread the introduction in a great country like Australia of anything approaching the prohibition of imports. Those who desire- such prohibition should have the manliness-' to bring forward a proposal to amend the Tariff in that direction. The Bill soclearly infringes individual liberty that I propose to give the Senate the benefit of" a few lines from Professor J. Shield? Nicholson, Professor of Political Economy1 in the University of Edinburgh. He says, on the subject of liberty - '

But do you think that any strength of imagination, or any persuasiveness of words, could in-' duce the people who had felt the benefits anc?' the manliness of liberty again to submit toslavery in any shape or form? Do you think., it would reconcile them if their masters were( to be a central assembly elected by themselves,, with committees and sub-committees ad infinitum until we reach the state-bailiffs, overseers, and? managers chosen, we will suppose, by competitive examination ?

The opposition between real progress and ideal Socialism on this question of liberty cannot be shown by one example, or even by many. It isan opposition that is marked throughout. Slavery,' large as it looms before us, is but oneexample. Liberty is as essential to the reas n. as to the spirit of mankind. Every revolution in-, science, every radical invention in mechanical' appliances, has, in the past, been opposed by some form of authority, if it be only that most: deceptive but most oppressive of all - public opinion.

Senator Playford - Has not some one said -

O liberty ! liberty ! how many crimes arecommitted in thy name !

Senator WALKER - Senator Symonlast night informed us that the earning, power per head of population in Canada is j£i6 5s. ; in New South Wales, /Ti 4 14s. ; in the United Kingdom, £fi 18s. 6d. -r and in Victoria, ^27 19s. 6d. That showsthe absolute non-necessity of this kind of legislation, especially as regards VictoriaYet Victorians are, I suspect, the greatest, sinners in desiring it.

Senator Guthrie - Why call them sinners ?

Senator WALKER - Perhaps the hon'orable senator would prefer that I should call them saints. I believe that good may come out of evil as regards this measure, because I think that it will give the antiSocialistic Party a splendid handle at theapproaching general elections in every' State, with the exception, possibly, of saintly Victoria. From whence has come'the demand for this Bill ? We know well ' enough. Senator Gould quoted a part of the measure which indicates its source. Itr clause 18, sub-clause 2, it is provided that-

In the following cases the competition shall be deemed unfair unless the contrary is proved -

(a)   If the competition would probably or does in fact result in an inadequate remuneration for labour in the Australian industry.

There is a great difference of opinion as to what is inadequate remuneration.

Senator Guthrie - Not enough to live on.

Senator Playford - Below the minimum wage.

Senator WALKER - I have no desire to starve anybody. I have been an employer of labour, and I defy any one to say that I ever starved my employes. I do not believe that any employer in Australia desires to do so. Australia is the home of liberty for the labouring classes.

Senator Guthrie - Is it? .

Senator WALKER - Of course, it is.

Senator Guthrie - Liberty to starve.

Senator WALKER - Oh, bosh! Where is this demand? Echo answers - Where? I think that the only reply I can give is that that clause is intended to benefit a wellknown manufacturer in Victoria. No doubt the Bill would prevent free competition, and would punish the great multitude of consumers for the benefit of a comparatively small, handful of manufacturers. It is impossible to name any article the consumers of which are not infinitely superior in number to the manufacturers. Therefore, the Bill would punish the many for the benefit of the few. I advocate the greatest good for the greatest number. Again, protection is really a matter of monopolies and trusts. Where else in the world are such great trusts formed, and such 'enormous fortunes made, as in the United States, a country which boasts of having a protective policy? The incubus of multi-millionaires there has, I suppose, implanted a fear in the minds of many persons that we might get the disease here; but I' do not think that probable. Senator McGregor made an allusion to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and spoke of it 'as a monopoly. What is a monopoly? A monopolyis surely a business' or enterprise which belongs to one person or corporation. There are, to my own knowledge, three distinct sugar refining companies inAustralia - 'namely, Messrs. Poolman and Co. ; the Millaquin Refining Company, at Bundaberg; and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. To call any one of them a monopoly is a misnomer.

Senator Pearce - What percentage of the trade do the two first-named companies do?

Senator WALKER - That is a mere matter of detail. The Bill aims also at the prevention of dumping. To begin with, " dumping " is not an elegant phrase, although it is expressive. Here, again, the public might be deprived of a great benefit which they now enjoy. Frequently there are large sacrifices made by persons at Home owing to bankruptcy, fires, and so forth. Is there not a danger that the public would be deprived of the benefit accruing from the sale of such stocks here ? I know that Senator Playford has said that the Bill is not intended to apply to a case of that sort. I was very glad to hear the statement ; but in Committee . that ought to be made perfectly clear. I am altogether opposed to artificial barriers against trade. Again, clause 21 provides that the decision of the Justice shall be final. Why should there not be the right of appeal against the decision of a single Justice ? Is it not possible that a single Justice may make an error? There is supposed to be wisdom in " a multitude of counsellors," and I believe that, as a rule, there is more wisdom in a Bench of three Justices than in a single Justice. Certainly the public would have more confidence in the judgment of the former. Undoubtedly this measure would promote litigation. Some persons believe that that would be a good thing, but I do not. I have had the pleasure of being served with a writ for £1,000, which I am very glad to say was withdrawn. While it was in my hand, however, I had a very uncomfortable feeling, and I can sympathize with persons who, although perfectly innocent, receive writs occasionally. In my case it did not cost me a penny, I am glad to say. I promised not to make a long speech. I now take my leave of the 'Bill for the time being. I shall vote against its second reading, and in Committee I shall endeavour to introduce amendments to give effect to my own views, and the views of those whom I represent.

Debate (on motion by Senator Best) adjourned.

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