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Tuesday, 28 August 1906

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - I cannot allow such statements as those just made by Senator de Largie to go unchallenged, as it might be assumed that there was no answer to them. He stated that in respect of speed the InterState boats are unequal to the foreign vessels. I point out that the .Riverina, an Australian-owned ship, has absolutelyexcelled anything ever done by any ocean steamer that has ever traded in Australia in the matter of speed.

The CHAIRMAN - Will the honorable senator proceed to refer to the amendment under consideration?

Senator GUTHRIE - It has been said that rebates are detrimental to the growth of Australian trade. I contend that Australian ship-owners could not have built up their trade as it exists to-day had it not been for rebates. The shipping tradeof Australia would be in the hands of coolies, Chinamen, and cheap European labour if Senator de Largie had his wayIt has only been by a system of rebates that the Inter-State companies have been able to hold our coastal trade.

Senator Best - Nonsense !

Senator GUTHRIE - If the honorable senator had had to do as I have done in fighting my way through the world, he would . have known that there was no nonsense in my statement. In the London docks I have been to ship after ship asking; for employment, and what did I find? In British ships I found coolies, Chinamen, lascars, Swedes, Norwegians, and Germans, all competing against me.

The CHAIRMAN - Will the honorable senator permit me to read to him standing order No. 407 -

The President or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the Senate or the Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition, and may direct such senator to discontinue his speech : Provided that such senator shall have the right to requirethat the question whether he be further heard be put, and thereupon such question shall be put without debate.

The honorable senator certainly has been guilty during the afternoon of repetition and irrelevancy, and I hope he will endeavour to keep more closely to the question, which is the addition of a paragraph proposed by Senator Best.

Senator GUTHRIE - I shall endeavour to conform to your ruling, sir. I do not think that during the whole debate I have even mentioned the competition to which Australian seamen are subjected. I mentioned the competition1 among the shipowners, but never since I have had the honour of a seat in this chamber, have I referred to the competition which the sea- men have to fight against. I propose, however, to do so now, with the permission of the Chairman. Unless an industry can pay it cannot remunerate the workmen. At present the seamen have to face the competition of the whole world. What is the dumping of American harvesters compared with the dumping of foreign labour on the coast of Australia ? If we abolished the rebates to-morrow we should have the cheapest labour in the world on our coast.

Senator de Largie - Wages were higher before there were rebates.

Senator GUTHRIE - The Peninsula! and Oriental Steam Navigation Company pays its deck hands 15s. 4d. per month.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator has told the Committee that several times.

Senator GUTHRIE - Only twice. The Orient Steam Navigation Company, which .is compelled to employ white labour, pays a month, or about 15s. a week, to the men before the mast. Could Senator de Largie support his wife and family on such, a wage in any part of Australia? Yet that honorable senator advocates the abolition of rebates, and has absolutely misrepresented me in regard to the signing of the report of the Navigation Commission. I signed that report on conditio^ that seamen coming to Australia should be paid off at any port at which they arrived, and that those engaged in the coastal trade should be provided with proper accommodation and food.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator has three times given the reasons which prompted him to sign the report of the Navigation Commission. I trust the honorable senator will not pursue that line of argument any further, or otherwise I shall have to draw the attention of the Committee to his continued irrelevance and repetition.

Senator GUTHRIE - -Surely I have a right to make an explanation in the face of the fact that I have been misrepresented bv Senator de Largie. That honorable senator did not mention the conditions on which I signed the report, and neither have those conditions yet been mentioned by me to-night. One condition was that Australian capital and labour should have the right to the Australian coast, to the exclusion of coloured and cheap labour. _ I am not prepared to support the abolition of rebates, when such a step would have the result of introducing that kind of labour.

Senator de Largie - The report which the honorable senator signed recommends the abolition of rebates as soon as possible.

Senator GUTHRIE - What I said was that as soon as the recommendations of the Navigation Commission were carried out, I should be prepared to abolish rebates. Is the honorable senator in favour of the Australian coast being retained for Australian seamen who are able to support their wives and families in comfort?

Senator de Largie - Of course I am.

Senator GUTHRIE - If rebates were abolished, the Orient Steam Navigation Company, and other companies, would come into the trade with their cheap labour to-morrow. If it were .proposed to introduce a horde of Eastern natives into the mining industry of Western Australia, this Chamber would not be sufficient to contain Senator de Largie. While not prepared to admit that labour into the mining industry, he is prepared -to admit it into the coastal shipping trade.

Senator de Largie - Does the honorable senator know that he is misrepresenting me?

Senator GUTHRIE - That is what I gathered from the honorable senator's remarks.

Senator de Largie - Mr. Chairman, is it not the practice for one honorable senator to at once accept the denial of another honorable senator? Senator Guthrie is deliberately misrepresenting me on very important matters. If the honorable senator were in ignorance of my views on those matters, I should not rise to a point of order, but he is well aware of my views.

The CHAIRMAN --Senator Guthriehas used words offensive to Senator de Largie in reference to the introduction of coloured labour, and I hope that the honorable senator will withdraw those words.

Senator GUTHRIE - I withdraw every word I have said. My opinion is that if the rebate system be withdrawn, it will have the .effect of introducing cheap coloured labour on the Australian coast. After all, a ship is a factory, used for the purpose of enhancing the value of goods by their transport; and the introduction of coloured labour would be an absolute menace to a place like Australia.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator must recognise that he is defying both the Chair and the Committee. He is not showing sufficient respect to either the Committee or the Chair in pursuing his present line of argument, and under standing order 407 I direct him to discontinue his speech. It is open to the honorable senator to move that he be further heard.

Amendment (by Senator Guthrie) negatived -

That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words "or services."

Amendment agreed to.

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