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Wednesday, 29 August 1906

Senator O'KEEFE (Tasmania) . - This is supposed to be a Bill for the preservation of Australian industries, and for the repression of destructive monopolies. If it were a Tariff Bill, or a Preferential Trade Bill, I could understand the perfervid speech of Senator Dobson, and the arguments of Senator Symon ; but it is not a Bill which proposes to accord preferential trade to Great Britain, or any other country. Nor is it a measure which proposes to enact certain duties of Customs.

Senator Lt Col Gould - It is rather better than a' Tariff Bill.

Senator O'KEEFE - It is a Bil] for a specific object.

Senator Dobson - It is an out-and-out Protection Bill.

Senator O'KEEFE - We have . to read clause 16 in conjunction with clauses 17, 18, and 19. In sub-clause 2 of clause iS I find that, in the following cases, the com- petition shall be deemed to be 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.

(b)   If the competition would probably or does in fact result in creating any substantial disorganization in Australian industry or throwing workers out of employment.

WhenI read those two paragraphs, I ask, is the hardship going to be any less to the Australian workman if he is thrown out of employment by the dumping of goods that come from Great Britain rather than it would be if they came from any other country ? Will the hardship be any the less to starving wives and families, or to those whose capital is invested in Australian industries? I remind Senator Dobson that these dumping clauses are not aimed at Great Britain, or any other part of the world, but are aimedat the goods of any or every country. The remarks of the honorable and learned senator would lead one to believe that the clauses were aimed at Great Britain as a kind of insult.

Senator Dobson - I did not say the clauses were aimed at Great Britain, and I merely asked that Great Britain should be exempted.

Senator O'KEEFE - It is not England, or any country which inflicts the injustice, but a few manufacturers in England, Canada, America, or any other country.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - I point out that under the Bill it is not the manufacturer in Great Britain who is penalized, but the importer in Australia who brings the goods.

Senator O'KEEFE - That is a view which may very properly be taken by such an ardent free-trader as Senator Symon; but as a protectionist I do not desire the benefit of temporary cheapness if it is to be obtained at the expense of permanent injury to Australian industries and workmen. I repeat that it is not Great Britain as a country which is aimed at, but the manufacturers of Great Britain, and therefore, the question as to whether the legislation is an insult to Great Britain ought not to enter into the discussion. The question is whether this legislation is right and proper as applied to manufacturers, trusts, and combines in any part of the world, including Great Britain. This is not a Preferential Trade Bill, nor a Tariff Bill, but a measure which, as shown on the face of it, is intended to preserve Australian industries, and repress destructive monopolies which may do injury to Australian industries, and, incidentally, throw Australian workmen out of employment. It is because I think there is a danger of that kind that I support the Bill as it stands.

Senator Lt.-Col.GOULD (New South Wales) [9.19]. - I am glad that Senator Symon has proposed this new clause, because it affords an opportunity to hear what certain honorable senators have to say in order to excuse themselves for not adhering to principles which they advocated on the hustings, and which sounded very grand and noble, but which I know they, as protectionists, cannot possibly believe in.

Senator Trenwith - The honorable and learned senator does not know.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I only judge by circumstances.

Senator O'Keefe - The honorable and learned senator never heard me say anything about preferential trade.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- That is probably because I never heard the honorable senator on the hustings. At any rate, protectionist senators have gone from place to place throughout the Commonwealth advocating preferential trade, and condemning free-traders on the ground that the latter are not in favour of the principle. But the Commonwealth has beenin existence now for six years, and I ask whether any one of those honorable senators has raised a finger to bring about preferential trade. As a matter of fact, preferential trade has simply been used as a parrot cry in order to cajole the electors. The Prime Minister, like his colleagues and followers, has gone from place to place talking about preferential trade, and about binding the Empire closer together ; and in this way the people at Home have been led to believe that some offer in this connexion has been made by Australia. Has any offer been made, or will any offer be made? Canada has shown a desire to bring about preferential trade; but honorable senators opposite, with their views on protection, will do precious little in favour of preference to Great Britain, while they are prepared to take all they can get from the mother country. Honorable senators who have spoken to-night have given what they believe to be excellent reasons to excuse themselves for refusing to give the slightest preference to Great Britain.

Senator Best - To excuse themselves !

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Yes. We have been told that the amendment is an insult to Great Britain. As a matter of fact, the amendment really is a declaration that we are not attempting to legislate against the mother country.

Senator Trenwith - That is obvious throughout the Bill ; we are legislating only in defence of ourselves.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- But how does the honorable senator propose to bring about preferential trade or treatment?

Senator Trenwith - Quite easily.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Is it by raising a barrier high enough to keep out British goods, and then building a barrier a little higher in order to keep out ' the goods of other nations? We are told that protectionists are prepared to raise the Tariff as against the foreigner, and to leave it as at present against the Britisher.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - In short, the protectionists desire prohibition against British goods, and a little more prohibition against foreign goods.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - One honorable member has declared that he is willing to lower the duties in favour of Great Britain while keeping the Tariff as at present against foreign nations. By that means, we should be able to give the Britisher an opportunity to get some footing in our markets in preference to the foreigner.

Senator Trenwith - Then the honorable senator's argument really is that nobody has a footing in our markets now?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I know that the honorable senator will, if he can, take care to prevent anybody getting a footing in our markets unless manufacturers come to one of the States to manufacture the goods required by our people. Of course, that is quite right from a protectionist stand-point, and if I were a protectionist, I should throw on one side all this talk about preferential trade. There are precious few protectionists who believe in giving preference to Great Britain. They are quite willing that Great Britain should impose ' a duty on wheat as against the foreigner, because then Australians might get command of the market and obtain better prices. But, if we get an advantage of that kind, we must give something in exchange; in any case, I do not believe the mother country would impose duties as against outside people in favour of the

Australian Commonwealth if we will not do anything to advantage the mother country.

Senator Styles - Then the honorable senator is a preferential trader?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The honorable senator knows that I am a free-trader. Of course, we realise that the new clause will not be adopted, but, as I have said before, I am glad that it has been proposed, because it has caused honorable senators to show that, after all, they are not such ardent preferential traders as they try to lead the electors to believe.

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