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Tuesday, 2 October 1906


Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - Senator Trenwith commenced his speech by denying a statement on which he said Senator Clemons based his argument, to the effect that the industry could not carry on without more protection. I shall not enter into the controversy raised by the conflict of opinion between the honorable senators referred to, and I propose, for the purposes ofmy argument, to accept Senator Trenwith's declaration, whichI take to be an admission that the witnesses who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission admitted that the industry is highly remunerative, and that it is a threatened danger and not the existing position of the industry with which the honorable senator desires to deal. The honorable senator is dealing with a threatened danger.


Senator Trenwith - No, with a. present danger. We have lost one-third of our trade.


Senator MILLEN - This particular trade is growing all the time and is bigger now than it ever was. However, that is immaterial to the argument which I wish to develop. Senator Trenwith admitted that his object in supporting the Bill is to ward off a danger threatening or present, and I ask him to cast his mind back to his own remarks on the Anti-Trust Bill. In that Bill it was provided that, if any importers or outside combinations of manufacturers sought by importations to injure an Australian industry, there should be machinery by which that injury could be averted. After having spent some time in dealing with the Anti-Trust Bill, are we to be told that, after all is said and done, the warnings of honorable senators on this side were founded on substance, and that the whole measure will prove a nullity? That is what the admission of Senator Trenwith amounts to. Although the Government, in introducing that Bill, assured us that it was to be a measure held as a shield over threatened Australian industries, to ward off the darts and blows of hostile forces outside of Australia, it is now only so much waste-paper. If it is, I invite the attention of the electors of the country to the fact that we have been asked by the Government, supported by SenatorTrenwith and his associates to spend a great deal of time in discussing a useless measure.


Senator Col Neild - It might be as well, perhaps, on an occasion of this kind, to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.]


Senator MILLEN - When attention was called to the absence of a quorum, I was referring to the fact that some time ago we were asked topass a measure designed to protect Australian industries against the attacks of malign foreign forces.


Senator Trenwith - This is only our second arm of defence.


Senator MILLEN - Exactly ; but the whole of my argument is that the honorable senator's last utterance in the Chamber is either an admission that the Australian Industries Preservation Act must prove an absolute failure, and is, therefore, a justification of the attitude taken up by honorable senators on this side, who affirmed that it would fail in its object, or he is now seeking to obtain for the industry something to which it is not entitled. The Government invited us, and he helped them to spend valuable time in discussing a Bill for the purpose of protecting local industries against foreign attacks. He now tells us that the object of the present Bill is to safeguard a particular industry against one of the threatened attacks which" it was the purpose of the other measure to ward off. If it is going to ward off that attack, if it is complete and effective for the purpose for which it was designed and enacted-


Senator Trenwith - I agree with ,my honorable friend that it is not complete.


Senator MILLEN - Unfortunately, the honorable senator's agreement comes many weeks too late. He ought to have agreed with me before.


Senator Trenwith - I agreed with the honorable senator then, but it was the best measure that we could get.


Senator MILLEN - I admire the candour of my honorable friend when he admits that he helped to occupy time to force upon the statute-book a measure which he admits will be ineffective. If the Government cannot find more useful work with which to occupy the attention of the Senate than to pass Bills which are to be inoperative and useless, it appears to me that it should mark its sense of disapproval of such a gross waste of public time. I wish to go with some detail into a further argument advanced by Senator Trenwith. I was surprised that an honorable senator with such, an intimate acquaintance with men and affairs should have laid so much stress upon the statement of Mr. Coxon, and to emphasize the fact that it was made on oath. A statement may be made on oath a dozen times and not contain a vestige of truth, but still the author may not have been guilty of perjury. It is quite possible for a man to swear by a stack of bibles as high as the roof of the Chamber that a person told him something, and it may be quite true that that person did, but still the statement may not contain a word of truth.


Senator Trenwith - The other fellow might have been a liar ?


Senator MILLEN - Exactly. The fact that Mr. Coxon's statement was made on oath" amounts to nothing. Had Mr. Beale made that statement on oath, there might have been something in it.


Senator Trenwith - I agree with the honorable senator.


Senator MILLEN - Where a man has repeated a tale told to him by an energetic commercial traveller, it is grossly exaggerating the true state of affairs to attach to that statement any importance, because it was given on oath when it was only secondhand evidence. What was the position? I find that it was Mr. McKay who produced this wondrous document for the consideration of the Commission. I am not objecting to its production by him-, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that he and Mr. Coxon 'were on particularly good terms. Mr. McKay produced a declaration by Mr. Coxon, who swore that somebodyelse had told him something, and it was on such flimsy evidence that Senator Trenwith sought to build up an argument.


Senator Trenwith - My honorable friend should remember that I only quoted Mr. Coxon in answer to his doubt that the company had declared that it had 90 per cent, of the harvester trade of the worl'd, and I corroborated that from the manager's own statement.


Senator MILLEN - I shall come to that point directly. What my honorable friend now says is that because a doubt was expressed by my interjection as to the accuracy of a statement, Mr.' McKay produced a declaration bv Mr. Coxon that Mr. Beale had told him something. It certainly is a misuse of the word to call it evidence, but, from want of a better term, I submit that evidence of that kind would not be permitted in a Court anywhere, as the honorable senator knows perfectly well. The mere fact that a Royal Commission has much looser rules for eliciting information - and it is necessary that it should - does remove from a great deal of the evidence that value which is attachable to evidence when it is given in a Court.


Senator Trenwith - Of course, that applies to all the evidence.


Senator MILLEN - P admit that, and I only make the reference because my honorable friend emphasized the fact that the statement was made on oath. All the evidence that Mr. Coxon gave on oath was that he had been told something bv somebody else. My honorable friend can dismiss that evidence as entirely wanting in substance. When I look into the statement, what does it amount to? Mr. Beale appears to have been an agent of the International Harvester Company, and I take it that he was holding this conversation with Mr. Coxon with a view to advancing his own business interests, as well as those of his employer. I have heard, though Senator Trenwith may not have heard, that commercial travellers do develop the habit of drawing the long bow. They certainly do not possess an undue amount of modest, when thev go to press their wares upon the attention of possible buyers. One can assume that an agent, representing of all companies, an American one, would not be of much use to it unless he could indulge in" a little of that exercise which is known as " blowing." Having read the document, I can readily understand that the representative of an American company was indulging in a little bit oT bombast, with the object of impressing upon his hearers the great importance of his company, and the desirability of doing business with it. I dismiss it as not offering the slightest tangible evidence which in any way can be held to tell against the company. It would be ridiculous to suppose that an ordinary commercial traveller was entitled to speak with' authority upon the affairs of a big combination whose head centre is on the other side of the world. It would be absurd to suppose that it had intrusted its secrets or its ambitions or its designs to a country traveller. The whole suggestion that it did is too preposterous for a moment's sen- OtiS consideration.


Senator Trenwith - Yet Senator Clemons points out that Mr. Weickhardt should be a competent authority on the cost of production of harvesters.


Senator Clemons - And why should he not, when he was in Mr. McKay's employment for two years?


Senator MILLEN - There is a vast difference between the _position of Mr. Beale and that of Mr. Weickhardt, who had worked in the industry, and who being, I presume, a man of some intelligence, had had an opportunity of gauging the time required to do a particular portion of the work, and therefore to estimate its value, and also to ascertain the cost of the material. He coul'd reasonably arrive at an estimate, more or less reliable, as to what it would cost to manufacture a machine.


Senator Clemons - That particular duty was imposed upon him by Mr. McKay.


Senator Trenwith - To look after the particulars.


Senator Clemons - No; to go into the whole question of cost.


Senator MILLEN - That still further qualified Mr. Weickhardt to offer to the Commission an estimate for what it was worth ; but to liken his position to that of a commercial traveller in a country district, who possibly had never seen any of the real heads of the International Harvester Company, who might not have seen even the local head, and who might simply have been appointed as the result of a visit from a travelling representative of the company, is beside the question. I do not think, that Senator Trenwith would for one moment - at any rate, not seriously - put forward the contention, although he sought to do it by inference, that Mr. Beale was in any way entitled to speak authoritatively regarding the combine, or to speak as a man having knowledge of what it intended to do. It was the natural "blowing" of a keen commercial traveller, seeking to advance his own interests, with an eye to a commission, as well as those of his employers. Senator Trenwith went on to refer to a letter dealing with the agreement read by Senator Clemons, and told me that it was dated 1905. ^Apparently it is a letter by which one of the importing firms sought to draw, an employe from a local firm. Senator Clemons pointed out that that was in contravention of the terms of the then existing agreement. According to the date which Senator Trenwith gave me, and the date of the agreement, it was then at perfect liberty to do so.


Senator Trenwith - No.


Senator MILLEN - If mv honorable friend says " No" I shall not contest the point. The agreement was to run from the 14th March. 1905, to the 1st January, 1906. When I asked Senator Trenwith the date of the letter he mentioned only the year.


Senator Trenwith - I think I said that it was written in February.


Senator MILLEN - If my honorable friend tells me that it was written during the period I have mentioned, and not in the earlier portion of 1905, I am quite satisfied. No doubt honorable senators noted the verv justifiable scorn with which he referred to this attempt on the part of Massey-Harris, in spite of a clause in the agreement, to try to draw to their own employ, an employe of one of the associated firms. But I did not hear Kim denounce the action of Mr. McKay and others, who were trying to undermine the spirit of the agreement. I did not hear him denounce their action in approaching the Minister, or in arranging for the deputation which subsequently waited upon him. I am left to understand that he has two codes of morals, namely, one for the unfortunate importer, who has to be kept to the strict line of ethics and morals, and' the other for the local manufacturer, who is to be allowed to interpret ethics" and morals according as it may suit his business. I am not going to defend the action of Massey-

Harris, because, if the facts as stated by my honorable friend are correct - that they had entered into an agreement, one clause of which said that they were not to try to attract an employé from an associated employer - it was utterly wrong and indefensible. But equally disreputable was it for Mr. McKay and others, after having entered into an agreement to sell the harvesters at a certain price, to go round and destroy if not the letter, at least the spirit, of it, to try to get from the Minister of Trade and Customs - and they succeeded in doing so - an impost placed upon their co-signatories to the document, and then, later on by an open deputation to the Minister, to seek to get legislative restraints placed upon them. Nothing more disreputable on the part of business men could be imagined. That brings me to the real facts as to what took place at the Customs at that particular time. If we are not careful, there is a verv strong probability of Australian, politics taking on something of the colour and complexion which Ave are led to believe mark those in America. It seems to me that Ave are opening the door to very pernicious lobbying. Senator Trenwith has pointed with some pride to the fact that Mr. McKay is a masterful man. After the experience of the last few months, I did not require his assurance on that point. Every honorable senator, whatever his fiscal views may be. has recognised that Mr. McKay is a force to be dealt Avith. But I take it that he is merely a type of the successful and enterprising business man of modern times ; and what has happened in this matter seems to me to point a warning finger to what mav happen in the future if Parliament is not A'ery careful. It is pointing out to the manufacturers of Australia that the royal road to success is to importune the Minister, to work up an agitation through the press, and on the platform, and to use all the influences which a man in that position can bring to' bear legitimately upon the Legislature itself. That is what is taking place in America, and what, I fear, unless Parliament is very careful, will take place here also. It unfortunately happens, if these influences are pernicious, as I believe them to be, that they have a ready means of operating here by reason of the strong views of some of the members of the Parliament itself. When a gentleman like Mr. McKay comes here, and makes out a . case with more or less success for increased protection, he naturally finds - and I" am making no complaint about it - ready and willing auditors amongst those who hold strong protectionist views ; and it seems to me that owing to the fact that some members have those strong views they are often ready to listen to such tales without a close examination of the alleged facts placed before them. It makes the way of the lobbyist easy to know that a large percentage of those to whom he appeals are, because of the principles which they hold, predisposed to give him a favorable audience.


Senator Trenwith - The honorable senator will admit that that applies both ways.


Senator MILLEN - Except that no large interest in Australia can apply to free-traders, because Ave can give them nothing.


Senator Trenwith - What about all the millionaire importers?


Senator MILLEN - If Ave have a few more samples of such legislation as Ave have had lately, not only will there be. no millionaire importers, but there will be no importers of any kind. Whilst, I say, there is a distinct incentive on the part of a number of people in the community to seek higher protection, there are very few opportunities for such appeals to be made to the free-trade members of Parliament. We can appeal, as we do appeal, to the large body of consumers, but not one of them is directly interested, as are the manufacturers and the workmen employed in the manufacturing industries.


Senator Givens - Is not the consumer directly interested ?


Senator MILLEN - Yes; but does he count as" an electioneering force?


Senator Givens - Unless he is a manufacturer.


Senator MILLEN - I do not share that view, nor do I think that my honorable friend himself would express the same view outside. It is one of the arguments frequently used by my protectionist friends that the reason why they prefer local manufacturing to importation is because local manufacturing is of such value in regard to the employment of labour. Consequently, there are large numbers of men engaged in the industries who are interested in protective duties. The influence which they can use must be obvious. -I do not say this by way of complaint, but there is no use in denying the facts. No one, Senator Trenwith least of all, would desire to see springing up in Australia anything like that system of lobbying which prevails in the United States; and I am sure that my protectionist friends would join with me in doing all that they could to prevent it. I am showing that by passing this legislation giving an undue protection to those interested in the harvester industry, when they have not made out a case for any more assistance, we are practically offering a premium to every industry in Australia which has already tasted the sweets of protection, and desires a higher measure of State assistance, to come and lobby around this Chamber, because we have told them that the reward for persistent, continuous, and masterful agitation is likely to be a still larger measure of protection. Had it been shown that this industry was threatened, and that it was impossible to carry it on without additional protection, it would have been an entirely different thing. But even Senator Trenwith, who, I venture to say, would strain a point to make out a case for a threatened industry, does not venture to say that any harm has been done to the harvester industry at present.


Senator Trenwith - Yes; I say. that one-third of the trade has gone in three years.


Senator MILLEN - One-third of what the local manufacturers never had !


Senator Trenwith - They had the whole of it before.


Senator MILLEN - Thev had the whole of nothing, and now, because they have something like two-thirds of something, mv friend says that they are threatened !


Senator Trenwith - They had- the whole of the trade when it had "attained to a considerable magnitude.


Senator MILLEN - Are not the proprietors of the Sunshine Harvester Works now making and selling more machines than thev ever did?


Senator Trenwith - Last year they did, but not this year.


Senator Clemons - So far as we know they are.


Senator Trenwith - I do know, and say that they are not.


Senator MILLEN - Although Senator Trenwith says they are not making so many machines this year as they did last, I suppose he refers only to the nine months' period.


Senator Trenwith - I speak of the same proportion of the year.


Senator MILLEN - I think that Senator Trenwith will not dispute the contention that the trade of the local manufacturers of these machines has been growing steadily.


Senator Trenwith - For five years, yes.


Senator MILLEN - It is only since that time that it took a spurt. The very severe drought that laid hold of Australia in 1902-3 had, of course, a serious effect upon the industry. But since the drought passed away there has been a rapid expansion of it. No one is better pleased than I am to see that a local industry is developing, and is able to supply local wants with local material and local labour. But I want to know what case has been made out for the additional State assistance proposed to be given by this Bill.


Senator Trenwith - Senator Guthrie mentioned that two large firms in Gawler were doing nothing.


Senator MILLEN - But surely we are not going to legislate for a Continent upon a. single instance of that kind. I say that the trade of Australia, as a whole, is rapidly expanding. That one or two firms may not have done well may be perfectly true, but at the same time the industry with which they are connected may be progressing. When any particular industry is mentioned there are always opened up questions as to the personality of the men who conduct them, and as to many other factors which explain success or failure in individual instances, but which have nothing to do with the simple fact that the industry in question is going ahead rapidly. Not only is that so, as far as the output in this particular industry is concerned, but there is nothing to justify the statement that the profits being made by those engaged in it are not, I will not say enormous, but certainly very liberal and generous.


Senator Trenwith - They are good.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator admits that they are good.


Senator Trenwith - I think that that is rather a cause for congratulation than otherwise.


Senator MILLEN - My only regret is that I have not been in one of these concerns during the last few years, so that I might have made such profits as have been made in the harvester industry.


Senator Trenwith - If the profit made is spread over the whole period Mr. McKay has been in the business it is very small.


Senator MILLEN - Is that an argument for increased protection for the industry? It seems to me that if there is any one who has been battling with want of success to develop an industry we ought to extend a kindly hand to him 'rather than to the man who has reaped a handsome reward. I do not see that, under the circumstances, we are called upon in any way to penalize the rest of Australia in order still further to reward Mr. McKay. I will come directly to the point whether his profits, over and above what he would ordinarily get, have not been sufficiently provided for under a duty of 12^ per cent. Now it is proposed, however, to increase that duty to a considerable extent. I hesitate to say exactly how the fixed duty of £12 works out, because there is a considerable difference of opinion as to what the cost of the machines is. But it will not be disputed that the duty proposed to be levied is a very heavy one, compared with that which has hitherto prevailed. I ask my protectionist friends, what was the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the Tariff expected to do ? The object was, if we are to judge from the public utterances of public men in the other branch of the Legislature and in the Senate, to inquire whether there were any industries that were languishing, or any anomalies to be corrected. It was never supposed that the Commission was to be made an instrument for securing a larger measure of protection for Australian industries. If that had been desired, no Commission was necessary. The Commission was appointed, if we can attach any value to the declarations of public men. to inquire whether anomalies existed in the first instance, and whether any industries were, as was alleged, languishing or being injured by having to carry on under existing conditions. That being so, I am bound to ask whether this Commission, upon the evidence taken by it - I do not pretend to have read it exhaustively - has made out a case in support of either of those contentions. Has it shown that any industry is languishing? Practically it is admitted that it has not. All that Senator Trenwith says is that he wishes to make the future of this particular industry more assured than it is under existing conditions. There is no evidence in the Commission's report, or in

Senator Trenwith'sspeech, that the industry is languishing, that the proprietors are obtaining insufficient profits, that there is any possibility, providing conditions remain as they are, of the industry being extinguished. Certainly it has not been shown that there is any anomaly in the Tariff affecting the industry. On the other hand, we have Senator Trenwith referring to the large number of men employed in the industry, many of whom would be thrown out of work if the efforts of the importers of harvesters were successful. We have the evidence of Mr. McKay, on page 1602, that there are "some thousands" employed in the industry. I suppose, if I were to try to bind Mr. McKay down to that statement, he would possibly say that he was speaking figuratively. Senator Trenwith would think that I judged Mr. McKay harshly if I said that he was lying, but I sa.y that Mr. McKay used that phrase in much the same way as the International Harvester Company used some phrases in the advertisement which Senator Trenwith quoted. It is not true that there are " some thousands " of persons employed in the industry, and Senator Trenwith knows that just as well as I do. The statement was, to characterize it in a complimentary fashion, a figurative way of putting the case. As a matter of literal accuracy, it was not correct.


Senator Trenwith - It is difficult to say how many are employed directly and indirectly.


Senator MILLEN - My friend, I think, will take my interpretation when I say that Mr. McKay's reference 'to the capital invested in "the business, the brains employed in its development', and the thousands of members of the families of the operatives engaged in it, clear! v meant those immediately engaged, and it was just one of those rather loose figurative statements which, on examination, are found not to be quite accurate. I mention this because it shows that the industry is not, in any sense, in a parlous state. If I desired an industry as an illustration of the progress of Australian manufactures, I do not know one to which I could turn with" so much confidence as this harvester industry. And vet it is the particular industry singled" out for special favours at the hands of this Parliament.


Senator Trenwith - It is a new development.


Senator MILLEN - The industry is developing rapidly under a duty of 12½ per cent., and the onus is on the supporters of the Bill to show why a larger measure of protection is necessary.


Senator Trenwith - The importers are scooping up the business, and the local industry will be gone in three years.


Senator MILLEN - The local manufacturers are making more machines year by year; and if they are able to make something like two-thirds of the machines used, I see no reason why they should not only retain that proportion, but increase it. The point is whether the manufacturers are losing trade or not; and all that has been said up to the present is that they are not losing trade, but that they are not getting as much as they would like.


Senator Trenwith - They are not getting the whole of the trade.

SenatorMILLEN. - I say that one reason for that is furnished in the figures relating to the exports by Mr. McKay to South America. I can quite understand why Mr. McKay has not sold as many machines locally as he might have done. Instead of selling locally at a price in the neighbourhood of . £80 or£90, Mr. McKayhas exported and sold in the Argentine at£140. Senator Trenwith shakes his head, but those figures were read by himself.


Senator Trenwith - I think the machines are invoiced at£70, but that the retail purchaser in Argentina has to pay £140.


Senator MILLEN - Does the honorable senator mean that those exported machines are sold at . £70?


Senator Trenwith - According to the figures they are invoiced at £70.


Senator MILLEN - Will the honorable senator explain why, if the machines can be sold at £70, the higher price is charged locally ?


Senator Trenwith - I think the company might be able to afford to sell 1,000, or 400, or 200 machines at £70 in Melbourne.


Senator MILLEN - Then why do they not do so?


Senator Trenwith - Because they have not been asked to sell 200 machines in Melbourne.


Senator MILLEN - Do they sell 200 machines in one line for Argentina?


Senator Trenwith - I should say so.


Senator MILLEN - I should say they do not.


Senator Trenwith - My impression is that they are sent to a consignee.


Senator MILLEN - To fetch what they will? I think we may take it for granted that if there are 400 machines available for export, they are sent out there because they return a better price than if sold locally. I do not think that Mr.. McKay would take all the trade risks of exporting the machines if they could be sold locally at the same figure. If the inducements had not been sufficiently great to lead him to export, and he had devoted his time to selling them locally, there would be less room for the Canadian and American competitors. I was dealing with the reference to the action taken as the result of Mr. McKay's efforts to get the Minister to interpose under the Customs Act on behalf of local manufacturers. I do not know anything more unfortunate than that reference. Senator Trenwith pointed out that the Massey-Harris people declared the goods to be worth £26, and the then Minister of Trade and Customs, Mr. McLean, raised the valuation to£38 10s. Senator Trenwith impugned the veracity and good faith of those importers, but it is a significant fact, to which Senator Trenwith made no reference, that when those importers asked the present Minister of Trade and Customs for facilities to prove the accuracy of their contention, the Minister refused to agree. When those importers asked for the appointment of a Commission to take evidence in the country or origin, in order to determine the true value of the goods, the Minister, who professed to want the truth, and nothing but the truth, declined to grant the request. Why was that done? Why did the Minister, who refused to accept their values, also refuse facilities to obtain evidence to determine once and for all what the goods were worth ? The whole affair has a sinister complexion, and I can only regard it as part and parcel of the pernicious influence, which, from beginning to end, Mr. McKay has exercised on the Ministerial deliberations, and on the administration of the Department. I have tried to point out that, first of all, no case has been made out for a large measure of protection for this industry. I have tried to point out that if the industry is threatened as alleged the Anti-Trust Bill furnishes ample protection against the dangers to which

Senator Trenwithalluded, namely, the importation by trusts or combines, or by means of dumping, with a view to injuring or destroying an Australian industry. The present position of the harvester industry is sufficiently satisfactory, and no additional protection is required. I desire to put in a word on behalf of the farmers, who undoubtedly will be taxed if, as a result of this or other legislation, there is caused an increase in the price of the article. Do what we may in the way of protection, we cannot by any possibility protect our farmers against the foreign producer. Our wheat-growers, who are particularly concerned, have unfortunately to compete against the cheapest labour in the world. Whatever we may do in the way of local legislation, the price of wheat is determined by the price in Mark-lane, where Australian wheat has to enter into competition with wheat grown by cheap Egyptian, Hindoo, and Russian labour.


Senator Findley - But that wheat is produced by most primitive appliances.


Senator MILLEN - The labour is the cheapest in the world, and it is the price of their wheat which rules the market ; and nothing we do here can shield our farmers from that competition.


Senator McGregor - We can only benefit our farmers by bringing population here.


Senator MILLEN - No matter how rapidly the population increases, we are in hopes that the increase will mean more settlement, and, therefore, more wheat for export.


Senator Findley - The home consumption will be increased.


Senator MILLEN - At the same time, we hopethat the population, which may be attracted, will be a rural population, and that, in consequence, the production of wheat for export may be increased. The framers of the Bill, as shown in clause 4, regard it as something extremely undesirable -I should say suicidal - to do anything which would handicap our producers in the way of increasing the price of their tools of trade. My chief objection to the whole of this class of legislation is not merely that it means a higher measure of protection. I should not object to any duty if I thought that the sole effect would be to create local manufactures - to substitute local manufacture for importation. But there is always the possibility, and, in my opinion, the danger that, accompanying the develop ment of local industry, would be the imposition of an undue tax on the consumer.


Senator Trenwith - Assuming that to be so, it is guarded against in the Bill.


Senator MILLEN -I have my doubts about that. If I thought the whole effect of a protective duty would be to encourage local manufacture, I should vote every time for the protective duty. Free-traders do not vote against protective duties on the ground that these duties will develop local industries.


Senator Trenwith - I am afraid that some do.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator, I am sure, does not seriously mean that; the idea is too absurd. No doubt there may be found free-traders who are directly and personally interested in the import trade ; but I know of no one in this Chamber open to that suspicion. Free-traders object to protective duties, not because of any ill-will to local industries, but because they fear that while one local industry may be developed, an undue burden may be passed on to the consumer. I am not at all clear that the net result of the Bill will be other than a further impost on our farming population. If it became a question whether I should take some action here to benefit a manufacturingor a producing industry, I say at once that, as between the two, I should give my vote to the producing industry. But honorable senators opposite seem to think it possible to reconcile the two interests, and an attempt is being made to that end in this Bill. I welcome the Bill, not because I believe it will be effective, but because it is a recognition on behalf of my protectionist friends-


Senator McGregor - Will the honorable senator give the Bill a trial ?


Senator MILLEN - I was asked to give the Anti-Trust Bill a trial, and, before the signature of the Governor-General is dry on that measure, Senator Trenwith tells me that it is only so much waste-paper. I am now asked to give this Bill a trial ; and I suppose that next session some one, after an appropriate interview with Mr. McKay, will tell us that the measure now before us is of no use, and ask me to give a trial to another measure. I am not prepared to indulge in legislation of that experimental kind. It does not behove us as serious business men to place on the statute-book all sorts of experimental laws. We ought to have a clear object before us ; and a reasonable measure of certainty that the particular Bill will effect the object sought; otherwise we ought not to be kept here considering it. I am not at all certain that the Bill will insure the immunity of the farming community from a burden of taxation which I, as a freetrader, "regard as most undesirable. Whilst I have no great faith in clause 4, 1 welcome it because it is a recognition by our protectionist friends of the well-known free-trade contention that it is the consumer who pays the protective- duty.


Senator Trenwith - No.


Senator MILLEN - Then what is clause 4 inserted for?


Senator Trenwith - Honorable senators opposite say that it is the consumer who - pays the protective duty, and we propose to give them a legislative guarantee that it will not be so.


Senator MILLEN - That is ingenious, as Senator Trenwith always is. Am I to be told that the schedule of prices which we will have to deal with later on is only put in to allay a groundless fear? Is it to become the law of the country, or is it not? Are stripper-harvesters to be sold at gradually reducing prices,, or is the provision inserted only as so much political padding ?


Senator Trenwith - We believe that what is provided for will follow, as it has done in a hundred instances.


Senator MILLEN - I could quote for the honorable senator 200 instances in which it has not followed. I look upon this clause as a recognition by our protectionist friends of a deeply-rooted fear that the effect of protectionist duties is to impose some additional burden on the consumer. It is an attempt, which I fear will not be successful, on the part of those responsible for the Bill, to try and reconcile the interests of producer and consumer which are so liable to clash, by saying that, while giving a measure of protection to the manufacturer, there is to be taken from him a guarantee that he will pass on some share of the benefits he will derive from this legislation to those who are compelled by force of law to purchase his goods. To this extent, I hail the measure, and the accompanying Excise Tariff Bill, as a recognition of two verv important principles grafted on two very bad Bills. If they are to become law, I shall, in con nexion with all future proposals to impose additional protective taxation, strive to the utmost of my power to see that these two guarantees are engrafted upon them, and that if we are to have established in this country a system which, by prohibiting imports, compels customers to purchase only locally-manufactured goods, our protectionist friends shall give some evidence of their bona fides when they say that protection leads to reduced prices. When they produce a single practical instance in which, as the result of the application of' the protectionist principle, local manufacture has been developed, and at the same time prices have been reduced to consumers, then, and then only, will the fiscal question cease to trouble us.

Debate (on motion by Senator McGregor) adjourned.







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