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Monday, 18 December 1911

The PRESIDENT - Order!

Senator GARDINER - I see that I had better get back to a discussion of some of the items included in the proposed Tariff, I commented on the letter quoted from a certain firm as to the rate of wages. There is another comment which I wish to make upon it. They say that four years ago they believed, and hoped, that a duty of 25 per cent. ad valorem would be sufficient, but that, with experience since to guide them, they have found that that rate is entirely too low.

Senator Vardon - How much do they want ?

Senator GARDINER - They want what every protected industry in every country in the world wants, and that is a little more than they are getting at the present timeIt matters not how much Protection the people engaged in an industry are given. they still find it a little short of the margin necessary to enable them to carry on their business successfully. It is worth while directing the attention of the Senate to the fact that these men, who I believe are honorable men, claim that they cannot conduct their business successfully unless they are given a little higher duty. We are informed of the grave danger of the importation of the lowest class of German article. No doubt that is a serious reason for the increase of the duty, but what does it mean ? An all-wise Providence has not given the musical taste and talent to the children of the rich, but rather to the children of the poorer classes in the community, and if the cheaper classes of pianos are not to be imported, what chance will the children of the poorer classes have to cultivate their musical talents? The people engaged in the piano industry in Australia do not object to compete with high-class articles manufactured elsewhere. They profess to be able to compete with high-class articles against the world. But their proposal really means that the only people for whom pianos should be manufactured are the high-class people.

Senator Millen - They request a specific duty particularly on low-class goods.

Senator GARDINER - Yes, they want to shut them out.

Senator Millen - Yet their letter discloses the fact that they do not fear the competition of that class of goods.

Senator GARDINER - On the contrary, they say that they do fear it, and that the existing duties bring them into competition with the low-class goods. They wish that the low-class article should be entirely shut out, because they claim that they can compete successfully with the high-class article produced elsewhere. If we carry their claim to its logical conclusion, and impose a duty sufficiently high to shut out all lowclass pianos, the effect will be to keep such instruments out of the homes of the working people, who have barely sufficient to enable them to purchase the lower-class article. This will prevent the development of the musical talent of which Australians are so justly proud I do not object to a protective duty which would enable the manufacture of articles here at a price upon which a reasonable profit might be made by. the producer, but, as soon as we give protection to those concerned in an industry, like Oliver Twist, they continue to ask for more.

Senator Stewart - How can we pay double the wages paid in European countries and still sell at the same price?

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator's question answers itself. We can alford to pay double the wages paid in European countries, because we have workmen who are more capable andcompetent than are the workmen of other parts of the world. They are more capable, because they are better fed, and so are able to do more work. I can speak of a trade I know something about, and that is the bricklayers' trade. Bricklayers coming to this country from the Old Land are satisfied if they can lay 400 or 500 bricks in a day, whilst Australian bricklayers have no hesitation about laying 700 or 800 bricks in the same time.

Senator Stewart - Is the honorable senator satisfied with the Tariff as it stands ?

Senator GARDINER - I am satisfied that, whether we have a Free Trade Tariff or a Protectionist Tariff, the workers will only get a fair living from the industries in which they are employed.

Senator Stewart - Will the honorable senator answer my question directly? Is he satisfied with the Tariff as it stands?

Senator GARDINER - Yes, until we get the new Protection.

Senator Stewart - Another Revenue Tariffist; another buttress of the land monopolist.

Senator GARDINER - When Senator Stewart asks me how we can compete with protected industries elsewhere, I should like to take him only halfaday's journey to the River Murray. Albury and Corowa became rich and thriving towns under Free Trade. There was Free Trade in New South Wales for thirty years, and Protection in Victoria for the same time, and a Free Trader had only to pack his furniture and cross the River Murray if he thought he would do better in Protectionist Victoria. If Protection, which necessarily costs us so much, makes our people richer, why did not people flock across the River Murray from New South Wales into the richly protected territory of Victoria ?

Senator Stewart - There are far more people in Victoria to the square mile than there are in New South Wales.

Senator GARDINER - When Victoria adopted the policy of Protection forty years ago, she had, in the aggregate, more people than there were in New South

Wales, but thirty years of Free Trade in New South Wales, and of Protection in Victoria, has enabled the former State to overtake the population of the latter. Victoria is certainly one of God's own countries, but. instead of Protection making it a paradise for the working man, we found, when we were drafting a shearing agreement, that it was necessary to make* provision that a shearer following his occupation in Victoria should get a lesser wage than a shearer in New South Wales.

Senator Stewart - That was because of land monopoly.

Senator GARDINER - When we were drafting an agreement for piece-work shearing, we were able to arrange that a man should get 22s. in New South Wales for what he could only ask 17s. 6d. if working in Victoria.

Senator Stewart - Land monopoly again.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! Senator Stewart must cease these interjections, which are taking Senator Gardiner away from the subject under discussion.

Senator GARDINER - I may, perhaps, be excused for some digression, because I have been accustomed to a rule under which it is customary to debate the general principles of a measure upon the second reading. That is the reason I reserved my remarks upon this Bill for the second reading.

Senator Millen - We discuss principles on the second reading of a Bill here, also.

Senator GARDINER - I think that the principles of this Bill depend very much upon the duties proposed. I had on some occasions, earnestly sometimes, and not so earnestly at other times, accused the Government of paying greater attention to what is said by honorable members of the Opposition than to what is said on their own side, and this leads me now to suggest that perhaps the increased duty proposed on pianos is really a reward for Mr. Beale for his efforts in bringing about the Fusion party. I recognise that Senator Pearce would probably not be in office as Minister of Defence but for the splendid work done by Mr. Beale in organizing the Fusion party.

The PRESIDENT - Order ! It is not a question of whether Mr. Beale organized the Fusion party, or of what he may have done in connexion with politics. The question is the principles of the Tariff Bill which is now under consideration.

Senator GARDINER - With all respect, sir, for your ruling, I feel that, as pianos are dealt with in the Tariff, I am justified in asking the Vice-President of the Executive Council the question point-blank, whether it is because of the work done by Mr. Beale that these increased duties are to be given him? Though I should be the last to transgress your rulings, there must be some freedom of discussion of a question of this kind, and when there are only two manufacturers of pianos in Australia - Wertheim in Melbourne and Beale in Sydney - who will benefit by these proposed increases of duties, whilst hundreds of thousands of people will be placed at a disadvantage because of them, I am bound to seek for the reason for the proposed increase in the duty upon these 'articles. The Government propose an additional tax on timber.

Senator Stewart - To help a Commonwealth industry. We grow splendid timber in Australia.

Senator GARDINER - We grow timber that is excellent for many purposes ; but the dairy farmers must have cheap pine for their butter boxes. Various States in this country for many years granted bonuses to encourage the production- of this commodity, and yet the Commonwealth Government is now making it difficult for the dairy farmer to place his goods upon the world's market. I do not say this because the dairy farmers are particular friends of mine. They are not.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - They are my friends.

Senator GARDINER - Politically, the, have never been mine. But, quite apart from friendships, I am satisfied that the development of Australia lies in the encouragement 'of those industries in which people can make the most money with the least labour.

Senator Stewart - Dear land is what is killing the butter industry.

Senator GARDINER - I never heard that a high Tariff was a cure for dear land.

Senator Stewart - I did not say that ; but the kind of Tariff which the honorable senator wants - a revenue Tariff - encourages dear land in Australia.

Senator GARDINER - I hope that my honorable friend will not represent me as desiring a revenue Tariff.

Senator Stewart - I do, undoubtedly. We must pin this butterfly down to something.

Senator GARDINER - All that I am saying is that we ought not to make it more costly for our farmers to put their butter upon the market. But throughout this Tariff, while we are assisting one section of the community we are injuring another. We are assisting one industry at the expense of another. Of course, quite a number of people will say that it is the high Tariff system that has given this country prosperity.

Senator Stewart - No one will say that.

Senator Ready - Why are so many of the New South Wales representatives Free Traders ?

Senator GARDINER - The reason is that New South Wales tried the experiment, and that under Free Trade our workmen got better wages than did workmen in any other part of Australia. ' After thirty years of Free Trade, municipal labour in Sydney never got down to the 5s. a day that was paid in Hobart, and after thirty years of Protection that class of labour in Hobart never rose to the 8s. a day paid in Sydney.

Senator McGregor - New South Wales is Protectionist now, and her people get better wages than ever.

Senator GARDINER - That is certainly mot the case.

Senator Rae - The cost of living is dearer than it used to be.

Senator GARDINER - Well, I found that the cost of living in Free Trade England was clearer than it is in Protectionist Australia, and dearer in Protectionist Belgium, France, and Germany. On the other hand, England is overrun with German workmen, who find that they can earn better wages there than in their own country.

Senator Stewart - If they cross the Atlantic and go to America, they can earn tetter wages still.

Senator GARDINER - I am by no means satisfied with the condition of the working classes in America. I am not anxious for the state of things under which there are enormous fortunes on the one side and great poverty on the other.

Senator McGregor - I thought the honorable senator had been contending that Protection had at least encouraged two honest men in Sydney.

Senator GARDINER - The point with regard to that case is that, under the existing Tariff, duties of 40 and 35 per cent, were imposed on certain articles. Under this duty, two brothers went into business.

They invested their money in making handkerchiefs. Now it is proposed to reduce the duty to 25 and 20 per cent., which will wipe away the margin upon which they work.

Senator Millen - Does not this Tariff give them increased Protection in one direction in which their business is concerned? I cannot reconcile the honorable senator's statement with the Tariff itself.

Senator GARDINER - I have the statement from one of the principals of the firm. I found that he was satisfied with the Tariff remaining as it stood when he started his business. He made his statemerit to me very clearly, and I was much impressed by it, as well as by his honesty and sincerity. He assured me that the alteration of the duty would entail his going out of business, for the simple reason that the importers could put their goods on the market much cheaper than the price for which he could sell. If the business were one in which £70,000 had been,sunk I should not have much difficulty in persuading some honorable senators.

Senator Stewart - I will help.

Senator GARDINER - It is help that I want in this matter. We do not want this Tariff to be so manipulated as that while one man gets an advantage another one shall be robbed. These brothers put their money into their business under the conditions imposed by the last Tariff. He wishes the Tariff to remain exactly as it was, in order that he may continue in his business. He is much concerned with the proposed alteration, because it will affect him adversely. I had not intended to speak at such length upon this Bill, but the proposal to make people rich by taking, money out of their pockets is a most fascinating one. The point which I specially wish to emphasize is that as soon as we start to protect one industry, we make it more difficult for another industry to continue operations. I am not a Labour representative who is in favour of the old Protection, but a Labour representative who is in favour of the new Protection - the Protection that protects the individual who has invested his capital in an industry, the wage earner, arid the consumer. I hope that the Government will introduce no more instalments of Tariff reform until we have obtained from the people the power to give effect to the new Protection. I hope they will say to those who are importuning them for higher duties, " It is no part of the Labour platform to grant increased duties to any industry unless we have first obtained from the people the power to protect die workman and the consumer." I thank honorable senators for the patience with which they have listened to my remarks. If the Government will assure me that the anomaly to which I have directed attention will be remedied, I hope to have very little more to say upon this Tariff, but if that assurance be not forthcoming, I trust that I shall be here on Christmas Day.

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