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Tuesday, 12 December 1905

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I thought I might be permitted to make a passing reference to what the honorable gentleman said. We should like to know how the Minister can explain his remarkable change of front. It cannot be due to any criticism by the Opposition, because there has been no criticism which could have had such an effect. The honorable gentleman has been continually telling the people of New South Wales that it was has intention to assist the establishment of the iron industry in that State by means of a bonus. I know that at the last election the Minister was at some pains to send up a big gun, in the person of Mr. Sandford, to contest ray electorate. I believe that the largest iron deposits to be found in New South Wales are to be found in that district, but notwithstanding, the fact that a large number of the electors, and, amongst them personal friends and supporters of my own, were greatly interested in the establishment of the iron industry, on principle and in the public interest, I felt it my duty to oppose the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, and the result of the election was that I was returned with twice the majority I. had at the previous election. The Minister of Trade and Customs told the people that it was necessary to pass the Manufactures Encouragement Bill in order to establish the iron industry in New South

Wales, and we now know that it is about to be established without any bonus at all.

Sir William Lyne - No, no.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the Minister tell me that the price which Mr. Sandford has asked is higher than the current price of iron ?

Sir William Lyne - It is estimated that his price is equivalent to a bonus of 7 per cent.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The current price of iron is about the same as that to be paid under Mr. Sandford's contract. It is clear that the Opposition in this House, by their attitude, in preventing the passing of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, have saved the country £200,000 or £300,000, because the Minister now admits that there is no necessity to pass that Bill.

Sir William Lyne - No, I do not.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then why has not the Minister the courage of his opinions, and why does he not go on with the measure?

Sir William Lyne - If I could pass it I would do so, but I cannot hope to pass it in the face of the screeching from the other side.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Ministry have introduced the "gag" in order to push their business through, and why have they not the courage to use it to push the Manufactures Encouragement Bill through?

Mr Chapman - Everything comes to him who waits.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the people have to wait for the Minister to give them the measure they will wait a long time, because he admits that he has not the courage of his opinions. He says that to pass the measure is the right thing to do, but he admits also that he has not the courage to do it, although he has a majority to support him.

Sir William Lyne - I do not ; I have no majority to pass the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, or it would be passed.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman told us over and over again that there was a majority in favour of the Bill, and he now admits that the majority are with those who took so strong a stand in opposing the measure in the first instance. When the Manufactures Encouragement Bill was first brought before the House, the proposal was to give the Minister of Trade and Customs the right to say when certain duties should be imposed for the benefit of certain people.

Sir William Lyne - No, it was not.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The proposal was that the Minister should issue a pro:clamation bringing the duties into force.

Sir William Lyne - No, the GovernorGeneral in Council.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman is quibbling. He knows that ; the Governor-General in Council is the Executive.

Sir William Lyne - But not the Minister.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman is aware that if the Minister recommends a certain course, the Executive will adopt it.

Sir William Lyne - They may not do so.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable gentleman is still quibbling. He is a member of a protectionist Government, and he should not be where he is if. the majority of the Cabinet are not prepared to assist him in carrying out a protectionist policy. The honorable gentleman wanted Parliament to place in his hands the right to say to a body of manufacturers that the protectionist duties should come into force when he pleased.

Mr Fisher - That matter is not before us now.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I wish to know what induced the Government to go back upon the first proposal. There is now a complete back-down,, and the proposal ils that (no proclamation bringing part VI.a of the Tariff into force shall be issued until Parliament has approved of it.

Mr Fisher - Quite right.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I agree with the honorable member that it should not be left to the. Minister. Parliament" only should impose taxation. Under this Bill those interested in the iron industry will be in no better position than they were before.

Mr Fisher - Yes, they will.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I should like the honorable member to tell us how they will. The honorable member for Northern Melbourne,, in his opening remarks, said that he did not see very much difference between a resolution and a Bill; if there is a majority of honorable members in favour of a measure, it is only a matter of time when it will become law. Why should we pass a Bill making it appear that we are doing something, when we are really doing nothing? The Minister himself has shown that this is a mere piece of makebelieve. No doubt the people of Lithgow and others were under the impression that the Government proposed to enter into some contract with them, or to do something for them; but all they have done is to bring in a measure providing that some other Parliament may pass a resolution for the imposition of duties. The Bill does not bind any other Parliament, and is altogether farcical in its nature.

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