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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Mr GLYNN (Angas) - I join with the honorable member for Gippsland in congratulating the honorable member for Herbert On the carefully prepared speech and statistics which he presented to the House. Those of us who are opposed to the continuance of the bounty as it is now paid, or at an increased rate with provision for the application of a sliding scale, are only too pleased to hear what can be said by the representatives of Queensland in defence of their position. At the same time, I think that that State has been too much considered, and that we should not hesitateto apply the sliding scale immediately. It was never the publicly announced policy of the Queensland Legislature, prior to 1901, to give any compensation for the abolition of the kanaka traffic. Whenever the putting of an end to the traffic, which was begun in 1868 or 1870, was raised in the Queensland Parliament, Ministers were apologetic for having sanctioned it, and in 1885 it was decided that the traffic should come to an end in 1890. A Commission, however, was appointed to consider the question, and reported in 1889, there being a Very strong dissentient report. It was afterwards decided - in 1892 -to extend the period for which the traffic might take place for another ten years; in other words, the compensation given to the industry which had been created was an absolute extension of time from 1892 until 1902. Therefore, we were under no obligation to Queensland in this matter when, in 1902, we determined to carry out the policy of a White Australia.

Mr Fisher -The honorable and learned member is in error about the ten years' extension - the extension was for an indefinite period.

Mr GLYNN - My authority is Sir Edmund Barton, who, in introducing the Pacific Island Labourers Bill, read extracts from speeches made in the Queensland Legislature, and said that an extension had been granted from 1892 to 1902. In 1901 the Commonwealth passed an Act under which the kanakas received their marching orders, which they will not obey when the time for their deportation arrives.I say that they will not obey them, because this Parliament has no power to compel them to leave Australia. That point has been decided in two or three cases, and is dealt with very lucidly in the Commonwealth Law Review for August, by a Mr. B. A. Ross, in an article on the Pacific Island Labourers Act, He argues that there is no power to compel the kanakas to leave Australia, and I agree with him. In the course of his argument he refers to the case of Ray versus MacMakin, decided in 1875, in which a similar point was raised before the Victorian Supreme Court, when Mr. Justice Barry delivered the following judgment : -

Whatever power or authority the Legislature of New South Wales has to frame laws to cause persons charged with the commission of misdemeanours in other countries to be apprehended within that colony, and to be detained in prison there, it is a totally different thing to say that it can give a magistrate power to expel such person from the colony, and send them across the seas to another part of the world.

There is a South Australian case known as in re Gleich, in which the same point arose, and a similar decision was given. Any powers exercised in thisregard must be conferred by an Imperial Act, and certain powers are given under the Fugitive Offenders Act. I have exceedingly grave doubts as to our power to deport men from the Commonwealth under the Pacific Island Labourers Act. It was pointed out by some of us in 1901 that the bounty system would probably be ineffective, and that at the end of the term fixed upon there would be a clamour for the continuation of the bounty, which is what is happening.

Mr McLean - And it will happen again.

Mr GLYNN - Of course. Even. Dr. Maxwell says that the policy is an experiment, and1 does not tell us what will occur when a sliding scale, which he suggests, has put an end to the bounty. The honorable member for Herbert sought to impress honorable members with the fact that South Australia gains by the present policy, but I shall give some figures which will show her true position in this matter. South Australia is as much, if not more, entitled than is Queensland to consideration in this matter, because Queensland sanctioned the importation of coloured labour.,, while South Australia did not. If we had imported kanakas, we could have produced1 sugar as cheaply in the Northern Territory as it has been produced in Queensland, and we passed an Act providing for the importation of British subjects from India. In deference to public feeling, however, that Act has never been put into force. If Queensland, whose conduct in this matter has been partly bad, is to be compensated, why should not South Australia, whose conduct has been wholly good, also be considered? Through the abolition of the special Tariff in force in the Northern Territory prior to Federation, we have lost about £20,000 in Customs receipts. Up to 1904 South Australia had incurred an expenditure of about £3,750,000 on transcontinental projects which are really of national importance, and there would not have been a deficit in our accounts ever since the Northern Territory railway was made a few years ago had we looked upon that country as a purely tropical one, and allowed the importation of coloured, labour for the economical production of sugar there. We have an annual deficit of £106,000, and surely that entitles us to consideration. But we have never pressed our claim as the strong representation of Queensland, which is, banded together for the purpose, has pressed the claim of that State. The honorable mem. ber for Herbert referred to the gains which we have received from Federation. By a blunder of the Ministry in 1901, in providing for a rebate of duty instead of the granting of a bonus - the rebate being taken from the excise duty, whereas the bonus would have been debited to the revenue per head of population - South Australia with other States obtained an advantage, and she also gained an advantage under the Tariff for the first year or two. All our sugar in 1902-3, with the exception of about 150 or - 200 tons, was imported from beyond the Commonwealth. The import duty is £6 per ton, and we were entitled1 to be credited with the duty collected on our consumption. In 1902-3, the duty collected on sugar amounted to £97,000 ; but, in 1904, the revenue shrank to £61,000. This reduction was due to the operation of our fiscal laws, and to- the fact that more Commonwealth sugar, was consumed in South Australia. Of course, South Australia also had to pay her share of the sugar bounty on a per capita basis. The. estimate of the Treasurer for the current year is £49,800; and, if we deduct from that amount the share of the bonus which South Australia will have to pay, amounting to, say, one-tenth of the total of £146,000 - the net revenue derived by South Australia from the sugar duties will not exceed £35,000. The honorable member for Herbert told us that the revenue derived by South Australia from the duties on sugar in the year prior to Federation amounted, in round ' figures, to £50,000, so that we shall certainly sustain a loss of about £13,000 or £14,000. That is, without taking into account any increase of population.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In. addition to that, the people have to pay more for their sugar.

Mr GLYNN - Yes. But I am dealing with the assertion of the honorable member that we have gained in revenue under the operation of the Federal laws, as compared with the condition of affairs prior to Federation. As, the honorable and learned member for Parkes has very properly mentioned, the people are paying more for their sugar, and, with all respect to the honorable member for Herbert, who states that the jam industry has been benefited as the result of our present policy, I would point out that the fact that there has not been an absolute shrinkage in the export of fruits and jams does not indicate that the fruit industry has not suffered. The increased cost of sugar has naturally hampered the operations of the fruit-growers, and manufacturers of jams, and other articles of which sugar forms one of the raw materials. I do not think that I shall be very far out in saying that those engaged in industries in which sugar is largely used have been placed at a disadvantage to the extent of having to pay about £4 or £5 per ton more for their sugar. Our exports of jams amount to over 1,200,000 lbs. per annum, and our exports of confectionery to about 225,000 or 230,000 lbs. In addition to that, there have been large exportations of pulp. The annual consumption of jams, jellies, &c., may be put down at about 8,000,000 lbs. We have nearly 16,000 or 17,000 acres under orchard, and 9,000 or 10,000 acres under garden. All our gardeners and orchardists are seriously affected by the increase in the price of sugar. Therefore, in addition to the shrinkage of revenue, we are entitled to take into account the burdens that have been placed upon the people. Now let me say a few words with regard to this question, as it affects the Commonwealth as a whole. The revenue derived from the sugar duties amounted, in 1902, to £780,000; and it is estimated that the duties collected for the current year will represent a total of607,000. This shrinkage has been caused by the policy we have adopted, because, whereas, in 1902, duty was paid upon 176,000 tons, the total quantity upon which duty was levied in 1905 was 187,000 tons. Whilst the sugar locally produced in 1902 amounted to 92,000 tons, it is estimated that the production for the current season will be 171,000 tons. We can thus see at a glance what benefit has been conferred upon the sugar-growers by the difference between the import and Excise duties.Let me pursue the matter a little further. In connexion with the bounty system, we shall have paid Queensland to the end of the current financial year £266,446, whilst New South Wales will have received £152, 594. In other words, we shall have paid to those two States in the way of bounties £419,040. If we estimate the shrinkage in revenue that has occurred since 1902 as averaging £100,000 per annum, and add the sum of £400,000 to the amount paid in the form of bounties, we shall arrive at a total of £819,000. That is a pretty stiff sum to have paid in connexion with a policy which is an admitted failure. New South Wales has received a very large advantage from the bounty, but I do not see why she should have done. Her sugar growers do not employ more white labour now than they did in 1901-2. Ministers take the view that under the Constitution we could not make the bounty apply specifically to one State. But there is nothing to prevent us from declaring that the bonus shall not be paid in connexion, with any production in which only white labour was employed prior to 1901.

Mr McWilliams - There are a few coloured men employed upon the sugar plantations in New South Wales.

Mr GLYNN - No doubt; but they would not number more than 200 or 300, and would not affect the question. There is nothing to prevent us from framing a general law under the Constitution, providing that no bonuses shall be paid in connexion with any production in which white labour only was employed prior to the introduction of the bounties. That would be a general law which would make no distinction between State and State; although, of course, it would exclude New South Wales from participating in, the bounty, to which, however, she is in no way entitled.

Mr McLean - What about those who have been induced by the payment of the bounty to engage in the industry?

Mr GLYNN - I do not think there has been any substantial addition to the number of sugar-growers in New South Wales.

Mr Henry Willis - No, but many properties may have changed hands at values enhanced by the operation of the bounty.

Mr GLYNN - Properties may have been greatly increased in value as the result of our policy, but that consideration should not operate with us. However, I do not think that the payment of the bounty has attracted men into the industry in any great numbers. What has been the result of all this coddling of the sugar industry? It has been shown that no appreciable addition has been made to the number of white growers, and that the sugar grown by white labour represents only 28 per cent. of the total production. The significant fact is that Dr. Maxwell tells usthat our policy is an. experiment. He says that it is likely to induce or force an immediate substitution of white for coloured labour only in those districts where the natural and economic conditions will permit of the change being made. Why should we continue our present policy in regard to sugargrowing in localities where the natural and economic conditions do not allow of the change that we desire to see brought about ? We have every right to ask why that change was not brought about in cases where the conditions are favorable, under the encouragement of the stiff protective Tariff that has been in operation. Dr. Maxwell says, further, that the relief granted can have only a temporary effect, and that he cannot say what will occur afterwards. He mentions that, in order to produce sugar throughout Queensland wholly by means of white labour, an addition of 5,000 would have to be made to the number of cane farmers - that 8,000 cane farmers would be required, as compared with the 3,522 now engaged in the industry. He is not particularly sanguine as to the possibility of bringing about such a change at an early date. He cannot even offer a conjecture as to when it will be possible to substitute so many small farmers for the 75° large growers who, in conjunction with 3,522 small growers, are now carrying on the industry.

Mr Bamford - It is the small growers that we want to specially encourage.

Mr GLYNN - No doubt, but that is quite another question, which we need not deal with at this stage. According to the report of Dr. Maxwell, we have no guarantee that the further sacrifices which we are now being called upon to make would bring about such results as would afford us anything like adequate compensation. I say, in addition, that the sugar industry hereafter will be clamouring for more protection. If we ever lower the sugar duties it will have to face the competition of the world, and, probably, very soon local production will considerably exceed local consumption. It is estimated that next year the local consumption will be met by local production. Consequently it is fair to assume that at a comparatively early _ date the Australian production of sugar will be far in excess of the local demand. A request will then be made for a bounty upon export, and thus we cannot tell where the matter will end. Under these circumstances, I feel disinclined to grant any further protection to the industry. I am disposed to allow the bounty to be abolished upon a sliding scale, extending over a period of five years.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does the honorable and learned member favour wiping out the bounty entirely in five years,, or does he agree with the suggestion of the honorable member for Gippsland?

Mr GLYNN - I prefer that it should entirely vanish at the end of five years. I shall certainly support the application of the sliding scale to the shortest possible period, and I favour bringing it into operation at the earliest practicable date. There is nothing in the history of Queensland to warrant these severe burdens being imposed upon the consumers. Though that State has suffered in the matter of her revenue, Tasmania has probably incurred a bigger loss. During the first year of the operation of the uniform Tariff, Tasmania lost £160,000 in revenue, and, although a large diminution occurred in Queensland, the shrinkage in . Tasmania was relatively greater. As a matter of fact there is not a State which has not been called upon to make sacrifices in some way. Consequently there is no reason why we should select any particular State for special treatment.

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